When I first started planning my trip to Mexico here’s what I imagined.

Enjoying the white beaches and washing down Modelos in Playa Del Carmen and Cancun. A quick break in a luxurious resort on the Riviera Maya (if I could get a good deal). Checking out some Mayan ruins in Tulum and finishing my trip in the notoriously dangerous Mexico City (just because, why not?)

How very touristy of you I hear you cry.

Actually, I ended up totally changing these plans, adding in places, taking out places as I went about seeking recommendations in Mexico. When someone (a Mexican someone) recommended a trip to Bacalar I was skeptical. A lake town. Ok. So, I did the usual checks on google and Instagram. Looked pretty.

I’m lucky enough to have visited a few places I would note as quite paradise like. Island hopping in the Maldives, Siquijor in the Philippines, Koh Mak in Thailand, Pelican Bay in Turks and Caicos, Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda.

OK, my list is extensive.

Anyway, notably the one thing all these places have in common is salt water. So, I was curious to see just how beautiful a fresh water lake could actually be.

A long-time favorite of locals needing a break from the city, I’m certain it will not be long before Bacalar bursts onto Mexico’s growing tourist and backpacker scene.

I’d love to have made this a ‘top 10 things to do in Bacalar’, but honestly, there isn’t 10 things to do in this sleepy lake side town.

Instead, here’s the only 3 things you need to know about this beyond stunning spot.

The Lake- Obviously

Honestly, ‘lake’ is an understatement. Locals call it a lagoon, or ‘the lake of seven colors’. 40 kms north of Chetumal and close to the Belize border, it’s fair to say this place is pretty much off the beaten tourist track.

We spent 2 nights in Bacalar which was perfect. The first day we spent on a boat, honestly the best way to see the whole lake. There are many options for boat trips and they are easy to source and book. Truly the best way to see every square meter of the impressive 42 km long lagoon.

Fed by underwater rivers and cenotes the lake consists of many deep pools and more shallow clear waters that are truly bath tub like. The water is calm and warm and even ‘non-swimmer’ friendly.

There are loads of water sports going on. The lake’s clear calm waters make for perfect snorkeling and kayaks are available for hire everywhere.

The crystal-like waters seem to go from clear, to turquoise, to deep blue and every shade in-between depending on depth, limestone consistency and even the time of day- hence the nickname, ‘lake of seven colors’. Be sure to witness its beauty at every time of the day. Dawn, in the midday sun and of course, at sunset.

Cocolitos is a great place to hang out, we spent our whole second day there. It’s a kind of eco-park where you pay a small fee to enter (we paid 35 Mexican Pesos each) and in return you can stay as long as you like. There is plenty of grass, shade and a café and restaurant. But the main draw is no doubt the hammocks and water swings on Bacalar’s stunning lagoon. Cocolitos is also home of the stromatolites (giant corals) that feed the lake. They’re apparently millions of years old and a super rare formation which makes them crazy interesting to see.


The food


The town is small, traditional and charming. Don’t expect too much of it. Although, it does have everything you need including ATMs and grocery stores. The atmosphere is lazy and relaxed.

Naturally the food is fresh and delicious and revolves heavily around seafood. Some restaurants are based lakeside with fantastic views. Cocolitos has great ceviche and open views on the lake.

Others are based inside the town, like Christians Tacos which is crazy cheap and has a great sunset view from the cute garden.

How to get there

If you’ve ever been to the Quintana Roo region of Mexico, then you’ll know there is one massive highway. Highway 307 which connects Cancun, Playa Del carmen and Tulum. This major highway actually leads all the way to Bacalar, making it very accessible. The longest journey being from Cancun and that will still only take you about 4 hours. You can get there easily from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum on the handy ADO buses.

ADO buses are cheap and comfortable with full AC and a scenic journey. You could take a taxi or hire a car, but these buses are so seriously cheap and comfortable it seems crazy not to use them.

Once you’re actually in Bacalar taxis are a bargain. Like ridiculously cheap. Bicycles are available to rent in most places and the town is so small, it’s pretty easy to navigate by foot without too much trouble.

Most of the luxurious villas and resorts are on the lake front. There are heaps of more affordable guesthouses and even a few hostels in the town itself, so shop around. Mainstream hotel chains don’t seem to have made it here yet, although I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they catch on.

Apart from the lake, the towns main attraction, there is a beautiful Spanish fort worth enjoying a wander around. Rumor has it, the impressive fort was built during the 17th Century to protect the town from pirates. There’s also a small museum there, perfect for indulging your history fix.

With so much beauty to offer, and a wonder that’s truly out of this world, it’s easy to see why locals have fallen hook, line and sinker for Bacalar.

Go and enjoy it, before the hustle and bustle descends and the secret finally gets out.