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Flores (Guatemala)

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Flores is a town in Petén, Guatemala. The town proper is an island on Lago Petén Itzá, connected to land by a causeway, on the other side of which lie the twin towns Santa Elena and San Benito. All three are often referred to as Flores, and are grouped in one article here accordingly.


For many, the main reason to visit Flores is its proximity to Tikal, the most famous Maya ruins in Guatemala, or as a starting point for trips around Petén. It is located approximately one hour by bus from Tikal. But the city itself is a wonder — dense with colonial, red-roofed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, a historic church and Spanish plaza, and restaurants that are easy to stumble upon walking the city's charming streets. Most will find that this island city is more than just a take-off point, but a memorable attraction in itself.

Flores is a quiet and peaceful place, and probably one of the safest places in the sometimes wild north. Santa Elena and San Benito require a little more caution, but offer a more authentic experience of a Guatemalan town, complete with traffic, litter and street food.

Get in[edit]

Map of Flores island

By plane[edit]

Mundo Maya International Airport (IATA: FRS) is just outside Flores and is the only other international airport in the country aside from Guatemala City. This modern facility with its 10,000 ft. runway is courtesy of the US CIA. TAG and TACA Airlines [28] both run daily flights from Guatemala City, but are often delayed in both directions.

Tropic Air [29] also offers an inexpensive option from Belize City in a light aircraft which, if you're lucky, flies low providing amazing views of the rainforest. They have daily flights from Philip Goldson International Airport to Flores at 8:30AM and 3PM, with return flights at 9:45AM and 4:15PM.

TACA used to fly from Cancun, however the flights were discontinued in 2011 and it is unclear when they will be resumed.

A taxi from the airport to Flores island costs Q20 (or Q10 per person, whichever is larger). It is about two kilometers from the airport to the Flores causeway. Tuk tuks (three-wheeled motorcycle taxis) can be found along the main road outside the airport and throughout the town, for Q5 per person.

Minibus shuttles to Tikal or El Remate can be found just outside the arrival area near airport parking.

By Private Transfers[edit]

Mayan Heart World [30] also offers an inexpensive option from San Ignacio Town, Belize your drive is able to privately transfer you to and from Flores via ground transfer. Travel between Flores and Tikal made easy with this company, as the have daily shuttle to and from either destination.

Other option from Guatemala or Antigua Guatemala City is with private shuttles [31]

By bus[edit]

Buses from Guatemala City and Belize City as well as various other destinations all over the country stop at the Fuente del Norte bus station in Santa Elena, a five minute auto-rickshaw ride across the causeway from Flores island (Q5).

There are direct tourist buses you can book direct from Semuc Champay/Lankin for 125Q - Sept 2016. These take between 8 and 10 hours - door to door service.

From Guatemala City (travel time: 8 to 10 hours), you have the following options:

  • Autobuses del Norte (ADN), 8a Avenida 16-41 Zona 1, Guatemala, 2251-0610 | 2251-0079 | 2251-0050, [1].  edit New First Class (express) buses for Q180, leave Guatemala City at 10PM - on Fridays and Sundays, there's also a bus at 9PM. The final stop is Santa Elena, but the bus will go to Flores to drop passengers who wish to stay there. These are comfortable buses, and the price includes a drink and a snack. The seats are two across on the left and solo on the right. Try to get a seat to the back, as you will be far from the driver's and assistent's talk. Keep in mind that the seats have different spacing for the legs, so it's worth asking to check the bus before choosing your seat.
  • Linea Dorada, 7767-5198, [2].  edit Runs first class buses leaving Guatemala City at 9PM for US$30,"first class" buses at 6.30am, 11am and 8pm for 190Q (US$24) and an economy bus leaving at 10PM for US$16. Get your tickets from the official office, as the touts will sell you crappy seats in the back row for double the money and leave you wondering why all the other passengers get drinks and food, there is no food or drinks in the economy and first class buses, they make several stops along the way, and usually arrive with an hour or two delay.
  • Fuente del Norte, [3].  edit Has 15+ departures from Guatemala City per day. Most of these are local runs with second-class buses (older pullman coaches without air conditioning), but they also operate a few first-class express buses (with toilets and air conditioning) leaving from Guatemala City at 10AM, 2PM, and 10:30PM, and a deluxe bus leaving from Guatemala City at 9PM. Tickets range from Q110 for a second-class bus to Q160 for a first-class bus to Q200 for the best seats on the luxury bus. Get one of the downstairs "camitas" and bring either a sweater or blanket if you are going overnight.

