10 Best Things to do in Bacalar (Mexico’s Blue Lagoon) 10 Best Things to do in Bacalar (Mexico’s Blue Lagoon)

10 Best Things to do in Bacalar (Mexico’s Blue Lagoon)

Tucked away in a corner of the Yucatan Peninsula, where lush jungles meet crystalline waters, the small, sleepy town of Bacalar is a hidden gem in Mexico. Known as the ‘Lagoon of Seven Colors’, Bacalar’s shades of blue represent the perfect Caribbean escape, full of natural beauty. Sail on waters so clear you can spot different turquoise hues beneath your boat and lounge on the shores at vibrant Balnearios. With its laid-back charm, historic sites, and stunning Cenote Azul, there are plenty of things to do in Bacalar, Mexico.

Things to do in Bacalar

Bacalar, Mexico, is a pueblo magico (magical town) known for its stunning freshwater lagoon with shockingly turquoise waters, colorful downtown, and lively restaurant scene. It remains somewhat of a hidden gem compared to popular coastal neighbors like Tulum but makes a must-see on any Yucatan itinerary.  

rapidos de bacalar Mexico platform swimming

Often referred to as the ‘Maldives of Mexico’, spend your days exploring the different hues of the Bacalar lagoon, its underwater cenotes, history, and the many beautiful surroundings.

1. Relax at a Balneario (Beach Club)

Since Bacalar sits on a lagoon, you won’t find soft sand beaches like in nearby hotspots such as Cancun. Instead, the area is known for its vibrant beach clubs called Balnearios. 

swing Bacalar Mexico

For a fee (50 – 400 MXN), you can use the club’s facilities, like its docks, onsite restaurant, chairs, and more. This is the perfect way to unwind near the vibrant blue waters! Soak up the sun while you lazily hang in a beach hammock with your feet dipped into the refreshing water. Many have small piers into the lake, from which you can jump straight into the water to cool off. 

Some of our favorite beach clubs are: 

  • Blu Beach Club (400 MXN, including food)
  • Balneario Magico
  • Balneario Lol-Ha
  • Rancho Alegre
  • Balneario El Aserradero
  • Balneario Ecológico
Bacalar Mexico balnearios Laguna Bonanza

2. Los Rapidos de Bacalar

One of the best things to do in Bacalar is experience the wild currents of Los Rapidos. This narrow, mangrove-lined canal is part of the Bacalar Lagoon but forms a natural river on which you can float down. Simply hop off the wooden platform at the start and let the gentle currents move you through the canal. 

hammocks rapidos de bacalar mexico

As you gently wade down, keep an eye out for the stromatolites that line the channel. These rock-lookalikes are some of the oldest living organisms on earth and can be found all throughout the lagoon. If you bring a snorkel, you can admire them from close by. But please remember not to touch or walk on them!

swimming Bacalar Mexico los rapidos

How to Get to Los Rapidos

Finding the entrance to Los Rapidos in Bacalar, Mexico, can be a challenge as there are no signs pointing to it. It lies a bit further away from downtown Bacalar and is merely a gate on the main highway (here’s the exact location). 

Bacalar Mexico los rapidos

Laguna Bonanza

Alternatively, you can head to Laguna Bonanza if you don’t want to make it to the busier and more expensive Los Rapidos.

This lagoon section has stunningly clear water and is less visited, making it the perfect place to relax. Rent a kayak, explore the lagoon’s different corners, and go down the rapids.

kayak rapidos de Bacalar Mexico

3. Boat Tour Bacalar

No trip to Bacalar is complete without exploring the different corners of the stunning lagoon. Spend a day on the water by joining a boat tour and exploring different cenotes, islands, and pirate canals.

dive boat tour Bacalar Mexico

There are many tour companies all around the lagoon that offer similar options with set prices. The classic is a 2-hour tour in a lancha (small boat) or ponton (pontoon), but you can also hop on a sailboat or small catamaran for 3-4 hours. (Book that tour here) Tours can be shared or private. (We booked this private tour)

boat tour Bacalar Mexico

Travel across the vibrant water and notice the different shades of blue caused by different depths. From dark navy and deep turquoise to translucent blue – there’s a striking difference in the color of the water! 

Tours & Tickets 🥾View all
Bacalar Mexico Canal de Los Piratas

What’s Included?

Most major sights on the Bacalar Lagoon are included, such as the Canal Pirates, the stromatolite reserve, Bird Island, and the underwater cenotes that feed the lake. On a private tour, you can make up your own itinerary and include stops to swim and relax. Expect to pay about 300 – 400 MXN for a Lancha or Ponton tour. A private (sailboat) tour typically lies between 2.500 – 3.000 MXN. (See all boat tours here)

Bird island Bacalar Mexico boat tour

4. Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar

Perched on the edge of Bacalar’s serene lagoon stands the San Felipe fort. This Spanish fortress was built in 1729 to defend the town from pirates who roamed the Caribbean Sea. Against a backdrop of shimmering turquoise waters, this historic site is a great place to soak up the astonishing views over the lagoon. 

