If you are planning to spend time in the eastern part of the Yucatan peninsula (Quintana Roo state) but are not keen on the tourist crowds of places like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, why not heading south towards Bacalar? The ‘laguna de Bacalar’ (Bacalar lake) is located about 5-6 hours from Cancun by bus (40 minutes from the nearby Chetumal), close to the border with Belize. Not as popular as the rest of the peninsula, it is an absolute jewel and deserves a few days’ visit.
When I quickly researched online info about the area before travelling, what really attracted me were the amazing colours of this “laguna des siete colores” (lake of the seven colours, because of its different shades of blue). And the opportunity for lots of outdoor activities.
Crystal-clear waters and white sands characterise the lake, which is about 42Km long and no more than 2Km wide. It looks amazing even on a dark sky day. You can imagine the feeling of watching great sunrises and then jumping in the lake for a very early morning swim!
You could spend the whole day just sitting by the shore and relaxing and going for a swim every now and then. But there is more to do around the Bacalar lake. Here is what I did:
I joined a catamaran tour arranged by my hostel and we sailed up and down the lake for three hours. One of the stops was at the Canal de Los Piratas (Canal of the Pirates). 34Km-long, its mouth is characterised by sulfur mud that can be used as skin exfoliant. We did indeed have a bit of a body scrub there, hehe. The water was crystal clear and you’d think you were in the Caribbean sea, not in a freshwater lake. We also went to the Cenote de las Brujas, one of the many cenotes (sinkholes) in the area. Snorkelling at the edge of the cenote was a way to see some fish but don’t expect anything extraordinary. Yet the experience of floating in the water over a hole that is about 110m deep is not to be missed!
Whether you join an organised tour or just rent a kayak from your hostel or guesthouse (if they offer the service), I strongly recommend this activity. I rented kayaks with friends for 2 hours and we crossed the lake to reach the Canal de Los Piratas again. Great paddle in the late afternoon and it was so much fun!
Thought about renting a bicycle? This is a great way to explore the area. I cycled to the Cenote Azul, the most popular in the area because of its diving opportunities and easy access from the road. The 6.5Km ride (each way) on up-and-down roads on a heavy and old fashioned bicycle was a bit of a struggle at times. But jumping into the cenote water at the end made it all worth it.
Tired of being active and just want to relax? Well, you can explore the town of Bacalar. Watch out for my next post for that!