bacalar mexico

The Ultimate Guide To Bacalar, Mexico

If you’re looking for a unique and enchanting Mexican destination, away from the hustle and bustle of the all-inclusive tourist resorts, then Bacalar is perfect for you! Located on the beautiful and crystal-clear La Laguna de Los Siete Colores, or The Lagoon of 7 Colors, Bacalar offers a magical and secluded experience.

Bacalar is an incredible hidden gem that is quickly becoming more and more popular. Its crystal clear blue water and rich cultural history make it an ideal tourist destination.

Bacalar is the perfect destination for those seeking a tranquil atmosphere and exciting activities. You can explore the area and experience Mexican culture while enjoying activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

In this guide, you’ll find out about the prime activities to do in Bacalar, Mexico, as well as the necessities to be aware of before you plan a trip.

Where is Bacalar?

bacalar lagoon

Bacalar Lagoon is a natural lagoon located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is situated near the coastal town of Bacalar, which is located about 90 miles south of Cancun.

Bacalar Lagoon is located in the southern area of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, close to the border of Belize on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Tulum to Belize City is a road trip of about 4 1/2 hours, while Cancun to Belize City is a 3-hour drive. Tulum to the south is a 2 1/2 hour journey.

The crystal-clear lake water will make you feel like you are on a Caribbean island, even though it is not located near the coast!

How to get to Bacalar

If you’re looking to explore the stunning Bacalar Lagoon in Quintana Roo State, Mexico, you have a few ways to get there.

You can fly, drive, or take the bus depending on where you start from. Flying from Cancun is the quickest option, taking a few hours, while driving takes around 5 hours, and taking the bus takes longer depending on the route.

Option 1 is to rent a car and take a road trip to Bacalar. Driving is a great way to explore the Yucatan Peninsula, and it’s easy to get to Bacalar by taking Highway 307. However, there are a lot of speed bumps along the way, so pay attention while driving. Once you arrive in Bacalar, the streets are still easy to navigate.

For those who don’t want to drive, there is the option to take an ADO bus. These buses run frequently throughout the day between Cancun and Tulum, taking around five hours and costing between $20-35 USD for a one-way ticket. Tickets can be booked in advance online for added convenience.

Hiring a private car is the most costly way to travel, but it is also the easiest. You can contact your hotel’s reception desk to arrange a local driver and work out a price for your trip.

If you only have a day to explore Bacalar, booking a day tour from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum is a great option.

There are many different tours to choose from, including a full-day tour from Cancun or Riviera Maya, as well as a boat tour that departs from Playa del Carmen. This way, you can get a taste of Bacalar even if you don’t have the time to stay longer.

A visit to Bacalar Lagoon is a journey worth taking. This lake is like a Caribbean paradise, with its stunning blue water that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped onto an island getaway. No matter how you choose to get there, it’s a must-see!

Things to do in Bacalar

bacalar mexico water

Bacalar has a number of great things to do. From swimming in the Cenote Cocalitos, and kayaking in the lagoon to visiting Cenote Azul, this guide will cover all the things you won’t want to miss.

Swim in the Cenote Cocalitos pools

If you’re looking for a unique and enchanting Mexican destination, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist resorts, then Bacalar is perfect for you! Located on the beautiful and crystal-clear La Laguna de Los Siete Colores, or The Lagoon of 7 Colors, Bacalar offers a magical and secluded experience.

Bacalar is an incredible hidden gem that is quickly becoming more and more popular. Its crystal clear blue water and rich cultural history make it an ideal tourist destination. With more and more people discovering this paradise, it won’t be long before photos of Bacalar pop up on social media.

Bacalar is the perfect destination for those seeking a tranquil atmosphere and exciting activities. You can explore the area and experience Mexican culture while enjoying activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

In this blog, you’ll find out about the prime activities to do in Bacalar, Mexico, as well as the necessity to be aware of before you plan a trip. Everything you need to know before visiting Bacalar is included in this guide.

Cenote Cocalitos in Bacalar is an amazing place to visit, as it is home to stromatolites – one of the oldest living organisms on earth. These stone-like formations are created by bacteria and take hundreds of years to grow, and they can only be found in a few select places in the world. Exploring this magnificent cenote is an incredible experience that should not be missed.

The stromatolites in the cenote of Laguna Bacalar are incredibly large, and some even protrude from the surface of the water. They are a significant contributing factor to the pristine clarity of the lake, and they also help to purify it. Visitors are often mesmerized by the crystal-clear water that they can see through with ease.

