The main reason for staying in Flores and its surrounding area is to visit Tikal National Park. But the town of Flores itself has a lot of life and character and was very worth the visit even when not considering the visit to Tikal. However, we actually spent our one night in the area in a town called El Remate. Each town had its own distinctive character.
Ian and I flew in on a small plane from Guatemala to Mundo Maya International Airport pretty early in the morning which thankfully saved us a day-long bus ride. It was a quick flight — about an hour — and the service was great! I am pretty sure that’s the smallest plane I’ve ever been on and I thought it was pretty cool. But maybe that’s just me and I live a sheltered life.
We only spent about 24 hours or so in and around the island of Flores. We actually stayed in El Remate, which is a town on the eastern side of the lake, and not a part of the island of Flores. I kind of wish that we had stayed in Flores because it really had a lot to offer and had so much of its own type of charm, but when I had been looking online for places to stay there, I really didn’t see anything that caught my eye. All the hostels I saw seemed a bit too grungy. I think I must have been looking at the wrong websites or something (???) because we heard good things from other travelers about Los Amigos. If I ever come back, I’ll be sure to stay there.
Anyway, the little bit of time Ian and I spent on the island of Flores was when we first got in and when we were leaving on a bus to Lanquin. Those first few hours we just spent walking around, sitting around, and taking pictures. After our flights from New York to Guatemala City and then Guatemala City to Flores, we were pretty exhausted and our backpacks were feeling heavy and we just wanted to relax. But the country was still so new to us so we were amazed at everything and really just enjoyed walking up and down the little hills and streets of Flores. I think, actually, the excitement probably kicked in, because I didn’t feel too tired those first few days in the country — just exhilarated! Also, it was more hilly than I had imagined it would be!
The second time we went to Flores was to catch our bus to Lanquin. And that’s when we met a really cool (and hilarious) group of backpackers that had joined together at different points throughout Belize and Guatemala before adopting us into their group. There were the other Americans Scott and Shannon from Oregon, Katie from Canada, Tess from Australia, Ringo from the UK, cousins Kian and Finn from the UK, and Kiwis Eddie and Harley.
They seemed like a tight-knit group and Ringo was so hilarious on the bus — still drunk from the night before, walking around with no shoes, and making completely rude comments. Not to mention Scott’s constant jokes and hilarious stories. And Ian and I are definitely introverted, so being surrounded by a bunch of outgoing extroverts was kind of intimidating. But they really welcomed us into their family and were such a blast to hand out with. Meeting them secured my decision to backpack Central America as soon as I can! I really do associate Flores with waiting in the parked bus at 8:30 in the morning as more and more of these people piled into the bus, cracking jokes and making rude comments to each other.
If any of you guys are reading this, seriously thank you because you all, as a group and as certain individuals, kind of changed the way I look at life. ❤
Oh and Ringo has a Wordpress travel blog, Born with Wanderlust, if you want to check it out. He has quite the stories to tell. And quite the voice with which to tell them. He’s pretty special.
Located on the very eastern tip of Lago Petén Itzá, El Remate is a much sleepier little town in comparison to Flores. It’s pretty views, chill vibes, and proximity to Tikal make it a really great option for those looking to explore the ruins as well as kick their feet back for a little bit. We stayed at Las Gardenias for one night where we got a clean room, free breakfast, and hot showers for a pretty good price. The garden courtyards were really pretty as well and the town itself had a nice character about it. Those looking for nightlife, however, should definitely stay in Flores. It was definitely sleepy on that side of the lake.
There are a couple of restaurants and a bunch of different places to stay. I had fun just strolling around the area. And, although we didn’t swim in the lake, there’s a really pretty dock that you can either sun bathe on or jump off of into the water — your preference. It didn’t feel too touristy. Just very tranquil and kind of half-asleep. And being close to Tikal was a really nice perk!
The views from the restaurant at Las Gardenias of the lake at the sunset and pretty much at any time of the day were beautiful. Food was pretty decent, too. Although for dinner one night we walked for like 45 minutes south along the main road and found this little store/shack/bakery named Casa de Pan (House of Bread) where we bought some delicious pastries. Our plan to find a club/bar ended up not working out that night, but those pastries were absolutely delicious! And completely 100% off the beaten path. We weren’t even in El Remate at that point. No idea where we were, actually.
Both Flores and El Remate were really cool in their own ways. But I have to say that if I ever go back, I will definitely be staying in Flores this time!