25 Best Things To Do In Bacalar (Mexico) in 2024

Bradley Williams
Written By:
Bradley Williams
Last Updated:
December 31, 2023
Here's a rundown of the absolute BEST things to do in Bacalar. Discover why this is such an amazing place to visit and what to do there on your visit.
Best Things To Do In Bacalar

Most of the Riviera Maya hype is focused on either Tulum or Playa del Carmen.

However, based on my personal experience exploring all of Mexico's wonderful places to visit, there’s another smaller paradise within touching distance too.

Bacalar is a town that’s located further south than these two, however still within the Quintana Roo state of Mexico. 

It’s known for its incredible lagoon (with as many as 7 shades of blue and green), a more relaxed vibe as well as some more unique experiences on offer.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about Bacalar, which we believe is one of the best places to visit in Mexico!

This includes the very best things to see and do, where to stay, the best time to visit as well as my own top recommendations.

Let’s get stuck in…

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Getting to Know Bacalar 

Why Visit Bacalar

Why visit Bacalar

Bacalar is one of the best places to hang out and relax in this region, which is especially needed along the more longer trips throughout Mexico. 

Here you’ll find many chill spots around the multi-coloured lagoon, which includes more authentic restaurants and lakeside resorts.

Of course the Bacalar Lagoon is the main attraction in town. As well as being a great place to watch the crimson sunsets (more on this later), you can also explore it by kayak where you can find some breathtaking spots and islands to park up along the 42km-long laguna.

The other major reason you’ll want to visit Bacalar is to have a more authentic experience. 

Whilst awesome in their own right, places like Cancún and Cabo San Lucas can feel overtouristy at the best of times. 

Bacalar has many unique attractions and landmarks that aren’t yet overloaded with tourists, so you’ll feel like you’re getting to know the real Mexico here.

How to get to Bacalar, Mexico

Getting to Bacalar

Bacalar is located within the state of Quintana Roo, which is in the south of Mexico.

The main ways of getting here are either by flight or bus.

Fly into Cancún

The closest major airport to Bacalar is the Cancún International Airport, which is located 346 km away. 

This airport is one of the most connected in the region of Latin America, and welcomes direct flights daily from most continents around the world.

You can also fly into Cancún from other cities around Mexico, which saves you the extra time spent getting here by bus or driving. 

Some of the best destinations to fly from include Mexico City, Oaxaca and Monterrey. A one-way flight will cost between $30-60USD.

You can then take a bus directly from Cancún Airport to Bacalar with ADO, with the ride taking between 4-5 hours. The bus ride will cost you between $25-30 USD.

Here on SkyScanner you can check the best value flights arriving into Cancún (both domestically as well as from further afield). 

By Bus

The other major way of getting to Bacalar is by bus. 

If already within the Riviera Maya region, you can easily take direct buses from most major destinations. These include Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancún and also Mérida.

Those who have been travelling throughout Mexico and are heading to this region are best going through Palenque. This jungle town is located in the nearby region of Chiapas, and the direct bus to Palenque will take around 9 hours to arrive.

Lastly, you can also arrive from the neighbouring country of Belize in the south.

You’ll first need to cross the border into the town of Chetumal on the Mexican side, from which it’s just a 40 minute bus ride to Bacalar.

You can take a look at the different routes that ADO provides, who are one of the best bus providers in this area of Mexico. 

Getting around Bacalar, Mexico

Getting around Bacalar

Bacalar is quite a small town, so you can easily get to most places by walking or hiring a bike for the time you’re there. 

Just make sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen since this town is pretty hot year-round.

The taxis in Bacalar are also quite safe (always go for the registered ones of course), which are most ideal during the hotter times around midday. 

As always, be sure to agree the rate before you get in, although here the drivers are much more relaxed compared to those in Cancún or Playa.

You can also use the ADO buses (and Taxis) for when you are exploring the nearby region. The buses are better for further afield destinations like Tulum, whilst taxis are more ideal for the immediate surroundings of Bacalar.

