Are you looking for things to do in Bacalar? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered.
By Sammie Pearsall, blogger at www.theramblingrenegade.com
Bacalar might not be the first place you think of when you think of your Mexican vacation but I promise it is one of the most worthwhile towns to explore along the Yucatan Peninsula.
This Ultimate List of Things to Do in Bacalar will ensure you leave Mexico feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to plan your return weekend getaway to Bacalar.
Bacalar has been deemed a pueblo magico, or “magic town”, for its magical qualities. I lived in Mexico for 5 months due to border restrictions preventing my boyfriend and myself from living together in each other’s countries.
Mexico became our safe haven and Bacalar, this little magic town, our refuge. We made it our mission to visit any place our local friends recommended and Bacalar kept coming up.
A relaxing town, yet untouched by immense tourist crowds. Quiet enough to lose yourself in the crystal waters and the sounds of chirping birds in the trees and lively enough to have yourself a little night on the town when the feeling strikes.
Does perfect exist? Sure does. And it’s Bacalar.
⭐️ Top Tours To Do In Bacalar
Besides these wonderful things to do in Bacalar. Here are some of the top tours we recommend for while you are staying there.
- Open Bar Boat Laguna Tour – Best for being social and meeting fellow travelers
- Private Boat tour of the Laguna – Best for Families
The Ultimate 11 Things To Do In Bacalar
The MAIN attraction to Bacalar is Laguna de los 7 Colores or Laguna de Bacalar. It’s possible you’ve seen this mystical place on Instagram, a freshwater water lake with water so clear it resembles glacial ice.
This lagoon earns its name due to its 7 different shades of blue and turquoise colors. It’s a result of its white sandy floor and crystal clear waters which help reflect the sun into the magnificent colors you witness.
Seeing as Bacalar is a lake-side town, it would be pretty hard to miss visiting this spectacle. Regardless, make sure to put it on your list because I guarantee once you’ve experienced Laguna de Bacalar you’re going to want to revisit it again and again and probably again.
2. Cenote Azul
Not to be mixed up with Cenote Azul in Playa Del Carmen, Cenote Azul Bacalar is a whole nother beast. With a diameter of 360 meters across and a depth of 90 meters (slightly terrifying but equally amazing), there is a lot to be explored here.
Its alluring deep blue waters and intricate world of roots and caverns draw tourists from around the world to snorkel, dive, or lounge shoreside.
Cenote Azul is an open cenote and one of the most unique things to do in Bacalar.
It’s completely uncovered by limestone and resembles a mysterious lake of sorts. There is a restaurant on-site so you won’t have to worry about leaving when your stomach starts to rumble. And for those who want or need, life jackets are available for rent.
One of the best things you can do in Bacalar is to enjoy the tranquility of the lake. Paddleboarding is like doing yoga. It’s calm, relaxing, and still gets my heart rate going. The water in the laguna is shallow and calm, so you don’t have to worry about if you lose your balance and fall off.
Kayaking is another option available for visitors to the lagoon. Either way, get up early to enjoy the sunrise and soft waters while the world is still sleeping.
You’ll be able to gaze at the birds as they slowly start their day and you’ll be free from roaring boats stealing your attention. There are multiple places to rent SUPs and kayaks for the lake.
My best suggestion is to ask your host or hotel for their opinion on where to rent. It’s a small connected town so they help each other out.
When we asked our Airbnb host where to rent he called his friend who owned a SUP company and they picked us up from our Airbnb. You don’t get that type of service in Chicago…
Though not technically IN Bacalar, the Chacchoben Ruins are an easy day trip only 40 minutes outside of town.
Besides Fuerte San Felipe, they are the closest archeological ruins site to Bacalar and worthy of a morning escapade. The Chacchoben Ruins are the largest Mayan settlement south of Quintana Roo.
Reported by the Mexican government only in 1972, nowadays you can visit the site to see three excavated pyramids, large plazas, and a large stone slab (a stela) at the base of the largest pyramid to see hieroglyphics.
Take a walk through Mexico’s lush jungle and listen to the sounds of howler monkeys, peccaries, songbirds, and more as you explore one of the most recently found Mayan archeological sites to this day.
5. Stromatolites in Bacalar Rapids
Bare witness to the oldest living lifeform on our planet. Bacalar’s stromatolites date back to “approximately 3.5 billion years old”. They resemble rocks but are far more complex living delicate creatures.
They grow millimeter by millimeter through photosynthesis until becoming a structure visible in shallow water. These stromatolites are EXTREMELY delicate.
Just like coral reefs, if their outside layer is punctured in any way, they die. So it’s best to never touch them.
Admire from afar and treat their environment with respect by not wearing sunscreen or makeup that can cause harmful bleaching effects. To help ensure their survival, you can start by staying in eco-friendly hotels and reducing waste when possible.
I always tend to travel with a reef safe sunscreen to help protect the environment that I am in. Be sure that your sunscreen is really reef safe. There are a lot of them on the market out there that claim it and are not, like sun bum.
6. Kayak Bacalar Rapids/ Los Rapidos Bacalar
Home to its very own natural lazy river, this is one of the most exciting activities of Bacalar. My boyfriend and I tried our hands at duo kayaking and I learned quickly that flying solo on a kayak is far easier than two people who have no idea what they are doing. I digress.
