Find out what to do, where to eat, how to get to Bacalar and much more.
Bacalar, Mexico was the city I liked the most during my 25 days in the Yucatan Peninsula. The “Maldives of Mexico” or “The Lagoon of Seven Colors”, as the locals also call it, is a paradise with crystalline waters and different shades of blue.
In this post you will find out how to get to Bacalar, what to do there, where to eat, where to stay and the most important in my opinion since the lagoon ecosystem is very fragile: How to be a responsible traveler in Bacalar.
What you need to know about Bacalar
This off the beaten path destination is perfect for those who like to connect with nature and chill out. In Bacalar, you can walk or bike around, do several water activities in the lake, swim in the cenotes, visit mayan ruins and eat in great restaurants as you will see below.
Bacalar is a city located in the southeast of Mexico, in Quintana Roo State and it is part of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Bacalar on map:
Flight: You can get to Bacalar by flying to the nearest airport which is Chetumal International Airport (CTM).
Car: Drive your own vehicle or rent a car.
Bus: Take an ADO bus in the main cities of Riviera Maya.
Colectivos: There are shuttles around Riviera Maya that can also take you there, this is the cheapest way to get around in Mexico but you can’t bring too much luggage in them. Honestly, I prefer the buses as I find them a safer and more comfortable option.
P.s.: You can easily find cabs in front of Bacalar’s bus station to then go to your accommodation.
From Cancun to Bacalar: 345km – 4:30hrs
From Playa del Carmen to Bacalar: 280km – 3:30hrs
From Tulum to Bacalar: 215km – 2:30hrs
From Chetumal to Bacalar: 39km – 40min
P.s.: Estimated time considering traveling by car.
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Bacalar is a great place to visit all year long and the weather temperature barely varies. The average temperature in Bacalar is 32 degrees Celsius.
Therefore, it is nice to bear in mind that the rainy season goes from June till October, and September is the wettest month.
Curiosities about Bacalar
Bacalar Lagoon is also known as the Lake or Lagoon of Seven Colors due to the different shades of blue of its crystalline water.
It is hard to believe that this is not the ocean, it feels great to leave the water without that salty hair.
Bacalar is a Pueblo Mágico
Pueblos Mágicos or Magic Towns is a program that promotes 111 towns in Mexico that provides tourists magical experiences due to its nature, culture, food, tradition, history, folklore, art crafts or hospitality, and Bacalar is part of it.
Canal de Los Piratas is a channel that connects Bacalar Lagoon and the Mariscal Lagoon.
During the 17th century the Spanish would send pirates to Bacalar to get palo de tinte, a natural pigment used to dye clothes.
The pirates would get there by this channel, and that’s why it is named nowadays as Pirates Channel.
Bacalar is one of the very few places in the world where we can find stromatolites, which are the Earth’s oldest fossils.
Explaining in a very simple way, they are rocky formations with a tiny algae on it that does photosynthesis and are very important to our ecosystem.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT STEP ON STROMATOLITES!
Due to a lack of knowledge, many tourists end up stepping on stromatolites thinking that it is just a rock, and end up destroying a life that may have up to 3,5 billion years.
Things to do in Bacalar
- Fort San Felipe
- Paddle boarding during the sunrise
- Canal de Los Piratas
- Sail boat tour to Isla de Los Pájaros
- Cenote Azul
- Cenote Ojo de Bruja / Cenote Negro
- Los Rápidos
- Kohunlich Ruins
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What to bring to Bacalar
- Biodegradable repellent
- Biodegradable sunscreen
- Hat / Cap
- Flip Flops
- Reusable water bottle
Seriously, I really wish I had a drone with me because the aerial pictures look so amazing!
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When walking at night, please mind your step as there are many branches and rocks on the floor. I tripped over a couple of them and did hurt my toe since I was wearing flip flops.
