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Guide To Bacalar, Mexico & 21 Best Things To Do

Guide To Bacalar, Mexico & 21 Best Things To Do

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If you’re looking for a magical destination that will take you far away from the hordes of tourists in Mexican resort towns, look no further than Bacalar, Mexico. A truly enchanting and off-the-beaten-path adventure awaits on a trip to Bacalar, located on the sparkling crystal waters of La Laguna de Los Siete Colores, or The Lagoon of 7 Colors. 

The pristine blue waters of the natural lagoon are unforgettable, and the lovely and culturally rich Pueblo makes Bacalar one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets, with tourism only beginning to increase over the past few years. There’s no doubt that you’ll see this destination pop up on your Instagram feed before too long.

Even though the town is low-key, there are still plenty of things to do in Bacalar to keep you busy. It is a perfect place for those looking to immerse themselves in Mexican culture and try out adventurous activities like kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. 

In this blog, I’ll share all the best things to do in Bacalar, Mexico, as well as lots of info you need to know before you go. It’s basically the only Bacalar guide you need to read before you go!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our top ideas for a great time while visiting Bacalar include:

  1. Go on this half-day boat tour for a truly epic day of sightseeing
  2. Rent a kayak and explore the lagoon at your own pace in an eco-friendly way
  3. Explore hundreds of historical artifacts at Fort San Felipe – plus there’s an amazing view
  4. Swim, dive, or snorkel around Cenote Azul
  5. See the shipwreck at Canal de los Piratas and more on this private tour

About Bacalar, Mexico 

Daniel on the front of the boat soaking up the sun on a bot tour in Bacalar, Mexico
Paradise?
A cute street in Bacalar, Mexico
Bacalar is such a cute place!

Only an hour away from the Belize border, Bacalar, Mexico is quickly becoming a popular destination for those of us who prefer off-the-beaten-path parts of Mexico. It’s on the farthest tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo. 

The small pueblo is located on the gorgeous Laguna de Bacalar, also known as La Laguna de Los Sienna Colores, due to the stunning variance in the color of the water in the large lake. The name Bacalar comes from the Mayan language – “b’ak halal,” which translates to “surrounded by reeds.” 

The area is traditionally Mayan, with a pre-Columbian city that the conquistadors took over in 1543. The modern-day town is a Pueblo Magico – a designation by the Mexican government that highlights some of the country’s most enchanting towns based on their historical, cultural, and architectural importance. Visiting spots like Bacalar can offer a taste of the true spirit of Mexico, away from the tourist bubbles of the larger resort towns such as Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta.

The area is a nature lover’s paradise and an ecologically fragile environment that is home to many species of plants, animals, and aquatic life. If you decide to visit Bacalar, it’s important that you’re aware of the sensitive ecosystem and travel with respect for the earth and the people who call Bacalar Lagoon home. 

Getting to Bacalar, Mexico 

Photo on the highway out the front windscreen of a rental car in Mexico
Driving out of Cancun!

From Cancun 

Bacalar, Mexico is about 5 hours from the bustling beach destination of Cancun by car. It’s possible to fly into Cancun International Airport and rent a car to do the trip yourself, hire a shuttle, or take the bus. 

From Cancun, the easiest option is definitely renting a car from Cancun International Airport and driving to Bacalar yourself – just make sure that you stick to major roads and avoid driving at night. 

If you’re nervous about doing the drive yourself or want to save money, the next best option is to take the ADO bus. From Cancun, the ADO bus will take you about 5 hours and 20 minutes and cost around $25 USD. Rental cars can usually be found for around $40 USD a day. 

Finally, you can book a shuttle from Cancun Airport, however, these cost around $355 USD per group of up to 8 passengers. It’s more expensive to opt for a shuttle to Bacalar, but Cancun Airport shuttles are a MUST for me if I’m going from the Cancun Airport to the Hotel Zone.

From Tulum 

Tulum is the closest major Mexican tourist town to Bacalar and is only 2.5 hours away by car, while the bus will take a little longer. You can hire a taxi for about $170 USD or take the budget-friendly bus for about $15 USD. The total distance is about 133 miles. 

The bus leaves directly from Tulum to Bacalar each day with several departures that will make it easy to find a time that fits your travel plans. The bus companies that operate on this route include ADO and AU (ADO is my preferred bus company). Either one of them can be booked online in advance with Bookaway.