Where to Stay in Bacalar?

As already mentioned, Bacalar is quite small, although there are two different parts of town which are ideal to base yourself in.

The Centre is where you’ll find all of the bustling restaurants and nightlife options, which is also closer to the bus stop top too. It’s most ideal for those who want entertainment and everything within touching distance.

The other area is found in the north of Bacalar, along the small streets that run through the district of Mario Villanueva Madrid. This area is more relaxed, and great for kicking back and enjoying a more rustic experience next to the lake.

  • Budget pick - Those looking to keep a low budget will want to stay at the Che Bacalar Hostel, which is situated right on the lake. You’ll have good quality dorm beds here, and also a social atmosphere with a nice bar too. 
  • Mid-range pick - The best mid-range option for a stay in Bacalar is Casa Bizu which is located in the centre of town. Here you’ll have a slick room, a private pool on-site as well as a hearty breakfast included too.
  • High-end pick - If you’re looking for a more deluxe style accommodation option, then I recommend staying at Blue Palm Bacalar. This 4-star hotel is perfectly located near the lagoon, where you’ll have a much more inclusive experience with its on-site bar, restaurant and pool. 

For tips on finding fantastic accommodation deals, check out our guide on how to find cheap hotels

25 Best Things to do in Bacalar (Mexico)

Now we’ll explore the very best things you can see and do when in Bacalar.

1. Go for a Sunset Kayak Trip

Kayaking in Bacalar

There’s no denying it when I say that Bacalar lagoon is the true highlight of this town and its surrounding region. 

Its mix of colourful shades makes it one of the must-visits when in Southern Mexico, and I couldn’t agree more!

Whilst chilling by the water during the day is great, you’ll also want to take a kayak out in the late afternoon. 

There’s many places along the water's edge that you can rent one from, with the Bacalar Beach Club being one of the most popular (more on this later). 

Bacalar is also known for its incredible orange sunsets that light up the sky, and with a kayak, you’ll be able to sail off into the more quiet and chill spots of the lake to enjoy its raw beauty. 

I recommend actually coming a bit before (around 4pm) to enjoy the site, and also to make sure there are kayaks spare given it’s quite a popular activity to do here.

2. San Felipe Fort

Fort San Felipe, Bacalar

Built in 1733, the San Felipe Fort is one of the very best landmarks that you can see when in Bacalar. 

Constructed by the Spanish during their settlement, here you walk around the complex and see the giant stone walls that were typical of this colonial structure. 

You can also see the various cannons which were another form of self-defence from any impromptu attacks. 

Today, this imposing fort has since been converted into a museum, where you’ll find numerous artefacts from this period as well as giant film screens that recreate what happened during pirate invasions and other historical events. 

I recommend coming here on your first day in Bacalar, as you’ll learn a lot about the history of the town, which will change the way you view Bacalar (with most just seeing it as a quiet lakeside town). 

The San Felipe Fort is located right on the main Zócalo in town, and is open from Tuesday until Sunday from the hours of 9:00am to 7:00pm.

3. Eat Authentic Mexican Food

Authentic Mexican Foods

As always, an important part of heading somewhere new is digging into the local cuisine. 

Whilst the food scene isn’t quite on the revolutionary side of things in Bacalar, there’s still many awesome Mexican dishes here you will want to try. 

Nixtamal is one of the very best restaurants you can visit in Bacalar, with a focus on seafood delights as well as having a remote jungle atmosphere to the place. 

La Piña is another great option too, which makes some really good fruit smoothies and a variety of cuisines (ranging from local tacos to pizzas). 

Of course Bacalar is located in the Riviera Maya, which is known for its own fusion style food that combines Mayan elements with the more mainstream Mexican dishes.

El Taco Loco is a good place to come for this, which serves some incredible tacos including seafood specialities such as Shrimp and fried Fish. This restaurant is located along the 307 highway just out of town, and is open from 9:00am until 6:00pm all days of the week.

