The small town of Bacalar in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo is far from the beaten tourist track. Nevertheless, Bacalar is widely known among travelers familiar with the region. And this is not only due to the charm of the small town. It is because Bacalar is located directly besides the beautiful lagoon of the seven colors.
Have you ever thought about a trip to Bacalar? Is it even worth it? And how long should you stay? What can you do there? In this article we would like to tell you more about the small village and answer your questions.
Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
What to expect in Bacalar?
Bacalar is a cozy and sleepy place. If you need a lot of action, you have nothing to look for here. But if you want to really relax, you are in good hands. A bit of observing Mexican everyday life in a colonial place, enjoying the beauty of nature, swimming, eating delicious food. That’s more or less how you can imagine it.
Bacalar is not situated directly at the sea like the other places along the Caribbean coast of Mexico. But it’s located besides a large lagoon famous for its beauty. The place has a long history, and there are some interesting things to see. The name of the city means “surrounded by reeds” in the Mayan language. In the time of the Maya and the colonial period, an important trading center was here.
Nowadays, street art is rather popular in Bacalar. So, you can walk through the streets in peace and let yourself be enchanted by this small town. Just take a deep breath and relax. After all, you’re on vacation, aren’t you?
The Lagoon of Seven Colors
The lagoon of Bacalar is also called the lagoon of seven colors. They say that the water should shimmer in seven different shades of blue. This insight is probably reserved for locals who have their own boats and know the lagoon very well. But still – the lagoon also is very beautiful for new visitors.
Actually, the lagoon is a lake of fresh water. This is very rare on the Yucatan Peninsula, where there is usually no fresh water on the surface. The lagoon is about 40 km / 29 mi long and therefore quite large. It is connected to the bay of Chetumal by a narrow channel called the “Channel of the Pirates”.
The lagoon was formed from several Cenotes. These are intrusions in the limestone of the soil, which open up access to groundwater. These underwater caves are typical of the Yucatan Peninsula. You can also visit the Cenotes in Bacalar. Some of them are quite deep and are wonderful for cenote diving.
Of course, there are no sandy beaches at the lagoon of Bacalar. But in many places, you will see wooden walkways where you can get into the water. Often there are swings or hammocks in the shallow water to let your soul dangle and really enjoy the beauty of nature. Some public bathing areas offer small sunbathing areas, toilets and restaurants for a cheap entrance fee.
There are rumors that crocodiles live in the lagoon of Bacalar. If this is true, however, they are very shy. At least, we have not yet heard of accidents with crocodiles while swimming.
Where is Bacalar on the map?
Bacalar is located in Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. Depending on which road you take, the trip to Bacalar takes about 400 km / 290 mi or 5 hours, driving south from Cancún. Behind the small town, the road continues for about 40 km / 29 mi to Chetumal, the capital of the state of Quintana Roo. After Chetumal, there already is the border to the neighboring country Belize.
Good to know
Weather: Pleasantly warm all year round at about 30°C / 80°F, high humidity.
Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN)
Credit cards: Credit cards are not accepted everywhere. The best solution is Mexican cash. In the village there is a bank branch and an ATM.
Safety: Bacalar is a small, sleepy place and very safe for tourists. You can also walk around at night if you know how to use your common sense. But like everywhere else, you should pay attention to your valuables.
Best time to go
Bacalar is located in the tropics, and the temperature is pleasant all year round – if you love warm weather as much as I do. The hottest time falls in the months of April to December. From June to October there are is the highest number of rainy days per month. The hurricane season over the nearby Caribbean Sea also falls into this period.
The high season throughout the region is the period from December to April. In these months, you can expect the most pleasant temperatures and a lot of sunny days – but also the highest prices.
How to get to Bacalar?
You have several options to get to Bacalar. However, you can get there only by road. The route takes more or less a five-hour drive from Cancun.
The first and easiest way is to get there by public bus. The ADO line in Mexico runs more or less from everywhere to everywhere. The quality of the buses is quite good, and the tickets are cheap. Bus travel is one of the most important means of transport for the locals. You can even pre-book tickets for the bus online. Here, for example, Cancún – Bacalar via Bookaway from 25 USD per person.
