Bacalar is most famous for its lake, “lake of 7 colours”, which is a gorgeous aqua blue lake that has every colour of blue imaginable in it. It is only a 3hour bus ride from Tulum, but it is also possible to get a collectivo for around 20-30peso. A bus will set you back anywhere from 50-100pesos depending on the company, with Mayab tending to be the cheapest. Tickets can be purchased from the ADO bus terminal and leave multiple times every day. You can wave down a collectivo on the edge of town in the direction of Bacalar, and just confirm that they in fact go all the way.
When you arrive in Bacalar you will be dropped on the main road, and pretty much where ever your staying in Bacalar, your bound to be within walking distance, as the town is so small. I stayed at Magic hostel which was right on the lake and had its own private dock from which you could swim, kayak, sail or relax is one of the many hammocks.
It’s worth paying a few dollars more to have a hostel on the lake, with a dock, otherwise to go swimming you will have to pay either per hour or daily. Just splurg the extra $3 and get one on the lake, it’ll save you money in the long run.
Bacalar is a nice place for a stop over or to spend a few nights but besides the lake there really isn’t much going on in town so 2 days is more than enough. Things to do in Bacalar are mostly based on the lake and range in price from free to $40+
Swimming, if you stay at a hostel on the lake, is free, while hiring kayaks or going sailing is anywhere from $$10-20 depending on the amount of time. There is also a Cenote you can visit by taxi . However we didn’t do this so can’t comment on the cost or the experience.
When we were there there was a big storm rolling through so our entertainment for the day was sitting in hammocks on the dock watching the storm cross the lake, changing the colours of the lake frequently.
We also visited a place called Los Rapidos, which isn’t too well known, but was suggested to us by some locals. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride away which cost us about 100pesos, and then 25pesos entrance. Basically it’s just a really nice place to spend an afternoon lounging around, letting the rapids drift you down stream, as you check out the wildlife. It’s a really cool spot and snorkelling gear is defiantly a plus here!
The plan from Bacalar was to get an overnight bus to Palenque, inland from Bacalar, where a lot of people spend a night or two before crossing the border into Guatamala. Our bus left at 1am, and again was booked from the ADO bus terminal in town, it cost about 120pesos for some odd 9 hours of driving. Believe me when I say that you literally need all the layers that you have on these overnight buses. Im not kidding, I had a puffer jacket, fleece, long solve, sleeping bag and a beanie and I was still cold! We should’ve known it was going to be cold, when we boarded the bus and some local ladies, resembled more closely a pile of clothes and blankets than people.
Even after several people requested to have the aircon turned down, there was no change so we shivered our way from Bacalar to Palanque. Seriously be prepared. You can read about crossing the Mexican border from Palenque to Flores here.