There are so many great day trips from Bacalar, one of the many reasons why we loved our time there so much!
Bacalar is one of the most beautiful places we visited in Mexico. The Lagoon is simply stunning, it makes you want to jump in a swim the whole time. However, if like us you love a good adventure, then not to worry. There are plenty of day trips from Bacalar to keep you busy.
Bacalar is located in the Yucatan region of Mexico, right near the border with Belize. This makes it a perfect destination to visit if you plan to combine both Mexico and Belize into one trip or as a starting point on your visit to this region of Mexico.
In this post, I will give you all the details for 13 of the most fun day trips from Bacalar so you will not run out of things to do during your visit.
To give you a sneak peek, my top 3 day trips are;
- Dzibanche and Kohunlich Mayan ruins
- A day out exploring Bacalar Lagoon by boat
- Beach day at Mahahual
As easy as it would be to spend all of your time in Bacalar lounging by the lagoon, trust me when I say these day trips will guarantee you an incredible vacation. So let’s dive right in…
The BEST way to get around Mexico is to RENT A CAR!
Rental cars in Mexico are affordable, especially if you book in advance and this way you will have absolute freedom to explore at your own pace.
We like to use Discover Cars to search for the best deals and book with reputable companies. Having a rental car will mean you can visit any of the places on this list on your own.
13 Day Trips From Bacalar
Here are our top 13 day trips from Bacalar to give you plenty to choose from.
1. Explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Dzibanche and Kohunlich
Dzibanche and Kohunlich ruins can both be enjoyed on the same excursion as they are located not too far from each other. These ruins will require you to have private transport or a tour, as no public transport goes to them.
They are relatively large sites, each with significant details that make them a key feature in Mexico’s history. For example, at Dzibanche ruins, an ancient inscription was found that links the site to the Calakmul ruins around 130km away.
The most unique feature of Kohunlich is the temple of the masks. The oldest structure on the site was given its name from the huge stone masks that line the stairways. The carved masks are around 2.5 meters tall and are very well preserved.
It is learning little details like this that make having a local guide worth it.
Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for all of the local wildlife. The sites are home to many species of birds and also Monkeys.
2. A boat tour of Bacalar Lagoon
This is an absolute must if you are visiting Bacalar. The lagoon of 7 colours is best explored by boat, on a guided boat trip. This way you will be taken to some of the best locations around the lagoon.
The lagoon got its name as over time the surrounding cenotes all collapsed together and formed one big lagoon. However, where there are different depths you now get the different shades of blue.
It is also now the largest body of freshwater in Mexico, which is great because you can swim and snorkel without getting all salty.
We loved looking out over the lagoon and trying to see how many shades of blue we could see. The water temperature was also perfect for swimming.
When it comes to exploring the lagoon you can either choose to set sail on a private boat or join a small group tour. You will get time to watch for birds, swim in the surrounding cenotes, snorkel in the clear waters and enjoy a cold drink as you listen to your guide tell you all about the history of the Lagoon.
3. Sunset tour of Coba Mayan ruins
Coba ruins are some of the most important Mayan ruins in Mexico. This is partly thanks to their large network of stone causeways, otherwise known as white roads. Some of which are open to the public to explore.
Coba ruins are pretty remote so taking a guided tour is the best way to explore the site. This will also mean you have a guide to teach you all about what you’re seeing.
One of the main attractions of Coba is the fact that it is a much less visited site than many others of its size. This just adds to the magic as you wander the empty plazas.
The highlight of visiting Coba is that it is one of the last sites where you can still climb to the top of the main Pyramid. Standing at an impressive 42 meters high, you will get some incredible views from the top. Just be careful, the steps are steep!
The best time to enjoy Coba is in the afternoon and around sunset. What better way to enjoy the sun setting than from the top of an ancient Mayan pyramid, with nothing but Jungle as far as the eye can see?
4. A day out in Chetumal
This may not be an obvious choice for a day trip from Bacalar but for those city lovers out there, this one is for you. Chetumal is the Capital city of the region and worth giving a chance if you ask me.
