The star of today´s blog post was actually the first territory to be taken by the Spanish during the conquest in Mexico. Bacalar is an amazing yet small city that is full of wonderful people and peaceful places. Its lagoon is actually the most famous attraction of this little town, but the entire area is perfect for a weekend trip or a romantic getaway. Not very many people know about it and it remains as a local town with authentic food and services. It also belongs to Quintana Roo State but it is found on the south part of the Riviera Maya, definitely one of the top places off the beaten path. Bacalar means in Mayan language “The place surrounded by reeds”, if you visit the lagoon you will see that the place really honors its name. Bacalar was given in 2006 the title of “Pueblo Magico” (magic town) and if you continue reading you will find out why.
As soon as you enter the little town you will discover lots of little houses and unpaved streets. Little stores and vendors will welcome you while they offer their products. Don´t be afraid of getting lost because Bacalar can easily be explored by walking. On the coast you can find many hotels with the most incredible view; to the magic lagoon. The water of the lagoon is usually warm, only near the cenote it becomes colder. You can stay by the shore and swim or snorkel, but we highly recommend you to take a boat tour. There are many Catamaran tours that will take you to the cenote in the middle of the lagoon, or to the bird island. Near the birds island you can cover yourself in mold that has a strong smell to sulfur but it´s actually great for your skin. The tours lasts around half of the day if you want to see the cenote and the bird island. You can also rent at the shore, paddle boards or kayaks to make your stay more adventurous.
While you recover yourself from the beauty of the lagoon, you can continue exploring the little town. The place is surrounded by delicious and authentic food (did we mentioned it is also inexpensive?). The panuchos and quesadillas near the main market are a must, and the homemade donnuts at Mango y Chile restaurant should not to be missed. There is a market in the middle of the town that opens around 6:00am. Here you can get fresh fruit, vegetables, juices and other organic groceries during your stay. People are very friendly and they are always willing to help you finding the best food or transportation back to your hotel. There are only 3 bars/clubs but it is easy to blend in as everybody is minding their own business. People who live in Bacalar are used to visitors and they are experts in making them feel like part of their crazy family. No wonder why during our last trip we were part of a costume party and it wasn´t even Halloween!
Renting your own car is highly recommended, the route to Bacalar is full of signs that will guide you. However, if you don’t have your own transportation you can always catch the public shuttle. ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen and Tulum offer transportation to Bacalar. We recommend you to purchase your tickets at least a couple of days in advance, for this you have to show up to the ADO bus station. Each way it is around $400.00 pesos per person and there are at least 3 shuttles a day. It takes around 4 hours from Playa del Carmen to get to Bacalar, about 45 minutes less if you take it from Tulum. If you are undecided to where to stay for a couple of days, send us an email to: [email protected] and we will happily help you with recommendations. There are only 2 ATM´s in Bacalar town, so bringing enough cash is highly recommended.