How to Visit Bacalar Lagoon Mexico: The ULTIMATE Travel Guide

Oct 16, 2020 | 20 comments

Traveling to Bacalar Lagoon, 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 distinct shades of blue in the water.

Located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Bacalar is a few hours from many of Mexico’s best Yucatan travel destinations — Tulum, Merida, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid, Cancun and more. Bacalar is in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and only about 30 minutes from the Belize-Mexico border.

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 about Bacalar Lake! From where to stay in Bacalar (the best resorts and hotels and Bacalar hostels), the best things to do in Bacalar, best restaurants in Bacalar, and how to get to Bacalar, Mexico — consider this your Ultimate Bacalar Travel Guide.

Ready to discover Laguna Bacalar, the “Lake of Seven Colors”?! Let’s get to it!

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bacalar lagoon mexico

Bacalar, Mexico 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!

bacalar lagoon mexico

How to Get to Bacalar

Flights to Bacalar, Mexico

The closest Bacalar airport is Chetumal International Airport (code: CTM), located less than 45 minutes away.

This is a smaller airport, and you’ll likely need to take a connecting flight through either the Mexico City, Cancun or Guadalajara Airports.

🚐💨 Chetumal to Bacalar: From Chetumal, you can rent a car and drive to Bacalar, take a taxi or the ADO bus, or this inexpensive private transfer service.

Though Chetumal Airport is closer, most will fly to Cancun International Airport (code: CUN) and drive to Bacalar, located about 4.5 hours south.

From Cancun Airport, you can drive your rental car or take the ADO bus to Bacalar. Both rental car companies and the bus are located right at Cancun International Airport.

bacalar lagoon mexico

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.

🚕💨 Bacalar Travel Tip: There is no Uber in Quintana Roo state, so make sure you have pesos for taxis.

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 very easy and quite safe. You’ll of course want to check out the tips below to help with you with how to drive in Mexico, as you’ll be driving in a foreign country.

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.

🚗💨 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips

1. Rent with a reputable company! As they say, “you get what you pay for.” For a reliable Cancun car rental company, go with Discover Cars.

2. Avoid driving at night. When you live in Mexico long enough, you start to realize many people simply avoid driving at night, if they can. If you do drive at night, stick to only main roads and highways.

3. Always use the couta, or toll, roads. Yes, they cost money, but they are much better maintained and generally considered safer. Pro tip: Bring cash for the tolls.

4. Download an offline map. Your signal will go in and out as you travel through rural areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, so download an offline map from Google or Maps.Me. You’ll also want to download some podcasts and music while you’re getting that map.

5. Speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. You don’t have to worry about conversion math here; just make sure the speed limit sign number matches your speedometer number.

6. Do not use your cell phone while you’re driving. Not only is this unsafe, it is also illegal. In fact, even having your phone in your hand is a ticket-able offense, so try not to even hold your phone while driving.

7. The rumors are true about the cops expecting bribes. If the cops pull you over, and they only will if you give them a reason to, they will expect a cash “payment” in exchange for not ticketing you.

8. Mexican roads are notorious for their abundant amount of topes (speed bumps). Make sure you keep your eyes on the road, as topes don’t always have signs alerting you to them.

9. Mexico’s gas stations are not self-serve. When you stop for gas, an attendant will pump it for you and take your payment. These people don’t actually work for the gas station, and live off tips. When they finish, it’s customary to tip them at least $10-20 pesos ($0.50-$1).

10. Mexico’s traffic lights go from green to yellow, to flashing yellow for a few seconds, to finally, a red light.

11. Make sure you purchase Mexican car insurance. You are generally not covered in any way through your U.S. company when you drive in any other country.

12. Most travel insurance policies cover driving. In case you’re wondering Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?… The answer is hell yes! There’s a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important — maybe even more so when traveling during the pandemic.

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.

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

bacalar lagoon mexico

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 minutes from the border into Belize. Many travelers use Bacalar as a last stop in Mexico before continuing 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.

Bacalar Maps

Woman on standup paddleboard at sunrise on bacalar lagoon
Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula.

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 of Mexico… for, well, obvious reasons!
bacalar lagoon mexico

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 water 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, and only eco-friendly bug spray.

bacalar lagoon mexico

Is a Bacalar a pueblo magico?

Yes, Bacalar pueblo magico is officially a magical place! If you’re wondering,What is a pueblo magico?, here’s the answer ⤵

This prestigious title of “magic town” is awarded to pueblos (small towns) by Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism. There are about 135 such towns that all have certain special characteristics including unique cultural and folkloric traditions 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 ⤵ and be make Bacalar Mexico safety your top priority. Basically, treat Bacalar the same as you would anywhere else in the world and be aware of yourself and your surroundings, because, in reality, no place on Earth 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.

bacalar lagoon mexico

Is Bacalar worth visiting?

Can we curse here?! …because OMFG, yes, Bacalar is so worth visiting! In fact, I’ve been twice.

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 you can expect.