It’s not always about being the fanciest but sometimes it’s just really great to experience some real local culture and Chetumal is a great example of that.
The best way to get to Chetumal from Bacalar would be to drive but if you don’t have a rental car then you can also take a Collectivo or a shared taxi from the stand on the main road opposite the ADO bus station.
We took a shared Taxi when we went to Chetumal for just a few dollars each and the drive is around 20 minutes.
If you are interested in history and ancient cultures then you should pay the Museum of Mayan Culture a visit.
For the rest of the day, you can enjoy wandering the streets and the local stores or taking a walk along the seafront. If you walk even further you will come to the small village of Calderitas. This is a lovely peaceful seaside town with much clearer waters than Chetumal. You will see lots of locals enjoying some free time by the sea here.
If you decide to stay for the evening then make sure to head to Boulevard Bahia to experience the best of Chetumal’s lively nightlife. Here you will find lots of homemade food, music and fun activities each night.
5. Relax on the beach at Mahahual
Yes, Bacalar Lagoon is stunning and the waters are clear and perfect for swimming. But if you are a beach lover, like me, then you will know what I mean when I say that sometimes we just want to see the sea.
To feel the sand beneath our toes and hear the waves lapping on the shore. So if you’re staying in Bacalar but you’re a beach baby at heart then this day trip will be perfect for you.
Located just an hour’s drive away, the small beach town of Mahahual is quiet and peaceful and perfect for spending a day by the sea.
If you are looking for a little more Ocean adventure then you can also join a snorkelling tour of the reef or do some scuba diving.
6. Spend a day floating down Los Rapidos
One of the easiest day trips from Bacalar, which will only take you a short distance down the road is a visit to Los Rapidos.
This natural lazy river is stunning and a perfect way to spend a day. Just a short drive or taxi ride and you will be at the entrance. There is a restaurant and changing rooms with showers and all the facilities you might need.
You can hire kayaks if you fancy a paddle upstream and then just enjoy the views as you float back down. The gentle current makes swimming here fun but not challenging.
What makes Los Rapidos unique is the rare ecosystem that lies beneath the surface of the water. The large yellowish locking rocks are in fact Strolomites, with a fragile layer on them that the locals are campaigning to have protected.
Knowing this, it is important to respect the area and not walk on the rocks. You shouldn’t need to as there are special accessways built into the water for visitors.
7. Take a tour of the Mayan ruins of Becán in Campeche
For lovers of history and Mayan Culture, Becan ruins are another great site to explore. The main feature that makes this site unique from the others is that it is fully surrounded by a moat. This is how the site got its name. The Mayan word Becan translates to moat or ditch in English.
It is not unusual to find this site empty or with only a handful of visitors. If you have a rental car it is easy to visit by yourself and spend an afternoon wandering the ancient pathways, crumbling corridors and climbing the giant Pyramids. The drive from Bacalar should take no more than 2 hours. You can see the location here.
However, it is also possible to join a group tour to the ruins, from Bacalar.
8. Spend a day in Tulum
This might seem like a bit of a stretch for just a day trip but it can easily be done. Especially if you have a car.
If you are spending your Vacation in Bacalar but would still like to experience the infamous town of Tulum then I say, go for it! Wake up nice and early for the 2.5 hour drive and arrive first thing in the morning to have the whole day to enjoy.
Once in Tulum, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to Cenotes to explore. Our favourite was Calavera Cenote. You could spend a couple of hours there and then head into downtown Tulum to enjoy some Tacos at El Bajon Vegan Tacos. Trust me, these Tacos were AMAZING!!
In the afternoon you can head to Tulum Ruins, or straight to the beach. The strip behind all of the beach resorts is a great road to wander down. It is lined with boutique stores and shacks selling tasty smoothies.
Pick one of the many great beach bars to relax for the afternoon, or head to the very north of the road where you can access the beautiful white sand beaches for free like we did.
9. Explore Calakmul Mayan ruins on a full-day tour
The ruins of Calakmul are buried deep within the jungles of Campeche. Just north of the Tikal ruins in Guatemala, it is known the two ancient civilizations used to fight. That is until Tikal took over Calakmul around 700 AD. You will notice a lot of Mayan culture and history linking Guatemala and Mexico.
