Traveling with Stephy

Bacalar and its lagoon of seven colors: the new Maldives of Mexico

Did you know that there is a place in Mexico’s Peninsula states as of “The Maldives of Mexico”? Yes, true story! This little piece of Heaven called Bacalar is home to a blue lagoon. Today, I share with you my Bacalar travel guide that gathers everything you need to know. After reading this guide, you will have all the information to organize your trip to the New Maldives or Mexico, Bacalar!

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Bacalar is a small town located in the Quintana Roo state, at the border of Belize country. Thanks to the good road infrastructure throughout the Peninsula, Bacalar is accessible from everywhere. However, the journey from Cancun International Airport to Bacalr is quite long (around 6 hours), but totally worth it!
If you are visiting Mexico by bus, I strongly advise you to ride with ADO, a first-class Mexican bus company. Indeed, there are toilets on board and A/C. Not to mention the large leg space and the TV screens. On top of that, the journey is usually shorter than with the other local bus companies with a maximum of one or two stops along the way. Therefore, prices are more expensive but you pay for the comfort and time savings!

Travel itinerary from Cancun International Airport

  • From Cancun International Airport Terminal 2 to Cancun downtown: 35 minutes. Pice in May 2022: 98 pesos per person one way
  • From Cancun downtown to Bacalar: approximately 5,5 hours. Price in May 2022: 566 pesos per person one way
“I suggest you download the free ADO app on your mobile as you can book your seats directly through it and see all the travel itineraries. On top of that, if you book your spot 3 weeks in advance, you can have up to 50% discount.”

How long to stay in Bacalar?

Since Bacalar is quite far away from all the other popular stops across Mexico’s Peninsula, I would recommend staying in Bacalar for at least 3 days. In addition, Bacalar is the ideal destination to relax with magnificent turquoise calm waters. 

Note that Bacalar is the perfect place to stay long-term if you are visiting Mexico’s Peninsula to have a relaxing vacation with turquoise waters. Indeed, as Bacalar is home to a lagoon not connected to the Caribbean Sea, you are guaranteed not to have any seaweeds or saragasses all year round. So, no bad surprises and you can visit Bacalar at any time of the year (compare to other popular destinations in Mexico’s Peninsula).

Where to stay in Bacalar?

Bacalar has many types of accommodation, from dorm beds in a hostel to luxury hotels. This makes the place super attractive for any type of traveler! The city center of Bacalar is quite small, so everything can be reached on foot. However, bear in mind that some attractions are far from the center and you will need a means of transportation.

One big thing to take into consideration is that to have access to the lagoon of seven colors, you mainly need to go through pontons. Surprisingly as it is, there are only a few free public pontons around Bacalar town. All the other pontons are privatized by hotels for their guests. Consequently, I would keep that in mind when you book your stay. Maybe it is worth it to pay a little bit more per night to have private access to the lagoon. 

Here are my hotel recommendations for your stay in Bacalar:

How to move around Bacalar?

As stated before, Bacalar town is small and everything can be reached on foot from the center. However, if you want to visit some more remote spots such as cenotes or the famous rapids, you will need a means of transportation. 
There is no public bus in Bacalar. However, you can find some collectives that go to Chetumal and can drop you off wherever you want in that direction (just ask the driver!). You can grab them next to the ADO bus station, on the main street. Otherwise, there is a large network of taxis in Bacalar. You can even join them via WhatsApp which is very convenient. Prices are expensive as you are in Quintana Roo state. Count approximately 200 pesos for 10 minutes of the ride.
Having said that, I highly recommend you rent a car for your stay in Bacalar or Mexico. It will allow you to visit any places you want freely and to my surprise daily rate are not that expensive! Here are the best prices for your rental car!
“Note that if you have a car, all the roads in town are one way which can be a bit tricky, to be honest.”

What to do in Bacalar?

Now that I had the chance to visit Bacalar and its lagoon of seven colors, I understand why they call this place the new Maldives of Mexico! Frankly, there is not much to do here in Bacalar except for enjoying the stunning turquoise color of the lagoon.  But do we need anything else for a vacation? I don’t think so!

The lagoon of seven colors

Alright, so you will have understood by now that the main attraction of Bacalar is its lagoon of seven colors. You can access the lagoon in different ways of course but the most common is via a pontoon. In other words, you can get to the lagoon either via a private pontoon (from your hotel for instance) or via a public pontoon (free for everyone).