Monja Blanka Has a nice bus with movies for 50Q to Guatemala City from Coban

From Cobán (travel time: 5 to 7 hours), there are a few through Fuente Del Norte local buses, or you can use the frequent public microbuses (colectivos) that operate along the highway between Coban and Santa Elena. If you choose the microbus option (total fare: Q70) you will have to change to another microbus at Sayaxché after you take a quick boat or maybe the ferry across a river. The colectivo option may actually be quicker, because if there is a backup for the ferry, you can quickly pay a couple Quetzals for a boat ride across.

There are also tourists shuttles offering direct door-to-door service from Flores to Cobán for around Q100. The road from Cobán is very scenic; it's a smooth paved ride all the way (though windy for about an hour out of Coban). If you're coming from Lanquin, Aventuras Turisticas has a shuttle for 85Q (August 2015) that will drop you in the center of Flores in about 8 hours. You can find them on the road out of the center right before El Retiro. Chances are you can book this same shuttle bus at your hostel for a slightly higher price. Don't believe them if they tell you they have air conditioning.

From Belize City, you have the following options:

  • There are tourist shuttle buses from the Belize City water taxi terminal to Santa Elena: Linea Dorada [32] at 9:30AM or San Juan Express at 9:30AM and 2:30PM, US$15-US$20, travel time: 5 hours. Note that these buses do not make any stops in Belize; if you are travelling from San Ignacio or Belmopan, you must use the option below.
  • Take a local Belize bus (novelo) to Benque Veijo (3 km from the border), which costs BZ$10 or BZ$11 for express. Then take a shared taxi to the border (BZ$3), walk across, and continue to the Melchor de Mencos bus station (less than 1 km from the border), where there are frequent microbuses (30Q) and the occasional pullman coach to Santa Elena. Approximately US$12; travel time: 2 hours.

From Chetumal (Dec 14): San Juan offers a shuttle service in a minivan for 450M$ which leaves the ADO busstation at 7:00AM. It arrives in Flores between 3 and 4 PM and you will be dropped off at your hotel in Flores. Your luggage will be carried on top. You pay 360M$ exit fee for Mexico and 30 US$ for Belize. You will walk through the borders of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, taking all your luggage off at the Belizean border for inspection.

There is also a direct bus from Honduras and El Salvador. See the "Get Out" section below for details on travel to Palenque in Mexico.

If you are staying in Lanquin, many places to stay offer direct shuttle for around 150 quetzales and the trip takes around 8 hours. The shuttle will likely leave you where you want on Flores, but it is better to ask before to make sure they won't leave you in front of their office, for example.

From the Palenque/Frontera Corazol side of Mexico, you have the following options:

  • Book a riverboat to La Tecnica or Bethel from one of the two hotels in Frontera Corazol: Escudo Jaguar, or the less expensive, Nueva Alianza.
  • Go straight to the Frontera Corazol dock to negotiate a river crossing directly. Because river-crossings are typically organised through the hotels, it can't be guaranteed that boat drivers will be ready and waiting if you choose to go directly to the dock.

La Tecnica is only slightly upriver from Frontera Corazol and should cost ~ 50 pesos. Bethel is some way downriver and will cost closer to 400 pesos. These prices are based on relatively recent travel blogs.

People will be able to exchange pesos and USD for quetzales at the docks in both La Tecnica and Bethel at very reasonable rates.

Buses leave La Tecnica for Flores hourly until 2pm and cost 70Q as of Dec, 2015. If leaving from Palenque, begin your journey early to ensure you have enough time to get on a bus at La Tecnica. Tickets can be bought just up the road from the dock. The bus trip to Flores takes ~ 5 hours.

The bus will stop at the Bethel immigration office. You will be required to have your passport stamped and pay a fake 40Q (100 pesos) exit fee. People have tried talking their way out of this fee with varying degrees of success.

Get around[edit]

Walking is the most common way to get around, and circling the whole island takes about 15 minutes. It is an easy walk to Santa Elena and San Benito from Flores. Otherwise, auto-rickshaws, vans and buses are an option. The standard fee for an auto-rickshaw in the Flores/Santa Elena/San Benito area is Q5, but if you have a lot of luggage or squeeze in two people, the fare is 10.

The towns of San José and San Andrés, located on the northern shores of the lake, can be reached by hiring an expensive boat. The once-regular passenger boat service has been reduced following the improvement of the road - it's now easier to take the regular van or bus service there from the Santa Elena market, which costs Q7 and takes around 30 minutes. These buses leave when they are full, and will be packed to capacity and often beyond! A chicken bus goes once an hour; these are more comfortable and slightly cheaper at Q6, but take longer.

There are regular boats to San Miguel (Q4), a small village directly north of Flores. There is a gap between hotels east of Hotel Doña Luisa at the most northern part of the island.

