When ‘are you vegan or vegetarian’ was one of the first things I was asked when I walked into San Marcos La Laguna I knew I wasn’t in Cansas anymore. While hippies and hipsters flock to this lakeside location on the hunt for spiritual guidance and drum circles alike, here’s a guide on what to do in San Marcos La Laguna if you do eat animal products and don’t practice tantric mediation.
1. SPEND A MORNING AT THE NATURE RESERVE
This stunning nature reserve not only gives you the best view of Lake Atitlan in San Marcos La Laguna. It’s also the home of a 10 meter platform (a so-called trampoline) where you can launch yourself into the water, if you’re feeling brave. Head to the reserve and follow the signs to the trampoline. You can spend an entire morning sun-baking by the lake or exploring the surrounding jungle.
QUICK FACTS: COST: 15Q entry to the reserve | TIME NEEDED: Half day | VERDICT: Don’t miss
2. BRUSH UP ON YOUR YOGA SKILLS
Hostal del Lago runs awesome yoga classes from their deck at 7:30am, 9am and 4pm. Classes cater to all levels. The 7:30am vinyasa flow is excellent for a good old stretch. While the later classes are a little more advanced. You can also find yoga classes all over the island from The Yoga Forrest to other hostels.
QUICK FACTS: COST: 40Q | TIME NEEDED: 1.5 hours | VERDICT: Worth a try
3. HIKE TO THE WATERFALL
Hostal Del Lago lists this waterfall as one of the must-do’s for San Marcos. But when we asked where it was, no one really seemed to know, or cared to know. They did all say it was well worth the hike though… Possibly somewhere near the Yoga Forrest? But if you’re up for a bit of adventure this could be for you.
QUICK FACTS: COST: Free| TIME NEEDED: Who knows! | VERDICT: Who knows!
4. Try the delish Sushi at allala japanese
The sushi at Allala is fresh and delicious. It’s a little off the beaten track, in an alley that leads to the soccer ground, so make sure you ask someone for directions… On the 15th of every month they do a sushi buffet accompanied by live music from local artists for 65Q (around $8USD). You may have to watch a guy make strange noises whilst banging a drum into the mic for 5 minutes but the rest of the acts are really good and well worth it.
QUICK FACTS: COST: $8USD+ | TIME NEEDED: A night | VERDICT: Must-try
5. Get a boat to the infinity pool at club ven aca
A 10Q ($1USD) ferry ride from San Marcos is El Jaibalito, a little town with a community of ex-pat Baby-Boomers. As soon as you get off the ferry take a hard right along the beach and you’ll get to Club Ven Aca. Here, there are deck chairs and a beautiful infinity pool. Buy yourself a cocktail and settle in for a morning of sun-baking before the clouds come in. I recommend the house special – Jamaica Mojito. While it’s a little more pricey than other places, it’s super relaxing. You can also treat yourself to a cheap lunch at the markets on the main street leading up to town on the way home.
QUICK FACTS: COST: $10USD+ | TIME NEEDED: Half day | VERDICT: If you have time
6. Eat your weight in pasta at Restaurant fe
Owned and run by a super friendly British ex-pat, you won’t be disappointed by the food at Restaurant Fe. The pastas and pizzas are epic and chat with your waiter to find out the daily specials. We ate an awesome mushroom pasta that wasn’t on the menu. And it’s seriously some of the best pasta I’ve had in my life – maybe even better than Lygon street (for all you Melbournians).
QUICK FACTS: COST: $6USD+ | TIME NEEDED: A night | RATING: Must-try
7. Check out the dish of the day at konojel
On the main road from the ferry to the basketball court is Konojel, a not-for-profit who’s takings go to combat malnutrition and poverty in Guatemala. The main lunch item changes every day, but always comes with rice, beans, salad and tortillas and will satisfy your hunger for 30Q. ($4USD). We were treated to moorish potato pancakes and papusas on the day we visited.
QUICK FACTS: COST: $4USD | TIME NEEDED: 1 hour | RATING: Must-try for the karma factor
8. Take a course or meditation at Pyramides
Set up by a local woman Pyramides, San Marcos La Laguna’s spiritual retreat is worth checking out, if only to wander around the quaint little pyramids or to get a peek inside. The mediation is said to be quite intense and they also offer month long personal development courses. I tried a tarot reading, but wouldn’t recommend it, unless you enjoy sitting awkwardly in a tent for 30 minutes while you’re fed generic lines like – if you just forget about your problems and be happy everything will be alright.
QUICK FACTS: COST: 30USD+ | TIME NEEDED: 1 hour+ | RATING: Fail
9. Sunbake on the deck at del lago during the tantric meditation session.
Tantric mediation is run at Hostal Del Lago twice a week. It’s basically a bunch of people sitting on the deck looking into each other’s eyes and breathing heavily. You kind of feel like a creep listening. But if you want to sunbake you can’t help it. It’s also pretty entertaining.
QUICK FACTS: COST: $15USD+ | TIME NEEDED: 3 hours | RATING: Fail
A word of warning, don’t bother with the Fungi Academy… it’s an extensive hike totally on incline and there are hardly any fungi. I also have no idea how they get away with calling it an academy. It’s basically a group of friends talking about what they will do when they will grow mushrooms… Or at least that’s what it seemed like…
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