The Ultimate Guide to Bacalar

Bacalar is a beautiful little town in Mexico near the border of Belize. It is famous for Lake Bacalar which is the stunning lagoon called Laguna de Los Siete Colores (The Lagoon of Seven Colors) due to its turquoise and blue hues.

Bacalar truly is a hidden paradise. It has the Pueblo Mágico status, which are towns recognized by the Mexican government for their “magical” qualities like astonishing natural beauty, great hospitality, and amazing cuisine.

Bacalar swings

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Despite the absence of an actual beach, Bacalar doesn´t disappoint. The water of the lagoon is mesmerizing and something I have never seen before. It´s fresh water and much of it enters the lagoon through underground Cenotes (sinkholes).

With its laid-back and low-key vibe, Bacalar is the perfect spot to spend a few days unwinding and relaxing.

It is similar to Tulum with the Boho-chic “coachellaesque” vibes, Instagram-worthy spots, and vegan-friendly restaurant scene.

I put together the ultimate guide to Bacalar, where to stay, what to do, and where to eat.

First of all:

How to get to Bacalar?

There are many different ways how to get to this beautiful paradise. It is a 4-hour drive from Cancun or Mérida. A 2,5-hour drive from Tulum and it is also only half an hour away from Chetumal, the capital city of the state of Quintana Roo.

You can either get to Bacalar by renting a car, get a taxi or personal driver, go with a Colectivo (Minivan) or bus. We took a bus from Cancun to Chetumal and decided to get a taxi from Chetumal to Bacalar. A taxi from Chetumal to Bacalar was about 300 pesos (15 USD, as of January 2022).

Where to stay?

Bacalar doesn´t have big hotel zones like Cancun or Tulum but nevertheless, there are many hotels and Airbnbs you can book. Bacalar is a small town so it´s pretty easy to walk around.

We stayed at a budget-friendly hotel a little bit further away from the main attractions and just walked into the town center every day. It is really basic and a good option if you want to save money. Just don´t expect too much.

Here and here are other options that cost a bit more but have good reviews and are a lot closer to the lagoon than the one where we stayed at.

The best Things to do in Bacalar

Laguna de los Siete Colores

A trip to Bacalar isn´t complete if you haven´t spent time at the beautiful lagoon. Bacalar has a lot of “Balnearios” where you can enter the lagoon over a pier. At the end of the pier, you usually have Palapas (house with palm leaf roof), a latter to enter the lagoon, and sometimes benches to relax.

I saw a lot of people hanging their hammocks and reading a book. Make sure to come early if you want a nice spot under the Palapa because it can get crowded in the afternoon.

Where to find the swings and hammocks in Bacalar?

This is the question I was the most interested in when I saw pictures of the Bacalar lagoon.

Where can I find the hammocks and swings in Bacalar?

Cenote Cocalitos

Cenote Cocalitos is my personal favorite spot in Bacalar. You have to pay a 50 pesos (2USD, as of January 2022) entrance fee but let me tell you it´s so worth it.

Cocalitos is a cenote which is a sinkhole that has filled with groundwater. They have a restaurant on-site and bathrooms so it´s a perfect spot to go with your kids.

There you have beautiful swings and hammocks to relax in. Also, the water is shallow and you can walk in it pretty far out.

swings in bacalar
Swings at Cocalitos
hammocks in bacalar
Hammocks in Bacalar

You can also see Stromatolites here which are microbial reefs created by cyanobacteria.

Fossils of the earliest known stromatolites are about 3.5 billion years old and therefore Fossilized stromatolites are the earliest evidence of life on Earth. (Source: universe today)


You can see these in the lagoon of Bacalar and they´re beautiful. Just be careful to not step on them and don´t use sunscreen when you go into the water to preserve them.

Stromatolites in Bacalar
Stromatolites in Bacalar

Los Aluxes Hotel

This Hotel also has swings and hammocks where you can take nice pictures. It costs more to go here than Cocalitos with about 100 pesos (5 USD) but it´s still really affordable.

Ecocamping Yaxche

This is as the name suggests camping and therefore really affordable if you want to stay here instead of a hotel. They have beautiful swings in the lagoon which you can see in the pictures on the website. We did not end up staying here because it´s a little bit further out of town and we didn´t have a car. If you have a car it might be easier for you to stay here and drive to Bacalar center.

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Fort of San Felipe

San Felipe Fort is one of the main attractions in Bacalar. The fort served the purpose of protecting the Bacalar’s Maya community from attacks by pirates. In the 1980s, the fort was converted into a museum that remains today. In the museum, you can learn about Bacalar’s history and you can see Mayan archaeological artifacts including ammunition and weapons. It costs §110 pesos ( 5 USD, as of January 2022).

