If you are in Quintana Roo I highly recommend you to visit Bacalar. Because of little time, we spent here only one afternoon, but maybe you should spend three days. The place has more to explore than it seems. But I think this is another reason to come back to Mexico.
The town of Bacalar is located in the south of Mexico, less than an hour from the Belize border and two hours 45 minutes from Tulum centre. This place is pretty popular among locals, but not very known by many visitors. Bacalar is not big, the village is habituated by around 12.000 people. By the Mexicans it is known as “pueblo magico” or magical village in English and the name is quite fair, as the place is absolutely gorgeous. The good side of not being very popular among tourists, is that it is very quiet and not crowded. This gives a certain charm to the place.
how to get here
We came here by car, from Tulum. But there are buses too, or you can chose to go to Bacalar by airplane, depends of where you came from, or what type of transport you want to chose.
SAILING IN BACALAR LAGOON
The first thing you’ll notice is the clarity of the water in this lagoon and the amazing colour, it has the same colour as the Maldivian waters. This charming lagoon invites you to swim in its attractive waters exploding in seven shade of blue.
We opted for a private tour and it costed us 40$, but if you prefer to take a group tour, there are plenty to chose from. The price depends of the type of boat or on how many hours it will last. In a tour you can expect to see the canals, the Cenote Azul, to swim, sail among mangroves and to spot crocodiles. You can rent from many types of boat, like the boats are eco-friendly, to avoid doing any damage to the environment when you sail.
w a t e r s p o r t s
There so many fun sports you can do here in Bacalar, like paddle boarding, kayak, snorkeling and many others. The more days you stay in Bacalar, more sports you can try.
swimming in the lagoon
The freshwater lagoon water is perfect for swimming. You must know that swimming here is a little bit of a challenge because there are no beaches in Bacalar, but that’s the beauty in this challenge, you get to try something new and different. We used the boat as “the beach”. It feels different to swim in a water with no waves and not salty. It was quite and experience.
In Bacalar paddle boarding is at a whole new level. Here you can do a sunrise stand up paddle. How cool is that!! I didn’t try it in Bacalar but I’m pretty sure that must be amazing. You can enjoy the serenity of laguna Bacalar in almost complete silence, you’ll hear only the sounds of nature. I did paddle boarding at sunset in Greece last year and I know this is a great experience and I totally recommend you to try.
This lagoon is a stunning place, so why not to explore it by kayak. It’s different than sailing in a boat, is slower and allows you to enjoy the place with no hurry. You just have to drift slowly and silently over its waters. If you are new at this, you don’t have to worry, it’s completely safe.
f a u n a a n d f l o r a
Bacalar Lagoon is home to more than 187 species of birds, mammals, amphibian, green and loggerhead turtles, reptiles and invertebrates. We saw a crocodile while sailing in the lagoon among the mangroves and it was the most wonderful feeling. Also the vegetation in the area displays a high diversity and includes numerous species.
the lagoon is a protected environment
The lagoon runs the huge risk of being destroyed by overdevelopment and too much tourism (and here don’t come as many people as in Tulum). If you visit, be respectful and protect the beauty of this place. That means not littering, if you drink alcohol, don’t spill alcohol in the water (this changes the colour), don’t throw garbage!
They make efforts to protect the lagoon’s ecosystem, because the local government is committed to protecting the mangroves, wildlife and native plant species. In fact, in order to build anything within the municipality, land owners cannot destroy certain types of trees. They have all my respect after seeing how they fight to protect this place.
a magical place to disconnect
Being such a small town and not too famous, it’s the best place to run from the crowds of Tulum to enjoy nature and some peace. The village has a special charm, where the locals preserved very well the traditions and customs. After so many years the Mayan culture is still alive in Bacalar and I can’t find this more wonderful. The Mayan people have been living in and visiting Bacalar for centuries to pay homage to the power of the lagoon and people this days still respect that.
cenotes in Bacalar
In Bacalar area you can find many cenotes, but some of the most popular are Cenote Negro, Cenote Cocalitos, Cenote Esmeralda and Cenote Azul. The last one is located south of all and is separated by a strip of land from the main lagoon.
We’ve seen Cenote Azul from our boat. It was pretty impressive, because the water was turquoise and all of the sudden it became dark blue.
Cenote Cocalitos is one of the most interesting, being known for its stromatolite formations. Over time, sediment has been trapped and bound together, forming large mushroom-shaped structures.There’s a restaurant, camping space, snorkel gear, kayaks, and tours of the Laguna all available.
Cenote Esmeralda is neighbour with Cenote Azul and Cocalitos. They gave this name to it, from its navy blue waters and it is reaching a depth of 70 meters.
Cenote Negro is also known by the name of Cenote Bruja (the Witch’s Cenote). It seems that the name has been given by the Mayans who lived here. People started to call it Cenote Negro (the Black Cenote) because of the dark color of the deep in contrast to the bright blue Laguna.
f o o d i n B a c a l a r
Here you can taste some of the most delicious traditional Mexican food. There are plenty of restaurants in the area, with good prices (the menu is somewhere between 8-10$) and tasty food. If you are a fun of tacos and burritos, here you can eat some of the most delicious.
chill in a hammock
What is a trip to Mexico if you don’t spend at least 10 minutes chilling in a hammock. After all the snorkelling and eating tacos, it’s nice to have a relaxing time in a hammock by the sea and reading a book, or just staring at the surroundings and thinking if life can get any better.
bring enough cash in pesos for the trip
The infrastructure in Bacalar isn’t super developed, with limited ATMs and not always working so well, so it’s a safer bet to have enough cash while you are here.
thoughts about Bacalar
This hidden gem is absolutely amazing. Bacalar is a perfect place that has everything, stunning nature, fun activities, unique fauna, tranquility and delicious food. Explore the place as much as you can, relax in the hammock, swim, do kayak and just enjoy! My only regret about Bacalar Lagoon is not spending more time. I hope you enjoyed my blog and don’t forget to drop your thoughts in the comment area!