The 13 best things to do in Bacalar

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Welcome to Bacalar, an unknown destination for many travelers. Bacalar is without a doubt a hidden gem to discover. Bacalar impresses many travelers because of Lake Bacalar. This lake is beautiful because of the clear blue water, it is surrounded by palm trees, magnificent nature and is perfect to do water activities. The village Bacalar is located next to the lake, making it the perfect destination to discover this natural wonder.

Do you want to know more about: what to do in Bacalar? Then you are on the right page. In this article, you can read what are the 13 best things to do in Bacalar, where you need to stay, the best places to eat, and more useful tips.

Bacalar Lake

Things to do in Bacalar?

Even though Bacalar is a small village you can do plenty of fun things. You can do many water activities on the lake but there are also other awesome things that can be done. Read below our 13 recommended activities to do in Bacalar.

Tip: Use the map below to see where the best things in Bacalar are located. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. You can show or hide different categories on the map. You can use this map to navigate when you are in Bacalar.

#1 Discover Lake Bacalar by a boat trip

The best activity to do in Bacalar is to follow a boat trip. Lake Bacalar consists of seven colors that can be admired in different places on the lake. During a boat trip, you will discover all these places. You will also visit the cenote, the bird island, and the pirate channel. The views that you have during the boat trip are amazing.

The nice thing about a tour is that you can see a lot of the lake in a relaxed way. During the tour, the guide will tell you everything about the environment, such as the animals that live in the area.

During the tour you will have time to relax, you can swim at various spots, enjoy nice Mexican music and enjoy Lake Bacalar while enjoying snacks and drinks. Check current prices and availability for a boat trip here.

bacalar lake view

#2 Sailing on the lake

Most travelers discover the lake by boat. You can also choose to go sailing on the lake. The different places you will visit with the sailboat are the same as the ‘normal’ boat tour. Here you will also visit the cenote, the bird island, and the pirate channel. The guide will also tell you everything about Lake Bacalar during the sailing trip.

The big difference is that the experience with a sailboat is completely different from the traditional motorboat. The sailboat uses the wind, so you do not have any engine noise during the trip. Therefore you will not be bothered by noise while sailing.

Whether you go with a sailboat or take the traditional boat tour, both options are fine. Depending on your personal preferences, one is better than the other. Check here for availability and prices.

bacalar boat trip

#3 Paddle tour during sunrise

During the day it is nice to follow a boat trip or go sailing on the lake. However, during the day everything always looks different than during sunrise. A special activity to do in Bacalar is to follow a paddle tour during sunrise.

With a small group, you will discover the lake together with a guide. The unique thing about this activity is that you are on the water when all the boats are still at the quay, making it extremely quiet on the water. This allows you to hear all the birds.

The best thing is of course that you see the sunrise in the middle of the water. The water is calm allowing anyone to do this activity without any problems. We recommend taking a boat trip or sailing during the day and also a paddle tour during sunrise because it is very different than during the day. Check prices and availability here.

paddle tour

Where to stay in Bacalar

Option 1 Location & Affordable: Yak Lake House
Yak Lake House
is the best hostel to stay in Bacalar. Here you can book a room with a view of the lake that is not expensive. The location is perfect, next to the lake. In the evening you can relax by the water on your private beach. You can stay in a private room or a dormitory if you are traveling on a tight budget.
Check the prices and availability here!

Option 2 Great value for money: Azul 36 Hotel
Do you want something different? Then go and stay at Azul 36 Hotel, this hotel is beautifully built with a thatched roof. The courtyard of the hotel is great for relaxing, there is also a swimming pool which makes it even more beautiful. Rooms have air-conditioning and excellent beds, so you’ll sleep very well.
Check prices and availability for Azul 36 Hotel here.

#4 Discover independently the lake by kayaking

Do you prefer to be active during the vacation and do you want to discover Lake Bacalar independently? Then we recommend that you rent a kayak. You can rent a kayak for 24 hours, so you have plenty of time to discover the most beautiful places independently.

The kayaks are suitable for 1 or 2 people. You don’t need any experience because the water is very calm, anyone can do this without any problems. When renting a kayak, paddles, life jackets, instructions are included. You can also get a map on which you can map out a personal route for the day.