Seeing these ancient structures in person is an amazing opportunity, but caution must be taken to avoid damaging them in any way. Feel free to take pictures, but please do not touch or stand on them.

Cenote Cocalitos offers more than just the opportunity to explore the stromatolites. There are plenty of other activities to enjoy, such as swimming, boating, and lounging at the beach club. Guests can soak in the scenery from a hammock at the public beach, followed by a delicious meal at the on-site eatery.

Cenote Cocalitos is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, with an entry fee of around $3 USD. It is conveniently located close to Cenote Azul, so you can easily visit both cenotes in a single day.

If you’re looking to explore some of the amazing cenotes in Cancun, an eco-boat tour is a great way to do it! This 3-hour adventure takes you around the lake to visit three different cenotes, all for just $35 USD. With knowledgeable guides, comfortable transportation, safety equipment, and delicious snacks and drinks provided, it’s a great way to spend a half day with a small group.

Go kayaking on the lagoon 

bacalar lagoon 2

Exploring Bacalar lake by kayak is an absolute must for anyone visiting the area. The lake’s crystal-clear waters provide the perfect backdrop for a leisurely paddle, stopping to take in the stunning views and take a dip in the refreshing waters. It’s an experience that you won’t soon forget!

Taking a kayak out on the lake is an amazing way to experience the area in a sustainable way. It’s a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to take in the sights, as a full-day rental only costs $22 USD. It’s also a great way to make sure we’re not having a negative impact on the environment, given the increasing number of tourists to the lake.

For a truly unique experience, couples and groups alike can explore uncharted waters with a kayak. Paddle through serene coves and discover hidden gems that can only be accessed by smaller boats. Pack a picnic and find a secluded spot along the banks of the river to enjoy your meal in peace and tranquility.

With kayaking, you can create your own romantic getaway or social adventure – the possibilities are endless!
Exploring the stunning lake of Bacalar by kayak is an enjoyable and memorable experience, providing a great way to appreciate its beauty while maintaining sustainability.

Visit Cenote Azul 

Cenote Azul is an absolutely stunning natural wonder located in Bacalar. It looks like a peaceful lake, surrounded by lush greenery, providing visitors with a beautiful and tranquil atmosphere. Swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing are all popular activities in the cenote, and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the most special cenotes in the Yucatan region. It’s an unforgettable experience that shouldn’t be missed!

Cenote Azul is renowned for its impressive depth, with some estimating it to be the deepest of all cenotes. Those who take a dip in the inviting warm waters can appreciate the stunning view of its depths. Furthermore, it has a unique cultural significance, having once been a sacred site for Mayan religious rituals.

For those passionate about diving, Cenote Azul is an underwater world of wonder. The Laguna de Bacalar was formed through the erosion of the land and this has allowed for the creation of a network of caves and cenotes, with Cenote Azul being the deepest, reaching depths of over 90 meters. For the daring and adventurous, this is an opportunity to explore the depths of the ocean and experience the thrill that comes with it.

A visit to Cenote Azul can be enjoyed for a minimal price of 25 pesos, or roughly $1 USD. If desired, life jackets can be rented from the Restaurant Eco Turístico Cenote Azul for an additional fee of 50 pesos. Getting to the cenote requires a 45-minute walk, 15-minute bike ride, or 5-minute taxi ride from the south side of Bacalar.

Spend the day at El Encanto 

For those seeking an isolated and tranquil getaway, El Encanto in Lake Bacalar is the perfect destination. Its secluded location allows visitors to experience the breathtaking beauty of the lake in complete privacy. With its calm waters and stunning natural surroundings, El Encanto is the ideal spot to relax and unwind.

El Encanto is a peaceful spot on the lake that offers visitors a chance to relax and take advantage of its affordable kayak rentals. For just 150 pesos ($7.70 USD) an hour, you can explore the lake in a kayak. There’s also a small eatery at the beach serving up delicious fried fish dishes, and plenty of wooden piers to lounge on and soak in the sunshine. It’s the perfect place to spend a tranquil day in nature.

El Encanto is renowned for its romantic two-person swing located in the lake, which has become a popular destination for photographers and Instagrammers alike. It’s a great spot for taking gorgeous snapshots of the lush surroundings.

Head to El Encanto if you’re looking for a peaceful beach getaway while visiting Lake Bacalar. A taxi from town will get you there quickly and for a small entrance fee of 40 pesos ($2 USD), you can relax and enjoy the beauty of this hidden gem.

Visit Fort San Felipe 

Fort San Felipe, also known as San Felipe Castle, is a historic stone fortress built in 1725 by the Yucatán governor, Antonio de Figueroa, to protect against English invasions.