You can choose to rent a car in Tulum with rates starting at about $20 USD a day. It’s nice to have your own wheels so that you can choose to stop at any of the towns and beaches along the way. 

Of course, driving in a foreign country might be a little intimidating, so there is also this private shuttle from Tulum which starts at $139 USD per person and the price goes down with the more people you book. It has the option to add some sightseeing along the way, so it would be my preferred option if you don’t want to drive.

Whichever way you choose, Bacalar is easily one of the best overnight or day trips from Tulum!

From Playa del Carmen 

Similar to traveling to Bacalar from Tulum, you can choose to hire a taxi, rent a car, or take the bus. 

There are a few different car rentals in Playa del Carmen, all located around 5th Avenue. Expect prices to start at around $15 USD per day. 

For the bus ride to Bacalar, you will want to ensure that you head to ADO Playa del Carmen Alterna Station. There are a few departures each day, so check the schedule for your travel dates to see the updated times that the bus leaves. The bus stops only once, in Tulum. The entire ride takes about 4 hours. You can also book online in advance with Bookaway.

A shuttle is also an option and Playa del Carmen Shuttles operates this route. They charge $350 USD per car, which is pretty overpriced in my opinion.

From other destinations 

The quickest way to get to Bacalar from other parts of Mexico is to fly to the small nearby airport, Chetumal International Airport. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Bacalar. 

You can connect to the airport from Cancun and then take a shuttle from the airport to Bacalar. There are also connecting flights through Mexico City, so when planning your journey, make sure to look at all the flight options and plan the route that works best for you. The flight from Mexico City is only 2 hours.

If you do decide to travel to Bacalar via Chetumal International Airport, there is a nice private shuttle with English-speaking drivers that can take you to and from the airport. 

Additionally, if you are interested in shuttle bus-share you can always search for your departure city on Bookaway. They are a trustworthy and comfortable way to get around.

Things to do in Bacalar, Mexico

1. Go on a boat cruise 

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in Bacalar Lagoon on a boat tour
DSelfie!
Bailey swims in the crystal clear waters of Bacalar Lagoon on a boat tour
I spent the entire day in the water!

Taking a Bacalar boat tour is a must while you’re in town. It’s the best way to explore and enjoy Bacalar Lake, especially if you only have a limited amount of time in Bacalar! Even if you’re staying for longer, it’s a beautiful way to spend a day on the lake and see so much of this stunning area. Overall, it was my favorite tour of the trip!

The half-day boat tour I did will take you through the Pirates’ Channel, Black Cenote, the Island of Birds, and Cenote Esmeralda. It basically covers a ton of the lake’s top attractions all in one tour, so no wonder it’s so popular!

Snorkeling equipment is provided, and you’ll have tons of time to swim in both the lagoon and at the two cenotes. On top of that, you’ll get to see the weird and wonderful stromatolite rock formations, as well as enjoy a full-body mud mask from the healing sulfuric clay. 

View out the front of our boat on our Bacalar boat tour of the beautiful blue water
The water really is that blue!

The tour includes snacks and beverages as well as unlimited drinks (yup, beers and cocktails too!) from an open bar, plus they played great music on the boat – perfect vibes all around! We learned a TON about the lagoon, so again, this is really the only way to really see what the lagoon has to offer, and you can do it all within half a day.

We really enjoyed this because everything was taken care of and the tour was so cheap! At the end of the tour, they also surprised us with a beautifully prepared snack platter and sup board for everyone to enjoy while we were in the water. At just $49 USD per person, we’d do this tour again in a heartbeat. I’d highly recommend booking your spot online here in advance to get the dates you want.

2. Float down the river at Los Rapidos de Bacalar

A lady floats down Los Rapidos de Bacalar in Bacalar, Mexico
It’s such a cool pace!
People float down the river at Los Rapidos de Bacalar, Mexico
The water is crystal clear!

One of my favorite experiences in Bacalar actually took place in a restaurant that’s a little way outside of town! Located just under a 20-minute drive from Bacalar, Los Rapidos de Bacalar is a picturesque spot with a really lively restaurant and bar. Being right on the banks of a crystal-clear river, I knew this was something we’d have to check out, and I’m so glad we did!

