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Bacalar Lagoon

Photo credit: Eneas / Foter / CC BY
Bacalar Lagoon
  • (worth a detour)
  • 10+ km
  • Easy
  • Free
  • full day
  • 2 2

A dreamy blue lagoon famous for its clear waters

Bacalar, Q.R.

Surely you’ve found yourself dreaming of swimming in the oceans of the Caribbean, yet, when you finally get there, it isn’t quite what you imagined – the salty water gets into your mouth and it tastes awfully and sand gets stuck to your feet. Well, what if I told you there is a lagoon in Mexico with waters just as blue and clear with the only difference being that the water in it is fresh?


The name of this lagoon is Bacalar and it is located in the municipality with the same name in the state of Quintana Roo just two hours away from Tulum and half an hour away from Chetumal. The lake measures 42 kilometers from north to south and is only 2 kilometers wide. Its bottom, made up of white limestone, and its shallowness combine to show off a striking blue colors. The lagoon is also known as the “Lagoon of 7 colors” due to the different tonalities of blue it shows.


The name of the lagoon comes from the Mayan language Sian Ka’an Bakhalal, Sian Ka’an translates to “death of the seas” and Bakhalal means “surrounded by reeds”. It is often referred to by Mexicans as “a tiny piece of heaven”.


The city around, also named Bacalar, was a Mayan civilization before being conquered by the Spanish in the year 1543 and renamed “Salamanca de Bacalar”. After a pirate attack later on in history, a fortress around the city was built to protect it which can still be visited today.


Other interesting sites to visit after swimming in the lagoon is the Cenote Azul, a sinkhole located four kilometers south of the city famous for its clear waters, the Guerra de Castas Museum, dedicated to the war that occurred in the Yucatan Peninsula after which the Mayas decided to relocate to British Honduras as well as the founders of Bacalar, and several less popular Mayan archeological sites such as Dzibanché and Ichkabal.


Finding accommodation here will not be a problem as the city’s income comes mainly from tourism – options abound from luxurious hotels to small guesthouses to camping grounds.


How to get there

Buses from Tulum and Cancun leave daily from ADO bus station