The fort lies in the middle of downtown Bacalar, making it the perfect place to stop while wandering around the area.

Forte de San Filipe de Bacalar Mexico

Museo Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar

While most visitors head here for sunset, you can also visit the little museum. Here, you can learn a bit more about the history of the pueblo magico, from pre-Hispanic times to the formation of Quintana Roo. Entrance to the fortress is only 55 MXN (3.30 USD) and includes entrance to the museum. 

drone forte de San Filipe de Bacalar Mexico

5. Watch the Sunrise at the Lake

Before a full day of exploring, rise early to witness the sunrise over the lake. Choose a pier or Balneario, bring a coffee, and witness the world waking as the sun pops out behind the green and blue. 

sunrise lake Bacalar Mexico

Waking up early in the morning should be an easy feat in Bacalar, as the nightlife is very relaxed (except for Wednesdays at the Yak House). Watching the sunrise is very common, so arrive early to grab a good spot.

Many people also take a dip before the sun sits high in the sky, floating around before the water is fully illuminated. This is one of the most memorable things to do in Bacalar, and there are plenty of amazing places around the lagoon to catch the sunrise.

watch the sunrise Bacalar Mexico

6. Swim at Cenote Azul

Cenotes are one of the highlights of the Yucatan and lie dotted across the entire peninsula. The cenotes in Bacalar, however, are a bit different than most: they’re not underground. Instead, these sinkholes look like grand open lakes with different depths, causing the blue color of the water to vary. 

Cenote Azul Bacalar Mexico

Cenote Azul (blue cenote), with a depth of 90 meters, is a huge cenote filled with dark blue water and a great place to cool off on a hot day. It’s one of the largest sinkholes in Mexico, and makes a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, with tons of caverns to explore.

drone photo Bacalar Mexico

Next to the water, there’s a small restaurant where you can relax on shaded patios and order something to drink. Though it feels a little like a beach club, the cenote has a very local vibe to it.

Best restaurants and cafes in Bacalar

7. Kohunlich Ruins

Step into a mystical part of Mayan history at the Kohunlich ruins, a hidden treasure within the lush jungles of Bacalar. Wander through the time-worn corridors of this ancient archeological site, where stories of a bygone civilization echo among towering pyramids and sacred temples.

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10 Best Things to do in Bacalar (Mexico’s Blue Lagoon)

One of the most impressive structures is the Temple of the Masks, a stoic guardian adorned with stucco masks that comes alive in the sunlight shining through the lush canopy above.

While you make your way across the white paths, try to envision the vibrant rituals that were once held in this sacred space. Kohunlich is a sanctuary frozen in time and one of the lesser-known things to do in Bacalar, Mexico.

8. Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding on the Lagoon

Kayaking or paddleboarding on the lagoon is easily one of the best things to do in Bacalar! This way, you can admire all the different hues of the lake at your own pace and stay as long as you like. With plenty of places to rent kayaks or paddleboards, this is a must-do activity on your trip to Bacalar, Mexico. (Book this sunrise paddleboard tour)

pier Bacalar Mexico lagoon

Head out early, just when the sun starts to rise above the Bacalar lagoon, and listen to the peaceful sound of awakening birds as you paddle past island crops and ancient stromatolites. 

Los rapidos de Bacalar Mexico kayak

You can rent kayaks and paddleboards from places all around the lake, including many Balnearios. Rental usually costs between 200 and 300 MXN (12 to 18 USD). If you don’t know how to kayak or paddleboard, you can join a tour where instructors will teach you how to and guide you through the lagoon.

best things to do Bacalar Mexico

9. Eat with a View at Mango y Chile

If you’re traveling through Mexico, food often stands at the center, with many gastronomical adventures all throughout the country. In Bacalar, there are many great options to try, with one unique must-try restaurant: Mango Y Chile. Here, Bacalar’s vibrant flavors unite in a colorful, plant-based paradise with beautiful views over the lagoon. 

Vegan burger mango y Chile Bacalar Mexico

Indulge in the freshest meals – from zesty mango-infused salads to spicy tacos and even burgers. They also have some of the best french fries!

Note: The restaurant’s entrance is a bit hidden, but you can follow the signs throughout town.

10. Witness the Danza de Los Voladores

Every day, a few times from noon till late at night, you can witness the local Danza de Los Voladores. Also known as the Palo Volador, this Mesoamerican ceremony dates back centuries and is a spectacle you have to experience when visiting Bacalar, Mexico.

Danza de Los Voladores Bacalar Mexico

While the characteristic music of a local flute plays in the background, you’ll watch a few people climb up a huge pole by the ‘Bacalar’ letters in the main park. Once they’re at the top, they’ll go back down, only hanging by their feet. Often dressed in vibrant outfits, the participants in the ceremony represent the earth’s elements and directions.