 4. Explore the Lesser Known gems of Bacalar Lagoon

Bacalar Lagoon

Most who head to Bacalar will spend their time around the touristy areas, which in themselves are great for a relaxing and fun time. 

However there’s also many worthy spots to visit in other parts of the lagoon. 

The best way to explore is by hiring a kayak, and then simply setting off! 

On the adjacent side you can find the Pirates Canal, which was a famous passageway for those travelling by boat between here and the vast Central America region.

You’ll also get to see the incredible range of colours along this river, which is due to different sediments being deposited here from both of the meeting waters. 

It’s important to be aware that the beach next to this (opposite Bacalar) should not be attempted to disembark on, as there are sinking sands along the shore. 

Other spots you can visit include Isla de los Pájaros, Cenote Cocalitos and even as far south as the small Mayan town of Xul-Ha.

5. Relax on a unique Lazy River

Los Rápidos Bacalar

Those who head to Bacalar often miss out on this gem, which to be fair is hardly known by most tourists. 

In a section of the Bacalar Lagoon (sometimes referred to as Laguna Bacalar) you can find Los Rápidos Bacalar, which is a small resort next to this slow-moving volume of water. 

This area is full of stromatolites, which are actually the oldest living organism found on our planet. Not only do they produce lots of oxygen which is needed for the surrounding environment, they also push the currents which allow you and your kayak to be taken around whilst getting to relax your arms for a while! 

You can also jump into the blue waters off the end of the wooden boardwalk, and let the currents take you right back to the shores. 

You’ll need to pay an admission fee of 160 MXP to enter the site, where you’ll also have access to the many hammocks and tables that overlook this beautiful section of the lake. 

Los Rápidos is just a 20 minute drive from Bacalar, and is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm all days of the week.

6. Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul in Bacalar

The Riviera Maya region is known for its range of incredible cenotes, which are more often than not on travellers itineraries when heading here. 

Cenotes like Suytun (located in Valladolid) and Ik-Kil are often the most popular for a visit, however you’ll also find some worthy ones in this area around Bacalar. 

Cenote Azul is by far one of the best, and is actually one of the deepest cenotes found in this region of Mexico! 

At an impressive depth of around 300ft, this cenote is perfect for swimming and underwater exploring, and also has a much darker blue appearance than the Bacalar Laguna which is just a short walk away. 

You could easily spend the day here, where you can snorkel in these crystal-clear waters and see a variety of exotic fish swimming just below the surface.

There’s a restaurant on-site, as well as changing rooms and kayaks ready to be rented. 

Here you’ll find a couple of swings here too, which are perfect for those looking for a good snap. 

I recommend heading with this guided tour to Cenote Azul, which includes both breakfast and lunch, as well as visits to the San Felipe Fort and Sujuy Ha Natural Spa.

Cenote Azul (not to be confused with another near Tulum) is located just 5 km south of Bacalar, with the drive taking around 10 minutes.

7. Cocalitos Beach

Cocalitos Beach

As those who’ve already travelled through this part of Mexico will know, cenotes in the Riviera Maya really do come in all shapes and sizes

And those who want a different kind of experience will want to come to Cocalitos Cenote, which is a beautiful site located right on the Bacalar Lagoon.

Here you’ll find many crystallised structures which are known as stromatolites, which are the same that are found along the lazy river I mentioned earlier. Here they jut-out into the lake, which you can swim next to and also snorkel in. 

Cocalitos Cenote is located within the same-named resort (but, unfortunately this is currently closed and there's no re-opening date as of yet).

Although this resort is closed, you can still access the cenote by boat tour or kayak/paddle board.

Cocalitos Cenote is around a 10 minute drive from the centre of Bacalar (the distance is 6 km). It’s open from Tuesday until Sunday, from the hours of 10:00am to 5:00pm.

