You may not have heard of the ‘Lagoon of Seven Colors’, or Bacalar, the town in which it’s found, but this destination has been rapidly growing in popularity over the last decade.
Originally only visited by budget backpackers, more and more high-end properties have appeared in this stunning location which is in the southerly reaches of Quintana Roo. The distance from Cancun has discouraged mass tourism up to now, but once the Maya Train opens – which is expected in late 2023 – Bacalar is set to become infinitely more accessible.
So here are the top five reasons why you should visit the ‘Lagoon of Seven Colors’ in Bacalar.
Bacalar Lagoon is huge, almost 26-miles long, in fact. The water depth varies across the lagoon, and it’s these different depths that create the seven colors for which the lagoon is named.
Think of all the shades of blue you can imagine – from the darkest navy to an almost colorless pale turquoise – that’s what you’ll see. When you visit the lagoon on a sunny day, it’s almost otherworldly in its beauty and it becomes obvious why so many people travel here to enjoy this natural wonder.
You can try almost every kind of water-based activity you can think of on Bacalar Lagoon.
Boat trips run all day from the many piers along the Bacalar-town stretch of lakefront, taking in some of the lagoon’s most interesting and attractive sights. These include the Isla de Los Pájaros (Bird Island), Cenote Esmerelda, Cenote Cocalitos, and Canal de las Piratas (Pirates Canal), all of which combine to give you a full and varied view of Bacalar Lagoon in only 2-3 hours.
Another great way to experience the lagoon is from a kayak. Rentals are easy to find, and you can hire for just an hour, or right up to a full day depending on how far you want to explore.
Paddleboarding is also popular in Bacalar, as the waters are so calm. A sunrise tour like this is one of Bacalar’s most popular activities. You’ll start your trip in the dark, but will watch the sun come up over the water – a really special experience.
If you’d rather just swim in the clear, salt-free waters, try jumping from the piers at one of the public (and free to enter) ‘balnearios’ along the side of the lagoon.
For a small town, Bacalar is blessed with some fabulous restaurants. There are few hidden gems these days, but some of the best options are:
- Bote de Leche – this friendly spot has a small but perfectly-formed menu offering salads, seafood, and more in a cute fairy-light-filled garden.
- La Playita – a lagoon-front ‘beach-club’ with beautiful hand-crafted wooden furniture, tropical gardens, and all manner of cocktails and light bites to keep you fueled.
- Nixtamal – if you like your meat cooked over fire, this is the place for you. A beautiful place to eat at night, Nixtamal feels simultaneously rustic and luxe, and offers the perfect atmosphere for a special date night on your vacation.
Bacalar has become pretty famous for its street art, and for good reason. Much of it was commissioned back in 2019 and has helped to brighten up what was previously a – some might say – uninspiring, Mexican town.
You can easily take a self-guided tour, as there is art on every street. Wander around and you’ll come across art on walls, homes, and even schools. Or you can take a formal tour, where a local guide will provide you with the history of some of the more famous pieces.
Either way, the street art in Bacalar adds some real charm to this ‘Pueblo Mágico’, or Magic Town, which is a special designation awarded to Mexico’s most culturally important destinations.
Because Bacalar isn’t on the mainstream tourism map (yet) it offers significantly better value for money than other Quintana Roo destinations.
There are plenty of mid-range hotels to choose from, many offering chic decor and facilities that would rival those found in larger tourist destinations. A great example is Aires Bacalar, a beautiful mural-filled hotel with tropical gardens, a small pool, and a relaxing rooftop terrace, where you can stay for only $75 per night.
Taxis offer great value for money, tourist attractions still offer decent bang for your buck, and restaurants, though not as cheap as they once were, are still noticeably better value than their Cancun counterparts.
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