Bacalar Lagoon Mexico: How to Plan the Ultimate Trip

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posted by Shelley | last updated February 9, 2021


Traveling to Bacalar Lagoon in Quintana Roo, Mexico?

You’re in the right place to learn everything you need to know about the pueblo magico (magic town) of Bacalar, Mexico! Though technically a pueblo (small town), there are quite a few things to do, eat and experience in Bacalar, including visiting the beautiful Laguna Bacalar (Bacalar Lake/Lagoon).

Bacalar Lagoon has earned the nickname, the Maldives of Mexico, after the instafamous Maldives Islands, and their crystal-clear blue waters. The Mayans native to this part of Mexico call Bacalar the Lagoon of Seven Colors because they say you can see seven shared in blue in the water.

Located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Bacalar is a few hours from many of Mexico’s best Yucatan travel destinations — Cancun, Tulum, Merida, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid and more. As more and more people discover this Mexico hidden gem, it is quickly becoming a must visit Yucatan destination, and finding its way to the top of many a Mexico bucket list.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know to plan the ultimate Bacalar Lake trip! From where to stay in Bacalar (including the best Airbnbs, hostels, resorts and hotels), the best things to do in Bacalar, best restaurants in Bacalar, and how to get to Bacalar from different places in the Yucatan Peninsula, consider this the Ultimate Guide to Bacalar, Mexico.

Ready to discover Laguna Bacalar?! Let’s get to it!

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Bacalar Map

For your travel planning convenience, all places mentioned in this blog have been pinned to this Bacalar map for you! Here, you’ll find all the best things to see in Bacalar, including historic Fort San Felipe Bacalar, waterfront restaurants, cafes, Bacalar cenotes… basically everywhere you want to go in Bacalar and best all the best things to so you’ll have an amazing Bacalar vacation!

How to Get to Bacalar Mexico

Flying to Bacalar

The closest airport to Bacalar is Chetumal International Airport (code: CTM), located less than 45 minutes away. You can take a connecting flight through Mexico City, Cancun or Guadalajara International Airports to get to CTM, or fly direct from Belize City.

You can also fly into Cancun International Airport (code: CUN) and drive your rental car or take the ADO bus to Bacalar. Both rental car companies and bus companies are located right at the Cancun Airport.


Bus to Bacalar

Mexico’s largest bus company, ADO, has trips from basically everywhere in Quintana Roo state and the Yucatan to Bacalar. The price will vary depending on your origin point, but figure about $800-1000 pesos ($40-50) roundtrip.

There is only one bus station in Bacalar, and once you arrive there will be taxis waiting outside. Make sure you negotiate and agree on the price before getting in the car; keep in mind this is the same way taxis operate in all of Mexico.

🚕💨 Pro Tip: There is no Uber in Quintana Roo state, so make sure you have cash for taxi rides.

Cancun to Bacalar Bus: There are a few bus stations in Cancun, and most offer trips to Bacalar. If you’re flying into Cancun, you can take the ADO bus directly from the Cancun Airport to Bacalar.

Playa del Carmen to Bacalar Bus: There’s only one bus station in Playa del Carmen, located on La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) and Avenida Benito Juarez, near the ferry dock and Founder’s Park. From there, you can take a bus directly to Bacalar.

Tulum to Bacalar Bus: If you’re taking the bus from Tulum to Bacalar, there is only one bus station in the city. It is conveniently located in Downtown Tulum (AKA Tulum Town), so you’d go from there.

Merida to Bacalar Bus: From Merida, you can depart from the main bus terminal in downtown Merida, Terminal de Autobuses de Merida or TAME (also called CAME), or the Paseo 60 bus terminal on Paseo de Montejo.


Driving to Bacalar

If you’re renting a car, driving within the Yucatan Peninsula is a very easy and quite safe as long as you avoid driving at night and stick to the “couta,” or toll roads.

In fact, many do Yucatan road trips in this part of Mexico so they can see as many of the must see Yucatan destinations in one trip as possible.

🚗💨 Need more tips on driving in Mexico? Head here for 12 Useful Mexico driving tips.

Driving from Cancun to Bacalar: From the north cities of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya, you just take Highway 307/Chetumal-Cancun all the way south to Bacalar. The drive will take 4-4.5 hours.

Driving from Tulum to Bacalar: From Tulum, take Highway 307/Chetumal-Cancun all the way south to Bacalar. The drive will take about 2.5 hours.

