The Top Ranked Mexican Village For A Lakeside Vacation

When one thinks of their dream vacation in Mexico, some ocean views are typically involved. However, there is one place where you might just be willing to trade in that beach dream for a lakeside fantasy. No place is better for this than Bacalar, located in the southernmost part of the Riviera Maya of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

The Yucatán has been popular for many years thanks to the presence of the famous Chichen Itza pyramid and the stunning development of Cancún, a beautiful area full of bombastic hotels and long stretches of white, sandy beaches. The peninsula's popularity — in particular, the lesser-known Tulum — has grown even more in the last few years as more people have discovered the magic of the Riviera Maya.

Though it is far from a hidden gem, Bacalar has remained relatively obscure and doesn't typically make it onto Yucatán vacation itineraries. However, you'd be remiss to skip this destination, as Bacalar Lagoon is among the most beautiful in the country and is actually the second-largest freshwater lake in Mexico! Thanks to its limestone bottom and crystal-clear waters, the lake is said to have seven shades of blue ranging from bright blue to deep sapphire. And it's not just nice to look at. You can swim, snorkel, or boat on the lake, and the area is full of amazing historical sites and food spots to try.

Bacalar is the perfect escape from the touristy trappings of the Yucatán

For every person who wants a relaxing, all-inclusive resort escape, there's another who would love nothing more than to get lost in a little pueblo and hear Spanish all day. For those who want both, the Yucatán is the perfect place to be. While Cancún and Tulum can provide the former, places like Bacalar can satisfy the latter, giving travelers the opportunity to explore a more authentic side of the Zona Maya.

In fact, Bacalar so embodies the spirit of Mexico that the government has bestowed upon it an official designation, Pueblo Mágico, which is given to towns that have "magical" qualities related to their beauty, historical importance, or natural wonders. What, in particular, makes Bacalar a Pueblo Mágico? If we had to guess, it has to be the crystal-clear blue lake and its many cenotes (natural sinkholes), and the historic Fort of San Felipe of Bacalar, a Spanish edifice that once stood watch for pirates floating in from the Caribbean.

Though Bacalar is not as popular as other destinations in the Yucatán, the town is no longer the sleepy lakeside village it once was. However, it still maintains the feel that many small pueblos around Mexico have. You'll also have no shortage of places to eat and enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine, as well as options for those who are vegan.

Don't do a day trip to Bacalar!

Imagine waking up in the morning and watching the sun rise over the beautiful Laguna Bacalar, lighting up its blue waters. Or maybe you take a moment later in the evening to watch the sunset cast fiery shades of red and orange across the water's surface. If you just go for a day trip, you might miss these magical moments. Not to mention, despite its size, there's so much to do in Bacalar that you won't want to miss.

Plan to spend at least two to three days in this lakeside village, either at one of the many boutique hotels or resorts in the area or at a small rental accommodation in town. Enjoy everything the "Maldives of Mexico" has to offer by renting kayaks at Los Rápidos, one of the most popular places to visit at Bacalar. Relax in the sun and do some swimming and snorkeling or take a sailing trip with a guide to explore all the best areas of the lake. There are also plenty of cenotes to discover, including Cenote la Bruja (Witch's Cenote), which you can take a swim in, too.

If you're looking for a bit more of a relaxing pace away from groups and tours, head to a beach club that has plenty of drinks and yummy snacks ready for you to enjoy.