This activity is recommended for couples or families who would like to discover Lake Bacalar intimately together at their own initiative and pace. You can arrange the kayak rental at the accommodation in Bacalar.

If you want to book something in advance, you can easily book a sup in advance here.

bacalar kayak

#5 Private catamaran tour

Another way to discover Lake Bacalar in Mexico is via a catamaran. The great thing about a catamaran is that it can move considerably faster over the water than traditional boats.

Also with the catamaran tour, you visit the cenote, the bird island, and the pirate channel. However, the difference compared to the above two tours is that this catamaran tour is very exclusive and private. Those who love speed can ask the captain to go over the water at high speeds. However, there must be the right wind for and everyone within the group wants to do this.

It is a great activity that is suitable if you are traveling with a larger group (minimum 6) to divide the costs. Check current prices here.

#6 Discover the historic center

If you’re short on time and want to make the most of your day seeing as much of Bacalar as possible, you can follow a sightseeing tour. During this tour, you will visit Lake Bacalar and Bacalar itself.

In Bacalar, you can visit the fortress of San Felipe, admire colonial buildings and a museum. The fortress of San Felipe served to protect the Maya community against attacks by English, French and Dutch pirates. Today you can visit the upper part of the fortress that was used to store gunpowder at the time.

The fun fact is that the fortress used to have 34 cannons of which there are now 11. Today the fortress has become a museum where you can admire colonial archaeological artifacts. The museum and fortress are recommended to visit as it is imposing due to the architecture of the building.

#7 Visit Dzibanche and Kohunlich

You will probably travel to Mexico to learn more about the ancient Mayan civilization. A nice place to visit is Dzibanche and Kohunlich.

Dzibanche was one of the most important Mayan cities in the south. This is also known as the Mayan zone. This building is located in the jungle and is incredibly big. At the stairs, you see carved hieroglyphs that tell different interesting stories.

Kohunlich is the only complex in the world where you can see large Mayan masks. Here you can visit the Temple of the 27 Steps and the Temple of the Masks. It is special to see that such impressive buildings could be made at the time and that they could also be decorated with such details.

Dzibanche and Kohunlich are located +/- 45 drive from Bacalar. It is recommended to visit both complexes with a tour because then you learn everything about what you see and transport is arranged. Read more here for more information.

Dzibanche
Kohunlich

#8 Relax at Cocalitos

One of the best things to do in Bacalar Mexico is to enjoy the quietness. The best place is of course on the water. If you stay right on the lake, you don’t have to look for a place to do this. The best public beach in our opinion is Cocalitos. This place is great for swimming. It is also close to the Cenotes. There is a small restaurant where you can order food and drinks. The entrance fee is 50 pesos.

Tip: If you want to cool off by swimming in the lake do what the locals do: go to the piers and jump in the water. This is free and just as much fun!

Looking for an itinerary through Yucatan? Read more.

#9 Discover the local cuisine

When you are in Mexico, there is nothing more fun than discovering the local cuisine. In Bacalar, there are many nice restaurants and places where you can eat well. The best place to eat in our opinion is Enamora.

Enamora is a small restaurant with a few tables where you can sit comfortably under the trees. The dishes and drinks they make are all healthy and delicious. You can order various sandwiches that are richly filled. We visit it a couple of times because we liked it so much. Our recommendation is toast with fresh vegetables. Also try the tropical smoothies with passion fruit, really delicious.

You can immediately see and taste that everything is freshly made. For $11 you can have a good breakfast and lunch here. Opening hours are 07:30 am – 10:00 pm. Enamora is located on a side street off the main square.

bacalar best food

#10 Romantic evening at La Playita

If you want to have a romantic evening in Bacalar go to La Playita. This restaurant is located next to the lake making it an amazing place to eat. During dinner, you can enjoy the great view.

It’s romantic to have dinner here because candles are burning and you’re surrounded by the jungle. When you open the menu, you will find it difficult to choose because there is so much to choose from and everything looks tasty.

