Flores, Guatemala is a unique place mainly because its such a tiny island on a lake with a few hundred years of history, and most tourists stay here as a jumping off point to the Mayan ruins at Tikal. The streets on the island weave up and down through the rows of colorful historic homes, many of which house shops and hotels. A walk around the circumference of the island will take about twenty minutes in total, unless you look up and see the electrical wires strung with thousands of migratory birds, in which case, your casual stroll then becomes a frightening quest to avoid getting pooped on! If you succeed, there are a myriad of bars and restaurants to try, most of which line the main road on the southern and western sides of the island. However, most locals skip the restaurants and choose to eat at what is known as “Las Mesitas”, a row of food tents set up nightly next to the lake on the west side. The tables sell Guatemalan burritos, enchiladas, tamales, tostadas, salads, juices, and desserts, all for between 3Q and 10Q each. You can get a full meal for less than $2.50 USD. They’re always crowded with locals, which pretty much guarantees that the food is tasty and safe.
Although many people visit Flores strictly because of its proximity to Tikal, there are other things to do if you’re in need of a few days off of the Guatemalan minibuses. It is simple to hire a lancha in order to take a boat tour of the lake, where you can visit a zoo with local animals (a wee bit depressing actually), a museum on an island where they used to broadcast the radio, or take a peek at some nearby villages. Lago Petén Itzá is warm and clear and there are a few spots away from the island where you can enjoy a peaceful swim. One of the favorites is called Playa Chechenal, and you can access it by foot after a short boat ride (or directly by boat if you’d prefer). Anyone will point you in the direction of the beach, and along the way there is a small lookout tower with a panoramic view of Flores. Lookout for monkeys on your way to the beach!
It’s good to know that although Guatemala’s rainy season is considered to be bit cooler, I was in Flores in late August and early September, and it was HOT. When I say hot, I mean that it felt like I was sitting in front of a blowdryer in the Florida sun. The shade wasn’t an escape, a fan didn’t help, and a dip in the lake was basically like taking a bath in a non-ventilated room. If this sounds rough, when booking accommodation - check if they have air conditioning!