Flores is a lovely little island in Lago Peten Itza in Guatemala with a land bridge connecting it to Santa Elena. It is a popular stop for travellers wishing to take a visit to the Mayan ruins of Tikal, but there are some other awesome things to do and you might wish to extend your stay by a day or two!
As mentioned, the Tikal Mayan ruins in Tikal National Park are a DO NOT MISS during your visit to Flores. Most people come to Flores to visit the Tikal ruin site that is rich in Mayan history. The large complex of temple ruins are truly impressive.
As you walk through the national park you will get a chance to see some amazing wildlife including Howler monkeys, Coatimundis, various birds including Toucans (which we didn’t find personally), and a number of other beautiful species. Our personal preference is to visit places like this without a guide so we can admire and explore at our own pace and not in a large group. If you are choosing to do sunrise or sunset at Tikal, you are required to be with a guide, but any time in between you can go on your own. We paid for transport from a tour company to Tikal from Flores that cost Q80 leaving at 4:30am and arriving at 6am. Our entrance cost Q150, sunrise and sunset tickets cost ~Q100 more. If you are goin for sunrise, clarify with your tour company but based on our understanding you will want to go buy your ticket at the Atlantic Bank the day before the ticket booths at Tikal’s entrance is not open that early. Even though we did not do the sunrise, we still bought tickets prior at Atlantic Bank to save time when we arrived.
Jorge’s Rope Swing
Jorge’s Rope Swing was definitely a highlight during our stay in Flores. Here you will find an awesome wooden diving board and a crazy rope swing where you can jump, dive and flip into the water! Find your way across the lake via one of the boat drivers found easily all around the island. Just say rope swing and they know where you want to go!
We got a little ripped off and paid Q40 each for a round trip as we knew some people who got it for Q25 each the next day so do not forget your bargaining skills. When you arrive at Jorge’s Rope Swing you have to pay Q10 entrance and that’s it. You can stay all day and have a blast! They do serve some food (we had awesome nachos for Q35), as well as drinks (a beer is Q15).
El Mirador (Lookout)
Take a boat across to San Miguel and walk west along the streets to find your way to El Mirador. The boat will only cost you Q5 to San Miguel or you can take it closer to El Mirador for Q10. We chose to walk through San Miguel to get there as we wanted to explore more of the local area! In about 30 minutes your will hike your way to a sketchy tree house sort of structure where you will get an amazing lookout over the entire island of Flores! Don’t forget your camera as it is pretty awesome!
There are many local food options around Flores but our personal favourite were the food stands on the bridgeway between Flores and Santa Elena. If you are travelling on a budget, your in luck! Burritos, tacos, and more, only Q5 each! Amazing juice options also Q5! Also, some delicious cakes for Q5-10! There are multiple stands but they generally all have the exact same thing at the exact same price so it doesn’t matter who you go to. Also, if you are looking to buy some of your own food there is a supermarket in the mall just across the bridge from the island. We definitely recommend buying a large gallon water bottle for Q8 and filling up your smaller bottle rather than constantly buying water bottles for Q10-15.
Santa Elena Bus Station Market
Within walking distance from Flores, around 15 minutes, you can reach a large local market selling clothes, food, haircuts, and many other things. We are always looking to check out the local markets evening if we are not needing to buy anything. The nice thing about this market is that it is actually for the locals and not a bunch of souvenir stands so it is definitely worth checking out!
Go for a swim!
There are many staircases along the perimeter of the island for you to go in and take a dip in the lake. Watch out because they are slippery, but it’s an awesome way to cool of during or after a hot day!