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Exploring Bacalar: Natural Wonders, Adventure and Mayan Ruins

By Tribune Travel

June 15, 2023

Bacalar, located in the Grand Costa Maya, is among the privileged few villages in Mexico that have been granted the esteemed designation of Pueblo Mágico, which translates to “Magic Town.” This recognition is bestowed upon select villages that are considered significant either symbolically or historically.

Bacalar, in the southern region of Quintana Roo, is just a short 30-minute drive from Chetumal. Its name is derived from the Mayan term meaning “location of reeds,” owing to its elevated position overlooking the Lagoon of the Seven Colors.


What is the Bacalar town like?

During the 16th century, the Spanish established their presence in the area, and the prominent Fort of San Felipe served as a defensive structure against pirate attacks from France and the Netherlands. Today, this fort has been transformed into a captivating museum, offering valuable insights into the town’s history and providing a magnificent vantage point to admire the picturesque views of the lagoon.

Bacalar town by the water

Near the fort and the main square, known as the Plaza Principal, visitors can discover a variety of restaurants that offer both regional and international cuisine. While seafood stands out as a highlight, there is also an abundance of traditional Mexican dishes available, including the ever-popular taquerías.

As for accommodations in Bacalar, there are boutique hotels and hostels situated around the main square and facing the lagoon. Additionally, there are bungalows and camping options available in this area. Exploring the town itself is a breeze as it is easily walkable, and the coastal road that runs alongside the southern shore of the lagoon is perfect for cycling.


The Lagoon of the Seven Colors

The main attraction in Bacalar is the enchanting Lagoon of Seven Colors, where visitors can indulge in activities such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, or taking a boat ride to admire the captivating natural colors of its surroundings.

Lagoon of the Seven Colors

A wide range of thrilling adventure tours are available, catering to both individual and group preferences. These tours include kayaking, boat rides, and paddleboard excursions, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the natural surroundings while observing wildlife.

Within the lagoon, the striking Cenote Negro stands out with its deep, midnight blue color, creating a captivating contrast against the vibrant hues of the lagoon. Another noteworthy cenote in the vicinity is Cenote Azul, which is only a short distance from the town center and is known for being one of the deepest cenotes in the area.

Unlike the cenotes found in the nearby Riviera Maya, which are typically underground caves, these cenotes in Bacalar are open and provide an excellent setting for swimming and snorkeling, making them ideal spots to spend a leisurely day.


A Journey into History

Mayan ruins near Bacalar

Within a convenient two-hour car ride, you can explore two remarkable Mayan archaeological sites, Dzibanché and Kohunlich. Surrounded by lush tropical forests, Kohunlich, constructed around the 4th century, stands out with its renowned “Temple of the Masks.” This pyramid from the Early Classic period features intricately carved stone masks adorning its stairways. Just a short distance north, Dzibanché offers a smaller but equally captivating site that sees fewer visitors, providing you with the opportunity to have the temples practically to yourself. Additionally, don’t miss out on visiting other significant sites such as Chacchobén, Kinichná, and Oxtankah.





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