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How to Get To Bacalar Mexico

If you clicked on this post then it’s a pretty sure bet that you have heard about the magical place in Mexico that is Bacalar. And now you want to know how to get to Bacalar Mexico. There are several different ways that you can visit Bacalar and in this blog post, I’m going to cover them all. Whether you are traveling Cancun to Bacalar, Playa del Carmen to Bacalar, or Tulum to Bacalar the route is pretty much the same!

I’m also going to throw in a few extra ‘good to know’ like some recommended hotels in Bacalar, and things to do in Bacalar.

Ok, so let’s dive right in, here are the best ways to get to Bacalar:

  1. Take the ADO Bus
  2. Take the colectivo (you need to take more than one if you are traveling from anywhere other than Tulum.
  3. Rent a car and drive yourself
  4. Book a private shuttle
  5. Book on a private tour
  6. Fly to Chetumal and then take a bus
How to Get To Bacalar Mexico

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best Bacalar ToursClick here to check out the top Bacalar tours
Best Bacalar Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Bacalar
Best Bacalar Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Bacalar

Where is Bacalar Mexico?

I know how it goes. You’ve seen pictures of Lake Bacalar and now you’re wondering where is Bacalar Mexico and how can I get to this magical place.

Bacalar is a serene town in Quintana Roo, Mexico, located about 340 kilometers south of Cancun and near the Belize border. It’s renowned for the stunning Bacalar Lagoon, also known as the “Lagoon of Seven Colors,” thanks to its beautiful shades of blue and turquoise. Stretching over 42 kilometers, this freshwater lagoon is a haven for activities like swimming, kayaking, and sailing.

The town, less crowded than popular tourist spots like Cancun, offers a tranquil, authentic experience. Visitors can explore historical sites like the 18th-century San Felipe Fort and enjoy a variety of accommodations, from rustic cabanas to boutique hotels.

Quick Tip: I highly recommend booking all of your Mexico transportation with GottoGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and Flights on their website. What I love most about them is their customer service. I know these guys personally from living in Guatemala, and they look after their customers.

If anything happens and you get delayed and miss your bus, you can just call them, and they are always there to help. If you book through them, you will pay a little more than booking in person at the bus station. But it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Mexico.

Is Bacalar Mexico safe?

If you are wondering is Bacalar Mexico safe then you can rest assured that Bacalar Mexico, is generally considered safe for travelers. Like many tourist destinations, it maintains a welcoming and secure environment for visitors. However, it’s always wise to practice standard safety precautions.

Common advice includes staying aware of your surroundings, avoiding isolated areas at night, and keeping your valuables secure. It’s also a good idea to stay informed about the local situation through travel advisories and local news.

How to Get To Bacalar Mexico

1. Taking the ADO Bus to Bacalar

When considering how to get to Bacalar Mexico don’t discount public transport. I’m a big fan of ADO. the buses are always clean, air-conditioned (sometimes too much), and apparently have WiFi… although it’s never worked for me personally.

Getting the ADO bus to Bacalar couldn’t be easier. I would recommend booking your ticket the day before though. You can do this online through GottoGo *forget about using the ADO website or APP as it’s always super glitchy and you normally need a Mexican debit card to pay. GottoGo is just easier, but you will pay a little more as they add on a booking fee (obviously).

You will catch the bus from the ADO bus station on Juarez by the Cozumel ferry in Playa del Carmen and you may need to change in Tulum, depending on the bus you take. There are 10 buses from Playa del Carmen to Bacalar each day, and it will take around 4 hours.

Expect to pay around $30 USD to get from Playa del Carmen to Bacalar by bus.

Not traveling from Playa del Carmen? There are buses from Tulum, Cancun, and Merida to Bacalar. Again I recommend booking the day before, either in person from the bus station, or online via GottoGo. GottoGo has all of the most up-to-date information about bus timetables so you can check which bus you want to take.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

2. Take a Colectivo From Playa Del Carmen to Bacalar

If you want to save money and don’t mind being a bit uncomfortable then you can also take a colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Bacalar. Take the Tulum colectivo from Playa del Carmen (more info on this here), and then when you get off in Tulum you get on the Tulum – Bacalar Collectivo from the same place. It’s likely to take up to 6 hours and will cost around 100-150 pesos.

Bacalar Mexico | How to get to Bacalar

3. Rent A Car And Drive To Bacalar

If you are looking for how to get to Bacalar Mexico in the most convenient and easy way, Then it’s 100% renting a car and driving yourself. Especially if you are planning on spending a couple of days in Bacalar then I’d recommend renting a car and driving yourself to Bacalar. The road between Cancun (Playa del Carmen, and Tulum) and Bacalar is pretty good and the signs are easy to follow… it’s pretty much just one straight road. 

