San Miguel & Tayazal

El Petén

Covering the western end of the San Miguel peninsula are the remains of Tayazal, among the last of the Maya capitals. The chiefly Classic-era mounds are overgrown by vegetation, and a few pockmarked stelae have been recovered. The real draw, though, is the chance to wander the forested spine of the peninsula, taking in panoramic views of the lake.

Tayazal was settled by the Itzáes, refugees from the destroyed city of Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, who held out against the Spanish until 1697.

Lanchas (small motorboats; Q5 per person) make the five-minute crossing to San Miguel village from the north side of Flores whenever they have a boatload. To reach the ruins, walk 250m to the left along the shore from where the boat drops you, then turn up the paved street to the right. After 300m, turn left at the 'Playa' sign, passing a football field on your right. About another 600m on, a trail on the right leads to Playa El Chechenal, a swimming beach with a dock extending over turquoise waters and a few picnic tables (admission Q5). Continue west another 300m to reach the main entrance to the site. From here it's a precipitous climb up the hillside – actually one of the pyramids of ancient Tayazal – to reach El Mirador del Rey Canek, an observation point with 360-degree views around Lago de Petén Itzá. The archaeological site can be visited by circling round the base of the tower and skirting the lake back toward the village. Around 800m further, go left up a hill (past a building foundation), then follow a dirt road left to reach the Gran Plaza, where you'll find some weathered stelae dating from the Late Classic Period.