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.

Get in

Take a shuttle boat from the public dock at Panajachel (Q15-25, 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 to GUA/ Guatemala City Airport then either bus or car, shuttle service which travels through Antigua another popular tourist destination on your way to San Marcos from Guatemala City. The drive will take between 3.5 and 4 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 experience 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 launcha (small boat) to San Marcos.

Get around

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.

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 15-25 Q ($2.00-3.50 american).


The lake provides both natural entertainment and also great scenic views. If you are adventurous, I defiantly recommend climbing some of the dormant volcanos or traveling to the edge of San Marcos to jump off the rocks into the Lake. At some of the highest peaks of the Volcanoes, you are able to see the lake and all of the small pueblos that surround it. From the top looking down, there is one of the most beautiful views in Guatemala.


San Marcos offers a wide variety of studios catered to the pure relaxation of the tourist. Many of the studios include yoga, reiki and massage. Many yogis often travel to San Marcos to practice their yoga at the highest level of peace and harmony. El Centro de Meditacion Las Piramides is an example of a yoga/massage/mediation ‘camp’, where the main focus is to get in-touch with your spiritual self and live in harmony.

San Marcos houses one of the most harmonious massage clinics in all of Guatemala. It is located right next to the lake, so that massage clients can hear the sound of the water to make their experience more relaxing. The San Marcos Holistic Center is one of the most popular massage clinics in the area.


  • Rock Jumping – There are a series of rocks that can be accessed by foot via the shore of the lake. From there, its a long way down to the water. What fun! Swiping of wallets, cameras, and pants have been known to occur, so come with minimal items.
  • Yoga – Many places run early morning yoga programs, 7 Am at the Pyramides and 9am at La Paz, but there are afternoon courses as well.
  • Akab’al Spanish School,  + 502-41 44 06 12 (akabalspanishschool@yahoo.com), [1]. Study in a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere surrounded by nature. individual training $4-$5/hr for 10-30 hrs/week. Add $50/week for homestay.  edit

San Marcos is the ‘spiritual heaven’! There are enough yoga retreats and spiritual centers to fulfill anyone’s 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, and although there are 21 Native languages in Guatemala the Native tongue spoken in San Marcos is Ka’Chi’Kel.

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. As you could imagine with a lake a mile deep there is also some fishing, although there are very few who take advantage aside from the Natives in their Kayukos.

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.


  • Moonfish- Excellent mostly vegi fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chai tea, the best, house-roasted coffee in the world, brownies made with their own cacao, sandwiches for 25-30Q (including grilled tofu or falafel), pizzas, salads from their garden, and more.
  • Lush- On a balcony aside large banana trees featuring a nice view of the lake.
  • Restaurante Fe-  Offers breakfast, lunch and dinner located on the main path from the center of town towards the launcha boats.
  • Ganesh- A co-op restaurant, host to a variety of incredible cuisines throughout the week with a rotating menu and evening entertainment and bar.
  • Paco Real- One of the few restaurants in town offering meat on the menu in this mostly vegetarian community.
  • The Ranch- A new hip restaurant well worth the short hike up the valley.
  • On the way from the dock to the square, there is a small fruit shop on the left, with fruit on display near the curb. Inside, a a lady makes tasty sandwiches for 10Q, and sometimes other simple foods. It’s one of the cheapest options in San Marcos. They don’t always have food – you’ll have to drop by and see.

San Marcos is known for its vegetarian cuisine. The open air markets provide great, fresh produce for very cheap so if your interested you are able to find an array of ingredients to cook a home cooked meal.

The street food is also very delicious and I never seemed to have a problem with my stomach after eating it. The locals take full advantage of the local produce so majority of the offered dishes are vegetarian and all are fresh!

Allula is a Japanese sushi bar. I found it very interesting that there is Japanese food even in Guatemala. From my experience, all of the sushi seemed very fresh and had a Guatemalan twist to it for sure!


  • Hostal del Lago, (Check the map in the website.),  +502 5898-9660 (info@hostaldellago.com), [4]. Ask for Mr. Lico. This place is like your home at Atitlan because you can cook your own food if you don’t want to spend at restaurants. You have access from the street to the lake and you can park your car in the backyard of the hostel. There is a temascal (mayan version of sauna) 30 feet near the lake so you can take a bath and then jump to the lake from the private dock. Nowhere else you will be able to do this. Also it is very quiet, far enough from public noise. Bring your book and read alongside the lake or in one of the hammocks with lake view. US$20/day with breakfast.  edit
  • La Paz, A great way to save a few bucks by getting a shared room for as low as 40q a night($6 American) or you could spend as much as $20 for a private bathroom and sleeping quarters.
  • Paco Real- Recently voted best Posada of the month around the lake by a local publication. Rooms are typically around $20/150Q
  • Jinava- Quite possible the most beautiful gardens in town with direct lake access, temescal, and tremendous view for upwards of $100 American per night.

There are many hotels that provide spa or yoga packages to ensure that relaxation is established. These hotel packages may include yoga sessions, meditation hours, and even massage and spa services.

Hostels are also another option for stay in San Marcos. The hostels have been described as ‘original and cozy’.
*Hostel San Marcos
*Hostel Del Lago

Pasaj Cap is also another option for board while staying in San Marcos. I would recommend this option for those travelers traveling in a group of maybe three or more. Pasaj Cap offers travelers to rent out actual houses right outside of San Marcos. The houses are very beautiful and private. From what I have read on blogs, the window are described as ‘open’ where the “scenery is in your room”. From these private homes, it is a twenty minute walk to San Marcos. On the way there the walk is down hill but on the way home it is uphill. I recommend wearing sneakers so that you don’t slip on the rugged terrain.

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