Laguna Bacalar is a simply stunning lake located about 3 hours south of Playa del Carmen in Mexico. Bacalar is named “Laguna de los Siete Colores” (Lagoon of the Seven Colors) due to the varying depths and different shades of turquoise blue. It’s a truly magical place where you can relax on wooden docks, hammocks, and swings that project out over the water. Bacalar is often compared to the Maldives with its overwater structures and striking blue water. It’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway or a relaxing few days.
Laguna Bacalar is located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico about 3 hours south of Playa del Carmen and just north of the Belize border. The closest major city is Chetumal, which has a small airport.
About Bacalar, A Magic Town in Mexico
Officially designated as a “Pueblo Magico” (Magic Town), Bacalar is one of those beautiful places in the world that really resonates with you. Mexico created the “Pueblos Magicos” program to recognize and promote small towns all over Mexico that offer visitors a magical experience from their natural beauty, culture, traditions, or genuine hospitality. Bacalar definitely lives up to those standards with its stunning natural beauty and lack of mass tourism. There are over 100 magic towns in Mexico but a few other can’t miss ones are Isla Mujeres, Valladolid, Tequila, and Tepoztlán near Mexico City.
How to get to Bacalar
The easiest way to get to Bacalar is by renting a car. It’s about a 3 hours drive from Playa del Carmen and the route is very easy going directly southbound on the main highway. You will have to pay a small toll ($30 pesos) so be sure to have some change on hand. Keep in mind that cell service is very spotty throughout the drive and there may be long periods with no service.
Once in Bacalar, the town is fairly small and mostly walkable. I would recommend staying close to the center where most of the restaurants are within a 10 minute walk. Taxis are also available or can be arranged by your hotel or hostel. If you do have a car, it makes it easier to venture to some of the spots further away from town.
The ADO bus can also be taken to Bacalar but the trip is a little longer, taking about 4 hours. The bus is a very comfortable charter style bus and can be taken from Playa del Carmen or Tulum. The cost from Playa del Carmen is $376 pesos (~$19 USD) each way and the bus leaves at many different times throughout the day. Note the bus leaves from the Playa del Carmen Alterna Station which is located on 20th Avenue and 12th Street (not the one on 5th Avenue). The ADO station in Bacalar is located right off the main highway.
Where to stay in Bacalar
There are many different accommodation options in Bacalar including Airbnbs, hostels, and hotels. I would highly recommend staying at Hotel Eco Boutique Makaabá, which is a recently opened eco-hotel with stunning environmentally-friendly design. The hotel has a beautiful pool with a diving platform and hammocks on the second level. The rooms are small with a loft style bed but it’s very clean and the bathrooms are well equipped. It has a great location just one block away from the lagoon and within walking distance of many restaurants. Free breakfast is also included.
Things to do in Bacalar
Los Rapidos Bacalar
Los Rapidos Bacalar is a restaurant and fun excursion where you can float down the rapid canals of the lagoon. It looks similar to a cenote but the current can be very strong. We brought a large inflatable unicorn, which was a fun way to float through the canals. You’ll also want to bring water shoes as the water is very rocky in some spots. Note the entrance fee is $100 pesos (~$5 USD).
One of the best ways to see Laguna Bacalar is by renting a kayak. Single or double kayaks can be rented at many of the different hotels or restaurants along the lagoon but we rented from Zazil Hostel. The cost was $150 pesos (~$7 USD) for a single kayak or $300 pesos (~$15 USD) for a double kayak for 3 hours. It’s so beautiful being on the water and definitely a good workout!
One of the best areas in Bacalar to visit by kayak is the Canal de los Piratas (Channel of the Pirates). It’s a pretty narrow canal which makes it much easier to navigate via kayak. The water is only about waist deep making the water the prettiest shade of turquoise blue. It’s the perfect place to just relax in the shallow water. There’s also an abandoned structure in the middle where many people were jumping from or you can have fun making a mud mask from the soft sulphurized sand. Be sure to bring a GoPro or waterproof camera to capture some fun pictures.
Cenote Negro (Black Cenote) is a deep cenote that is located just off the main lagoon and can be reached by boat or kayak. The cenote is about 15 meters (50 feet) deep, which makes the water almost completely black. It was incredible to see the sharp contrast in the color of the water once you reach the cenote.
Another fun way to explore Bacalar Lagoon is by paddleboard. It’s best to start early as the water is the calmest early in the morning. Later in the day the waves were much bigger making it much more difficult to paddle. Paddleboards can be rented from many of the hotels and restaurants along the lagoon.
Bacalar Boat Tour
There are a variety of different boat tours available in Laguna Bacalar Mexico. Near the public dock you will find many tour operators. While motor boat tours are a popular option, keep in mind the non-motorized sailboats are better for the lagoon with less environmental impact.
Where to eat in Bacalar
La Playita is a great restaurant located on the lagoon and is perfect for dinner or evening drinks. It has a great ambiance and the menu offers a variety of cuisine, including tacos, burgers, and flatbreads.
Los Aluxes Bacalar
Los Aluxes Bacalar is a fun restaurant to spend the day relaxing on the lagoon. They have wooden swings, day beds, and small boats available for rent. The food menu includes mainly Mexican cuisine including guacamole, tacos, and wraps. A full service bar is also available to order drinks while relaxing on the lagoon. The views from Los Aluxes are unreal!
Bacalar Weekend Itinerary
Day 1 - Saturday
- 8:00 AM – Leave Playa del Carmen
- 11:00 AM – Arrive to Bacalar / Check-in to hotel
- 12:00 PM – Lunch at Los Aluxes Bacalar
- 3:00 PM – Kayak Tour of the Lagoon
- 6:30 PM – Return to hotel / Drinks at hotel pool
- 8:00 PM – Dinner at La Playita
Day 2 - Sunday
- 7:00 AM – Paddleboarding on Lagoon
- 9:00 AM – Free breakfast at hotel
- 10:00 AM – Los Rapidos Bacalar
- 1:00 PM – Sailing Tour of Lagoon
- 5:00 PM – Depart Bacalar
VIVA LA TRAVELISTA PRO TIPS
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