Crater Azul, Backpacker Style

What to do when you visit Flores, Peten, Guatemala? / Flores top tourist activities

Crater Azul is one of the many untouched natural wonders of Guatemala. If you want to experience pristine nature, beautiful scenery, swimming in crystal blue water, something off the beaten path and with a dash of adventure, this destination is perfect for you!

Located in Peten, nearby the town Las Cruces, Crater Azul can easily be visited as a day trip from Flores. There are organized tours that you can take, which travel through Sayaxche and involve a shuttle and boat ride combination (which we also offer here) but these can end up pretty pricey for solo backpackers or budget travelers. For those of you interested in getting to Crater Azul without a tour, we have the answer! Here are all the details on how to travel to Crater Azul via public transportation (collectivo bus) to Las Cruces followed by a 5km walk to the crater, skipping the boat detour in Sayaxche, and making the entire trip for about Q100 per person.

Crater Azul, Guatemala

Here’s our backpackers guide & local tips to visiting Crater Azul on your own:

What you need to bring:

  • Clothing for hot weather
  • Bathing suit
  • Sneakers/tennis shoes or shoes you can walk comfortably in for about 10km
  • Food and drinking water for the day
  • All-natural sunscreen and bug spray (To preserve the natural beauty and aquatic life of Crater Azul, please do not use any chemically based lotions or sprays while in the water)
  • Q100, plus some extra cash to be safe
  • Considerations: the spot is mostly empty on weekdays, especially earlier in the day, but many locals visit on the weekends or holidays. Depending on what atmosphere you prefer, you can take that into consideration while planning your trip.

Getting there:

The bus departs from the collectivo station inside the Santa Elena marketplace. From Flores, you can walk there in about 20 minutes (or take a quick tuk-tuk for Q10). The first direct bus to Las Cruces leaves at 6:30am, and we really recommend getting this early start because you have about a 3 or more hour trip ahead of you. As always with collectivos in Guatemala, the schedule is somewhat flexible so you should arrive early but also expect to wait. The trip costs about Q20 per person, but be prepared to pay Q5 or Q10 more in case they charge you ‘tourist price.’ There is no negotiation once you are on the shuttle, so ask the price before you board if you want to be sure.

The bus will arrive around 8am or a little later in Las Cruces. You can try asking the driver if he will drop you directly at the entrance to the crater for a few extra quetzales, but the scheduled final stop is in the terminal in Las Cruces town. While you’re at the terminal, we also recommend to check what time the final bus departs that day to Santa Elena so you can make sure you are back on time–it’s usually around 5pm, but schedules can change day to day for various reasons. From there, you can easily grab a tuk-tuk to the entrance, which is about Q25 or 30 per ride (you can fit up to 3 people in one). Depending on your timing, you may also be able to hop in another collectivo heading down the road in that direction, but its not necessarily cheaper at Q15 per person.

The entrance to Crater Azul is guarded by a small shop at the front of a large family farm. This farm is private property and the owners charge Q25 per person to enter. Once inside, the path is very easy to follow, basically a straight shot passing through about 4km of farmland and maybe 1km more once you are inside the forest surrounding the crater. Most of this walk is directly in the sun, so be forewarned! If its been raining, you should also anticipate large puddles that you have to squeeze around while trying not to get stuck on the barbed-wire fence bordering the path, or just wade through the potentially knee-high water. During dry season, traversing the path should be very easy and fast, with the only potential impediment along the way being the curious/mildly aggressive cows on the farm. They may rush toward you to see what’s going on with the strange intruders on their territory, but they are behind fences so there’s no real danger. It’s all part of the adventure!

Once you reach the trees, it’s just a short walk further to the crater. You will get your first glimpse of the beautiful crystal clear water when you reach the river with the bridge, nearby the area for barbecuing. Cross the bridge and in a few moments you will find yourself overlooking the pristine, strikingly blue (and aptly named) Crater Azul. 

Crater Azul, Guatemala

From here, you can jump right in to swim in the main crater, or you can take a small path to the right leading to a second and more private area. This path is a little less defined than the previous one, but it only takes a minute to reach the next crater. Now it’s time to relax, swim, have a picnic, and enjoy the view!

When you are ready to return, please remember to bring all your belongings and don’t leave any trash behind. You just need to walk back along the same path, and once you reach the main road, catch a bus heading towards Las Cruces. They pass around every 30 minutes or so and will charge about Q10-15 per person. To make sure you can get all the way back to Flores that same night, we recommend to be back on the main road no later than 4pm to ensure you have enough time to get to the main terminal and catch the last bus to Santa Elena/Flores at 5pm. Again, collectivo times are flexible so it’s better to be early than stranded! The collectivo will drop you in the main bus terminal in Santa Elena (not the marketplace) and from there it’s a 30 minute walk back to Flores.

That’s all there is to it! Now you are ready to discover Crater Azul on your own. 🙂

Read this far but not interested in doing the budget style trip? Book a tour to Crater Azul!

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