Fort of San felipe
Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul is a cenote where you can swim in and relax and spend a relaxing afternoon. It costs a small entrance fee and you can get life jackets if you want to. They also have bathrooms and a restaurant on-site in case you get hungry. Again make sure you don´t wear any sunscreen when you go in the water to protect marine life.

Los Rapidos

We didn´t end up going here but I read in various other Blogs that Los Rapidos is a lot of fun. Los Rapidos are rapids that are narrow sections of the lagoon where the water flow is stronger than in other areas. The water is really turquoise and looks beautiful. They charge a couple of pesos entrance fees. You can float down or rent kayaks there and they also have a restaurant on-site. Next time I’m in Bacalar I´ll definitely go there.

Stroll around the Town Center Bacalar centro

Bacalar’s center has a lot of cute little shops, restaurants, and cafés. Walk around the Fort of San Felipe and check out the shops that sell artisan handicrafts. We stumbled across Bakal Art Café which is a small Café that also sells crystals, Gua Shas, and jewelry. If you are into these kinds of things definitely check them out. I bought the most beautiful citrine crystal here.

crystal shop in bacalar

Take a picture with the Bacalar sign

Many towns and cities in Mexico have these beautiful, colorful signs that make the perfect picture spot. It is located right next to the Fort of San Felipe in Bacalar Park. The park is currently under renovation (January 2022).

Where to eat and drink in Bacalar?

I feel like you can´t have a bad meal in Bacalar and there is something for every taste and budget.

Bacalar has a lot of really nice outdoor cafés and restaurants and most of them are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Here is a list of my favorite spots to eat and drink in Bacalar.

Mango y Chile

Mango y Chile is a super popular restaurant in Bacalar and has a privileged location right next to the Fort of San Felipe. It has a relaxing vibe to it and we came here for dinner but when you come during the day you have a beautiful view over the lagoon.

Mango y chile bacalar

They offer vegan burgers, tacos, and hotdogs and they have amazing milkshakes and smoothies. I had their classic burger and a smoothie with banana, peanut butter, and chocolate, and everything tasted amazing. I now understand why it´s so popular. Definitely go here if you love tasty vegan food.

La Piña

We came here for dinner and they serve Mexican food like tacos and guacamole. They look really small from the outside but they have a big courtyard. They offer great vegan options. We had the vegan cauliflower tacos and they were absolutely delicious! Their guacamole is also really yummy and they have tasty fruit waters like strawberry water.

Yerbabuena Smoothie Bar

Wow, this has to be my favorite café in Bacalar. They have small tables in the front and a cute backyard. The food presentation is top-notch.

yerbabuena smoothie bar
yerbabuena smoothie bar

The food and smoothies are fresh and absolutely delicious. I had their Selva smoothie made with spinach, kiwi, and parsley which is probably the best smoothie I´ve had so far. Everything tasted amazing and it´s the perfect brunch spot if you´re in Bacalar.

Mi burrito

Mi burrito is also a popular spot in Bacalar and for a good reason. It is a food truck that serves street food and they have a few benches where you can sit. They have really tasty burritos and great sauces to choose from. The server gave us really good recommendations by adding peanuts to our burritos which you should do if you´re not allergic. It´s a great dinner or lunch spot.

La Kinta

This is a cute little café in the center of Bacalar. I love their interior and they have great coffee. We had a very delicious brownie and you should definitely try their Cappuccino frappé.

Enamora café

We came here for a quick coffee fix and we for sure got that. Their Cappuccino frappés are also really good and we had delicious hummus tapas. They have a lot of benches and tables to sit outside and it´s only a short walk from the center.

Restaurante & Café

Unfortunately, I have no idea if that is their name or what their real name is but this is a small café/ restaurant where you can eat typical Mexican food. It’s great if you´re on a budget because the prices are super affordable.

This is their sign

It´s on Calle 7 and it looks like a family home where they put a couple of tables and chairs. But don´t let the look fool you. Their food is really delicious. They have a sign in front and it turns into a bar in the evening.

When you walk from the center and Bacalar park area up on Calle 22 and then to the north on Calle 7 you can find them. You will recognize their sign in front. We only paid about 7 USD for the food and drinks and were full afterward.

So there you have it, the ultimate guide to Bacalar. It´s a relaxing little town and should be on everybody’s bucket list. You will not regret spending a couple of days here.

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Jessica Buck

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