The dock in San Pedro la Laguna
San Pedro La Laguna is in Guatemala. It is a fairly laid back small town located across Lake Atitlán from Panajachel. The major mochilero hub. Great food, small and walkable, and safe. Expect anything touristy to be priced touristically.
If arriving by bus, you will be dropped off in the center of town, next to the market. Most hotels are located near the lake so you'll need to make your way downhill to find the hotels. There are hotels and restaurants in the center of town. When arriving to San Pedro by boat, you'll be greeted by people offering you hotels, kayaks, horseback rides and taxis. This can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming. If you get them to lead you to a hotel, the hotel owner normally pays them a commission (normally 5Q per person) based on the number of people who arrive and stay. Some hotels don't pay them a commission so the they will try to get you to go to a hotel that does. However,if you already know the location of your hotel it is best to tell the guide that you do not need his help, or inform the hotel owners that the guide merely followed you. There is no need to take a taxi to your hotel. All hotels take 1-10 minutes to walk to from the main dock. If you take the first left after getting off the dock, there are a lot of hotels along that road. After walking a couple of minutes, just past a tienda, there is a small alley on your right with a lot of signs for restaurants, bars and hotels (you'll notice signs for ZooLa and Al Suave). This is the way to the "main trail", where most tourists are; it widens after the first stretch, follow the paving. At Al Suave, make a left for Jarachik, Buddha and El Barrio bars, hot tubs, and other attractions.
The official San Pedro's tourist guides association (ASOANTUR) is located right next to the Panajachel dock and can provide you with anything, from basic directions to complete full coffee tour around the volcano. One of their youngest guides, Diego, speaks perfect english and can basically fix any of your touristy needs.
While in San Pedro be sure to seek out a free copy of Sol de Atitlan. Full of information about establishments specifically for expats, written by an expat. You will find many great restaurants not listed in this particular magazine.
- From Antigua: There are 2 shuttle-bus companies that go directly to San Pedro from Antigua. One charges 60Q and the other 70Q. The shuttle bus company, La Ceiba, only charges 50Q. They may be contacted via telephone at 5974-8753. They take about 3 hours, including a 15 minute rest break at either a petrol station for food, drink, and to use the restroom. This is the the most convenient way to get to San Pedro, there is no need to take a boat from Panajachel. There are excellent views of Lake Atitlan from the mountain road approaching San Pedro. Tickets are available at the travel agency across the street from the Black Cat Hostel in Antigua, and perhaps from other agencies -- ask. To go by chicken bus, first go to Chimaltenango, then look for buses towards Xela/Quetzaltenango. Get off at the turnoff to San Pedro, Kilometro 148, where there are minibuses and chicken buses that go the rest of the way. The three bus companies listed below also pass through Chimaltenango. Taking one of those and going directly to San Pedro is the way to go. Crossing the road at highway marker 148 is not recommended.
- From Guatemala City: Direct buses from the center of Guatemala City are provided by three San Pedro companies: Transportes Mendez, Veloz San Pedrana and Transportes Wendy. Buses leave at 11AM (Wendy), 11:30AM (Mendez), 12PM (Pedrana), 12:30PM (Pedrana), 2PM (Mendez) and 4PM (Mendez) and pass along 20a Calle between 4a and 5a Avenida, Zona 1. The 4 hour journey to San Pedro costs 25Q (approx. $3.50). Or in the bus terminal, Trebol, direct buses leave every hour from 6am or 7am to 5pm or 7pm.
- From Quetzletenango From Xela catching a Chicken Bus is the authentic option and is relatively cheap and easy. Costs 35Q (as of July 2015) and takes about 3 hours (although times vary greatly depending on how many stops are made for pick ups and drop offs). Buses leave from Terminal Minerva in Xela at 11.30am, midday, 1pm, 4pm, and 5.30pm - be sure to look for the one that lists San Marcos & San Pedro as its terminus or else you will be dropped off at the exit of the Interamericana. If you get on early you should be able to fit your luggage under your seat if you're worried about having it strapped in up top. These buses will inevitably become standing room only at one point on the journey, but getting on at Xela should guarantee you a seat. The bus we were on even had a tv! If you are new to chicken buses or the driving in Guatemala then the final hour or so of this trip, after leaving the Interamericana, can be pretty tense. It involves hairpin bends on poor quality roads with steep declines as well as sheer drops on one side. It is safe but be prepared.
