After two exciting days in Palenque, me and my friend left for the state of Quintana Roo. Our first stop was a town called Bacalar. It is named after a lagoon of the same name. It is said that one could see the 7 different shades of blue in the Bacalar lagoon, at any point of time, thanks to its white sandy bottom. Hence, it is widely known as “Laguna de los 7 colores”.
Unfortunately, due to the wastewater pollution, it is no longer possible to see all 7 shades of blue these days. Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful lagoon to visit and get into the action, with water activities like canoeing, kayaking, swimming, snorkelling or boating. This lagoon is also famous for its spectacular sunrise watching tours on a kayak. You can rent a kayak early in the morning and go out for a magical sunrise experience, while gently kayaking down the aquamarine waters of the lagoon. It is an experience one should not miss.
Note: Check out my previous adventures in Palenque, Chiapas in the blog post here.
How many days to spend in Bacalar?
If you’re short on time, you can do a day trip to Bacalar from Tulum. But, I would highly suggest spending a night, especially if watching a sunrise while kayaking on the lagoon is on your bucket list.
Check out my two day itinerary in Bacalar below.
Two day itinerary for Bacalar
This itinerary has Day 0, as we were driving from Palenque. But, most visitors to Bacalar would be coming from Tulum, which is just a 2 hour drive compared to the 7 hour drive from Palenque.
Day 0: Arrive in Bacalar and a walking tour of the town
We left Palenque around ten in the morning after our last breakfast at Don Mucho’s in Palenque. After a nine hour drive, we reached Bacalar at around seven in the evening and it was almost dark by then. After reaching the hostel, we dumped our baggage and left for a short walking tour around the hostel, to get acquainted with the area, and then crashed for the night.
We stayed at Guarumbo Hostel. It is a nice, green and affordable hostel close to the Bacalar Mercado (market) and the lagoon.
Day 1: Swimming in the lagoon & exploring the markets of Bacalar
Having spent about 5-6 days in Mexico, away from the coast, I was excited to be near the lagoon at last, and couldn’t wait to swim in the crystal blue water. After all, that is what Mexico is known for, no!? So, after a good night’s rest, we headed straight for a swim, first thing in the morning. The water was warm and refreshing!
After the swim, we went on a self guided walking tour of the town, wandering around the streets and exploring the mercado for some tropical fruits, snacks & ice cream.
Later, in the afternoon, we went to swim in Cenote Cocalitos. This cenote is unlike other cenotes in the area. It is not an enclosed circular water hole like any other cenote. Instead, it is a swimming hole connected to the Bacalar Lagoon and is part of the lagoon. There are few other cenotes, which are part of this lagoon too, like Cenote Esmeralda and Cenote Negro.
Cenote Cocalitos is the best one to swim in, as it also has a beach resort called the Cocalitos Beach Resort. There’s a small entry fee, but every peso is worth it and it is a must visit place during your time in Bacalar (looking at you, Instagram aficionados).
While you’re enjoying swimming in at the beach resort, note that it is a protected area, due to the presence of stromatolites. Stromatolites are layered rock structures formed by the cyanobacteria present in this region. The circular rocky structures shown in the image below are these stromatolites.
There are several hammocks & swings set up in the lagoon where you can relax, if you’re lucky enough to find one free. It is a very well known spot for the tourists and it is generally very busy.
It also has a restaurant on premise. The food is not something I would brag about, but it is good enough to satiate your hunger and grab a drink or two after spending some time in the water and people watch.
After swimming all morning and the stomach well fed, I felt sleepy. So, I went back to the hostel to rest and catch some sleep.
Later in the evening, we’d planned to go for dinner at Mango y Chile. It was mentioned on various blogs and in online reviews, that it is the best restaurant in Bacalar and not to be missed. I can definitely attest to that. The burgers here are lip smackingly delicious and they also have great vegetarian options. What a delicious way to end the day!
Day 2: Boating & swimming in the Bacalar Lagoon
Day two was our final day in Bacalar. We planned to go for a boating trip in the morning. You can easily find people selling the boat tours all around the town, especially near the lagoon. It is about a 2 hour trip on the water.
They will take you down the lagoon and show some famous hotels & historic houses by the shore. Then, they will take you to the three cenotes on the lagoon. It was interesting to see the difference in the color of the water in the three cenotes due to its varying depths. From the farthest cenote, Cenote Cocalitos, you’ll turn around and begin going back.
On the way back, you will pass near the Isla de los Pájaros. This is a tiny island known for bird watching. Continuing north, you’ll explore the narrow channel of water called the Canal de los Piratas. This place is known for historic pirate traffic and there is a shipwreck here too. Near the canal, the water is shallow and most boats stop here to let the customers get into the water. We were back on land by around noon.
The boat ride that we took, included only a bottle of water and we’d bought a couple of beers for ourselves. So, I’d suggest having your breakfast before doing this trip, or else you’d be hungry by the time you are back on the land.
Even though I enjoyed the boating trip, I would prefer kayaking when I am here again. It would be truly magical to watch the sun rise while you’re kayaking down the blue waters of the lagoon and listening to the chirping of the birds on the islands nearby.
Next, we went to the restaurant called La Piña. It has a tropical ambience, and is located right in the middle of the town. The food was good and it also has an outdoor seating with lots of greenery around.
By the time we were done with our lunch, it was time to say goodbye to Bacalar and off to the next destination!
Other things to see & do in Bacalar
There are a few other things to do and see in Bacalar, based on your interest, which we didn’t get the time for. These are:
- Visit Fort San Felipe
- Sunrise Kayaking in the Lagoon
- Sailing in the Lagoon
If you’ve been to Bacalar and visited the fort or experienced watching the sunrise from a kayak, then share your experience and pictures in the comments section below.
Do not forget to like and follow my blog for updates on new post on my next destination in Mexico, which will be out soon!
Until then, Saludos y adios amigos!!
7 responses to “Swimming in the Lagoon of the Seven Colors – Bacalar, Mexico”
So glad to find this article!! Bacalar is on my list for next year and I was looking for must see things out there! This popped up in my feed right on time!
Hi JeanEats, glad it was useful for your trip plan. Bacalar is a fantastic place and I’m sure you’ll love it!
[…] Note: Check out my previous post for things to do and see in Bacalar here. […]
I have known the laguna for more than ten years. It has, unfortunately, changed a lot. Why are all your photos showing green water? Do you not know that the increase in tourism and related infrastructure has done a lot to put this area on the road to death? Your writing, as well, is about at the fourth grade level. Get educated. Bacalar is (was?) a unique ecosystem. It is on a path to destruction, probably already beyond recuperation, because of greed.
Yes, I agree with you that tourism has put a lot of pressure on the ecosystem for the lagoon and the biodiversity dependent on it. Having said that, discouraging tourism is not the solution. Instead, a more environmentally conscious tourism should be promoted, which I have also mentioned in the post (regarding stromatolites), and for the unique bird species for whom this is an important migratory stop.
I try to provide as much information as I can, about a place I have visited, to the best of my knowledge from a traveler’s perspective. But, having been there for a few days may not provide complete information about a place and if I have missed anything, you can mention it in the comments, so others reading it can be aware about it.
As far as my writing it concerned, I appreciate your feedback. But, I am not writing for any competition. It is just a medium to share my travel experience with the world so more people reading it can get inspired to explore the beautiful planet we live in.
Great read! My next new destination!
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Thank you Rachel. It is indeed a paradise. Glad it inspires people to travel!