Boats are moored behind Hotel Santana, and run to Petencito Zoo and are available for lake tours. Prices are not fixed, and haggling with the boatmen is a must.

See[edit][add listing]

Ak'tun Kan: The face of the Lacandón
  • Ak'tun Kan, (La Cueva de la Serpiente, the cave of the serpent). Take the main road through Santa Elena, turn left at the end of the road and follow signs. It is clearly marked. From the causeway in Flores, it is a 30 minute walk, or taxis are available for Q20. Inside the cave are many formations that resemble various objects, such as animals, people, and of course ordinary stalagmites and stalactites. Most of the relics are labeled (in Spanish) and will be identified by your guide. Q25 per person, guide 20Q flat fee (January 2017).  edit
  • ARCAS (Asociaciòn de Rescate y Conservaciòn de Vida Silvestre), +502 926 0946, [4]. A wildlife rescue center dedicated to the prevention of animal trafficking. You can visit their education center, learn about their work and see the animals they cannot release due to physical or psychological problems (or in case of jaguars the lack of available habitat). They have many different animals like macaws, parrots, tucans, spidermonkeys, jaguarundi, ocelots, jaguars and a puma. You can go there any day between 9am and 4:30pm without appointment (25Q February 2019). A guide will show you around and explain you everything. I recomend to avoid the hottest hours of the day because all the animals will just sleep. There are possibilities to offer your services here as a volunteer [5]. The center operates its own boat service from Flores, with boats leaving at 8AM and 3PM. (I couldn't find any information about their own boat service. Actually ARCAS recomended me to take any boat in flores. We paid 100Q for 4 people roundtrip including the boat waiting 2h and the boat driver seemed really happy. Feb 2019)  edit
  • Petencito Zoo. A small zoo that is home to monkeys, jaguars and raccoons as well as some animals rescued by ARCAS. The zoo is a 10 minute boat ride from Flores (boats which will take you there and back for Q150 are easy to find, e.g. behind Hotel Santana or the northern pier). Entrance fee: Q40.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Jorge's Rope Swing, North shore of the lake slightly northeast of Flores, (502)3196-3196. Take one of the public boats (Q60-80 per boat) or a kayak most conscient and ecological option. Rent per hour or day. Hotel Lacandon on the western shores of the island has the most accessible prices. Jorge also offers boat services with good prices, two people for Q30 each both ways, five or more Q20 each. Also he’ll bring you back to Flores for Q10 per person. Call him 30 minutes prior to be picked up in Flores. A lovely family has set up a fantastic rope swing next to their home where you can jump into the lake. They also run a small restaurant and also sell beer, sodas, and some cocktails at good prices. They welcome people to sleep in the hammocks outside for the night, a great alternative if the town is too busy for you. They ask Q10 to use the swing. Their home doesn't even have electricity so it seems that somehow most people don't know about this awesome spot. A really fun place to hang out, swing, and swim in the lake  edit
  • Volunteer Peten, San Andres (on the other side of the lake from Flores), (502)5711-0040, [6]. An excellent volunteering organization with opportunities to work at an ecological park, building schools, or doing other community projects and education.  edit
  • Guacamaya, Calle Central (near Fonda Ixobel restaurant). A small cinema with removable chairs and roll-down screen that shows all kind of movies (sometimes very good titles).  edit
Flores to San Jose
  • Rent. Canoes and bicycles are available in Flores.  edit
  • Hire a small covered boat. Travel across Lake Peten Itza to visit the town of San Jose. It takes about 40 minutes while enjoying the beautiful aquatic scenery and bird life.  edit
  • Swimming. Take a swim in the warm waters of Lake Peten Itza and refresh yourself on a hot day.‎ There are several public piers on the north side of the city where many locals and tourists gather to jump off of and swim near.  edit
  • Visit Tikal. There are many travel agencies in Flores that can book a shuttle, with (100 Q in Feb 2012) or without (60 Q return ticket) guide for you. Entrance for Tikal (150 Q in Feb 2012 is typically charged separately in Tikal. If you book through Los Amigos be aware that you have to share your guide with about 20 more people. Julio, who does the english tour is entertaining and knowledgeable though.  edit
  • Ixpanpajul Natural Park, km 468 (Via Rio Dulce to Flores, Petén), 40629812, [7]. 08:00-18:00. Ixpanpajul is a natural park located a short 15-minute ride away from the island of Flores in Petén. The organisation of Ixpanpajul has a pick-up service from Flores or Santa Elena that takes you quickly to the park, to experience the great activities in the great wild forests typical of Guatemala. The activities to be experienced are swinging through the forests on a Zip-Line, taking a walk on the Sky-Way and going horseback riding. Larger groups are given discount rates. 15$-30$. (16.874776,-89.812415) edit


