Lake Atitlan is truly a beautiful place and well worth a visit for any traveller in Guatemala. This is the place where many people find themselves unable to leave in the time they originally thought they would. When you hear about Lake Atitlan, you imagine it to be like visiting any other town/city. However, Lake Atitlan is a lake with many villages and towns surrounding it that are all unique so you actually have to decide where you want to go. Hopefully with our experience we can help you enjoy your time in Lake Atitlan.
Where We Visited and What We Did
Panajachel is the main town around Lake Atitlan and we visited here for 2 nights on our way out of Lake Atitlan. It was actually only supposed to be 1 night but we missed the last chicken bus onward so had to add an extra. We did find one night would have been enough for us. It is likely this will be where you first arrive to, then you can choose to stay here or move straight on to another town by boat from here. There are ways to go straight to other towns but we found this best. As we visited here last we basically did everything we wanted to but we found the market street in Panajachel to have some very great things including hammocks (which we bought one), clothes, blankets, etc.
If your interested in a hammock here is some important information for you. Check the strings because some hammocks have stronger strings than others. Know how large the hammock your looking at and looking for is. It is common to see 2 panel hammocks which we once bargained down to Q150 in San Pedro (another town in Lake Atitlan) in the evening, but when we went back to buy it the next day the lady said we lost our chance but you should have no problem bargaining down to Q200. Lucky for us, we ended up buying a large 3 panel hammock for Q210 from the market in Panajachel with some hard bargaining. It is expensive but they are really nice and it was a savings when compared to a hammock at home.
San Pedro La Laguna
San Pedro is the main backpacker destination and we found it to be a good hub for us to enjoy Lake Atitlan how we wanted. There is basically one main tourist road with restaurants, bars, shops, hostels, and a few small hotels. We highly recommend taking the sunrise hike to Indian Nose as you get a truly amazing view over all of the lake with the incredible mountainous landscape. It is about a 45 minute drive and a 45 minute hike in he dark so if you are doing the sunrise you definitely want to go with the guided trip that will cost you around Q80-Q100. We also rented kayaks and paddled directly across the lake to a beach to hangout for a couple hours. It is also possible to hike Volcano San Pedro, however, we did Indian Nose instead.
San Marcos La Laguna
San Marcos has a super hippie vibe. There are tons of things you can take part in if this is your sort of thing including rituals, ceremonies, yoga retreats, etc. We even heard about a ritual that last 28 days for an entire lunar cycle. This really isn’t our thing so we didn’t get to much into learning about it but if this is your thing, there will be something here for you! However, we did make a day trip here from San Pedro as the two are super close and it was a nice place to visit for the day. We recommend heading over to Hostal Del Lago for lunch or a drink and going swimming off their dock!
Other Towns and Villages
As mentioned earlier, each town and village around Lake Atitlan is unique and has its own personality. Although we did not visit these places, other destinations around Lake Atitlan include San Juan, Santa Cruz, San Lucas, and possible a couple we did not hear about!