As winter’s chill begins to grip the Northern Hemisphere, many sun-seekers are turning their gaze towards tropical havens.
Tulum, once a hidden gem on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, is now often lamented for its transformation: overdevelopment and skyrocketing costs tarnish its former laid-back charm.
Picture this: beach clubs demanding a $100 minimum spend per person, coupled with exorbitant taxi fares and ridiculously high hotel rates, especially near Tulum Beach.
Yet, just a three-hour drive south, near the tranquil border with Guatemala, lies a world apart. Here, in this unspoiled paradise, authenticity reigns, offering a reprieve from the overcrowded tourist traps.
This is Bacalar, where the serene lagoon mirrors the sky, a secret haven waiting to be explored by those yearning for genuine experiences and untouched beauty.
Why Visit Bacalar In 2024
In 2024, Bacalar emerges as the hidden treasure of Mexico, a serene contrast to the bustling beaches of Tulum.
This enchanting town, nestled beside a stunning lagoon, captivates with waters mirroring the hues of the Maldives. The lagoon, fondly known as the ‘Lake of Seven Colors,‘ boasts shades from turquoise to deep blue, creating a mesmerising aquatic tapestry.
Bacalar also offers a rich array of experiences – from its stunning cenotes to ancient ruins, all the allure of Tulum but without the crowds.
What’s more, it’s remarkably budget-friendly. Imagine waking up in a waterfront accommodation, the lagoon’s tranquillity at your doorstep, all at a fraction of Tulum’s price.
But the clock is ticking; this unspoiled paradise is just waiting to be discovered, and it won’t remain a secret for long.
#1 Bacalar’s Unique Nature
Bacalar offers a captivating natural experience distinct from any other. Known for its “Lagoon of Seven Colors,” Bacalar’s waters range from turquoise to deep blue, creating a stunning visual effect perfect for swimming, kayaking, and sailing.
Unlike the crowded and overdeveloped beaches of Tulum, Bacalar provides a serene and authentic ambience.
The town is also renowned for its breathtaking cenotes, like Cenote Azul, Cenote Cocalitos, and Cenote Esmeralda, offering unique swimming experiences in crystal-clear waters surrounded by natural beauty.
Cenote Cocalitos, in particular, is famous for its awe-inspiring turquoise water and a colony of stromatolites – layered rock formations produced by prehistoric bacteria, adding a prehistoric touch to your swim.
Bacalar is also a gateway to other natural wonders, such as Los Rapidos, a narrow section of the lagoon famous for its crystal clear water and inhabited by stromatolites, offering a blend of beauty and scientific intrigue.
#2 Fun Activities
Adventurous souls can explore the lagoon by kayak, a perfect way to discover secluded spots and enjoy the natural scenery.
One of the best places to discover in Bacalar is the Pirates Channel, with its shipwreck and rich history as a trade route and pirate hideout, an intriguing site to visit.
For a comprehensive experience, sailing tours through the lagoon, including stops at nearby cenotes, offer a chance to immerse in the local wildlife and landscapes.
Alongside its natural attractions, Bacalar is home to a significant historical landmark: the Fuerte de San Felipe. This 18th-century fort, built to protect the town from pirates, offers a glimpse into the region’s colonial past.
Visitors can explore its well-preserved structure, including ramparts and a small museum showcasing artefacts from Bacalar’s history.
The fort also provides stunning views of the lagoon, making it not just a cultural stop but a scenic one as well.
#3 You Won’t Miss On The Ancient Ruins
Absolutely! Bacalar not only charms with its serene lagoon and rich history but also serves as a gateway to fascinating day trips.
One notable destination is the Kohunlich Archeological Site, a hidden gem tucked away in the lush jungle. This site is renowned for its well-preserved Mayan ruins, including the famous Temple of the Masks.
Visitors can immerse themselves in the mystical atmosphere of the ruins, often accompanied by the distant calls of howler monkeys.
#4 Emerging Foodie Scene
Bacalar is rapidly gaining recognition for its emerging foodie scene, catering to a diverse palette of tastes.
The town’s culinary landscape is a haven for those seeking vegan and vegetarian options, with eateries like Yerbabuena or Mango and Chile leading the charge with their mouth-watering veggie burgers and healthy smoothies.
Seafood lovers will find delight in the fresh, local catches served at various restaurants.
The burgeoning hipster cafe culture, fueled by the influx of digital nomads, adds a modern twist to Bacalar’s dining scene, offering cosy spots perfect for both work and relaxation.
This blend of traditional flavours and contemporary culinary trends makes Bacalar an exciting destination for food enthusiasts.
#5 A Budget-Friendly Destination With A Wow Factor
Bacalar stands out as a budget-friendly destination that doesn’t compromise on the ‘wow’ factor. Bacalar accommodation cater to all budgets, offering waterfront views without the hefty price tag often seen in more tourist-heavy areas.
The entrance fee to the enchanting Cenote Cocalitos, for instance, is a mere 50 MXN (about $2.50), a stark contrast to the 500 pesos ($25) charged at Tulum’s Gran Cenote.
Dining in Bacalar is equally wallet-friendly, with delightful eateries like Mango and Chile serving up delicious burgers for around 200 pesos ($10).
This affordability, coupled with the stunning natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere, makes Bacalar an irresistible choice for travellers in 2024.
#6 A Crowd-Free Paradise
In stark contrast to the bustling streets and crowded beaches of Tulum, Bacalar offers a serene escape, a haven of tranquillity.
This charming town, nestled beside its stunning lagoon, is a breath of fresh air for those seeking a more relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.
Unlike Tulum, which has seen rapid development and increasing tourist footfall, Bacalar maintains a low-key vibe, free from overwhelming crowds.
This tranquillity allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty and authentic Mexican culture of the area.
Imagine spending a day in a hammock on your private jetty overlooking nothing but the lagoon.
#7 Getting Here Is Easy
Getting to Bacalar is surprisingly straightforward, making it an accessible paradise for travellers. Located in the southern reaches of Quintana Roo, Mexico, Bacalar is a scenic drive away from popular destinations like Tulum and Cancun.
From Tulum, a journey of about 3 hours by road brings you to this serene lagoon town. For those travelling from Cancun, the trip is slightly longer but equally rewarding.
Conveniently, ADO buses offer regular services from both Tulum and Cancun, providing a comfortable and hassle-free travel option.
These bus rides through the picturesque landscapes of the Yucatán Peninsula are an adventure in themselves, setting the tone for the tranquil beauty that awaits in Bacalar.
Bacalar May Not Have A Beach, But Its Breathtaking Lagoon Offers a Unique Aquatic Paradise
Bacalar stands as a unique jewel in Mexico’s crown. While it may not boast traditional beaches, it’s mesmerising “Lagoon of Seven Colors” more than compensates, offering a tranquil and visually stunning alternative.
Bacalar is the ideal destination for those in search of authenticity who revel in unspoiled natural beauty and delight in water sports like kayaking, sailing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
The combination of its natural beauty, rich historical sites like the Fuerte de San Felipe, and accessible day trips to places like the Kohunlich Archeological Site makes Bacalar an irresistible destination.