Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020

By Ali Karim

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

Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Floating docks like these were everywhere, at houses and hotels lining the laguna
Floating docks like these were everywhere, at houses and hotels lining the laguna
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Bright turquoise color
Bright turquoise color
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Shallow waters for swimming; note the multi colors
Shallow waters for swimming; note the multi colors
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Water lilies at waters edge
Water lilies at waters edge
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Notice the abrupt change in color of the laguna, the dark color denotes a very steep drop from shallow sandy part into a deep cenote.
Notice the abrupt change in color of the laguna, the dark color denotes a very steep drop from shallow sandy part into a deep cenote.
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Emerald color along another part of the laguna
Emerald color along another part of the laguna
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, The darker color of the water denotes a deep cenote with houses and hotels lining the edge of the cenote
The darker color of the water denotes a deep cenote with houses and hotels lining the edge of the cenote
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, 3 Distinct changes of color
3 Distinct changes of color
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Swimming in the laguna was a lot of fun with its sandy bottom
Swimming in the laguna was a lot of fun with its sandy bottom
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, More beautiful colors
More beautiful colors
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Deep emerald color
Deep emerald color
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, These houses/hotels were at the edge of another deep cenote
These houses/hotels were at the edge of another deep cenote
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Colors changed with the amount of sunlight
Colors changed with the amount of sunlight
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Fun at the water’s edge
Fun at the water’s edge
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, The brown strip in the center of the image is actually Stromatolites (see later for explanation)
The brown strip in the center of the image is actually Stromatolites (see later for explanation)
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, I just love these big changes in color; its very impressive
I just love these big changes in color; its very impressive
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, We did get rained on twice during the trip and got thoroughly drenched. The tequila and this rainbow more than made up for the drenching :)
We did get rained on twice during the trip and got thoroughly drenched. The tequila and this rainbow more than made up for the drenching 🙂

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

Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Local eatery
Local eatery

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.

Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Stromalites explained
Stromalites explained
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Obligatory photo
Obligatory photo
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Beautiful sunset over the Laguna Bacalar
Beautiful sunset over the Laguna Bacalar
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Interesting ice cream desert in Bacalar
Interesting ice cream desert in Bacalar
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Last photo of Laguna de Bacalar with its colors
Last photo of Laguna de Bacalar with its colors

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

Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Beautiful beach and palapas
Beautiful beach and palapas
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Seaside lunch
Seaside lunch
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, And fried sweet plantain for desert
And fried sweet plantain for desert
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Town marker
Town marker
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Town Beach
Town Beach
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Interesting flora at the beach
Interesting flora at the beach

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 🙂

Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Family getting ready for night fishing in Mahahual pier
Family getting ready for night fishing in Mahahual pier

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.

Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Akumal beach
Akumal beach
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Lunch on Akumal beach
Lunch on Akumal beach
Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020, Bacalar & Mahahual trip
Bacalar & Mahahual trip
This entry was posted in Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, North America

27 thoughts on “Bacalar & Mahahual, Mexico, Jan 2020

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  • Shamim Virji May 18, 2022 at 8:30 am Reply

    Thanks for sharing! Great pictures, very interesting.

    • Ali Karim May 18, 2022 at 8:31 am Reply

      Glad you enjoyed

  • Mahamud Jinnah May 15, 2022 at 12:08 pm Reply

    What an awesome place. Only you would find it. I should do more stuff like that. I seem to stick to roads that are well traveled.

    • Ali Karim May 15, 2022 at 12:12 pm Reply

      Thanks Mahamud; I encourage everyone to go to less traveled places 🙂

  • Nazmu Mukhida May 6, 2022 at 9:11 am Reply

    Interesting, enjoyed reading the article.
    Thanks
    Nazmu

    • Ali Karim May 7, 2022 at 5:47 pm Reply

      Thanks Nazmu; glad you found this blog interesting

  • Nolly Thobani May 6, 2022 at 9:10 am Reply

    Awesome Ali! What a fun trip it was!

    • Ali Karim May 7, 2022 at 5:47 pm Reply

      It was indeed 🙂

    • Rozmin May 9, 2022 at 12:40 pm Reply

      Bacalar, Akumal and Mahahaul all sound and look like interesting places. The lake with different colors looks gorgeous and the big houses are just beautiful. Rainbow and tequila sound great and loved the Airbnb part, it worked out so much cheaper. The lunch platters look too good as well. The whole trip and the article are very informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing

      • Ali Karim May 9, 2022 at 3:07 pm Reply

        Thanks Rosemin; so glad you enjoyed traveling with us 🙂

  • Muslim Harji May 6, 2022 at 9:09 am Reply

    Thanks for sharing! Keep well and stay blessed. Love to Dilshad

    • Ali Karim May 7, 2022 at 5:46 pm Reply

      Thanks Muslim

  • Nick Paroo May 6, 2022 at 9:09 am Reply

    Very beautiful place

    • Ali Karim May 7, 2022 at 5:46 pm Reply

      Indeed; thanks Nick

  • Nazneen Adatia May 6, 2022 at 9:08 am Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Beautiful place. I loved the colours of the water. The fried fish looked good for lunch and the desert looked good too. All this food make my mouth water and hungry.
    Lots of love.

    • Ali Karim May 7, 2022 at 5:46 pm Reply

      Glad you enjoyed Naz. Thanks for the feedback

  • Iqbal Talib April 21, 2022 at 12:20 pm Reply

    Ali,

    Congratulations – it’s beautiful. You know these countries should pay you for your work in publicizing them – I think I wanna go !!!

    Iqbal

    • Ali Karim April 21, 2022 at 12:23 pm Reply

      Thanks for the compliments Iqbal. You should definitely go

  • Meharban Karim April 12, 2022 at 11:37 pm Reply

    Nice one

    • Ali Karim April 12, 2022 at 11:41 pm Reply

      Thanks Meharban, thanks for the feedback; glad you enjoyed the blog.

  • Sujith Subash March 31, 2022 at 10:27 am Reply

    Hi Ali,
    Just saw your email n the blog link, reminded me of my few days in Cancun, did not explore much time was less , hopefully soon will get a chance to explore these places in your blog. Enjoy reading your travel blogs , a gentle illustration, a story, this one an Azul story, thanks for sharing !:)

    • Ali Karim April 4, 2022 at 10:28 am Reply

      Hi Sujith; thanks for the feedback; so glad you enjoyed traveling with us

  • Durrain Porbandarwala March 31, 2022 at 10:24 am Reply

    It was so wonderful to read and see the pictures. Very grateful.

    • Ali Karim April 4, 2022 at 10:26 am Reply

      Thanks Durrain; glad you enjoyed the blog

  • ABDULMAJID MORANI March 22, 2022 at 9:16 pm Reply

    Thanx for the Excursion

    • Ali Karim March 22, 2022 at 9:30 pm Reply

      Most welcome Abdul

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