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The Lagoon of Bacalar: Tips for the oasis in southern Yucatán

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Appearances are deceptive: the unreal, shimmering turquoise-blue water does not belong to the Caribbean coast. Bacalar is a small, quite secluded place on the lake of the same name, whose shades of blue and turquoise have earned it the nickname “Lagoon of the Seven Colors”.

In some blog articles you can read that Tulum is a sleepy little town. Unfortunately, those were probably not yet in Bacalar, which is located in the very south of the eastern Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo . Bacalar is the epitome of cosiness and idleness. The clocks tick slower here. And so it happens that in Bacalar you can’t help but be deeply relaxed from the very first moment. In this blog article we will tell you what you can experience in Bacalar and why the detour is definitely worthwhile.

1. The Lagoon of Bacalar: Small Jewel in the South of Yucatán The question of all questions: Is the Lagoon really as blue as the numerous photos suggest? Yes, yes and again yes! As soon as we saw the lagoon peeping through the trees for the first time, it was clear that we were not dealing with an exaggeration.

A merging of several cenotes is due to the formation of the lagoon (which, strictly speaking, is not a lagoon but a lake). Since then, the “Laguna de Bacalar” has been shining in the strongest shades of blue and turquoise that one can imagine.

50 Kilometers is the length of the lake of Bacalar, however very narrow: at the widest point it is just 2 kilometers to the other bank. All accommodation is located along the west side of the lagoon, with most being in and around Bacalar town. The town center of Bacalar (the largest town in the region) is a collection of a few (little-used) streets with a few accommodations, cafes and the highest density of street art that we have seen in the whole of the Yucatán could find. Bacalar is pleasantly laid back and the perfect place to unwind from the rigors of travel.

Swimming in the Lagoon: Are there crocodiles in Bacalar? The sparkling blue shimmering water naturally invites you to jump into the cool water. And of course we (like everyone else) didn’t miss the opportunity to splash about in the lake. As we later found out, crocodiles actually live in the Bacalar Lagoon. Or to put it another way: There are many testimonials circulating on the Internet from people who have already sighted crocodiles in some places.

However: We have never heard or read about a crocodile incident. The crocodiles are apparently quite shy and the chances of you seeing one are not very high. Personally, even now that we know the lagoon has crocodiles, it wouldn’t stop us from getting in the water.

For Who is Bacalar suitable for? If you want to relax and switch off for a few days , Bacalar is the right place for you . There is nothing here to distract you from. The place is made for letting your soul dangle . But we warn you: If you’re having a hard time keeping your feet still, you can get bored pretty quickly in Bacalar.

2. Things to see and do in Bacalar Bacalar is made for idleness! To be honest: there is not much to discover. Most of the highlights are of course – how could it be otherwise with the crazy color tones – near the lake.

Swimming at “Cocalitos” There are no real beaches along the lagoon, but there are some public bathing areas. After a short research, we decided on “Cocalitos” south of the town center. A small entrance fee is charged here. In the swings and hammocks out in the water you can really endure it – just like in a picture book! On the (quite small) lawn you can rest after swimming. Alternatively, there are a few free public swimming pools in Bacalar. You can find one in the center of town, for example on Calle .

Entry: 42 Pesos per person (free parking)
Arrival: approx. 10 minutes drive south of Bacalar town centre along the main road

Cenote Azul Cenote Azul is very close to Cocalitos. Although the water color of the cenote is not quite as spectacular as that of the lagoon, the Cenote Azul is also perfect for a jump into the water (in the truest sense of the word, by the way). Don’t expect a cave-like cenote, but the cenote is great for swimming. If you’re hungry: There’s a fairly large restaurant right on the shore, but we didn’t try it.

Entry: 25 Pesos per person (free parking)

Getting there: approx. Minutes drive south of Bacalar town center along the main road

Fuerte de San Felipe: Walk on the former fort The only real attraction in the center of Bacalar is the small castle complex called Fuerte de San Felipe. The same applies here: set your expectations low, because you have seen everything in a short time. Nevertheless, we believe that a short stopover is worthwhile. From the castle walls you have a beautiful view over the lake. There is also a manageable museum, which we didn’t find too exciting.

Entry: 110 Pesos per person
Address: Avenida 3, Centro, 77930 Bacalar (Directly in Town center near the shore)

Admire street art In Bacalar there is Street art galore. You could walk around town all day and still discover new graffiti, there is so much. If you are there, make sure you take some time for it. We were really excited. The street art with the woman and the cloths (see photo) in the Calle 14 (near Avenida 3) has unfortunately been painted over in the meantime.

Enjoy the sunrise The bad news: Experience it from the west side, where all accommodations are located you no sunset behind the lake. The good news: Sunrises can be admired all the better on the lake shore. And that’s exactly what we did. At this time of the day, the lake is even calmer than during the day. Our tip: check the weather beforehand. In the pouring rain we would rather stay in bed.

