What are the best beaches in Guatemala?

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While it's true that the countries on either side of Guatemala may have more white sandy beaches, there are enough tropical oases to go around here. For those who want to relax, soak up some sun or try their luck at surfing, here are the country's five best beaches:
 
1. Playa Blanca. Located in Izabel, this white sandy beach offers the chance to unwind in relative peace and quiet; because of its location (it's reachable only by boat), things don't get overly crowded and the lack of hotels on the beach mean that only the truly adventurous spend the night.
 
2. Champerico. A couple of hours away from Xela lies this surfer’s delight, with a sleepy small-town vibe and plenty of knowledgeable locals (and perma-tourists) who are willing to school newbies on the best places for them to try to catch waves. For those who aren't into the aspect of surfing, the lack of crowds alone is incentive to come — and the famous wooden pier doesn't hurt, either.
 
3. Monterrico. Visitors and locals are split on this famous black sandy beach, which is the most developed stretch of sand out there. Think fancy hotels, resorts, and people who go to the beach to see and be seen rather than enjoy a laid-back experience of sun and sand.
 
4. Playa Tilapa. If you're looking for the most rural beach in the country, this is it. Close to the Mexican border, this beach is where surfers come for great breaks, international travelers come for a sense of actual peace and quiet and fishermen come to find the fruits of the sea.
 
5. Puerto San Jose. This stretch of beach is located around the bend from Monterrico, and is the country's biggest fishing town on the Pacific Coast and a nice place to try some sail fishing. It's also the home to the country's alternative airport, meaning you can fly in, avoid Guatemala City altogether, and enjoy the calm of beach living with volcanoes visible in the distance.

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