Bacalar and the Bacalar Lagoon were the first stop on our itinerary through the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and was more due to the fact that we didn’t want to drive that far after crossing the border from Belize. Most other tourists in Mexico immediately continue to Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Cancun. But we didn’t feel like sitting in the bus for that long, so we chose Bacalar, a small town with one big feature: the Seven Colors Lagoon of Bacalar.
We found Bacalar to be a great start to a round trip of southern Mexico, as the town is quite quiet and relaxed and yet has a huge highlight to offer. A beautiful lagoon that shimmers in the most dazzling shades of blue and invites you to swim and take boat rides.
But what else can you do in Bacalar? What are the highlights of Bacalar and where should you eat and stay? In our travel report about Bacalar and the Laguna de Bacalar we want to give you the most important tips, so that you know why a trip to one of the southernmost tourist cities of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula is definitely worth it.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
How to get to Bacalar?
If you are already in Mexico on your round trip, you can simply take an ADO bus from any city and go to Bacalar for little money. The prices and times can be found on the ADO website.
Getting to Bacalar from Belize
If you are traveling to Mexico from Belize like we did, things are a little more complicated depending on where you are located. If you are on the mainland, for example in Belize City or Orange Walk Town, then you can easily take the ADO bus to get to Bacalar. But if you are on the islands (Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye), then a bus is not enough.
From Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye to Bacalar
If you are on the islands off Belize, then it would be much too inconvenient (though cheaper) to drive back to Belize City to take the bus from there to Mexico. Much easier (but also more expensive) is to enter Mexico directly by boat. You simply take a boat of the provider Belize Watertaxi and drive directly to Chetumal. In Chetumal at the port the entry is carried out and from there you can go by minibus from the ferry terminal, by ADO bus from the bus terminal or by cab directly to Bacalar.
We chose the cab option because it was not much more expensive than the bus, but a lot faster. For the cab we paid 250 MXN for both of us together.
If you want to read the details of the trip from Caye Caulker to Bacalar in Mexico, go to this report:
Our Accommodation in Bacalar
We looked for a hostal a bit outside the city center. So we are out of the hustle and bustle, but have the center at any time within walking distance. Besides, our accommodation was not that far away from the Bacalar lagoon.
In 5 minutes we were at the jetty that led into the water or at the ecological beach (explanation see below). A breakfast with fruits and even cereals (!!) was also available and the owners are really nice. You can have a look at our hotel here:
Our Hotelito K'uyche' in Bacalar at Booking.com*
The Lagoon of the Seven Colors
The Bacalar Lagoon was formed by the union of a total of 7 cenotes and is actually a lake and not a lagoon at all. The lagoon is one of the few bodies of water on the Yucatan Peninsula and is also called Laguna de los Siete Colores (Lagoon of Seven Colors) because it is said to shimmer in a total of 7 shades of blue.
You can’t quite make out the 7 different shades of blue, of course, but in any case they are great colors and you can definitely make out 2-3 shades of blue. The water has a really nice turquoise blue and is crystal clear. The lagoon of Bacalar is connected with a small channel (El Canal De Los Piratas Bacalar) with the lagoon Mariscal.
At the point where the pirate channel meets the lagoon of Bacalar the turquoise blue color play looks especially beautiful. All boat tours that you can take across the Bacalar Lagoon stop at this point so that you can swim there. Unfortunately, the surrounding shores may not be entered for animal protection reasons. However, there is a small island (which looks like a shipwreck) on which you can climb and jump into the water. Theoretically this is forbidden, but well…
Swimming in the Bacalar Lagoon
Swimming in the Bacalar Lagoon is not as easy as you might think. Because most of the shore area is occupied by hotels or other private areas. So there are not many places where you can “just” jump into the water. We know 3 places where you can go swimming in the lagoon of Bacalar, which are all totally different.
The Ecological Beach
This is a small beach inside a park-like area. You don’t have to pay an entrance fee, but the park is only open from 10am-6pm. So you can’t come here at sunrise. There is also a small jetty leading into the water and a very narrow grassy area about 100 meters wide where you can make yourself comfortable. Here you can find the beach on Google Maps. On weekends it gets very crowded here, so you can expect not to have much space on the small lawn. Much better we found the jetty, which we unfortunately discovered only on the third day.
The Jetty at the end of the main street
If you come from the city center and drive along the road along the lagoon to the end of the asphalt road, you will see a barrier on the right side and behind it a place where boats can be put into the water. Right next to it, a jetty leads about a hundred meters into the water. At the end, a small wooden house awaits you. Here you can find the exact location on Google Maps.
This is the perfect place to see the sunrise at the Bacalar Lagoon, because this place has no opening hours and also no entrance fees. You can also walk from the small jetty into the water and there are many water plants, birds and some fish. For us, the top place to chill out and relax at Bacalar Lagoon, even though there is neither a beach nor a sunbathing area here.
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The Outdoor Pool
If you like it a bit bigger and also like to slide down a water slide, then we can recommend the Balneario Ejidal Mágico Bacalar. This is like a real outdoor pool in Germany, at least visually. However, it is used somewhat differently than in German climes. There are sunbathing areas, a large slide (which is not recommended), souvenir stores and a large restaurant.
