After New Years eve in Mexico City, we decided to spend a few days checking our Bacalar Lake in Quintana Roo, Mexico, with our friends from Dallas. We flew into Cancun, rented a car, and drove south via Playa Del Carmen; past Tulum and Akumal, and drove south close to the Belize border. The drive was approx. 4hrs long and definitely worth it. We stayed at the a boutique hotel; called the Casa Chukum, which was a nice pleasant hotel, fairly new. Cost was around $83 per night including taxes.
Bacalar was a city of the Maya civilization in Pre-Columbian times, and the most important settlement and capital of Uaymil, one of the 16 provinces in which Yucatan peninsula was divided into, before the arrival of the Spaniards. The name comes from the Mayan word Bakjalal, which means “surrounded by reeds”. This was the first city in the region which the Spanish Conquistadores succeeded in taking and holding in 1543. In 1545 Gaspar Pacheco established the Spanish town here with the name Salamanca de Bacalar. The region of the southern half of what is now Quintana Roo was governed from Bacalar, answerable to the Captain General of Yucatán in Mérida. After the town was sacked by pirates in the 17th century, the Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar was completed in 1729, and is a Museum today in the center of Bacalar town.
Bacalar is famous for Laguna de Bacalar or Laguna de los Siete Colores (Lagoon of Seven Colors). The lagoon is a fresh water lake, fed by 7 cenotes (deep natural wells or sinkholes) distributed along the Bacalar Lagoon’s 43 km (26.7 mi) of shoreline. Depending on the time of day, sunlight illuminates the entrances to the underground caves, allowing travelers to appreciate the range of colors, as well as their varied depths. The colors range from pale shades of baby blue to aqua to deep royal blues. And in the shallower part of the Laguna, you actually stand on soft white sand, so it feels like you are at a beach on the ocean; but you are actually in a lake not far from the ocean.
We took a 3hr boat ride to check out the lake, as part of an organized tour. The boat took about 20 people, and drinks were included. The boat stops at interesting and beautiful places along the laguna, and allows people to swim and enjoy the lake. Lots of tequila as well 😀. Below are some scenes from the lake; take particular note of the multiple different colors of the lake
The town of Bacalar is small, with several restaurants. We checked out the Fuerte de San Phillipe; it was small and did not have too much on display. Some other scenes below
The Stromatolites are actually the oldest organism on earth that actually helped earth become habitable for humans by oxygenating it; and are currently scarce in the world.
We said goodbye to Bacalar and drove east to check out Mahahual, a coastal town on the southern coast of the Caribbean; same coastline as Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. Mahahual was a small fishing town that appeared to have become dependent on the tourist trade coming in from the cruise lines that docked here. Some scenes from Mahahual below
By this time, we needed to find a place to stay at overnight. We checked out several hotels in the town, but they all wanted over $125 per night for a small place. For 2 couples, that would be $250. So we tried AirBnB and found a 2 bedroom apartment, fully equipped for $98. This worked out to $48 per couple; much better 🙂
Next day, we drove back to Cancun; stopping in Akumal for lunch; Akumal was definitely much more touristy than Bacalar or Mahahual.
Having seen Bacalar, I have no doubts that it will become a tourist hot spot and hopefully not get ecologically ruined; as the ecosystem there is fragile. Bacalar is definitely worth visiting before that happens, especially when the weather is sunny. Unfortunately we got rainy weather and so were not able to appreciate Bacalar’s full beauty & splendor. Mahahual did not have much going on so can be skipped.This entry was posted in Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, North America