Planning a trip to Flores? Check out my quick guide on things to do and see on this beautiful island of Flores.
If you are crossing the border from Belize, you will need to pay an exit fee of $40BZ, luckily Guatemala doesn’t charge you to enter the country and the border crossing is relatively easy, if not a little disorganised. You will need to walk across the border and then try to find your coach.
Once across the border it will take another 2.5 hours to reach Santa Elena and then a minivan will take you on to the island of Flores. During this short journey, you are likely to be offered many great deals for various trips such as Tikal and transport across Guatemala.
We paid 200 QTZ for the sunrise Tikal tour and transport to Lanquin which worked out more or less the right price, so it wasn’t really a super deal. Don’t pay over the odds for your Tikal tour, around 100Qtz is about right and so is the bus to Lanquin – I will go into more detail about Tikal later in the post.
Flores is a very small island which can be walked around in 20 minutes. The first thing you will notice is the beauty of the small cobbled streets and different coloured Moroccan styled buildings. I instantly fell in love with the island’s charm and couldn’t wait to explore.
Our hostel was called Auroa which we booked on booking.com. I wish we had waited until arriving to book somewhere as it wasn’t the best place in the world. We had three nights there and then checked in to El Mirador which was so much nicer! We even had a balcony overlooking the lake and they offer free water and free kayak hire for 2 hours which is an amazing deal!
Each evening beside the lake you will find a few street food vendors serving tacos and tortillas for only a few QTZ each and the most amazing banana cake which is served in huge slices for only 15QTZ. They love their cake in Guatemala and one slice can easily feed 2 people.
Our alarm was set for 2.20am for the sunrise Tikal tour and the minibus pick us up at 3am. It was a very early start but we were so lucky that it was a clear morning. I wore some mid length gym leggings and a vest top but also took a scarf as it can be quite chilly in the morning.
It’s also best to wear closed shoes such as trainers or hiking shoes as there is a 45-minute walk through the rain forest to reach the temple for sunrise. There were lots of spiders and other creepy crawlies so I wouldn’t recommend wearing sandals or flip flops. The hike is fairly easy but as it’s pitch black you will need a flashlight or head torch to guide you.
I have never seen so many stars in my entire life and we were so lucky to see several shooting stars flying over the ancient Mayan Ruins. It was really cool as we could only see the outline of the ruins which were illuminated by the moonlight.
Once we climbed the hundreds of steps to the top of Temple 4, we sat over-looking the rain forest and heard the howler monkeys wake up the rainforest with their dinosaur like howls, we thought it was a CD they had put on for effect and later found out the noise of the howler monkey is the noise used in Jurassic Park for T-Rex. The view of the dawn breaking and the sun rising was so peaceful and we were treated to a glorious sun rising high above the temple and listened to the birds sing their morning song.
We were then guided around the entire park by a wonderful guide, who explained the history of the Mayans and told us about each of the temples. It was extremely fascinating to learn how the Mayans lived and what they used the temples for. You can enter the park without a guide but I don’t think the experience would be the same without one. You are able to climb some of the ruins which was great, as some sites don’t allow you onto the temples.
On Flores island, you can kayak around the lake and visit the various small islands in the middle or kayak to the opposite side to play on the rope swing. It’s so peaceful out on the lake and people can stand up paddle board or even swim.
There are plenty of bars and places to eat in Flores. We loved San Telmo which is a cool lakeside bar and restaurant which has an amazing happy hour deal of 2 margaritas for only 22QTZ which is £2! We took full advantage of this and enjoyed about 4 each whilst watching the sunset. Other cool places to eat are Cool Beans which does amazing breakfast and lunches and Los Amigos hostel which is probably the coolest hostel I have seen! It’s like walking into Narnia…. Trust me, you have to visit this place even if it’s only for a beer! There are happy hour deals on all over Flores and there is definitely something for everyone.
Flores is a popular place to learn Spanish and you can stay with a Guatemalan family for a few days to practice your Spanish for around 100QTZ (approx £10) a day and that includes 3 x meals. We didn’t book on to any courses while we were here as we decided to learn Spanish in Antigua instead. Stay tuned to find out how we got on with that one!
Most people head off to Lanquin or Antigua from Flores. Don’t pay more than 100QTZ for the bus to Lanquin and double check the bus will actually come pick you up! We booked the bus and it decided not to come for us which is why we had to stay an extra night on the island. The bus to Antigua is an overnight bus and costs around 220QTZ.
Have you ever thought about visiting Guatemala? Let me know in the comments below.
Keep on wandering!