Bacalar Lagoon – Everything you need to know (2024)

Having visited Bacalar Lagoon, this is our ultimate Travel Guide to the area

It is no secret that Mexico is a very large country with some pretty stunning nature. However, It could be argued that Bacalar Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places in the whole country.

The lagoon features crystal clear water, in the famous 7 shades of blue. It is also home to tonnes of wildlife and is a fantastic place to relax or spend a day exploring on a boat.

We spent a few days here at the start of our Central America trip and absolutely fell in love! It is, in my opinion, a must if you’re on your way down to Belize or even further.

The Bacalar town itself is very small and easy to explore, safe and full of really fun things to do. In this post, we will cover everything you could possibly need to know to have a really great time in Bacalar, just like we did.

Short on Time? Book your trip to Bacalar here:

πŸš™ TransportA rental car is the best way to get around Mexico & Bacalar

🏠 AccommodationCasa Aakal Lagoon Front

πŸ›Ά ActivitiesSpend a day exploring the Lagoon with a boat tour


Is Bacalar Lagoon Worth Visiting?

Yes, a thousand times yes!

Bacalar Lagoon was one of our favourite places that we visited in Mexico. It has an awesome chilled vibe and feels super safe.

It would be easy to spend weeks here just relaxing, enjoying nature, eating great food and loving life. However, if you can’t spare weeks then a few days should still cut it. Just whatever you do, make sure you add Bacalar to your itinerary.


Is Bacalar Lagoon Safe To Visit?

Bacalar Lagoon was one of the safest places we visited in this area of Mexico. It is a small town with friendly locals and as long as you are sensible there’s no reason to feel unsafe here.

I would say this is THE place to be in Mexico if you are a solo female traveller. Or any traveller for that matter, but you get what I mean. It is safe for everyone.

Just keep in mind that you are still in Mexico and be careful when it comes to walking alone at night, taking taxis etc. We would walk through town after dark and were told there is hardly ever any trouble which was really nice to hear.

girl standing on a wooden pier over a blue lagoon that leads out to a small wooden hut

How Many Days Should I Spend at Bacalar Lagoon?

We spent 4 days in Bacalar but we could’ve easily spent more time here.

As a minimum, I would suggest 4 days. 2 full days, 1 day for you to get there and the day that you leave. This should give you enough time to see some of the area’s highlights. Any less than 2 full days and you would be cheating yourself out of the magic of this wonderful lagoon.


When Is The Best Time To Visit Bacalar Lagoon?

Bacalar Lagoon is pretty great to visit all year round. However, the best months to visit are between October and March. These are the optimal months for great weather. Warm sunny days, but not too hot and little rainfall.

December and January see the ‘coolest’ temperatures of around 82-84Β°F or 27-10Β°C. We visited in December and the temperatures were PERFECT!

The months of May to November see the most rainfall with June and September being the wettest months.


Where is Bacalar Lagoon?

Bacalar Lagoon is located in the south of Mexico in the Quintana Roo Region, very close to the border with Belize. You can see the location below on the map.

map of south of Mexico showing the location of Bacalar

Is Bacalar close to Cancun?

Bacalar is around 345km / 214 miles from Cancun, which is around a 4.5 hours drive.

It is also only 35km / 22 miles from the border with Belize.

Tulum is 216km / 134 miles away from Bacalar.

Valladolid is 264km / 164 miles away from Bacalar.

Mexico City is 1325km or 823 miles away from Bacalar.


How To Get To Bacalar Lagoon?

Luckily, when it comes to getting to Bacalar Lagoon you have plenty of options depending on your budget and how you like to travel. You can opt to rent a car (our personal recommendation), take a taxi, private shuttle, public bus or even fly.

So allow me to give you some more details on each of these options.

Drive yourself to Bacalar – hiring a car in Mexico

When it comes to getting around Mexico we highly recommend renting yourself a car if you can. Generally, you have to be 18 years or older to rent a car but this way you have the ultimate freedom.

We wish we had rented a car when we were there as we would’ve been able to see and do so much more. Sadly we left it too late. Unsurprisingly, prices get pretty expensive if you’re looking to rent a car the next day. So make sure to look in advance if you decide to rent one.

Renting a car in Mexico is easy, safe and affordable. We have a whole post on this if you would like to read more before booking yours.

If you are already sure you would love the freedom then we always use Discover Cars to check prices and find the best deals.

πŸš™ Search Discover Cars to find your perfect rental car today!

The great thing about Discover Cars is you only pay a small deposit when you book and they have a long free cancellation period in case your travel plans change.

