The Ultimate Place to Unwind: San Marcos La Laguna, Lake Atitlan
San Marcos La Laguna is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle. Located on the shorefront of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, it’s one of the most relaxing destinations for a getaway in Latin America. If you’re looking for an affordable place to unwind and recharge your batteries, then San Marcos La Laguna, Lake Atitlan is the place for you.
Lose yourself through the narrow pathways and lanes, enjoy the lake views and jungle-like flowering vegetation. Get there, and you’ll quickly understand that it’s much more than just a spiritual haven for yogis. No, it’s NOT a big touristy place with lots of attractions, but it’s the perfect place to recharge and just relax!
Lago Atitlan, as it’s called in Spanish, is situated about 50 km outside of Antigua.
This world-renowned freshwater lake a few hours outside of Antigua offers beautiful views and gorgeous volcano vistas as it’s surrounded by three volcanoes: Tolimàn, San Pedro and Atitlàn. Twelve pueblos can be found around it, varying from indigenous Mayan villages, to party hostel hubs. San Marcos La Laguna in Lake Atitlàn, Guatemala is the “top choice” for a most relaxing getaway.
The village of San Marcos La Laguna is a serene place filled with extreme beauty with stunning volcano views across the lake. It’s a place that’s known for its somewhat hippie crowd, yoga retreats, chakra reading or meditation classes. Even if none of these isn’t your cup of tea, it still remains an unbelievably relaxing destination for a vacation. Here’s our list of reasons why…
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Unwind with daily Yoga
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Glorious Eternal Spring Weather
San Marcos on Lake Atitlàn has the ideal so-called Eternal Spring weather. Located at 1585m of altitude, the region has a very temperate climate. With warm, not humid, sunny days and somewhat cool nights, it’s a perfect destination to snuggle or just relax. It also means, almost no mosquitoes!
Amazing views from your balcony at Lush
When researching lodging options in San Marcos La Laguna, I stumbled on this gem: Lush Hotel. This unique small “boutique hotel” is built right into the mountainside and located very close to the lake’s shore, it delivers the most extraordinary views at every angle. Each studio has a different style and theme, all offer a true connection with nature and the surrounding environment. Some have a kitchenette, perfect for relaxing mornings as you can prepare your own breakfast. Or if you prefer, breakfast in bed delivered right to your door!
You can enjoy an indoor-outdoor living space in a spectacular setting.
No need to rush, these glorious views are all you need!
My partner and I enjoyed 10 blissful days in the “Pescado” apartment, simply chilling and unplugged from our daily ‘’computer’’ routine. Days were spent putting our feet up, practising yoga, reading, playing cards and having a go with adult colouring books.
Another lodging option recommended by Never Ending Voyage is Pasajcap just a bit outside of town.
Wander and explore San Marcos …
The village itself is very small and consists of a concrete main plaza bordered by a small white church, some small stores and a school with a basketball court. But you can find local vendors selling arts and crafts and organic fruits and vegetables throughout the small street lanes that surrounding the main city centre. Some pathways are in cement but most are still packed earth footpaths.
Unwind with daily Yoga at La Paz
Offering classes for all levels in a tropical garden setting, La Paz Eco Hotel is set in a wonderful and tranquil place to rest and find ’’Paz’’. Even, if you’ve never practised yoga before, there’s no better place for an introduction than here, especially at an extremely affordable rate of 40 Quetzales for 90 minutes worth. All with knowledgeable teachers at all levels.
Untie those knots with massages
With San Marcos La Laguna being the holistic centre of Lake Atitlan, you won’t need to walk very far to find all kinds of health treatments or soothing massages. The variety is abundant, from Swedish to Reiki and more…
Photo Credit ~ San Marcos Holistic Village
Rejuvenate in a Thermal bath in San Pedro
Who doesn’t like a hot soak to unwind and take a break from it all? There are many options in San Pedro to soak your troubles away or soothe your aching muscles, something we didn’t get the chance to do or try personally. Fellow blogger Just a Pack recommends Los Termales which has a view of the lake behind the Buddha bar for 40Q.
Lazy afternoon at Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve
Another great way to spend a relaxing afternoon and unwind is to head over to this shorefront nature reserve where you can enjoy an easy walk along its pathways which wind around the lakeshore. Stroll along and take in the lake views or pick a spot and read a book. Or how about a little bit of sunbathing with a quick dip in the lake? Feeling a bit adventurous? Get a slight adrenaline rush by jumping off a platform that provides the perfect send off. Be advised, there’s a small entry fee.
Paddle Around the Lake with a Rented Kayak
At the same nature reserve park, you can rent a kayak and enjoy a tranquil outing on beautiful Lake Atitlán, surrounded by majestic volcanoes. With the sun gleaming on the water, be ready for a magical experience, the beauty of Lake Atitlan is simply mesmerizing.
Enjoy a cooking class at the CECAP, Santa Cruz
With the Santa Cruz Cooking Class, not only will you learn to cook authentic Guatemalan cuisine like Pepian, but you’ll also contribute to helping the great organization Centro de Capacitacion. Backed by the Amigos de Santa Cruz, the Cecap is a vocational education centre in Santa Cruz that helps indigenous people learn new skills such as cooking, computer skills, carpentry and more.
A quick lancha (water taxi) ride from San Marcos, you’ll be able to grab a tuk-tuk right from the pier to the mountain-top location and enjoy the added benefit of the amazing views it offers of Lake Atitlan during your class. 2 people minimum, English/Spanish available. 200 Quetzales Book your class here
No need to rush back after your class, stop and enjoy a cocktail on the terrace at La Iguana Perdida
Iguana Perdida / Photo Credit ~ Hostelworld
Listen to blues at Blind Lemons
The friendly American owner, Carlos is a huge Blues aficionado. Make sure to stop by to hear him play his steel guitar and enjoy a casual meal while you’re there. It’s a perfect place to grab a beer or cocktail and listen to some great Blues.
Healthy Restaurants Abound
Many restaurants are within a brief walk from Lush and most offer organic, vegetarian and vegan options. During my stay in San Marcos La Laguna, we enjoyed amazing meals at the Lush Kitchen, a separate concession, which was on site and supervised by American Chef Paul. Don’t get fooled by the looks of this chef, his talent is genuine.
Another local healthy option is Il Giardino set in a beautiful garden setting in the village centre.
Convinced that San Marcos La Laguna is the ultimate destination to relax? Ready to go?
Getting there requires a bit of planning, but it’s totally worth the journey. You can catch a 40-minute boat ride, taxi or shared shuttle bus from Panachajel. If your staying in Antigua, your lodging’s front desk can also coordinate your transfer to Lake Atitlan.
According to demand, a shared ride can be organized from Antigua to San Marcos but otherwise it’s a two-step process. A first leg to Panachajel and from there, a boat ride or land transport to San Marcos. Luckily, the Lush hotel coordinated a shared shuttle from Panachajel for us making the process quite smooth.
Antigua is another amazing destination that we adore and keep returning to. You can read all about it in this comprehensive post on Things to Do in Antigua Guatemala.