Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala

Photo: Laguna Lodge
Photo: Laguna Lodge

Multiple flights to Guatemala City. A long ride on the Pan-American Highway. And finally a boat across Lake Atitlán. It’s takes forever–okay, just a full day, but it feels like forever–to arrive in Santa Cruz La Laguna. But as soon as the boat pulls up to the lodge’s dock, you know the trip was worth it. Already.

Laguna Lodge is a boutique hotel with an amazing setting. From your suite, the pool, the restaurant–basically everywhere–you have a view of volcanoes. That’s right, volcanoes. Plural. Atitlán. Tolimán. San Pedro. You could do nothing but stare across the lake all day, and you’d still have an amazing stay. But with so much to see and do in such a small area–Lake Atitlán is only eleven miles in diameter–that isn’t likely.

Wake up in your suite that overlooks the lake. It’s made of volcanic stone, palms, and adobe. And filled with unique furniture: hand-hewn beds, hand-painted basins, and indigenous antiques. Instead of carbonated soda and greasy potato chips, the mini bar is full of nuts, chocolate, and organic wine. You really wouldn’t have to venture very far.

Photo: Laguna Lodge
Photo: Laguna Lodge

But the yoga mat is calling your name. Head to the thatched-roof pavilion, overlooking the lake, of course. Thick clouds encircle the volcanoes early in the morning. Belted flycatchers chirp just out of sight. Jump in the pool made of river rocks. Drink strong coffee. The beans are from the hillside behind the lodge. It doesn’t get much fresher. Eat bananas and papayas grown on site. And head out before Xocomil–the strong southern wind–starts blowing later in the morning.

Spend the day hiking San Pedro. The volcano. It’s three hours up, and two back down. If you’re in shape. Walk along the mountain trails. You’ll pass dramatic cliffs, spider monkeys, and Mayan ceremonial rocks, where you can go rappelling. Paraglide from the top of one of those mountains. Or zip line in Santa Lucia. Prefer the water? Even if you’re an expert, you’ve probably never gone high-altitude scuba diving. You’ll be surrounded by mojarra. Canoe along the shoreline. Take the water taxi around the lake. Visit tiny villages. Santiago Atitlán is an indigenous town with a 500-year-old church. Panajachel is known for its jade jewelry and archaeological museum. And Tecpán has the ancient ruins of Iximche.

After another full day, you’ll be ready for dinner at Zotz back at the lodge. A stone fireplace, antique candelabras, and the starry sky set the mood. Bread is baked daily. Vegetables and herbs were picked from the garden earlier. Even the eggs are from the lodge. There’s no meat, but you won’t miss it when you taste the gourmet food. Cap off the evening with a Molten Lava cocktail.

Laguna Lodge was definitely worth the trip. Now if you could only shorten the travel time returning home.


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