We were amazed by Flores and how much it had to offer however it came to my attention that the majority of tourists equate Flores only with Tikal and don’t know just how much more there is to do there. If you’re visiting, here’s out top ten things to do in Flores with kids.
The Island Town Of Flores
We spent a week in Flores (actually we stayed in San Miguel) and had a brilliant time. San Miguel is opposite Flores on the other side of Lake Peten Itza. It takes just a few minutes to get there from Flores in a lancha which is a small wooden boat and it costs just Q5/50p/70c per person. You might share your lancha with other tourists or locals and it’s a great way to practice your Spanish or meet other people.
Once upon a time Flores was an island although it is now connected to the mainland by a causeway. Flores is quaint and old with steep, cobble stoned lanes and brightly coloured houses. It’s not particularly big but you could spend a day exploring its nooks and crannies. We found the food in Flores, delicious! There was always a new eatery to try out and the food was always cooked fresh whilst you watched.
Travelling Flores With Kids
Travelling to and being in Flores with kids is simple. We found Flores to be very safe and had no problems. We speak Spanish which definitely helps however we found local people to be approachable and friendly and when we visited shops and restaurants we were warmly welcomed.
Travelling around Flores can be done via tuktuk, minivan/chicken van, tourist buses, lanchas and private cars. There are lots of warnings about catching chicken vans (el car) and during our stay a British tourist was injured when a chicken van was hijacked in daylight and two Guatemalan men were murdered HOWEVER if you’re in a rural setting sometimes it’s essential.
We have travelled on all of the above and in my opinion they were safe but it is unquestionable that there are incidents. The quality of driving can be haphazard, it can be fast and they are prone to overtaking anywhere they like. Crashes, I am told, are frequent, however we haven’t witnessed one. Yet lol.
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Ten Things To Do From Flores With Kids
I hope these suggestions are unique in comparison to other blogs and really focus on enjoying Flores with kids.
The more we travel the more we want to slow down and experience places for longer and Flores or San Miguel would provide a great place for that.
Visit Tikal (of course)….
It’s the main reason that everyone visits Flores and whilst it is busy there is a way to avoid the tourist tour groups and enjoy the ruins.
Do not book a tour with a tour guide because it’s rushed, full of young backpackers and loud. Instead book a private guide when you get there. The guides are located just before the entrance in a circular hut. Encourage him to start from ‘La Salida’ (the exit) and take the smaller jungle paths which will give you a chance to see more wildlife.
If you go at 2:30am for sunrise, you’ll only have a 20% chance of seeing it because the cloud coverage is usually so dense and you’ll need to visit the bank the day before (with your passport) and pay the entrance fees which are Q150/£15/$21.
The entrance opens at 6am and I’d strongly advise trying to get there as early as possible. Children under 12 years are free.
Three in one: Yaxha – Nakun – Naranjo
These three sites are relatively close together and could be done on a long day. Alternatively, just pick Yaxha and watch the sunset from the top of a temple.
Yaxha is MUCH smaller than Tikal and it’s very quiet. I do not recommend getting an official tour because you only see a quarter of the site and it’s all very rushed and hectic. See if you can hire a private car to take you here.
This is a site where you can take your time and soak up the jungle atmosphere. You might even be the only people visiting.
The entrance fee is Q80/£8/$12 and cash only. Children under 12 are free.
Tayazal can be found in San Miguel and given its close proximity to Flores it goes incredibly un-noticed by tourists. When we visited we were the only people there.
The site, just north of Flores Island, was occupied from around 600BC and there have been mapped 339 structures! The city possessed large open plazas, palaces, pyramid-temples, an acropolis, defensive walls, residential buildings, and a cenote. As many as fifty burials and twelve caches have been recovered from Tayazal.
You can catch a Lancha from Hotel Union for Q5 per person.
Climb the Mirador del Rey Canek
After visiting Tayazal, head up to the lookout point of Rey Canek.
After a steep climb up the hill you’ll see a wooden mirador which gives fantastic views over the lake and Flores. It’s humid and sticky and of course there are bugs, but it is a great view point and one most tourists won’t see.
Visit La Playa Chechenal
There is a beach on the far side of San Miguel. You can walk through the woods or get a lancha directly there.
Playa El Chechenal is a swimming beach with a dock which extends over turquoise waters. It has a few picnic tables and admission is Q5.
Get a Lancha to Las Arcas
Las Arcas is a rehabilitation centre for animals rescued from the illegal pet & traffic trade.
There are two sections to this centre; the first you’re allowed to visit are the animals who are unable to be released into the wild; the second you cannot visit as these animals are to have no human contact, however your money supports their care and ultimate release.
The centre release hundreds of animals every year successfully. This is only one of two rescue and rehabilitation centres in the whole of Guatemala.
Visit Iguana Island
This island also houses a small museum however you can sit on the shores or on the lake in a lancha and see the enormous (and I mean bigger than children) iguanas.
The iguanas are a bright shade of yellow and black but somehow manage to camouflage themselves incredibly well.
Jorge’s Rope Swing
Visit Jorge’s hotel on the other side of the lake. Sunbathe, read your book, buy a beer and have lots of fun on the rope swing!
Lago Peten Itza
In order to see the lake, you’ll need to negotiate a price with a lancha driver. On average I was finding that 3-4 hours would cost Q200/£20/$27US.
The lake is big and there are some small villages dotted around it.
Aquateca & Petexbatun Lagoon
Visiting the Passion River, Petexbatun Lagoon and Aquateca is a full days visit. Aquateca dates from about 200BC and is built on a steep hill. You’ll be hiking the jungle, climbing ravines, admiring the old buildings and spending time on a river where we saw an excess of 15 Great Blue Herons, 20+ Blue Herons, probably 100 Egrets, a plethora of Buzzards and some curious spider monkeys. You also have the chance to see crocodiles and iguanas during the dry season.
If you’d like to book a guide to Aquateca from Flores. Contact Peter/Yolanda at Zapote Tree Inn Tours
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