Famed for its “Lake of Seven Colours” that is fed by underground cenotes, Bacalar is one of the most magical destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula. It was inhabited by the Mayan people for centuries before the Spanish settlement of San Felipe de Bacalar was established in 1545.
Things to do in Bacalar
The town of Bacalar lies on the southwestern edge of the 55-kilometre-long Bacalar Lagoon. The pure white sandy bottom of this freshwater lake results in a myriad of blue shades, tapering from dark blue to crystal clear at its shallowest points.
Rent a kayak or canoe to explore this natural wonder at your leisure or join a sailing excursion to venture further afield. Certified scuba divers can also head deep below the water’s surface to discover its fascinating cenote sink holes.
Guided walks through the surrounding jungle take you to the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben, Dzibanché and Kohunlich, with birdwatching opportunities particularly impressive during the early morning hours. Adventurous travellers can go on a horseback riding excursion at one of Bacalar’s ranches to explore the lakeside trails.
While Bacalar Lagoon is Bacalar’s highlight, don’t miss a visit to the Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar, which was built to defend the town from pirate attacks in 1733. Wander its stone fortifications and visit the on-site museum that details the fort’s role in the 19th-century Caste War when the native Mayans rebelled against the European-descended Yucatecos.
Getting around Bacalar
Bacalar is around a four-hour bus ride south of Playa del Carmen or a one-hour journey north of Chetumal. While the city itself is easy to visit on foot, a private vehicle or bicycle is best for exploring the natural beauty of the Bacalar Lagoon.