Just 30 minutes from Chetumal, Bacalar is one of the most stunning destinations on Quintana Roo’s extensive coastline.
The town of Bacalar itself is not that large but has been experiencing constant growth over the past couple of decades.
Bacalar’s downtown near the shore features a cute little plaza surrounded by restaurants, ice cream shops, and a handful of bars. But make no mistake, this is not Cancún, nor does it aim to be. The vibe is extremely relaxed and generally subdued.
Bacalar’s main attraction is its gorgeous lagoon, nicknamed the “lagoon of seven colors.” The aforementioned colors are bands of different hues (though not always necessarily seven) which range from clear blue to turquoise.
One of the few upsides of the lockdown has been that a drop in tourism has meant that these bands of color are beginning to recover their intensity, after several years of intense navigation.
Several of the homes along Bacalar’s lagoon are extremely luxurious, which should not be surprising as the area has become one of the most expensive real estate markets in all of Mexico.
Because most of the properties on the shores of the lagoon are private residences, most hotels in Bacalar are a little further inland. But this is not really much of a problem as there are several beach clubs and other points to access the lagoon itself.
One of the most popular activities in Bacalar aside from swimming and lounging on the lagoon’s many docks is kayaking. The lagoon’s calm waters and many small islands are a joy to navigate — just remember to wear a life vest.
Kayaking also offers wonderful opportunities for birdwatching, especially in the early morning.
Aside from the lagoon, Bacalar is also home to several cenotes, most famously the Cenote Azul. This above-ground cenote more closely resembles a lake and given its large size and crystalline waters, it is truly wonderful to swim in.
Though Bacalar has only truly become popular over the past decade or so as a destination, the region boasts a history that goes back thousands of years.
The area also witnessed some of the first contacts between the area native Maya and European conquistadors in the 16th century.
Getting to Bacalar from Mérida by car takes about five hours. The roads are good and there are several spots along the way to stop for a rest. Taking the bus usually takes a little longer (around six hours) and costs approximately 600 pesos.