What to do when you visit Flores, Peten, Guatemala? / Flores top tourist activities
Just a quick boat ride across Lake Peten-Itza from Flores, you’ll find San Miguel, with a variety of nature based activities to fill a day! You can relax with other travelers at Jorge’s Rope Swing, swim in the clear waters at Chechenal beach, enjoy beautiful views from the El Mirador lookout point, or visit Las Arcas wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.
Here’s your complete guide and local tips to San Miguel!
How to get there:
As soon as you walk down to the waterfront in Flores, you will be greeted by many boat operators offering their services, calling your attention with, ‘Lancha, amigo?’ Prices are going to vary widely based on where you are going and how many people are in your group, and there is some negotiation involved. Here’s a general guide of fair rates to pay:
- Straight across to San Miguel town – this is done as a collectivo-style boat trip, public transportation for locals who live on either side and need to cross throughout the day. You should pay Q5 per person. You get dropped off in front of a horse statue, and can return there later to catch a boat back across.
- Chechenal beach – about Q60 for 2 people, one way. Add Q10 for each extra person.
- El Mirador – about Q35 for 2 people, one way. Add Q10 for each extra person.
- Jorge’s Ropeswing – about Q100 for 2 people, roundtrip. Add Q10-20 for each extra person. Arrange a pick up time with your boat driver, and pay on the way back.
- Las Arcas – about Q100 for 2 people, roundtrip. Add Q10-20 for each extra person. Usually the driver will wait for you (most people spend about an hour doing the tour and then head back), and pay on the return trip. If you want to stay longer, you can arrange a specific pick up time with your boat driver, but this may raise the price.
So once you’ve made it to the other side, what can you do?
From the horse statue, it’s an easy walk to Chechenal Beach, about 30 minutes (or you can take a direct boat). Head along the road going up the hill, past some houses, and turn left after a few minutes when you see the football/soccer field. The path will now go through the trees the rest of the way to the beach, and if you’re lucky and patient, you’ll get to see the wild howler monkeys living in this area. Don’t worry, they are not aggressive at all, and are in fact quite wary of people, which is why being patient and moving slowly helps them feel more comfortable to show their faces to take a look at the strange visitors to their land. The path is very straightforward, with one fork, marked with a large sign, that leads to the beach on the right and the lookout point on the left.
At the end of the path, the trees will open up and you’ll see the water straight ahead, with one dock and several barbecue areas (free to use, but you need to bring your own supplies, including charcoal) with picnic benches and palapa coverings. On weekends the beach is a popular spot with locals, but on weekdays it’s typically pretty empty. There’s a table at the front where you can pay the entrance fee, and if no one is there when you show up, they will just find on the beach later. The water here is clear and clean, with a nice sand and pebble bottom, so feel free to jump right in!
Entrance fee: Q5 per person
On your way back from the beach, take the path that loops around to the El Mirador lookout point. Climb up the small wooden tower on the hill and enjoy a bird’s-eye view over the lake. You may have seen the classic photo op showcasing the entire Flores island, colorful houses along the water’s edge and sloping streets culminating with the white church perched atop the city–here’s the place to snap your own picture!
You can also take a direct boat or walk directly to here from San Miguel town.
Entrance fee: free
Jorge’s Rope Swing
One of the most popular spots for tourists to hang out, Jorge’s Ropeswing is the perfect place to spend the afternoon to socialize, swim, and beat the Flores heat. In addition to two big ropes for swinging yourself into the water (for which its named), there’s also plenty of inner tubes for floating in the water, hammocks, tables, some board games, and a small restaurant where you can order snacks and drinks (please be advised outside refreshments are not permitted). Head here after your early morning Tikal tour to kick back, relax, and cool off!
Entrance fee: Q10 per person
Warning: Some people attempt to save money by taking the collectivo boat to San Miguel and walking to Jorge’s Ropeswing along the coastline. We do NOT recommend this because there is no public path, and though it may appear to an adventurous person that they can pass, it is dangerous. More than that, it runs along private property guarded by the owners’ dogs, and these dogs are aggressive, they will chase you and attack you. Many people have been bitten. Please just take a boat.
Las Arcas is an animal rescue and rehabilitation center that works with local animals who have been recovered from captivity or trafficking. It is a huge operation that is focused first and foremost on the welfare of the animals, but is open to visitors for educational purposes. Though they are currently rehabilitating over 600 monkeys, tropical birds, jaguars, lizards, and more, you won’t see them on your tour. That’s because those animals with a shot at living freely in the wild need to kept in the most natural environment possible with minimal human contact. What you will see on the tour are some animals who now call Arcas home, such as spider monkeys who have lived as pets, an ocelot with 3 legs who was raised as a housecat, parrots who used to be hotel mascots, and others who would not be able to survive alone if released. Your guide will tell a little about each animal’s history and more details about the Arcas mission and work.
If you don’t want to pay to take a direct boat here, you can take the Q5 boat to San Miguel town and walk, though it will be long and hot. Just head up the hill and keep following the road for about an hour, eventually taking a right turn on a path through the trees for about another 30 minutes.
Entrance fee: Q25 per person including guided tour (in Spanish)
Interested in doing more to support Arcas? You can donate or volunteer! Contact them on Facebook to see how you can help @ArcasGuatemala
Want to explore San Miguel with a guide? Reserve your free guided walking tour of San Miguel here!