Bacalar is home to the biggest and most beautiful lagoon in all of Mexico! Bacalar Lagoon is commonly referred to as Laguna de Siete Colores (lagoon of 7 colors), boasting 7 different shades of blue and it’s truly one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Whether you spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks, there are plenty of things to do in Bacalar to keep you entertained during your stay.
Bacalar is one of only a few Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) in the country, located less than one hour from the Belize border in Quintana Roo, Southeast Mexico.
I spent 3 days exploring the town of Bacalar and its azure waters to put together this complete guide of 9 Awesome Things To Do In Bacalar.
Also in this Bacalar Travel Guide, I have included some useful information on how to get to Bacalar, where to stay in Bacalar and the best time to visit.
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#1 SUNRISE KAYAKING ON BACALAR LAGOON
One of the top things to do in Bacalar is to rent a kayak and paddle out on Laguna de Bacalar (Bacalar Lagoon) in the early hours of the morning for sunrise.
The sunrises in Bacalar are really something special and one of the best ways to experience it is from your very own kayak in the middle of the lagoon.
Your options to go sunrise kayaking in Bacalar is to either book a join in Bacalar tour with one of the tour operators in town or rent your own kayak and DIY.
I personally did it DIY and rented a kayak from Veleando Ando located at the northern end of Bacalar Lagoon and spent 1-hour on the water paddling around at sunrise.
Kayak rentals are around $10 USD per hour.
Kayaking in Bacalar at sunrise
Early morning paddle – Things to do in Bacalar
#2 VISIT FORT SAN FELIPE BACALAR
The 18th Century Fort San Felipe or Castle San Felipe is a worthy addition to your list of things to do in Bacalar. Located in the heart of town next to the Zocalo, it’s hard to miss this impressive stone fort and historical landmark of Bacalar.
Fort San Felipe was built during the Spanish era to defend the town of Bacalar and its people from pirates that frequented the area which in the end deemed successful.
This beautiful historic fort offers panoramic views left and right of Bacalar Lagoon and right the way across to the Pirates Channel where the famous shipwreck can be spotted.
The entrance fee to visit Fort San Felipe Bacalar is 105 MXN for tourists and 50 MXN for locals. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to cough up the $5.50 USD to step inside the fort walls, you can get a close enough look from the street.
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Fort San Felipe Bacalar
Stone steps on the outside of the fort
An old canon on the Castle of San Felipe
#3 HAVE DINNER AT LA PLAYITA
I am pretty confident in saying that La Playita is one of the top restaurants in Bacalar offering a wide range of Mexican and international cuisine as well as signature cocktails and a selection of regional wines.
La Playita is just a few minute’s walk north of the Zocalo and situated in a beautiful setting beneath the trees on the shores of Bacalar Laguna.
I personally tried the crumbed rib-eye steak with salad and Kathy had the salmon with beans. Both dishes were mouthwatering!
For entrees and drinks, I recommend the sweet potato chips with guacamole, the Jalapeno Mezcal cocktail and the Cucumber Mint cocktail.
La Playita is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 12:00 am. You can check out the La Playita website for more information and reserve a table in advance.
Guacamole entree and Cucumber Mint cocktail
Delicious mains and red wine at La Playita
#4 GO SAILING ON BACALAR LAGOON
A visit to Quintana Roo Bacalar wouldn’t be complete without a sailing tour across the azure waters of Bacalar Lagoon. It turned out to be one of my favorite things to do in Bacalar during my visit and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the experience just as much as I did.
I booked my Bacalar sailing tour with Veleando Ando, the most reputable tour company in Bacalar. See below for a list of what’s included in the tour:
- Experienced captain and guide
- A visit to Cenote la Bruja, Isla de Los Pájaros (Bird Island), Laguna de Siete Colores (Lagoon of 7 Colors) and Canal de Los Piratas (Pirates Channel).
- Drinks and fruits
- Snorkeling gear and life jackets
There are 3 set times available throughout the day for the Bacalar sailing tour and they are 9:00 am, 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm and the tour goes for approximately 3 – 4 hours.
Bacalar sailing with Veleando Ando
Bacalar sailing – What to do in Bacalar
Fresh fruits on the Bacalar sailing tour
Great day for it! – Bacalar things to do
Drone shot of Isla de Los Pájaros
#5 WATCH THE SUNRISE IN BACALAR
Watching the sunrise over the lagoon is a must on your list of what to do in Bacalar. Most accommodations have private docks on the edge of Laguna Bacalar which is the perfect place to watch the sunrise.
