During your stay at Mahayana Tulum Beach Homes, there are amazing places to travel to. A trip to Bacalar is a unique, off-the-radar gem in Mexico that poses to be an incredible adventure. As you leave Tulum for this trip, there is a mysterious, even eerie heaviness that descends upon you the moment that you head south out of Tulum Pueblo. As the businesses, gas stations and small, local homes taper off, you find yourself enveloped in nothing but green and the deep denseness of the Mayan jungle— a place that seems to be lost in time. There are a handful of abandoned hotels and villas— structures that sit like ghosts along the endless road. This is the route to Bacalar.
The first time I traveled this journey, I was surprised to see how underdeveloped the land beyond our trendy tourist town was. There is a quiet beauty in the long stretches of nothing and a bittersweet reality to all the potential this area has. The endless expanse of land ripe for the picking to any large developer or government institution. But for now, all is calm.
The Secret of Bacalar
As you drive up to the small, sleepy village of Bacalar you would hardly imagine that the town hosts anything noteworthy. There are small homes that freckle a network of streets and a few restaurants that are surprisingly alluring— offering anything from homemade tacos (served in someone’s backyard) to authentic Italian cuisine. To add to the scene, there are a handful of German Mennonites that have made Bacalar home. It is a jarring vision to see horse-drawn carriages and pale-faced kids in suspenders selling goods on the street. But this is just the beginning.
As you venture deeper into of the village you can see it. There is a Laguna that seems to glow with neon vivaciousness in the most brilliant shades of blue and green. Bacalar is named after Bacalar Lake or Laguna de Bacalar, and it is one of the most beautiful, natural wonders of Mexico. Locals affectionately refer to the lake as “Lago de Los Siete Colores” or Lake of Seven Colors. Bacalar Lake is comprised of both freshwater and salt water, which makes it an unbelievably refreshing place to take a dip. This mixture contributes to the intensity of the water’s shades. There are also several cenotes to explore within the lake itself. These cenotes vary in depth and also contribute to the lake’s color variety. On the shore, you can see the beautifully dense mangrove that offers a rich, contrasting green infusion into the landscape-- a wonderful contrast for photography enthusiasts.
A visit to Bacalar is the opposite of a busy tourist trap one can find in other parts of Riviera Maya. I have often traveled here with my family for a quiet night away and am always taken aback by how easy it is to feel like a local. The town is known for eco-tourism and you certainly feel a hippy vibe as you enter— but people are friendly and a surprising expat community is eager to share their experiences and tips.
What to Do:
Boat Tours: Arrive at the shores of Bacalar Lake and you will not be far from a local offering guided tours. This is usually inexpensive (no more than 500-800 pesos per person) and lasts 2-3 hours. Many of the boats offer drinks and snacks included and they always provide snorkel gear for just-below-the-surface exploration.
Kayaking: If you prefer exploring Bacalar Lake on your own, rent a kayak and set sail. The water is pretty calm and due to the natural chemical makeup of the water, the view is crystal clear without too much seaweed or debris.
Mayan Ruins: There are many lesser-known Mayan Ruins to discover that offer a more private and personal place to connect with history. Ruins in the area include Chacchoben, Dzibanche, Kohunlich, Becan, and Chicana.
The Important Bits:
Bacalar is located south of Tulum just before Mexico’s border with Belize. We suggest renting a car and making a day trip from Mahayana Tulum. Head south on México 307 for about 2hrs until you see signs for Bacalar.
Mahayana Tulum Beach Homes is a collection of exclusive beachfront villas in Tulum, Mexico. For more information on our homes or to book your stay, please visit www.mahayanatulum.com