- By boat or "lancha" from Panajachel: 10-20Q for locals, 25Q for visitors (current price as of September 2014). Only pay the captain or his assistant when onboard or disembarking, do not pay any of the "helpful" men at the pier, they are there to rip you off - they will tell you lies about how the next boat is not running for hours, charge you more than the going rate & pocket a commission. It is best to bring change with you to pay the captain, don't try to pay with a 100Q note.
San Pedro is a tiny town and walking will be more than sufficient to get around all of it in a reasonable time.
Or if you're feeling lazy catch one of the many Tuktuks.
To enjoy the great views around the lake, use the village guides as the foliage can be dense and the route can be tricky to find. Like anywhere you might travel, San Pedro has many roads that cut into hidden areas and so on, which could be dangerous so it is best to hire a guide as you hike. There are many of them in San Pedro, and they work for more than reasonable rates. They are friendly, and will gladly find you a horse to ride also. There is much to see from kayak also, and there are available rentals at 10Q/hour if you choose to travel by water alongside the coastline.
- Hikes. There are a number of popular hikes departing from San Pedro, including the hike up the nearby Volcano San Pedro.
At least two instructors operate around the lake, one from Panajachel and one from San Marcos. Ask at the tourist office near the Pana dock or in any tourist agency. The price is around 90USD for 10-40 minutes of flight (depending on the weather : the warmer the better).
Another popular location for hiking is Indian Nose, or Mayan Face (Nariz de Indio o Cara Maya). For both locations a guide is recommended, if for nothing else, personal safety.
Trek for Kids  is a local hiking company that pays their guides fair wages and uses their proceeds to help local children pay for their schooling.
- Yoga. A locally run yoga space. Classes are run daily Mon to Sat. Usually in the morning at 9 to 10.30 and evenings 4 to 5.30. Lovely setting to practice yoga under the skies and on the earth. Price Q40.00
- Kayak rentals available on the far east side of town, on the lakeshore. A pleasant way to explore the lake. 15Q/hour. If you go down to the lake and try to rent one, they will usually try to charge you twice as much as it would cost if you bought from an agency.
- Paragliding At least two instructors operate around the lake, one from Panajachel and one from San Marcos. Ask at the tourist office near the Pana dock or in any tourist agency. The price is around 90USD for 10-40 minutes of flight (depending on the weather : the warmer the better).
- Rising Minds is an organization based near Hotel Paraiso. They do cultural immersion workshops, where you can learn Mayan weaving, make herbal shampoo, go fishing on the lake with indigenous fishermen, etc. A one-day workshop costs 100-150Q
- Climb the volcano san pedro Guide is "required" but unnecessary. Price Q100
- Free Movies (various locations). D'Noz do classic movies on Monday night, and new releases on Thursday nights. Buddha also show movies one day a week (not sur which one)
- Traditional Cooking Classes At Ixiim Cooking School you can learn to make traditional Guatemalan cuisine (pepián, jocón, rellenitos, mole, tamalitos...) accompanied by a beverage (horchata, rosa de jamaica, atol). Grind your own corn flour for tortillas, prepare food with traditional cooking methods, and enjoy your meal in the beautiful garden. Ixiim Cooking School offers daily classes and weekly workshops. Vegetarian and gluten free options are also available. Classes offered 7 days a week. Located on 7 Avenida (across from Hotel Pinocchio, next to Clover Restaurant)
- Caza Suenos (up the road to the market from the Panajachel dock). This locally owned shop has jewelery, clothing, and hand-crafted leather goods. If you have time to wait (3-5 days), you can commission a custom-made pair of sandals or moccasins for about Q250.