Alternatively, if your accommodation isn’t located directly on the lagoon, there are a number of public docks to watch the sunrise in Bacalar which can be found on Calle 14, Calle 16 and Calle 18.
I personally stayed at Blue Bird Hotel which is situated on the edge of Bacalar Lagoon on the southern end of town and watching the sunrise here was incredible!
They also have stand up paddleboards, kayaks and over the water hammocks for guests to use free of charge which makes for the ultimate Instagram-worthy photo at sunrise.
Perfect spot for a Bacalar sunrise
Golden rays at sunrise – Things to do in Bacalar
Early bird gets the worm at Lake Bacalar
#6 FLY THE DRONE AT THE BACALAR CENOTES
For all the drone pilots out there, Bacalar Lagoon is drone heaven and some of the best features of the lagoon to shoot from above are the several cenotes dotted along the shoreline.
The best Bacalar cenotes are:
- Cenote Azul
- Cenote Cocalitos
- Cenote Esmeralda
- Cenote la Bruja
My personal favorite cenote to take drone photos of is Cenote Esmeralda which is located on the west side of Bacalar Lagoon just 5-minutes drive south from the Zocalo. See the image below for reference.
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Drone shot of Cenote Esmeralda
#7 TASTE THE VEGAN BURGERS AT MANGO Y CHILE
If you’re a lover of vegan food and burgers, then be sure to add Mango y Chile on to your list of things to do in Bacalar!
Located right next to Fort San Felipe and the Zocalo, Mango y Chile is open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Due to its popularity for having some of the best food in town, you may have to wait in line for a table. If your stomach is eating itself and you can’t be assed waiting, it’s possible to order your food to take away.
I personally tried the Clasica Burger which was absolutely mouthwatering and also the homemade Kombucha to wash it all down!
Don’t forget to give Mango y Chile a follow on Instagram.
Mmm vegan burgers – What to do in Bacalar
Mango y Chile menu – Quintana Roo Bacalar
#8 GET A PHOTO AT THE BACALAR SIGN
Another popular attraction in Bacalar Mexico is the colorful ‘BACALAR’ sign which is worthy of a classic tourist photo when you’re in the area.
The ‘BACALAR’ sign is located in the heart of town right next to the Zocalo so you can’t miss it. Even though it’s just a sign, you’d be surprised how popular it is among tourists so chances are you’ll have to wait your turn to get a photo.
I always wonder what people do with these classic tourist photos, whether they get developed and framed in their houses or if they just get buried in the camera roll on their phones. Either way, it’s a keep-sake photo to have and proof that you visited Magic Bacalar!
Must Read → 13 Things to do in San Cristobal
The ‘BACALAR’ sign – Things to do in Bacalar
#9 VISIT THE SHIPWRECK AT PIRATES CHANNEL
Last but not least on this list of awesome things to do in Bacalar is to visit the famous Bacalar Shipwreck in the Pirates Channel (Canal de Los Piratas).
It is known as the Pirates Channel because this was the entry point for notorious pirates that would sail north up the Hondo River and battle it out on the shores of Laguna Bacalar. Hondo River (Rio Hondo) is a natural division and border between Belize and Mexico.
The most standout attraction at Canal de Los Piratas is the shipwreck which is partially covered in trees and it’s also possible to climb up onto the deck and wander around.
Another reason to visit the Pirates Channel Bacalar is to discover the azure waters filled with high mineral content and clay-like sand, ideal for exfoliating the skin.
There is no entrance fee to visit the Pirates Channel, though because of its location on the opposite side of the lagoon you will need to find a way to get there which will incur a cost.
A few options to reach Canal de Los Piratas are:
- DIY and rent a kayak to paddle across the lagoon
- Book a sailing tour to Pirates Channel with Veleando Ando
- A join-in motorboat tour of Laguna Bacalar
Shipwreck at Pirates Channel Bacalar
Azure waters at Canal de Los Piratas
Drone shot of Pirates Channel – Bacalar things to do
WHERE TO STAY IN BACALAR
Bacalar has hundreds of accommodations to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Bacalar to suit the needs of luxury travelers and budget backpackers. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Bacalar 777 Hotel Boutique
This 5-star resort is the best luxury accommodation in Bacalar. Located just 15-minutes north of the town center, Bacalar 777 Hotel features its own private beach area, outdoor swimming pool, beautiful gardens, in-house restaurant and bar, shared lounge and a sun terrace. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, private bathroom, spacious living, large comfortable bed, seating area and epic views of the lagoon. Perfect for couples, a group of friends and small families.
