Bacalar, one of México’s Pueblo Magicos, sits at the Southern tip of the state of Quintana Roo about 30 minutes from the border of Belize. While most people visit Quintana Roo, or the greater Yucatán Peninsula in general for its beaches and resorts, this place is often over looked or unknown. The beaches in this area are pristine, but the waters of Bacalar are some of the most stunning you will find. Not only is the home of La Laguna de Los Siete Colores (Lagoon of Seven Colors) gorgeous, it is less touristy and one of the cheaper destinations for those on a budget.
Bacalar is a charming and quiet town with an interesting history. Like the rest of the Yucatán Peninsula, the area was inhabited by Mayans until the Spanish took over. This is when the fun began. In the late 1600’s, the town was ravaged by Pirates. After the Spanish had enough of Jonny Depp and his rambunctious crew, a fort was built in 1733 to keep the Pirates away. Today, the town takes part as a piece of México’s growing tourism.
What To Do:
Laguna de Los Siete Colores
La Laguna de Los Siete Colores, or Lagoon of the Seven Colors is the focal point of Bacalar’s tourism. The lagoon is breathtaking and words are hard to describe it. The water changes in shades of colors all through out the lagoon from dark to neon blues. The different shades of blue shift in the sun light as the day grows. A direct hit from the sun creates a highlighter shade of blue that glows and sparkles in the light. Not only is the water bursting with color, it is often so crystal clear that it is easy to see the botanical life dancing in the currents underneath the surface.
The Incredible thing about this lagoon is that it is in fact fresh water, but has the same transparent colors you would see in an ocean reef system. Considered the second largest fresh water lake in Mexico, the water source comes from beneath the lake bed from underground Cenotes. The bottom itself is covered with light colored sand and rock. It has a muddy and soft texture when walking in it and people often cover their bodies with the sand as if they are performing some kind of tribal ritual or going into war.
The best way to see the lagoon is to explore by kayak. Of course you can rent a boat, but kayaks really allow you to get into every nook of shallow water. Exploring by kayak will not only give you the chance to see each shade of blue, but you can get up close and personal with some of the wild life. While Bacalar is not full of marine life, it has many unique bird species through out its domain. For those worrying about kayaking as a physical activity, there should be no problem as the waters are typically calm.
Canal de Los Piratas, or Pirates’ Canal, is probably the most busy and visited spot in the lagoon. This is the area in which Pirates were seen entering the lagoon and many battles were fought. Today the canal is a good spot to get out of your boat or kayak and play in the water. The area is very shallow and the water is transparent. There is a platform in the middle of the water for some diving and plenty of mud to lather onto your bodies. This is also a very popular spot for kicking it back with some friends and having a drink.
Cenote Azul, or Blue Cenote, is located towards the most Southern part of the lagoon. It is one of the largest Cenotes in the entire Yucatán Peninsula as it measures 656 feet wide and 295 feet deep! Azul is surrounded by trees and vegetation while sitting between the highway and lagoon. This Cenote is a very popular spot for divers or a nice swim.
There is so much to see in Bacalar and can all be seen by foot or in the water. The town itself is of course a Pueblo Magico, which makes it charming. It is a small town, but it has its fair share of places to eat and shop. The locals are very kind and have no problem helping travelers out. A unique experience is walking around the center of Bacalar and to the aforementioned, Fort of San Felipe Bacalar. This fort bodes a lot of attention as it is located in the center of town and is surrounded by street vendors and walkways along the water.
Another way to explore Bacalar is by swimming. There are plenty of spots to jump into the water and some nice islands to swim to and sunbathe.
Bacalar is the perfect spot to relax. With so many little houses and cabanas along the water, it is a great spot to grab a book and take in the sun. You can rent a boat and sail the lagoon on your own watch or you can float around while enjoying the cooling water.
Sitting by the water at sunset with a nice bottle of wine is a must and watching the sunrise to the East is worth it. However, nothing beats laying in a water hammock.
Bacalar and the surrounding area of the Yucatán Peninsula have some of the best food in México as it is often very unique to the rest of the country. Yucatán style food includes a lot of fruits and spices in its everyday cooking. For the best culinary experience in Bacalar, you can go to Piña for breakfast and La Playita for dinner. These two places were so good that I went to both of them everyday I spent in Bacalar.
Piña is located on a side street and has the best breakfast in town. They have some incredible fresh pressed juices on the menu and delicious cafe de olla, a Mexican specialty. The breakfast menu is laid out in a map format where you can create your own breakfast with eggs, vegetables, meats, sauces, tortillas, fruits, breads and more. The food is very fresh and tasty while writing about it has my mouth watering. A two person breakfast with entrees, appetizers, and large juices will only cost you about $200 pesos ($10 USD). Talk about a bargain
La Playita sits a few blocks away from Fort of San Felipe Bacalar on the water. Not only is your evening spent with a gorgeous view of the sunset, the food is delicious. La Playita specializes in Yucatán style and seafood dishes. The guacamole is refreshing on a hot day and the gourmet tacos are possibly some of the best I have ever had through out México. With a relaxing vibe, great views and awesome food, this place should be number one on your list of dinner restaurants.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of options for accommodation in Bacalar ranging from $20 to $800. The best place to stay in Bacalar is hands down, Bluebird Bacalar. This is a place for “glamping” where you can stay in a tent or a little cabaña. I would recommend a cabaña as the air condition is very nice when the intense heat of the sun is pounding on you through out the day. Included in your stay at Bluebird, there is a private dock and bar along with chairs, beds, and hammocks to relax while you sip on your cocktail. There is also a gorgeous water hammock sitting in the lagoon that is often seen as a popular Instagram post.
The location of Bluebird Is perfect for exploring the Lagoon. They have perfect water access where they offer kayaks for guests to use. It is also easy enough to jump into the water from the dock and walk or swim to the tiny nearby island.
The owners of Bluebird are very accommodating and will make your stay unforgettable. I recommend Bluebird for anyone wanting to visit Bacalar! You can book your stay at Bluebird through their website or Airbnb as well as follow them on their instagram account @bluebirdexclusivebacalar . Tell them @travelingle sent you!!! =D
How to get there
Getting to Bacalar is easy. You can fly and rent a car from either Merida, Cancun, or Chetumal which is the closest option by far. Chetumal may be the closest, but it will definitely be the most expensive as it is a tiny airport on the border of Belize. Cancun is a nice alternative with an easy 4 hour drive, but I think the 4 hour drive from Merida is the best option. Merida itself is a beautiful town, and a road trip to Bacalar from Merida is stunning and unforgettable. If you are curious about that road trip follow this link to my other post, “Yucatán Peninsula Adventure”!
While most people have Cancun and the rest of the Rivera Maya as the top destination to visit in Mexico, you should dare to be different. Bacalar is one of Mexico’s hidden gems and is well worth a visit to enjoy the incredible waters of Laguna de Lose Siete Colores.
Have you ever been to the Bacalar? Let me know below if you agree or disagree with my trip! Am I leaving something out? Is there something that doesn’t belong? Have any questions or suggestions? Please reply and comment below! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me on Instagram @travelingle and @egtrotters . Gracias!!!