I have decamped to Tulum Mexico to remote work for 20+ days. Like many of my subscribers, I am planning a permanent exodus from the United States and I plan to make Mexico my semi-permanent home for at least 12 months.
I am currently doing some R&R in the white beachside tourist retreat of Tulum Quintana Roo Mexico. By R&R I do not mean “rest and relaxation” instead I’m talking research and reconnaissance. I’m taking a deep dive into multiple places to decide which feels right for semi-permanent resettlement.
As I started researching topics like “Safest places in Mexico”, “Where you should go in Mexico right now” and “most beautiful places in Mexico” one place in Mexico kept popping up in my search: Bacalar Mexico.
As I looked at the beautiful images, I was intrigued. What intrigued me most is that Bacalar is not a beach town. Instead, it is home to Lake Bacalar also known as the “lake of seven colors” due to the multiple hues on the face of the lake when the sun hits it.
I am not usually a lakefront girl. When I think of lakes, I immediately think of dragonflies and mosquitoes neither appeal. But the photos of the massive Lagoon in Bacalar literally beckoned me – forgive the alliteration. As I watched videos about the little town and its enchanting lake, I knew then if I would be in Tulum, I needed to get to Bacalar. Spotted to go on my first weekend in Tulum from a Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. I figured that would be enough.
Getting to Bacalar is not simple. As you may know, to get to Tulum you must fly into Cancun airport and then take a shuttle or bus for the 1.5-hour drive to Tulum. Bacalar is an additional 2.5-hour drive from Tulum. So, from Cancun or even Playa del Carmen. It is a bit quite a hike but I got to say it’s worth the hike! I took the ADO bus from Tulum to Bacalar. Find tickets via BusBud.comor download the app. The bus was large comfortable and air-conditioned. Damn near freezing. The very annoying movie playing on the bus, notwithstanding, overall it was a pleasant ride and most of the trip was via highway. I’m 5’1 and couldn’t see much over the high bus seat back so I didn’t see much outside the window. I opted to put on my noise-canceling headphones and listen to the Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon Talley to kill the time. It’s a very entertaining way to kill a couple hours – trust me.
Upon arrival, I hopped off the bus and there were several little taxis waiting on the corner. My Airbnb host advised that transfer to their place should take no more than 7 minutes. I shared the address with a taxi driver and inquired “Cuanto para llevarme acqui? which means “how much to take me here?” He said $40 pesos. I was thrilled as that is the equivalent of $2.50 USD. I was expecting much more in Tulum a similar ride would cost $100-$150 pesos ($7-7.50 USD). I hoped in the car and in about 7-8 minutes he dropped me at the front door of my Airbnb. Here is a link to where I stayed.
My host kindly and cheerfully greeted me and showed me around the very cute 1-bedroom apartment that would be a spot for the weekend. She cautioned that there was not a lot happening and that I might be bored as she walked me down to the lake right in her backyard. She also said, “you can’t see the colors right now due to a lot of rainfall earlier this week?” She was somewhat apologetic but honestly, I was too busy gasping at the gorgeous view in front of me. It was nearing sunset and the lake view as simply amazing in its simply beautiful. I turned to her and said, “ you are blessed to live here, never forget that.”
The photo at the top is the picture I took as the sun began to set – no filter. Lake Bacalar or Lagoon Bacalar or Laguna de Bacalar is a long narrow lake approximately 42 km long measured from north to south, and less than 2 km at its widest according to Wikipedia. All I can say is when you are standing in front of it, it looks like an ocean, not a lake. It is called the ‘lake of seven colors’ due to the multiple hues of the water when the sun hits it. Jungle mangroves surround parts of the lake and it is simply magnificent.
I got up early the next morning to watch the sunrise as I had my first cup of coffee. I sat on a hammock for hours and just looked at the water as the colors began to change from blue to aqua to tourmaline and then back again. All I could think was “how lucky am I?” For lake water, it was surprisingly clear and still but my host warned to be careful of undercurrents in the evening.
I pretty much hung out at the lake for the entire day I was there. I wandered down to have a drink and dinner at La Playita a well-regarded restaurant a short walk down the street. The food was good especially the fried snapper I had for lunch on Saturday afternoon. The mojitos could’ve been stronger but they were tasty. But honestly, nobody is coming to Bacalar for the food or the drinks. You are coming for the Lake and dammit she’s worth the trip.
The town itself has a very rural, island feel to it but I spent very little time in the city center. I would like to return at some point for a longer period so I can walk around the city center and tour more of the lakefront.
If you are a swimmer or into water sports (I am not) you can do paddle boating, kayaking and there is are several cenotes. You can also take a boat ride around the lake and you can go snorkeling and diving. There is an interesting fort called Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar that would be a great place for an IG photoshoot if that’s your thing.
But people I came for the lake and the hammock and I enjoyed every relaxing moment of it. I felt at peace in Bacalar and I felt welcomed.
If you love seafood, as I do it is a wonderful place to eat fresh catch fish and shellfish.
Bacalar is not a party town. It was quiet at night and I’ve read it is always that way pandemic or not. She is not packed with tourists and that to me was a part of her charm. But the word is getting out about her and I expect that more and more people will find their way there. So, I say get there before that happens and she turns into a mini-Tulum because that would be very sad. Would I settle in Bacalar? No. She is too far from the closest international airport which is Cancun. It is about a 4-5 hour drive from Cancun by car and about 5 to 5.5 hours by bus. Bacalar like all of Quintana Roo is also VERY hot. Also do bring mosquito repellent because dusk on that lake is not a game when it comes to the skeeters but you MUST see the sunset in Bacalar, it’s simply beautiful.
Bacalar was inexpensive. My stay cost under $200 and I barely spent $75 on food and drinks while is there. My bust ticket was $32 roundtrip.
So, in summary, if you visit Tulum, I will write about her separately, I urge you, to get to Bacalar, it is well worth the visit. She’s a must-visit in my book.
To see more of the beautiful images captured in Bacalar, please follow me on Instagram.