Pacific Fins Resort and Marina is an oasis along Guatemala’s western coast. The area boasts volcanic black sand beaches, small fishing towns, a modern container port and big game fishing. Billfishing in Guatemala is world class, sometimes called the Sailfish Capital of the World.
The owner is the son of a Danish father and Guatemalan mother. Niels Erichsen speaks perfect, colloquial English. He welcomes guests personally. His staff is all bilingual and the hospitality for which this Central American nation is known predominates any visit.
The resort is located on a canal that leads out into the Pacific Ocean. Niels has five deep-sea fishing vessels, all fully equipped for billfishing with a staff of experienced captains. The resort is intimate. They can accommodate twenty guests in large rooms and villas. Suites have a salon with flat screen television, comfortable chairs and couches, refrigerators and are fully air conditioned with remote controls to adjust comfort levels. Bathrooms are spacious and have tubs as well as showers.
The swimming pool at Pacific Fins is a delight. Waiters serve cocktails poolside. Two bars offer premium drinks, included with fishing packages as are meals. An open dining room is set under a permanent open air atrium. Sculpted grounds with free roaming peacocks and caged parrots enhance the beauty of the resort. Trophy fish adorn the walls, prelude to the sport that awaits offshore. Today Guatemala offers only catch and release for billfish assuring the vitality of a tourist fishing industry for future generations.
Meals at Pacific Fins are special occasions. Guests are welcomed to dine at their restaurant a la carte whether staying at the resort or not. Visitors often take the hour-and-a-half drive from Guatemala City to stay at the resort overnight and relax and dine in the convivial atmosphere without taking a fishing package.
Pacific Fins restaurant includes starters of ceviche with shrimp and fish for about $10. A shrimp cocktail comes to table in a huge goblet with shrimp as long as the thumb and forefinger can be stretched. Shrimp in Guatemala a fresh caught by boats sailing out of local ports. The shrimp are fresh, served chilled and delicious, $20. For those who want to savor calamari, try Pacific Fins’ ‘al vino al mojo de aja.’ The sauce is amazing and the calamari fresh and tender. Caesar salads, with or without shrimp, are available for about $7 or $14 with shrimp.
Main courses at the restaurant feature Guatemala beef. The offerings include sirloin and rib eye, $18 to $22. There are always specials suggested by the waiter. Joel, Pacific Fins’ manager, suggested fresh caught grouper or yellowfin tuna. An assortment of fish dishes on the menu include shrimp $23, dorado $16, tuna or grouper $20. Prices quoted are translations from Guatemalan currency and fluctuate with the exchange so are approximate.
Chicken with fine herbs and wine sauce is $12 and pasta dishes prepared with special savory spices include Tetrallini with wine sauce $16, or Napolitana with red tomato sauce and herbs, $15. There are always sandwiches made with great panache of steak, chicken Monte Carlo and even a Pacific Fins hamburger about $10. The children’s menu includes fish, spaghetti and cheeseburgers, $5.
The Pacific coast is much warmer than Guatemala City in the highlands and mountains. The pool is inviting. Comfortable lounge chairs with towels are welcome amenities. Fishermen returning to the marina on a Pacific Fins boat are greeted with a tray of cold drinks and the temptation to take a swim in the pool. A sailfish is appropriately painted into the décor.
Pacific fins draws avid fishermen from around the world. There are local and international competitions without the crass commercialism of huge entry fees and exotic prizes or cash pots. This is fishing at its best. “It is a bad day when we catch and release only 5 sailfish,” Niels Erichsen said. We usually catch twenty billfish and have caught many, many more in one days fishing on one boat.”
On the way out to billfishing guests are given poles to troll for tuna and dorado. Brought on board, these fish are skillfully prepared by the crew and offered as sushi with lemon and savory sauces. The crew also prepares chicken and rice aboard and beverages are stowed for anglers’ convenience.
The trip to Guatemala’s billfishing zone takes about two hours, some 41 miles offshore. When the captain spots a log floating in the ocean he has the crew set poles since it is a usual refuge for fish. It doesn’t take long to hook lunch.
Pacific Fins’ boats are fully equipped with poles and lines for sailfish and marlin. They bait with hooks that will rust out in about a week and do not run the risk of swallowing or damage that older rigs caused. Everything is done to sustain a tourist fishing industry that is almost a carefully guarded secret among fishermen.
Pacific Fins Resort is a gem nestled in Guatemala’s Iztapa area in the hamlet of Buena Vista. The tranquility of the surroundings enhance any visit and the friendly staff provide every convenience. For more information visit www.pacificfins.com.gt or call them toll free at 1-888-700-3467. Their U.S. office can be reached at 561-880-0349. In Guatemala the hotel phone is 502-7881-4788. Airport pick-up can be arranged in the resort’s large van.