Nowadays, it is a popular tourist attraction and museum, with over 250 years of artifacts and stories from the Mayans, Spanish settlers, and pirates.

Visitors can rent bikes to explore the grounds and the nearby town of Bacalar, and the fort is open from 9 am to 7 pm each day, with an entrance fee of 110 pesos ($6 USD) for foreign visitors.

Enjoy a SUP tour

Take in the peaceful atmosphere of Lake Bacalar by stand-up paddleboarding. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, you can enjoy the serene waters and stunning views with a SUP rental or on a guided tour.

This tour begins early in the day to take advantage of the tranquil atmosphere of the lake before the hustle and bustle of the day. On the tour, you’ll have the chance to explore the mysterious Black Cenote, a rare open sky cenote located at the bottom of the lake. Additionally, you can treat yourself to a luxurious spa-like experience with a facial mask composed of natural sulfur mud.

This affordable $26 USD tour is the perfect way to kickstart your day. Enjoy a morning of gentle exercise while taking in the breathtaking views of Lake Bacalar. Plus, the tour includes breakfast, snacks, coffee and juice, making it an even better value.

Visit Cenote Esmeralda

bacalar cenotes

Cenote Esmeralda is a wonderful destination for sightseers looking for a stunning sight. Its waters, merging with that of Laguna Bacalar, form an eye-like shape that will captivate photographers of all levels. A magical place for taking pictures, it is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip to Laguna.

This cenote is a great choice for divers and snorkelers alike, as it doesn’t have the same deep depths as other cenotes. It’s only 70 meters (230 feet) deep, making it an ideal spot for both activities. The waters are crystal clear, offering a great view of the surrounding area.

During your travels, make sure to observe the various animals that inhabit the mangrove trees. We were fortunate enough to witness a large iguana perched on the branches during our trip.

We strongly suggest taking the Bacalar eco boat tour for a memorable experience. You will have the opportunity to visit all three of the Bacalar cenotes, including Cenote Esmera.

Explore Bacalar Lake via boat

Exploring Bacalar Lake by boat is undoubtedly the best way to experience this stunning area, especially if time is limited. However, even for those staying longer, it is an idyllic way to spend a day on the lake. I found it to be my favorite tour, offering the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation.

During the half-day boat tour, which is a popular choice, you will travel through the Pirates’ Channel, Black Cenote, the Island of Birds, and Cenote Esmeralda, covering many of the lake’s top attractions in a single excursion. Snorkeling equipment is provided, and you’ll have the opportunity to swim in two cenotes, view the stromatolites, and indulge in a full-body mud mask made from healing sulphuric clay.

The tour, which costs only $45 USD per person, includes snacks, beverages, and unlimited drinks from an open bar. I appreciated the fact that everything was taken care of, and the tour was reasonably priced, making it a great value.

Canal de Los Piratas

Visitors to the Bacalar Lagoon should be sure to take a trip along the Pirates Channel, a unique waterway that was an important trading route between the ancient Mayan cultures. Located where the Hondo River meets the Bacalar Lagoon, this channel marks the historical border between Belize and Mexico and still offers a glimpse into times gone by.

The Canal de Salamanca, formerly known as the Laguna Bacalar during the colonial era, is an incredibly beautiful sight to behold. It is a unique light blue hue, and was a hotspot for notorious pirates such as Henry Morgan and Francis Drake. To explore the channel, the only way is to kayak or boat, but it is an experience that is sure to stay with you forever.

If you want to experience the beauty of the Pirates Channel in Bacalar, Mexico, then you should consider booking a private boat tour or a kayaking adventure. With a boat tour, you will be able to explore the channel at your own pace and take in the sights.

If you opt for a kayaking adventure, you won’t want to miss the Bacalar Rapids, which are natural thermal springs in the channel. With a life jacket on, you can even float in the current and let it take you on an exciting journey to the thermal springs!

For a top-notch private boat tour which includes a stop at the Pirates Channel, try the Viator-recommended tour at a cost of $114.50 USD.

Go to the Coba Ruins


Visiting the Coba ruins is an absolute must-do if you’re seeking an exciting excursion from Bacalar. This ancient Mayan archaeological site is vast and one of the most visited attractions in the area.

This amazing tour is an incredible deal for only $129 USD and provides an incredible experience. You’ll start off with a two-hour guided bike tour to explore the ruins, and then get the chance to scale the height of Nohoch Mul, one of the tallest pyramids in the region. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss!

The tour provides the opportunity for visitors to participate in two additional activities. You can choose to experience the culture of nearby Mayan villages by trying your hand at traditional ceramics or, for a thrilling adventure, you can take a zipline ride over a lagoon and then take a dip in a nearby cenote.