- Restaurante Nuevo Sol 7 Av 01-019 Zona 2 (on the main drag between Mikaso and the Santiago dock) 9am to 4pm, Wednesday through Saturday Slow-cooked comfort food, at reasonable prices. Calm, quiet, wifi.
- Smokin' Joes' BBQ: Supposedly the best BBQ in Guatemala, though this has never been proven. Every sunday at The Deep End Bar & Pool.
- Cafe Luna Azul: a little bit west of the Panajachel dock. Great lakeside location with a good place for swimming and tanning. Try the chocolate fudge cake!
- Nick's Place: it's by the Panajachel dock. Meals are reasonably priced!
- The best roast chicken in town is a little place called Pollo Pedrito at the crossroads near the Pana dock, opposite the Alegre pub.
- The Buddha: Located in San Pedro's hip, 'Otro Lado' a mere 5 minute walk from the main dock. Extremely good Asian & gourmet local dishes at very reasonable prices in an astoundingly beautiful setting. It's a three story bar, restaurant, lounge, cinema & cabaret with an amazing fusion of local and faraway exotic. Great place for traveler's to mingle with each other & locals over a game of pool.
- Jarachik: Jarachik is a Hostel and a restaurant. Good food here. Every night (weather permitting) there is a bonfire in the garden / restaurant area. Great food. Jarachik is on the path between the Pana and the Santiago docks.
- ZooLa, path (watch for the red-lettered signs). 9AM to 9 PM, closed Monday. "Laid back" in Hebrew, offers one of the most comfortable places to lounge around with your friends while you enjoy good food and drink. Not cheap. Has some Israeli items, including falafel, on the menu but the coffee is locally-grown and doesn't include the ground cardamom that you'll find in some middle eastern restaurants. Food quality has changed since new owners took over, but the atmosphere has gotten much better, with a new swimming pool and bar. low to moderate. edit
- Streetfood, (on 7th avenue near the pana dock on the way to the path). Best and cheapest food in town, roasted sausages and chicken with beans, guacamole and tortillas. 8Q. edit
- Lole's Place is open for breakfast and lunch only, They have great tasting food for only 15 - 20Q a plate. Just a few meters away from the main crossroads near the Pana dock, under the GYM.
- Hotel Mikaso, (The restaurant is on the third floor). Hotel Mikaso has a selection of food and drinks on offer but most importantly has the most impressive view with free wifi in the whole town. A very relaxed atmosphere Hotel Mikaso is slightly removed from the rest of the gringo-ville tourist trap, that you get to by walking down a seculded narrow garden lined path to the edge of the lake. Very friendly staff, the best brownies in town (we did some pretty serious investigations) and the aioli that comes with the fries is something special. Even if you can't afford to stay here you can spend 5Q of a pretty good coffee and stare at the volcanoes across the lake. edit
- Cafe Atitlan, (Round the corner from Le Jardin), . 7am-11pm. The newly relocated Cafe Atitlan (many places with good lake views have found themselves with slightly too good lakes views with the waters rising) is around the corner from Le Jardin and The Clover. Look for the colorful coffee beans painted on the cobblestones. A popular joint with good coffee at very reasonable prices. Breakfast (breakfast burritos!), lunch and dinner are also served. Free Wi-Fi for customers. Also has some accommodation, see Sleep edit
- Restaurant Elena, San Pedro La Laguna (From Panajachel Dock, walk up the hill then turn right (the road opposite Allegre Pub). Restaurant Elena is about 100m along on the left.). The restaurant is run by a very friendly and helpful couple. The food is reasonably priced and there are vegetarian options available-ask what is vegetarian if unsure. edit
- Cafe Home, Avenida 7 (beside Buddha Bar), . 9-5 Tue-Sun. San Pedro's only dedicated Vegetarian & Vegan restaurant. Serving tasty and healthy meals at reasonable prices, great organic coffee, tempting desserts - with gluten-free and vegan options.Homemade Yogurt & Kefir. Beautiful Garden with Hammocks & out-door seating. Peaceful vibe & friendly staff. https://www.facebook.com/CafeHomeSanPedro edit
