San Juan La Laguna is a town on Lake Atitlán. It doesn't have nearly as many tourists as other towns around the lake, and so it is a much quieter, more relaxed place to stay.
Lanchas from Panajachel heading to San Pedro la Laguna will take you to the dock in San Juan if you ask. A tuk-tuk from San Pedro should cost no more than Q5, and just walking it is fairly quick (~2 km). Alternatively, the pickups and buses servicing the towns around the lake can get you to San Juan as well.
The town is small enough to easily walk to any part of it within 10 minutes.
- 1 Church of San Juan. The church was built in the 15th century and is beautiful from the outside and inside. On the right-hand side you can see the Rostro Maya, mountains forming a lying face of an Indian in the distance.
- La Nariz del Indio (Rostro Maya). La Nariz del Indio, a mountain named after its resemblance to a Mayan's profile with a prominent nose, lies just NNW of town. It is now a national park with well maintained trails, informational displays, roofed miradores (lookouts) and a Q30 entrance fee. The entrance lies along the main road heading out of town towards San Pablo (clockwise around the lake). The entire hike in and out can be done in 3-4 hours easily. Alternatively, one can take a different route out the back towards Santa Clara la Laguna, then catch pickup trucks or tuk-tuks back towards San Pablo and then San Juan (Q5 each leg for Q10 total).
- 1 El Mirador. Climb el mirador for a fantastic view over the lake. It's Q10 for the entrance and then a 10 min climb up the same path as for la Nariz del Indio. No guide needed, a policeman is even at the plattform. Q10.
- Textile production. Walk into one of the textile associations like Casa Flor Ixcaco Weaving Cooperative or Asociacion de Mujeres en Colores Botanico and ask them to show you how thread is made from cotton and how they produce the many different colors naturally. Leave a small donation unless you purchase something afterwards. donation Q10.
- 2 Chocolate production. See a demonstration at Licor Marron on how cocoa is grown and chocolate is produced. They also have a shop where they sell handmade products.
A few stores sell textiles woven by local women's cooperatives, some using natural dyes such as carrot, achote (a red seed used for cooking), etc. The profits support the local women and their families.
There are also several art galleries. Check out the works of Silvestre (scattered among several galleries and shops), whose surreal paintings often show his critical view on politics.
A few comedores with cheap food are scattered around the center of town. There is a restaurant with nice lake views down towards the dock (take the first right as you walk up from the dock and it will be on your right). Hotel Maya has a fancier (and slightly more expensive) menu in its "eco"-themed restaurant.
Try the chocofrutas that some of the small shops sell for Q2-5. Don't get ripped of at the fancy and touristy chocolate stores.
- 1 Comedor Elenita, Calle 5a (Calle 5a between Av 5a and Av 4a). daily 7am-10pm. Comedor Elenita is popular among locals and serves set guatemaltecan lunch. Veggie option available. Fish plates are around Q70. Q25-35.
- 2 Tienda with no name, Av 6a (Av 6a between Calle 5a und Calle 6a, near the church). Get chocofrutas in this small shop. The fruits are frozen and are dipped into liquid chocolate. Q2.
- Hospedaje Estrella Del Lago is fairly inexpensive with a nice location overlooking the lake. It is right off of the road leading to the dock.
- Pa Muelle ("At the Dock") sits right above Hospedaje Estrella Del Lago and has clean, comfortable rooms with fantastic sunrise views of the lake. It's set on a well-manicured lawn with a garden and is run by a friendly and helpful local couple.
- Ecohotel Uxlabil. Is much more expensive, around US$50 for a double, but it has large, well-maintained grounds with a volleyball court, hot tub, sauna, its own dock, etc. The staff is very friendly and helpful.
- Hotel Chi-Ya, ☏ . Lakeside and 1km east of San Juan. Panoramic views. 5 rooms 5 cabins 2 apartments.
Lanchas arrive infrequently at the town's dock, so it is advisable to take a tuk-tuk to the Panajachel dock in San Pedro to catch a more frequent departure there back to Panajachel.