The stunning lake Atitlan is a popular destination for alternative travelers. There are a few towns built around the big lake. You will find more things to do at San Pedro, San Marcos or Panajachel.
San Pedro La Laguna
San Pedro is full of young Americans who, with the excuse of learning Spanish, spend a few months contributing to the smell of weed of the streets. San Pedro is a quiet town during the day but there a few bars playing good alternative music at night. Ask around for the secret location raves happening most of the weekends.
Local people have been influenced by years of alternative travelers. It was nice to see dread-locked Guatemalans playing hip-hop music and then hanging out with their friends dressing traditional clothes.
San Marcos La Laguna
At the other side of the lake, San Marcos is the best destination for more spiritual travelers. A relaxing town full of meditation centres and yoga retreats connected by quiet walkpaths.
I’ve made many hippie friends on my trips but on my way to San Marcos I met the ultimate one: a Canadian guy, walking barefoot on a dirty Guatemalan town. He got into my bus and we started chatting. He had been riding his horse in Guatemala for the previous three months, visiting remote towns where they had never seen a white man before. He explained to me how he was connecting with nature and Planet Earth. Embracing humanity, he said. I could see his Earth connection on his big, permanent smile. Had he smoked his connection, I wondered.
He was proud of getting away from any kind of technology for weeks, living without money. He interrupted the conversation when he noticed a key on his pocket. His friend needed that key to enter the house where they were staying. He quickly got off the bus to go back to the previous town so I lost my chance to take a picture with him, what a shame!
The most touristic town around lake Atitlan. I wouldn’t recommend sleeping there as it lacks the personality of San Pedro and San Marcos. Anyway, your bus will probably arrive there so you will have a chance to take a look before taking a boat your destination.
Lake Atitlan has something to offer to everybody: stunning sunrise views, spiritual retreats, parties, water sports or relaxing cafeterias to enjoy the view!