The tour ends with an enjoyable evening of traditional Maya cuisine and entertainment, including live music and dancing. Guests will also have the chance to witness a demonstration of the ancient Maya ball game.

Explore the Dzibanche and Kohunlich Ruins 

bacalar ruins

Embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of the Mayan civilization by exploring the ancient Dzibanche and Kohunlich ruins. Located in the lush jungles of Lake Bacalar, the Kohunlich Ruins are just a short drive away.

The tranquil setting creates the ideal ambiance for a day of discovery, with the Temple of Masks as the main highlight. This Early Classic pyramid dates back to 500 AD and features a magnificent staircase adorned with remarkable stucco masks.

For those looking to explore a less-trafficked ancient Mayan ruin, the Dzibanche Ruins just north of Kohunlich are ideal. This once-populated area was home to 40,000 people and is now a hidden gem. The name Dzibanche translates to “writing on wood” and is derived from the wooden beam covered in glyphs that can be found in the temple.

To make the most of your visit, renting a car or joining a guided tour are great options. Guided tours are typically priced at $120 USD and are all-day trips that include transport, entrance fees, a 3-course meal, and a knowledgeable guide.

You’ll be able to learn about the mysteries of the archeological sites, spot native birds and monkeys, and get the most out of your visit.

Experience the wonders of the past with a trip to the Kohunlich and Dzibanche Ruins in the Yucatán. Entrance tickets to Kohunlich cost $4.40 USD and can be purchased from 8 am to 5 pm daily. Tickets to the Dzibanche Ruins are $3.60 USD, with admission available from 9 am to 3 pm.

It’s possible that a single ticket will get you into both ruins, so make sure to check that out when you buy your ticket. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to explore two of the region’s most spectacular ancient sites.

Experience a sunrise

Witnessing the sunrise over Bacalar Lake is an unforgettable experience. As the sun rises, the tranquil water is illuminated in a spectrum of vibrant colors. Whether you’re on the shore of the lake or perched atop a nearby hill, this stunning view is sure to captivate your senses.

It’s no wonder why so many visitors consider the sunrise on Bacalar Lake to be one of the most beautiful in all of Mexico.

Starting the day off swimming before the hustle and bustle of the day begins can be a refreshing and rejuvenating experience, and you can take advantage of this opportunity when you are up at sunrise.

Where to stay in Bacalar

From the best value hotels to the most premium accommodation money can afford, within this section, we will break down where to stay in Bacalar.

Best Value: Hotel Aires

aires bacalar 01

Hotel Aires is an outstanding choice for travelers seeking a comfortable and budget-friendly stay. Every room is equipped with a sweet hammock setup on the balcony, providing a unique treehouse experience in the jungle.

Additionally, a complimentary breakfast is included each morning with the stay, making it an even better value. Its central location makes it convenient to access nearby restaurants and the lagoon, though not directly on the water.

Eco-Friendly Option: Centro Holistico Akalki

bacalar hotels

Centro Holistico Akalki is an ecological retreat that offers an enchanting and private getaway. Boasting over-water chalets and private decks that provide access to the stunning lagoon, visitors can easily become immersed in the surrounding environment.

With just 11 guest rooms on the premises, this hotel promises an exclusive experience for the environmentally-conscious traveler. Situated away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Centro Holistico Akalki is the perfect place to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Luxury Choice: Habitas Bacalar

resort stunning bacalar

If you’re looking for a truly luxurious stay, Habitas Bacalar is the ideal destination. This renowned hotel, which is well-known for its Tulum location, has now opened up bungalows in Bacalar offering visitors a sumptuous experience. The bungalows boast breathtaking views of the lagoon, so guests can truly soak up the beauty of the area.

Luxury and Relaxation: Mia Bacalar Luxury Resort & Spa


Mia Bacalar Luxury Resort & Spa is a luxurious oasis situated right on the shore of the beautiful Bacalar lake. It features an impressive architectural style and plenty of luxurious amenities, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and an outdoor swimming pool. It is the perfect destination for those looking for a relaxing getaway in an elegant setting.

Bacalar Summary

Bacalar is an idyllic destination for anyone looking for a different and captivating Mexican getaway. The majestic blue waters, dense cultural history, and peaceful environment make it a perfect place for a vacation.

Visitors are invited to explore Cenote Cocalitos and its stromatolites, kayak around the lagoon, and dive into the waters of Cenote Azul. With its stunning natural beauty and unforgettable experiences, Bacalar is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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