Just a hop skip and a jump away from Chetumal is a little piece of paradise called Bacalar. Also known as Lagoon of Seven Colours; that’s how many shades of blue you can see when the sun shines on it.
All we could say is…. WOW!
We had picked up a one month House and Pet sit in Chetumal, so we used it as a base to visit Bacalar Lagoons five times! Chetumal turned out to be a great location to access the Bacalar lagoons as it was only a 40-minute drive.
On a visit to Bacalar you can arrange to go sailing, kayaking, take a small boat tour, swim in pristine waters, explore the fort, admire the street art, relax in a little coffee shop, or laze in a hammock gently rocking in the water to take it all in.
On our first visit, we took a small boat tour, arranged at the jetties down the hill from centro. A 2-hour tour cost us 250 pesos per person and was definitely worth every peso!
Our tour included visiting various locations including cenotes around the lagoon, it was so good we had smiles on our faces the whole time. Bacalar Lagoons showcases mother-nature at her all time best. 🙂
Here are some of the cenotes in the area…
Cenote Negro; as the boat comes into Cenote Negro, the bottom of the lake dramitically drops-off from 2 metres to over a 100 metres making the water appear black in the middle. This is one deep cenote!
Many cenotes have an underground river system that connects them to a fresh water source and because of this there is the potential for a strong downward pulling current near the exiting flows. This is rarely an issue but, the guide did mention a fatality at this cenote only the month before. As a result we were not allowed to swim and nor did we want to!
Cenote Negro is one cenote to be respectful of. 😀
Cenote Esmeralda; with a bottom of white sand turned the water the most brilliant shades of emerald blue. The tour boat stopped here to give us the opportunity for a swim in the shallow waters and of course to shoot some amazing photos.
This cenote was absolutely amazing and an experience to remember. It was hard to describe how beautiful it was.
Cenote Cocalitos; the water is so inviting, and here you will find stromatolites, very cool.
Stromatolites are mother-nature’s water filtration systems and take the title of being the earliest fossil evidence of life on Earth with fossil records dating back 3.5 billions years.
There are only a few places in the world where stromatolites continue to grow such as Bacalar Lagoons, and Aussie-Travellers are proud to say, Shark Bay – Western Australia.
After our boat tour, we jumped back in the car to revisit Cenote Cocalitos. A small entrance fee of 35 pesos per person gives you access to a restaurant, change rooms, banos (toilets) and a green grassy area, perfect for relaxing.
Our favourite part at Cenote Cocalitos was the swings and hammocks hanging in the water; along with close up access to the stromatolites. There is something enjoyable about reclining in a hammock with the water washing around you… bliss.
Of cause, the hammock feature attracts many visitors waiting to grab that ‘Insta’ shot and we got ours too!
Cenote Azul, this cenote is surrounded by vegetation, is 360 metres in length and 90 metres deep; a perfect cenote for scuba divers. We didn’t make it to this cenote, but we have been told it is 25 pesos entrance fee.
Hopefully we will get to Cenote Azul one day.
On one of our subsequent visits to Bacalar we visited Los Rapdios, in the lower lakes of Bacalar, just 10 minutes drive from centro.
This area is the “Los Rapidos”, a very narrow channel, where the water streams through at a great pace between the lower and upper lagoons.
Los Rapidos ignited the child in us all, floating and giggling our way down the fast-moving channel. Floating rapidly along and giving an occasional wave or big smile to the the people relaxing in deck chairs, hammocks or lunching in the restaurant.
The sides of the channel at Los Rapidos are covered in stromatolites and the center of the channel is meters deep at several points. A truly unique place, with delightful cold water taking the edge of the heat of the day.
It was a fun experience to float in the water and be taken away.
If you are bored with swimming or taking in the spectacular colours of the lagoon what else will you find in Bacalar?
San Felipe Fortress, the fortress was built in 1727, and sits in the heart of Bacalar. It was built to protect the area from repeated attacks by Caribbean or European smugglers and pirates, in the day.
Today you can walk around the grounds or visit the museum, covering 300 years of history of Spaniards and Pirates. The museum also has prehispanic and colonial artifacts. http://sic.gob.mx/index.php?table=museo
What else can you do?
View the street art; it is plentiful around Bacalar.
The artwork here is spread throughout the township and in the little town of Xul-Ha, which is south of Bacalar.
Just one block from the zocalo, we had a coffee and lunch at El Manati. El Manati has an art gallery and gift shop at the front, with a great menu of healthy fresh food at reasonable prices.
Make sure you wander out the back of the gift shop as there is a tranquil garden, swings to relax in and a really fun teepee!
On two separate occasions we visited Sujuy-Ha Xul-Ha a lovely secluded lagoon area, south-east of Bacalar. The area is located far away from the hustle and bustle of the more tourist oriented locations. On the way expect some rough roads and follow the dirt for about 20 minutes, you will not be disappointed.
Sujuy-Ha Xul-Ha has a good selection of jetties to swim off and endless aqua coloured water to enjoy, this is a real oasis.
Entrance is 50 pesos, access to toilets, showers and deck chairs. Bring your own picnic or snacks, the restaurant wasn’t open the times we visited. Once you are done eating, the resident ducks will help clean up your bread or fruit leftovers for you.
We spent many hours at Sujuy-Ha Xul-Ha and thoroughly enjoyed it, what an absolutely stunning place and highly recommended!
As I write this blog, I blissfully think about Bacalar and want to return ASAP!
Bacalar Lagoons is a must-see if you come to Mexico. 😄 I would go as far as to say it is my Number 1 destination in Mexico, for incredible natural beauty.
A big shout out to our Editor working hard in Oz, who I am sure would of loved to have visited Bacalar when she was in Mexico – Jess Downes. 😃 http://www.linkedin.com/in/jess-downes