Driving from Merida to Bacalar: From Merida, there are a few more highway changes, but still quite an easy drive if you follow the map route. The drive to Bacalar from Merida will take about 4.5 hours.

🚗💨 Pro Tip: When driving, your cell signal will likely go in and out. Make sure to also download an offline map via Google Maps or Maps.me, as well as some Dream To Destination travel podcast episodes.

Lake Bacalar Travel FAQ

Where is Bacalar?

Bacalar is located in the southern part of Quintana Roo state, in southeast Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. In fact, Bacalar is so far south that you’re only about 30-45 minutes from the border into Belize. Many travelers use Bacalar as a last stop in Mexico before containing to travel through Central America, as you can take a bus from the nearby city of Chetumal, if you’re planning to travel from Bacalar to Belize.

Map of Bacalar Mexico

Woman on standup paddleboard at sunrise on bacalar lagoon
Bacalar is located in the state of Quintana Roo Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is one of the prettiest, safest, best travel destinations in Mexico.


Is it called Bacalar Lagoon or Bacalar Lake?

Laguna Bacalar (Bacalar Lagoon) is actually a lake, not a lagoon! If you see it sometimes called Lake Bacalar in English, now you know why. The correct name in Spanish, however, is Laguna Bacalar… but really, both Bacalar Lake and Bacalar Lagoon work.

It is actually the second largest freshwater lake on the planet. While it is nicknamed the “Maldives of Mexico” because of its gorgeous blue water, Bacalar’s freshwater, unlike the saltwater surrounding the Maldives Islands, means your eyes won’t burn when swimming. 🧜‍♀️Win!

Bacalar Lagoon is said to be the Maldives in Mexico… for, well, obvious reasons!

Does Bacalar Lagoon have seven colors?

The original inhabitants of this part of Mexico, the Mayans, nicknamed Bacalar the Lagoon of Seven Colors (or the Lake of Seven Colors). They say you can see seven distinct shades of blue in the water throughout the lake.

The reason for the extreme variations in colors is because of the varying depths of the lake. Bacalar Lagoon ranges from 0- to 300-feet-deep (90m); in the shallower parts, the waters looks clear or bright turquoise, while in the deeper parts, you’ll see the dark, indigo blue shades. When you visit, try to spot all the shades of blue in the Lagoon of 7 Colors!

What are stromatolites?

One of the most interesting features in Laguna Bacalar are its stromatolites, the large circular disks you’ll see close to the shore. They are among the oldest living things on Earth, and also found only in a handful of places.

It’s not super easy to explain what they really do, but basically they filter the lagoon’s water and keep it so beautiful. Stromatolites do for Bacalar Lagoon what coral does for the ocean, among other things, and they help keep the water blue for generations to come.

Please practice responsible and sustainable tourism in Mexico and do not touch them! In addition, rinse off before entering, and only use eco-friendly, biodegradable reef safe sunscreen when swimming in Bacalar Lagoon. Oh, and eco-friendly bug spray 🦟 too.

Is a Bacalar a pueblo magico?

Yes, Bacalar pueblo magico is a officially a magical place✨

Wondering just What is a pueblo magico? This prestigious title of “magic town” is awarded to pueblos (small towns) in Mexico by the country’s Secretary of Tourism. There are about 135 such towns that all have certain special characteristics including rich folkloric traditions, unique cultural history and amazing natural beauty — which Bacalar has in spades!

Is Bacalar Mexico safe?

The short answer: Yes! Bacalar is a pueblo (small town), and feels like it.

Longer answer: Just because Bacalar is considered safe, both for its locals and visitors, doesn’t mean you should travel there and assume your safety is a guarantee. On the contrary; you should follow the general travel safety tip below ⬇️ while in Bacalar, the same ones you’d follow when traveling anywhere because, in reality, no place is 100% safe.

Should I get Mexico travel insurance?

Want an added level of security and peace of mind during these strange travel times? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling.

I’ll be honest, when I first started traveling solo, I wasn’t insured. However, after years of solo traveling, I wised up… now, I even have a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important!

If Bacalar and Mexico travel safety are on your mind, get your free quote below now!

10 General travel safety tips
  1. Always listen to your intuition — because your intuition is always right.
  2. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away fast.
  3. Don’t walk home alone at night.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors… don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. This should be a no brainer since you’re traveling during a pandemic, but get Travel Insurance!
Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the free STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

After you’ve registered, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest your trip location can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.

