Download GPX file for this article
18.677966-88.38827Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bacalar is a lakeside community in Quintana Roo, Mexico. This area, anchored by the stunningly azure blue Lake Bacalar, has a Yucatan small-village feel and is absent of busloads of tourists.


Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Highway 307 has two lanes on each side for traffic. There are no tolls to pay. The exit for the city of Bacalar is on the left. The scenery is through the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve for part of the trip. The driving time from Cancún is 5 hours; from Tulum, 2½ hours. Well worth the drive.

By bus[edit]

There are first and second class buses from the ADO bus stations of Cancún, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid, Mérida and Chetumal. The 1 ADO bus station of Bacalar is 1 km outside the center in the north west on the Highway 307.

From Tulum it's
• M$250 (Feb 2022) with second-class Mayab bus,
• M$286 (Feb 2022) with Autobuses Unidos (AU) and
• M$324 (Feb 2022) with ADO.
You find the schedules of ADO and AU in the ADO app or website. The schedules of Mayab you see on the LCD monitor of an employee inside a Terminal ticket booth.

By shared van[edit]

From Tulum and Chetumal you can also take a colectivo. It is only possible to carry small luggage with you as there is no trunk. From Tulum it's M$70 (Feb 2022) to Carillo (Felipe Carillo Puerto). And again M$70 (Feb 2022) from Carillo to Bacalar.

By train[edit]

Tren Maya, Mexico's newest intercity rail system serving five states in the Yucatan Peninsula region, has a station in Bacalar, providing service to Chetumal, Tulum, Cancun, Merida and other destinations in the region.

Get around[edit]

On foot or bicycle would be very doable if you are staying in the city of Bacalar, as well as taxis, which are not expensive.


Map of Bacalar

The water of Lake Bacalar is among the most pale and gemlike blue that could possibly exist. The main attraction of traveling to this area is the lake, whose beauty could easily induce one to sit and read for a few days without regret. The lake is somewhat shallow at the shores, except where there are sinkholes commonly known as cenotes. It is well seen by kayak or sailboat. The sand when disturbed smells strongly of minerals or sulfur, though sitting by the lake or even being on the water certainly carried no odor whatsoever.

Be aware that the lake is closed for activities on Wednesdays

  • 1 Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar. represents one of the bastions used by the Maya before they were overrun by the Spanish, it has a small but modern museum inside, if you are in town it's worthwhile visiting. San Felipe Fortress (Q16569808) on Wikidata

Bacalar has many cenotes, among which:

  • 2 Blue Cenote (Cenote Azul) (South of the village center near the national road). Very wide and deep cenote that drops almost immediately to 90 m (300 ft) deep with very good facilities. M$ 25. Blue Cenote (Q104414307) on Wikidata
  • 3 Cenote of the Witch (Cenote de la Bruja, Cenote Negro). Dark coloured cenote with depths that range from 2 m (6.6 ft) to 90 m (300 ft).
  • 4 Los Rapidos, Carretera Xulha, 77965 Bacalar, Q.R., Mexico, +529831121268. 10AM-6PM. Los Rapidos Bacalar is known for its stunning electric blue water near the Lagoon of Seven Colors. It is home to some of the oldest living lifeforms on our planet – stromatolites. There is also a natural lazy river with a current flowing into the Bacalar Lagoon that visitors can enjoy. Be aware that it's a tourist trap, with mediocre food and service 250MXN.


On the Lake Bacalar you can do a 2 hour boat tour seeing five sights for M$250 (Feb 2022). Tour operators are available at the lake in the city center. Choose one with an English audio guide like the operator The GAIA Experience. They have a daily departure at 3pm when the sun is less strong. Use suncream anyway. Other available activities are a sailboat tour, kayak rental for M$150/M$250 (single/double, Feb 2022) per hour and standup paddleboarding.

Ramón Aguayo is the certified scuba instructor in town, if you´d like to get certified. Ask for him at the front desk of Villas Bakalar or at the Chinese house on the costera. Sailing boat rentals or instructor, as well as boat excursions are also available.

To learn more about Bacalar and what to do, where to buy stuff, where to eat, where to stay, what is going on around town and what has been happening, as well as articles about the fort and danzon, visit the Bacalar Mosaico Facebook.

On Sunday night, there may be music and dancing in the city square.

Out of town trips[edit]

Active Nature Bacalar [1] offers guided kayak/canoe trips, bicycle tours and jungle walks to explore the beautiful lake and its surroundings. They are located 5 km north of Bacalar at Villas Ecotucan which is also a really nice place to stay.

The Mayan ruins nearby that are worthwhile visiting are Chacchoben (45 km), Dzibanché (85 km) and Kohunlich (70 km). They don´t have a lot of people and the jungle surroundings are magnificent. Contact the front desk of Villas Bakalar for birdwatching among jungles and ruins.


The ATMs in Bacalar have low withdrawal fees. In the center are:

  • 1 Banco del Bienestar ATM. near the hospital for just M$12 (Feb 2022)
  • 2 Banco Azteca ATM. on Avenue 7 / Calle 18
  • 3 Banco Azteca ATM. at the Park Zócalo right next to the Palacio Municipal

However, the ATMs in the city center may frequently be out of service. There are many other ATMs in the Palacio Municipal, but they have exhorbitant withdrawal fees (e.g., HSBC M$81.2, BBVA M$174) (Dec 2023)

And on the Highway 307 around the ADO bus station are:

  • 4 Santander ATM. inside the Oxxo
  • 5 Santander ATM. at the Super Willys

For buying groceries there many minimarkets around. A bigger variety have Super Willys, La Bodega Favorita and Dunosusa supermarkets. At least the latter accepts credit cards.

You get meat for cooking in Dunosusa and maxicarne.



In the center:[edit]

  • 1 Antojitos Orizaba. Has excellent Yucatan/Maya meals for a good price at the Park Zócalo.

Outside the center:[edit]


  • Los Aluxes (on the costera). Daily 13:00-21:00, holidays 11:00-21:00. Good view of the lagoon and excellent food. Has a good price.



Los Aluxes has a nice little bar with swings instead of stools. Though the closing hours are early (see above)


There are many hotels along the Western coast of the lake.

  • 1 Amigos Hotelito. is nice.
  • 2 Villas Ecotucan. 5 km north of the town, a little oasis with lovely cabanas and a campground with beach and a lot of activities. MXN1400.
  • 3 Las Villas Bakalar. Three blocks walking distance from the fort. The suites are comfortable, stylish and big and have air conditioning and internet. The pool is not enormous but has a nice view of the lagoon as well. MXN1800.
  • 4 Hotel Aires Bacalar, Avenida 3 Esquina Calle 26, +52 983 834 2216. 12 suites with a private terrace, with a hammock, overlooking the lagoon or a beautiful tropical garden. MXN1800.
  • 5 Our Habitas Bacalar. Upscale lagoon resort. MXN6000.

Go next[edit]

All these places have hostels and private rooms:

in the east:

in the south:

in the north:

This city travel guide to Bacalar is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.