Bacalar Lagoon

Bacalar Lagoon – The seven-colored lagoon

The Bacalar Lagoon in Mexico – 7 shades of blue

After a long bus journey I arrive in the middle of the night in Bacalar, a small village in Quitana Roo.
Walking in the dark at night worries me, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 6 months in Central America it’s that when night falls I shouldn’t be walking around, much less having all my belongings (which aren’t that much) on me .

I was doing the wrong thing, I didn’t know if I was even in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

During my night walk, in a village that seems uninhabited, I finally come across a hostel.
With or without hot water but also with or without a bed, I just want to get off the road.

Bacalar in 2011 was a destination like Holbox practically no one went there, and therefore there was no sign of hostels, apart from the only one who inaugurated his first season with me.
I was alone. And alone I remained for the days I remained.

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The next morning I reach the famous one Seven Color Lagoon. It is beautiful, very blue and very clean.
So much Caribbean that when I dive I forget that I’m not at the sea and the sweet taste of the water surprises me.

Although Bacalar has grown in popularity over the years, the village continues to remain one of the most precious and least traveled places in the Yucatan (with Mahuahal).

I returned to Bacalar in 2018. Now there are many eco-lodges, more hostels, but the village hasn’t changed that much.
Relaxed and charming like one of the many beautiful Central American beaches, the Bacalar lagoon continues to be the perfect place to relax and spend a few days.

Why is the Bacalar Lagoon also known as the Lagoon of the 7 Colors?

The most obvious answer is that the name is due to 7 different shades of blue of which, with the right light conditions, the lagoon becomes colourful. Simultaneously.
However, the reason why this phenomenon occurs is that the combination of factors such as: light conditions, the different types of sand and the level of shallow water, all together make the color shades so different.

a long dock going into a body of water

The interesting history of Bacalar

The name Bacalar is believed to be derived from the word Mayan b’ak halal – surrounded by reeds.
The village of Bacalar is located in the far south of Mexico, near the international borders of Belize he was born in Guatemala a two and a half hour drive from Tulum and about a 40 minute drive from the town of Chetumal.

Bacalar was the first Mayan city in the region inhabited for centuries before the arrival of the Spanish.
Thanks to its strategic location it was a central area for the indigenous pre-Columbian Maya.
It was also the first city in the area that the colonizing Spanish conquistadors managed to conquer in 1543. It became such an important city that the southern area of ​​today Quintana Roo it was governed precisely by Bacalar.

Continuously plundered by pirates for the 17th century – pirates entered through an artificial canal into the lagoon now known as The Pirates Channel Bacalar – it was thanks to the construction of the Fortress of San Felipe that Bacalar managed to defend itself.
In 1848 an indigenous Mayan army retook the city in the war known as the Yucatan Caste War.
The Mexican authority did not govern the city again until 1902.

In recent years Bacalar has received the official designation of Pueblo Magico or Magic City in 2006 thanks to the experiences it offers visitors to the region, such as La Laguna, the San Felipe Fortress and the beautiful cenotes it offers.

What to do at Bacalar Lagoon

The lagoon extends for 50 miles and is the second largest freshwater lake in the world and the least colonized by tourism.

On the shore of the lake lies the town – Bacalar to be precise – which is small and intimate, very quiet. There is a main square with a gazebo and not much more.

Just two blocks from the center you reach the seafront where you can admire this beautiful lagoon which should be a point of passage for all those arriving from Chiapas or Belize.

Bacalar invites relaxation but also marine and sporting activities, so how to fill your days in Bacalar?

a large body of water with a beach and houses in the background

In SUP and Kayak in the lagoon

The two most popular activities, which I highly recommend, are:

  • SUP or Kayak all’alba – The sunrise in Bacalar is simply gorgeous. The best way to enjoy it is to do it standing on a SUP or sitting on a kayak in the middle of the lagoon
  • Sailing boat excursion in the lagoon – The lagoon is so large that it seems like a sea, what better way to visit it than by boat?

Visit Fort San Felipe and the Museum

Il Forte San Felipe o San Felipe Castle dates back to the 18th century and is located right in the center of the village.
The Fort was built in the Spanish era to defend the city of Bacalar and its people from the pirates who used to come to the area.

Today from this fort you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the lagoon and the Pirate Channel where there is a shipwrecked boat, and it also includes a museum that is worth visiting.

Fly the drone over the Cenotes of the lagoon

If you are traveling with a drone then Bacalar will give you some phenomenal footage.
In fact, in the lagoon there are cenotes, including the blue cenote which is the deepest in the Riviera Maya.
The cenotes on which to fly your little gem are:

  • Blue Cenote
  • Cenote Cocalitos
  • Emerald Cenote
  • Cenote la Bruja

If you don’t have a drone but are thinking about it, consider the DJI Mini Mavik which is ultra light and does not require a license.

Reach the wrecked ship at Pirate Channel

The Pirate Channel owes its name to the fact that from here the pirates went up the Hondo river, a natural border between Belize and Mexico, then entering the city and plundering the wood that was produced in the region.

The attraction of the Canal de Los Piratas is the wreck, which is partially covered with trees and can also be climbed.

Due to its location on the opposite side of the lagoon to reach the canal you need to find a way to get there, you can choose between these options:

a beach with trees and buildings

Where to sleep in Bacalar

Bacalar is a destination where numerous eco-sustainable and design structures have arisen. Among the best in the area I recommend the Hotel Carolina directly on the lagoon and with free kayaks for guests, La Galuna Bacalar a beautiful design hotel not far from the center and the very green and super colourful Hotel Aires Bacalar small charming hotel.
Among the hostels the most popular among backpackers is the The Yake Lake Hostel directly on the lagoon with both private and shared rooms.

How to go to Bacalar

To get to Bacalar you can take a direct bus from Palenque or from Chetumal with a collective bus or a taxi.
From Bacalar you can reach Tulum with a collective bus to take at the petrol station.

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Read also: Mayan ruins Chichen Itza in Yucatan Mexico

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