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….

Bacalar Lagoon
I mean…this water.

 

Bacalar Lagoon
This WATER.

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.

Boat Ride on Bacalar Lagoon
One hand on the roof. One hand on the phone. Maybe he is navigating the motor with telepathy? Sidenote: Bacalar has fantastic cell coverage…

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.

Bacalar Lagoon
With all the pontoon boats, docks and houses for a second it felt like I was back at our old lake house in Missouri. Until I looked back at the water.

 

Shoreline of Bacalar Lagoon
One of these homeowners has to be looking for a  house sitter. Right?

 

Pier on Bacalar Lagoon
The shores of the lagoon are surrounded with piers, palapas and private docks.

 

Houses on Bacalar Laggon
The Far East meets the Middle East? How fun that these two homeowners got creative with their homes right next to each other.

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?)

Pirate Cut in Bacalar Lagoon
Pirates didn’t sink this boat shaped restaurant and bar, bureaucracy did. They got about halfway done before they realized they didn’t have the right permits to finish and abandoned the project.

 

Deidre in Bacalar Lagoon
Well somebody had to go check and make sure there wasn’t any beer accidentally left behind.

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.

San Felipe Fort in Bacalar
View of Fort San Felipe from the water. I guess I can see why someone would want to fight their way in there.

 

Fort San Felipe in Bacalar
According to one of the signs I read, Fort San Felipe was built in 1733. And it’s still standing. They sure don’t build ’em like they used to.

 

Cannon at Fort San Felipe
Defending Bacalar.

 

View of Bacalar Lagoon from Fort San Felipe
This is the view from the fort defending the entrance to the lagoon. I’m pretty sure that the people who got assigned to work at this fort versus another one would be considered the lucky ones.

 

Fort San Felipe
Argh, matey. Pirates!

 

Pirate Ships at Fort San Felipe
Fortunately these were the only pirate ships we encountered.

 

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.

Bacalar Lagoon
One more water shot. I just wanted to be sure you saw all 7 colors.