Just because Guatemala isn't known for its pristine coastlines (plural because it borders both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea) doesn't mean you can't find some pretty fantastic coastal adventures here. Cue the Monterrico-Hawaii Biotope: 10,000 acres of mangrove forests, wildlife habitats and volcanic beaches that just so happen to fly under most travelers' day-trip radars. If kayaking amid exotic bird sanctuaries with views of 3,500+ m volcanoes looming in the distance is your idea of a day well spent, let's just say you've hit the jackpot.
Most tour-guided days out in Monterrico-Hawaii consist of a variety of activities, including horseback riding and the chance to visit the area's sea turtle sanctuary. These, however, are secondary to the hours of boating/kayaking that's to be had along the labyrinthine Chiquimulilla Channel, which twists and turns its way through the reserve's lush mangrove forests. You can easily spend a day paddling and be back to a hub like Antigua in time for dinner, but you'll likely miss out on the early-morning hours that are abuzz with animal activity. Our recommendation? If you've got the time, set up shop for a few days in the coastal town of Monterrico and put your kayak in the water one morning before sunrise. You'll have a whole day of exploring ahead of you, and can kick back on the black sand beaches for a night or two before heading back to civilization. As beach-side adventuring goes, you could do a lot worse.