Bacalar, or Laguna Bacalar, is a small town in Southern Mexico. This was our last stop in Mexico. During our two nights in Bacalar, we investigated the laguna, spent an afternoon swimming at a local beach called Balnearios, found a fantastic place to have breakfast, and met up with Charo’s cousin Rafael and his family for the second time on our trip.

The first morning

We travelled from Mahahual that morning, on the 6:30 am bus. Charo and I woke up at about 5 to get some last-minute packing done and cut up some fresh fruit to have before our bus trip. We woke the kids up shortly after 5:30 am. I can tell the kids are becoming used to early morning wake-ups as they don’t give much resistance to getting up. Knowing this, we quickly made the bus stop for 6:10, giving us plenty of time to purchase our ticket. As per usual, the bus was late, but that is something else we are getting used to. We arrived in Mahahual, Charo asked a local how much a taxi should cost us to get to our hotel, and they responded 20 or 25 pesos. We quickly waved a taxi, and they were quite abundant with us being on the main highway through town. The taxi was 25 pesos, and he promptly delivered us to our hotel, El Roble. For the first time on our trip, we arrived at our hotel, and it was completely booked. Thank goodness for reservations, but it was still only 9:30 in the morning. The reception desk gladly cared for all our backpacks and allowed us to change in the staff supply area, which had a bathroom attached. We quickly changed, and while doing so, Charo spoke to the employee at the reception desk asking what we should do while in Bacalar, and where to eat. Where to eat was the most critical question of the morning because when you’re travelling with three kids, at least one of them is bound to be hangry when they don’t eat at their usual time. For us, that was Mateo. When Charo asked where to eat, and asked if we could walk there. After all, we are trying to save a few pesos here and there so we won’t be too deep in debt after this year’s excursion. Charo armed herself with the directions, and we were off. I want to say something got lost in translation from one person to the other, but if you know Charo, you know she doesn’t do well with directions. We didn’t get lost, but our route to breakfast was anything but short. It was a beautiful walk, though, and we were doing well until Mateo saw the first possible sign of a restaurant, and it was all downhill from there. He tried to stop in every place he could find, continually reminding us he was hangry. For those of you who don’t know Mateo, he only has two volume settings, loud and louder. For the second half of this excursion, his configuration was set to louder.

We finally found the place where we were to have breakfast, El Manati. After breakfast, Mateo uttered, “The walk was definitely worth it.” Crisis averted.

Taking a Taxi

We learned that you never enter a taxi before negotiating a price. We also learned that when you’re living in the town, you can take a taxi anywhere for only 20 pesos. Amazing. We agreed from there we are not going to suffer through Mateo again and take the taxi when we deemed necessary. When you’re finding a taxi, they’re quite abundant. You can find one almost anywhere. At most, you’ll have to walk a couple of blocks till you find one. However, we did find an exception to the rule. We were out till approximately 10:00 pm our first night there in the town plaza, and we could not find a taxi, and it took about 20 minutes to track one down.

Our Accommodations

We found El Roble Hotel through The staff there were great. Like I mentioned before, they helped us out when we arrived early and were always eager to answer all of our questions. The rooms were more than adequate, we had a queen-sized bed, along with and a double bed. Charo and I slept on the double, while the kids got the queen bed. The hotel was clean and well organized. The only issue we had was the wifi signal wasn’t the greatest.

Balneario Ecológico

Once you go to town, you can get a map of all the places to go swimming. Some are free, and some cost some pesos. The place we chose was recommended to us by our waitress Mikaela, from El Manati. It did cost 20 pesos per person, but well worth it. Balneario Ecológico is where all the locals went swimming. You could rent a table with an umbrella for the day, and there was a restaurant with live music. If you’d like, they even had a water slide that you could pay 30 pesos per person for an hour’s worth of sliding.

Laguna Bacalar Boat Excursion

We arranged a boat excursion through our hotel to tour Laguna Bacalar, and the price was 250 pesos per person. The tour lasted approximately two and a half hours, and the starting point was Hotel Laguna Bacalar, which has a swimming pool and lovely views of the lake. The excursion included hotel pickup, but we decided to go earlier so the kids could enjoy the onsite pool with their cousins.

We learned all about the different cenotes in the Laguna. The water depth caused all different shades of blue in the water. We, unfortunately, we did not see all the shades as we had sporadic downpours during the day, and this kicked up a lot of the sediment on the bottom of the lake.

Our guide let us off in one section where the sand has therapeutic properties. All the adults ended up covering as much of their bodies in the sand as possible. The sand had a sulphur smell to it and to say it was pleasant would be a lie, but we endured. We were told to let it dry for 7 to 10 minutes before washing it off.

Some of us lasted longer with it than others.

The kids were digging it up and offering it up to all the other people around, and Marco, well, he was trying to sell it to people. No luck.

The kids had a great time, as did the adults. I would recommend you take this excursion if you ever find yourself in Bacalar. Tours are offered by many hotels and restaurants in the area.

The Plaza (Park)

The Plaza is located right in the centre of town. There is a playground, and the outskirts have small stalls and vendors selling local crafts, and touristy stuff. We didn’t purchase anything, but we did enquire, and it is worth shopping around.

The park also has free wifi. It seemed to be quite reliable as this is where I had my moments to post onto Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

My thoughts

Charo and I were both mesmerized by the friendliness of the locals, the vibe of the town, and the beauty of it. It did not have a big city feel, nor did it feel like it was overwhelmed by tourists. We both felt comfortable there. If you’re backpacking with kids, or just travelling with kids, we highly recommend a stop here. For those of you at work, if I don’t come back in September 2020, you might find us in Bacalar.

Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!

Our next stop: We are crossing the border into Xiabe, Belize

Our last stop: We visited the beach town Mahahual, Mexico