Bacalar Weather

🥵 Bacalar Travel Tip: Bacalar’s temperatures often feel 5-10°F higher than they show because of humidity. Make sure to pack your LifeStraw Water Bottle, which will both keep you hydrated and add an extra layer of Mexico water filtration — so you don’t get the dreaded Montezuma’s Revenge on your Bacalar vacation.

bacalar lagoon mexico

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, with plenty of bathing suits, sundresses, sun hats, sandals and sunglasses.

👙 Head here for some Bacalar outfit inspo!

Beyond clothes, don’t forget to pack your:

FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Head to this article, ULTIMATE Packing List for Mexico, and download your FREE printable packing list for Mexico below. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.

bacalar lagoon 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.

🚕💨 Bacalar Travel Tip: There’s no Uber in Bacalar.

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.

bacalar lagoon mexico

Best Bacalar Hotels & Resorts

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 and 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!

Quite honestly, it’s one of the nicest Bacalar Mexico hotels. 🏝 BOOK MIA BACALAR

La Albarina: This 5 Star resort has beautiful rooms and bungalows, with direct lagoon access. Lay in a hammock or lounge chair by the water, or do some Bacalar kayaking just steps from your room.

Also enjoy the onsite restaurant, with complimentary breakfast. 🏝 BOOK LA ALBARINA 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 HOTEL PIER BACALAR

Best hotels in Bacalar, Mex ($$$):

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 MBH MAYA BACALAR

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 CASA SHIVA BACALAR

Rancho Encantado Bacalar: The rustic Bacalar bungalows at Rancho Encantado are super tranquil and there’s direct lake access from the property. Also enjoy free kayaks, a spa and on-site restaurant with complimentary breakfast for guests. 🏝 BOOK RANCHO ENCANTADO BACALAR

Best hotels in Bacalar, Mex ($$):

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 KUUCH KAANIL BACALAR

Casa Chukum: Located about two blocks from Laguna Bacalar, Casa Chukum Bacalar 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 CASA CHUKUM

Royal Palm Bacalar Cabañas & 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 ROYAL PALM CABANAS BACALAR

bacalar lagoon mexico

Best Bacalar Hostels

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

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

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 KULU TUBOHOSTEL

Pirate's Channel in blue waters of Bacalar Lagoon Mexico
Canal de los Piratas (Pirate’s Channel) in Bacalar Lake.
bacalar lagoon mexico

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 near 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 for you, consider a boat tour of the lagoon and/or a visit to the Los Rapidos Bacalar — the two most fun, and best things to do in Bacalar.

Bacalar Tours by Boat

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 or sailboat ride to see some of the lagoon’s best sites. These best things to see in Bacalar include the Canal de los Piratas (Pirate’s Channel), Cenote la Bruja (Witch’s Cenote) and Isla de los Pajaros (Bird Island).

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

Kayaking in Bacalar

Want a more sit-down type of activity? Besides standup paddle boarding, Lake Bacalar kayaking is very popular as well. Like the paddle boards, most hotels, resorts and hostels have free or rental kayaks on site, or you can go with a tour.

Your hotel or hostel 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 Sunset Kayak Tour!

Bacalar Paddle boarding

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

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

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, as there’s an on-site restaurant, lockers for your stuff and bathrooms.

hammocks in the blue wasters of bacalar lagoon mexico
The Cocalitos balneario, one of the best Bacalar beach clubs.
bacalar lagoon mexico

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 rusticness, 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 the best things to do in Bacalar during the day.

♻️ Bacalar Travel Tip: Use eco-friendly, reef safe sunscreen when swimming in Bacalar.

  • 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 San Felipe Bacalar (historic 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.

bacalar lagoon mexico

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 dining experience? Book your Secret Lunch in the Lagoon now!

  • Sisimite Caverna Moderna: The interior was made to look like a cave-meets-disco, and the food and drinks are just as fun.
  • Nao Sushi 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 on the lake! La Playita Bacalar 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 meat 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: The only brewery in Bacalar! If beer’s not your thing, they also have fun cocktails, and a fun atmosphere overall. By night, Cerveceria Bacalar becomes one of the best bars in Bacalar.

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

veggie burger in bacalar, mexico
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 Burrito:  If you want a burrito in Bacalar, you’re going to want to head to Mi Burrito Bacalar. This is a food truck, but there’s outdoor seating at tables under a covered, shaded 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.

RELATED BLOG 🌮 Eating Alone While Traveling: How to Overcome Your Fear

blue water in a tropical setting

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.

RELATED BLOG 🇲🇽 25 Best Places in the Yucatan Peninsula: Ruins, Beaches, Cenotes

🌎 Practice Sustainable Tourism in Mexico: In recent years, thanks to Instagram, YouTube and social media, more and more people are flocking to 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.

Anything else you’d like to know about Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico?

Please join the conversation and drop your questions in the comments below!

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

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  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!

    • 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.

  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! 🙂

    • Shelley

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

  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.

    • 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)!

  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.

    • Shelley

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

  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!

    • 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.

  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.

    • Shelley

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

  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!

  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!

    • Shelley

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

  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!

    • 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.

  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.

    • Shelley

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

  11. Shafinah Neville

    Omgosh those blue waters are of celestial proportions! 😍


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