If you prefer to drive yourself, a rental car is recommended. At City Car Rental you will find a reliable and friendly service at fair prices. As I said, you should prepare for a driving time of about five hours for one route.
If you want to go directly to Bacalar from Cancún Airport, you can use a personal shuttle service. For one or two people you this might be a bit expensive. For a group of four people, however, the surcharge is not very high and the privacy is always worth it. Especially in times of pandemic.
If you want to arrive by plane, the airport of Chetumal is relatively close. From there, Bacalar is only 42 km / 26 mi away.
Hotels in Bacalar
The lagoon is inhabited only on its west side. Not only the inhabitants of the small town live there. The hotels of Bacalar can also be found here. This means that there is no sunset over the lagoon from the hotels. But all the more beautiful sunrises are part of the everyday life. Of course, only for early risers.
The hotels in Bacalar are often simple and very cozy. Many accommodations are really beautiful, but you can’t expect an internet connection everywhere. English is also not spoken everywhere. But that’s not really an issue – the service is actually still very nice.
You might look in vain for large all-inclusive resorts like in Cancún or Playa del Carmen here. But you didn’t really expect that off the beaten track of all the other tourists, did you? Here are some nice hotels in Bacalar for you.
Blue Palm Bacalar
The Blue Palm Bacalar is a very pleasant hotel for sustainable travel. Centrally located in the village – only two blocks from the lagoon – the complex is actually quite idyllic. The ambience at the Hotel Blue Palm is very familiar.
Its fantastic location makes the Hotel La Albarina a unique place. It is located just outside the city right at the lagoon of Bacalar. With its beautiful garden and a private swimming beach, this hotel is a very romantic place that is particularly suitable for couples.
MBH Maya Bacalar
Just outside the village, the MBH Maya Bacalar Hotel Boutique is located directly at the lagoon. Bicycles, kayaks and paddleboards are available. Beautiful rooms and a particularly delicious restaurant pleasantly round off the experience in this hotel.
Casa Shiva Bacalar by MIJ
The small hotel Casa Shiva Bacalar by MIJ is located a bit outside of town just directly on a beautiful stretch of the lagoon. The bungalows with the rooms are absolutely charming. The service is very friendly, so you will probably feel quite comfortable.
Hotel & Suites Oasis
Hotel & Suites Oasis Bacalar is just centrally located downtown. It is a quiet place with a small pool in the garden. The public lido is a 5-minute walk away. There are several great restaurants in the surrounding area. A very nice service takes care of every request of the guests.
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Restaurants in Bacalar
Although Bacalar is only a small town at the southern end of Mexico, you can eat very tasty there. There is a lot of fish and seafood – who is surprised? But steaks, sushi, vegetarian dishes and traditional Mexican cuisine are also offered. The prices are fair. So… bon appétit!
Medium price range $$ – $$$
Jaguara Bacalar | Mexican cuisine
The Jaguara is not only just a restaurant. It is located right on the lagoon of the seven colors. Jetty to the water and hammocks included. The dishes are beautifully presented and very tasty. Good music and a relaxing chill ambience in a beautiful setting. The guests are lovingly taken care of. After the meal you can enjoy the view of the lagoon with a delicious cocktail.
Address: Boulevard Costera Norte 1255, Bacalar
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 2 p.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Telephone: +52 983 185 6929
Nao | Japanese cuisine
Charming Japanese restaurant with a beautiful view of Bacalar lagoon. The dishes are beautifully presented. Sushi, sarimi and nigiri at its finest. In addition, there are delicious cocktails, beer and fresh fruit juices. The location is decorated with attention to detail, the ambience is relaxed and chilly. Very friendly service.
Address: Boulevard Costera 701 Entre calle 12 y 8, Bacalar
Opening hours: Daily 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., Wednesday closed
Telephone: 52 1 (983) 130 9331
Los Hechizos | Mexican cuisine
In the restaurant Los Hechizos you can comfortably enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is part of the beautiful Hotel Rancho Encantado. And located in a great location directly on the lagoon. Delicious food, great drinks, super nice service. With a bit of luck, you can even swim or relax in a hammock. No wishes remain unfulfilled.