This ritual gives a glimpse into an ancient tradition of this part of Mexico, performed to appease the gods to end severe droughts. You’ll notice many crowds gather when the performance takes place, and though it might feel a bit touristy, it doesn’t make it any less impressive.

town Bacalar Mexico

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Bacalar

From fresh juices to delicious Al Pastor tacos (and lots of vegan food), Bacalar in Mexico has exceptional restaurants. Many places are either perched on the edges of the Bacalar lagoon or on vibrant squares, meaning you’ll always have a lovely view during your meals. Here are some of our favorites: 

  • Mango y Chile (vegan)
  • Taqueria El Trompo De K’los
  • La Playita
  • Cafe Tito (coffee)
  • Mr. Taco
  • Mi Burrito Bacalar

Tip: Don’t forget to try the unique Marquesitas! These thin-wafer crepes are rolled like a taco and stuffed with anything you like, such as condensed milk, jam, chocolate, fruit, cheese, caramel, etc. You’ll find little Marquesita stands spread across town.

Hamburger mango y Chile Bacalar Mexico

Where to Stay in Bacalar

The best place to stay in Bacalar is in the center of town. Here, you’ll find the Bacalar park and most restaurants, and it’s only a short walk away from the edge of the lagoon.

Alternatively, many beautiful options lie directly on the lagoon, with private piers and stunning views over the water. From boutique Bacalar hotels to guesthouses in town – there’s no bad choice!

Where to stay in Bacalar Mexico

How Many Days in Bacalar?

There are many things to do in Bacalar, Mexico, so it’s worth staying a few days. The town itself is small and easy to navigate on foot, but the lagoon is quite vast, and you’ll need a kayak, paddleboard, or boat to explore it. For the perfect combination of activities and relaxation, plan to stay for 3-4 days.

swings balenario Bacalar Mexico

How to Visit Bacalar

Although Bacalar, Mexico, lies further away from other hotspots in the Yucatan Peninsula, it’s not difficult to get to! Depending on where you’re visiting from, there are a few transportation options. 

There’s no airport in Bacalar itself, but there’s one in the town of Chetumal (45 minutes away). If you’d rather fly, you can take a short commuter flight from Cancun or Mexico City. Alternatively, for a more environmentally friendly option, make your way there by car or bus.

Find flights to Bacalar ✈️

By Car

One of the best ways to get around Mexico is by renting a car. Easily drive south from Cancun or Tulum, passing through some of the most stunning jungle roads. 

From Cancun, it’s about 4 hours driving and about 3 hours from Tulum. If you’re coming from Tulum, make sure to fill up your tank before leaving the boho town, as you’ll find no gas stations in between. You can also hop on a taxi, though this can be quite expensive. 

By Bus 

Alternatively, hop on one of the ADO buses that depart directly from Tulum and Cancun. Though time-consuming (5+ hours), the buses are comfortable, safe, and easy to use.

We recommend booking your seats online in advance. The bus drops you off on the main road, which lies about 15 minutes from Bacalar town.

Tip: Make sure to bring some snacks, water (don’t worry, there’s a bathroom on the bus), and something to do on the journey.

sunrise lagoon de Bacalar Mexico

Getting Around 

All the best things to do in Bacalar lie a bit further away from one another. Because of this, it’s good to have a rental car to get around.

Alternatively, you can hop on a bicycle to explore the Bacalar Lagoon. However, make sure to plan ahead, as there are limited rental places in town. There’s also the option to take a taxi, though they have limited availability. 

Bacalar Mexico old town sign

How Much Does Bacalar Cost?

Compared to its splashy neighbors, Bacalar remains a fairly budget-friendly destination. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation and restaurant options, meaning there’s something for everyone.

Costs of Traveling in Bacalar

Travel on a budget in Bacalar, from $270 − $450 USD weekly per person, mid-range $790 − $1350 USD, and high-end from $1340 − $1950 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

* Average daily costs
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Stay at beautiful all-inclusive Bacalar hotels right on the lagoon’s edges, or opt for a cool glamping experience and delicious street food if you’re backpacking through Mexico

Tip: Bring enough cash with you to Bacalar. There are only just a handful of ATMs on the main square (Palácio Municipal), which can sometimes be out of money.

sunset boat Bacalar Mexico

Best Time to Visit

Unlike other coastal areas like Playa del Carmen or Tulum, Bacalar is slightly cooler. Therefore, the best time to visit this Mexican gem is between November and April. During these months, the weather is good and usually dry (with minimal rainfall), making it the perfect time to explore the lagoon.


This period also falls outside of the region’s hurricane season, which typically runs from June to October. Remember that Dec – April is also the peak tourist season. Try to visit at the beginning or end of this period for fewer crowds and good weather.

02/04/2024 https://www.saltinourhair.com/mexico/bacalar-mexico/
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