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Santa ElenaGuatemala

This humble town in northern Guatemala is a great base for exploring the villages of Lake Petén Itzá and ancient Mayan ruins such as Tikal.

Stretching back from the southwestern shores of Lake Petén Itzá is the unpretentious town of Santa Elena. Come here to visit rock-cut caves and an eco-adventure park. Discover sleepy lake villages and take side trips to the ruins of ancient Mayan cities. Santa Elena is one of three sister towns that make up a region called Flores. The other towns are Flores and San Benito.

While Santa Elena’s major attractions lie in its immediate surroundings, the town itself also has its own sights. Relax beneath the shade of palm trees in Parque Central and enjoy some retail therapy at Mundo Maya International Mall. Walk or catch a tuc tuc to Actún Kan, a cave system strewn with impressive stalagmites and stalactites.

Just a 15-minute drive from the town center is Ixpanpajul Natural Park, an adventure sports center and nature reserve. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of a rainforest from a suspension bridge, skyway trail and a zip-line course. Look for colorful birdlife and spider monkeys.

Go to the waterfront, where a causeway crosses to Flores Island and the charming town of Flores. Visit centuries-old landmarks, such as Catedral de Flores, and learn about the archaeological sites of Petén at CINCAP Museum. Wander the cobblestone streets to find pretty pastel-colored houses, cafés and restaurants. Stroll around the lakeshore promenade, swim in the emerald water or rent a kayak and cruise along the lake.

Join a boat trip from Flores’ pier and travel to villages such as San Miguel and San Jose. Spot crocodiles, ocelots, pumas and toucans at Zoologico Petencito.

Santa Elena is just an 8-minute drive from Mundo Maya International Airport, which receives flights from Guatemala City and Belize City. The town has a good selection of accommodations, although many visitors choose to stay on Flores Island.

While in Santa Elena take a daytrip to Tikal National Park, situated about a 1-hour drive to the north. Find ancient Mayan temples and palaces set within a verdant forest. Nearby Uaxactún is another Mayan site worth visiting.

Top Hotels in Santa Elena

Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel
Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel
4.5 out of 5
Laguna Quexil, Desarrollo de Tayasal, Santa Elena, Peten
The price is CA $372 per night from Oct 25 to Oct 26

Located on the waterfront, this family-friendly hotel is within 9 mi (15 km) of Maya Mall, Central Park and Flores Dock. Biotopo Cerro Cahui is 16.6 mi (26.7 ...

4.9/5Exceptional! (115 reviews)

"Very quiet, great staff, hotel will arrange tours and shuttles for you. Great food. Staff works to get you know you personally."…"

Reviewed on Mar. 1, 2020

Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel
Hotel Casona del Lago
Hotel Casona del Lago
3 out of 5
Calle Litoral, Santa Elena, Peten
The price is CA $105 per night from Oct 25 to Oct 26

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Lake Petén Itzá, Maya Mall and Central Park. Flores Dock and Las Guacamayas Biological Station ...

4.3/5Excellent! (81 reviews)

"NIce, clean, comfortable hotel. Great staff, good breakfast. Close to mall with ATM if you need to withdraw cash, although the hotel also exchange money for a very good rate."…"

Reviewed on Jan. 4, 2020

Hotel Casona del Lago
Casa Hunahpu
Casa Hunahpu
3 out of 5
Calzada Virgilio Rodríguez Macal, Santa Elena, Peten
The price is CA $89 per night from Oct 31 to Nov 1

Situated in Santa Elena, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Lake Petén Itzá, Maya Mall and Central Park. Flores Dock is 1.2 mi (2 km) away.

4.6/5Wonderful! (52 reviews)

"I loved I’ll be back soon It’s very quiet place and very friendly"…"

Reviewed on Dec. 14, 2019

Casa Hunahpu
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Vacation Rentals in Santa Elena

Flores Hotel Boutique
Flores Hotel Boutique
4 out of 5
Zona 0, Calle Fraternidad, Flores, Peten
The price is CA $134 per night from Oct 25 to Oct 26

Situated in Flores, this aparthotel is steps away from Lake Petén Itzá and Las Guacamayas Biological Station. Flores Dock and Maya Mall are also within 15 ...

4.4/5Excellent! (73 reviews)
Small and very nice - great value

"Nice, small and clean and very spacious - perfect value"…"

Reviewed on Feb. 16, 2020

Flores Hotel Boutique
Tulips House! With Pool, 15 Minutes From Flores
Tulips House! With Pool, 15 Minutes From Flores
The price is CA $98 per night from Oct 25 to Oct 26

Situated in Santa Ana, this holiday home is within 9 miles (15 km) of Lake Petén Itzá, Petencito Zoo and Maya Mall. Central Park and Flores Dock are also within ...

Tulips House! With Pool, 15 Minutes From Flores
Casa en Petén Dentro de Hotel Bolontiku
Casa en Petén Dentro de Hotel Bolontiku
Punta de Piedra Nitum, San Andres Peten, San Andres, Peten
The price is CA $315 per night from Oct 25 to Oct 26

Situated in San Andres, this holiday home is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Lake Petén Itzá and within 12 miles (20 km) of Maya Biosphere Reserve and Santa Barbara Island ...

5/5Exceptional! (1 review)

"La atención de su personal y las excelentes instalaciones del Hotel."…"

Reviewed on Jan. 4, 2020

Casa en Petén Dentro de Hotel Bolontiku
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Santa Elena

Church of Our Lady of the Remedies
Image for Church of Our Lady of the Remedies

Church of Our Lady of the Remedies

This humble whitewashed cathedral is home to a revered Black Christ and is a great starting point for exploring Flores’ picturesque streets and waterfront.

Tikal
Image for Tikal

Tikal

5/5(16 reviews)

Take a step back in time as you discover a magnificent collection of Mayan palaces and temples set amid a jungle.

Top things to do in Santa Elena

Tikal Tour (from Flores or Tikal)
Image for Tikal Tour (from Flores or Tikal)

Tikal Tour (from Flores or Tikal)

CA $139
Per adult
Yaxhá & Topoxte Full Day Tour (From Flores/Tikal)
Image for Yaxhá & Topoxte Full Day Tour (From Flores/Tikal)

Yaxhá & Topoxte Full Day Tour (From Flores/Tikal)

CA $125
Per adult
Ceibal Full Day Tour From Flores or Tikal
Image for Ceibal Full Day Tour From Flores or Tikal

Ceibal Full Day Tour From Flores or Tikal

CA $120
Per adult
Ixpanpajul Full Day Tour (from Flores or Tikal)
Image for Ixpanpajul Full Day Tour (from Flores or Tikal)

Ixpanpajul Full Day Tour (from Flores or Tikal)

CA $510
Per adult
Maya Trek - El Zotz to Tikal
Image for Maya Trek - El Zotz to Tikal

Maya Trek - El Zotz to Tikal

CA $1,979
Per adult
Round-Trip Private Transfer to Tikal from Flores
Image for Round-Trip Private Transfer to Tikal from Flores

Round-Trip Private Transfer to Tikal from Flores

CA $112
Per adult

Cities near Santa Elena

Flores featuring general coastal views and fishing as well as a small group of people

Flores