Is Bacalar worth visiting while in Mexico?
Did you know Bacalar is one of the many small towns located on the southern tip of Mexico, that 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.
We are also going to look at how to get to Bacalar as well as my personal insights on how to make the most out of a trip here!
Table of Contents
Bacalar, Mexico Travel Guide
Before looking at things you can do here, let’s start by going over some reasons why you may want to travel to Bacalar.
Is Bacalar Worth Visiting?
As you well may have already been told, Bacalar is a beautiful place to visit in the Riviera Maya if you want to discover somewhere new.
The main draw for most is the lagoon, which features as many as seven shades of blue, turquoise, and green.
Bacalar is perfect for spending time by the lake and unwinding.
Water sports are popular, and there are companies offering kayak and windsurfing, as well as cheap snorkel and paddleboard rentals.
Is Bacalar Safe?
You’ll find Bacalar is a very safe place to visit in Mexico. It’s more laid back than places such as Playa del Carmen or Caye Caulker in Belize.
Since the town is a Pueblo Magico the town receives an interesting mix of both international and domestic tourists.
The waters of Lake Bacalar are safe too. But always follow the advice of qualified local tour guides so you know exactly where to go swimming.
How to get to Bacalar from Cancun?
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.
It takes around 3 hours to arrive from Tulum and 5 hours from Cancún.
When traveling from Palenque ruins, located in the neighboring state of Chiapas, expect around 9 hours traveling (try the night-bus).
Bacalar Things to do
Let’s now explore all the best things to do 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 that 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 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 snorkeling and diving gear hire. See this guide to Cenotes in Mexico for more.
The main square in town is cute with a small park in the middle.
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, the Pirates Channel is one of the more hidden gems 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 or do a tour 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
See these travel tips for Bacalar to ensure you have the best stay whether you’re on vacation, backpacking, or traveling with friends.
⤵️ Dan’s Travel Tips For Bacalar:
- Another option would be to rent a car to get to Bacalar from Cancún. It’s a great way to do a road trip in the Riviera Maya. The roads are wide and easy to drive, also the rental rates are well priced.
- There are no excuses for not to visit Bacalar from Tulum or Cancún. Even if you don’t want to take public transportation or renting a car, you can arrange a private shuttle service.
- Cenote de la Bruja also called Cenote Negro (The witch Cenote or Black Cenote) is the smallest but it’s perfect for paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. Just be careful if want to go deeper into the water and explore the cavers, it’s better with an expert guide.
- You can read my backpacking Mexico guide for even more personal tips on traveling to Mexico.
- Be sure to wake up for sunrise (even if you’re not a morning person), do it at least once if you can. It’s simply stunning.
- Already touched upon but try 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).
- If you’ll be using buses in Mexico keep just enough cash for transport and small purchases. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere.
- Tap water here is not potable so carrying a water bottle with filter is a good way to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic.
- Bacalar is not a beach destination. Actually, you won’t find any beaches here. The lakes are in contact with the land, without sand in the middle. You can visit Akumal if you want beaches though.
- Pack a pair of water shoes, biodegradable sunscreen, bug spray, and a quick-dry towel. You’ll likely need these items during your stay.
Traveling from Cancun to Bacalar takes around 5 hours 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.
Be sure to visit the cenotes here. 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.
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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 some 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.
Is Bacalar Worth Visiting?
That’s all for this Bacalar travel guide!
To recap, we’ve confirmed that Bacalar is worth visiting, we’ve explored its beautiful town, the lagoon and some of the best things to 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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