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Where to stay in Bacalar
Hotel Eco-Boutique Makaabá
Inspired by the Lagoon of Seven Colors, the cenotes, and the Fort of San Felipe, Makaabá is an adults only eco-boutique hotel with several sustainable initiatives, such as: natural wastewater treatment system, a rainwater reuse system and a natural pool filtration system.
They also have a restaurant that only offers organic food, most of which comes from its own garden for the hotel consumption.
If you are adept to a responsible tourism, this is the right place for you.
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Buenavista Hotel & Lagoon Club
If you intend to go to Bacalar to connect with nature and to chill out in the jungle with your beloved one or with the whole family, Buenavista Hotel & Lagoon Clube is a great option.
Buenavista is a city located 30km or about 20 minutes drive from Bacalar town. It is on the northwest of Bacalar Lake and it is still quite untouched.
As it is further from the town I would recommend staying there in case you are driving.
Stay at Buenavista Bacalar Hotel with 10% discount!
Where to eat in Bacalar
Selva and Enamora were my favorite restaurants for breakfast. They even have live music at times.
La Playita is quite popular for its fish tacos. I haven’t been there but apparently it is a nice place to enjoy the sunset as well.
Barril Grill has a hamburger filled with blue cheese that is mind blowing.
Bote de Leche offers the best filet in town.
Pizzeria Bertilla besides nice pizzas, there you will find great Italian wines. When in doubt of what to order, ask the owner, who is Italian, for a recommendation.
If you are vegan, go for Mango y Chile.
Nightlife is not really Bacalar’s thing, but there are couple of places that are fun to hang out such as:
Ojitos La Catrina: According to the locals the best night to go there is on Monday about 10pm.
El Meson del Pirata: Apparently Sunday, around 9pm, is the best option.
Responsible Tourism in Bacalar
We really need to be responsible travelers if we want this paradise to last.
Bacalar Lagoon has a very fragile ecosystem and we need to protect it before it becomes like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, where ambitious entrepreneurs destroyed the mangroves in order to build fancy hotels.
By the way, did you know that the mangroves protect communities from cyclones and floods? And that they can store more carbon than tropical forests? For that and much more, they are essential to us.
I know that the idea of staying at a bungalow in Bacalar Lake sounds very tempting, but we shall not demand it, neither encourage it since there would be a lot of damage to the environment if it happens.
Tips to help you practice a responsible tourism in Bacalar
- Check if your accommodation treats their sewer or if they just dump it in the lagoon. Also, see if they have sustainable hotel initiatives.
- Would you like to explore the lagoon? Paddle boarding and kayaking are great options since they don’t use any fuel.
- If you still want to go on a boat, choose sailboats, at least they only use the engine in case there is no wind. The newest boats also tend to dump less fuel into the water.
- Do not step on stromatolites.
- Take a shower to remove sunscreen and/or other chemical products from your body before getting in the lagoon or a cenote.
- Out of the water, use biodegradable sunscreen and repellent.
- Reduce waste while traveling, but in case you do generate some, make sure you put it into the right place, this includes cigarette butts, beer cans and water/soda bottles.
I recommend you to read this article about the risk of Bacalar’s development: “We will extinguish the magic of Bacalar“.
I hope you enjoyed the tips =)
Being very honest, I really thought a lot if I should or shouldn’t promote Bacalar on the web and my social media. In the end I decided to talk about Bacalar but highlighting the importance of preserving it.
After all, with many people (influencers or not) sharing so many things on the Internet, at least my posts may help travelers to visit and enjoy Bacalar avoiding causing a bad impact to it.
As I didn’t see most of these information anywhere, I could have chosen a bungalow by the lake, I could have chosen an accommodation that let their toxic waste go into the lagoon, I could have contaminated the lagoon with my sunscreen, I could have stepped on a stromatolite thinking it was just a rock.
In the end, I left this town very happy for having a job that puts me in contact with several people of the sector, for having a curious and communicative personality that allows me to learn so much.
Now, I am happy for being able to share these info with all of you.
Have a wonderful time there!