Flores Guatemala is a small, yet splendid island village located on Lake Petén Itzá in the northern Petén region of the country. Most visitors to this beautiful town arrange a Flores Guatemala vacation with the intent to visit the nearby Mayan ruins at Tikal. Also a great base for other trips around Petén, Flores is among the safer places in the wilds of the north and it caters to visitors with an ample amount of Flores hotels, restaurants and internet cafes. While the nearby towns of Santa Elena and San Benito offer a more authentic Guatemalan experience, you will notice that they also contribute more in the way of litter and traffic. With plenty to see and do in Flores Guatemala, visitors will soon discover that this island city is not only a take-off point for Guatemala tours, but a worthy attraction in and of itself.
Flores, for as peaceful and quiet as it is now, experienced much tumult upon the arrival of the Spaniards. Formerly called Tayasal, Flores dates as far back as the 9th century, when it was a Mayan holding. When Pedro de Alvarado arrived in the 15th century on a trip bound for Honduras, he met with King Canek and his Mayan people, gifting them a Spanish horse. The Mayans revered the horse as they might one of their gods, but soon the Spanish invaders would attempt to convert the Mayans into Christians. When this failed repeatedly, the Spaniards decided to destroy Tayasal in the 1500"s and subsequently it would be abandoned until inhabitants began returning in the 18th century. Flores Guatemala is named for Cirilo Flores, who was among the first Guatemaltecos seeking independence from the unwelcome Colonial powers.
Walking the charming streets of the island is among the small pleasures to experience on a Flores Guatemala vacation. After burning some calories sightseeing, a sunset drink or meal at one of the lakeside restaurants provides a most pleasant way to enjoy the waning daytime hours. Walking is definitely the ideal way to get around the island, and visitors on a Flores Guatemala vacation will soon discover that circumnavigating the village on foot takes a mere 15 minutes. While the nearby villages of Santa Elena and San Benito can be reached by foot, rickshaw or bus, the towns of San Andrés and San José require an expensive boat ride across the lake. Boats are primarily docked out back of the Hotel Santana, and popular excursions include lake tours and a visit to the small Petencito Zoo. Often, these boat rides offer up no set prices, leaving the arena open for haggling. The Petencito Zoo houses raccoons, monkeys and jaguars, as well as other animals that have been rescued by the Association of Rescue and Conservation of Wildlife, otherwise known as ARCAS. Visiting ARCAS for a tour, or to lend a hand as a volunteer, is a great activity to explore while on a Flores Guatemala vacation. Dedicated to erasing illegal animal trafficking, ARCAS is best reached through its twice daily boat service from Flores.
Between shopping for textiles, woodwork and chile salsa, visitors to Flores can find entertainment with a canopy tour, rent a canoe or bicycle, hire a covered boat to visit San José, or watch a Western movie at the cinema on Calle Central (Central Street). Visiting the area's Mayan ruins is at the top of the list for activities to be enjoyed during a Flores Guatemala vacation, and within 40-60 miles are the famed locales of Tikal, El Mirador and Yaxhá. Tour operators in Flores can help you arrange juants into the Tikal National Park, find the appropriate option among area tours and even line you up for a ride on one of the private planes that fly over sites of interest in Petén. Remember to take the necessary precautions when heading out and about, as petty theft and armed robberies have been reported by those on the more remote area tours.
Getting to Flores is possible by plane, bus or for those
brave souls who have rented a car as their form of Guatemala
transportation. The Mundo Maya International Airport
is the only other international airport in the country,
second only to La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala
City. Flights to Flores Guatemala can be found daily
from Guatemala City with a few airlines, though you should
expect regular delays as part of the process. Flights
to Flores Guatemala also commonly arrive from Belize City,
Mexico and Houston,
Texas. Those arriving on flights to Flores Guatemala
can reach town with a short, affordable taxi ride. You
can expect to pay under $10 for the trip. By bus, visitors
from Guatemala City, Belize City and other destinations
pull into Santa Elena's Fuente del Norte bus station.
A bit confusing for some, getting from Santa Elena to
Flores is usually just a short auto-rickshaw ride away.
You can also find taxi service from Santa Elena for a
like fee as you would pay from the airport. As Flores
comes into view, you will notice the village's unmistakable
red-roofed buildings wedged among each other where space
is at a premium. While strolling the narrow cobblestone
streets, visitors on a Flores Guatemala vacation will
find a historic church among the edifices and the contiguous
Spanish plaza is an ideal spot to sit and take it all