But don’t let the name fool you, the river is far from raging rapids, it’s actually a calm and super pleasant spot to float and let the river current lazily guide you long for a little while. The restaurant also provides life jackets, so you can easily spend an afternoon drifting completely safely. It’s a really fun activity for kids to get involved with too!

When we last went, it cost us 160 MXN each to enter. This fee allowed us to access the river, use the life jackets and float as much as we wanted. We also grabbed a table, where we could order food and drinks if we wanted, but there was no obligation. We left our stuff on our table (under the watchful eye of our kind waiter) and hit the water!

There is a boardwalk you can walk up along the river until you are ready to jump in. Then, you just float down the crystal-clear river until you make it back to the restaurant area. Then, you can walk back to the beginning and go again, or simply relax at the restaurant.

As for the restaurant, the food was above and beyond what I expected, and it was pretty reasonably priced as well. I couldn’t resist grabbing a traditional pepperoni pizza, which was 230 MXN ($13 USD), with a beer, about 60 MXN ($3.50), which was such a steal considering the wonderful location.

They also have a number of other fun activities you can get stuck into here, including kayaking and snorkeling for an extra fee, so you can really make a day of it here. That said, as it is a little way out of town, but even if you don’t have a rental car, then you can pretty easily grab a taxi from town.

3. Go kayaking on the lagoon 

A man kayaks on Lake Bacalar, Mexico
Kayaking is a cool way to explore the lake!

If you’re visiting Bacalar Lake, kayaking is a must. The sparkling crystal clear water is best enjoyed during a sunshine-soaked day paddling wherever your heart desires. You can jump in and swim as you please and just admire the gorgeous scenery.

Sustainability is a big concern around the lake, especially as more tourists begin to visit, and kayaking is one of the most eco-friendly ways to explore. The price for full-day kayak rental is only $22 USD, and you should book it in advance to secure your rental. There’s no guide, so you can head off in any direction you please, letting your curiosity lead the way. 

Couples might consider trying out a double kayak to enjoy a romantic afternoon or get a group together for a fun and social adventure. One of the main benefits of seeing the lake by kayak is that you can get to all of the little secret spots and coves that the larger boats can’t access. You might even pack a picnic and carve out a quiet little corner on the banks all to yourself. 

This is without a doubt one of the best eco-friendly activities in Bacalar! You can book your own kayak adventure easily online here.

4. Swim in Cenote Azul 

Bailey overlooks Cenote Azul in Bacalar, Mexico
Cenote Azul!

Cenote Azul is one of the most popular cenotes in Bacalar. It looks like a small lake surrounded by forests, and it’s a gorgeous spot to spend the day swimming, snorkeling, diving, or just relaxing and admiring the view. This really is a pretty unique spot even with all of the incredible cenotes you’ll find in the Yucatán!

Cenote Azul was once a sacred place for pre-Colombian Mayans who used the area for religious rituals. It’s also believed to be the deepest known cenote. You can see pretty far down once you’re in the water, which is pleasantly warm for swimming!

For experienced divers, Cenote Azul is a dream come true. Erosion has created caves and other cenotes within the Laguna de Bacalar, and Cenote Azul is more than 90 meters (300 feet) deep. 

Entrance to Cenote Azul is only 25 MXN or just over $1 USD and parking is also free. The restaurant, Restaurant Eco Turístico Cenote Azul, offers life jacket rentals for 50 MXN ($3 USD), although they’re not required. Cenote Azul is located around 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) from the southern side of Bacalar and can be reached by a 45-minute walk, 15-minute bike ride, or 5-minute taxi.

5. Spend the day at El Encanto 

El Encanto Bacalar, Mexico
The foreshore at El Encanto. Photo credit: El Encanto

El Encanto is one of Lake Bacalar’s best-hidden gems and one of the best private beaches to enjoy a quiet day and have the lake’s beauty all to yourself. 

It is also one of the cheapest places on the lake to rent kayaks at around 150 MXN ($9 USD) per hour. There is a tasty little eatery serving dishes like fried fish as well as wooden piers for sunbathing. 

El Encanto is also the location of the famous two-person swing in the lake. It’s become famous with Instagrammers and makes for fantastic photos. To reach the beach, you can pretty easily take a taxi from town, and the entrance fee is 40 MXN ($2 USD).

