BACALAR TRAVEL GUIDE
Where to Stay - Click here for price key
Casa Corazón ($$, Boulevard Costera Bacalar Sur #521, tel. 983/834-2982) is a small, pleasant, newish, two-story hotel with its own dock and a few kayaks for rent. On the south side of town, it has Wi-Fi in the lounge and in some rooms; credit cards are accepted.
Facing the beach, Hotelito el Paraíso ($$, Boulevard Costera Bacalar Sur near the fort, tel. 983/834-2787) is motel-like but adequate, with plenty of parking. Boat tours of the lagoon leave from their dock.
Hotel La Laguna ($$$, Boulevard Costera Bacalar Sur #479, tel. 983/834-2205 or 834-2206, www.hotellagunabacalar.com) has pretty views of the lagoon from its second and third story rooms and ample balconies with heavy white wrought iron furniture. Rooms smell clean and have tiny flat screen TVs mounted on the wall. There’s a swimming pool, restaurant, and kayaks for rent from the dock.
Rancho Encantada ($$$$, Carretera Federal #307 km 24, tel. for reservations 998/884-2071, in the U.S. 877/229-2046 or in Canada 877/259-3541, www.encantado.com) is a beautiful property on the north side of town. There’s no swimming pool, but they do have a Jacuzzi with tepid water. The long wooden dock ends in a shaded portico with hammocks in the shade. The property also offers parking, a restaurant, and small spa with massage.
Where to Eat - Click here for price key
Under a big palapa roof, Restaurant Orizaba ($$, Avenida 7 between Calles 26 and 28) is recommended by the tourism folks for typical dishes. They serve snacks, lunch, and breakfast, but only instant coffee.
For pizza, order out or visit La Palapa ($$, Costera Bacalar between Hotel Laguna and Casa Chica, tel. 983/834-2930) which delivers cheese pizza, Hawaiian, pepperoni (allegedly), and anchovies and capers pizzas baked in a wood-fire oven.
The restaurant at Cenote Azul ($$-$$$, at the south side of Laguna de Bacalar just Highway 307) serves shrimp, fish, burgers, beer, and other alcoholic beverages as well as soft drinks and lemonade. The food is absolutely average but the gorgeous setting and swimming opportunities make this a don’t-miss experience.
Things to Do & See
Open from 9AM to 8PM, El Fuerte de San Felipe has a small museum showcasing the inevitable cannons and other ancient firearms as well as a few old maps and photos.
Victor the friendly boatman at Hotelito Paraíso (tel. 983/834-2787) offers reasonably priced, 1.5-hour lagoon tours that stop at the Black Cenote and the Pirate’s Channel.
Club de Velas (one block from the south side of the plaza, on the water) has a restaurant, tables under individual palm thatch roofs, bathrooms, kayaks, and all that you need for a day on the water of the gorgeous blue-green lagoon. Just to the north, Ejido Bacalar offers similar services in an equally fantastic setting. A few streets to the north, Balneario Ecológico has no services (except parking), but you can use the bathroom at the restaurant across the street, and it’s okay to bring in your own food and drink for a casual beach day.
Apart from the lagoon itself, the coolest show in town is Cenote Azul (see above under Where to Eat.)
The tourism office (tel. 983/834-2264) faces the town plaza. It’s open weekdays 8AM to 4:30PM.
How to Get There & Away
Second-class buses connect Bacalar and the state capital, Chetumal. Take the Caribe line from the ADO terminal on Avenida Libramiento. In Chetumal, the ADO bus station is located on Avenida Insurgentes about 2 km north of downtown. The phone at the Chetumal bus station is 983/832-5110.
If you’re driving, Bacalar is less just 40 kilometers (26 miles) northwest of Chetumal via Hwy 186 and then north on Hwy 307. If you’re coming from the archaeological sites of south-central Campeche, you would head east on Hwy 186 and then north on Hwy 307. (It’s 120 km or 75 miles from Xpujil, Campeche.) From Tulum it’s 212 km (131 miles) south on Hwy 307; add another 130 km (81 miles) from Cancun.