Bacalar is known for its natural fresh water laguna that changes 7 colours. I can't recall the name of the restaurant but it's diagonally across from the San Felipe fort. There free public access to the piers - there's a HUGE tree infront of the restaurant and there's a sign that says it's free (there's also a parking lot). The other places have a cover charge. You can hang out the pier, go swimming, have lunch, etc.
San Felipe Fort
San Felipe fortress is located in the centre of town. Built in the 16th century to protect against pirates that has been excellent preserved and inside it contains an awesome museum that has great information.
Lagoon of Seven Colors
On the Lagoon of Seven Colors, also known as Laguna Bacalar, you can rent a boat, you can swim, ski, windsurf, sail, jet ski, and so much more. Or you can just gaze at it, it is very beautiful! Lake Bacalar is a 42-kilometer long by 2-kilometer wide.
- Water Sports
San Felipe, a Spanish Fort
San Felipe, a fort built in 1729 to protect the Lagoon of Seven Colors area from pirates. You can see a beautiful view of the lagoon from here.
The fort is built in the form of a four-pointed star and has a moat 4m deep. San Felipe contains a museum that is open Mon.-Fri. 10-2, and 4-7; Sat. and Sun., 10-6. The plaques on the museum are in both English and Spanish and there is parking nearby.
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Town of Bacalar and its Cathedral
The town of Bacalar is really quite small. It reminds me of vacation destinations in Canada -- everything is waiting for the crowds. We went on a walk-about and passed about four little mom and pop grocery stores, and about six various styles of restaurants, quite a few places that were closed for the season (February is off-season for Mexican vacationers).
While we were there, the town was getting ready for Carnival week. Bleachers were being set up, and what looked like a class of school kids were practicing for the upcoming Carnival celebrations.
We also passed a school and as it broke out in a downpour, we found ourselves in this church. A few kids from the school (it was lunchtime), and we were stuck in the church for 15 minutes, waiting for the rain to stop. Digital cameras do not take rain pictures well. The last picture is out the open door of the church, and it is just pouring, but you cannot see the rain in the photo (at least I can't).
- Religious Travel
Lake Bacalar is a 35 miles long fresh-water lake that one keeps seeing it from Highway 307.
There is some confusion as Bacalar is also a town on the lake. VT has tips both under Bacalar and Laguna Bacalar, so to see everything on Bacalar in VT, you have to check both destinations.
Lake Bacalar activities include swimming (see my next tip), and various types of watercraft are available for rent. Any access we noticed to the lake was owned -- i.e. you have to pay even to stick your foot into the lake.
The second and third pictures are pictures of the lake taken from our bus as we traveled back to Merida. With 35 miles of lakeshore, it appears that there is quite a bit of tourist development - both existing and future.
Balneario de Bacalar
We found this access to the lake. A nice area in February (with perhaps ten visiters), but it must be quite crowded during Mexican holidays. As it was quite hot (clouds notwithstanding), it was nice to sit with our feet in the lake drinking our cervasa.
Lake Bacalar is warm enough for swimming. Unfortunately, we were not there long enough to try. The water is deeper than I could reach without getting my shorts wet, and I had no available change of clothes for the bus-ride home.
17th Century Fort -- Fort San Felipe
Overlooking Lake Bacalar is a 17th century fort called Fort San Felipe. It was built to protect the Spanish from pirates (and Mayans). The fort has been restored, and is now a museum that displays artifacts from the 1800's. You see cannons pointed at the lake.
When we went in 2006, the cost was 50 pesos per person (about $4.50US)
There are three very nice ruins that you can see in a day trip from the hotel.
They have a van with driver and guide available to take you.
Of course you can drive yourself, like we did.
It is much cheaper that way.
You do need a guide though to show you the way.
- Arts and Culture
You must see the beautiful 35-mile long body of water that is called the Lake of Seven Colors or Las Lagunas de Siete Colores.
The lake is a popular vacation spot for Mexicans and is just starting to be known by tourists.
- Sailing and Boating
The retreat has its own private thatch-roofed palapa dock on the beautiful lake.
There is a boardwalk at the back of the restaurant leading down to the dock.
- Water Sports