  • Spanish Academy Dos Mundos, Calle Union 20, +502-58302060, [8]. This Spanish academy was opened on Flores in January ‎‎2008. The school offers one-on-one or group classes with competent local ‎teachers, home stays with Guatemalan families, ‎entertaining activities after school and opportunities to do volunteer work at an orphanage, a nursing home and a community project. Classes are generally held between 9am and 1pm Monday to Friday on the rooftop terrace at Sky Bar  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Jades Yaxha, La Casa del Jade, Calle 30 de junio, [9]. Exhibits a well selected assortment of jewellery and numerous copies from ‎masks, which were found in tombs of kings or other important Mayan personalities. ‎Jade had an incomparable value for the Mayans and symbolized eternal life. Important ‎personalities were buried with a great amount of jewellery made of jade in order to guarantee ‎them a privileged treatment in the new world.‎ The Shop is worth a visit to have a look at the masks and Jade pyramides.  edit
  • Chile Salsa. The locally produced, ecological Salsa de Chile Habanero (Guatemaya brand) is really good. You can buy it at ECAO, Calle de 15 Septiembre, tel: +502 7926-0628, or try it at Las Puertas restaurant (you have to ask for it). Maya Ik is also an excellent salsa.  edit
  • Woodwork. The road to Tikal between Ixlú and El Remate is the best place to find finely crafted woodwork, the typical souvenir of Petén.  edit
  • Textiles. Although more expensive than in other parts of the country, Flores offers a good selection. Be sure to bargain hard though as prices are hiked for Gringos!  edit

You can also get souvenirs in the shops in Flores, but the prices and selection are better elsewhere in the country, so only worth checking out if this is your only stop in Guatemala.

Two ATMs in Flores next to Hotel Petén and at the supermarket "Fotomart" at Calle 30 de junio allow cash withdraws from Visa cards. More ATMs can be found at the airport, as well as across the street from the airport. They support Mastercard as well as Maestro cards. Cross the street towards the Maxi Bodega supermarket and enter the mall left of the supermarket entrance. The ATM is a few meters down on the right side.

There is an ATM in the supermarket on the ground floor of the Mundo Maya International mall. This is located just across the causeway from Flores, on the Santa Elena side. It had Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus signs. The mall is very secure with numerous guards etc and is a great place to buy cheaper food and snacks than on the island of Flores itself. There were three other banks here too including Banco Antigua and Ban Rurale.

MegaPaca- If you need some new clothes, a warm jacket before heading to Antigua, or just fancy thrift shops take a trip via tuk-tuk to Megapaca. It is essentially a giant thrift store that is updated constantly and is surrounded by more upscale shopping if that is your preference. The tuk-tuk drivers should know where it is. Q15

Eat[edit][add listing]

Wild animals are a common item on the menus in Petén. However, many of these species are killed illegally, so consuming them is detrimental to to the local ecology.

Cafe Arqueológico Yax-ha

Every day around 16:00 street vendors start setting up on the West side of the Island. They have all kinds of food, dessert, and drinks, and should be consumed with disregard to utensils and while enjoying the lake.