We recommend taking the seafood with noodles, very tasty! This place is different than most restaurants where you eat in Mexico which makes it fun.

Bacalar la playita
Bacalar la playita food

#11 Snorkeling at Rapidos

Snorkeling in Bacalar can be done at Rapidos. Located in the south of Bacalar, this restaurant is located on a narrow channel with a strong current. In this channel, you can see many different fish.

From the starting point (the restaurant) you can let yourself be carried away by the rapids. The nice thing is that you don’t have to swim because the rapids do all the work for you. When you reach the end, you have to walk back to the restaurant. Here you can go snorkeling again or take a seat and relax.

Rapidos is nice to visit for an hour because after that you have seen it. The entrance ticket costs $7.

#12 Visit the capital of the Mayan kingdom

A 2-hour drive from Bacalar is the ancient Mayan capital Calakmul. From this capital, the Mayans ruled the region for centuries. Calakmul belongs to the world heritage list and is located in a special nature reserve.

If you want to learn more about the Maya, a visit to Calakmul is recommended. This complex is located in the middle of the jungle, so you will see many different exotic birds during your visit. The buildings are also very impressive to see, especially the famous Estructure II. If you walk up the old stairs you will eventually arrive above the tree line, from the top you can overlook the entire region.

Many visit Chichen Itza, however, Calakmul is just as beautiful. From Bacalar, you can visit Calakmul via a tour. Read more about this here.

Dzibanche

#13 Visit Coba during sunset

Finally, you can visit Coba. This is also a Mayan complex that is perfect to visit during sunrise and sunset because you have an amazing view of the surroundings from the main temple.

Due to the distance, however, it is better to visit Coba if you are more north of Yucatan, for example in Valladolid or Tulum. If you want to visit Coba from Bacalar, this is possible. More information can be found here.

Coba

How many days in Bacalar?

Even though Bacalar is a small village, there are plenty of fun things to do, especially if you follow all our Bacalar tips you can have plenty of days of fun. Despite that, we recommend staying at least 2 days (3 nights).

In 2 days you have enough time to do the best activities on and around Lake Bacalar. If you want to make day trips from Bacalar, extend your stay to 4 or 5 nights. However, be aware that besides Bacalar Yucatan and Mexico, in general, has many great places to discover. So don’t stay too long in one place. Therefore 3 nights is more than fine.

Best places to stay in Bacalar

Although Bacalar is not large, there are plenty of accommodations to choose from. When choosing accommodation in Bacalar you can choose between staying in the village or a hotel next to the lake. Both options are fine, but keep in mind that staying close to the lake is more expensive than staying in the village. We recommend the following two accommodations because of an excellent price-quality ratio. Please note: both accommodations are fully booked quickly, so book immediately to ensure yourself of a place to stay.

Location & Affordable:
The Yak lake house

The Yak Lake House Hostal

Yak Lake House is the best hostel to stay in Bacalar. Here you can book a room with a view of the lake that is not expensive. The location is perfect, next to the lake. In the evening you can relax by the water on your private beach. You can stay in a private room or a dormitory if you are traveling on a tight budget.

Great value for money:
Azul 36 Hotel

Azul 36 Hotel

Do you want something different? Then go and stay at Azul 36 Hotel, this hotel is beautifully built with a thatched roof. The courtyard of the hotel is great for relaxing, there is also a swimming pool which makes it even more beautiful. Rooms have air-conditioning and excellent beds, so you’ll sleep very well.

Where to eat in Bacalar?

As you have been able to read in activity 9, Enamora is the best place to eat in Bacalar. At this restaurant, you can have a good breakfast and lunch. You can order various sandwiches here that are richly filled. We visited it a couple of times because it was so delicious. Our recommendation is toast with fresh vegetables. Also try the tropical smoothies with passion fruit, really delicious.

Another recommended place to eat in the evening is at La Playita. This restaurant is located by the lake where you enjoy a fantastic view while eating. The noodles with seafood are a must to order, delicious!

