A Fleeting Glimpse of Flores, Guatemala

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You know when you riding in a car or train, going along at a pretty good clip, and your eyes just can't quite move and adjust fast enough to fully bring the world outside the window into focus? When the landscape just kind of flickers and blurs past and you feel like you don't have enough time to concentrate on any one thing?

That's kind of how I felt when visiting Flores.

Flores, Guatemala

This little town, most of which is located on an island in Lake Peten Itza in northern Guatemala, was meant to be nothing more than a lunch stop on my recent tour with Intrepid Travel. We had just crossed the border from Belize and were on our way to the Mayan ruins of Tikal, where we wanted to fit in a 3-hour guided tour of the site before sunset.

“You'll have about one hour to grab some food and walk around,” our guide told us as we all piled out of the mini bus.

Fair enough, I thought. That was plenty of time for a quick lunch, and then we could get back on the road to Tikal — a place I was really looking forward to visiting.

But then I actually took in my surroundings. And then I started walking. And then I realized that an hour in this colorful town would never be enough.

Flores, Guatemala

Flores is usually visited in conjunction with Tikal; it's meant to be a just-passing-through sort of place. But, because of the frequent visitors it sees and its scenic setting, it's developed into a place that I could easily picture myself staying for much longer than just an afternoon.

Flores, Guatemala

I spent my hour walking up and down Flores' steep streets, snapping photos of colorful houses, and dodging the little red tuk-tuks that were constantly puttering from one end of the island to another.

Flores, Guatemala

Flores, Guatemala

Flores, Guatemala

Flores, Guatemala

I bought some tacos from two women grilling in the Spanish plaza on the hill, and wandered into a leafy coffee shop that not only offered free wifi, but also had couches and guitars and a TV for its patrons.

Flores, Guatemala

Flores, Guatemala

I walked along the water's edge, politely declining the many boat rides offered to me. Maybe if I had been staying longer I would have agreed to one.

Flores, Guatemala

Flores, Guatemala

Flores, Guatemala

Flores, Guatemala


In the end, I was charmed by Flores. It's not a place one would go to DO anything, perse. But it's definitely a place I would want to return to to simply do nothing at all.


Do these photos make YOU want to explore Flores?



*Note: I visited Flores as part of a complimentary 8-day “Land of Belize” trip with Intrepid Travel. As always, though, all opinions are my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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16 Comments on “A Fleeting Glimpse of Flores, Guatemala

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  1. It does appear to be a fantastic place to relax. I love places that feel like the destination you are going and not just created to cater to tourism. I love the colors of the place as well!

    We loved Flores when we were there – we had only planned to use it as a base to explore Tikal from, but then we ended up staying a week – we took boats to different beaches around the lake and there is even an island with a little zoo. Watching the sunset from one of the bars with lake view was our daily highlight 🙂

      Ah, I wish I had been there for sunset! You’re the second one now to mention amazing sunsets in Flores.

    I’ve also been to Flores, and saw one of my favorite sunsets ever there. I think of places like this as reasons to enjoy the journey as much as the destination when we travel. Your story reminds me of the importance of looking deeper. Wherever you are, there is likely something wonderful to be found.

      Agreed! And it often doesn’t take a whole lot of digging to find that wonderful thing.

    Flores looks like a great little town! These types of places have really become my favorites on our travels.

      It was a cool little spot; I especially loved all the tuk-tuks buzzing around! Definitely a stop I’d recommend in Guatemala.

    Flores sounds like a wonderful little town! I would also love to be able to spend longer than a couple hours there and do nothing at all haha 🙂

      It was so pretty. Putting together this photo essay really made me wish I was back there!

    It’s the little things like this – places you aren’t supposed to stay at for more than hour turning out to be more than worth an extended period of time, and being chained to the group itinerary as the only way to get around – that convince me that I’d make a horrible fit for guided outings.

    Because I’m genuinely not sure that I wouldn’t have taken that boat ride, that I wouldn’t have blown off the tour at that point because I was going to relax here, soak in this small town for a while, and no schedule was going to tell me otherwise. Tikal is still going to be standing three hours from now, I’d tell myself, and surely I could arrange for alternate transport to link back up with the group later.

      Yeah it definitely is a downside to guided tours. But, the positives of them outweigh the negatives, as far as I’m concerned.

      And, that being said, if the weather had been bad in Flores that day, I don’t think I would have wanted to stay for more than an hour or so. The town is TINY, and there’s really not much to do there besides walk around and eat. So it’s all about the situation at the time, I suppose.

    It’s really too bad you couldn’t have stayed. Places like these are my favourite reasons to travel.

      I wish we could have stayed longer, too! The tour used to actually stay overnight in Flores, but it was cut out to allow an extra night on Caye Caulker. Good decision, actually, as Caye Caulker is amazing. But I still would have liked more time in Flores!

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