Maya Moon Lodge on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala: a traveler’s dream
Maya Moon Lodge on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala: a traveler’s dream
Serene; inspiring; enchanting; picturesque; refreshing; breathtaking. These are only a few of the words that describe the Maya Moon Lodge on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Whether you’re a long term traveler or just passing through Guatemala for a couple of weeks, this tranquil spot on Lake Atitlan should not be over-looked. Short term visitors will find a setting for experiencing some of the best nature and beauty that Guatemala has to offer, while long-term travelers will find a place to rejuvenate themselves from the constant ‘go, go, go’ that traveling demands. Whichever your story, you won’t forget your 2 nights or 2 months spent on Lake Atitlan at the Maya Moon Lodge.
The Setting at Maya Moon Lodge
Situated directly on Lake Atitlan’s shoreline between the larger towns of San Marcos la Laguna and Santa Cruz la Laguna, the Maya Moon Lodge is built along the mountain side, with views of Volcan de Atitlan, Volcan Acatenango, Volcan San Pedro, and Volcan de Fuego, or the ‘Volcano of Fire’, which erupts nearly every 15 minutes of in the distance. At the lodge you are far enough away from the town to enjoy a utterly peaceful setting, while close enough for a quick boat ride or long walk down the quiet dirt road.
The dock leading out onto the lake offers a perfect opportunity for watching the sunrise over the volcano’s in the distance. If you’re lucky, Volcan de Fuego will erupt as the orange sky begins to rise behind it, providing a perfect contrast of colors with the dark grey ash cloud. Cool morning temperatures create a perfect environment for morning yoga or a light workout. Jump into the lake afterwards for a very refreshing swim. The lake has quite chilly water, but if you wait until the sun has had a chance to warm up you’ll feel comfortable enough. Water taxi’s, which make their rounds every 15 minutes or so, can stop directly at Maya Moon’s dock when waved down to transport you to whichever lakeside town you wish to visit.
Built along the mountain side, steep steps take you between the restaurant and accommodations of the lodge to the road. Gardens with every type of tropical plant and flower line the steps. It is not even necessary to travel by road, but for those wishing to go on an adventurous hike or get a little exercise, the lodge is located in the perfect location.
Maya Moon Lodge Restaurant & Accommodations
The Maya Moon restaurant sits just above the dock, over-looking the lake. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are served throughout the day. Alcohol, fresh teas, juices and smoothies are just a fraction of the drink menu. Try a healing turmeric milk tea, or a deep red hibiscus (jamaica) tea to warm you up on chilly mornings. For breakfast they serve a range of dishes, from pancakes, to omelettes, to fresh fruit and yogurt. The lunch menu offers an assortment of specialty sandwiches and salads, with lots of choices for vegetarians, including the delicious lentil burger. Lunch specials not found on the menu are offered daily as well, with new choices each day. Dinner is also changed each day, with four choices to choose from and no regular menu. A vegetarian special or two is offered each night. A lot of care is put into each of the dishes served at the Maya Moon Lodge, and during our time there we didn’t have a single dish that wasn’t fantastic.
Accommodation ranges between dorms, private bungalows, and a large house. The dorm accommodation is a two story bungalow, with 7 beds on each floor. Each bed has outlets and comfortable bedding. Each story has it’s own porch with hammocks, table, and chair which is a perfect setting for watching the sunrise or the sunset each day. Attached to the dorm bungalow is a toilet and shower with hot water, and an outdoor sink. The dorm accommodation is a perfect way for fellow travelers to get to know each other, and make life-long friendships. Most travelers go to bed quite early, usually before 10pm, so if you’re looking for a party hostel this wouldn’t be the right choice for you. As of 2017, dorm beds cost only $11 USD.
Private bungalows range in appearance, but all offer their own bathroom and balcony. One large house is for rent, with two stories, a private bathroom, and even a small kitchen. The house can accommodate 4 people and costs around $100 USD total. Private bungalows are in the $50 USD range.