8. Day Trip to Mahahual

Incredible beach in Mahahual

Quintana Roo is renowned for its world-class beaches, and the majority of tourists will head to places like Tulum and Isla Holbox in the north of the region to enjoy the very best. 

However the southern portion (which borders Belize) is not so well-known. 

As well as quieter beaches, you’ll also find many authentic Mayan towns where you can enjoy the “real” Riviera Maya. 

Mahahual is one of these, which is a fishing town known for its more relaxed pace of life. 

You’ll want to make the most of the beaches as well as their incredible waters for snorkelling, which includes Mahahual Beach and also Maya Chan Beach. 

Here you’ll also find the Dolphin Discovery Centre, where you can swim with these ocean beauties. 

Those who love a more thrilling day out will want to head to the Lost Mayan Kingdom, which is known for its zip lines and giant water slides.

Mahahual is located some 104 km away from Bacalar, with the drive taking just under an hour and a half. 

9. Enjoy Bacalar’s more Relaxed Nightlife Scene

Bacalar at night

I have to be straight-up from the start - the nightlife in Bacalar nowhere near matches the heavy antics found in Cancún and Playa del Carmen.

However the scene here is more fresh, and best for those who are after a couple of drinks and to enjoy a more relaxed swing of things. 

The majority of the bars are found around the Zócalo in town, with Wingman Sport and I Scream Bar being some of the best venues to grab some cocktails or a few beers to kick things off.

From here you can then head to Maralar Disco & Bar, which has a more lively atmosphere and is better for a good ol’ boogie. 

Those who want something more chill can easily grab a bottle of wine and head to the Lake, where you can enjoy the sunset in the best way possible! 

As I previously mentioned, those after a heavier night out with more options are best heading to Tulum, or further north into Playa del Carmen or Cancún.

10. Go Birdwatching in the Dense Jungle

Ruins of Dzibanché

The Riviera Maya region is full of many awesome places to see different species of birds.

And although Bacalar is well-known for its beautiful lagoon, I often forget that it’s also situated within the deeper jungle of the Riviera Maya. 

As such, there’s many awesome species to be seen here, which include a variety of exotic birds that are native to this region of Mexico. These include Toucans, Tropical Mockingbirds as well as the Green Jay. 

One of the very best places to come birdwatching is actually within the Ruins of Dzibanché, which are located some 72 km from Bacalar. 

Whilst you could head here yourself, I instead highly recommend coming with this birdwatching tour, which leaves from Bacalar.

You’ll have all transport included, and also your professional bird guide will show you around the site as well as pointing out all of the different native species found here. 

You’ll also have binoculars, snacks and bottled water all included in the tour too.

11. Enjoy Exclusive Access to Bacalar Beach Club


Arguably one of the very best things to do in Bacalar is to spend a day enjoying all of the amenities at the Bacalar Beach Club

Whilst words like “resort” and “exclusive” may put some off, this site does however have its own perks too. 

Once you’ve paid the small admission fee, you’ll be able to relax around the pool, and also enjoy a variety of water-sports, such as renting two-man kayaks and even go paddle boarding along the resort’s private area of the Bacalar Lagoon. 

The boardwalk is great for leaping into the waters too, and once hunger strikes you can eat at their delicious on-site restaurant which serves up some really tasty Mexican dishes. 

Bacalar Beach Club is located in the most southern portion of Bacalar, along the Costera that heads towards the Cocalitos and Esmeralda Cenotes. 

It’s open from Thursday until Tuesday, from the hours of 12:00pm - 7:00pm.

12. Explore Bird Island

Sparrow hawk on tree

Those hungry for nature and seeing wildlife will love this one! 

Bird Island (or Isla de los Pájaros as it’s known as in Spanish) is a small islet located in the middle of Lake Bacalar. And as you have probably guessed, it’s full of birds. 

Here you can see many species such as Parrots, Sparrowhawks and even Owls as they go about their daily business. 