The beautiful blue current is gentle enough to float you down the lagoon but not so crazy that some WO-man power can’t bring you back upstream.
There are multiple entry points but the most common is at Los Rapidos where admission is 160 pesos or about $8. You’ll get your choice of a duo or single kayak and you’re free to paddle the “rapids”.
Along the way, enjoy witnessing the stromatolites (mentioned above) and mangroves that lay as a pit stop for various tropical birds.
7. Cenote Cocalitos
Another cenote that deserves a visit is Cenote Cocalitos. This cenote has the most to offer in terms of facilities, making it a great option for families.
They have snorkel gear, restaurants on site, access to the lagoon, kayaks, and even tours on site. Thought of as a sanctuary for Stromatolites, paying a visit here is a great way to experience and see for yourself how delicate and intricate these living organisms are.
Visitors can also enjoy fantastic green spaces and a beach area, making this cenote one of the most comfortable things to do in Bacalar.
There’s even a beach club! It might not be the most luxurious of Mexican beach clubs but it’s enjoyable and has some adorable hammocks in the water.
8. Zipline at Tirolesas
Though technically IN Bacalar, this adrenaline-packed adventure is a short 12 kilometers outside of the city center. But if you or your loved ones want to get your heart pumping this is the thing you want to do in Bacalar.
Zip-lining while enjoying spectacular views of the jungle underneath and the bright blue waters of Laguna de Bacalar ahead then Tirolesas will be a great option for things to do in Bacalar.
Keep in mind that the climb to the starting tower is a doozy at 35 meters and you’ll be required to do a bit of ladder climbing throughout.
But the guides are great at helping visitors and getting you off quickly and safely on the 5 lines ranging from 200-500 meters long, giving you an experience of a lifetime.
If you’re lucky you might even spot a monkey enjoying the zipline himself! It’s not just the tourists who enjoy the views.
9. Fuerte San Felipe
If you find yourself enjoying the main square of Bacalar, you might be wondering what the ruins structure is that is located smack dab in front.
This impressive fortress is Fuerte San Felipe. Erected by Italian architect Juan Podio in the shape of a star as a means to protect the city of Bacalar from repeated pirate attacks in the 17th century.
In 1975 it was designated as a National Monument and in 1983, the fortress was transformed into a museum. It’s a wonderful pitstop in the day to learn a touch of Bacalar history.
The location makes it easy to get to and due to its small size, you truly only need about 30 minutes to take in the site. You’ll also be rewarded with panoramic views of the lagoon when you visit.
Bird island is a small strip of land located in Laguna de Bacalar. It serves as a pit stop for various migratory birds such as hawks, owls, and parrots, and a sanctuary for others.
It’s a natural refuge due to the fact it is a protected area of the city. Most boat tours will pass by or stop at this island, but note that you won’t be getting off the boat.
The tours usually stop fairly far away so as to not disturb the wildlife. My boyfriend and I went stand-up paddleboarding on the lagoon so we were able to float around the perimeter (at a safe distance away!), enjoying the abundance of wildlife in front of us.
Bird Island is a wonderful example of eco-tourism, the main rule is to respect their habitat and lifestyle which the local tour guides enforce.
We actually didn’t realize we had stumbled upon bird island our first time on the water and were politely yelled at to put some distance between our SUPs and the island.
So if you plan on renting paddle boards and going there on your own, be warned.
11. Camp at El Encanto
I saved the best for last. If I had known visitors are capable of camping at El Encanto when I had visited, I think I would still be there.
This was by far my favorite spot to enjoy the gorgeous tranquility of the lagoon. We went on a day when the clouds rolled in and there was a tiny threat of a sprinkle of rain.
It was our last day in Bacalar so nothing was about to stop us. I’m glad we went because we had the place to ourselves. El Encanto is a hidden gem of the Bacalar jungle.
Besides the campgrounds, this private beach has grills available for visitors, and cabanas to stay in overnight. Imagine waking up with a personal view of the lake of 7 colors.
The biggest draw of El Encanto is its lack of crowds which is huge with Bacalar’s growing popularity, so I’d suggest going before everyone else does!
Best Ways to Get to Bacalar
The easiest way to get to Bacalar is to RENT A CAR from Cancun and drive the 4-hour drive. It is a long journey, but if you are wanting to escape the crowds around Cancun, it is totally worth it.
You can also RENT A CAR from Belize city and drive from there which is only 2.5 hours, but you just have to be sure that you can drive your car over the border.
There is also a BUS that runs from Cancun to Bacalar if you don’t want to hassle with renting a car. Public buses in Mexico are actually very nice and comfortable. The seats recline all the way back and they usually play movies and stop along the way for food.
Conclusions On The Best Activities In Bacalar
There are countless tours to do in Bacalar, but these are definitely the highlights. It’s one of my favorite cities I have ever traveled to and genuinely delivered on the expectation of being relaxing and rejuvenating.
I think it might be time to start planning my next return to this little magic town.
Looking for a place to stay? Check out the 17+ BEST Bacalar, Mexico Hotels & AirBnBs (from Budget to Luxury).
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LINKS TO OTHER ARTICLES
My personal blog- www.theramblingrenegade.com
17+ BEST Bacalar, Mexico Hotels & AirBnBs (from Budget to Luxury).– https://www.theramblingrenegade.com/bacalar-mexico-hotels-airbnbs/