If you’ve heard of Riviera Maya, you’ve surely heard of Bacalar, the Lagoon of 7 colors, one of Mexico’s most picturesque destinations. And the one with one of the most fascinating ecosystems.
Tourists have baptized it as the Maldives of Mexico and it’s enough to have a quick look at the photos of the place to know why. The same on-water architecture, the same fascinating colors of the crystalline water. The same laid-back atmosphere.
Where is Bacalar?
Bacalar is located in the southeast of Mexico, in Quintana Roo State. The same state that boasts Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen.
To get there, you can fly to Cancun or to the nearby Chetumal city that also has an international airport.
If you’re visiting other destinations in Riviera Maya, you can take an ADO bus to Bacalar.
👉 Take a look to our post about public transportation in Cancún and the Riviera Maya.
How far is Bacalar from other known cities in Quintana Roo?
Cancun is the furthest one, 214 miles (345) km away, so it will take you about four and a half hours to get to Bacalar. The fastest alternative is renting a car.
Playa del Carmen is about three and a half hours away, and Tulum is one hour closer.
Chetumal is just 40 minutes away.
The lagoon of the seven colors
Now, let’s clarify with the name.
- ”the lagoon of seven colors” seems intriguing.
- Do you want to know why the waters of the Bacalar lagoon present this absolutely fascinating spectacle of seven colors?
- Would you like the romantic explanation or the scientific one? 🤔
Let’s start with the myth that explains the origin of this phenomenon. The Maya people say that their gods chose Bacalar for its beauty. The gods wanted to use it as a palette to try out different colors to apply later in the world around. And they had a blast.
If you prefer a more down-to-earth explanation, the seven color variations of turquoise blue can be attributed to different factors.
First, different types of soils look different in shallow waters. You also have deeper pools inside the lagoon.
Then, the sunlight that breaks down at different angles does its part, too. So it’s different soil, varying depth, and sunlight.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer the Maya legend version... ✨ ✨ ✨
Just be aware, that after hurricanes or even big storms, the water turns brown, and it can take some time until it settles down and returns to its normal, “colorful” state.
Is it worth visiting this off-the-beaten-path destination?
Is there something else to see or do apart from the beautiful colors of the water? Absolutely yes.
Apart from swimming and diving in the lake, there are other water activities you can do, but try to avoid aggressive water sports that destroy the ecosystem. Local tourist companies are usually very conscious about it but you can always find somebody offering you a water jet ski.
Choose paddling, sailing, or kayaking for less impact tourism.
👉 To learn more about eco-responsible activities to do during your vacation in the Riviera Maya: click here.
While enjoying the lake, don’t miss the Stromatolites, the Earth’s oldest fossils. They look like normal rocky formations with algae on them but they’re live witnesses of the ancient world. They’re very important for the ecosystem and you shouldn’t step on them.
You can also swim in nearby cenotes, don’t miss The Blue Sinkhole - El Cenote Azul. It’s one of the world’s largest cenotes, around 90 meters deep. However, you need to be a certified diver to dive in it.
Walking around the lake or biking are also great activities. You can also visit Fort San Felipe, built at the beginning of the 18th century to defend the place from constant pirate raids. You can spend some time at the archeological site of Cacchoben, which hosts an old Mayan settlement.
If you want more adrenaline, don’t miss the Kan-Kin Ziplines to fly over the Mayan jungle for almost a kilometer and a half. During the flight, you can observe the Lagoon of Bacalar!
The Bacalar town itself is not big but there are many new hotels to choose from. You can sleep in a lakefront hotel, a boutique hotel, or an eco-friendly one.
There is something for everybody.
To eat, go to the Zocalo, the main square, to find some local eateries and bigger restaurants. Just remember, it’s a small town, don’t expect anything fancy, but you might be sure that you’ll have a great and delicious meal.
You should definitely put Bacalar, the Seven Color Lagoon, on your must-to-see list.