  • Cafe Arqueológico Yax-ha, Avenida de 15 Septiembre‎, [10]. Enjoy the variety of delicios Guatemalan, international and Pre- Hispanic dishes. After having placed your order, you can have a look at our library with lots of books about the ‎Mayan culture. Additionally, we hint at the photo exhibition of new and ancient pictures of ‎various archaeological sites  edit
  • La Luna, Calle 30 de Junio. Owned by a Spanish man and his German wife is one of the premier places to eat on Flores. In the high season (especially Easter and Christmas) it is advisable to reserve a table in advance. Try pimientos rellenos (stuffed peppers), suprema de pollo (chicken), puyaso (steak) en salsa de crema y pimienta negra, or the vegetarian calebacitas (stuffed pumpkins). For a European flair try the Cordon Blue. For dessert, vanilla ice-cream with moras calientes (a relative of the raspberry) is highly recommended. Main dishes Q40-90.  edit
Las Puertas
  • Fonda Ixobel, corner of Avenida Santa Ana and Calle Central. This is a great place for breakfast and lunch. It used to be called Las Puertas which was run by Cristina, a Chilean known for her support of local wildlife and her organic, safe food. Try the panone with homemade bread and choice of chicken, ham, cheese, steak or vegetarian fare. The chicken in cream sauce and the Pasta "Survivor" make this every rich local's favorite restaurant. The restaurant also serves a variety of licuados (fruit smoothies) of which you should definitely have the strawberry (with water instead of milk). She also offers wild honey harvested from the Tikal jungle and natural "chicle" chewing gum, harvested by Mayan farmers still today. This is a pleasant place to relax with a drink in the evening - in addition to the usual selection of cocktails, licuado with rum is also available. Films are shown at 4PM and 7PM and there are also live music sessions. It is highly recommended.  edit
  • Cool Beans / El Cafe Chilero, near the causeway by the Flores bus stop. Gets great reports for its coffee, baked goods (including brown bread) and filling breakfasts. Open daily at 6AM, breakfast for around Q15 - 40.  edit
  • Mayan Princess, Avenida Reforma. 12PM-10:30PM. Shows films at 4PM and 8PM. Main dishes Q40, drinks Q10-20.  edit
  • El Tucán, Calle Centro América. This restaurant is named after a tame toucan that lived on the premises and that had a habit of stealing the guests vegetables, although the place lost some of its charm when the toucan flew away in the spring of 2004. The restaurant serves Mexican food and legally hunted wild game.  edit
  • El Zotz, Calle 15 de Septiembre. A typical breakfast and lunch restaurant.  edit
  • La Albahaca, Calle 30 de Junio, 502 78675449. 6PM. Serves homemade pasta, chocolate mousse and tiramisu, crusty homemade bread and garlic butter, delicious salads,Certified Angus beef, fish and shrimp. Delicious smoothies. Prices quite reasonable.  edit
  • Restaurant Mirador del Lago. Located on the square, it serves good, inexpensive food.  edit
  • Restaurante Capitan Tortuga, Calle 30 de Junio (Flores, Peten), 502 78675089, [11]. 11:00 to 22 Hours. Good food for a good price. Guatemalan and International food, Fish of the lake, Pizza & pastas, Nice place to sit outside and watch the sunset. Has room for big groups. Special menu for groups. 45Q for chicken burritos. Happy Hour from 16:00 to 18:00 hours. Icecreams with lake view  edit
  • For the more budget-minded with not-so-sensitive stomach there're tons of street food sellers after the dusk usually all repetitively offering grilled chicken with spring onions and complimentary tortillas [for around 20Q] just adjacent to the Santa Elena Bus Station
  • There is also a small market on the island itself on Calle 15 de Septiembre were local women sell tortillas and the like for 5Q per portion. They are there daily from 2 P.M. until 10 P.M. and also have tasty beverages. The locals eat 2 or 3 portions as a cheap dinner alternative.

There's a supermarket on Calle 30 de Junio opposite Hotel Petén that is open 24hrs, and a large grocery store "La Torre" in the new mall just across the causeway towards Santa Elena. If you're on a budget, try the local shops further in Santa Elena.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Sky Bar, Calle Union 20 (The entrance is on the opposite side to the lake), [12]. 17:00 - 01:00, 7 days. Rooftop bar with drinks, food and a great place to watch the sunset.  edit
  • El Trópico, (On the street facing the bridge). This bar is equally popular with locals and tourists. Terrible music and typical drinks like Cuba Libre, Gallo.  edit
  • Las Raices. Su-Th ??-??, F-Sa ?-1AM. A lake side restaurant near the municipal dock.  edit
  • Cool Vibes, (In San Benito). Su-Th ??-??, F-Sa ?-1AM. Has a dance floor and a good selection of music.  edit
  • Cool Beans. Cool Beans is a great little cafe in Flores. They have good coffee and great frozen drinks as well. $1.50.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Almost all travelers will stay on the island of Flores, but there are a couple options in Santa Elena and San Benito if for some reason that strikes your fancy.

  • Chaltunha Hostel, 4219-0851, [13]. checkin: n/a; checkout: 12pm. This hostel is located across the lake from Flores in the small town of San Miguel (just 3 minutes by boat). There are great views from the restaurant and pool areas and you can see beautiful sunsets over the water. Good value and the owner, Neil, is very nice and helpful with anything you might be interested in doing. This hostel is laid back and probably not ideal if you want to do heavy drinking and/partying, as the owner and his family live right next to the restaurant/bar area. Also, wifi internet was patchy while I was there. $10(dorm) to $30(private).  edit
  • Ixpanpajul Natural Park, Km 468 (Carretera Flores - Santa Ana), [14]. Several options to sleep like camping (tents and shared bathrooms are provided), cabings with one double bed, three more single beds and a private bathroom, Couple-Cabings and luxurious Bungalows for couples or families. Option to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Restaurant, free internet access in the welcome area and several activities in the great wild forest of Petén such as Zip-Line, Skyway or Horseriding are available.  edit

Flores island[edit]