Address: Hotel “Rancho Encantado”, Carretera Federal 307 km 24, Bacalar
Opening hours: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
Telephone: +52 983 132 4362
Nixtamal | Steakhouse & Mexican cuisine
The restaurant Nixtamal is located directly in the center of Bacalar. You can look forward to fresh fish and seafood, delicious steaks and traditional Mexican dishes. The dishes are really good and well presented. Loving care of the guests and fine drinks are included part of the game. A place to come back to.
Address: Avenida 5 / Calle 12, Bacalar
Opening hours: Daily 3 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Telephone: +52 983 134 7651
Montefuego | Mexican cuisine & Steakhouse
Restaurant Montefuego in Bacalar is a place you should definitely visit if you are in town. Superb food, delicious drinks, wonderful service, good music and a relaxing ambience characterize this place. The restaurant is located directly in the center of the village and is also a great choice for a special occasion.
Address: Calle 22 SN, Entre Av. 5 y 7, Bacalar
Opening hours: Daily 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Telephone: +52 55 4287 4053
Eating on a budget Restaurants in Bacalar $
Chacá Restaurante | Inn Brewery & Mexican Cuisine
The Chacá is not only on a budget – it’s also a really lovely restaurant in Bacalar. The dishes are very tasty and often there are specialties that pay homage to the traditions on Mexican holidays. Organic coffee, nice service, a nice area to sit outside and much more awaits you at Chacá. Often there are also nice events with live music.
Address: Av. 1 Corner Calle 2-A -17, Magisterial, Bacalar
Opening hours: Daily 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 11 p.m., closed on Mondays.
Telephone: +52 983 688 3011
Mi Burrito Bacalar | Mexican & Vegetarian Cuisine
Mi Burrito Bacalar is a must for all lovers of burritos. And for all those who want to become one. The delicious creations are sustainable and are served wrapped in banana leaves. The fillings are incredibly tasty and there are also fine vegan and vegetarian options. In a nutshell: first-class street food in top quality.
Address: Av. Costera Between 16 and 18
Opening hours: Daily 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Telephone: +52 983 131 0272
Barbanegra Bacalar | Mexican cuisine
Do you love tacos? Then you’ve come to the right place at restaurant Barbanegra in Bacalar. Here you will find tacos and quesadillas of the finest. There are also tasty vegetarian and vegan options on offer. The service is nice, the music good and there are delicious cocktails and juices. The Barbanegra Bacalar is located right in the center of the village and also easy to reach in a footwalk.
Address: Avenida 5 Corner with Calle 16
Opening hours: Daily 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday closed
Telephone: +52 983 116 1782
Selva | Grill & Mexican Cuisine
In the restaurant Selva Bacalar you will find very tasty burgers and burritos. You can sit comfortably outdoors and let yourself be pampered by the nice service. Sometimes there are also events with live music in the evening. The cozy restaurant is located in the center of the village directly on the lagoon.
Address: Av 7, corner Calle 6
Opening hours: Daily starting 4:30 p.m., closed on Tuesdays
Telephone: +52 993 435 4298
Breakfast & Cafes in Bacalar
A visit to the Ixchel restaurant in Bacalar is a bit like breakfast with friends on the terrace. When mom is cooking. The dishes are freshly prepared and very tasty. And the prices are extremely fair. Cozy ambience and very nice service. The Ixchel is also definitely recommended for lunch.
Address: Avenida 26, between Calle 3 and 5
Opening hours: Daily 8:00 am – 1:00 pm, closed on Mondays
Telephone: +52 983 177 7827
Madre Masa is much more than just a café. It has an in-house bakery, where you can try the most incredible treats oven-warm. Especially the bagels are just exceptional. The coffee is great, but that’s not all. Wonderful fruit juices, delicious salads and even craft beers await you. The service is super friendly. You always like to come here again and again.
