Bacalar is a sleepy little fishing village in southeastern Mexico near the Belize border. Here you will find the Lagoon of 7 Colors, which is one of the most beautiful bodies of water I have ever laid eyes on. Come here for a few days to get away from more touristy Tulum or stop by as you head south to Belize. While popular amongst locals, Bacalar remains an undeveloped treasure not yet touched by tourism.
CURRENCY: Mexican Peso
CLIMATE: Tropical (warm & humid), Dry season: Oct – May
DRESS CODE: Casual
GETTING AROUND: On foot
COST OF VISITING: $$ – Hostels start at $20 per night and street food is a little as $4 to $5 (USD), restaurants are around $10-$12 for a meal.
TIPPING: 10-20% in restaurants is appreciated
SAFETY: While Mexico has experienced an increase in drug related violence, Bacalar has remained safe, use common sense. Stray dogs are a little more aggressive here, mostly to locals but be careful when walking around at night. Stand your ground.
Bacalar is right next to the 307 highway, which makes getting there pretty easy. It is a direct drive from Cancun (4 hours), Playa del Carmen (3 hours), and Tulum (2.5 hours). ADO buses leave multiple times daily from each of these cities. Tickets can be purchased at the local ADO bus station in each of these cities. Check ADO website for up to date schedule. (website doesn’t always work well)
WHERE TO STAY
Cute lakeside bungalows with amazing dock right on the lagoon. Perfect place to stay to wake up early and watch the sunrise, or have a few beers during sunset. We booked last minute, only to find out the only room left and reserved just for us was this old school bus!
We didn’t stay here because it was sold out but I heard it was a pretty cool place to stay!
WHAT TO EAT
FOOD TO TRY
MARQUESITAS: A rolled up crepe that tastes like a waffle cone. Choose your sweet n savory fillings. I recommend nutella, queso de bola (Edam cheese), and lechera (sweet condensed milk). Other options include banana and cajeta (caramel).
ELOTE: Mexican street corn roasted over an open grill and coated with salt, chile powder, butter, cotija, lime juice, and mayonnaise or crema fresca.
WHERE TO EAT
While Bacalar is a pretty small town, there are quite a few restaurants scattered around. You will find more pricey restaurants around the resort like hotels. If you wander around the streets of the town, you will find some cheaper options as well.
They only have one type of meat, which I believe is carnitas. They do this one well. I have no idea why, but I tend to trust local places where police officers pull up and grab food to go while on duty. I don’t know if it is because they know how to eat or they know the good local spots around town, but this is one of them!
Located right on the lake, they have a large outside patio deck making it a great place for a lunch or early evening drinks. Make sure to bring your swimming suit, as they have a dock right off the deck. Perfect for an after lunch swim.
WHAT TO DO
GET IN THE WATER
Laguna de Bacalar, also known as the “Lake of Seven Colors” is the second largest fresh water body of water in Mexico. The crystal clear waters and white sandy bottoms change colors throughout various spots of the lake, turning beautiful shades of green, turquoise, blue, and purple. There are various docks you can go to and jump right in! You can also rent kayaks and SUPs from various places, and also go waterskiing.
The best places to relax, meditate, or simply do nothing are these kind of sleepy towns. Find a dock, a bench, or grab a book, or watch the beautiful sunrise or sunset.
EXPLORE THE TOWN
Bacalar is a cute little town that is perfect for walking around and just enjoying the community feel it has. There are local shops and restaurants scattered around the city center square. There is a night market starting around 6:00pm as well where local vendors come and sell food, jewelry, clothing, arts, and crafts. While we were there, the kids in town had a holiday performance on a stage set up in the city center.
FUERTE DE SAN FELIPE