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Jerian Markaya: Paddling Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Paddling Lake Atitlán

Instagram Handle: jerianflows

Location: Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Board: Scout


Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America. It was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption and is surrounded by volcanoes and traditional Mayan villages. I couldn’t wait to paddle on it. I grew increasingly excited as I reached the bustling main “embarcadero” in Panajachel, the entry port to Lake Atitlán. It’s a bumpy and crowded taxi boat ride in the late afternoon. I took a tiny seat on the bow and held on tight as I tried to take in all of the surrounding beauty, gazing up in awe at the steep cliffs and the volcanoes towering over the lake. About 20 minutes later, and halfway across the lake, we reached the lodge where I’d be staying. I quickly unloaded my backpack and my ISLE paddle board bag from the top of the boat and onto the dock.

That evening I inflated my ISLE Scout, and I was ready to paddle the next morning. The dock of the lodge faced east and I was treated to the most incredible sunrise view that I got to watch from my board! The soft pink light of the sun peeked above the dark mountains illuminating an incredible view of the active Volcán de Fuego smoking in the distance. Then in minutes, golden yellows mixed with bright oranges, that turned into a blinding white, as the sun quickly rose into the sky above. It is one of those experiences that still seems surreal, those moments so magical you wish you could slow down time to savor them properly

After a delicious breakfast, I returned to the water again and paddled around the lake in constant amazement at the volcanoes and the steep slopes of houses. The water was so glassy and still at times I couldn’t help but imagine what could pop-up from the depths of this ancient massive volcanic crater. Besides the boat taxis there was barely any other boat traffic other than the local fisherman in wooden canoes who would also sometimes stand up in their boats while gathering their catch. It was beautiful, peaceful, mysterious, and historic, one of those places that reminds you how small you are in the grand sense of place and time. In the afternoon paddling becomes more difficult as the winds increase, the water becomes choppy, and clouds gather around the tops of the volcanoes. That night, I easily deflated my board, rolled it up, and packed it in the backpack, ready to take on my next adventure.


  • Paddle from sunrise to early afternoon for the calmest water and the best views as the lake becomes choppy with afternoon winds.
  • Visit Stand Up Paddle Atitlán to for tours and rentals in Lake Atitlán.

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