  • Hospedaje Yax-ha, Avendia 15 De Septiembre (above Cafe Arqueológico Yax-ha), +502 49 34 63 53 (), [15]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Clean, spacious double and triple rooms with private bath and hot water. Q150-Q200.  edit
  • Fridas Hostel, At the corner between Avenida Santa Ana and El Rosario, +502 7867-5724 (), [16]. This place has a weird vibe, staff are young kids too busy playing computer games than to provide any information. Also, it has wifi that's good enough to skype or stream videos however cuts out whenever the younger kid is at the computer. Clean, safe, and there's a backyard, TV, and free filtered water which is always empty. Also, this the only hostel in Flores that includes the use of the kitchen (for an extra 5Q(0.62USD)). To get there; go into the alley right at the end of the bridge and walk through it. That turns into Avenida de Santa Ana, keep walking until you see a bright blue building right in front of you. 45Q(5.50$) for dorm.  edit
  • Casazul, Calle Fraternidad, +502 7926-1138/7926-3360 (), [17]. Spacious rooms with TV, fan, noisy AC and refrigerator - great view of lake. $41/48/60 for single/double/triple room in high season.  edit
  • Hotel PetenChel, Calle Sur. checkout: 12 PM. Cheap and clean hotel, right near the bridge into Flores. $10-$15 USD per person.  edit
  • Hospedaje Doña Goya, Calle la Union, +502 7867-5513. No kitchen. Q100/80 for a double with private/shared bath, Q40 for a bed in the dormitory..  edit
  • Hotel Aurora (Doña). Two buildings down the street from Doña Goya, has a public kitchen. Q25 per person for a hammock or space in the palapas on the roof. Q40 for a bed in the dorm..  edit
  • Hotel Isla de Flores, Avenida Reforma, +502 7926-0614/17/18, 7476-8775 (), [18]. $36/41/46 for single/double/triple room.  edit
  • Hotel la Casona de la Isla, Calle 30 de Junio, +502 7926-0593 (), [19]. Restaurant, pool, A/C. $36/43/53 for single/double/triple room.  edit
  • Los Amigos, Calle Central, +502 7867 5075 (fax: +502 5584-8725), [20]. A hostel in the center of Flores that's popular with travelers. European owned with a restaurant, cheap Happy Hour, internet access and a book exchange. Skip the boxed lunch for Tikal, unless you like soggy white bread and processed cheese. Using the door to get in can be tricky. Just ring the door bell and out of nowhere you will hear this bird chime. This is their 'door bell'. Someone will soon open the door for you by pulling a rope from the ceiling. IF you want to get out, find the tweety bird hanging from a rope in the lobby and pull it, that should open it. Don't use their travel services (especially for shuttles) or trust their travel information on the website. Will sell you first-class seats on Linea Dorado and put you in second-class seats on a lesser bus line. Q50 ($5.50) for a dorm bed / Q75 superior dorm (en suite, a/c). (25.5629615,-103.4841105) edit
  • Hotel Mirador del Lago, Calle 15 de Septembre, +502 7926-3276. 30 clean rooms with hot water and fan - some also have views of Peten Itza lake. There is a travel agency across the street that arrange local trips and tours. They have an internet cafe in the lobby, and laundry machines, both can be paid for at the front desk. Note, there have been reports of the cleaning staff stealing money from guests rooms. Dorm 25Q Double room Q70 some with lake view.  edit
  • Hotel Petén, Calle 30 de Junio, +502 7926-0692 (), [21]. Comfortable rooms, some with a nice view to the west over the lake, TV and a jug of filtered water. Wifi is available in some rooms, perhaps all. $35/43/52 for single/double/triple room.  edit
  • Hotel Santana, Calle 30 de Junio, +502 7926-0662/0491/0492, [22]. Request room with balcony and view of the lake. $31/40/55 for single/double/triple room.  edit
  • Hotel Villa Maya, 10 km outside of Flores, on the way to Tikal. A quiet place by Laguna Petenchel with a pool, restaurant, and kayak and bike rentals. There are crocodiles in the laguna, so bathing is safest in the pool. There are various paths in the area, from a 10-minute stroll on the premises to one hour around the laguna. This hotel is a little expensive, but worth the extra cost.  edit

Santa Elena[edit]

  • Hotel Casa Amelia, Union Street, +(502) 7867-5429 / 30 (), [23]. checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: 1:00PM. Small hotel near the airport with A/C, TV, private bathrooms, internet, and a view of the lake. $ 25 / 40 / 60.  edit
  • Petén Esplendido, very near the causeway to Flores. Expensive (and not worth the price).  edit

San Andrés / San José[edit]

  • Guesthouse Naomi, Barrio San Juan, San José. Shows on Google Maps and About 800 meters further from San José bus station and 500 meters from the beach. Collectivos will drop you directly there by name., +502 5162 0794, [24]. checkin: 07:00 - 22:00; checkout: 06:00 - 20:00. Extremely hospitable and welcoming family to stay with. Definitely worth the trip to San José. Approximately 8 USD / 60 Quetzal.  edit



  • and, Calle Centro America. 8AM-10PM. Both can transfer photos from digital cameras to CD and charge Q8/hour.
  • 8AM-10PM. Q8/hour.