It’s a protected area, so please follow the signs around the island and also to leave no trace behind you (this means all rubbish in the bins). There’s also many awesome stromatolite and unorthodox rock formations to see along the way too. 

You can easily kayak here from Bacalar, and I recommend coming in the early morning when it will be at its most peaceful. 

Bird Island can be reached in around 20 minutes by kayak (although I suggest taking your time and exploring other gems like the Pirate’s Canal along the way).

13. Cenote Negro

Whilst most cenotes have a sparkling, light-blue colour to them, the Cenote Negro has a much darker tint, which is great for changing things up! 

The Cenote Negro has an incredible depth of over 90 metres, making it one of the deepest cenotes you can find in this part of the Riviera Maya. 

It’s a great spot for swimming, where you can also rent some snorkelling equipment and explore the greater depths. 

This cenote has history too. Not only did it serve as a handy hideout point for many European pirates, it was also the stage for many battles during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. 

I highly recommend joining this tour to the Cenote Negro, which includes a meal, admission tickets, and a bilingual guide, as well as logistics too.

If you have a drone, this would be one of the best places to fly over, where you can really catch the stark contrast of the dark cenote right next to the turquoise hues of the Lake Bacalar. 

Cenote Negro is located in the south of Bacalar, where the Costera Avenue begins. 

The site is open from 9:00am until 6:00pm all days of the week.

14. Kohunlich Ruins

Kohunlich Ruins

Mexico is home to a truly fascinating range of cultures, and it was the Mayans who ruled this stretch of Mexico (and further south into Central America). 

Whilst the civilisation has ended, the ruins of their empire still remain in almost perfect conditions, which helps us get a better idea of how they lived. 

The ruins of Kohunlich are one of the best to visit in this area of the Riviera Maya, which are a series of moss-covered temples, surrounded by thick jungle. 

Some of the very best pyramids you can see here include the Temple of the Masks as well as the 27 Steps structure. 

You’ll also be able to hear the electric sounds of the jungle whilst exploring, including the sometimes overbearing shrieks of the native Howler Monkeys.

You can head here with this guided tour, where you’ll be taught the history of the site as well as having a 3-course lunch included too!

The Kohunlich Ruins are located within the thick jungle, roughly 68 km south-west of Bacalar (it takes roughly an hour to drive here). 

This site is open to visitors from 8:00am until 4:30pm all days of the week.

15. Head on a Sailing Tour around the Bacalar Lagoon

As we’ve already found out in this article, the Lagoon here is home to many extraordinary sites. 

This includes the multicoloured passage of the Pirate’s Canal, as well as the unique formations that are created by the abundance of stromatolites in these waters. 

Whilst you could head to each one independently, I think it’s a much better idea to head on this Half-Day boat trip around the Bacalar Lake. 

Not only will you visit these sites, you’ll also stop off at Bird Island to see the mass of tropical birds that live here (as well as many migratory species too). 

You’ll visit the observatory tower too, and pass by the Cenote Esmerelda. As well as having seasonal fruit and drinks supplied, the tour will also throw in 3 beers free to top things off! 

I think this option is perfect for those who are on a strict time schedule, as you will have plenty of time after to catch a bus to your next destination.

16. Chill out on the Balneario del Fondo (hidden spot which you don’t pay for chilling out on!)

Walking around the coastline of Bacalar, you’ll see many piers and wooden boardwalks that jut out into the lagoon. 

Unfortunately, the majority of these are privately-owned, which are either off-access to tourists or require an entrance fee to use them. 

There is however another option for those who like free activities! 

The Balneario del Fondo is a boardwalk that’s located in the north of Bacalar, and is a great place to hang out for a few hours. 

Here you’ll find a more artsy crowd, where you can share a few beers and also go for dips into the lake for a much needed cool-down from the hot sun overhead. 

I personally recommend coming around 5:00pm in time for the incredible sunset, which is even better since you’ll have no cars or other noises in the background in this quieter area of Bacalar. 

