Skip to Content

Canal de Los Piratas Bacalar – Why you MUST visit!

Canal de Los Piratas Bacalar – Why you MUST visit!

Just on the other side of the Bacalar Lagoon is the smaller Mariscal Lagoon. They are connected by a narrow canal called the Canal de Los Piratas (the Pirates’ Channel).

Talk about an intriguing name. And it’s not just for fun. Real pirates historically used this channel. You can take a boat tour like this to get out to the canal!

Canal de Los Piratas History

Hundreds of years ago, the channel was used for trade. Thanks to optimal positioning, it gave access to the inland, opening up trade possibilities. It was often considered the natural border between Mexico and Belize and connected different populations who were previously separated by the water.

Both merchant and pirate ships frequently used the canal to move goods around. The natives often defended their lands against pirates and Spanish conquest ships.

Drone photo of Canal de Los Piratas filled with colorful water (blues and greens) looking back at the city of Bacalar Mexico in the distance

Today, it’s considered a prime place to relax and hang out. You can get to Canal de Los Piratas Bacalar via kayak or boat tour like this. Once there, you can go up to the shore and explore on foot.

In some areas, the ground becomes a sandbar, with the water barely covering your feet. You can walk so far out from the shoreline and still only wet your ankles.

The Bacalar Lagoon is famous for the seven vibrant different watercolors of blues and greens, and this is most noticeable in the Pirates’ Channel. The channel is also well-known for its sand, which is rich in minerals. You’ll often find people rubbing it on their skin for the benefit of natural exfoliation.

Aerial view looking down the Pirates Canal in Laguna Bacalar

Bacalar Pirates Canal Tours

Shared Boat Tour – A boat tour is one of the best ways to see the Canal de Los Piratas. The standard boat tour in Bacalar is still super cheap, combines several attractions, and can be great value for money.

If you book a Bacalar boat tour, Canal de Los Piratas Bacalar will always be the last spot the boat tours visit, so you can swim and enjoy this great spot.  The only downside to a shared tour is that the time schedules are fixed, and there isn’t as much flexibility. 

Private boat tours and private boat rentals – For a more relaxed and personal experience while visiting the Pirates Canal, hire a private boat or book a private tour. Prices vary and will depend on your negotiating skills, boat type, and how long you want to rent or tour the lagoon.

In 2023, we rented a private pontoon-style boat for 2600 pesos, which was not the cheapest but was the most convenient for us. Expect to pay between 2500-3500 for a private pontoon boat for a standard 2.5-3 hours tour that includes a visit to Canal de Los Piratas.

Canal de Los Piratas by Kayak – Another fun way to explore and enjoy the Canal de Los Piratas is to do it yourself. A kayak is the easiest way to cross the lagoon to the canal. You can rent kayaks from Bacalar. Most kayak rentals range in price from 250-500 pesos or $12-25 USD. Make sure to add life jackets to your rental.

group of people kayaking in Laguna Bacalar Mexico - Things to do in Bacalar

The water is shallow in the channel, but it’s always a good idea to come prepared with safety equipment like life vests. You’ll also be quite exposed to the sun, so bring sunscreen and plenty of it if you need to reapply.

Don’t use any if you plan to visit the cenotes in Bacalar since they don’t usually allow sunscreen unless it is biodegradable reef-safe sunscreen like this. If you plan on visiting Cenote Azul, you will want to purchase this sunscreen.

Best Canal de Los Piratas Tour

Aerial view of the Canal de Los Piratas during a Bacalar Boat Tour

Canal de Los Piratas Hours & Entry

Because this is an open area and part of the natural lagoon, there are no opening or closing hours and no entry fee. However, any equipment you want to rent, like paddleboards, kayaks, lifejackets, or snorkel gear, will cost you extra. There are plenty of places just on the other side of the lagoon in the city where you can rent this.

Some boating tours will take you on a tour of the channel, the lagoon, and even nearby cenotes for as little as $12 USD. You can also opt for longer private tours that include visits to some of the tiny islands on the lagoon. These will be much more expensive, but you get to see a bit more in a relaxed setting.

white and blue sailboat in the laguna Bacalar in Mexico

Amenities at Canal de Los Piratas

While exploring, you might notice what appears to be a piece of an abandoned ship’s bow in the middle of the canal. Your eyes are not deceiving you. There was once a plan to set up a floating restaurant in the middle of the water.

After considering the infrastructure that comes with a fully functioning restaurant, it was deemed too much of a risk for the marine ecosystem, and the project was abandoned. Instead, it now serves as a great hangout spot with makeshift platforms for jumping and diving into the water and a great spot to take photos (or selfies).

Again, because this is part of a natural environment with no opening hours or entrance costs, there is no admissions office or anything like that. So make sure to use the bathroom before you set out, and ask your rental shop if they offer lockers for your valuables or anything you don’t want to bring with you out on the water.

Related: Float Down Los Rapidos in Bacalar

After a day out on the water, you’ll probably be hungry and tired. Before calling it a night, head to one of our favorite restaurants in Balacar to relax and plan out where to go next!

Don’t forget to pin me for your next adventure in Bacalar!

Drone photo looking into the Canal of the Pirates also known as Canal de los Piratas in Laguna Bacalar Mexico - Pin