6. Visit Fort San Felipe 

A canon on Fort San Felipe in Bacalar, Mexico
A canon on Fort San Felipe in Bacalar, Mexico
Bailey sits on the wall of Fort San Felipe in Bacalar, Mexico
What a view!

We might not be the biggest history buffs, but we really enjoyed visiting Fort San Felipe, which is also known as San Felipe Castle! The stone fortress was built all the way back in 1725 by the governor of Yucatán, Antonio de Figueroa, and to this day remains remarkably intact. It was an important historical location as it helped protect the area from the assaults of the English. 

The fort was converted to a museum in the early 1980s and now contains more than 250 years of historical artifacts, treasures, and stories involving Mayans, Spanish settlers, and pirates. Entrance to the small on-site museum is also included in your entrance fee.

While I had a great time learning about the history of the fort, I have to say that my favorite part was the incredible view of the lagoon you get from up top. It’s definitely a spot to grab a few photos!

The entrance to Fort San Felipe is 110 MXN ($6 USD) per person for foreign visitors, and it is open from 9 am to 7 pm every day. This is a spot you really don’t want to miss while you’re here in Bacalar.

7. Go on a SUP tour

Two peopl paddleboard on Bacalar Lagoon at sunrise
This is such a calm way to start the day! Photo credit: Amir AdvenTours

If you’ve ever dreamed of trying out stand-up paddleboarding, Lake Bacalar is the perfect place. The calm waters and beautiful views make this an amazing location for beginners as well as experienced SUPs. Even I could stand up in Bacalar Lake! You can rent a SUP and explore on your own, or join a guided tour.

This sunrise stand-up paddleboarding experience starts early in the morning so that you can enjoy the lake at its most pristine before the tourists and boats are out. The guided tour will take you to several Cenotes, including the Black Cenote, which is an open sky cenote at the deepest part of the lake. You can try out a facial mask made from sulfur mud for a natural spa-like experience. 

The tour includes breakfast and snacks as well as coffee and juice. It’s an amazing way to spend a morning in the Laguna while getting some gentle exercise. Plus it’s affordable too, costing just $35 USD per person! You can book your sunrise SUP tour online here!

8. Party at The Yak Lake House

Two drinks on the bar at The Yak Lake House in Bacalar, Mexico
Tequila anyone?
Fire dancer at The Yak Lake House in Bacalar, Mexico
The fire dancers were cool!

Right in the ‘Centro’ area of town, The Yak Lake House is a popular lakeside hostel that’s ideal for both short and long-term stays! With the gorgeous backdrop of the Bacalar Lagoon, they have a fantastic on-site restaurant and bar with all kinds of events being held throughout the week. Did somebody say happy hour cocktails?

While we didn’t stay here the last time we were in town, we couldn’t resist dropping by to experience their famous Blue Lagoon Fest that takes place every Wednesday from 4 pm to 2 am. I kind of expected it to be a small-time gig, but was really surprised to see that it was pretty busy with DJs, lights, and entertainment… The whole shebang really!

In fact, this party night is a kind of Mecca for backpackers, who travel in just for this Wednesday night social event alone. You can expect to pay around 300 MXN ($18 USD) to enter, but it’s definitely worth it for the experience. They also host a bunch of other great bar events too throughout the week, from salsa dancing to karaoke, chill beer afternoons and kayaking, and much more.

I’d also highly recommend the cocktails too – I had a couple of their classic mojitos, and they were great! The price of drinks wasn’t too bad either, at around 100 to 150 MXN ($6 to $9 USD) per cocktail and just 50 MXN ($3 USD) for a beer.

The bar at Yak Lake House is officially open from 8 am to 12 am daily, with different cocktail specials every day, so definitely give this one a shot if you find yourself looking for something to do in the evening!

Note: If you stay at the Yak House, you don’t need to pay the entrance fee for the party. You can check availability and book online here!

9. Watch the sunrise in Bacalar

Sunrise on Bacalar Lake
Sleeping in isn’t always the best way to wake up in Bacalar, Mexico!