- The Fifth Dimension, San Pedro La Laguna (Turn right from the Panajachel Dock, between Hotel Fe and Orbita Spanish School on a second level terrace), ☎ 4965 2438, . 09:30-17:00 (closed Monday). Cafe/cinema/terraza with a lake view and chilled vibe, colourful artwork and friendly staff. They serve delicious home-made vegetarian food and a great selection of drinks including superfood smoothies. Huge, comfy couch and also garden with seating. Private cinema screenings can be requested. Free & Fast Wi-Fi for customers. Meals range from $2-8 (Q15-60) per person. edit
- Jakuu, (On the main trail, right in front of the large school, and just before the intersection with Russian Psy Bar if the direction of the lancha is behind you.). A locally-owned business that prides itself on big plates. You will find the largest plates of food you may have ever seen for Q30-40. Very chill. edit
- D´Noz (by the Pana dock) Is one of the original traveler restaurants in San Pedro La Laguna and has great breakfast, lunch and dinners with free wireless internet. They also show free movies nightly at 8:30PM. When you get to town stop here first and get some great tips on where to stay and whats going on. Closed Sunday.
- Alegre Pub, Panajachel dock. British pub that also serves good food. Free movies on the roof at 7:30PM. edit
- Nick's Place, (Just Left of the Panajachel dock). See under Eat. edit
- Shanti Shanti, (100m from the Panajachel dock). Inexpensive place to chill; good view of the lake. edit
- The Buddha. Free pool table, dart board, Free large screen movies in second floor lounge/cinema, Hookah Pipes, three floors. Happy Hour from 12PM-8PM. edit
- El Barrio. A cozy and laid-back bar and eatery on the main path, toward the Santiago Dock. A favorite with local expats and has been fully remodeled with new owners. edit
Basic accommodation is easily found when you arrive as you will likely be approached at the dock. Average pricing is 50Q. Some specific places include:
- Casa Angeles, (Opposite Casa Felipe). A classy hostel in town just oppsite Casa Felipe in San Pedro and offers beautiful rooms and a cute terrace with a kitchen. It is very quiet, dorms available from 25Q a person and private rooms with queen beds for 30Q. edit
- Hotel San Francisco, 5a avenida 2-32. A location for super budget travellers as the rooms are cheap and serviceable, and the showers are warm (but not hot). Some rooms come with a good view of the lake and a balcony. Because the quality of the rooms vary, ask to see a few before committing. You can bargain for cheaper rates if you stay 2 or more nights, say that you will look at other hotels to get the best rate. And actually look at other hotels becuase many offer better services at a similar price. Q30-50. edit
- Hotel Peneleu. Just a few doors up from San Francisco. Rooms with bare concrete walls and a shared bathroom are only 15Q a night - super cheap, but there are only 3 of them available. The rest of the rooms are 30-50Q a night, which gets you a private room with bathroom/shower, a double bed or two twins, high ceilings, tiled floors, a (shared) balcony with a fantastic view overlooking the lake, a basic shared kitchen, good wifi and hot showers. As with most hotels in this price range, bring your own towel and toilet paper. Rooms apparently rent by the night, not per person; Q30-50. edit
- Casa Elena is located after Nick's Place. Clean room with twin beds on the lakeshore. Owned and operated by a friendly Maya family. Relatively basic accommodations and a frat-house atmosphere. I was testing the wifi to see if I wanted to rent a room and the person on duty told me to either take the room now or leave.
- Jarachik is located along the "main trail", a walkway that starts about 250 m left of the Pana dock. Locally-owned Jarachik offers inexpensive dorms and rooms (Q35/45 dorm, Q55 private room w/bathroom;Q75/100 private rooftop room w/bathroom, Triple room w/ private bath was Q135 on 10-Dec-2011.