Get out[edit]

Map of sites around Flores
  • Guatemala City
    • Altobuses del Norte (ADN), Terminal de Buses Santa Elena, 7924-8131 | 7924-8151, [25].  edit Has departures from Flores at 10PM (Q200 - Dec. 2010). The bus leaves from Santa Elena. Contrary to previous reports, this bus does NOT go to Flores. A taxi to the bus terminal in Santa Elena should cost you no more then 35Q. Very comfortable seating and excellent service. All the locals use Altobuses del Norte or any of the other bus companies leaving from the Santa Elena bus terminal.
    • Linea Dorada, 7767-5198, [26].  edit Has three departures from Flores, at 9PM (Q190), 10AM and 9:30PM (Q150). This buses also pick up the passengers in Flores, in the same place as ADN.
  • Tikal - this park is a major attraction in Guatemala, and is located 60 km from Flores. Open: 6AM-6PM (after 3PM arrivals gain free re-entry the following day). Admission: Q150. To avoid crowds and experience the rich wild-life at its best try to arrive around 6-7AM.
  • Belize City - Bus companies San Juan, Maya del Oro and Fuente del Norte operate minibuses for ~Q180, which start around 5 a.m. (although you often won't leave Flores before 6 a.m.). You will reach Belize City at ~ 11 a.m. Most people continue by water taxi to the nearby islands (prebooking is possible in Flores, but not necessary). Alternately you can get a chicken bus/collectivo from the terminal in Santa Elena to the border (Just ask for the chicken bus to Melchor De Mencos - 2hrs, Q30 - Dec 2015), take a short (<5mins) walk across the border, get a taxi or walk to the bus station 2km away (taxi B$10 - Dec 2015) and then hop on a local bus to Belize City (3.5hrs, B$9 - Dec 2015). Total travel time around 7hrs including waiting for buses and immigration etc, the first buses leave Santa Elena early (5am) so you can easily make it to the Islands in one day. There are only chicken buses to Chetumal (only very few on Sundays), which take 4-6 hours.
  • El Remate – A small village located 30 km from Flores with a nice, calm and rural atmosphere, and normally less crowded than other places in the area, making it a nice alternative base for those exploring Tikal and the region. All minibuses from St. Elena to Tikal ($1) stop here. However, some large buses ($0.30) only stop at a crossing 7 km from El Remate, so ask first. Taxis are available for US$20 from the airport/Flores.
  • Motul de San José - a small Mayan site just north of San José. Buses, minivans and hired boats operate to the site. The ruin has a few stelae with visible glyphs and a number of vegetation covered mounds.
  • Ixlú is a small Mayan site near the Melchor de Mencos junction on the way to Tikal. It is only of interest to the die-hard fans of Mayan sites.
  • Ixpanpajul Natural Park, km 468 (Via Rio Dulce to Flores, Petén), 40629812, [27]. 08:00-18:00. Ixpanpajul is a natural park located a short 15-minute ride away from the island of Flores in Petén. The organisation of Ixpanpajul has a pick-up service from Flores or Santa Elena that takes you quickly to the park, to experience the great activities in the great wild forests typical of Guatemala. The activities to be experienced are swinging through the forests on a Zip-Line, taking a walk on the Sky-Way and going horseback riding. Larger groups are given discount rates. 15$-30$. (16.874776,-89.812415) edit
  • El Peru, AKA Waká, AKA the formerly elusive Site Q, can be seen on a three day trip from Flores.
From the top of the temple of East Acropolis of Yaxha you get a beautiful view of Lago de Yaxhá and surroundings
  • Holtún is a small archaeological site 60 km from Flores on the way to Melchor de Mencos and the Belizean border. A broad, but unmarked path leads to the site. Locals can give directions. The site contains tree and vegetation covered temples. Painted masks adorn the inside of one of the temples, but this part is off limits to tourists (unless you can get a permit from the guard in charge). The part open to tourists also has masks, but these are not as impressive.
  • El Mirador - Flores is the base for tours to the site of the largest Mayan temples, El Tigre and La Danta. This archaeological site deep in the rain forest near the Mexican border is of huge significance and can only be reached by foot and mule train - a five day round trip trek. Expect to pay $150-500 (shop around) for the entire package including guide, food, mules and transport to Carmelita, the starting point for see a description of tour look . An extra day allows further travel along much of an ancient raised causeway to the ruins at Nakbé, which is around 3.5 hours away and 5 km closer to Carmelita. Any agency in Flores or Santa Elena can arrange tours to these places.
  • Yaxhá is a archaeological site 73 km from Flores on the way to Melchor de Mencos and the Belizean border. 62 km from Flores, just after Holtún, turn off on to the dirt road to Yaxhá (11 km). The site is not as popular as Tikal, but is well worth the trip. In addition, you may find that you are the only visitor, which offers a very different kind of experience from that of wading through the crowds at Tikal. There is ongoing restoration work at the site.