The nightlife in Bacalar is very relaxed (except for Wednesday at the Yak House), so you’ll have no problem waking up to a phenomenal sunrise on at least one morning during your stay. For many visitors, catching the stunning colors of the rising sun over the tranquil water is one of their favorite experiences. 

Many enjoy swimming at sunrise before the crowds have arrived and floating around as the sun begins to illuminate the colors of the water. It’s a meditative and renewing experience that you can enjoy every day during your stay if you choose. 

There are plenty of amazing places around the lake to catch the sunrise, so regardless of where you stay, you can wake up and enjoy the beauty of nature. 

10. Spend the day at a Balnearios (beach club)

A view of The Balneario Magico from their dock on a beautiful day in Bacalar, Mexico
Come and enjoy the fun atmosphere! Photo credit: EddyGaleotti Depositphotos

Spending some time at a “Balnearios” or a beach club is a great way to socialize and make new friends while visiting Bacalar. The Balnearios are beach club-like hangouts where you can relax all day alongside the lake. You can eat, drink, and just play around in the water – it’s the perfect way to spend a day in Bacalar.

The lake access is completely restricted, as in, you can’t just walk up to the lake and go for a swim. All of the the shore is now privately owned, either by hotels or beach clubs. So, if you want a relaxing lake day, then visiting a Balneario is a must!

There are plenty of great options to choose from, so we’ve selected a few of our favorite spots to help plan your beach club experience. 

  • Rancho Alegre is a super popular spot with a delicious seafood restaurant. Admission costs about 30 MXN or about $2 USD, and the facilities include bathrooms, seating, and docs that you can swim off. It’s surrounded by extremely clear water, making it a perfect spot for snorkeling right off the shore. You can even rent kayaks and head further into the lake. 
  • The Balneario Magico was the first beach club to open along the shores of Lake Bacalar and remains one of the most popular. It has a ton of attractions, including a big swimming area with water slides. The water is only 1 meter (3 feet) deep, so families love to bring their kids here for a day of splashing around. For grown-ups, there is an excellent seafood restaurant on site. It does get crowded on the weekends, but with an admittance fee of 15 MXN (about $1 USD), that is to be expected. 

These are just a couple of the Balnearios in Bacalar so keep an eye out for a place that suits your style!

11. Eat vegan food at Mango y Chile

Vegan tacos at Mango y Chile in Bacalar, Mexico
Vegan tacos!
Vegan salad at Mango y Chile in Bacalar, Mexico
The salad bowl!

Mango y Chile is a beloved plant-based Mexican Kitchen that is as charming as it is delicious. The aim of the restaurant is to provide high-quality Mexican cuisine that is healthy for people and the planet. Enjoy delicious menu items like smoothies, Maya tortillas, and even burgers without guilt – everything is vegan! 

My favorite thing to order is the tacos. They are so colorful and full of flavor. The waffles are also a great pick if you’re coming for brunch! Dan loves the burgers the most.

Neither Dan or I are vegan, but we loved eating at Mango y Chile just the same. The food is so colorful and tasty! Honestly, it was our favorite place to go for a meal while visiting Bacalar last time.

Mango y Chile has a spectacular view of the lake and plenty of dining space on its beautiful patio. The restaurant is open from 9 am to 10 pm every day except Tuesdays when they are closed. 

12. Get professional photos taken 

Bailey climbs into our boat at Canal de los Piratas in Bacalar Lagoon on a boat tour
Get some great snaps taken!

Bacalar is, without a doubt, one of the most photogenic places in Mexico. So, having a professional photoshoot here is an awesome way to make your memories last a lifetime! One of the most popular ways to do this is by booking a professional photoshoot like this 2-hour excursion with photography and filming for around $84 USD for a group of up to four people.

You’ll love the experience of working with a professional photographer and taking home stunning photographs to show your friends and family. The beauty of your memories in Bacalar can live on long after you return home. 

Of course, I never did this because I have Daniel – he follows me around with his camera every day! But for those of you without your own Insta-boyfriend, this tour could be the perfect choice!

13. Eat at Mr. Taco

Daniel sits down to eat tacos at Mr. Taco, Bacalar
The best cheap tacos in Bacalar!
Fish tacos from Mr. Taco in Bacalar, Mexico
Seafood tacos!

