After my trek with Quetzaltrekkers from Xela to Lake Atitlan, I was more than ready for some R&R.
And the lakeside town of San Pedro la Laguna was the perfect place to do just that.
But I’ll be honest with you. The lakefront is most definitely a tourist ghetto and is completely set up for backpackers.
Every cafe is wired and serves a (cheap!) international menu, tour agencies abound (and so, unfortunately, do drugs and some…strange…expats)
But I don’t mind the odd tourist ghetto and can ignore the freaks, particularly when I manage to score a clean, sunny, private room with ensuite and super fast wifi for about $5 a night.
Not even in Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal’s backpacker district, will you find that kind of bargain.
So since I had a few long and empty days stretching out before me in San Pedro, I thought I should give my time there some structure. And how did I do that?
By eating at as many different places as possible.
Right at the Pana dock, Nick’s serves some pretty decent pizza and nachos and all the other usual fare. It’s got a great view of the lake, and, like everywhere else, has wifi.
I stayed at Jarachik, so I ate here a few times. The breakfasts were huge and tasty, as was the pizza. I think I just about tried anything that mentioned it came con queso when I discovered the queso they use is incredibly gooey, beautifully melted mozzarella.
I’d avoid the meat though, because the chicken in my burrito was mostly…I don’t know what it was but it didn’t taste or look like or have the texture of chicken.
Around the corner from the Pana dock heading towards the bulk of the guesthouses and restaurants, Fata Morgana is open early and does great coffee and gigantic smoothies.
Their breakfasts are good value and they even have Real Brown Bread. I get very excited when I find a place that has Real Brown Bread.
Near Jarachik and Clovers is Le Jardin. In a beautiful garden setting with speedy wifi and music that made me feel like I was back in Kathmandu (think: chanting monks), this place was recommended to me by Ant from Positive World Travel.
I didn’t eat here (it smelled a little like sewage, but hey, so do most places in San Pedro) but they do a nice rosa de jamaica (hibiscus tea).
Above Nik’s at the Pana dock, D’Noz is an old San Pedro favourite. Fast wifi and cheap drinks.
Cafe La Puerta
Adjacent to the San Pedro Spanish school, Cafe La Puerta does a tasty museli/granola with fruit, although the yoghurt was watery. Also open early for the Spanish school set.
Like D’Noz, Buddha Bar is another San Pedro classic. A popular bar, they also do decent Asian food. My kung pao chicken was huge and cost about $3. They skimp on the peanuts though – and that’s the best part!
Getting to San Pedro la Laguna
I hiked from the highland town of Xela to Lake Atitlan with Quetzaltrekkers, which took three challenging days. You can also take a tourist shuttle from Xela or from Antigua.
Booking shuttles in San Pedro is much cheaper than anywhere else – it only cost me 40Q ($5) to get back to Antigua, about half the price of the opposite direction.