As of February 2007, for foreigners there is an entrance fee. Q80 per person. This fee covers Yaxha, Naranjo, and Nakum. The sites are very far apart and without a vehicle, impossible to do in one day.

  • Topoxté is a small site on an island on the west shore of Lago de Yaxhá. It can be reached by lancha (boat), costing around Q100 for the 15 minute journey.
  • Nakum is an impressive site some 20 km north of Yaxhá. From here it is a one day walk to Tikal, but you will need a guide. This site is undergoing extensive reconstruction and has an acropolis that is larger than that of Tikal. You can get there in the dry season with a 4 wheel vehicle. To get here, you will need to pay the entry fee at Yaxha.
  • El Parque Natural Ixpanpajul - a 10 minutes drive from Flores, which has a canopy tour, a walking loop with suspension bridges and, in addition, offers horse riding and camping facilities. The organisation offers free transportation service for more than 2 or 3 persons.
  • Palenque in Mexico. Various travel agencies offer packages to Palenque in Guatemala or varying standards. You can choose to do it independently though, as follows:
    • Take the 5AM Pinata bus from the Santa Elena bus terminal to La Técnica - the last stop past Bethel. It takes approximately four hours. The last couple are on an unpaved but beautiful road - just be glad you're in the bus and not in a minivan! They'll stop at the immigration checkpoint for you, and this is the last time you can change your Quetzals into Pesos.
    • There's then a five minute boat journey across the river to Frontera Corozal. It should cost 15Q (Locals) but you'll end up paying 20Q!
    • There will then be comfortable combi vans waiting on the far bank to take you to Palenque. You can leave your bags in the combi and go on to immigration. It's up the bank, follow the road around to the right then straight on for about 100 metres and immigration is on your left.
  • Neighboring towns - Don't forget that aside from Flores and Tikal, there is more to see and do around Lake Peten Itza, particularly the locals in some quaint neighboring towns. On the north shore of the lake, just across from Flores are San Andrés and San José. These two lovely little towns boast a similar architecture to that of Flores but set on the side of very steep terrain, which makes for quite a dramatic street stroll with beautiful views of the lake. The people of both towns are very lovely, polite and helpful. Why not come across and have a chat with the locals to practice your Spanish? And if this is out of your lingual reach, you could take intenstive Spanish classes in either town along with culturally enriching home-stays. To get there, just head to the bus terminal in Santa Elena (10 minutes on foot) and wait for one of the very frequent local buses (colectivos). Local buses to and from run between 6AM and 5PM, ask at the station for which one to take. Also make sure to ask when the last return bus leaves if you only plan on going or the day! The towns are small so buses run on fixed schedules and relatively infrequently, unlike in the larger cities of the south. Fares will be 6-13Q depending on which town you're going to.

Stay Safe[edit]

While Flores is one of the safest parts of Guatemala, petty theft is still fairly common. Also, there are many incidents of conning and false advertising that go on in the tourism industry. Certain guides have been known to ask for the money upfront, then disappear. Others will ask you to pay upfront and then give you a tour that falls spectacularly short of what was advertised. Another frequent problem is guides who do jungle tours but don't bring adequate equipment or supplies, causing their guests to endure hunger, thirst, exhaustion and sometimes physical harm because of their negligence. Pay the guide after the tour, not before, as they may be trying to pull one of these stunts. Please note a local with a scar on his face (he's known in the area as scarface) often goes onto buses just before they arrive into Flores, do not buy tickets from him as they are often fake tickets for companies that are not in service anymore.

Be wary when travelling into Flores from Belize City with Mundo Maya bus company. A small minivan will pick you up from the bus terminal, take you to an atm and then into drop you outside their office in Flores. Do not book any tours or bus tickets with this company as they will charge you double the fair price.


There is a tourist office (INGUAT) in calle Centro-America

For those travelling with dogs, several veterinarians can be found in Santa Elena. This is one: La Huella, 5a Avenida 15-31, Barrio 3 de Abril, sobre la calle principal de San Benito (tel: 56339953 or 58347478)

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