This Lesser-Known Bright Blue Lake Is Known As The 'Maldives Of Mexico' For A Reason

It almost goes without saying, but Mexico is a beautiful country. From endless coastlines on the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, to ancient Mayan ruins, history, culture, iconic distilled spirits, delicious food, and so much more, it's a land of exploration and adventure. While popular resort areas like Puerto Vallarta, Cancún, and the rip tides at Cabo San Lucas get much of the attention, a trip to Bacalar is an experience that goes beyond palm trees and an umbrella in your drink. Often referred to as "the Maldives of Mexico," you can perch in a waterside cabana, savor the luscious water, and discover some of the planet's oldest life forms without trekking to the Indian Ocean. 


As an inland destination, Bacalar isn't about being one of the most famous beaches in the world, evening booze cruises along the coast, or scuba diving on the reef. But that doesn't mean you won't find fun in the sun or the opportunity to shrivel due to extended time in the warm Mexican water. On the contrary, you'll be exposed to a unique waterway known as Bacalar Lagoon, which serves as the central activity zone for the town of the same name. It's a place where you can define "activity" any way you like, from reading a book in the comfort of an overwater hammock to scuba diving in the spectacular Cenote Azul.

The beautiful Bacalar Lagoon

This lake is known by many names. Most commonly referred to as Bacalar Lagoon, you might also see it called Laguna Bacalar, Lake or Lagoon of Seven Colors, or even the original name in Mayan— Siyan Ka'an Bakjalal. The lagoon is called the Lake of Seven Colors for good reason, as it is famous for its intoxicating range of blues — from pale turquoise to deep indigo and beyond. It's part of what delivers its illuminating beauty, along with the striking clearness and undeniable tranquility. Bacalar Lagoon is long and narrow, measuring about 30 miles in length and just over a mile at its widest point. It's fed by an underwater river system that travels up and down the Quintana Roo region. As part of this system, you'll find spectacular cenotes inside the lagoon, showing off their depth and contributing to the stunning color profile.


It's one of the few places in the world that features unique living fossils known as stromatolites. These ancient organisms look like rocks but actually produce oxygen, like trees. They are the oldest living lifeforms on the planet, and you can find them near Cenote Cocalitos, but keep your hands and feet off because they will die if touched. On top of the water, you can paddleboard, enjoy a boat ride, kayak, swim, sail, snorkel, or simply float. One fantastic option is to visit Los Rapidos, rent a kayak or nothing more than a lifejacket, and float down the lazy river. 

Getting to Bacalar

In large part, Bacalar is less known because it's a bit off the main tourist path. It's located on the southern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula, very close to Mexico's border with Belize. By car, it's a few hours from Tulum and over four hours from Cancun. After spending a few days in the overwater bungalows at El Dorado Maroma, you'll have a three to four-hour journey. You can arrive in the region by plane, most commonly landing in Cancún. However, the new airport in Tulum is an option, as is the regional airport at Chetumal, which is 40 minutes to the east of Bacalar.


From the north, you can drive or take an ADO bus, ADO being Mexico's main bus operator. Eventually, the Maya Train will also link to Bacalar. From Chetumal, you can hire a taxi or rent a car. Once in Bacalar, you can stay in the city center, which is more of a village with a population of 13,000, or find lodging along the water's edge. Enjoy the town's variety of shops, bars, and restaurants, and when you're ready for a water break, visit the nearby San Felipe Fort or spend the day at one of Bacalar's wellness centers, enjoying a massage or skin treatment. However you arrive and wherever you stay, embrace the image of Bacalar's magic and make memories that will last a lifetime.