Address: Av. costera 958, colonia Mario Villanueva. Local 2, Plaza del Hotel Villas Bacalar
Opening hours: Daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, closed on Wednesdays
Telephone: +52 55 4797 5287
At Picaflor you will find delicious snacks and good coffee… But you can also have a wonderful brunch. The location is nicely located in the center of the village right next to the lagoon. Therefore, you can either enjoy the beautiful view of the water or relax in the enchanting interior garden. The service is very nice and the prices are fair.
Address: Avenida 1 between Calle 26 and 28
Opening hours: Daily 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
Telephone: +52 983 839 3994
Yerbabuena Smoothie Bar
If you love delicious pokes and refreshing smoothies, you are in good hands at Yerbabuena. The location is small and cozy. The pokes are served in half a coconut, so the tropical ambience can be felt up close. There is delicious toast and sandwiches and yes… the smoothies are pretty irresistible!
Address: Calle 28 between Avenida 3 and 5
Opening hours: Daily 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday closed
Telephone: +52 495 958 7570
7 Great things to do in Bacalar
Bacalar may be a small town that is wonderful for deep relaxation. But there is still a lot to do. Whether you’re here for a few days or a few weeks, you should make good use of your time. Here are a few tips for your exploration.
1. Swim in the Lagoon of Seven Colors
Well, the lagoon is probably the reason why you took the trip to Bacalar. But now you should really enjoy it. Go swimming, lie down in the sun, relax in a hammock and let your soul dangle. Ideally with delicious snacks and a good drink in hand.
2. Take a boat tour in the lagoon of 7 colors
The lagoon of the seven colors is huge. And you should get to know it in all its beauty. The best way to do this is with a boat. Either during the day, or at sunset time. Let your guide take you to beautiful places and explain the nature of this unique place. The best way to do this is with a private tour. It is worth the time and money.
3. Visit the fortress San Felipe
The old fortress of San Felipe in Bacalar is probably the most famous sight next to the Lagoon of the Seven Colors. It is also located just besides the water, right between Avenida 1 and 3 in the center of the village.
The fortress was built in the 18th century, when the little village was regularly looted by pirates from all over the world. Thanks to San Felipe the town was successfully defended. Today, San Felipe offers great views of the lagoon and a small museum. Admission is cheap with 20 MXN for Mexicans and 50 MXN for foreigners.
4. Experience the sunrise in a kayak
A kayak trip in the lagoon of seven colors should actually be fixed on your program. And there’s a really magical moment for that… the sunrise. You don’t need a tour with a guide, it’s enough to rent a kayak. They are available in many places in Bacalar. And yes, you have to get up early. But you’ll see, it’s worth it!
5. Discover the Mayan ruins of Calakmul
Calakmul is little known among tourists. And that’s actually incomprehensible. Because once it was one of the most powerful cities of the Maya. Calakmul, El Mirador and El Tikal are the three largest sites ever discovered.
On an area of more than 30 km², once there have been more than 5,000 buildings. Among them, more than 100 epic buildings. In addition, the whole complex is also located in a biosphere reserve. What are you waiting for? It’s a bit more than 200 km / 125 mi from Bacalar. You are therefore well advised with a guided tour.
6. Explore Bacalar Downtown
Bacalar is a small, colonial town with a history that is actually quite long for this remote corner of the world. There are delicious restaurants, nice locations to relax and in some places, you will find great street art. Dense vegetation and colorful flowers can be seen everywhere.
So, if there’s a good time to stroll and explore, it’s now. The place is not too big, and you can easily reach everything walking or by bike.
7. Try yourself on a Paddleboard
Oh yes – paddleboards are very fashionable. But rightly so. Paddling on the board is fun and very healthy. Your ecological footprint is tiny. And you can see great things. In Bacalar, for example, these would be the incredible beauty of the lagoon, the mysterious cenotes there and the magic of the sunrise. Renting the SUPs does not cost much.
Is Bacalar worth a visit?
The way to Bacalar is a bit far. But if you don’t just live for partying and dancing, it’s always worth it. The beauty of nature, the relaxation in this magical place, the delicious food and the refreshing lagoon are quite unique. And after all, not every tourist comes by here.
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