In addition to the attractions listed above, Panajachel and Lake Atitlán are good bases for active adventures. Most hotels have a tour desk that can arrange most of the activities listed below. You can also book through Hunab Kú Travel & Adventure (tel. 502/7762-1626; www.hunabkutours.com) or Atitrans (tel. 502/7762-0146; www.atitrans.com), both with offices on Calle Santander.
Boating -- Boat tours on the lake are one of the most popular activities in Panajachel. All the hotel tour desks and tour agencies in town offer organized tours, most of which depart from Panajachel in the morning and make stops in San Pedro La Laguna, Santiago de Atitlán, and San Antonio Palopó. The tours generally last around 5 to 6 hours. Most cost between Q60 and Q120 ($8-$16/£4-£8), which gets you the guaranteed boat ride and an hour to 90-minute layover in each town. You can also sign on for a more elaborate tour, including a bilingual guide and lunch. These generally run between Q225 and Q450 ($30-$60/£15-£30) per person.
If you prefer to venture on your own, it's easy. As soon as the boat lands in each town, you'll be met by local touts and tour guides offering to show you around. For example, in Santiago de Atitlán, they offer to take you to see Maximón; in Santa Catarina Palopó, they'll take you to see some weaving.
Fishing -- Fishing for mojarra (black bass) is a popular yet somewhat controversial lake activity. The black bass are nonnative to the lake, having been introduced as a game fish in 1958. Moreover, this aggressive fish has decimated many of the native species, and along with them, the local subsistence fishing industry. If you're interested in fishing, ask your hotel or one of the local tour agencies, or simply head down to the waterfront docks.
Paragliding -- For a bird's-eye view of the lake and volcanoes, try paragliding. Roger Lapointe (tel. 502/5595-7732; www.paraglidingguatemala.com), a Canadian paraglide pilot, offers daily rides in a tandem rig from several different takeoff points on the volcanic hillsides surrounding Lake Atitlán. The cost is Q600 ($80/£40) for a 40-minute flight. There are no requirements, but any child 8 and older with enough courage and parental permission could give it a shot.
Scuba Diving -- Lake Atitlán offers an excellent introduction to the world of high-altitude freshwater diving. This type of diving is slightly more technically challenging than open-water diving at sea level. Because of altitude and decompression, divers must stay in the area for at least 18 hours after diving. Most dives take place in 9 to 11m (30-35 ft.) of water, and because of limited visibility, are rather uneventful. On a good day, you may actually see underwater ruins and relics, as well as volcanic steam vents. The main dive operator here is ATI Divers (tel. 502/5706-4117; www.laiguanaperdida.com), which is based out of La Iguana Perdida hotel in Santa Cruz, but also maintains a business office on Calle Santander in Panajachel. A single-tank dive with all equipment costs Q225 ($30/£15). Certification courses are also offered.
Swimming -- The lakeshore along the front of Panajachel is filled with public beaches. You will almost always find local kids and, to a lesser extent, tourists, swimming here. However, I think the boat and foot traffic and pollution make it unappealing. If you want to swim in the lake, I recommend heading to the beach at the Reserva Natural Atitlán or San Pedro La Laguna. You could even hire a boat to take you to a more tranquil and picturesque spot.
Two-Wheel Touring -- The rugged back roads and mountain trails around Lake Atitlán are well suited to two-wheel travel, whether by mountain bike or off-road motorcycle. Several tour operators and a couple of rental agencies offer guided tours of this type. If you're interested, try Emanuel's Moto & Bike Rental (tel. 502/7762-2790); they rent mountain bikes, scooters, and dirt bikes. They also offer guided tours. A full-day tour should run you Q300 to Q450 ($40-$60/£20-£30). For off-road riding, no special license is needed, but Emmanuel's asks that you be 21 or older and have a motorcycle license.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.