10 Things to Know Before Visiting Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan | © Christopher William Adach / Flickr | Christopher William Adach / Flickr
Jack Guy

The spellbinding Lake Atitlan is a must-see when you’re in Guatemala. Here’s what to know before you visit.

Lake Atitlan kayaking

Each village has its own character

The lake is ringed by a series of villages, each with its own characteristics. Party in San Pedro La Laguna, hang out with the hippies in San Marcos, or visit Maximon in Santiago. There is something for everyone.

Stay at Hostal Fe if you want to party

San Pedro La Laguna is known as the most raucous village around the lake, and Hostal Fe is a favorite with those looking for a good time. It’s known for its friendly atmosphere, and the bar looks right over the water.

Relax at the Yoga Farm in San Marcos

San Marcos is the most laid-back place at the lake, and the Yoga Farm is the perfect place to relax and unwind. The property is found in the hills behind the village, and you can sign up to a residential yoga course or just come up for the day.

Lake Atitlan

Rising water levels have swallowed up property

No one really knows why, but Lake Atitlan has been rising for the past few decades. As you explore the lake you will notice half-submerged buildings around the edge that provide evidence for this strange phenomenon.

The lake is a mystical site

The local Mayans say that Lake Atitlan is the “bellybutton of the world,” and there are unique energy fields that run through the area. Whether you feel the vibes or not, there’s no denying the lake is a special place.

Take a dive under the surface

Scuba divers can explore underwater on a tour with ATI Divers. Choose from a variety of dives, including volcanic vents and archaeological sites.

Lake Atitlan

The boats stop running early

If you decide to make a daytrip to a different village, remember that the public boats stop running around sunset. Miss the last one and you’ll have to pay through the nose for a private boat back to where you’re staying.

Climbing the Indian’s Nose gives a great view

Head to San Juan La Laguna to make the climb up the hill known as the Indian’s Nose. You’ll have to pay a small entrance fee and make a sweaty hike for half an hour or so, but the view over the lake from the top is worth it.

Get an adrenaline hit

Paragliding is a popular activity at Lake Atitlan, providing amazing views of the lake and surrounding villages. Check out Real World Paragliding for more information on tours.

Travel to Panajachel for transfers

While you can get occasional buses to other villages around the lake, you’re better off going to Panajachel and using the boats to reach other destinations. The road to Panajachel is safe and there are better connections to other parts of the country.

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