There sure are tons of amazing taco places in Mexico, which is awesome news for us Mexican food lovers. That said, one spot that really impressed us in Bacalar was Mr. Taco – I’d even say that this is the best taco place in town!

So why does Mr. Taco deserve the crown? Well, not only is it right in the center of town next to the park, but the tacos themselves were super cheap and absolutely delicious. With each taco costing around $1 USD, I seriously recommend going and trying out a bunch of different ones (definitely recommend the shrimp tacos!).

My tip is to arrive a little bit before the dinner crowd arrives, as this place is pretty popular with locals too. Open from 8 am to 11 pm, this might also be your new favorite taco spot in town!

14. Swim in Cenote Esmeralda

Our boat in Cenote Esmeralda on Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico
Our boat in Cenote Esmeralda on Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

Travelers love to visit Cenote Esmeralda because of the unique eye-like appearance caused by a gap where the cenote water merges with the water from the Laguna Bacalar. It offers one of the best views in the entire Laguna, and there are some amazing photo opportunities for amateur photographers and professionals alike. 

The cenote is 70 meters (230 feet) deep, which is on the shallower end when it comes to Cenotes. It’s a great option for divers and snorkelers to explore the clear waters. 

While visiting, keep an eye out for wildlife in the surrounding mangroves. We saw a huge iguana in the trees here! 

Visiting the cenote is best done on this Bacalar eco boat tour. This is the same one mentioned above that visits all three cenotes in Bacalar.

15. Take a photo of the Bacalar sign at Bacalar Park

The Bacalar sign in Bacalar, Mexico
The Bacalar sign in Bacalar, Mexico

The colorful signs dotted around Mexico are so much fun, and many travelers love to take a photo next to them wherever they travel. Get one at every place and create a collage!

The Bacalar sign is located at the Bacalar park and contrasts really nicely with the blue water of the lake in the background. Definitely stop by the park for a picnic and enjoy posing for photos next to this famous landmark.

16. Visit Dzibanche and Kohunlich Ruins 

A temple at the Kohunlich Ruins, Bacalar
A temple at the Kohunlich Ruins, Bacalar

The Yucatán is scattered with incredible ruins from the pre-Columbian Mayan cultures, and the Lake Bacalar area is no exception. 

The Kohunlich Ruins are a Mayan city located right in the middle of the lush jungles,1 hour outside of Bacalar. You can spend the day walking around, hearing howler monkeys in the distance, and enjoying the beautiful jungle and magical temples that remain standing even after so many years. 

The Temple of Masks is one of the main attractions and is an Early Classic pyramid that dates back to 500 AD. The central staircase is embellished with large stucco masks that are around 8 feet (2.4 meters) high. 

Dzibanche is another important area for archeology located just to the north of Kohunlich. The name Dzibanche means “writing on wood” in the Mayan language and references the large wooden beam that is carved with glyphs within the temple. 

It was once believed that 40,000 people called this area home. If you want to experience Mayan ruins without the crowds, this is the perfect place for you. It’s under-visited, and you’ll probably have the grounds all to yourself, which to me, makes it one of the top Mayan ruins in Mexico to visit!

The easiest way to visit both sites is to rent a car or join a tour. This specific all-day tour costs $160 USD and includes everything you need for a great day, such as all entrance fees, transport, a tasty 3-course meal, and a professional guide.

The perk of a guided tour for this particular site is that they will be able to teach you all about the mysteries of the archeological sites, and they’ll help to point out native birds and monkeys.

Entrance to the Dzibanche Ruins is available from 9 am to 3 pm every day for a fee of 70 MXN or $4 USD. Entrance to the Kohunlich Ruins is available from 8 am to 5 pm every day at a fee of 85 MXN or $5 USD. Their website also says that an entrance ticket from Kohunlich may also allow entry to Dzibanche.

17. Eat a marquesita in the plaza

Bailey enjoys a marquesita in Bacalar, Mexico
So good!

No trip to Bacalar is complete without trying an authentic marquesita, which is a signature Mayan-style crêpe here in the Yucatán! The best place to find them is in the lively plaza in the center of town, where you’ll find vendors whipping up hot marquesitas filled with everything from Nutella to dulce de leche.