Mid Range: Hotel & Suites Oasis
I personally stayed at Hotel & Suites Oasis and can’t recommend this place enough. From the moment I arrived the staff were very friendly and welcoming! My cabana room was very homely and features nice wooden furniture, large comfortable bed, private bathroom, kitchenette with complimentary coffee and tea, flat-screen tv, air conditioning, outdoor terrace with seating area and free wifi. This property also has an outdoor swimming pool and poolside lounges. Just 2 minutes walk to Bacalar Lagoon and nearby to cafes, bars and restaurants. Perfect for families, couples and solo travelers looking for a memorable and affordable stay in Bacalar.
Budget: Yaxche Centro Hostal
Yaxche Centro Hostel is the most top-rated budget accommodation in Bacalar. Centrally located, this awesome hostel offers dorm rooms, private rooms or tents with sleeping bags and there is a shared lounge and kitchen for guests to use. There is also free wifi, free continental breakfast and bicycle rentals are available. Walking distance to the lagoon, the Zocalo and eateries. Perfect place to stay in Bacalar for solo travelers, couples and budget travelers in general.
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN BACALAR, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
HOW TO GET TO BACALAR
There are a few ways to get to Quintana Roo Bacalar and they are by plane, bus or car.
The majority of tourists that visit Bacalar are typically traveling south from Cancun or headed north from Chetumal. Whichever direction you happen to be traveling in, there are plenty of transportation options to reach Bacalar.
• Cancun → Bacalar: 4 hours 15 minutes
• Playa del Carmen → Bacalar: 3 hours 15 minutes
• Tulum → Bacalar: 2 hours 30 minutes
• Chetumal → Bacalar: 45 minutes
The closest airport to Bacalar is located in Chetumal, the capital city of Quintana Roo. From Chetumal International Airport to Bacalar, it’s approximately a 45-minute drive.
Search All → Flights to Chetumal on Skyscanner.com
Traveling to Bacalar by bus is the most convenient, affordable and popular means of transport among travelers.
The main bus company in Mexico is ADO with daily buses running every hour from the major cities such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Chetumal.
The main bus station in Bacalar is situated on the edge of the main highway and from here it’s a short 15-minute walk to the center of town. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to your accommodation for around 50 – 100 MXN.
Renting a car in Yucatan/Quintana Roo is another great way to travel around at your own pace. This particular area of the country is said to be the safest when it comes to getting behind the wheel yourself, so it’s definitely an option to consider.
I always use Rentalcars.com to search and book car rentals in Mexico as they generally offer the best rates.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BACALAR
The best time to visit Quintana Roo Bacalar is during the winter season from December to April. During this time there is little to no rainfall and the temperatures are just perfect.
The rainy season in Bacalar is typically between May and October which sees higher temperatures due to the humidity. The only plus side to visiting Bacalar during these months is there will be fewer tourists and prices are less inflated.
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MY CAMERA GEAR
• DSLR Mirrorless Camera: Sony A7ii
• Drone Camera: DJI Mavic Pro 2
• GoPro: GoPro Hero 8 Black
• Everyday Lens: Sony F2.8 24/70mm
• Camera Bag: Lowepro Protactic 31L
• Selfie Stick: Sandmarc Metal Edition 1.2m
• Tripod: Joby Flexible GorillaPod
• GoPro Dome: Underwater GoPro Dome
• Power Bank: Anker Powerbank
• External Hardrive: WD Elements 4TB
WHAT TO PACK FOR MEXICO?
• Waterproof Phone Case: Universal Waterproof Case
• Reusable Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle
• Rain Jacket: North Face Rain Jacket
• Water Shoes: Slip-on Water Shoes
• Day Bag: Nomatic 20L Day Bag
• Power Adapter: Universal Power Adapter
• Packing Cubes: 4 Set Packing Cubes
• Microfibre Towel: Quick Dry Travel Towel
• Travel Insurance: World Nomads Travel Insurance
• Money Belt: Hidden Money Belt
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions at all about Things To Do In Bacalar Mexico, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.