How to Get to Bacalar by Bus

Mexico has a really great system when it comes to public buses and you actually have multiple options.

ADO Buses

This is how we got around most of the time while in Mexico, The ADO buses are large red coaches that have big comfy seats, are super affordable and have stops/stations in pretty much all the places you might want to visit, including Bacalar.

You can get tickets at any of their bus stations in neighbouring towns depending on where you are coming from. For example, Tulum, Cancun, Valladolid, Merida and more, all have direct buses heading to Bacalar.

If you decide to book tickets at the station, I would recommend getting them the day before you travel. This way you can guarantee you will get a seat at the time you want and sometimes the lines can be pretty long. If you go the day before you won’t be standing around in the heat with all your bags.

Alternatively, you can also save yourself time and hassle and book your bus tickets online. The ADO website was super glitchy and never actually worked for us so we used Busbud instead when we booked ahead. This is also super handy for you to be able to see the different bus schedules too.

🚌 Check the ADO bus schedules and book your seat to Bacalar Here!

a red ADO public bus in Mexico

Shuttle Buses

There is also the option to travel by smaller, private shuttle buses. These are aimed specifically at tourists and are more expensive than the ADO buses. They do the same routes but sometimes offer alternative times in case the ADO times don’t suit your plans.

You can usually book these online or through local tour agencies but I personally would avoid them and stick to the ADO buses. We found them to be more reliable and surprisingly faster. Not to mention way more comfortable.

Public Collectivo Buses

The cheapest option but also the slowest and definitely most cramped, is to travel by the local collective buses. These are small minivans that drive set routes but usually without a timetable. They will just do laps and collect anyone who flags them down and you can get off whenever you want.

These are used by locals to get around and are best for short distances. Keep in mind minibuses usually have around 14 seats but you would be surprised by how many people they can fit into one.

It is definitely an experience. If you decide this is the way you would like to get to Bacalar then you are best to ask your accommodation if a Collectivo will be heading that way and where you should stand to catch it.

Keep your eyes open for white minivans usually marked similarly to a taxi and give them a wave so that they stop for you to jump in.

How to get to Bacalar by Taxi

Getting to Bacalar Lagoon by Taxi is also an option if this is within your budget and you like to travel in peace. You should be able to organise a taxi from any nearby town to take you to Bacalar.

Keep in mind that Taxis in Mexico are not cheap and are notorious for trying to scam unsuspecting tourists.

How to stay safe in Taxis in Mexico

My biggest advice for taking taxis in Mexico is to get your accommodation to arrange a taxi for you. This way it will be someone known and trusted and you will have an agreed price in advance. Having them agree on a price through your accommodation also means it is likely to be a fairer price too.

NEVER get in an unmarked car in Mexico!

When your driver arrives, make a note of the licence plate and also the taxi number on the side of the car. Let them know you are taking their details and sending them to someone. If you are a solo female traveller then it also can’t hurt to snap a quick photo of the driver or his licence and also send that on.

This is usually not necessary but can act as a great deterrent if they were thinking of taking their chances.

Can you take an Uber to Bacalar?

Uber is not available in this region of Mexico. There are in fact no ride-sharing apps like Uber at all, only the traditional style taxis.

Flying to Bacalar

Our final option for reaching Bacalar is to fly. If you are coming from another country or perhaps much further away in Mexico, after all, Mexico is HUGE, then flying might be your best bet.

If you are coming from abroad you are likely to fly to Cancun as flights will generally be cheaper to this airport. From there you can take any of the other methods of transport we mentioned to get to Bacalar.

If you are coming from within Mexico, then you can search for flights to Chetumal airport and take a taxi from there.

✈️ When looking for flights we like to use SkyScanner to see all the available prices and find the best deal for us. Find your perfect flights to Bacalar Here!

Where is the closest airport to Bacalar?

Chetumal Airport is the closest airport to Bacalar Lagoon at only 39km/24 miles away. Bacalar is just a small town so does not have its own airport.


How To Get Around Bacalar?

Once you are in Bacalar town it is really easy to get around and again you have a few options. Walk, bicycle, taxi or of course by car if you have a rental.

However, Bacalar is so small that most places can easily be reached on foot. We stayed right on the edge of town and walked most of the time. It is also pretty flat and definitely safe to walk around.

The times when we didn’t feel like walking, we cycled. Our guesthouse, like many others, had bikes we could use for free. However, some places may charge you to use them.

