Skip to Content

Why The Mexican Caribbean’s New Tulum Is Set To Explode In Popularity This Year

Share The Article

Calling a destination the “New Tulum” is a big claim to make, but thanks to a few huge changes in the Mexican Caribbean in the past few years for one town, the shoe fits.

But first, it’s important to clarify how there can be a new Tulum when Tulum still exists.

Over the past decade, Tulum has exploded in popularity; what was once a sleepy fishing village welcoming a small number of backpackers and bohemian travelers is now a fully-fledged tourism destination.

A man on a hammock in the water of bacalar lagoon

Furthermore, Tulum is growing at a dizzying speed. Construction is widespread in the destination as resorts, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs rush to be built to serve the endlessly growing number of visitors.

And while that’s great news for the local economy, and for travelers seeking an alternative to Cancun or Playa del Carmen, it does mean that Tulum has lost its hidden gem status, and is evolving from a quiet Caribbean vibe destination into the next Playa del Carmen.

With that being said, travelers don’t have to look outside of the Mexican Caribbean to rediscover a more relaxed destination thanks to this small but stunning town south of Tulum.

bacalar river running into the caribbean sea


Down at the bottom of the Mexican Caribbean, not far from the border of Belize and just a short drive from the growing town of Chetumal, Bacalar is undergoing its own transformation with tourism.

For many of the travelers who feel Tulum has lost its relaxed vibe, Bacalar has picked up the football and ran.

However, it would be unfair to say Bacalar is just a copy of Tulum, as the town has so much to offer travelers that was never available in its sister destination to the north.

The following is why Bacalar is set to explode in popularity this year.

bacalar port


Before delving into what makes Bacalar so special, it’s important to highlight why this year, over others, is when it will truly take its place in Mexican Caribbean tourism.

Up until recently, the only way to reach Bacalar was either by renting a car and driving or taking one of the coach services that operate all along the Mexican Caribbean.

a train passenger taking photos out of the window with a professional camera

While getting to Bacalar was far from impossible, it was difficult enough to put off many travelers. That has all now changed.

With the opening of the Tren Maya (Mayan train), Bacalar will now be connected to all the biggest destinations in the region by rail.

What’s more, that doesn’t just mean Bacalar is easier for people to reach to stay in one of its many beautiful boutique hotels, but now transforms it into a convenient day trip location for travelers staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

boutique hotels in bacalar with blue water

Lake Of 7 Colors

Throughout the Mexican Caribbean travelers can visit beautiful blue cenotes, or enjoy the turquoise blue waters that meet the beaches all along the coastline.

However, in all of the Mexican Caribbean, there is nowhere that can compare to Bacalar Lagoon. This stunningly colorful lagoon is over 37 miles long and a mile wide at its widest points.

an aerial shot of bacalar lagoon

Its name isn’t just for show either, throughout the length of the lagoon there are stark color contrasts that make travelers feel like they’re on another planet.

This is thanks to the white limestone bottom under the lake and the crystal-clear water that feeds the lagoon from the world’s largest underground cave tunnel that stretches 280 miles.

Travelers can enjoy the lagoon on stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, or by relaxing on a lagoon-side hammock at one of the many restaurants or bars that line it.

bacalar lagoon swing

Growing Amenities

Even with the new Tren Maya link, Bacalar’s success as a small-scale tourist destination will only happen if the town expands its amenities.

In this respect, huge strides have been made over the past year, with an increase of 75% in the number of local businesses, mostly made up of hotels, restaurants, and bars to serve travelers.

A romantic view of Bacalar at night

Even with this huge growth, Bacalar remains a hidden gem of the Mexican Caribbean, a place where travelers can relax in stunning surroundings without the sounds of a city playing in the background or the over-development of the town to the point of it losing its authenticity.

For travelers who want the real Mexican Caribbean experience, Bacalar should top the list.

Plan Your Next Cancun Vacation:

Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!

Choose From Thousands of Cancun and Riviera Maya Hotels, Resorts and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties

↓ Join the community ↓

The Cancun Sun Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations and tourism Q&A’s for the Mexican Caribbean


Subscribe to our Latest Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Cancun Sun’s latest breaking news affecting travelers, straight to your inbox.

Jorge La Madrid

Thursday 7th of March 2024



Thursday 7th of March 2024

Stories like this have ruined many parts of Mexico and it will be a shame for Bacalar to be over run and polluted by tourism