Here are the distances and drive times to Bacalar:

  • Playa del Carmen to Bacalar: 3 hours approx (279 KM)
  • Merida to Bacalar: 4 hours 30 minutes approx (345 KM)
  • Cancun to Bacalar: 4 hours approx (345 KM)
  • Tulum to Bacalar: 2 hours 30 minutes approx (215 KM)
  • Chetumal to Bacalar: 50 minutes approx (39 KM)

As always, do be careful renting a car in Mexico, it’s very easy to get ripped off! If you are planning on renting a car in Playa del Carmen then read this first, and then book a car with Turismo Channel. It’s who I always use when renting a car in Playa del Carmen. PS, if you want to get a Mexican Drivers license in Playa del Carmen so you can take advantage of local discounts, read this. 

It’s definitely useful to have a car in Bacalar to be able to get around. Most accommodation is in the town, but if you want to enjoy the nicer parts of Lake Bacalar then you will want to go further south. 

4. Book a Private Shuttle to Bacalar 

There are several companies that will take you to Bacalar via a private transfer in a minibus, a bit like taking a colectivo, but the vans are normally nicer. Ask the travel agents for this option, or you can book via GottoGo here. Not something I have ever done really as I prefer to take the ADO as there is more space and better AC!

5. Book on a Private Tour of Bacalar

If you are limited by time then this is the best option. The last time I went to Bacalar from Playa del Carmen this is what I did. I did a one-day tour to Bacalar from Playa del Carmen with Turismo Channel.

I was picked up early in the morning and dropped back off again by 7pm. It was a long day, but not having to drive, or take a bus was perfect. Much less stress! And we got to do everything on my Bacalar bucket list. THIS is how to get to Bacalar Mexico stress-free!

QUICK TIP: Book your tours, rental cars, and transfers through my local contacts

I’ve been working with Living Dreams Mexico for years and they are who I send all my family and friends to when they visit the Riviera Maya. I really can recommend them enough for private tours and experiences. They have solid 5* reviews on Trip Advisor and Google from almost 4000 reviewers! You can view all their tours here.

If you’re looking for private airport transfers and rental cars then Vanessa and Oliver from Turismo Channel are personal friends of mine and I can 100% recommend them to make an inquiry click here and complete the form. Someone will be in touch within 24 hours.

Breakfast in Bacalar town

How to get to Bacalar | Bacalar day trip from Playa del Carmen | Bacalar town | How to get to Bacalar Mexico

Chill by lake Bacalar

How to get to Bacalar | Bacalar day trip from Playa del Carmen | Bacalar lake | How to get to Bacalar Mexico

Take a boat trip in Bacalar

How to get to Bacalar | Bacalar day trip from Playa del Carmen | Bacalar  boat ride | How to get to Bacalar Mexico

I loved that everything was included in the tour which made it very affordable and also saved us a lot of time and stress. 

You can check out the vlog I made of our day in Bacalar with Turismo Channel here.

5. Fly to Chetumal and Then Take a Bus

Wondering about flights to Bacalar? Well strictly speaking there aren’t any flights to Bacalar Mexico. There is no Bacalar airport and the closest airport to Bacalar Mexico is currently in Chetumal. The distance from Chetumal airport to Bacalar is 38 km and it will take you around 40 minutes to drive.

From Chetumal Airport you will need to take a taxi or a bus to Bacalar. 

This seems like a bit too much stress and hassle for me if you are already in the Riviera Maya. But if you are traveling from outside then it could be an option if you only plan on visiting Bacalar. 

You will not find Bacalar Mexico flights anywhere. There is no Bacalar airport and Chetumal is a relatively small airport so it’s not worth considering at this point. That said when the airport in Tulum opens up it might be a good option to fly into Tulum and then get transport from there if you are just planning to visit lake Bacalar Mexico on your vacation.

Need Accommodation in Bacalar?

Check out these options:

Quick Tip: View my full Mexico packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Mexico Essentials shopping list here.

Bacalar Travel Guide Planning

? Any recommendations on what I should pack for Bacalar?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Bacalar which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Bacalar on Amazon here.

? Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Bacalar?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major Mexican tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Bacalar?

First and foremost check out all of the amazing Mexico tours Where Sidewalks End has. They are a small local company and they have some really special experiences.

For everything else I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide

If you are traveling to Cancun you can use GoCity and save up to 55% of the initial cost of entrance tickets to various museums, tours, and attractions!

If you are traveling to Playa del Carmen then I recommend booking through my friend Vanessa at Turismo Channel. You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours). You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.

???? What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

?? Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

?What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

?? What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

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Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

We are planning on renting a car in Cancun to get to Bacalar-- we are definitely seeing terrible reviews about getting ripped off on the rental and also hearing things about getting pulled over and shaken down by the police... what has been your experience? My Spanish isn't as solid as it once was and I really don't want to get into an uncomfortable situation!

Claire Summers

Friday 25th of November 2022

Hey Holly! So I have heard the same, and it absolutely does happen. But in 5 years it never happened to me. Just have some 100 and 200 peso bills handy and hide everything else lol. 200 is normally enough to get rid of them if they think you have more, they will ask for more. Also, you can just refuse and tell them you prefer to go with them to the police station. That also works sometimes.