Having a bike can be handy if you want to go a little further out of town. Just remember that the main road out of town is a busy highway so it may be safer to take a Taxi if you plan to go on that road.

several blue bicycles lined up in front of some kayaks in a garden in Mexico

10 BEST Things To Do In Bacalar – Mexico

Now for the fun part!

Bacalar Lagoon is great for relaxing, taking life nice and slow and recharging. It is also really great for water activities, adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. There are tonnes of great things to do on your stay there so here are our top 10 suggestions;

1 – Kayak on the Lagoon

Hiring a kayak and heading out onto the Lagoon is one of the best ways to explore the beautiful blue waters. Sadly this is not something we got around to doing in the end but we saw plenty of places around town renting out Kayaks.

The accommodation we stayed at had kayaks you could rent. They would even take them (and you) down to the water and pick you up after, which was pretty cool.

2 – Sunrise Paddleboarding

One of the most popular things to do on the lagoon is to join a sunrise paddleboarding group and enjoy the beauty of nature as you peacefully float along.

βœ… This paddleboarding tour has the BEST ratings on Trip Advisor out of hundreds of reviews. Book your spot to enjoy the sunrise over the lagoon Here!

3 – Join a group Boat trip on the Lagoon

A really fun way of exploring the farther regions of the Lagoon and the cenotes around it is to take a boat trip. Set sail with a group tour that takes you to 2 different cenotes and to the best swimming spots in the lagoon.

Enjoy 4 hours of fun on the lagoon and make the most of the open bar on board and snacks provided by the crew too. All of this for only $50!

πŸ›₯ Check out this group boat trip and reserve your spot today!

4 – Visit a Cenote

Bacalar Lagoon has many cenotes in the surrounding areas but one of the most popular among locals and tourists is Cocalitos.

We were so sad that this place was temporarily closed when we were in Bacalar but it is open again and ready to be enjoyed.

This beach resort/cenote is located just outside of the town. Only a 4km walk if you are up to it otherwise this would be a great time to grab yourself a bicycle.

Perhaps one of the biggest perks to visiting this cenote, besides it being absolutely beautiful, is the entrance fee. It is only around $3 to enter! This really is the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon of swimming and relaxing.

a girl standing on a wooden walk way over the turquoise waters of Bacalar lagoon

5 – Explore a historic fort

Fuerte San Felipe is located in the centre of town and is a great place for history lovers. Drop by to take a look around this old historic fort and enjoy the wonderful views from up on top of the old walls.

They also have a small museum exhibit in the centre of the fort for anyone interested in learning more about the history of the fort.

6 – Hire a private boat for a day

For anyone looking for a particularly special experience, it is possible to hire a sailboat with a captain exclusively for you for the day.

Enjoy the privacy of having a boat all to yourselves and head out onto the lagoon in the safe hands of your very own captain. For those interested in sailing, there is also the option for a private sailing lesson by the crew.

Relax, enjoy the views, stop for swimming and even kayaking if you like, it’s all up to you! Sounds great right?

πŸ›₯ Check out this experience for yourself and see what all the great reviews have to say!

7 – Admire the beautiful Sunsets

As simple as it sounds, this is a really great way to finish off a day at the Lagoon. Head down to the water, find a pier, sit back and watch the sky light up.

8 – Swim in the Lagoon

If you just fancy a swim in the clear, fresh waters then this is super easy to do. You can just walk straight down to the water’s edge from town and pick a spot to access the water.

There aren’t many places you can get to the water for free, most of the shoreline is owned by private hotels or beach club-type places. We tried one place called Balneario Ejidal MΓ‘gico Bacalar, we had to pay $2 to enter but then you can stay all day if you like and swim as much as you want.

They even have fun water hammocks and a little obstacle course.

Otherwise, head a little further along the road to a spot called Muelli Elogico and there is a free pier that everyone can access. You can see the location here.

Just remember this is the only free spot in town so after 10 it does start to get pretty crowded. Head there first thing in the morning for a lovely peaceful morning swim.

9 – Bird watching

If you are a bird lover then you are in the right place. You can either grab yourself a kayak and head out to find some of the more shy birds or take a walk along the boardwalk near Muelli Elogico and see what you can spot along there.

10 – Float down Bacalar’s very own Lazy River

Otherwise known as Los Rapidos. This natural lazy river is located 12.5km / 7.7 miles away from Bacalar town. It is possible to cycle there but you will have to cycle along the highway so the safer option is to grab a taxi.

Once there, they have everything you could need to have a really lovely day. There’s a restaurant, toilets and showers, lockers and areas to chill. They also have onsite parking if you plan to drive there yourself.

