Santa Cruz La Laguna
West of Panajachel and accessible only by boat is the quiet village of Santa Cruz La Laguna, more commonly referred to simply as “Santa Cruz.” There are a number of good accommodations here with a range of prices for every budget. It’s understandably huge with the backpacker crowd.
Housed inside the Iguana Perdida lodge, ATI Divers (ati_divers [at] yahoo [dot] com) is a PADI- certified scuba diving operation offering Altitude Specialty certifications for $75, fun dives for $25, or PADI open water certifications for $205. Due to altitudinal pressure changes and the lake’s location at just over 1,500 meters above sea level, you’ll have to spend at least one night at lake altitude before your first dive to avoid decompression sickness. The lake offers a unique diving experience, including the chance to see underwater volcanic rock formations and a fault line where you can see and feel hot volcanic mud.
Other activities include hikes up the hill to the village proper (20 minutes) to see the town church in addition to hiking along a trail skirting the lakeshore to the neighboring village of Jaibalito (45 minutes) or San Marcos La Laguna (three hours). Check on the safety situation with local lodges if you plan on doing the latter, as there have been incidents of robbery in the past. Check with the Iguana Perdida for the location of a cliff jumping spot along the shoreline near town if that suits your fancy.
Getting to Santa Cruz La Laguna
Santa Cruz is reached exclusively by boat. Boats leave from the dock at the end of Calle del Embarcadero in Panajachel. For the intrepid, there’s a foot path from the departmental capital of Sololá.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com