If you’re ready to see Mexico’s Quintana Roo State in a different light and outside of its party representation (thanks to Cancun and Tulum), consider visiting Bacalar Lagoon. On the southeast tip of Quintana Roo, near the border of Belize, sits the renowned body of water known worldwide by its nickname, “The Lagoon of Seven Colors.”

The nickname comes from the fact that water looks seven shades of blue. The lagoon has crystalline water and white limestone soil, creating a unique phenomenon of witnessing several hues of blue. The water is so blue and beautiful that it has even garnered another nickname in recent history: “The Maldives of Mexico.”

How To Get To Lagoon of Seven Colors

Bacalar Lagoon is a two-hour drive from Tulum, a four-hour drive from Cancun, and a three-hour drive from Belize City. Renting a car and driving is the best way to get to the small town of Bacalar, but it’s essential to be mindful of the rental company’s policy on driving a car to another country.

The ADO bus is another option for people who don’t feel comfortable renting a car. ADO is a well-known bus company that travels throughout the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz, Guerrero, and parts of central Mexico.

Visitors can take the bus from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. Bus fare from Cancun is $40 one-way and about $16 for a one-way ticket from Playa del Carmen.

Another option is booking a private driver to take you there. It will be more expensive, but this is another way to feel safe if driving and the bus aren’t viable options. The best way to find a private driver is by asking the hotel receptionist or Airbnb host for suggestions.

Bacalar Lagoon, "Lagoon Of Seven Colors" in Mexico
Photo credit: Camila-Vazquez

Where To Stay

The long way down to Bacalar is exactly why travelers should plan to make it more than a day trip. Visitors will find Mexico’s hidden gem has affordable accommodation and is not overrun with tourists like its sister cities.

Casa Shiva Bacalar by MIJ is one of the most unique stays in Bacalar. The villas are right on the lake, giving you an unforgettable experience since you will have the lake in your footsteps.

Amainah Bacalar is another luxurious option. The adults-only hotel faces the lake and only offers 16 rooms in total on the property. Travelers will get intimate service along with breathtaking views of the lagoon.

Bacalar only stretches roughly 40 miles long, but there are more than 1,000 places visitors can choose from on Airbnb.

Bacalar Lagoon, "Lagoon Of Seven Colors" in Mexico
Photo credit: Fernando Gutierrez

What To Do and See

While the lake and water activities are the main attraction, there are other things to do while visiting Bacalar. Travelers can book a boat ride or rent equipment like kayaks and paddleboards. Sadly, pollution over time has made the seven colors harder to see. It’s still worth the visit, but respecting the lake and the locals working to protect its beauty is essential. Tour companies in Mexico, like Eco Experience, work with visitors to help protect the lagoon while exploring it.

Another fun activity is exploring the cenotes in the area. Bacalar is also home to some of Mexico’s largest cenotes, which are breathtaking to witness up close.

When you’re done with the water, head to Fort San Felipe to explore the museum and beautiful lake views. There are also Mayan ruins outside of Bacalar that are worth exploring, including Kohunlich, Chacchoben, and Chicanna.