Perhaps, one of the biggest appeals of this natural lazy river is the unique and truly picturesque rock formations just beneath the water. These make for some stunning photos if you are into photography.

The entrance fee is $7.50 and once inside you can hire kayaks or just enjoy floating down the river.

wooden swing in the blue waters of bacalar lagoon

If you have more time in Bacalar then check out these great day trip ideas.


Where To Stay In Bacalar?

Bacalar is a small town so there are no good or bad areas per se, all of it is great! but there is a mix of places up at the far end of the town near the main road, like where we stayed. Or down along the waterfront.

There is also a huge range when it comes to budget so we will give a few examples of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

As I have already mentioned where we stayed a couple of times, I will give other options here so you have plenty to choose from.

Best Budget optionNear Lake Hostal

This hostel has really great reviews and is loved by guests for its super-friendly staff and great rooftop terrace. For just $31 you can get a small private room and the hostel is a short 10-minute walk to the centre of town.

It is also conveniently located right next to the free pier I mentioned previously.

πŸ“ Book your stay at Near Lake Hostal for some peace and quiet and easy, free access to the lagoon!

Best Mid-Range OptionZayali Guesthouse

This well-loved guesthouse is located on the other side of town but still close to the centre. It has a small pool and hammocks, which are great for cooling off and relaxing after a long hot day of exploring.

Guests love the family who own the place and particularly like the spacious clean rooms.

πŸ“ Book your comfy and relaxing stay at Zayali Guesthouse Here!

Best High-End OptionCasa Aakal Lagoon Front

If you are looking for something a little bit special for your stay in Bacalar, then this is definitely the place.

Casa Aakal is located right on the edge of the lagoon with its own private pier and access to the water. This luxury accommodation has a pool and large garden as well as large modern rooms with aircon and breakfast included.

πŸ“ Book your luxury stay with private lagoon access at Casa Aakal here!


Where To Eat In Bacalar?

In the centre of town, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to eat or enjoy a drink or 2. Here are some of our favourites from our time in Bacalar.

Great Vegan/Vegetarian restaurants in Bacalar

🌱 Mango y Chile – They were our favourite and do really great vegan burgers and yummy tofu tacos.

🌱 Yasai – Enjoy some traditional vegan Mexican food down by the water.

🌱 Yerbabuena – Serving healthy bowls and fruit juices.

🌱 Agni Vital Kitchen – A more fancy restaurant with a focus on healthy, whole foods.

Popular places to eat in Bacalar

βœ”οΈ Mr Taco – Right in the centre of town this place was always packed. They do a selection of tacos including ones suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

βœ”οΈ La Playita – A laid-back beachfront terrace restaurant with cosy hammocks and great local food.

βœ”οΈ El Manati Bacalar – Super yummy food served all day alongside their onsite art gallery.

βœ”οΈ Finisterre Bacalar – This beautiful restaurant with a great atmosphere is also a perfect place to enjoy a meal while watching the sunset.

vegan tofu tacos in Mexico

For more information on the drinking laws in Mexico, check out our guide.


What Gives Bacalar Lagoon Its 7 Shades of Blue?

The answer to this is pretty simple and makes a lot of sense once you know. Basically, the whole lagoon used to be made up of multiple Cenotes and lagoons all of different depths. Some were as shallow as 2 meters whilst others were close to 100 meters deep.

Over time these have all collapsed in on each other creating the one big lagoon that we see today. It is the varying depths that create the different shades of blue that we observe. That together with the white sandy floor of the lagoon.

The deeper areas create darker shades while the shallows are paler.


What Is The Weather Like In Bacalar?

The weather in Bacalar is typically really great all year round. During the months of October to March, you can expect slightly lower temperatures and less rainfall. From March to September the temperatures increase and so does the amount of rain.

Rainfall is usually in the form of short showers followed by plenty of sunshine.

When we visited in December the weather was perfect. Hot but not too hot and we had no rain at all in our 4 days there.


What Should I Pack For Bacalar?

It can be tricky packing for somewhere you’ve never been before. How are you supposed to know what to take with you?

Well, not to worry I can give you a few pointers to make the packing process a little easier. You can also check out our full packing list for Central America to get some more inspiration.

Here are the essentials you will definitely need to take with you;

  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sandals or flip-flops
  • Light summer clothes
  • A thin layer to cover up with in the evenings if it cools down (which it doesn’t much)
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent (they are relentless here)
  • All your regular toiletries
  • Comfy shoes for walking
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses, sun hat etc

Do I need to cover up in Bacalar Mexico?

