Updated: January 2017
Perched on the edge of a large fresh water lagoon, Bacalar is a small town largely untouched by the upscale tourism. In fact, this underrated gem remains largely skipped over for the more well-trodden gringo trail. For those of us that have a little more time, or enjoy avoiding the crowds that congregate around the coast, Laguna Bacalar should not be missed!
Here's short guide with everything you need to plan your stay.
visiting on a day trip
Whilst we would encourage anybody visiting Bacalar to spend at least a night in one the lake-side accommodations, we appreciate that not everybody can travel so slowly, and in many cases a trip here can only be done in a day.
The good news is, you can still sample the best the lake has to offer in just a few hours - especially if you're using Chetumal as a base. The most important this is finding good public access to the water.
After walking the road out of town, we can safely say that the best option we found was within the premises of 'Cocalitos', a small bar from which small tours are run. They have a great seating area, as well as perfect water-side access and grassy areas on which to laze. It was a little unclear whether there was a fee for swimming, but an awkward moment is easily avoided by purchasing a couple of bottles of ice-cold beer (MX$20 each).
Cocalitos can be found approximately 3-4 kilometres out of town, and the turning is well marked.
things to do in bacalar
Depending on how energetic you're feeling, water-based activities are a popular way to explore the lake. These include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and sailing tours.
Visit the fort
Fort San Felipe, located in the centre of town, was one of the final bastions to fall to the Spanish, and as such the fort itself and its small museum are a worthwhile stop for anybody interested in history.
The fort is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 AM to 7 PM. The entrance fee is MX$60.
Do...absolutely nothing at all!
To be honest, that's what people come her for. The waters of Laguna Bacalar are too still, clear and inviting, to do anything but find a spot on a pier, a good book and a cold beer and set up camp for the entire day.
where to stay
The first thing you need to decide before picking your accommodation is whether you want to be on the lagoon or not. Often this will come down to price.
The most popular hostel in town is The Yak Lake House where dorms start from MX$230, with the Blue Monkey Hostel coming in a close second. If you need to save some cash and don't mind camping, Yaxche Centro has two person tents at MX$100 per person (they're located in the town, but have a free shuttle to private lagoon access).
how to get to laguna bacalar
All 2nd class buses between Cancun and Chetumal will stop in the centre of town, with the 1st class routes dropping off on the highway on request.
A single to Bacalar from Chetumal is MX$25-35 pesos each way. (busses leaving from 2nd class station), which drop you off in the centre of Bacalar Calle 5.
To return, wait at the stop on Calle 7 outside Agencia el Estudiante (it is sign-posted) for a bus to Chetumal, which depart around once an hour.