What to do in Bacalar
Located south of Quintana Roo, Bacalar is a beautiful "Pueblo Mágico" (magic town) with a relaxed atmosphere where you can breathe in peace and tranquility. Located just 21 miles from the Chetumal International Airport, it is a destination that has it all: history, culture, and beautiful natural scenery like the Laguna de los Siete Colores. The lagoon is one of the main reasons travelers decide to visit this Bacalar, which is still one of the greatest hidden treasures of the Mexican Caribbean.
History of Bacalar
The history of Bacalar goes back to the years 415 and 435 AD when the Mayans settled in what they then called Siyan Ka'an Bakhalal, which means "place of reeds." Years later, the area was conquered by the Spanish.
In the 17th century, Bacalar was constantly under attack by English, French, and Dutch pirates who came in search of dyewood. In response, the residents built the Fort of San Felipe. Today the fort acts as the Museum of Piracy, which exhibits an important collection of weapons, maps, scale boats, and historical pieces that focus on Bacalar’s history and its relationship with pirates.
Many of the town’s restaurants, bars, and craft stalls are located in the main plaza. The best way to explore the area is by renting a bicycle, so you can admire all the nearby attractions, like the Church of San Joaquín, la Casa de la Cultura, and of course the iconic Bacalar sign, located next to the fort.
Make a Splash
Water activities stand out the most in this charming destination. The Laguna de los Siete Colores connects with Río Hondo through the Estero de Chac, better known as the Canal de los Piratas (Pirate’s Canal). Here visitors can witness the oldest evidence of life on Earth: stromatolites. These communities of bacteria date back 3.5 billion years and are important generators of oxygen.
The area is the ideal spot to enjoy the surroundings and get carried away by the gentle current of the Los Rapidos canal, or aboard a kayak or paddleboard. If you are looking to be in tune with yourself and the incredible surroundings of Bacalar, we recommend taking a SUP yoga class at dawn, where an instructor will guide you into total relaxation through breath work and various yoga poses.
The lagoon itself is a beautiful sight, but within this large body of water, there are a few can’t-miss spots you can visit when you hire a boat or sailboat tour. One of these is the Isla de los Pájaros, a uniquely beautiful place that is home to a variety of birds such as owls, snail-hawks, herons, parrots, mockingbirds, sparrows, and larks.
More breathtaking beauty in the Laguna de Bacalar can be found in its cenotes; the Cocalitos cenotes, the Cenote Negro, and the Cenote Esmeralda–all beautiful but very different places.
Outside the lagoon is the Cenote Azul, which is 200 meters wide and 90 meters deep. It is an incredible place to practice canoeing or simply immerse yourself in its refreshing waters, in addition to enjoying delicious dishes at its onsite restaurant.
There is nothing better to round off a trip than adding a wellness experience to the itinerary. Bacalar's spas stand out for being rustic but charming, as many of these are stilt houses on the lagoon, making them the perfect setting to enjoy a calming treatment, take part in traditional rituals, or witness ancient Mayan ceremonies that are often performed in the water.
Visit Bacalar and let yourself be pampered with everything that this "Magic Town" has for you.