Those who have done their research may have heard whispers of a magical town along Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. This might have been followed by seductive words promising no crowds, cheaper prices, and Maldives-blue water. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s all true, paradise does exist and it’s in Southern Mexico.
Bacalar is a stunning town tucked away in the state of Quintana Roo located near the Belize border. It has been a popular holiday destination among locals for years but is still relatively untouched by the tourists who take over Tulum and Cancún every summer.
The towns main attraction is its infamous lagoon, the Lagoon of 7 Colours. It got this name because it features seven different shades of mesmerising blue, from multiple vivid aquamarine colours to various shades of dark navy. At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the lagoon for the Carribean sea.
Bacalar’s mangroves and scattered cenotes make it a must see when travelling Mexico. It even has a high concentration of cocalitos, also known as stromatolites. These rock formations are thought to be the earliest life forms on earth!
In 2006 Bacalar officially became a pueblo magíco because of its small size and charm and it’s off the tourist track Bacalar is one of the most financially friendly destinations in Quintana Roo! The town has a very relaxed vibe with several nice restaurants and places to stay to choose from.
But don’t think that because it’s away from the shopping malls and food chains of Cancún that you will go without. On the contrary, Bacalar has everything you need for a comfortable stay while managing to maintain a traditional Mexican feel.
If you decide to go to Bacalar during peak season you might find that the handful of hostels in the area get booked up quite quickly. Don’t be alarmed, there are many other options available. I booked an Airbnb with my sister as we decided to visit at the last minute.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN BACALAR
Relax on the lagoon: One of the best things to do in Bacalar is to sit back, relax and just enjoy the water. The best way to do this is to head to one of the many docks along the West Shore. Many are private and can only be accessed by entering a restaurant, hotel or hostel, but there are a few public access ones too, notably the waterfront public park.
Dabble in some watersports: Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore the lake and get up close to the cenotes of Esmeralda, Azule, Cocalito and La Bruja. Many lakefront shops offer a kayak rental service and some of the larger hotels in the area also offer them for their guests.
Take a boat tour: Taking a boat out on the water is the best way to experience the many colour changes that occur within the lagoon. Most tours will take you to the lagoon’s different cenotes, cocalitos and to the Canal De Los Piratas (canal of the pirates).
Visit San Felipe’s fort: Resting on top of the lagoon’s shores, the Fort of San Felipe offers some of the most spectacular views of the lake. It is a must if you’re looking for the perfect picture of the lagoon from above. The Fort is open six days a week from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, closed Mondays. Admission $60 pesos.
GETTING TO BACALAR
ADO Buses: They are extremely convenient and one of the most reliable forms of transport in Mexico. You can easily book a bus online for a cheaper fair or buy one in person a bus terminal which can be found in most cities.
Collectiveo: If by chance you’re coming from Chetumal, Bacalar’s neighbouring town, then it may be worth taking a local collectivo (small transport van) or even taking a taxi as it could be cheaper than the bus.
Day tour: If you only want to spend a day in Bacalar then there are a few tours available that can get you from Cancun to Bacalar for a day on the lagoon. I don’t recommend this as a day there is not enough to enjoy one of Mexico’s highlights.