This paper presents an analysis of key elements contributing towards current and future prospects for governance in two MPAs in the Pacific Region of Guatemala. The paper follows the Marine Protected Area Governance (MPAG) empirical framework through the use of economic, interpretative, knowledge, legal and participative incentives that assess the effectiveness of governance. The first MPA is the Multiple Use Area of Monterrico that is governed through a co-management approach by the Centre of Conservation Studies of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (CECON-USAC), whilst the second is Guatemala's only privately-owned marine protected area, La Chorrera-Manchón Guamuchal Reserve. The results highlight that the differences in the way they are governed have significantly shaped the effectiveness of governance. In the case of Monterrico, the limited state capacity and cross-jurisdictional coordination among stakeholders has resulted in weak economic and legal incentives, where efforts have failed to develop the necessary participatory approach to management. As a result, environmental degradation and increasing urban development is apparent, which have proven difficult to manage by the park management authority. Conversely, La Chorrera-Manchón Guamuchal has developed a governance approach based on local community involvement, which has proven successful for conservation and management initiatives for the reserve. Management is characterized by strong leadership, which has proven to be the underlying difference in both MPAs. However, the fate of the reserve is uncertain, as there is no long-term planning for success. Future prospects for effective governance are recommended, where efforts should primarily foster state involvement and political will.