Unlike in Germany, however, no one lies here on the lawn, but all sit on plastic chairs and even more sit directly in the restaurant and eat comfortably. In the outdoor area of the restaurant are really the vast majority of people. But of course many are also swimming. In the outdoor pool it is accordingly full, very full.
Therefore, we did not really like it.Even though it has of course a good infrastructure, because there is really everything you need here. There are also some pontoon islands floating in the lagoon with diving boards from which you can jump into the water.
The water slide
In the outdoor pool there is also a relatively large water slide. However, its use is not included in the very cheap entrance fee of the bath, but costs 30 MXN extra. And that for only 1 hour of use. We found this a bit expensive, but still wanted to try it out. We would have preferred to do without it.
There is unfortunately far too little water being fed into the two slides, so you don’t really slide, you almost get stuck to the walls of the slide. One of the two slides is extremely slow, so I even had to walk the last bit at the end.
The other slide is super fast, but also way too dry, so Sabrina scraped along the outer wall while sliding so unhappily that her elbow was totally sore. For families with children, the Balneario may be a good choice, but for us it was just too crowded with people and we therefore rather preferred the wooden walkway.
- Entrance fee: 20 MXN (30 MXN extra for the slide)
- Opening hours: 09:00 – 19:00
Boat Trip on Laguna Bacalar
An obvious activity on the lagoon is, of course, a boat trip. The numerous providers all offer the same excursions. You really only have the choice between a sailboat and a motorboat. We opted for an excursion on a sailing catamaran of the provider Shilling Colibri and were unfortunately somewhat disappointed. It was not remotely as cool and relaxing as our sailing excursion in Placencia, Belize.
The boat was way too crowded for its size with 7 people (including the captain) and even the captain himself hardly said anything about the tour or the lagoon. I’m sure others do it better, but in retrospect we would have preferred to take a motorboat. A motorboat is of course much faster on the way and can therefore head for many more destinations than a sailboat, which is dependent on the wind.
The Cenotes at Laguna Bacalar
There are also two large cenotes located directly on the lagoon. One is the Cenote Azul and the other is the Cenote Esmaralda. Both are virtually right on the edge of the cenote and if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t even realize that these are cenotes. They are not cave-like cenotes, as they are for example in Valladolid, but they are simply a part of the lake. And look accordingly unspectacular. We therefore refrained from visiting these cenotes.
What else to do in Bacalar?
Even outside of the lagoon you can have a great time in Bacalar. Bacalar is totally laid back and quiet and if you need a few days to relax, this small town is made for it. If strolling around town isn’t enough for you, here are a few more tips for you.
There are of course some delicious restaurants in Bacalar. We love to go to the small places where usually only locals go.
Coctelería “EL GALLE” at the main street
Directly on the road to the lagoon, only a few hundred meters from our hotel, is a small local restaurant, which visually does not look like much, but is very cheap and very tasty. The owners are very friendly and even offered us a shrimp soup for free, because my fish took longer to prepare than expected. Great! You can visit the restaurant here on Google Maps.
The taco food truck at the swimming pool.
If you like tacos, this is the place for you. Directly across from the parking lot of the large swimming pool at the lagoon is a small food truck. The owner speaks perfect English (great to explain the different tacos to us) and prepares great tasting tacos. The prices are also absolutely okay and also visually the tacos really make a difference.
The ice cream store near the main square.
Super delicious homemade ice cream can be found in a small ice cream store right on the corner of the main square in Bacalar. There is both water ice and ice cream on milk basis. Everything is super delicious and tastes like real fruit. You should definitely pay a visit to the ice cream store! You can find the ice cream parlor here on Google Maps.
Visit the Fuerte de San Felipe
Right between the lagoon and the city center there is a big old fort that you can visit for 50 MXN per person (incl. a small museum). But since it is not very big, we rather saved the money. If you are interested in history and want to have a great view of the lake from the fort, then you should visit the fort in Bacalar.
Go to the Main Square in the Evening
If you want to have some fun, you should go to the main square of the city in the evening. There is something going on every day – and on Sundays even more. There you will find stalls for food, souvenirs and fine jewelry. In addition, a party bus drives around, which adds to the atmosphere. You can enjoy a delicious Marquesita (hard crepe with filling) and stroll through the square and buy one or the other (very cheap) souvenir of Bacalar.
Admire Street Art
As in many other cities in Mexico (such as Valladolid), Bacalar has beautiful street art in the form of great graffiti in many streets. So it’s worth packing your camera when you stroll through the streets. Partially, the graffiti are really very artistic and in any case great to look at.
Our Conclusion about Bacalar Mexico
We can definitely recommend Bacalar (and of course Bacalar Lagoon). Considering all the loud and crowded tourist hotspots on the Yucatan Peninsula that still exist in Mexico, Bacalar is a welcome change. The town is super laid back and the lagoon is extremely impressive and beautiful.
If you travel further north from Bacalar to the very touristy towns (like Tulum and Cancun), you’ll still be thinking longingly about your time in the quiet and relaxed Bacalar. You will have to look for such a great atmosphere as in Bacalar in the rest of the Yucatan for a long time.
If you have any questions about our travel report or about Laguna Bacalar, please write us a comment! Would you recommend other highlights in Bacalar? Also then we would be glad about a message.