Mexico's Lagoon of 7 colours
It was back in Guatemala that we first heard about the majesty of Lake Bacalar. It sounded unbelievable and I slipped it away in my mind under Wow! We gotta go there, a file that gets bigger and bigger the more we travel rather than smaller, as one would imagine it would as we check places off. As it happened, we were at a roof top bar in Antigua, Guatemala talking to the young German bartender. Just hanging out with a mojito watching a volcano erupt silhouetted in the purple and orange of the setting sun. I’m sighing out loud as I write this… Now that was a night…
But, back on point. The young bartender had previous worked at a hostel on Lake Bacalar in Mexico and was obviously head over heels about it. Her description of the clear, fresh water lake of seven colours had us sold on the destination almost immediately.
To my surprise, Lake Bacalar was only a 3 hour bus ride from Tulum. We could definitely fit it into our 13 days in the Yucatan Penninsula. All the pieces were falling into place. This was happening; and much, much sooner than I had anticipated. How exciting!
After arriving in Mexico and meeting up with other travellers I became more and more convinced that we had made the right choice. Lake Bacalar was the buzz everywhere we went. People in the know seemed to know about Lake Bacalar. Since we very rarely fall into this elusive category of people who are ahead of the curve, the cool people who know about places before they are firmly established on the backpacker map, well, we felt pretty darn proud of ourselves. Either people really wanted to go to Bacalar, had heard from friends who labelled it unmissable, or were desperately re-arranging all their plans to fit Bacalar into their itineraries. And look at us- already having reserved our room before leaving Canada. High Five us!
Could Lake Bacalar live up to this hype?
The short answer: Yes. Go. Definitely go!
Unfortunately I must retract at least 2 of my celebratory air high fives. Because while we were right on the mark for Lake Bacalar as a destination, we kinda dropped the ball with our accommodation choice. And since the main activity on Lake Bacalar is relaxing by the lake – having a hostel with a comfy outside relaxing area should be high on your list when choosing a bed on the lake.
Granted, regardless of where you stay, it’s impossible not to be impressed.
We took a sailing tour around the lake hitting up the main sights to stop and swim. All boat tours make the same stops, so it mostly depends on how many people you want to be on a boat with, what type of boat you want to be on, and how long you want to be on the water. Our sailboat had 6 people and we were gone almost 4 hours. This cost M$500 per person, although I'm pretty sure that the 2 Mexicans on the boat paid significantly less than that. We also thought there were only going to be 4 of us and that beer would be included.. so there was some miscommunication along the way, no doubt. Regardless, it was still worth it to us, and that statement is only slightly coloured by our love of sailing. First stop is the Black Cenote, the least cenote-y cenote we visited. Wikipedia says that Lake Bacalar is fed by cenotes beneath it, which is believable since cenotes are everywhere on the Yucatan Peninsula. Afterwards we made a stop at a curiously located pirate ship hull and then “bird island” to see some nesting birds. Just being out on the water surrounded by Bacalar's stunning scale of blue was by far the best part of the excursion.
In the news in late 2015 Bacalar had a pollution issue as a result of illegal dumping and improper waste water treatment. In Jan 2017 there was no mention of this and it appeared to be ok to swim in again .. we have absolutely no evidence with which to back that up with... We asked our hostel staff and they said it was fine for swimming and all swam in the lake daily themselves.. We swam in the lake (a lot) and (so far) are here to tell the tale....
Eat Here: Mango Y Chile, Pizza Bertilo