The best time to go is during the evening, as it gets a bit cooler out, and you’ll find more vendors in the plaza. I’d recommend going for the classic Nutella variety – wrapped in a fresh tortilla, it just tastes incredible! After grabbing your marquesita, feel free to have a seat right in the plaza to do some people-watching as the evening unfolds.

18. Tirolesas Kan Kin Bacalar ziplining 

A man ziplines at Tirolesas Kan Kin Bacalar ziplining
Photo credit: Tirolesas Kan Kin

Thrill-seekers rejoice; Chetumal Tours offers an insane zipline experience in the heart of the jungle just 19 km (12 mi) outside of Bacalar! The experience includes five zip lines stretching over 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) in length. Soar high above the treetops and take in the view of the Lake of 7 Colors in the distance as you enjoy the adventurous activity. 

The entire experience takes a little over two hours, and guides are available in English and Spanish. The cost of this experience is about $44 USD for adults and $35 USD for kids. You can make reservations on their website ahead of time to ensure they don’t book up during peak tourist season. 

19. Visit the Pirates Channel and shipwreck (Canal de Los Piratas) 

The shipwreck in Canal de Los Piratas, Bacalar
It’s beautiful but has a lot of history!
Canal de Los Piratas, Bacalar
So cool!

Don’t skip a visit to the Pirates Channel during your visit to Bacalar Lagoon. Aside from being absolutely beautiful, this is an important historical trade route that connected Mayan cultures during ancient times and allowed them to trade. It’s the place where the Hondo River connects to the Bacalar Lagoon and is considered by many to be the natural border between Belize and Mexico. 

Later on, after colonization, the channel was called the Canal de Salamanca and was used by famous pirates like Henry Morgan and Francis Drake. The water here is a bright light blue, and it is the only place on Bacalar Lake where you can see these colors.

In order to visit the Pirates Channel and shipwreck, you’ll need to go as part of an organized tour. This is designed to help protect the area and help make the experience that much more enjoyable for everyone.

We tried out this private boat tour on Bacalar Lake, where we visited the canal as well as lots of other attractions, including three cenotes and the island of birds! Because it’s a private tour, we loved that you can choose to spend as much time as you want at each attraction, so it doesn’t feel rushed at all.

The tour also includes a fresh fruit picnic which was beautifully prepared and we both really enjoyed. If you like, you can also spend some time at the end exploring for a while by kayak, before heading back.

With tickets for this tour at just $115 USD for adults and free for kids 11 and under, this is a great activity for families as well as couples, so definitely don’t miss out by reserving your spot online.

20. Visit the Coba Ruins 

Huge temple at the Coba Ruins in Mexico
The Coba Ruins!
Coba ruins ball court near Tulum, Mexico
Coba ruins ball court near Tulum, Mexico

For a full-day adventure just outside of Bacalar, take a tour of the Coba ruins. This huge ancient Mayan site is one of the most popular in the region and actually one of the best things to do in Tulum

This specific tour is an amazing bang for your buck and for $129 USD it includes so many amazing activities. In addition to a two-hour guided bike tour to start off your adventure, you will actually be able to climb to the top of Nohoch Mul, one of the tallest pyramids in the region. 

You’ll also have the opportunity to choose between two other activities, the first option is to explore Maya villages and take a traditional ceramics course. The other choice is to zipline over a lagoon and go swimming in a cenote. Afterward, enjoy a traditional dinner and entertainment, including music, dancing, and a Maya ball game. 

You can book your spot on a tour from Bacalar to Coba online here.

21. Learn how to salsa

Of course, salsa dancing is well-loved all throughout Latin America, so whether you’ve yet to learn this dance style or you’re an intermediate learner wanting to brush up on your skills, you can try a salsa dance class in Bacalar! Yak Lake House offers salsa classes every week, however their schedule can change, so it’s a good idea to pop by to ask when the next session is on.

You’ll be shown some warm-up exercises with some basic steps, so you can start to get a feel for the rhythm. As you go, dance moves are added, and depending on how you progress will determine how much you will learn. But by the end of the experience, you’ll definitely come away having learned something new!

Best Restaurants in Bacalar, Mexico 

Daniel enjoys his food at Baraka in Bacalar, Mexico
Baraka in Bacalar, Mexico
A meal at Baraka in bacalar, Mexico
Yum!

