San Marcos La Laguna
San Marcos La Laguna is a quiet town on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. The town has become a bit of a Mecca for all things spiritual, with several meditation, yoga, and massage centers. It's one of the most beautiful spots on the lake, and quite easy to lose a few days in.
Take a shuttle boat from the public dock at Panajachel (Q20, 45 minutes).
If flying from outside of the country, the most effective and practical way to get to San Marcos is by means of plane then either bus or car. I recomend flying into Guatemala City (known by the locals as 'Guate') then proceed to drive 3.5 hours. The major highways that are in route are mostly updated. When exiting, take caution to the windy, dirt road that leads to the small town of San Marcos.
There is also a shuttle from San Christobal, Mexico. The shuttle provides a traveler with a rich cultural experiance by traveling in what the locals refer to as a "chicken bus". The "chicken bus" will drop you off in Panajachel and from there you can take a luancha (small boat) to San Marcos.
If traveling from Antigua, a popular tourist destination in Guatemala, the only means of transportation is a six hour car ride between towns.
The most striking feature of this town is that it has practically no roads — everything is reached by thin foot paths through trees and between buildings. Handmade signs direct you to the most common destinations at any intersection.
The homemade paths have a very intimate feel to them. They are shaped by the plants and flowers that create almost fences that guide you in the correct path.
There are minimal streetlights and not many signs so I would recommend paying attention to where you are going and don't be scared to ask the locals if you are lost! Many of the roads are narrow and curvy so I suggest your full attention to where you are going! Majority of the travel within San Marcos,
Most of the modern infrastructure resides in San Pedro where streets are paved and there are more signs dedicated to the comprehension of lost tourists.
Majority of the travel within the area around Lake Atitlan is by boat. There are fifteen 'major' pueblos or small towns surrounding the lake, San Marcos included. From San Marcos, there are boats leaving every twenty to thirty minutes to each of these individual towns. Some of the known rates are as fallows; from San Marcos to San Pedro it costs 10Q ($1.25 american), from San Marcos to Panajachel it costs between 20/25 Q ($2.50-3.50 american).
San Marcos is the 'spiritual heaven'! There are enough yoga retreats and spiritual centers to fulfill anyones spiritual needs. San Marcos is the perfect location for pure bliss and relaxation. Majority of the activities are based around relaxation and connection with your spiritual self. It has a very laid back feel and culture with no obvious worries. It has been described as a place that "takes life as it comes".
There is still a very strong and authentic Mayan culture in existence within the town of San Marcos. Their culture is best known for its bright colors in its clothing, artwork and food.
San Marcos is also great for outdoor adventure. Because of the lake there is a very rich ecological reservation of many endangered species. The lake also provides direct pleasure with swimming, sailing, kayaking, and even cliff jumping. The most popular cliff jumping site is a ten minute walk from the center of San Marcos. If you are an adventurous type, there is a lot of hiking up and down volcanos, enjoying beautiful scenery of the lake from a high point and also great bird watching. Scuba is also available if you are feeling adventuresome.
This is a great place for some who is interested in cooking tourism. A new emerging type of tourism that focusing on chefs or food lovers traveling around to find the freshest produce and cooking up delicious feasts with the use of only local items. San Marcos and the surrounding towns have many open air markets or mercados that provide fresh fruits and vegetables of all kind to the locals and tourists. The best market that I visited was the Microdyn, it had the freshest produce for the best price.