Flores: A Relaxing Welcome to Guatemala
After surviving the 26 hour trip from Valladolid (Mexico) to Flores, Guatemala it was satisfying to find an awesome little laid back town with great lake views and quiet, colourful streets. Flores is a tiny island (linked to the mainland by a causeway) on Lake Petén in Northern Guatemala and is best known as a base for trips to the ruins of Tikal.
We’ve been exploring Flores for a couple of days (as well as getting plenty of rest after such a long journey) – here’s what we’ve been up to.
Further reading: A Journey to the Jungle Pyramids of Tikal, Guatemala
Walking the streets of Flores, Guatemala
The only photos I’d seen of Flores were aerial shots of a small island full of red roofed houses. Those red roofs don’t translate to red houses though – the buildings in Flores cover all of the colour bases. You can find everything you’d expect from a Spanish colonial town – cobblestone streets, an old church located in the town square and lots of colourful houses. The best part though is the size – it really is tiny and you can cover most of it in an hour or 2. It’s also extremely quiet; although I’m sure it’s busier in high season. We had planned to walk around the outside of the island until we realised a lot of the ring road is submerged in water!
A boat trip with Victor
You’ll see plenty of boats while walking along the lake front and you’ll be repeatedly propositioned by their captains to go on a quick tour of the lake. We got talking to one of them, Victor, and said we’d probably do it the next day. You could tell he wasn’t really expecting to see us again but he looked pleasantly surprised when we showed up. We joined forces with 2 girls from Belgium and paid Q100 for an hour on the lake. We saw a couple of islands and beaches and got a good look at Flores from afar. We also witnessed an interesting style of fishing. Apparently 1 type of bird really likes eating fish eyes and will leave the rest of the fish just floating on the lake after killing it. Victor then spots the fish, drives slowly past it and swoops it up – possibly the least effort I’ve ever seen someone put in to catching a fish.
There are a few nice little bars/restaurants lining the lakefront where you can grab a cheap drink and some expensive food. Drinking lemon daiquiris while watching the sunset is relaxing and pretty cost effective, but if you want a cheap meal you’d better look elsewhere.
Cheap eating in Flores
There are a couple of reasonably priced restaurants along that strip of lakefront but the street food stalls that come out at night are where you’ll find the real bargains. We ate dinner there tonight for Q20 (just under $3 USD ) for the two of us – the burritos, tacos and enchiladas were really filling and tasted pretty good (despite being cold). The food stalls are located right next to the lake and you can sit on the wall with your feet dangling over the water watching the fish snap up any crumbs you drop in.
Flores Island is really small and it’s easy to find accommodation – just walk close to the lakefront and you’ll see lots of hotels and hostels. I’d recommend finding one with a view like we did – everything is better with a view! We paid Q150 a night for a pretty decent room; it does get hot without air-conditioning though. It’s hard to find cheap restaurants as Flores seems almost entirely devoted to tourism, although you can walk/take a tuk tuk over the causeway to Santa Elena for cheaper food options during the day and eat at the street stalls at night. You can visit Tikal from Flores but it seems like a better option is to stay a night or 2 in El Remate – it’s also on the shores of Lake Petén and is closer to the ruins. We’re heading there tomorrow so keep a look out for an article on it/Tikal.
Further reading: Check out this mini travel guide to Flores, Guatemala
Have you been to Flores, Guatemala (or Flores in Indonesia)? Let me know if you enjoyed it!