Flores and Santa Elena

Petén

The twin towns of Flores and Santa Elena, which are often collectively referred to simply as “Flores,” are set within the heart of Petén. Flores is actually a small island in Lake Petén Itzá that’s connected to Santa Elena, on the mainland, by a causeway. With its pastel houses and genteel atmosphere, Flores is very pleasant.

Flores is a transportation and services hub and is thus a natural stopping point for visits into some of Petén’s more remote areas. Its excellent hotels, shops, and restaurants cater to travelers. Santa Elena is a much larger and more commercial town. It’s less easy-going and old-fashioned than Flores, but still has some nice lakeside hotels and eateries.

Flores was originally a Mayan site named Tayasal and home to the Itrzá people. Scholars believe that a group of Mayans from present-day Mexico founded Tayasal sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries. Set in a remote part of the Petén wilderness, Tayasal remained relatively untouched by the Spanish until the end of the 17th century. When the Spanish did show up, they characteristically destroyed the city’s pyramids and temples.

Flores is fairly small and there are few proper sights on the island. Even so, it’s a pleasant place to simply stroll and take in the pastel houses and quiet streets. Perhaps not surprisingly, much of the town shuts down after dark. There are several fine restaurants, bars and cafés, some of which overlook the lake. In terms of hotels, there are plenty of options, many of them quite good.

As for recreation, you can rent kayaks and mountain bikes or take a boat tour of the lake. You can also get back to the mainland and visit some of the area’s natural reserves for hiking and birding. There are also several NGOs in town that offer volunteer opportunities with nearby national parks or wildlife rescue centers.

Flores is connected to Santa Elena on the mainland by a causeway. Santa Elena has several pleasant lakeside accommodations, many of them with excellent views of Flores. Santa Elena has a few decent eateries that serve fish, steak, pasta, burgers, and more.

The Mundo Maya International Airport, set a few miles outside Santa Elena, has daily flights from Guatemala City. There are frequent buses to and from Santa Elena.

Nearby Activities

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Yaxhá & Topoxté One Day

5-in-1 combo|8hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

5.0 / 5.0
Starting At$112
Yaxhá & Topoxté One Day

Yaxhá and Topoxté are ancient Mayan sites in Petén, Guatemala. During this tour, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of Yaxhá and Topoxté and also experience the sights and...

5.0 / 5.0
Tour Details

Sky Way Hanging Bridges Tour

2-in-1 combo|1h

Flores and Santa Elena

5.0 / 5.0
Starting At$35
Sky Way Hanging Bridges Tour

On this tour you’ll hike through the forest that surrounds Lake Petén Itzá. The path traverses six hanging bridges that are suspended high in the forest canopy....

5.0 / 5.0
Tour Details

Collective Yaxha and Topoxte

4-in-1 combo|8hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

4.8 / 5.0
Starting At$72
Collective Yaxha and Topoxte

On this tour you’ll get to visit Maya sites on Lake Yaxhá. Yaxhá is a ruin on the edge of the lake, and Topoxté is a site spread out over a few of the lake’s tiny...

4.8 / 5.0
Tour Details

Yaxhá One Day or SUNSET

5-in-1 combo|4hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

4.7 / 5.0
Starting At$96
Yaxhá One Day or SUNSET

Yaxhá is the third largest Mayan site in Guatemala, but due to its seclusion, it tends to lack large crowds. Enjoy a visit to Yaxhá (including both the ruins and...

4.7 / 5.0
Tour Details

Uaxactún One Day

5-in-1 combo|6hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

4.5 / 5.0
Starting At$88
Uaxactún One Day

Uaxactún is a remote Mayan site in Petén that’s notable for its astronomical observatory. This one-day tour allows you to explore the lesser-visited ruins of...

4.5 / 5.0
Tour Details

Collective Ceibal

3-in-1 combo|8hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

4.0 / 5.0
Starting At$83
Collective Ceibal

This tour will take you through the rainforest to the Maya archaeological site called Ceibal.

4.0 / 5.0
Tour Details
Sky Way + Tarzan Tour + Horseback riding

The tour starts with the Sky Way, while walking through six amazing suspension bridges and in a different and unique way, you will see the wonderful local flora and...

2.5 / 5.0
Tour Details

Ixpanpajul Natural Park

6-in-1 combo|5hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

New Tour!
Starting At$112
Ixpanpajul Natural Park

This exciting tour of the Ixpanpajul Natural Park includes both a walk along suspension bridges and a canopy tour. It's a fun way to experience the outdoors in...

New Tour!
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El Mirador 5-day Trail

5-in-1 combo|5hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

New Tour!
Starting At$650
El Mirador 5-day Trail

This tour offers you the opportunity to hike to the archaeological site El Mirador, which is one of the best Mayan sites in Guatemala. You'll explore the tropical...

New Tour!
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Collective Tikal

3-in-1 combo|8hrs

Flores and Santa Elena

New Tour!
Starting At$83
Collective Tikal

This tour takes visitors to one of the most incredible Maya sites in the world. Tikal was one of the most powerful city-states that the Maya ever established, and...

New Tour!
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Nearby Lodging

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Casona de La Isla

Flores and Santa Elena

Air Conditioning

Bar

Cable TV

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

& More

4.5 / 5.0
From$66

Casona de La Isla

Casona de La Isla is a hotel on the island town of Flores. Casona de La Isla has a pleasant swimming pool and excellent views of Lake Petén Itzá.

4.5 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Casona del Lago

Flores and Santa Elena

Air Conditioning

Bar

Cable TV

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

& More

4.2 / 5.0
From$104

Hotel Casona del Lago

Hotel Casona del Lago is located in the town Santa Elena. The hotel lies along the shores of Lake Petén Itzá and has clean, spacious rooms. It’s a short walk from...

4.2 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Isla de Flores Hotel

Flores and Santa Elena

Air Conditioning

Cable TV

Wireless Internet

& More

3.9 / 5.0
From$105

Isla de Flores Hotel

Isla de Flores Hotel is a boutique hotel on the small island of Flores. While you stay here you will have lovely views of Lake Petén Itzá in a quiet, calm village.

3.9 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel del Patio

Flores and Santa Elena

Air Conditioning

& More

New Hotel!
From$64

Hotel del Patio

Hotel del Patio is located in the town of Santa Elena, which lies along the shores of Lake Petén Itzá. The hotel has a tasty restaurant and rooms with modern amenities.

New Hotel!
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Petén

Flores and Santa Elena

Bar

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

Swimming Pool

& More

New Hotel!
From$60

Hotel Petén

Hotel Petén is located in the town of Flores. The hotel has a central location and rooms with beautiful views of the Lake Petén Itzá.

New Hotel!
Rooms and Rates

Flores and Santa ElenaFlores and Santa Elena