Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is one of, if not, the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is surrounded by three different volcanos named San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlan. The lake was formed 84,000 years ago when a massive eruption caused the caldera to form. Today the lake has a huge Mayan culture across multiple towns. The major towns on the lake are Panajachel, Santa Cruz, San Marcos, San Juan and San Pedro. Each of these towns has its own unique culture that makes it great for a certain individual. There are many things to do around this lake for the avid hiker. If you are not an avid hiker, then a popular option is the Mirador de San Juan La Laguna.
This area is a big attraction when visiting the lake and for many local people living in Guatemala. San Juan is the town where the viewpoint is located. It is next to the most popular town in San Pedro. You will most likely be staying in a neighboring town. Lucky for you, it is very easy to get around from town to town and pretty cheap too! Below are some tips on how to get to San Juan (Lake Atitlan) and on getting to the Mirador de San Juan La Laguna (also called Mirador Kaqasiiwaan).
How to Get to San Juan La Laguna
Antigua to Lake Atitlan
When coming from Antigua or Guatemala City, you will always want to be taken to Panajachel. You will then take a boat taxi to whatever lake town you want to go to. Price ranging from 10-25 Quetzales.
- Chicken Buses: This is by far the cheapest option. While this is very cheap, you will have to switch buses multiple times. On top of that, it can be stressful if you are bringing all of your luggage, as they throw it on the top of the bus. The cost will be only a few dollars but not fully recommended for longer journeys.
- Shuttle: This is the preferred way if you have a lot of luggage. Shuttles can be found around the town for around $10-$15. We stayed at Maya Papya Hostel for a week while in Antigua and there is a tourism office next to it that has cheaper deals than you can find online.
How to Get to Mirador de San Juan La Laguna
- Tuktuk: If you are in the neigboring town of San Pedro or staying somewhere in San Juan, then it is recommended to take a tuktuk. The price from San Pedro to San Juan should be 10 Quetzales and 5 if you are staying in San Juan.
- Boat Taxi: Taking a boat taxi from town to town is very common. If you are at a close town like San Marcos, the cost should be around 15 Quetzales. If you are coming from farther away towns, then it could cost either 20 or 25 Quetzales.
My Experience Hiking Mirador de San Juan La Laguna
I love this hike for what it is, a good family hike with a great view of Lake Atitlan and surrounding volcanoes. When you arrive at the entrance to Mirador de San Juan La Laguna, you will see a bunch of tuk-tuks lined up outside. Follow the dirt path until you see a booth with people sitting in it. I have read different reviews on the price but I believe it has increased recently for tourists. The price for us was 30 Quetzales per person. They will give you a ticket and you will be on your way. Follow the steps for around 30 minutes. It is an easy path to follow with some similar spectacular views to your left.
The steps are absolutely beautiful and represent Lake Atitlan nicely. It is a steep incline, especially for people who haven’t hiked in a long time. You might be thinking why did I just pay for this pain?! Trust me, it is over before you know it. Keep following the steps until you get to the wooden steps and there should be a person waiting there for you. Hand him your ticket to stamp and you will be on your way. If you want, halfway through there is a restaurant that has an amazing view. There will be drinks to purchase at the top. Continue down the straight path to a wooden structure that overlooks the town of San Juan.
There were definitely more locals here than foreigners and that was nice to see. It felt more unique than I thought it would. You can easily hang out here for hours looking out at Lake Atitlan. This is also one of the ways you can take to hike to the top of the very popular Indian Nose Hike. If you want to do it during the day then this is a popular route. We decided to do the sunrise hike and paid for a guide through our hostel, which was 100 Quetzales each. If you are looking for a good view that doesn’t take long to get to, then this is perfect for you. Check out Alltrails if you want to see some more reviews on this hike.
Other Things to Do Around San Juan de La Laguna
Lake Atitlan is a very special place and has a lot to offer. There are many different hikes, cooking classes, knitting, and Spanish schools that people come from all around the world to do. Below are some of the best tours to do in the area in and around San Juan La Laguna on Lake Atitlan.