Is Bacalar worth visiting?

Can we curse here?! …because OMFG, yes, Bacalar is so worth visiting! (In fact, I’ve been twice ⤴ That pic is from my second trip in July 2019). Now, if you’re looking for a late-night party town similar to Tulum and Cancun, then Bacalar isn’t your place. However, if you want to experience some of Mexico’s unspoiled, beautiful nature, and basically just chill, then Bacalar is your place.

What’s the best time to visit Bacalar?

The best time of year to visit Bacalar is during the dry season, from mid-November to late-March. In the winter months, you can expect little to no rain and pleasant temperatures. Though technically winter, Bacalar is still in the tropics, so plan for hot days and only-slightly-cooler nights. As far as Bacalar weather goes, below are the annual temperatures ranges you can expect.

🥵 Pro tip: Especially in the summer months, Bacalar’s temperatures often feel 10°F higher because of humidity. Make sure to pack your reusable water bottle, and better yet, a LifeStraw water bottle, which will add an extra layer of Mexico water filtration… so you don’t get the dreaded Montezuma’s Revenge on your Bacalar vacation!

Bacalar Weather – Yearly Averages

What do I pack for Bacalar?

Bacalar, Mexico has a tropical climate — ie. hot, and humid 😥. As far as what to include on your Bacalar packing list, think flowy, tropical, breathable, cotton, light-colored clothing; bonus points for anything that doesn’t show sweat! During the winter months, you may use a light cardigan at night, but Bacalar is all about your warm-weather wardrobe and bathing suits.

👙 Head here for some Bacalar outfit inspo!

Beyond clothes, don’t forget your:

FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Need even more info on what to pack for Bacalar and all of Mexico? Head to this article about Mexico packing, and download your FREE printable packing list for Mexico below — it covers both Mexico beach packing and Mexico city packing. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.

Where to Stay in Bacalar

For Bacalar accommodations, there’s really two options — stay on (or very near) the lake, or stay in Downtown Bacalar. They are about 10-15 minutes away from one another by rental car or taxi. While staying on the lake can be more expensive, you’ll save by not having to cab in and out of downtown each day because there’s not much to do in downtown, and the reason everyone goes to Bacalar is for the lagoon.

If you’re doing Bacalar on a budget, there are some great hostels in Bacalar right on the lake, but there are also high end resorts in Bacalar. Keep scrolling to discover all the best Bacalar hotels, resorts, Airbnbs, and hostels, because travelers on any budget can enjoy Laguna Bacalar.

Best Bacalar Airbnbs

As the saying goes: “Location, Location, Location;” so first and foremost, everywhere featured below is right on, or just a short walk from, Bacalar Lake. Beyond being in the perfect location, every home featured on this list is hosted/managed by an Airbnb “Super Host,” which basically means they have a verified check mark ✅ next to their name, and take their Bacalar Airbnb business seriously.

Best Bacalar Resorts & Hotels

Looking to splurge? While a few years back, Bacalar was a sleepy town, it is in fact becoming one of Mexico’s must visit Yucatan Peninsula destinations. The hotels are resorts of Bacalar are starting to reflect this as well, and the luxurious options show that the best resorts in Laguna Bacalar know how to cater to a luxury traveler.

Best resorts in Bacalar ($$$$)

Mia Bacalar Luxury Resort & Spa: Even though it’s not technically an all-inclusive resort, you’d really never need to leave the Mia Bacalar property. It is located right on the lagoon, has an onsite restaurant, pool bar, room service, and even a spa!

🏝 Book your stay at Mia Bacalar

Centro Holistico Akal Ki: You know how Bacalar is called the Maldives of Mexico? …well, Centro Holistico Akalki confirms it. Much like the famous resorts of the Maldives, this top-of-the-line resort has the only overwater bungalows in Bacalar.

Hotel Pier Bacalar All Inclusive: One of the few Bacalar all inclusive resorts, all you have to do is show up, and enjoy lake life. With only nine guest rooms, you’ll surely get the royal treatment at this lakefront resort.

🏝 Book your stay at Hotel Pier Bacalar


Best hotels in Bacalar ($$$):

MBH Maya Bacalar Boutique Hotel: Check out the view below of this gorgeous hotel — one of the newest and best hotels in Bacalar. Enjoy a resort-style experience at hotel prices at Maya Bacalar with it’s beautiful views, rooms, onsite restaurant, Xant-Ha, and spa services.