Boat tour Boat tours are offered in the town center offered on every corner. Most take approx. 3 hours and head for several destinations, including the well-known Canal De Los Piratas and also a spot for snorkeling. The tours by Amir AdvenTours should be highly recommended. Personally, we would have loved to have done a sunset tour, but unfortunately there was no time for that.

3. Restaurants and cafés in Bacalar The selection of restaurants and cafés in Bacalar was quite limited a few years ago. However, this is currently changing and more and more hip bars are opening up. Of course we don’t want to deprive you of our favorite places for dinner and breakfast in Bacalar.

Enamora For a delicious breakfast or lunch we can warmly recommend the Enamora. Here we drank by far the best coffee in Bacalar. Some breakfast dishes, sandwiches, cakes and smoothies are also served. Outside you can take a seat in the shade of the trees. Alternatively, you can also sit inside very comfortably. Conclusion: We would come back immediately!

Address: Calle 10 Corner Avenida 5, 16281 Bacalar
Prices: breakfast sandwiches approx. 42 Pesos, Espresso 25 pesos

La Pina We’ve lost count of how many times La Piña (=“pineapple”) has been recommended to us. For that reason alone we had to stop by there (the good reviews on the internet were just a bonus, so to speak). It is run very familial: To get to the garden, you first have to go past the kitchen.

Some are served Mexican dishes and pizza. Yes, that’s right, pizza. We were a little surprised at first, but then decided to have a pizza and didn’t regret it for a second. Delicious. There is enough choice for vegetarians. The service is extremely friendly, if a bit slow. But well, we are in Bacalar – there is no hurry. Tip: Don’t forget mosquito spray in the evening or wear long clothes.

Address: Avenida 3 between Calle 28 and 28, 77930 Bacalar
Prices: a dinner for two 150 Peso

More culinary tips for Bacalar El Manatí Bacalar: A friendly mixture of gallery, shop and café or restaurant. You can sit outside in a beautifully landscaped garden. Great for breakfast and plenty of vegan/vegetarian options too.

Mr. Taco: As the name suggests, everything here revolves around the Mexican specialty of tacos. Although the restaurant is now primarily frequented by tourists and expats, the quality is still very high and the price-performance ratio is okay.

Barbanegra: A really stylish taco shop! There are very special and great taco creations here.

Yerbabuena: Cute little café. There are really great, fresh smoothies, sandwiches and good coffee.

4. Accommodation tips for Bacalar We chose The Yak Lake House, which is located directly on the lake shore. The hostel has several shared rooms, but we opted for a double room. This was really tiny, but good, we didn’t stay long in it anyway.

The location directly on the lake of Bacalar is of course great, no question. The atmosphere in the hostel is very relaxed. At the bar on the shore you can get something to drink in the evening and then sit down comfortably on the jetty. The breakfast is very basic. What we found less exciting: When you check in, you get a paper wristband so that the staff also know that you belong to the hostel. That feels too much like an all-inclusive vacation for us personally, but okay. Due to its location, the hostel is not exactly cheap: Our small double room cost euros per night .

Unfortunately, the Hotel Aires Bacalar was already fully booked during our travel period. We then happened to walk past it and were very impressed by the flair. The hotel is quite new, very stylish and exactly our taste. It is not directly on the lake, but an alley behind it and has a great price-performance ratio. (The double rooms are even cheaper than in The Yak Lake House.) If you are looking for a tasteful hotel, you are in good hands there.

Here you can book the hostel : The Yak Lake House

Here you can book the hotel: Hotel Aires Bacalar

5. Arrival and local transport Arrival to Bacalar From Tulum, the quickest and most comfortable way to travel to Bacalar is by rental car. As always, we booked ours through Sunny Cars for the entire duration of our road trip. It takes about 2.5 hours to travel from Tulum to Bacalar. Tip: Since the region in the south of the state of Quintana Roo is very sparsely populated, it is worth filling up in Tulum. There is a place with a gas station on the way to Bacalar, but better safe than sorry.

Alternatively, you can also take the public bus from Tulum. travel to Bacalar. The best-known and most popular bus company with tourists is called ADO. Several ADO buses run daily from Tulum to Bacalar. The journey takes almost 3 hours. You can search for a time that suits you directly on the ADO website and then book the tickets directly. The ADO Bus Terminal in Bacalar is approximately 25 walking distance from Lake shore away.

Local transport The town center of Bacalar is very manageable, so you can reach almost everything on foot. For longer distances you can rent a bicycle – either (often free of charge) through your accommodation or alternatively for approx. 150 Pesos in one of the shops. If you are traveling by car, you will find free parking almost everywhere in the center of Bacalar.

Transparency: Affiliate Links16279 This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever ended up in Bacalar? Please leave us a comment with your experiences – we look forward to it!