The Balneario del Fondo is located at the end of Calle 36, which is roughly a 10 minute walk north from the Zócalo in town.

17. Day Trip to Tulum

Tulum Ruins

Whilst Bacalar is an amazing destination in and of itself, it would really be a sin just to stay here and not explore some of the other incredible and mysterious sites of this region. 

Many destinations will be too far away to reach as a day trip from Bacalar, however Tulum on the other hand is a very good option. 

Home to both a stunning Caribbean coastline as well as its infamous Mayan archaeological site, this town really is something special. 

You can easily see the top highlights inside the town in an hour or two, where you can then head to the nearby Dos Ojos cenote for some further cave exploring. 

I highly recommend taking an early bus there, and then joining this all-inclusive tour.

Here you’ll visit the very best highlights which include Tulum Ruins and its cosy beach, as well as having a trip into the jungle where you will go zip-lining and snorkelling. 

You’ll have a tasty lunch and all transport provided, as well as all entries to sites too.

18. Marvel at the quaint Parroquia de San Joaquín

Parroquia de San Joaquín
Source: David Cabrera via Wikipedia

Mexico as a whole is full of striking architecture and imposing landmarks. 

The very best are found within the big cities, however Bacalar itself has a very modest yet picture-perfect one too! 

The Parroquia de San Joaquín is a tiny church located in the town centre, which has an unorthodox shape as well as a bold choice of solid white and red colours. 

Constructed sometime in the 19th Century, inside you’ll find various paintings as well as an adorned chapel at the front. 

Even if you’re not into colonial landmarks, it’s still a pretty good place to cool down after walking around all day in the heat! 

The Parroquia de San Joaquin is located just a block west of the Zócalo, in the corner between the streets of Avenida 7 and Calle 22.

19. Catch Rays at the Sac-Ha Beach

Bacalar is all about winding down and relaxing, even if there are still various sights and activities worth doing here. 

One of the best ways to do just this is to spend a day at the Sac-Ha Beach

Here you’ll have shallow turquoise waters which are perfect for swimming in, and you can also bring your snorkelling gear to see some beautiful underwater marine life too. 

Within the water you’ll also see more stromatolites formations (that is if you’re not already satisfied with the vast amounts found all over the lagoon). 

Sac-Ha itself is located in a shielded bay, away from the bustle of Bacalar which makes it the perfect place to really relax. 

You’ll need to pay a small admission fee to enter, where you’ll then be able to use the site as you wish. You can also rent kayaks and private palapas too once inside. 

Sac-Ha is located roughly 15 km south of Bacalar, with the drive taking around 15 minutes to reach. 

The site is open from 10:00am until 6:00pm all days of the week.

20. Hire Jet Skis for the day 

moored jet ski

As with any trip, it’s important to take time out to really enjoy yourself.

Bacalar is mostly a place to wind down (which is especially needed considering everything else this region has to offer), although there’s definitely some fun activities to do during the day too. 

Jet Skiing is one of the all-time top classics, where you’ll have plenty of space on Lake Bacalar to master this water sport. 

It’s actually more ideal to jet-ski here rather than on the Caribbean, given there are no waves (aside from those created by the boat of course). 

There’s several companies you can rent from, although we recommend Bacalar Jet Ski Rental. 

They are located next to the Hotel Makaaba Eco-Boutique, just a couple of blocks south of the main Zócalo. 

They’re open from Thursday until Sunday, from the hours of 10:00am until 7:00pm.

21. Day Trip to Calakmul Ruins

Calakmul Ruins in Mexico

Visiting ancient ruins is a staple of any adventure through Mexico. 

From Teotihuacán to Tulum, you’ll find many awesome temples along the way, which helps to give us a bigger insight into how these ancient civilisations once lived here.

Calakmul really is a spectacular site, and feels much more novel as it’s located within the deep and dense jungle.

