If you need a break from the party scene but instead want your visit to Guatemala to be meaningful, you might want to head to the village of San Juan. Much less touristy than neighboring San Pedro, San Juan offers you the chance to have a more authentic experience of Guatemala. Here you'll also find one of those rare hostels that quickly becomes a home away from home.
Dorm Rooms and Private Bungalows
Hotel y Restaurante MayAchik' is an eco-friendly hostel where the focus is on sustainability. The buildings on the peaceful, sprawling grounds have been constructed from materials such as adobe, stone, wood and palm leaves, and the toilets are of the compost variety. Naturally, the herb and vegetable garden is organic too.
There are different accommodation options, from a bed in a very spacious dorm to a private bungalow at a surprisingly reasonable rate. Guests rave about the showers here, which have good water pressure and consistently hot water. The welcoming staff, great atmosphere and the friendly dogs help make you feel right at home, except that in this case "home" has some of the best views imaginable.
There are kitchen facilities for guests to use, but MayAchik' also has an on-site vegetarian restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch as well as drinks, including coffee grown on the ground. For something sweet with a difference, try the spicy banana, coconut and ginger soup.
Volunteer for Community Projects
MayAchik' is very involved in the local community and has a community center where you can volunteer with one of several projects. You can also share your skills by helping kids with their homework or conducting a workshop. Alternatively, take the time to learn some new skills, for instance how to speak Spanish or even Tz'utujil, the local Mayan language.
MayAchik' is on the outskirts of San Juan and only a few minutes walk from the town center. If you come to San Juan by lancha, it's advisable to take a tuk-tuk to this peaceful Eden.