- Hotel Ti-Kaaj, Main Path, near Santiago Atitlan dock, across from Picasso restaurant, near Nuevo Sol. Hammocks, kitchen, warm showers, cats. by far the cheapest option in town. Single: 15Q, Double: 25Q. edit
- Mikaso Hotel, near Santiago Atitlan dock, . Open to the world and willing to participate in the well-being of a developing country, a Quebec family built Mikaso Hotel in 2004-2005. Mikaso Hotel offers excellent cuisine and housing facilities in the safe and peaceful surroundings of the Maya Highlands. Recommended by Ulysse Guide, a renowned travel book published in Quebec, and by the 2008 Lonely Planet Guide, Mikaso’s owners wish to promote Mayan culture through the participation of the San Pedro community. Mikaso Hotel provides 12rooms for 2, 3 or 4 persons, as well as a dormitory for 8 persons. Each room has its own bathroom with shower and hot water. Meals presented as self-service are served on the terrace on the third floor. edit
- Zoola, path (take the first left from the pana dock, take a right on the path next to a shop, a, left, and you will see it), ☎ (502) 5534 3111. Good food, and very chill atmosphere. Staff have a reputation around town for being rude. Israeli themed and run. (100 Q for private double room ensuite). Walk-in only, no reservations. edit
- Yo Mama's Casa, Zona 2, San Pedro La Laguna (The easiest way is asking a guide to take you (the hostel tips them) or with your back to the lake, walk left on the main street (where the shuttle arrives or the first street up from the lancha). Keep going for 2 blocks, then turn right at a narrow passageway after the tienda (toward ZooLa, etc). Take the first left and keep going until you reach a T-junction with the Russian Psy Bar bar straight ahead of you. Look to your right and you will see a small sign for Yo Mama's.), . checkin: anytime; checkout: 11am. 3 communal areas and garden. Cook your own meals in the kitchen (with fridge, stove/oven & a personalised basket for your groceries), beers on-site, pool table for free, hammocks. 30Q for a dorm bed, 40Q for a shared private and 50Q for a room. Literally one minute from the bar strip - close enough to crawl home, yet slightly removed from the hustle and bustle. Good place for an extended stay, and locally owned. Firepit every night. Rooms located right next to pool tables. 30-50Q. edit
- Tepepul Kaan, 6 Calle 5-10, Zona 2. San Pedro (Take the street that t-bones into Casa Elena and you will find Tepepul Kaan at the top of the street.), ☎ 4301-2271, . Tepepul Kaan is located above the "calle Turistica" directly above Junior's Travel Agency about 100m left of the Pana dock. Locally owned Tepepul Kaan offers inexpensive rooms (Q75 and up, all with private bathrooms), and a rooftop terrace to chill on. The hotel offers clean rooms at better prices than in Guate, and is one of the newer (and cleaner) hotels in San Pedro. Both backpacker and family friendly. Tepepul Kaan is also the only hotel that donates a portion of its money (25%) to a local children's charity. The hotel has a sign posted that says anyone using illicit substances will be immediately ejected. 75Q. edit
- Pinocchio, (behind Les Jardin des Sauveurs & across from Buddha Bar). Private rooms (some with shared & others with private bathrooms) in 2 buildings around pretty yard & gardens. Hammocks on patio in front of most rooms. 24-hr security. Guest kitchen shared. Wi-fi internet included. Bottled water provided (not offered in 2013). Great lookout over lake from roof of 3-story main building. Charged 50Q per person (150Q total) for private bath triple room on 3rd floor (Dec. 2011) for 1 night. Still 50Q per night if staying for a few nights. Extremely basic accommodations with outside toilets - but clean. edit
- Art Café El Colibri, Zona 2, Xetahual (behind Zoola, in front of Museum), . offers 3 basic rooms with private bath, breakfast included in price. Price range mostly between 60 and 85Q per person and night. edit
San Pedro La Laguna has begun to establish itself as another language school center around the Atitlán Lake as the beautiful location drawing more and more students each year. Quality of instruction is varied so you might want to shop around. The people of this area speak Tz' utujil as their primary language. They learn Spanish in school which gives them the advantage of knowing the process of learning the language. Learning Spanish here in San Pedro would be like learning French in Germany. They also have a noticeably technical way of speaking that is easy to learn as it is simple to understand. Some to check are Flor Del Maiz  Orbita Cooperativa  Corazon Maya , Guatemaya Spanish School , Casa Rosario , San Pedro Spanish School , and  Elmer Cortez Spanish School.