🏝 Book your stay at MBH Maya Bacalar

Los Aluxes: Looking for a fun, lively resort? Los Aluxes Bacalar is your place. This resort is located right on Laguna Bacalar and has all of the iconic and instagrammable Bacalar water toys, like swings, water hammocks, etc. right outside.

Casa Shiva: The place for Bacalar Mexico glamping! Wondering just what is glamping? It’s what you get when you mix luxurious glam with rustic camping to live your best eco-chic life! Enjoy shabby chic villas and luxury yurts at this Bacalar Lagoon resort.

🏝 Book your stay at Casa Shiva Bacalar

Best hotels in Bacalar ($$):

Kuuch Kaanil Eco-Cabins: Enjoy peaceful private villas and bungalows, complete with the lagoon swings and hammocks in the water that made Bacalar so instafamous! If you’re looking to do nothing at all besides reconnect with nature in the blue waters of Bacalar Lake, then this is a great option.

🏝 Book your stay at Kuuch Kaanil Eco-Villas

Casa Chukum: Located about two blocks from Laguna Bacalar, Casa Chukum is one of the nicest just-off-lake options in town. If you wanted to stay anywhere off-lake, this is a great option, and it does have a pool

🏝 Book your stay at Casa Chukum

Royal Palm Bacalar Cabanas & Lagoon Club: Cozy, lakefront, hotel with just six-cabins. Each cabana has a private balcony, kitchenette with microwave, private bathroom, wardrobe and flat-screen TV, and shared pool.

🏝 Book your stay at Royal Palm Bacalar


Best Bacalar Hostels

• Yak Lake House Hostal: Perhaps the most well known of the Bacalar hostels. The beautiful Yak Lake House has a shared dorm, private rooms, and like most hotels, a bar and tons of social activities.

🏝 Book your stay at The Yak Lake House Hostel

Yaxche Centro Hostal & Camping: Yaxche has both indoor rooms and outdoor camping options available. This eco-hostel also has mini-beach club on the lake, with hammocks, a nice dock and water swings.

🏝 Book your stay at Yaxche Hostel

Green Monkey Bacalar:  A popular lakefront hostel with dorms and camping options. They offer free breakfast, but you’ll have to skip this one if you need a hot-water shower!

Kulu Tubohostel Bacalar: These converted concrete pipes are both eco-friendly since they are made with repurposed materials, and budget-friendly at only about $20USD per night.

🏝 Book your stay at Kulu Tubohostel

Photo courtesy of Yaxche Bacalar
Photo courtesy of Kulu Tubohostel Bacalar

🇲🇽Curious about Mexico travel? This is the podcast for you!

Bacalar Things to Do

As you might have gathered, the main things to do in Bacalar involve being in/on/around the lagoon! There are also some cenotes in and near Laguna Bacalar that you’ll want to check out, and a couple of notable things to see in Downtown Bacalar. If this is only a quick trip to Bacalar, consider a boat tour of the lagoon and/or a visit to the Los Rapidos Bacalar beach club.

Bacalar Tours

Canal de los Piratas (Pirate’s Channel) in Bacalar Lake.

As mentioned, Lake Bacalar is the second largest freshwater lake in the world — large, as in, 26-miles-long. The best way to see it all is on a boat tour.

On nearly all tours of Bacalar Lagoon, you’ll take a motorboat ride to see some of the lagoon’s best sites, including the Canal de los Piratas (Pirate’s Channel), Cenote la Bruja (Witch’s Cenote) and Isla de los Pajaros (Bird Island). This is the standard Bacalar boat tour, with tour operators stationed all over the lake; though you do have other options.

If you’re looking for more unique, in-depth Bacalar excursions, consider one of the Airbnb Experience group tours below.

What is an Airbnb Experience?

Never heard of these? While most people have heard of Airbnb for home/apartment rentals, Airbnb Experiences are newer and lesser-known — but just as awesome.