The site’s main attraction is the 2 large Pyramids that stand tall next to each other. This is also what gives the site its name. You are still allowed to climb the pyramids at Calakmul but be careful the steps are steep and very small. from the top of each one, you can see the other standing proudly above the jungle canopy.
Calakmul is so remote that if you choose to drive yourself you will be met by a few roadblocks along the way where you will be charged to use the roads. This is fairly normal and in total should cost no more than a few dollars.
Thanks to the remote jungle location of the ruins it is also possible to see lots of wildlife too. It is not uncommon to see Tucans and Monkeys.
10. Visit Chichen Itza
If you do not plan to stay anywhere closer to Chichen Itza than Bacalar then this is a day trip that is definitely worth doing. You will need a car or a driver for the day and pack some car snacks because it’s around a 3-hour drive each way BUT believe me when I say Chichen Itza is a special site.
One of the 7 wonders of the world, it really is a bucket list destination that I would hate for you to miss. It gets a lot busier than some of the other Mayan sites on this list but there is a reason it has been named one of the 7 wonders.
We visited the site without a guide because we like to explore at our own pace. However, we did end up wishing we had a guide. It would’ve been great to learn some more about the site while we were there. For that reason, I would definitely recommend joining a guided tour.
Just keep in mind that at Chichen Itza it is forbidden to climb the Pyramids and there are usually harsh consequences for people who try to.
When you are done exploring the site there are multiple great cenotes in the surrounding area where you could go for a quick swim to cool off. Some of the best are Ik Kil cenote, Yokdzonot cenote and cenote Tsukan.
This will definitely be one of the longest day trips from Bacalar but also one of the most memorable.
11. Jump in and enjoy Cenote Azul
Not to be confused with the Cenote Azul that is located in Playa Del Carmen, Bacalar has its very own Cenote Azul located just south of Bacalar town.
The Lagoon was formed as multiple cenotes collapsed over the years and merged together. However, Cenote Azul is still standing strong just next to the lagoon. This largely undeveloped, open-air cenote has a deep blue colour and is surrounded by lush green jungle.
It is a great place to spend a day swimming and relaxing and one of the best things about it is the entrance to the cenote is only $1.50. Making it one of the cheapest day trips from Bacalar on this list.
The cenote can easily be reached by Bicycle from the town or by car if you have one.
Cenote Azul is one of the deepest cenotes in Mexico at around 300 meters deep! Not to worry, if you aren’t a strong swimmer they have life jackets that you can hire. There are also toilets and showers as well as a lovely open-air restaurant overlooking the cenote.
12. Tirolesas Kan Kin – Zip Line
This one is especially for the thrill seekers among us. Located just 12km outside of Bacalar is Tirolesas Adventure Park where you will find a 1500m long zip line circuit, made up of 5 zip lines.
You climb the tower to begin, before soaring over the jungle 5 times as you complete the circuit. This activity is loved by both children and adults equally so it can be a great day out for everyone!
The views are incredible and the adrenaline rush will keep you going for days.
The best way to get to the park is by car or taxi and it costs 750 Mexican pesos per person to do the zip line course.
If you are not a fan of heights you can still enjoy their jungle hiking trails and a dip in the lagoon.
13. Sian Ka’an Bio Reserve
Situated between Bacalar and Tulum, Sian Ka’an is the largest protected reserve in all of Mexico. Luckily for us, it is possible to visit Sian Ka’an from Bacalar.
There aren’t tours that go from Bacalar to the reserve but you can go by yourself if you have transport.
To access the reserve there are two main entrances; Punta Allen and Muyil. To visit from Bacalar you will want to explore from the Muyil entrance as it is much closer. It will take around 2.5 hours to get to Muyil, as opposed to 4 hours to get to Punta Allen.
The Muyil entrance is further in land but here you have some Mayan ruins you can explore as well as a 30-minute jungle boardwalk, an observation tower to get views from above the reserve and there are also the Mayan canals that you can swim in.
