Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán) is a beautiful and popular tourist destination in Guatemala. It is easily accessible from Antigua via private shuttles and the many towns around the lake can be reached by water taxi (5-25Q depending on distance).
San Pedro and San Juan
We spent our first 2 nights in San Pedro, one of the largest towns on the lake with lots of restaurants and bars and cheap accommodation. It is known to be a party town but as we weren’t feeling the best so we skipped the party. The vibe is a bit hippy and there is an abundance of massages treatments on offer. San Pedro was not our favourite spot but it was good for a few days, however, you cannot swim in the lake at San Pedro.
We took a Tuktuk from San Pedro to San Juan. San Juan is famous for its textiles and small shops where you can buy cheap locally made goods including scarfs, bags, wallets, coffee etc. We especially loved Tinte Maya, a small textile shop where you can meet the women making the various items, we also learnt that 90% of the profits go directly towards the ladies who made the goods. All the colours are 100% natural and the ladies in the shop took us through the various natural materials that make the different colours. We also learnt that the cotton used is grown in their own garden and hand spun.
The goods were very cheap considering one of the scarfs I brought took 2 days to make. It costs me 75Q (USD$9.50) and another one, a very beautiful soft blue scarf for 100Q (USD$13.00).
From San Pedro we also hiked the Indians Nose, a beautiful but short sunrise trek, leaving at 4am. It is recommended that you take a guide, as there have been cases of youths with machetes who want money or goods. As we booked late in the evening it cost us 125Q per person (USD$16) which included private shuttle, land fees, a coffee at the top and a local guide (who only spoke Spanish). We did find other options for about 90Q. We would highly recommend this trek as the views were absolutely beautiful.
San Marcos and the blissful Maya Moon Lodge
San Marcos is a small hippy village with many ex-pats from around the world, it is also possible to swim on this side of the lake. There is not much to the village, it is really only one small street but there are many holistic healing, massage options an health food stores. It is well worth a short visit to the township and it is possible to take a 15min water taxi from San Pedro for 10Qpp.
We decided to stay at Maya Moon Lodge just outside San Marcos, based on a recommendation from another traveller. The lodge is based right on the lake and is accessible by water taxi from San Pedro for 15qpp. It is also possible to arrive via water taxi from Pana or from San Marcos either by walking, TukTuk or water taxi.
It has been a real treat staying at the lodge. We opted for the dorm room for USD$10 per person per night but privates are available at USD$40 per night. There is a restaurant where you can get homemade breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks ranging between 20-60q plus 10% service. The views across the lake, the surrounding valley and the volcanoes are amazing. On a clear night/day you can also see Volcano Fuego puffing away and if you are lucky a red glow from the eruptions in the evenings.
Maya Moon Lodge has been the perfect place to relax and catch up after a few months of travel. I would recommended it to any traveller visiting lake Atitlan. It has been pure bliss.