Commonly called the Lagoon of 7 colours, Bacalar lagoon in Mexico has long been a secret destination for locals but is quickly gaining reputation as one of Mexicos top new destinations. Bacalar lagoon is a shallow fresh water lagoon feed by cenotes. With its crystal clear water & white limestone sand bottom the lagoon has an incredible blue tone, so blue it has gained the nickname the Maldives of Mexico.
Where is Bacalar Lagoon?
Located at the southern end of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, close to the Belize border. Bacalar town and lagoon is an easy 2.5 hrs drive south of Tulum and a great destination to add to your next trip to the Mexican Caribbean or on your way to Belize.
Who’s it for?
Bacalar is a small chilled out town, think island time and vibes. A great place to relax by its crystal clear waters or explore the lagoon by yacht or kayak. The whole town revolves around the lake so a lot of places close early and Bacalar town is pretty quiet in the evenings.
Things to note
Bacalar Lagoon is a fragile ecosystem. The rapid rise in popularity and development in Bacalar is putting pressure on its environment. Along the lakes edge are colonies of bacteria billions of years old called Stromatolites. They are only found in 4 places on earth and are extremely sensitive. You cant swim in Bacalar Lagoon with sunscreen, deodorant or perfumes so make sure you take a hat and clothes to cover yourself up rather than use sunscreen. Also be mindful when near the edge of the lagoon not to touch or step on the Stromatolites.
What to do at Bacalar Lagoon?
- Los Rapidos: Probably our favourite thing to do in Bacalar. It’s a restaurant located on a river flowing into the lagoon. It gets very popular with locals of the weekend so arrive early. You can jump in the crystal clear waters up stream and float your way down. They also have hammocks in the water and cabanas to spend the day.
- Kayak: The best way to explore the lagoon is to rent a kayak. Its also the eco friendliest option as its cleaner for the lagoons ecosystem.
- Boat cruise: another way to explore the Bacalar lagoon is by boat. You can do group trips or private tours. There are also options for sailing boats which is more lagoon friendly. The tours will usually take you to Cenote Negro, the sand bar, Bird island and Pirates channel.
- Cocalitos: This beach park/club is on the south end of town by cenote cocalitos. It’s a popular spot to spend the day swimming, eating, sunbathing and hanging out in the hammocks in the water.
- Balneario Municipal El Aserradero (Public Peir): The public swimming pier is perfect for spending the day by the lagoon.
- Sunset on the public boat docks: there are a number of public access docks along the lagoons edge in town. The perfect spot for sun downers or a quick dip. Find one at the end of Calle 14 and also 16.
Where to stay?
In Bacalar you can choose to stay lagoon side or in town. Lagoon side hotels are the more expensive options but you will have direct water access and amazing views. Most of Bacalar lagoon’s shoreline is privately owned so you will be limited to find spots to access the water if you are not staying right on the lagoon.
Our pick is Habitas Bacalar. Situated about 15 mins south of Bacalar town. Habitas is nestled between pristine Mayan jungle and the lagoon. Accomodation is luxury glamping style tents. you can choose between lagoon view, mangrove or jungle view tents. The best thing about Habitas Bacalar is their deck and lake access. You can spend the day relaxing and dinning lagoon side, swim from the private jetty or grab one of their glass bottom kayaks. Other good accomodation options include:
Where to eat?
- Chili & Mango (Vegetarian)
- Bacalar Beach Club
- Siete at Habitas
How to get to Bacalar Lagoon?
- Drive: Most people heading to Bacalar choose to drive. Car rental in Mexico is cheap and it makes it easier to explore once you arrive. The 307 highway down to Bacalar is safe and well maintained. Although it’s recommended not to drive late at night. From Tulum the trip takes about 2.5 hrs, from Cancun airport its about 4 hrs.
- Fly: The closest airport is Chetumal International Airport, located about 45 minutes away. It’s a small regional airport and you will most likely need to connect through CDMX or Cancun to get there. You will need to arrange transport from the airport to Bacalar town either via Taxi, shuttle or hire car.
- Private transfer: Another option is a private shuttle from Cancun, Playa Carmen or Tulum
- Bus: The bus company ADO operates routes to Bacalar from most main towns. Cancun to Bacalar costs about US$30 pp
If you like this blog you might also like to read our blog on the best places to stay in Mexico City