The lake of Bacalar is also called the lake of the seven colors. The water of the lake is dazzling blue, a beautiful place to add to your travel itinerary through Yucatan. Where to sleep, what are the must-do’s and where to find the nicest restaurants? In this mini travel guide we tell you everything about this beautiful lake and the trendy village of Bacalar.
Lake of seven colors
There are all kinds of lists of places of interest in Bacalar, but in the end it’s all about the lake. Because of the white sand on the bottom and the clear water this lake picture is perfectly blue. You come here mainly to explore the lake.
The most comfortable and expensive option is a boat tour across the lake. More budget-friendly and more adventurous is renting a canoe or kayak to explore the lake yourself. We love to paddle ourselves and were able to rent canoes at our place to sleep, so the choice was quickly made for us.
Other nice places around the lake? Popular are the Cenote Azul (a super-deep pool of blue water), Los Rapidos (a rapid in a tributary) and the stromatolites (rare stones that have been grown for centuries). A less visited place is the mangrove forest at the northern tip of the lake. You can sail around with a canoe or kayak between the water lilies and special birds.
Eating and drinking in Bacalar
Bacalar is also called the new Tulum and we understand why. You will find the same atmosphere here with tourist-oriented restaurants and shops. Fortunately that is not nearly as massive and overwhelming as it can be in Tulum. But have you ever read about Bacalar as an undiscovered gem in Mexico? Then that blog might be a bit outdated, because Bacalar has been booming for 5 years.
That means a lot of trendy places for the tastiest breakfasts, best coffee and nicest meals. We were so happy with all the great places that we wrote a special blog about it (quickly online!). A selection from our favorites:
- Mango y Chile for vegan food and burgers
- El Manati for brunch between the arts
- Enamore for delicious breakfasts with egg
- Yaya for breakfast and lunch in hip atmospheres
- Yerbabuena for smoothies on swings
The nicest places to sleep: from barrels to ecocabanas
Did you know that Lake Bacalar is really big? About 60 kilometers long! It is a 15-minute drive from the southern town of Bacalar to the southern tip of the lake. It is even more than half an hour’s drive to the northern point. So pay attention to this when you book a place to sleep on Lake Bacalar.
Without a rental car, a place to sleep in the town of Bacalar is recommended. You can then try all the restaurants and book tours or rent canoes without always taking a taxi. Options on the lake include the luxurious La Albarina or the more budget-friendly Blue Monkey Hostel. Still, some cool places to sleep outside the city are really worth a detour. At Kulu Tubohostel, for example, you sleep in a kind of barrel around a swimming pool and El Buho Sport Camp has romantic A-shaped huts!
We slept directly on the lake, all the way to the north and therefore a 35-minute drive from the town of Bacalar. We found an off the grid ecocabana directly on the water via Airbnb (link). Canoes and kayaks are for rent to paddle to the mangrove forest and watch the sunrise from the water (150 pesos p.p. for whole stay). Because there was no ambient light, the starry sky was really beautiful! A major disadvantage was the distance to the town. The high price of (vegetarian) food in the restaurant of the owner was disappointing (180 pesos for breakfast, 200 for lunch and 250 for dinner), so we drove a few times with our rental car to the nice Bacalar. Also don’t count on a luxury cabin, but assume a small bed with mosquito net and a basic bathroom with a cold shower.
Tip: book your first stay at Airbnb via our link and get a 25 euro discount!
Practical: how do you get to Bacalar?
Lake Bacalar is located in the south-east of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It is therefore close to the border with neighboring Belize, but also at popular destinations such as Tulum and Valladolid. Direct ADO buses drive from all these places to Bacalar.
Tip: book your ADO tickets online or via the ADO app, so you don’t have to go all the way to the bus station and have to stand in line.
Bacalar is perhaps the easiest to reach with a rental car. It is just over 2 hours from Tulum, 45 minutes from Mahahual, 5 hours from Cancun and 3.5 hours from Valladolid.