Photo of Bacalar

About Bacalar

Bacalar is a small town nestling quietly by the shores of a bright blue lagoon. Inhabited since the Mayans, it is a fascinating historic town full of churches, colonial-era fortifications and a blooming handicrafts scene. From scuba diving in the calm and iridescent waters of the Lake of the Seven Colours, checking out the local markets or exploring the stark and imposing complex of the Fort San Felipe, there's something for everyone. The best places to stay in Bacalar make the most of the town's picturesque positioning.

The waters of the lake are so clear and bright that people travel a long way just to see this site - it’s five hours drive from Cancún via Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is said that the lake itself has seven shades, ranging from the pale, shallow colours to deep and dark cenotes or sinkholes. Surrounding the lake are rickety old fishermen's houses, vendors selling street food, gourmet restaurants and the occasional street musician. Scuba diving is a popular past time: the waters of the lake are clear and warm, and the lake itself teems with underwater caves, some at 300ft deep! The Mayans first inhabited the town, and the name Bacalar attests to this fact, roughly translating as "surrounded by reeds" in Mayan.

It was one of the first Mayan settlements colonised in the 16th century. Standing tall and grand above the town is the Fort of San Felipe, finally completed in the early 18th century, complete with walls and towers. Now it also houses an excellent museum that details the gruesome history of colonisation, boasting pre-colonial artefacts, Spanish maps and a variety of archaeological exhibits. The Church of San Joaquin is also a must-see, but for the real Bacalar experience, you must visit the local markets. The town is famous for its great array of craftsmanship: at the markets, you can find woodcarvings, dyed clothes, hand-embroidered "huipiles" and colourful hammocks.

What not to miss

  • Go for a dip in the iridescent waters of the lake.
  • Check out the local markets and buy some handwoven colourful hammocks or woodcarvings.
  • Explore the imposing structure of the Fort of San Felipe.
  • Find some solace in the Church of San Joaquin.
  • Go scuba diving amongst the sinkholes and underwater caves of the lake.

Bacalar is a fantastic town to visit if you're a history buff, but it also offers calm and respite. Check out our collection of the best places to stay in Bacalar to find out more!

The best places to stay in Bacalar

Lakeside chic

  • Lake Bacalar’s Rancho Encantado is a collection of 12 chic cabins nestled right in against the lake. The terracotta tiles, music-draped beds and white-washed walls give a rustic feel but there’s plenty of luxury, including a beautiful spa.

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • Fly to Cancun and get a bus to Bacalar, which takes roughly 2.5 hours.
  • If you want to rent a car we recommend contacting our partner Rentalcars.
  • Go between January and April, when there is little rain and the temperature ranges between 19 and 33 degrees.

Still not sure?


Monthly Weather in Bacalar

Best Hotels in Bacalar

  • Hotel Aires Bacalar Bacalar 12 rooms from £59

    Total relaxation  -  With a focus on relaxation guests are encouraged to get involved in arts or nature to help to truly unwind
    Local exploring  -  Set in the heart of the town of Bacalar and just a short walk from the striking lake
    Sailing  -  Explore the region on a boat ride along the lake (perhaps stopping for a mud facial along the way)
    Sights nearby  -  Take a stroll through the beautiful 17th century Spanish fort
    Air conditioningSpaGardenViewsParking

    A cool natural space in the centre of a Mexican paradise. Twelve chic rooms are simply but beautifully styled with light-earthy tones and artefacts made from natural materials. All have private terraces complete with hammock. Healthy breakfasts are served and it is just a short stroll to the lagoon. See More

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  • Rancho Encantado Bacalar 12 rooms from £119

    Eco break  -  Rest assured the hotel is taking care of your carbon footprint leaving you free to totally unwind.
    Hideaway  -  Great for couples wanting to get away from the world.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantGardenViewsParkingNo pets

    An enchanting eco-lodge nestled amidst thick vegetation and overlooking Lake Bacalar. Chic cabins feature terracotta tiled floors, muslin draped beds, white washed walls and pops of turquoise. Plenty of hammocks, a spa and utter tranquility ensure a restful stay. A glorious hideaway. See More

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  • Casa Hormiga Bacalar 18 rooms from £144

    Boutique  -  A merging of textured organic materials and a sleek Japanese aesthetic makes the design of this boutique very hip
    Total relaxation  -  Designed with relaxation in mind, guests can soak in the natural surrounds and enjoy ancient wellness practices
    Sights nearby  -  There are several ancient Mayan sites to discover including Chacchoben, Kohunlich, and Calakmul
    Sailing  -  Learn about local legends on a sailing excursion on the Lagoon in a Catamaran or Monohull
    SpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenParking
    Recommended by  -  Tablet

    A unique design hotel set just moments from the coast in historic Bacalar. The architecture craftily blends natural & minimalist aesthetics with polished concrete, wood, and thatch sitting in harmony amidst a tropical garden. There's an impossibly chic pool and a beach club nearby. A quiet hideaway. See More

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  • Our Habitas Bacalar Bacalar (Quintana Roo) 35 rooms from £171

    Spa breaks  -  Using the practises of Mayan culture, a combination of local ingredients create an individual treatment for each guest
    Barefoot Luxury  -  Beautiful authentic interiors; you can expect earth inspired colours and a plethora of wood in a lush environment
    Beach Life  -  Situated on the shores of a tranquil blue lagoon, relax in paradise or enjoy the many water adventures on offer
    Wellbeing  -  Create a healthy mindset and motivation with a variety of Wellness Offerings and Personal Training on offer
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantGardenViewsParking

    A holistic oasis primed for total relaxation set between lagoon and jungle. Thatched A-Frame rooms are simple but luxurious with a rustic minimalist style and private terrace. Siete restaurant highlights plant-based cuisine and there's a spa for a plethora of nature-based treatments. Sheer bliss! See More

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