Back in January of this year, Jorge and I visited Bacalar for my birthday. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, Bacalar is a dreamy, tropical getaway. We took a two-hour flight from Mexico City Friday afternoon and made it to Bacalar just in time for sunset. We stayed by this freshwater paradise for three days and had a blast playing in the water and soaking up some sun.
Keep reading for our Bacalar weekend itinerary with plenty of recommendations and tips!
DAY ONE: EVENING
After a quick flight from Mexico City, we arrived in Chetumal and waited for a collectivo to drive us the 40 minutes to Bacalar. You could get a private taxi, but we opted for a collectivo which is just a taxi van that can fit multiple people so it’s cheaper. They dropped us off directly at our AirBnb and from there we went to find some dinner!
Just a few blocks from our place was a great taco spot called Barbra Negra. It was a Friday night so they had really good live music that filled the place with good vibes. It was quite a popular place so we had to stand at the bar until a table freed up, but we didn’t mind one bit. We quickly had two ice-cold beers in our hands and enjoyed listening to the two guitarists.
Out of the fish, fried shrimp, mushroom, and Pirata tacos we ordered, the fried shrimp and Pirata were my favorite. This was a great, casual place to enjoy some seafood tacos and a cold drink after spending a day out in the sun.
DAY TWO: MORNING
We still hadn’t seen Bacalar’s so-called “seven-colored lagoon” yet since we arrived almost after dark the day before. So we made our way to the public dock first thing in the morning. From what I read, I was expecting it to be extremely crowded and almost unenjoyable. However, we must have come during an off weekend because there were only a few others there enjoying the dock. We spent the next few hours enjoying the lagoon and the dock almost to ourselves.
DAY TWO: AFTERNOON
After we dried off a bit we walked further into town to look for lunch. We ended up at the popular La Playita. As soon as you walk in you see what makes it so attractive. A massive tree with branches sprawling across the deck creates a beautiful, natural, and relaxing atmosphere. We ordered a delicious white-fish ceviche and a couple Pacifico beers. We took our time and enjoyed our food and drink in the shade of the sprawling tree with views of the lagoon directly in front of us.
After lunch, we went out onto La Playita’s dock. We walked to the end where we jumped off into the lagoon and afterward sat in the sun to dry off. This afternoon would have been perfect for a sailing trip to explore the lagoon as it was very windy. However, we decided to wait until the following day, and unfortunately, we didn’t have any wind that day. There are many sailing trips to choose from in town, online, or even AirBnb. A 3-4 hour tour runs for about $30 USD per person and I imagine it’s a great way to explore the lagoon without polluting the water as a motorboat tour would. Make sure you take advantage of the right weather conditions because who knows what the next day will bring.
DAY TWO: EVENING
After an afternoon of swimming in the lagoon’s turquoise waters, we went back to our Airbnb to freshen up. We lounged in the hammock in our room until we were ready to go out again. Bacalar is a very small town, so if you decide to stay in town everything is within walking distance.
I enjoyed our lunch at La Playita so much I decided I wanted to go back for my birthday dinner. The restaurant was just as beautiful at night. Lamps hung from the tree’s branches and good music played in the background. My cocktail and food were kind of average but the atmosphere made up for it.
DAY THREE: MORNING
For breakfast, I wanted to try the highly-rated home-cooking from Ixchel Bacalar. This breakfast spot was very cute. It appeared to be an extension of the owner’s home. There were comfortable tables outside in an airy space in the front of the house. The waiter would come in and out of the home with breakfast orders.
I went for my favorite Mexican breakfast, chilaquiles with eggs, and they did not disappoint. There was plenty of breakfast options here. Ranging from more familiar western dishes to typical, flavorful Mexican breakfasts. If you’ve never tried chilaquiles before, do yourself a favor and order some here.
After breakfast, we took a taxi to Cenote Azul. It’s a quick 10-minute drive from downtown Bacalar. Like the public dock, the cenote was not very crowded. The water is a shade of dark blue due to the extreme depth of the cenote. However, once you’re swimming in the water, the visibility is quite clear making it fun to explore especially with flippers and a mask.
We spent a couple hours here swimming, sitting by the water, and exploring around the cenote. You should note that there are signs up banning sunscreen. So come prepared with a shirt if you don’t want to burn.
KAYAKING THE LAGOON
After the cenote we went back to town for a sunset paddle. Like I previously mentioned, we had wanted to do a sailing tour this day, but one clever boat rental man had convinced us otherwise. He kindly called out to us as we were walking back to our AirBnb saying he had kayaks for rent. We politely said no thanks and kept walking until he called out again, “casi gratis!” – meaning almost free! That caught our attention and we enquired about the rentals. Still not convinced, we told him thanks, but we were planning on going sailing instead. He pointed up to a nearby palm tree and stated that he didn’t think we’d be doing any sailing as there was no wind. We realized he had an excellent point. There was no cool breeze today like there was yesterday.
So that’s how we decided to rent a tandem kayak. We may not have covered as much distance as we would have on a sailboat, but we paddled for a couple of hours and saw the colors of the lagoon change from turquoise to almost as clear as drinking water. It was a great way to explore at our own pace.