Bacalar is a picturesque community located in the south of Quintana Roo, 274 km (170 miles) south from Playa del Carmen toward Chetumal. The town has a population of 11,000 inhabitants and in 2007 the Ministry of Tourism decided to name it a Pueblo Mágico due to its unique natural environment, history and tourist potential.
The program Pueblos Mágicos, or Magical Villages, was created by the Ministry of Tourism in 2001 and recognizes the cultural and natural heritage of Mexican villages. The term Magical Village describes a place which has not only an exceptional identity, history and location, but is also a place that will attract visitors. Huasca de Ocampo in the state of Hidalgo was the first Magical Village and currently there are a total of 82 throughout the country.
The name of Bacalar dates back to Pre Hispanic times and comes from Mayan Bakjalal or “surrounded by reed”. After the Spanish conquerors came to this area, Bacalar was the most important community of Uaymil, one of the 16 regions within the Yucatan Peninsula. It was a commercial center where merchandise from Central America, particularly Honduras, arrived.
Bacalar’s main attraction is the freshwater seven colors lagoon which refers to the tonality of the water at dawn and dusk. The lagoon is the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico, approximately 80.5 km (50 miles) long and connects with the bay of Chetumal. Its shallow crystal clear waters allows one to see the bottom, which is covered in pure white sand. These elements make it a perfect place to swim and is visually spectacular.
Another of Bacalar´s natural attractions is Cenote Azul, which is around 152 m (500 feet) deep. Its clean turquoise waters attracts thousands of swimmers, snorkelers and divers every year and has several underwater caves. Cenotes were considered by the Maya to be the sacred entrance to the Underworld or Xibalbá.
The ADO bus company connects Playa del Carmen directly with Bacalar, or if you choose to drive there, you just need to take the Federal Highway 307 south and is approximately a three hour drive.