Constructed around 550 BC, this site has 117 structures of varying shapes and sizes, making it one of the most comprehensive Mayan ruins that you can visit! 

You’ll also see lots of nature too, with over 200 species of rare birds, as well as numerous monkeys and rare plants too. 

I highly recommend heading here with this awesome tour, which includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, as well as your professional guide teaching you everything you need to know about this spectacular ancient site.

Calakmul Ruins are actually situated in the adjacent state of Campeche, which is another underrated region worth exploring. 

It’s located some 235 km west of Bacalar, with the drive taking roughly 3-4 hours. 

The site is open from 8:00am until 5:00pm all days of the week.

22. Go Snorkelling

woman snorkelling

One of the very best things you can do in Bacalar is to spend time at the lake, where you can explore the delights that are hidden underwater. 

You’ll be able to see schools of exotic fish darting around, as well as other tropical species such as Catfish and other freshwater fish (you can also go fishing in certain spots).

Here you can get up close with the famed stromatolites, which now exist only in two places on earth! 

Sac-Ha is a good place to see them, where you can also see their unique appearance underwater too. 

It’s important to first set some realistic expectations before snorkelling here. 

Given it’s a lake and has mud and other sediments, it’s not going to be the clearest waters you’ve ever swam in (you’ll want to head to the Caribbean coast along the Riviera Maya for that). 

Regardless it’s still a great activity to do, and I recommend going snorkelling just after sunrise where the marine wildlife will be at their most active.

23. Try out a Paddle boarding Tour

man paddle boarding

Are you an early-riser who likes to make the very most of their mornings? 

Then this paddle boarding tour is a must for you! 

Here you’ll leave just before sunrise, where you’ll visit the Pirate’s Canal as well as the Cenote Negro. 

You’ll also have your local guide show you around too, where you’ll learn about native plants and animals as you pass them by at your own speed. 

Whilst you could also do the same on a boat tour, I feel that paddle boarding is a much more authentic way of enjoying the Bacalar Lagoon, where you’ll really be able to relax with little other humans around (apart from those on your tour of course). 

As well as including all equipment, you’ll also have professional photos taken for you, so there’s no worry about risking your phone when out on the water!

24. Go Diving

woman scuba diving

Whilst snorkelling is something you’ll want to try when here, it’s the diving that takes the cherry this time! 

In nearby Mahahual you’ll find one of the very best diving spots in this area of Mexico, which is often considered world-class amongst those from the diving community. 

Here you’ll find the Chinchorro Reef, which you’ll need to take a boat out to reach (it’s just over 40km off the coast of Mahahual). 

At this reef, you’ll be able to get up close with Dolphins under the water, as well as swim within the impressive reef system that is home to many colourful fish. 

There’s many different operators you can go with, however DoctorDive is one of the most reputable and best of all.

The other main option for divers is to explore some of the nearby cenotes that are close to Bacalar, including that of Cenote Azul.

For those who are continuing their trip through Mexico, Puerto Vallarta, Isla Mujeres, and Mazatlán are also fantastic diving spots! 

25. Relax at El Encanto

Rancho Encantado in Bacalar

Not to be confused with the same-named beach within Playa del Carmen, El Encanto is a really chill spot which is perfect for a day of total relaxation. 

It’s still under the mainstream travel radar, so you’ll be able to get away from other areas in Bacalar which can feel a bit too busy and touristy. 

Here you can find the awesome swings, which make for one of the very best photo opportunities in Bacalar! 

Other awesome things to do here include taking a kayak out over this private part of the lake, and also going camping in this more secluded area of Lake Bacalar. 

There is an admission fee to enter the site, but given everything it has I think it’s a very worthwhile investment. 

El Encanto is located roughly 22 km south of Bacalar, which can be reached in 20 minutes by car. 

The site is open from Sunday until Friday, from 9:30am until 5:30pm.

Bacalar Travel Tips & FAQ

When is a good time to visit Bacalar?

