Luxury holidays in Bacalar

An officially magic town (ever since the government declared it a pueblo mágico) down near the Belize border in the south-eastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Bacalar is mostly known for its lagoon, of seven shades of blue fame. The limestone-soil lake is one of just a handful of places on Earth salty enough for stromatolites to form – these layered, living rocks are one of the earliest life forms on the planet. Geologists will have a field day (literally); for the rest of us, there’s kayaking, paddle-boarding and boat trips on the lagoon, visits to cenotes, pirate-displeasing forts and quieter Mayan sites like Kohunlich, or just drinks on a deck at the water’s edge.

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When to go

Bacalar is a little off the well-worn Yucatán Peninsula path, so it can be much quieter than its north-easterly counterparts. The tropical climate means temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius for most of the year, with the most rain falling between June and October.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Most international arrivals will have to connect in Mexico City for a domestic flight to Chetumal. From the airport there, it’s a 35-minute drive north to Bacalar. The drive down from Cancun will take more than four hours – but with stop-off potential in Tulum, it’s a riviera road-trip worth considering.
  • Automobiles

    Visitors to Bacalar unsurprisingly like to linger by the lagoon, and hotels can easily arrange taxis and transfers into town – along with boat pick-ups from their private jetty. But if you do want to explore further afield independently, hire a car at the airport.