Near the main square, another nice place to eat is Mr. Taco, as the name implies, you can eat tacos here. It’s a small local place where only a few people can sit, so you have to be lucky to find a free spot. We especially liked the tacos because they are healthy. Sometimes you have places where the fat drips from the tacos, here you can order vegetarian tacos so you can eat delicious and healthy. You can also eat tacos with meat or fish. You can order 3 tacos for $4.

If you want something different to eat you can go to PUES SI at the main square, this is an Italian pizzeria. Of course, the pizzas don’t taste like they do in Italy but if you don’t want to eat Mexican, this is a great option. A pizza costs about $5.

How to get to Bacalar Mexico?

Bacalar is located in the south of Yucatan and is easily accessible from several locations in Mexico. First of all, it is good to know that it is not possible to fly to Bacalar. You can only reach Bacalar by car, shuttle or bus.

The easiest and cheapest way is to use the bus. You can buy a bus ticket from many different places from the bus company ADO. You can buy a bus ticket online or at the station. Check here for actual routes and prices.

Tip: book your ticket in advance to be sure of a seat.

If you are close to Bacalar such as Tulum or Playa del Carmen, you can also check at the accommodation where you are staying if it is possible to take a shuttle bus. The accommodations where we always stayed offered this service.

If you want to fly to Bacalar you first have to fly to Chetumal, which is 45 minutes away from Bacalar. From Chetumal, you can take a taxi or bus to Bacalar. If Chetumal is not possible you can also fly to Cancun and take a bus to Bacalar.

Are you traveling through Mexico by car, you can easily reach Bacalar. If you come from Cancun (345 km), Playa del Carmen (280 km), and Tulum (215 km) you can drive to Bacalar in a few hours. All you have to do is enter Bacalar in your navigation and drive, everything is singed good so it is very easy.

If you travel to Mexico by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.

Bacalar relax

Best period to visit Bacalar

Bacalar can be visited all year round because of the pleasant temperatures. Bacalar has a dry and rainy season.

The best time to travel to Bacalar is between December and March (dry season) when the weather is most stable.

May is the hottest month, on average it gets a maximum of 35℃ and drops to 22℃ at night. December is the coolest month with an average of up to 29℃ dropping to 21℃.

We were in Bacalar in September and loved the weather. The advantage is when you travel in Mexico during the summer that the days are the longest. As mentioned, you can visit Bacalar all year round because the temperatures are pleasant.

Tip: Keep in mind that during the US and Europe school holidays in July and August, it will be busier than usual, causing prices to rise.

Bacalar what to do FQA

1. How much does it cost to visit Bacalar?

This of course depends on what exactly you are going to do. But to give you a rough estimate, Bacalar will cost you $195 per person if you stay there for 2 days / 3 nights:

  • Accommodation: $105
  • Activities: $40
  • Food: $25
  • Transportation: $25

As you can see you don’t have to spend a lot of money in Bacalar to do fun things.

2. What is the most beautiful part of Lake Bacalar?

It sounds silly but it is true, every part of Lake Bacalar is beautiful. There are, however, certain places that you can visit independently that are different.

If you walk from the center to the lake you will see several piers, here it is nice to sit in the evening when the locals come to swim. This is a perfect way to get to know the culture of Mexico because you have to get in touch with the locals. If you sit down at one of the piers, someone will probably start talking to you. They always enjoy talking to people from outside Mexico.

If you walk to Balneario del Sindicato de la SEMARNAT Seccion 39 which is in the north of Bacalar you stand on a pier with only the lake in front of you. This is a nice place for the view. On the map at the beginning of this article, you see where it is located.

Want to see more of Mexico

We hope this article has helped you to give you a clear idea of ​​what to do in Bacalar, where to stay, and more useful tips for Bacalar.

When you have visited Bacalar you can discover more places in Mexico. If you follow our Mexico itinerary, your next destination is Valladolid. Discover here: best things to do in Valladolid.

If you don’t follow our Mexico itinerary, the obvious destination to travel to is Tulum. Tulum is a seaside village where you can admire a beautiful Mayan complex perched on a cliff.

You can also travel from Bacalar to Guatemala by taking the bus to Flores. Flores is the most popular destination in northern Guatemala from where you can visit Tikal.

What do you think of Bacalar? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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