Bacalar is located within the state of Quintana Roo in south-east Mexico. As a result it has a tropical climate, with a dry and wet season each year.

The dry season starts around late November and lasts until April. Daily average temperatures during this time range from 74-82°F, with highs of up to 89°F and lows of down to 67°F. When it comes to rainfall, there is usually between 1-3 inches that falls during each month. 

Most travellers head to Bacalar during this time, given the absence of rain and also clear skies which make it great for hanging out around the lagoon and bronzing up.

The wet season commences in May, and ends around November time. You’ll find average temperatures of between 77-83°F, with highs of up to 90°F and lows of 72°F. You can expect a much larger amount of rain during this season, with anywhere from 3-7 inches falling for each month. 

Whilst less popular, this time of year is best for those who want cheaper prices and more deals (November and June tend to be the months that hotels make the most deals for).

You can check out the weather for Bacalar here on WeatherSpark.

How long should you spend in Bacalar 

Whilst Bacalar has some cool things to do, you’ll find that 4 days will probably be enough here. 

During this time you can really relax into the slower and more chill pace of life, and enjoy the best that Bacalar has to offer. 

You’ll also be able to make a day trip, which is especially a good option if heading during the dry season (too much rain can complicate paths to the more remote destinations). 

Any more than 4 days and you might get bored, although it really depends on what kind of experience you’re after!

What is a good budget for Bacalar?

Whilst Bacalar is located within the touristy state of Quintana Roo (which is perhaps the most popular of all in Mexico), this town has definitely escaped the more expensive prices.

Popularity is increasing, however, so it’s best to head now before it becomes over-commercialised and costly.

At this current time, those on a shoestring budget can expect to spend between $20-25 each day in Bacalar. 

With this more frugal budget, you will be staying in a more rustic hostel either in the centre or by the lagoon. You’ll be eating mostly local meals too, although you can find some really nice restaurants too without breaking the bank

You should also have enough leftover for buying some beers at night, or for an activity such as renting a kayak out onto the lake for the day.

Travellers who want to enjoy a more luxurious experience can expect to spend anywhere from $40+. 

You can easily find a nice private room without spending too much (like I recommended earlier in this article), although you’ll also find some stunning hotels too. 

With this budget you can spend more time eating in fancy restaurants, and also take day trips more often as well as enjoy a more wild night out.

It’s important to remember that these budgets are only for accommodation and food costs, with just a little left over for an attraction or taxi ride. It doesn’t account for flights, travel insurance, tours or buses between destinations.

Can you just book a tour for Bacalar?

Most travellers often head to Bacalar for a day or two, given they have limited time and there is so much more to experience in this incredible region of Mexico.

If this is the case for you, then I would recommend heading on a day tour where you can enjoy the best bits without worrying about losing precious time.

This all-inclusive tour is my favourite option, which includes all transport to and from Playa del Carmen. 

You’ll spend the day exploring the lagoon by boat, where you’ll also visit the Esmeralda and Cocalitos Cenotes. During the tour you’ll have lunch and snacks included too. 

Where to go after Bacalar?

Once you’ve enjoyed all that Bacalar has to offer, you will probably start thinking about where is next best to head on your trip through Southern Mexico. 

I highly recommend heading over to Tulum, which is situated on the Caribbean Coast. 

This popular town really needs no introduction, with it being a great place for hanging out on white sandy beaches and also exploring the cenotes and jungles found nearby. 

Tulum is a great place to base yourself for exploring this area of Quintana Roo, with small towns like Akumal and Puerto Morelos easily accessible from here. 

I highly recommend heading with this all-action day tour, where you’ll visit Tulum Ruins with a professional guide as well as go snorkelling in some of the very best spots. 

You’ll also get to go zip-lining through the dense jungle as an added bonus!

There are so many awesome things to do in Mexico so the options are endless...

Here are some other Mexico guides that you may find helpful:

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