Once in the reserve, you can pay to go on a 2-hour boat tour of the canals and lagoons for 1000 pesos per person. Or you can just spend the day exploring on your own, searching for wildlife and enjoying nature.
Where To Stay In Bacalar
Bacalar is a relatively small town, it is possible to walk or cycle from one end to the other so no matter where you stay you will be able to get around easily. There are also no unsafe areas or areas to avoid which is always good to know.
We ended up staying on the opposite side of town to the lagoon, quite close to the main road because we wanted to be close to the bus station. However, most people opt to try and stay closer to the water and there are a lot of great waterfront options to choose from.
Here are our top picks for places to stay in Bacalar for varying budgets;
📍Budget Option: Villas Karalv
These basic, budget apartments are located right on the waterfront, just outside of town. they have a small private pool as well as private access to the lagoon via a pier.
📍Mid-Range Option: Solecito Hotel Gardens
If like us, you want to be closer to the main road, then this spot is perfect. They have large clean rooms with aircon as well as a lovely garden area. They also provide free bikes so you can get down to the water and into the town centre.
📍Luxury Option: MBH Maya Bacalar Hotel Boutique
These stunning boutique apartments and studios overlook the Lagoon and come with their own secluded private pier on the water. They have a sauna and hot tub on-site as well as access to various water activities such as kayaks.
How To Get To Bacalar
There are a few different ways to get to Bacalar depending on where you are coming from so here are some of the most popular;
Chetumal is the closest international airport to Bacalar. From there you will need to take a 40-minute taxi or jump in a public Collectivo to reach Bacalar.
If you are coming from Tulum, Cancun or Valladolid the best way to reach Bacalar is by bus. The ADO buses are the best way to travel around Mexico. They are large comfy buses that run daily between popular towns and cities. They are also surprisingly affordable for this region.
We found the ADO website to be really glitchy and unreliable so we used Busbud to check timetables and book our tickets online.
TOP TIP*** I recommend booking bus tickets in Mexico at least one day in advance as some journeys are very popular and can get fully booked. We saw people unable to buy tickets a couple of times due to the bus being full.
Day Trips From Bacalar – FAQS
Now that you know all of the best day trips from Bacalar and have plenty to keep you going during your visit, here are some answers to a few other frequently asked questions.
How many days do you need in Bacalar?
I would say you need at least 2 full days to explore Bacalar and the lagoon. However, 3 or 4 days would be best if you have the time.
Is it safe to walk around Bacalar?
Yes, Bacalar is considered a safe destination for tourists to visit. We had to walk back across town in the dark each night and didn’t feel unsafe once.
Is Bacalar worth visiting?
Bacalar is absolutely worth visiting. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the Yucatan Peninsula but also not overcrowded with tourists like some other locations such as Tulum and Cancun.
When is the best time of year to visit Bacalar?
Bacalar is a great destination all year round but you will find the best weather from December to March. This is when the temperatures are high and there is minimal rainfall.
January is the busiest month of the year for tourists visiting.
What to pack for Bacalar?
Bacalar is a warm, tropical destination so when you are backing your bags think shorts and flip-flops weather. You are likely to spend a lot of time in and around the water so swimwear and a good towel are a must.
A couple of tips are to get a reef-safe sunscreen. I know there are no reefs in Bacalar lagoon but it still has a fragile ecosystem that is worth protecting. Also, there are a LOT of mosquitos so don’t forget to pack plenty of mosquito repellent.
If you plan to visit any of the Mayan sites on this list then I would also recommend taking some sturdier shoes with good grip, as the stones can get very slippery.
Check out what we had in our backpacks for more inspiration.
Day Trips From Bacalar – Final Thoughts
So there you have it! Our list of the 13 best day trips from Bacalar with recommended tours and top tips for each site. No matter if you are a beach baby, a history buff or a city lover there will be something for you.
Our favourite thing we did in Bacalar was simply to swim in the lagoon and enjoy the beautiful views so even if you are short on time, we know you will love it in Bacalar too.