Basically, these are small group tours; though I’m actually a bigger fan of Airbnb Experiences than more traditional group tours! I’ve done several of these all over Mexico, and think they’re great because:

  1. You’re directly supporting a local.
  2. They are smaller groups, which means a more personalized experience.
  3. You will have an English-speaking guide.
  4. Airbnb lets you pay with a credit card, whereas many Bacalar tour companies you’d book when you arrive don’t accept them.
  5. You can instantly book them online, so you won’t waste your precious travel time finding a tour company.
  6. Like with an Airbnb stay, the guide gets rated at the end, motivating them to do a great job.
  7. They are a great and easy way to meet fellow solo travelers!

New to Airbnb? Sign up with THIS LINK and get up to $20 OFF your first Airbnb Experience.

Kayaking on Laguna Bacalar is one of the most popular lake activities.

Bacalar Standup Paddleboarding (SUP)

Ever wanted to try standup paddleboarding? Bacalar is the perfect palace because of the lagoon’s perpetually calm water. Many Airbnbs, hotels and hostels have paddleboards available for free or rent. Also, several companies in Bacalar offer lessons, tours, and sometimes even SUP yoga classes.

🏄‍♀️ Want to take a Bacalar standup paddleboarding tour? Check out the Paddle Board Bacalar Stand Up (SUP) Tour!

Kayaking in Bacalar

Want a more sit-down type of activity? Besides standup paddleboarding, Lake Bacalar kayaking is very popular as well. Like the paddleboards, most Airbnbs, hotels and hostels have free or rental kayaks on site.

Your Airbnb host or hotel staff can also give you an overview of how far away from your accommodation venture while kayaking Bacalar Lagoon. Since the lake is so huge, you’ll want to have an idea of how far you’re planning to head out, keeping in mind you have to kayak that exact distance back!

🛶 Want to take a Bacalar kayaking tour? Check out the Bacalar Unforgettable Kayak Ride Tour!

Cenote la Bruja (Witch’s Cenote) AKA Cenote Negro (Black Cenote), located inside Lake Bacalar Mexico.

Bacalar Cenotes

In case you’re wondering What is a cenote? — they are basically underwater sinkholes filled with the fresh water that flows beneath the entire Yucatan Peninsula. In total, Mexico has about 6,000 cenotes!

There are a few cenotes in and around Bacalar, with three of them in the lagoon itself:

  • Cenote la Bruja (Witch’s Cenote): Located inside of the lake, many of the boat tours will take you to see this cenote. Sometimes called Cenote Negro (Black Cenote), the water here is about 250-feet-deep so they don’t encourage swimming in it, but you will see the dark blue, almost black, water beneath you.
  • Cenote Cocalitos: Head to Cocalitos balneario (beach/lagoon club) to swim in this cenote.
  • Cenote Esmerelda (Emerald Cenote): You’ll find this cenote in Laguna Bacalar, between Cenote Cocalitos and Cenote la Bruja.

Cenote Azul

Besides Bacalar Lagoon itself, the second most popular place to swim is Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote). It is also one of the deepest cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, at about 300-feet-deep! Cenote Azul is not connected to Bacalar Lake, but makes for another great place to spend the day here as there’s an on-site restaurant, lockers for your stuff and bathrooms.

Bacalar Beach Clubs (Balnearios)

It’s so hard not to call these beach clubs, but Bacalar is definitely not a beach!

The technical name for these not-beach clubs is balnearios — and no trip to Bacalar is complete without checking out at least a few balnearios.

They vary in degrees of luxury or rustic’ness, but all will be located directly on the lake, and have some form of chairs or day beds, hammocks, food and drink options, usually music playing, bathrooms, etc.

In short, spending that day at a balneario is among best things do to in Bacalar during the day.

🌎 Pro Tip: Use eco-friendly, reef safe sunscreen when swimming in Bacalar.

The Cocalitos balneario, one of Bacalar’s best beach clubs.
  • Cocalitos Bacalar: Perhaps the most rustic, but still, there’s something so charming about this place. Here, you’ll see one of the two cenotes in Laguna Bacalar, Cenote Cocalitos, as well as a bunch of stromatolites.
  • Los Aluxes Bacalar: This isn’t a proper balnearios, but the Los Aluxes hotel has all the fun water stuff Bacalar is known for, including water hammocks and swings and a picturesque dock going out onto the lagoon. If you’re not a guest, you can come after 10am to enjoy the facilities.
  • Bacalar Beach Club: Arguably the nicest and best beach club on Bacalar Lagoon! Bacalar Beach Club has gourmet food, comfy lounge chairs and tables, a pool, jacuzzis, a bar, nice bathrooms; basically everything you’d want in a balneario.
  • Los Rapidos: Located on the southern end of the lake Los Rapidos (the rapids) is one of the most popular places to spend the day. There’s a restaurant, bar, kayak rentals, water hammocks, swings, bathrooms, and as the name implies, fast-moving rapids you play in!

