Bacalar to us was planned simply as an in-between stop on our route from Tulum to Belize. I’d seen a few blog posts about the lagoon and, though there didn’t appear to be a lot going on in the town, it seemed like a nice place to spend two nights, which is what exactly what we did.
The lagoon is a fresh-water wonder, 60km long and made up of seven shades of blue (scientifically counted!). Disappointingly, these days it isn’t the most accessible wonder, with a lot of the border being closed off by hotels, tour companies and sailing clubs. There were two access points nearby to where we were staying- one was a small park that lead to a pier (and we spent some time here on our first night) and the other was a small tourist hub with palapas, a children’s park, kayak rental and an entrance fee (which we avoided).
We knew that we had to get out on the lake, else our brief stay was a bit pointless, and so we booked a sailing boat tour on our second day there. After a few failed attempts with various companies we managed to book into a 4pm tour with Valeando Ando, and we’re super grateful that they squeezed us in at such short notice because it was awesome.
We made our own way to their dock, which is about a 5 minute drive/35 minute walk from the tourist area of town. After a little wait, wave-watching and pointing at what looked like a raft with a sail and saying ‘that better not be the boat we are going on’, we met our captain Luis and realised that yes, that was the boat we were going on.
Luis took us to three stops and spent the whole three hours entertaining us with facts about the lagoon and the surrounding towns as well as his life here as a sailor (who had never sailed before quitting his job as a chef in Argentina two years ago). Our first stop was the Pirate Canal where we were encouraged to give ourselves a sulphur scrub, photo evidence below of us looking like swamp monsters.
Second, we went to the Black Cenote where we had chance to snorkel a little and, given that the Cenote dropped to 80 metres as if it was a cliff edge, we made sure to strap our life jackets on tight.
Our final stop was Bird Island, where Luis prepared us a lovely bowl of fruit, which we ate as we watched birds returning with food for their chicks. As neither of us know the first thing about birds, Luis made sure to point out the flamingos, cranes and crows to us.
We made our way back to the Veleando Ando dock at 7ish, just as a pink sunset was pushing its way through an overcast sky, and we both decided it was the best money we had spent so far. The tour costs 1000MXN (£40) for both of us and can be booked by emailing Rob or calling/whatsapping 984 1855987.
After the sail we made our way back into the town to eat at Christian’s tacos for the second night in a row (they were that good!) and then jumped into bed for a few hours before getting up for our 3:30am ADO bus to Belize City.
Where we stayed:
Where we ate:
Amazingly close to our hotel was home to our favourite tacos yet. Open from 6:30pm, the only meat on offer here is Al Pastor Pork. The menu is quite small but for as little as 10MXN (£0.40) per taco – and these pork and pineapple ones are some of the best – you can’t go wrong. The nachos are also reccommended, a huge portion with pork, refried beans and cheese for 100MXN (£4), they probably could have served two more of us (if we weren’t such pigs).
We stopped in El Manati before our boat trip as Mango y Chile was closed. What we thought was going to be a disappointing backup turned out to be great. We opted for a smoothie each and veggie burgers, but the menu is vast. El Manati is also home to a store selling artwork and clothes and a lovely garden, where you can eat.