Thanks to a friend of mine living in Playa del Carmen, we heard about the little town where Bacalar Lagoon lies. Luca has lived in Mexico for 2 years and highly recommended it as we moved south towards Belize. As always, we always take into consideration the experiences of fellow travellers.
Having spent 2 magical weeks in Cancun, we chose the charming Bacalar Lagoon as our next stop on the road. Bacalar is a small town on a Lagoon just 40 km north of Chetumal. Chetumal is the last Mexican city, just over the border from Belize. Bacalar is a town with just 11,000 inhabitants and the biggest attraction here is the wonderful Lagoon.
How to get here:
We took a bus from Cancun direct to Bacalar. If you are departing form Cancun, the duration of the trip is 6 hours. (If you will leave from Playa del Carmen then it should take 5 hours.)
There are 2 companies you can travel with – Mayab or ADO. They both operate from the same bus terminal except that Mayab is much cheaper as it makes more stops.
Where to stay:
There are many hostels and camping facilities in Bacalar. Some of these are located right on the Bacalar lagoon, others are in town. We opted for a hostel called YAXCHE HOSTEL AND CAMPING.
Once we arrived to Bacalar, the bus stopped on the main road, at the ADO “terminal”, this is just a small office, no more than 4×4 metres. There will be some taxis waiting to take you to the lagoon but we went for the old fashioned, budget way of transport: our legs. We recommend heading into the ADO office and asking for a map so you can find your way around. Our hostel was just 3 blocks from the main square and just 6 blocks from the ADO station so we walked and in 10 minutes we arrived at Yaxche Hostel.
We were happily surprised. The Hostel has a big garden, the people are lovely and there is a very familiar atmosphere. The kitchen was probably one of the best that we have found in a hostel in our 8 months of travel, after the beautiful kitchen in Hopa Hostel in Bariloche, Argentina. There is also a big common area. The toilets and showers are really clean and the wifi works perfectly! We were immediately sold. We also got a discount for staying 2 nights. 150 MX$ per person per night, including breakfast. Great deal!
BACALAR LAGOON AND TOWN
But let’s get to the most important thing: The Bacalar lagoon! We immediately left our backpacks and walked down Calle 22 that brought us straight to the main square. As I said before this is a small town, all the houses and buildings are no more than 2 floors. All of the houses are painted in different colours and there are cute paintings on the walls around the schools and shops. The main square is surrounded by hostels, bars and a supermarket.
The square is called Zocalo Gral. Angel Remigio Rosado is well kept and full of green palms. It is a great place to take a rest on one of the many benches. It’s even better to come here for a tasty snack from one of the few stalls. Come here around 6 pm and look for a blue and colourful stall with a red sign saying “MAREQUITAS”. Try this fabulous snack, it is a mix between a wafer and a crepe with the fillings of your choice. We recommend cheese and Nutella for 30 Pesos. It is heavenly!
Crossing the square you find the Fort called Fuerte de San Felipe. Well, “Fort” is a big word to describe it but the citizens are proud of it and it’s a symbol of the city! Behind that fort you will immediately spot the water. You are finally arrived at the famous Bacalar lagoon!
There are many places along the lagoon where you can go and swim. Most of them require you to pay an entrance fee or a least consume something on the premises. It is worth it! We headed to Kai Pez bar and got 2 “agua de fruta” which is just juice with water and sugar for 50 pesos each. It was just what we needed to quench the thirst after being out in the sun. Then it was time to go swimming! And when I say swimming I mean swimming in paradise! Bacalar Lagoon has incredible vibrant colours. You know those postcards you see with photos of the Maldives or Polynesia or Caribbean islands? Well, you can find it here at a fresh water lake! It’s one of the best places we have found during this trip! It is absolutely beautiful!
The Yaxche Hostel also have a campsite, 15minutes from town, right on the lake. You can rent a cabin or pitch a tent and have the crystal water lake all to yourself.
Where to eat:
We recommend La Playita for an enjoyable meal and good vibes. The location is stunning and as it is on the lake, you can go for a dip after you dine!
Next to La Playita, there is another entrance to the lake open to the public. It is 10 MXN pesos per person. Here there is plenty of room for activities with slides and diving boards. It is perfect for families.
Things to do
- Boat tour private 1000-1200 pesos 5 cenotes, 7 colours lagoon and paso del pirata. 2-2.5 hours
- Boat tour group. Price from 100 to 250 per person. 3 cenotes the lagoon of 7 colours. 2 hours
- Cenote Azul: just 4 km from the centre and famous for the transparent waters, it is an alternative to the lagoon if you fancy a swim.
- Try the taqueria on Avenida 9 with Calle 20. 2×1 tacos 12 pesos, really tasty and supercheap.
- Try the Marquestas
- Go to Playita for lunch
- Breakfast or juice at El Manati
Bacalar is worth a visit for 2/3 nights. You won’t be disappointed. If you enjoyed our post about the Bacalar Lagoon, and you are travelling on the way down to Belize read our post on Caye Caulker.