Getting to both Monterrico and Paredon is super easy from Antigua. They are both only about an hour and a half away by direct shuttle. We assumed they would be pretty close together with Monterrico being just the “next town up the coast”. Our plan was to get to Monterrico and then get a tuk tuk or cab to go to Paredon. The reality is that they are 2 hours apart and separated by a lot of dirt roads. It was not until we were standing in Monterrico at El Delfin pricing out our options that we realized how wrong we were. The good news is we were able to find three different ways to make the journey from Monterrico to Paredon. The bad news is none of them are great.
Option 1: Monterrico to Paredon by Private Car
The receptionist at the El Delfin Hotel knew a friend that could drive us direct from Monterrico to Paredon in the morning. The friend had taken her the previous week for a special price of just 550Q. She was pretty confident he could do the same for us. I was immediately against this idea as 550Q was more than all of the transportation we had taken previously in Guatemala combined! When we met the guy he said he could offer us a special price. But it would be 600Q as the price of gas had gone up. He also explained that the normal price for a private car between the two is 700Q.
Option 2: Shuttle from Monterrico to Antigua then to Paredon
Knowing that it was only 80Q back to Antigua and then another 80Q to Paredon we briefly considered backtracking an hour and a half to save the money. But I really wanted to get to the beach with enough time to enjoy the surf, so we tossed this idea. I will say that this is the easiest and safest way to get from Monterrico to Paredon and vice versa.
Option 3: Public Transportation from Monterrico to Paredon
Not liking any of the answers we had received so far I decided to walk down the little road in Monterrico to ask locals how they would get from one town to the other. They all said I should take the “micro bus.” No one had previously mentioned a local bus going between the two locations. I was shocked and asked at least three more locals just to be sure. They all said the same thing. Yes there is a bus, yes it is safe, and yes it leaves all day long every 30 minutes. Plus it is super cheap. Our prayers had been answered!
How to Take Public Transportation from Monterrico to Paredon
The other two options are self explanatory so I will leave you to them. For the public transportation option some courage, patience, and luck is required. We traveled from Monterrico to Paredon but I am sure it is the same route from Paredon to Monterrico. We took the 8am micro bus from Monterrico and I have explained our route below. Several people said that the bus leaves every 30ish minutes so the time is probably not super important.
Step 1: Catch the Bus in Monterrico
Catch a microbus from Monterrico (they pick up at the bus stop just as you get into town by the Catholic Church. Ask anyone and they can show you where). The bus was packed with people going to work, delivering groceries, and enjoying their daily lives. We did not think there was room but they all squeezed in and made room. The lady sitting next to us had a huge basket of avocados! We were crammed like sardines, but we were on.
Step 2: Switch Buses in Izatpa and Port of San Jose
A couple of people got off and on as we went but they kept the door open so it was not too hot. As the crowed thinned we became super happy we chose this route. The people on the bus seemed nice, we were not as nervous as we had been the night before, and we were ready to laugh at our previous concerns. We had to switch busses at Iztapa and then we were on a similar bus to Puerto (Port of San Jose). The switch was very easy and the locals helped us get from one to the other.
Step 3: Bus to Paredon?
We were supposed to take another micro bus the rest of the way to Paredon. But when we stepped out of the second bus, we knew it was not going to be as easy. We were let off on the side of a busy road in town and there was no other bus waiting to take us to our destination. I tried asking two cops and they just sort of stared at me while 8 or 9 tuks tuks offered to take us to various places. After giving up on the bus we started negotiating a tuc tuc ride but the drivers wanted almost 300q to take us the rest of the way. Finally we were saved when a breastfeeding mother from our previous micro bus came over and told us she was also going to Paredon. She also knew where the bus was and said it was coming soon.
Step 4: Get Lucky
We waited with the woman at a gas station (see pictures below) right next to where the old micro bus dropped us off. Unfortunately the bus to Paredon was running late. The woman started to get nervous because she needed to get to work. She suggested we all split a tuk tuk. We agreed (we had seen some somewhat sketchy stuff going down in the ally across from where we were waiting and it was starting to get super hot)! The good news is when the woman got us a tuk tuk it was only 10Q! Talk about a locals discount!
Step 5: Get Unlucky
Riding in the tuk tuk with all of our luggage, our local mother, her adorable baby and bags of rice and corn I had a huge smile. We had done it. We took the less touristy, more “sketchy” route, saved a ton of money, and had a story to tell. Unfortunately our journey was not over quite yet. After about a 30 minute tuk tuk ride we pulled over to the side of the road. This is where the woman worked selling tortillas. We asked the woman and the tuk tuk driver if they could take us further down to where our hostel was (another 9 miles away.) But they both said sorry they could not. We even tried offering the tuk tuk driver more money but that did not work.
Step 6: Get Lucky Again
We waited around the store for 10 minutes or so drinking a Coke. By then it was super hot! But no other tuk tuks went by. I thought I should walk to the “main” road to try to get one but just then I saw a truck with construction equipment in the back heading our way. The driver was local and didn’t seem scary so I harnessed my inner Jack Kerouac and stuck out my thumb. The driver slowed, gave us a big smile and said, “get in” (in English).
Rachel and I exchanged a quick glance, decided it was out best option, tossed our bags in the back and jumped in. Aside from a few untimely conversations about the dangers of riding with strangers, our ride could not have been more pleasant. The driver was from Guatemala but had lived in the states and wanted to practice his english. We practiced our Spanish and made it to Paredon without any trouble. He even refused to take any money as tip once he dropped us at the front of our hotel!
Summary of Getting from Monterrico to Paredon
In summary, we did make it from Monterrico to Paredon safely using a combination of micro bus, tuk tuk and hitchhiking. We were told by one potential private car driver that taking the micro bus was very dangerous and that it would undoubtedly result in us being robbed. Despite these warnings and the longer than anticipated ride I am super glad we did it. The locals were all very kind and helpful. Other than a few extra minutes in Puerto we never felt like we were in danger of being robbed, lost, or inconvenienced. One note: We confirmed there was supposed to be a bus in Puerto so you could do this journey without the hitchhiking and tuk tuk if you get super lucky!
Want more information to plan your trip to Guatemala? Check out the Guatemala Lonely Planet here.
People are good,