The lake of Bacalar is one of the most stunning spots in the Riviera Maya – and there are seven reasons why. The lengthy, narrow lake is comprised of no less than seven different shades of blue. With its white limestone bottom, the water is famously clear, and is an excellent place for diving, snorkeling and swimming.
Bacalar was named a Pueblo Mágico or Magic Town by Mexico’s Department of Tourism in 2006. The designation marks the town’s importance as an important landmark that lies outside Mexico’s network of obvious tourist must-sees. There are currently 111 Magic Towns in the country and the certification attracts infrastructure upgrades designed to draw more tourists to the Mexican interior.
Many lakefront shops offer a kayak rental service. Some of the larger hotels in the area also offer them for guests. Kayaking is an excellent way to get up close to the lake, and explore its strikingly clear waters.
Boat tours across the lake are also very popular. Bacalar Lagunakristal Tours offer excellent boat trips with highly knowledgeable guides who provide information on the ecological system of the lake as well as offering you the chance to swim, sample local fruits and try mud facials. You can contact the guide Kristal through her email at email@example.com.
Fifteen minutes by car from Bacalar city center, the Cenote Azul offers a once-in-a-lifetime cavern diving experience. At 90 meters or 295 feet, the cenote is one of the deepest in the Yucatán and boasts stunning illuminated caverns. The site is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and is a must-visit for divers.
The town of Bacalar was raided throughout the 17th century, as pirates would enter the lagoon via a canal that is now known as Pirates Canal. Diego de Los Reyes, a famous pirate who was a native of the coastal state of Campeche, devastated the town in 1642. It was not until the completion of San Felipe’s Fort in 1733 that the Spanish crown was able to successfully defend Bacalar.
Nestling the shores of the lagoon, the Fort of San Felipe offers some of the most spectacular views of the lake. Today it contains a small museum of piracy, including the display of a pirate skeleton that was excavated from the area. The fort and museum are open every day of the week except Monday.
Unsurprisingly, seafood is the name of the game in Bacalar. Kai Pez offers a range of truly memorable dishes in a pleasant, laid-back setting. The restaurant and shop El Mananti is another popular and affordable eatery, offering options for vegetarians and vegans. As a general rule, tip waiters a minimum of 10 percent.
El Mananti, Calle 22 No. 116, Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico +52 983 834 2021
Kai Pez, Calle 20, Centro, Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico +52 983 834 2478
Enjoy as much local food as possible, but steer clear of the tap water which could make you very sick indeed. As well as drinking bottled water, it’s best to check that salads are not washed under the tap and ice cubes are made from purified water.