Downtown Bacalar

While not a very large area, think 25 square blocks, there are a few things to do and see in Downtown Bacalar. Three of the top things to see are the Parroquia de San Joaquin (Saint Joaquin’s Parish), a Spanish colonial church, the big, colorful Bacalar letters sign and the Fuerte de San Felipe (Saint Felipe’s Fort).

If you do a Bacalar boat tour, you’ll definitely go see the Canal de los Piratas (Pirate’s Channel). Back in the day, this part of Mexico was very susceptible to pirate attacks. However, nowadays as pirates have become less of an issue, visitors can see the fort and cannons once used to defend the town.

Best Restaurants in Bacalar

Best Restaurants in Bacalar

Looking to sit down and have a nice dinner? Though it’s a small town, don’t underestimate Bacalar in the food department. As with most of the Yucatan Peninsula, fresh seafood reigns supreme, though there’s a decent number of vegan restaurants in Bacalar to try.

🍽 Want a unique Bacalar culinary experience? Book the Secret Lunch in the Lagoon Dining Experience now!

Photo courtesy of Sisimite Caverna Moderna
Photo courtesy of Nixtamal
  • Sisimite Caverna Moderna: The interior was made to look like a cave-meets-disco, and the food and drinks are just as fun.
  • Nao Bacalar: Nao is the place to get the best sushi in Bacalar. They have unique and traditional rolls, and being that you’re in the Yucatan, the seafood is always fresh. 
  • La Playita: A lush jungle oasis right on the lake. La Playita is kind of a restaurant-meets-beach club, and it’s one of the nicest places you can eat at before hopping in the water.
  • Nixtamal: While Bacalar seems to be big on ceviches and refreshing dishes, you can get your cooked meats fix at Nixtamal Bacalar, which specializes in grilled dishes. 
  • Pizzeria Bertilla: Little known fact, but Mexico has a pretty sizable Italian expat population, including the owner of Pizzeria Bertilla. They specialize in brick oven pizzas, but serve delicious pasta dishes also.
  • Cerveceria Bacalar: Bacalar has its own brewery! If beer’s not your thing, they also have fun cocktails, and a fun atmosphere overall. Cerveceria Bacalar turns into a club/neighborhood hangout with a DJ, movie nights, sports nights, and more.

🥃For a more curated adult beverage experience, and a chance to sample some local mezcal, check out the Cultural Mezcal Tasting Experience!

Mango y Chile is a lakefront vegan restaurant in Bacalar, known for their veggie burger. | Photo courtesy of Mango y Chile

Best Cafes in Bacalar

Looking for a casual cafe to eat breakfast, brunch or lunch? Check out these places, known as some of the best places to eat in Bacalar.

  • Marisquería El Taco Loco: The place for fish tacos, ceviches, whole fried fish, and basically all things seafood. Sample one of the dishes made a la pil pil, (with onion and herbs), the house specialty.
  • La Piña: A favorite among locals and visitors. La Piña has nice views of the lagoon and serves fresh food to match the natural environment vibe. Enjoy pita sandwiches and pizzas, with plenty of vegan options.
  • El Manatí: One of the most famous cafes in Bacalar, so during peak times, you can expect a bit of a wait. The tropical ambiance is beautiful though, so you can always enjoy the beautiful nature and cool artwork before your food arrives.
  • Mango y Chile: The best vegan restaurant in Bacalar. Head there to try their famous veggie burger, loved by carnivores and vegans alike, and a large selection of yummy vegan desserts.
  • Mi Borrito:  If you want a burrito in Bacalar, you’re going to want to head to Mi Borrito. This is a food truck, but there’s outdoor seating at tables under a covered palapa.
  • Bote de Leche: From the outside, it looks pretty unassuming, but one you enter, the ambiance is artsy and adorable. The food is shockingly gourmet for Bacalar, and honestly, this cafe feels like it was plucked straight from a big city. It is small — and amazing — so don’t be surprised if there’s a wait.
  • Ixchel Bacalar: Ixchel serves traditional Mexican plates, but with a slightly more gourmet presentation. Head there for the delicious chilaquiles, molletes and huevos rancheros, three Mexican breakfast staples.