Maya Moon Lodge Activities
Whether your objective is to lay on the dock, swim, read a book swinging in a hammock, or go on a hike or adventure, the lodge has something for everyone. One can be completely content just relaxing at the lodge, reading one of the books from the book exchange in the restaurant, or playing with one of their two resident dogs. If you’re looking for more however, then continue reading below.
If you’re up for a great hike, then taking the road down to the right of the lodge will first take you to the small town of Tzunana. Keep following the road, eventually you will find yourself winding through the mountain side, through forests, up and down hills, with outstanding views of the lake, until you reach the town of Jaibalito. Here you can take a break after your two hour hike, and have an outstanding meal at Pasada Jaibalito. Here they offer local food at shockingly low prices, homemade apple wine, and homemade kombucha. If you fall in love with Jaibalito there are a few accommodations for you to choose from. The water taxi’s stop at the Jaibalito dock, so if you’re exhausted from your walk you can hop on and have them drop you back off at the Maya Moon Lodge in just 10 minutes. Feeling up for some more adventure, you can continue on down the road another 45 minutes to reach the larger town of Santa Cruz. From there you can take a water taxi back as well.
Not necessarily considered a ‘hike’, but taking the road down to the left of the lodge will deliver you to San Marcos la Laguna. The walk is around 30 minutes, and can get difficult at times due to the intense sun and high altitude. However it is not an overly strenuous walk, and if you don’t feel like making the trip back you can always take the water taxi back from San Marcos.
If you’re up for a volcano hike, you can do this from San Pedros la Laguna. Take a water taxi there from Maya Moon Lodge. The hike is about 3 hours up and 2 hours down, but the views are spectacular and this volcano gives you the opportunity to just have a day hike, and not an overnight hike like most of the other volcanoes.
Please note that it is not considered too safe to walk on your own, especially at night, between San Marcos la Laguna and San Pedro la Laguna (roughly 2-3 hour walk). It is also not recommended to walk between Santiago and San Pedros la Laguna. Always take a water taxi to make these trips.
Handmade Textiles, Handicrafts & Artwork
Brilliantly colored and patterned textiles can be bought at San Juan la Laguna. You can watch them be made right from the shops that line the road leading up from the dock. Handmade shawls, scarves, and blankets are very affordable, and if there is something particular that you are looking for, they can even make it on spot.
‘Birds eye view’ painting is a famous style from San Juan la Laguna. The paintings consist of brightly colored patterns and scenes of every day life in Guatemala as seen from a bird’s perspective. The original artist taught the style to other local artists in the area, and now San Juan is filled with shops selling these extraordinary art pieces. It will be tough for you not to buy as you stroll up and down the streets. A second style, inspired by the original, known as ‘ant’s view’, can be found mixed throughout the other paintings.
If you’re looking for gifts to bring back home for others, the shops in San Juan offer practically anything you can think of. From small trinkets, to clothing, shoes, or purses, all of it can be found here.
Yoga, Dance, and other Spiritual Classes
San Marcos la Laguna is located just 20 minutes down the road from the Maya Moon Lodge and is known as the ‘spiritual hub’ of Lake Atitlan. Every type of class that you could possibly imagine is found posted on boards throughout the town. Want yoga, massage, re-birthing ceremonies, cacao ceremonies, spiritual dance, or past-life regression? All of these and more can be found here. Are you interested in starting your own classes? San Marcos is the spot.
Most places around the lake end the night quite early. If you’re looking for a great night out to meet fellow travelers and have a few beers, San Pedro la Laguna is the destination for you. Located only a short boat trip away from the Maya Moon Lodge. Be aware that water taxi services end around 5pm. So if you’re looking for a big night out you may want to consider spending one night in San Pedro.
Of all our travels through Central America, the Maya Moon Lodge on Lake Atitlan was a place to call home for a short time and take a break from the constant packing and moving which is the life of a backpacker. We hope you enjoy your time here as much as we did. For more information, please visit their website at Maya Moon Lodge.
- This was an independent review, not a paid advertisement for the Maya Moon Lodge.