Cocalitos Cenote

Another way to enjoy the beautiful lagoon of seven colors is by visiting the Cocalitos Cenote. Located 20 minutes away by bike, Cocalitos Cenote is the ideal place to spend the entire day with great facilities such as swings, hammocks, and a restaurant. This is my favorite place in Bacalar and the entrance fee is very reasonable for what you get I think. 

Also, as you might know, or not, the lagoon is home to the largest living microbial formation on Earth called Stromatolites. You have the chance to be able to observe them in the Cocalitos cenote.

“There are also a few sunbeds that you can rent for the day. Otherwise, there is grass everywhere so it is very comfortable to sit on the floor with towels.”

50 pesos per person

open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Sail on the lagoon of seven colors

One of the great ways to explore the Lagoon of seven colors is by sailing. Bacalar is packed with different sailing companies that offer tours on Bacalar Lagoon. Prices can vary a bit between companies, especially if you decide to sail with a public boat or a private boat. In other words, if you choose to sail with a public company (which offers collective boats), the price is 300 pesos per person. On the contrary, if you decide to opt for a more private sailing company, the price can go up to 800 pesos per person. The only thing that can change from a public to a private tour is the number of people in the boat. But overall, all tours last about 3 hours.
“I personally don’t think that booking a private tour is necessary as all boat tour companies stop at the same stop on the lagoon. Consequently, even with a private tour, you will be with a lot of people inside the waters.”

Kayak at sunrise

Spending a day in the lagoon of the seven colors is already a unique moment so I let you imagine visiting it during a sunrise! That is to say, if you are in Bacalar, you should book a kayak or paddle tour at sunrise We did a sunrise tour with Amir Adventures and we had such a great time (and a delicious floating breakfast too). Book your Sunrise Kayak tour now!
“Even though it is a lagoon, there is still current inside and it was quite difficult to kayak. No need to be an expert at all but just be prepared for a good workout.”

500 pesos per person

starts at 6:00 am for 3 hours

Calakmul ruins

Due to its location, Bacalar is not that far from the state of Campeche where there are many Mayan ruins. That’s why if you are in Bacalar this is a great opportunity to go explore those ancient ruins lost in the jungle. The most popular one is called Calakmul Ruins and they are really impressive. 

Even though the journey can be a bit long from Bacalar (approximately 3,5 hours), I sincerely think it is worth it! This archaeological site is far less touristy than all the other Mayan ruins I have visited. Moreover, the ruins are surrounded by an intense jungle that is home to many spiders and howler monkeys! On top of that, you have the chance to go up to the temples and have therefore a great view of the surrounding jungle.

“Unfortunately, there is not much point in me telling you the entrance fee for the Calakmul site because it changes every week. Just know that you will have to pay 3 different tolls along the way. Anyway, for your information only, in May 2022, we paid a total of 250 pesos per person.”

Where to eat in Bacalar?

The small town of Bacalar has a lot of restaurants and bar options. Here are my recommendations for eating out in Bacalar:

  • Savora Bakhalal: best place for Italian food with great wood-fired pizzas!
  • Mango y Chile: best vegan restaurant in town!
  • La Playita: best place to have a happy hour with a view of the lagoon!
  • La Catrina: the best spot to have drinks! 

Tips for your stay in Bacalar

  • Nor boats nor kayaks/paddles are allowed on the lagoon on Wednesdays. Consequently, you won’t be able to do any tours that day of the week
  • The best place to enjoy a lagoon of seven colors with facilities (swing, hammocks, sunbeds, toilets, and restaurant) is in Cocalitos cenote. 
  • Most of the access to the lagoon has been privatized by hotels/restaurants or beach clubs which means you have to pay an entrance fee if you want to have access to it. They are only a few public pontoons available.
  • There is no functional ATM in town. Most of the travelers weren’t able to withdraw money with international cards.
  • Roads are only one way in the center of the city which can be a bit tricky to get around.
  • Restaurants are mainly closed on Wednesdays.
  • Since the lagoon is not connected to the Caribbean sea, there are no carcasses or any seaweeds all year round.

In conclusion

In summary, Bacalar is the ideal destination for all people who want to have a relaxing getaway and enjoy the clear and turquoise waters, without any worries about seaweeds.

I sincerely hope I have inspired you to add Bacalar to your bucket list next time you want to visit Mexico. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I would love to share more with you.

Anyway, don’t forget to check out all my posts related to Mexico to get more inspiration!

Sending you lots of love,

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