Private lessons are also available at reasonable rates:
- Jennifer, a qualified local teacher, has an office located just past Buddha Bar on the main trail, and comes highly recommended.
- "Clases Privadas 'Fe'" offers teachers with significant experience, materials, and activities all included in a very reasonable price. Very flexible with one's scheduling during the off-season, and will tailor lessons to your interests & needs.
- Staying at the Mikaso hotel is quite expensive, given it has the best views and nicest rooms in town, but at the restaurant the coffee is only 5Q a cup and you can use the wifi (0.75 Mbps) free on their terrazza overlooking the lake. The staff were more than happy to let us stay there for hours after buying very little.
- The restaurant Jarachik also has free WiFi for those who buy something to eat. They have a very friendly staff, and great food.
- For coffee lovers try Cafe Cristalinas. Not only do they have free WiFi, but also an internet cafe for those who do not have computers. The to eat menu is limited, but the coffee is roasted on site. Ask the staff about when they roast their coffee and and an explanation of the process.
- D'Noz restaurant offers WiFi to its customers. Tested at 1.25mbps
- Cafe Atitlán offers wi-fi internet to customers.
- Pinocchio (hotel/hostel) offers wi-fi internet to guests.
- Orbita Spanish School has free wifi.
- La Cooperativa offers free wifi to students.
The prices in most of food stores have fixed prices. Fixed prices may also be found in the public buses (chicken buses). However, stores and street vendors selling art or craftwork expect people to engage in bargaining.
However, not all prices are subject to bargaining. For example, hotel rooms, and shuttle buses. [Incorrect. You can negotiate hotel room prices during the low season if you stay more than just a few days.] All hotels and tour companies must register their services and their prices with INGUATE, the national tourism board, and must pay taxes based on those prices. Remember, the business owners are no different from other business owners around the world. They have loans to pay off, investments to recuperate etc,. Remember, "Act locally, but think globally." Always attempt to help local businesses over foreign businesses for obvious reasons, if not a certain backlash can be triggered.
The best way to get to Antigua is to take a minibus. You have several options here and all of them are more or less the same; a minibus full of tourists taking about 3 hours.
Minibuses are available at 7:30a.m. in front of the travel agency, Maya Tztujil found on the main tourist strip just near the Panachel dock. It is best to book your space at least one day in advance. At Maya Tz'utujil it only costs 60Q.
There is also another one that leaves from in front of Casa Verde every day at 9:30Am. It costs 70 Q and takes about 3 hours, including a 15 minute restroom break. With a group you might negotiate the price till 50Q. It is best to buy your ticket the day before you leave, at Casa Verde, the green building near the main dock. (Tel: 58379092) There is a travel agency inside. They use newer Toyota minibuses.
This is cheaper and faster than paying 25Q to take a boat to Panajachel, and then 70Q to get from Panajachel to Antigua.
The cheapest way to get in/out are the buses leaving to Xela Monday till Saturday mornings at 4:30, 5, 5:30, 6, 7, 8:00 and 10.30AM across the street from the Catholic church downtown (top of the hill) 20-30Q, or to Guate (Guatemala City) other hours starting from 3AM. If you're travelling to Antigua let the bus attendant know where you are going and he will let you know where to change buses in Chimaltenango. Shuttle buses are available to Xela - however they are slower than the pubic buses and cost around 160Q.
Please practice caution when doing business with the shuttle company Via Tour. Recent travelers have experienced issues with this operator.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!