Welcome to this Bacalar, Mexico travel guide.
Did you know Bacalar is a small town located on the southern tip of Mexico, which is ever-growing in popularity?
Home to “the lake of seven colors”, this quaint town has lots going on, and in this travel guide we’ll check out the best things to do and see.
Bacalar, Mexico Travel Guide
We are also going to look at how you can get there, and my personal insights on how to make the most out of a trip here!
Before looking at the amazing things you can do here, let’s start by going over some reasons why you may want to travel to Bacalar.
Why Travel to Bacalar?
First of all, as you well may have already been told, Bacalar is a beautiful place to visit in the Riviera Maya.
The main draw for most is the lagoon, which features as many as seven shades of blue, turquoise, and green.
It is perfect for those looking to spend time by the lake and unwind.
Water sports are popular, and there are tonnes of companies that do kayak hires and windsurfing, as well as cheap rentals for snorkel gear and paddleboards.
How to get to Bacalar
Located in the southern region of the Riviera Maya, this town is actually closer to the Guatemalan border than Cancún.
So for those planning a Central America travel route, making Bacalar a part of your Mexico itinerary makes perfect sense.
There is no airport, so to get in you’ll need to make use of the trusty bus services. ADO and Mayab are extremely reliable and have multiple buses heading here from all over the region.
From Tulum, it takes around 3 hours to arrive and 5 hours from Cancún.
If you’re traveling from Palenque ruins, which are located in the neighboring state of Chiapas, expect around 9 hours traveling (try the night-bus).
Destinations in Bacalar
Let’s now explore all the best things to do and see in Bacalar.
Getting around the town is easy on foot, and lots of accommodations here offer bikes you can rent for the day.
Bacalar Lake is great for swimming, lounging around, and cooling off when temperatures rise during the day.
Most of the lake is privately owned, so you’ll need to pay a small entry fee to gain access. However, the advantage of this is that they have lots of amenities, snorkel, and kayak rentals.
There are also some public options near the north end, about a 1km walk from the main square.
Fort San Felipe Bacalar
Close to the town of Bacalar, you’ll find this old fort which was once built as a stronghold against invading English pirates.
Pay a small entry fee, and marvel at the site, where you’ll also get great elevated views of Bacalar. Try to see how many different shades you can spot on the lagoon!
There are many of these stunning cave formations throughout the Riviera Maya region. Around Bacalar, there’s a couple definitely worth visiting.
Cenote Azul, which has depths of almost 300 ft, is a popular option with divers and features beautiful turquoise waters.
Another great option is Cenote Cocalitos. It has a more “distant” feel, surrounded by lush green swathes of jungle and not much else.
Both have amenities on-site, with food options and shacks to rent snorkeling and diving gear.
The main square in town is cute with a small park in the middle.
This is a great place to kick back and enjoy Bacalar’s tranquil vibes. There are restaurants and souvenir shops lining the outer square to explore.
💡Smart Travel Tip
Be sure to look for the Marquesitas San Joaquin food truck. They have some of the best desserts in town!
You will find some of the town’s best hostels situated in this area so you’ll only have to walk a few blocks to get in on all the action.
Many of the hostels in this area offer bicycle rental so having your own set of wheels gives you the chance to find some cool chill spots.
El Canal De Los Piratas
Located in the Bacalar lagoon, this one is more of a gem and not known by many travelers.
Famous in the past for pirate smuggling, this small stretch of canal is located on the opposite side of Bacalar lake. You can easily rent a kayak and head over to the other side.
Be careful though, as there is some sinking sand so ask for guidance on where you can safely get off and explore.
Bacalar Travel Tips
As with all my backpacking Mexico guides I’ll share personal recommendations for getting the most out of a trip to Bacalar.
Traveling from Cancun to Bacalar takes around 5 hours and is straightforward when using the Ado buses and/or collectivos. Alternatively, you can get from Tulum to Bacalar in the space of 3 hours.
Traveling around the Riviera Maya is safe in general and you should not encounter any problems on public transport.
I think it’s best to spend around 4 days in Bacalar. This will be enough to unwind and take in the laid-back vibes. It’s also enough to visit some of the other gems in and around town.
My top recommendation is to visit the cenotes. Entry fees are not much, and you’ll easily spend a day exploring the waters, which teem with tropical fish.
The caves are impressive, with stalagmites and other-worldly cave formations beneath the waters.
Already touched upon, be sure to try out some marquesitas from San Joaquin. For cheap eats, check out Cocina Orizaba, and also Mango y Chile (the latter makes most dishes from plant-based ingredients).
Travel Insurance for Mexico
I always recommend backpackers and travelers (no matter who you are) use World Nomads Insurance for fully comprehensive cover.
If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get A Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant cover from the exact date that you choose.
On many occasions World Nomads has provided me with reliable insurance cover for travel in Latin America and the rest of the world.
Best Time To Go To Bacalar
Be sure to look at different times of the year for a visit.
The best time to go to Bacalar is from December to February, where the temperature is consistent and warm, with little rain.
The hottest month is April, with averages of around 92-95°F.
I would get a travel-sized bug spray or equivalent mosquito repellent to have handy in your pocket for when you’re out and about.
The summer months have similar temperatures, but also an increased risk of storms as the season coincides with hurricane season.
Bacalar, Mexico: Travel Guide
That’s all for this Bacalar travel guide!
To recap, we’ve explored this beautiful town, the lagoon, and some of the best things to see and do.
Be sure to visit the cenotes, as well, for a nice cool-off from the heat. All in all, I’ve given you some good tips to make the most out of a trip here.
Do you need more Mexico inspiration? Check out my guide on things to do in the Rivera Maya for more ideas on what to do in the area.
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