From time to time the monotony of the same ocean views and sunny skies (sorry, feel free to send me angry emails), the same meals made with the same food from the same truck and the same problem of continuing to not be able to catch the same fishies over and over again means an escape is needed, even if it’s just for a few hours. We’ve probably given you the idea by now that Xcalak is in the middle of nowhere, which isn’t quite true because we are in the middle of somewhere. We might be remote, but get in a car (or better yet, a boat) and in 1-2 hours you can find yourself anywhere from Mahahual to Belize. Oh and Bacalar Lagoon. Why do I always forget Bacalar Lagoon?
We’ve driven through the town of Bacalar many, many times on our way to get supplies in the city of Chetumal. We’d stopped along the highway here for gas, maybe a few odds and ends and, well, that was about it. For some reason we just never took the time to poke around and explore. Which is kind of stupid because Bacalar is home to a fresh water lagoon that is dizzyingly beautiful and changes color constantly, hence it’s nickname the “Lagoon of 7 Colors”. You can get glimpses of the lagoon as you’re driving along the highway, and it’s pretty impressive from there, but when you take the time to get up close and personal? Well….
There are all kinds of private homes, restaurants, hotels and beach clubs that line the shores of the lagoon. You can stop at many of them and grab a meal or beer and admire the view, take a swim, or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and go exploring. There are quite a few cenotes in the area you can explore too, some of them are even in the Lagoon itself. But the best way to truly soak in the beauty of the lagoon is to explore it by boat. Luckily, tours via sailboat, pontoon or panga (motorboat) are available for a few hundred pesos all over town. We opted for the panga route and selected what we thought was a reputable boat operator.
In the end, we didn’t crash into anything and our boat driver had a solid grasp of the features and history of the lagoon (if not the steering wheel) so I suppose our concerns were unwarranted.
Back in the day – please don’t ask me what day, that’s a question for my history nerd husband – pirates used to attack the town of Bacalar. I really don’t know where the pirates came from, or what they were looking for, but I did learn that was some wood in the neighboring state of Campeche that was a pretty hot commodity. Anyway, wherever they came from and whatever they were looking for, they entered the lagoon through this cut. Conveniently named, ahem, “The Pirate Cut”. (Seems like they could have changed the name to throw the pirates off but what do I know about pirates?)
The lagoon is pretty cool and we easily could have spent the rest of our escape laying in and around the water, but decided to put our brains to use for a bit and go get our culture on. We headed to Fort San Felipe which was built to protect Bacalar against those dastardly pirates.
The town of Bacalar is super charming and the lagoon is truly a sight to behold so I can totally understand why pirates would want to attack this place. I’m sure they won a few battles here and there but since the fort is still standing and I didn’t see any eye patches or parrots it appears that the pirates lost the war. And for that we are thankful since Bacalar is way more peaceful than any pirate town has a right to be.
If you’re looking for a nice getaway from wherever you are you should definitely check out Bacalar. Swim, relax, paddle board, eat, drink and be merry. Just watch out for the return of those dastardly pirates.