No, Bacalar is not a destination where you need to make sure you are covered up. There are no religious reasons to cover up here. And the locals fully expect us tourists to be wandering around in shorts and vests, after all, it is HOT!

What not to pack for Bacalar

So we have covered the essentials that you will need to take with you. Now what can you absolutely leave at home?

  • Thick coats or jackets
  • Sunscreens or products with harsh chemicals
  • Jeans (it’s just too hot for them, leave those bad boys at home)
  • Drones, unless you fancy going through the process of applying for a permit
  • Your most expensive jewellery
  • Wetsuit
man sitting in the doorway to a small wooden hut with a straw roof in Mexico

Bacalar Lagoon – FAQs

Now we have covered all of the basics for visiting Bacalar Lagoon, time to cover some other frequently asked questions. Let’s leave no stone unturned…

Can you get to Bacalar by Boat?

It is not possible to travel to Bacalar by boat from somewhere else. However, once you get to Bacalar there are plenty of options to take boat trips, which we will cover shortly.

What is the correct name for Bacalar Lagoon?

The correct name is Lake Bacalar or Laguna Bacalar.

Can you swim in the water in Bacalar?

Hell yeah you can, and you should!

There are many places where you can jump right in and enjoy the crystal clear waters.

Is Bacalar Lagoon salt or fresh water?

The Lagoon is a freshwater lake. It is in fact the largest freshwater lake in all of Mexico.

How many colours does Bacalar Lagoon have?

Bacalar Lagoon is said to have 7 colours. Or 7 shades of blue to be more precise. This can be seen as you move around the Lagoon and the water changes to different shades of blue in different places.

Are there crocodiles in Bacalar?

Yes, Bacalar Lagoon is home to many Crocodiles. The whole Maya Riveria region is home to countless lagoons and cenotes that make for ideal homes for lots of wildlife including crocodiles.

Don’t worry, they tend to stay far away from people.

Is there an ATM in Bacalar?

Yes, there are 2 ATMs in the centre of town by the park. This is, however, Mexico and it would be unwise to assume they will be working when you need them. When travelling to smaller towns and villages it is always a good idea to travel with extra cash just in case.

How much does it cost to enter Bacalar Lagoon?

The Lagoon is absolutely free for the public to use. The trouble is much of the edges around the town are privately owned so they will charge you a small fee to access via their land.

As I mentioned before you can either pay a small fee to enter via a beach club, around $2 or you can head to Muelli Elogico where there is a free pier that anyone can use to enter the Lagoon.

Are there turtles in Bacalar?

Yes, there are a couple of species of endangered turtles in Bacalar Lagoon, so if you are really lucky you might get to spot one.

Are there mosquitoes in Bacalar?

Unfortunately yes, there are a lot of mosquitos in Bacalar. Make sure to bring your repellent because you will need it.

Is the water in the lagoon warm or cold?

We found the water temperature to be very pleasant. I would describe it as hot or cold. But as Goldilocks would say, it was just right.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Bacalar?

The tap water in Bacalar is not safe for us tourists to drink as our fragile stomachs wouldn’t like some of the bugs and things that are still in there.


How To Travel Sustainably In Bacalar And Mexico

Mexico is becoming an incredibly popular tourist destination and as such it is our job to be responsible guests to this wonderful country. Including Bacalar Lagoon.

The Lagoon is home to some very delicate ecosystems and is even home to some super rare organisms that are some of the oldest on the planet (The rock formations at Los Rapidos are actually living!)

As such it is vital we are really conscious of what we put into the water. Meaning what we have on ourselves before we jump in for a swim. Wearing reef-safe sunscreens and no harsh chemicals is one quick way we can do our part.

We need to make sure we always leave an area in the condition we found it in or better by taking all our rubbish away with us and if you fancy doing some litter picking then awesome!

In a country where tap water is not safe for us to drink without getting sick, buying bottled water can have a huge impact on the amount of plastic waste we produce. An easy way to solve this is to travel with a filtered water bottle.

We have Water-To-Go bottles that are amazing and mean we can safely drink tap water everywhere we go.


Bacalar Lagoon – Our Final Thoughts

There you have it, everything you could possibly need to know in order to plan a pretty epic visit to Bacalar Lagoon in Mexico.

We had a great time when we visited. Spending our days chilling in the water, cycling through town and eating tacos. What’s not to love?

If you are heading to Mexico, you will be glad you added Bacalar to your Itinerary. It really is a unique destination that will give you some fantastic memories.