He wasn’t exaggerating.
Lago De Atitlan is more than simply beautiful; it’s a 5 star feast for all the senses. The turquoise blue water, the lush green mountains, the glow of three volcanoes, and towering clouds overwhelm the eyes. An array of tropical flowers mixed with coniferous pines arouse the nose. The never-ending spring climate invigorates the body. The songs of birds and the laughter of the Mayan people tickle the ears. And the hot tortillas served with breakfast tipico for 2 dollars delights the tongue and the budget.
This Runaway Retreat is Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Choosing What Town To Live In
Below is a brief breakdown of the best towns around Lake Atitlan.
Panajachel is one of the largest towns along the lake. It is home to multiple NGO’s, expats, hostels, fancy hotels, Spanish schools and real estate offices. It also hosts a large variety of restaurants, including authentic Japanese and Korean. It’s the perfect place to base yourself while you decide where you want to live. For info on short term homestays, hostels, and hotels, check out, Where To Stay In Panajachel.
Santa Cruz is the best location if you’re looking for awesome views, few tourists, and immersion into Mayan culture. It’s arguably one of the most relaxing spots on the lake. Here you can find quaint bungalows for between 200-300$ a month depending on the season. Check out A Guide To Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan for a complete review.
San Marcos is the town for leftover and wannabe hippies. If you’re looking to experiment with an array of drugs, alternative medicines, and discover your deeper self, this is the place for you. But if you would rather steer clear of the hippie scene, there are multiple long term rental options just outside the town. I highly recommend Pasaj-Cap Rentals, 450$-650$/month.
San Pedro is a backpacker’s paradise, a gringo trail hot spot, and the place to party. It’s definitely a unique town and fun for a few days but not a place you would want to live long-term.
In between these towns are little villages often containing just a few scattered lakeside homes. They are very quiet and isolated but still accessible by public boat. The best way to find a rental is to explore these villages for yourself or check listings on the internet.
How To Find An Apartment
Thanks to the internet, you can find loads of cool bungalows and apartments all around the lake. Check out VRBO.com, get in touch with Dave at Century 21 Guatemala, hit up Rene and Francesca at mayanlakerealty.com, check out terraxatitlan.com and finally try Armand at atitlanrentals.com.
However, there are also loads of cool places that aren’t listed on the internet. The best way to find them is by talking to expats. Head over to Crossroads Cafe in Panajachel and ask Mike if he’s heard of any cool apartments up for rent.
The Best Time Of Year To Find An Apartment
If you want to find a rental in a great location and for the cheapest price, you need to secure a place just as the rainy season is coming to an end. On average, the rainy season ends in early November on Lake Atitlan, which means you’re going to have the best luck if you start your search in late September of early October.
Additionally, if you don’t mind the rainy season, which generally only consists of afternoon rains, you will be able to find some of the cheapest options just as the rainy season starts to pick up around May.
My New Bungalow On Lake Atitlan
After emailing a few real estate offices and talking to loads of expats, I finally found the perfect place.
It’s a local place located in Pena D’Oro just outside of Panajachel.
The views are stunning, the proximity to Panajachel is perfect, the atmosphere is heavenly, the amenities are everything I need, and for 250$/month, the price is right.
It’s so insanely cool here that I would love to buy it one day and turn it into the first Runaway Hostel! For more info, you can contact me on Facebook at The Runaway Guide.com.
If you love spring, perfectly shaped volcanoes, friendly locals, peaceful days, and an extremely low cost of living, the mystical Mayan Lake Atitlan is the place to run away to. In all my travels I have never encountered such an ideal setting or a more beautiful lake. It is by far my favorite Runaway Retreat and one I highly recommend.