Bacalar is best known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you will have to make sacrifices when it comes to finding delicious food. With options ranging from fresh seafood to tasty traditional Mexican cuisine – the Bacalar food scene will have your mouth watering. 

  • Los Hechizos: Los Hechizos is located on the water, with a beautiful open-air dining room that allows you to admire the view of the lake while you dine on tasty Mexican dishes like ceviche Adelina, octopus, and soap de lima. Save room for some tasty desserts! 
  • Nao: The last thing you might expect to find in a small Mexican town like Bacalar is world-class Japanese cuisine, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Nao. Lake view, tasty sushi, and unique cocktails make this one of our favorite picks for dinner in Bacalar. 
  • Jaguara Cocina Mexicana: If you’re looking for a traditional Mexican kitchen with lots of healthy options, then this is it! They also serve up yummy cocktails and have a great wine menu. 
  • Baraka: Baraka is the best place for breakfast and brunch with a variety of menu options, including Mexican and Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the restaurant itself is beautiful. It’s well worth a visit. We loved the smoothie bowls! 
  • Pizzeria Bertilla: We were so excited to find a great pizza on the lake. The laid-back Italian restaurant serves cocktails, pizza, and pasta dishes that taste perfect after a day of recreation on the lake.
  • La Kinta Cafe: This is a wonderful spot to enjoy breakfast and coffee in Bacalar. With strong Wi-Fi and plenty of tables indoors and outdoors, it’s also a great place to set up with your laptop and get some work done. We did this last time we were here!

Where to Stay in Bacalar, Mexico

View of the pool and deck at Che ostel, Bacalr
The pool at the Che was the perfect place to relax!
the inside of the deluxe room at Che Hostel, Bacalar
The private rooms at Che Hostel are clean and modern!

Regardless of whether your tastes lean towards luxury or you’re just looking for a comfortable and budget-friendly place to rest your head after all of the fun on the lake, Bacalar has a ton of awesome options. If you’re looking for where to stay in Bacalar, these are some of our favorite options.

Che Bacalar Hostel & Bar – $

We stayed at Che Bacalar Hostel & Bar and while it’s a budget-friendly option, it had absolutely everything we needed. The location is perfect as it’s only a 5-minute walk from the lagoon! There’s free Wi-Fi, lots of space to relax and mingle and the on-site bar and pool were a lot of fun. I can’t forget the view of the lake from the rooftop – stunning!

They organize regular free activities like karaoke, themed parties, and Meet&Eat Nights so you can hang with fellow travelers. This is an adults-only property with bunks at $20 USD and up and really nice private rooms around the $150 USD mark in peak season. You can easily book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Blue Palm Bacalar – $$

A four-star hotel for $168 USD per night? Only in Mexico! This beautiful property at Blue Palm Bacalar features a restaurant, a huge swimming pool, a bar, and extensive gardens. It’s walking distance from the lagoon, and a stay here includes a delicious breakfast and great Wi-Fi, which is helpful for the digital nomads among us. 

A King Suite with a balcony is only $168 USD – even in the busy season! You can grab a room on Booking.com before they all disappear!

La Albariña – $$$

For a luxurious stay that you’ll remember forever, head to La Albarina. This five-star hotel is one of the best hotels in Bacalar. It’s on the water, with suites that have a lagoon view from each room. 

The staff speaks both English and Spanish, and the hotel has its own water sports facilities so that you can get out and enjoy the lake directly from your hotel. Other amenities include beautiful gardens, workout facilities, Wi-Fi, a restaurant, a bar, and a complimentary breakfast. Prices for a suite are around $400 USD a night, although I’ve found even better deals on Booking.com.

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. 

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on Fort San Felipe in Bacalar, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

With so many amazing things to do in Bacalar, Mexico, you’ll have trouble deciding which activities to choose from. It’s an adult playground for nature lovers and adventurous types. From kayak trips and swimming in cenotes to stand-up paddleboarding and relaxing at beach clubs – there is something for everyone to enjoy at Bacalar Lake. 

If you found this blog helpful, then take a browse around our travel blog. We have so many more in-depth guides to fantastic destinations around the world and Mexico such as:

21 BEST Beaches in Mexico (that you have to visit!)

36 BEST Things to do in Mexico City

Is Mexico Safe? Safety Info about Traveling in Mexico