Surely you’ve seen pictures and Instagrams of this wonderful place – Bacalar is a tropical paradise known for its beautiful, pristine and crystal clear, mineral-filled, jade coloured waters.
In times of the ancient Mayan civilisations it was called Sian Ka’an Bakhalal. The gorgeous lagoon has become popular for its natural beauty, boosting the tourism in the area and engaging with tourists to bring them great ways to enjoy the lagoon and surrounding wildlife.
During my three-day stay at the Explorean Kohunlich hotel I visited Bacalar on two separate occasions, where the hotel had set up different activities for us to explore the lagoon.
1 – Kayak
What better way to enjoy Bacalar’s calm and clear lagoon than by kayak? On our first time visiting Bacalar, we set off on a kayak tour admiring the view and the sounds of nature, while at the same time engaging on kayak races and water fights and having loads of fun. The sun was shining and the water has perfect.
We were a big, loud group and we had so much fun while kayaking. Some of us decided to take it easy and enjoy a calm row, while others decided to make a game out of it: this is an activity that everyone can enjoy!
Depending on how you’re visiting Bacalar, you can Kayak in different areas of the lagoon. We spent a good while on our kayaks, with a short stop to walk the wetlands at the lagoon’s core.
2 – Walk through the wetlands
We “parked” our kayaks in the sand dunes and disembarked to go on a short walk through Bacalar’s swamp. We were led by our guides through the labyrinthine landscape, in silence so we could listen to the wind rushing over the the plants, creating a swift, constant sound that filled the lagoon along with the wildlife’s many sounds. The lagoon is filled with so many minerals that there’s barely any animal life, and the atmosphere is incredibly silent: it’s almost like time stops entirely while you’re in the wetlands.
3 – Meditate
We were shown to a special place in the wetlands where we tried meditating for a few minutes. I focused my thoughts on the rhythmic sound of the wind and my own breath, clearing my head from anything and everything for those minutes, and I walked out feeling very relaxed. If meditating in the wetlands doesn’t sound great for you, you can meditate on the beach right by the water, and listen to the hundreds of birds singing, and the soft lull of the water swaying.
4 – DIY natural spa
The wetlands’ surrounding waters, and the entire span of the lagoon, is rich in minerals and does marvels for your skin. The mud is great for exfoliation and for nurturing skin (although the smell is not that great). Grab some mud from the lagoon’s floor, apply it, let it dry and then wash it off, and maybe take some unflattering and hilarious pictures of yourself covered in it. Keep in mind that the mud will remove any sunblock that you’re wearing so you might want to bring some in your kayak to re-apply after and avoid getting a nasty sunburn like I did.
5 – Catamaran sailing
The great thing about travelling here with the Explorean Kohunlich hotel staff was that you didn’t need to know how to sail to be able to do this, because everything that I once learned many years ago has been completely erased from my mind. What’s also great is that their catamarans are fairly easy to sail, and we were able to learn a bit from our guide. We set off on a short sail after lunch, enjoying our last few moments on Bacalar on that day.
There are several places in Bacalar and many agencies that offer the option to rent catamarans or to take catamaran tours, according to your level of experience, and like kayaking it is a great way to enjoy the lagoon.
6 – Zip lining
On the morning of our last day in Chetumal we went zip-lining at Tirolesas Kan K’in Bacalar. This was my favourite activity, alongside kayaking, because it lets you view the lagoon and the jungle from very high up, while also being a great sky-high adventure.
To access the zip-lines you go up sturdy metal towers that go far beyond the treeline:
Once you reach the top, you are secured in, let go, and you’re in for a ride through the jungle!
My favourite part was climbing to the top of the tallest tower on a set of vertical stairs (you’re hooked onto a safety line the whole time), which got my heart-pumping and adrenaline rushing. Reaching the top after the long climb and looking out over the lagoon and the jungle is one of the most beautiful views you can get of Bacalar, before setting off on the last lines which bring you right to the water.
7 – Go for a swim!
We finished our day zip-lining by jumping into the water at the end of the line. Hopping off the last platform, we walked down to the tiny pier looking out into the lagoon and dove in for a refreshing swim after a long day in the sun.
These are just seven of the many activities you can do in Bacalar – there’s also boat tours, rapids, bike tours, spas, restaurants, visit the neighbouring Cenote Azul… I can’t wait to go back and try the rest!