I only learned later in my holiday planning that you can dive in Lake Atitlan. I'm glad I followed it up as it was a fun experience once there. We stayed in Hotel Atitlan, which meant a boat trip across one corner of the lake to Santa Cruz. The setup there is delightful and, as other reviewers have pointed out, has great views and a very welcoming atmosphere.
I was diving with Oli, and also decided to do the Altitude Diver Specialty. The diving was what I expected - and more. Firstly it's a lake, secondly you're diving close to shore. As such you expect variable visibility and cooler water. I dive in the UK both in the sea and lakes inland. This is normal. If you've only ever dived tropical waters, then this will be different.
The key here is the experience. Sure the vis will be notably lower, but then how often do you get to swim through sunken hotel balconies and swimming pools ? How often do you see a hotel tap under water, still working? Or swim into a sunken house and play at the (now) underwater bar?
The other notable experience, as has also been pointed out by others, is the area of geothermal activity. Searching for tell-tale shimmering in the water where the hot water from below ground 'boils' through the cooler lake water. Sticking your hands in warm sand/mud to the point where it's too hot to stay. Different and great fun.
Oli was a great dive leader and a good teacher for the Altitude course (and a great guy). For divers who want something a little different, regardless of experience level, I'd recommend diving in Lake Atitlan with ATI Divers.
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