Final Thoughts: Traveling to Bacalar

Bacalar Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places in Mexico. For those wanting an alternative to the beach party scene of Cancun and Tulum, Bacalar provides an equally-beautiful, though much more chill, Mexico vacation destination. While getting there can be a bit of a trek to get there, the payoff is worth it to swim in the blue Bacalar waters.

🌎 Side Note: In recent years, thanks to Instagram, YouTube and social media, more and more people are finding out about this Mexico hidden gem. When you visit, do your part to keep Bacalar Lake beautiful by only using eco-friendly, biodegradable and reef safe sunscreen when swimming, and eco-friendly bug spray to ward off mosquitoes.


Did we miss anything about traveling to Bacalar, Mexico?

Please join the conversation in the comments down below and share your knowledge!


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I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world!

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20 Comments

  1. Nichole the Nomad

    Ugh take me to Mexico! Your photos are stunning and this is such a great guide to plan a trip! I’m saving this because I have been wanted to visit Mexico again soon!

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hey Nichole: Bacalar is a great choice for your next Mexico trip. Really, the whole Yucatan Peninsula makes a great trip, but Bacalar is one of the standout destinations.

      Reply
  2. Taylor

    Wow! This is beautiful. Bacalar is so high on my Mexico bucket list and I think it would be a perfect getaway for me. Also, this guide is super informative and helpful. Your photos are beautiful too! 🙂

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Taylor: You’re going to love Bacalar. It really is the perfect place to get away!

      Reply
  3. ciaraturnerewert

    I had never heard of this spot before, but I feel like I could hop on a plane and simply follow your guide to an amazing trip! Thanks for all of the info on this magical place.

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Ciara: Bacalar is a little off the international tourist radar, but quite popular for Mexico national tourism. It’s still relatively undiscovered, which adds to it’s appeal (at least for me)!

      Reply
  4. Krista

    Bacalar looks like an amazing place to visit! I haven’t been to Mexico yet but this post is giving me some serious wanderlust.

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Krista: I’m glad this inspired you! Both Mexico & Bacalar are wonderful destinations.

      Reply
  5. emailgetlost

    Oh my goodness, Bacalar looks beautiful! Those blue waters are incredible!! I swear I could spend all day admiring them! Kayaking sounds like a great way to appreciate those crystal waters. Thanks for the wonderful guide, I hope I have an opportunity to visit one day!

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi there: Thanks for commenting! Bacalar really is a special place. The water is so perfect & enticing, I hope you get to see it & swim in it soon.

      Reply
  6. kmf

    Mexico is my happy place. I’ve been there 27x in the past 30 years…but have never been here! The Mexican Maldives sounds and looks perfect! Definitely my next destination when we can roam freely again.

    Reply
    • Shelley

      You’re going to love Bacalar so much… maybe also think about combining it with a Mahahual trip.

      Reply
  7. Nichole the Nomad

    How have I never heard of Bacalar Lagoon!!! It looks so incredible from your beautiful photos. I’m saving this because I want to visit Mexico soon since I have only been to Mexico City for work! Thank you for providing this helpful guide!

    Reply
  8. Erin

    I have only ever been to Mexico City, its on my list to return and visit some other regions of Mexico. And Bacalar Lagoon looks GORGEOUS! I’d love to do SUP or go swimming in some of their cenotes. Thanks for this in depth guide!

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hey Erin: I’m glad you liked CDMX… the Yucatan Peninsula would make a great 2nd Mexico trip.

      Reply
  9. josypheen

    Goodness what a beautiful place! Plus if it is less famous that some of the other move obvious resorts, that is even better – I mean not having to share those stunning lagoons with a zillion other tourists sounds ideal! Bacalar Lagoon and the lagoon of seven colours both look stunning!

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Josy: Bacalar is definitely one of Mexico better kept secrets! It’s a bit far from the other, bigger travel destinations, so you’re right about not having to share it with a ton of others.

      Reply
  10. Jay Artale

    With all the negative news about ocean pollution … it’s great to see somewhere like this that seem so unspoilt. What an amazing color blue, I could quite happily spend a few month there.

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Jay: Bacalar is a truly beautiful place… it is very unspoiled, just like you say!

      Reply
  11. Shafinah Neville

    Omgosh those blue waters are of celestial proportions! 😍

    Reply

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