The best way to see Laguna Bacalar is on a boat tour. There are many Bacalar tour companies that offer boat tours of the lake, and they are a great way to cover more ground while exploring the lagoon. If you are traveling with others we suggest pooling your money and getting a private tour of Bacalar, it is our preferred way.
A Bacalar boat tour will get you from place to place much faster than a kayak, and you have the added bonus of an experienced guide who can provide history and interesting facts about the sites you are visiting. Plus, if you are visiting any places with entry fees these are usually covered by your original tour fee, so you are technically getting a deal on entry costs.
Bacalar Boat Tours
Most of these Bacalar tours will be on a small Lancha-style boat or a pontoon boat. Unless you pay for a private Bacalar boat tour, you’ll be in a group with other travelers. These tours usually run for about 2.5 hours. Some boat tours include some drinks, snacks, and life jackets, while the budget options will only be the boat ride with a brief narration (usually in Spanish).
Boating tours of the Bacalar Lagoon usually include visits to some of the nearby cenotes in Bacalar. Cenotes are natural sinkholes in the ground from collapsed limestone that exposes groundwater. They are basically natural pools full of freshwater that are perfect for swimming and exploring.
How Much does a Bacalar Lake Tour Cost?
If you are taking a group tour expect to pay $300 pesos for a lancha (regular boat not a pontoon boat) tour in Spanish and slightly more for a pontoon boat tour of Bacalar about $350 pesos. Also, ask to see if the tour is with an English guide or when the next boat tour in English is.
If you want to do a private tour of Bacalar Lake expect to pay between 2,000 to 3,000 pesos. The price will vary based on how well you negotiate. On our last trip, we had both our kids with us and the grandparents so we just had our waiter at Kai Pez (one of the best restaurants in Bacalar) book it for us and it was 2,500 pesos. We probably could have paid less but we got the boat we wanted, he arranged it and everything so the price seemed fair to us.
What is the best group tour of Laguna Bacalar?
There are many group Bacalar tours and tour guides in Bacalar where you can book in person. If you prefer to book online in advance we think this is the Best Bacalar Lake Tour: Small Group Boat Cruise.
Top Spots on the Bacalar Lake Tour
The standard boat tours available in Bacalar will go to the same spots. These tour stops are listed below in the order the tours visit them. If you take a private tour you may have some chance to modify or customize your trip.
1. Cenote Negro (The Black Cenote)
This is Bacalar Lagoon’s deepest cenote at 90 meters. From above, you can see where the floor of the lake falls away, creating a dark hole clearly distinct from the sand beside it, and the ground drops very suddenly from 2m to 90m. It’s an open sky cenote connected to the main lagoon and famous for its inky, navy blue water and jungle-like surrounding edge. This is the perfect place to float or paddleboard.
Fun fact: it is locally known as the Cenote de la Bruja, or the Witch’s Cenote, which got its name from rumors that a witch lived in the jungle along its shoreline.
2. Cenote Esmeralda
Cenote Esmeralda is 70 meters deep and gets its name from the exquisite blue-green color of its water. It is also one of the best viewpoints to see the Bacalar Lagoon if you want to relax and enjoy the view. It is surrounded by homes, but there are banks where you can relax beside the water. Like the Black Cenote, it is part of the lagoon and its water feeds directly into the main body.
3. Cenote Cocalitos
Cenotes Cocalitos is perfect for families. This is because it offers more facilities than any of the other cenotes on the lagoon. At its deepest point, it reaches 60 meters, but there are plenty of shallow areas. Cocalitos is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
They have restaurants, bathrooms, kayak and snorkel rentals, and lounging areas with hammocks. The whole cenote area has clusters of stromatolites, which add to the unique atmosphere of this cenote (you can’t walk on them, though). It’s also pet-friendly if you happen to have your dog with you. This is one of our favorite spots in Bacalar, you can easily drive here or take a taxi from town.
4. Isla de Los Pájarosa – Bird Island
Many of the Bacalar boat tours also include a visit to Bird Island or Isla de Los Pájarosa. Though it’s technically an extension of land, it’s enclosed by water on all sides making it feel like a true island. If you are a photographer or a fan of ecotourism, we highly recommend choosing a tour that includes a visit to this island (Most standard tours just do a drive-by of Bird Island).
Bird Island is a bird sanctuary with lots of natural resources, and every year many different species of birds flock here during their migration season. Parrots, owls, and hawks are just some of the birds you might spot here.
Note: The boat tour will not land on the island, bird island will be viewed from the water at a distance to respect the nesting birds.
5. Canal de Los Piratas – The Pirates’ Canal
The last, and arguably the best stop on a Bacalar Boat tour is Canal de Los Piratas. This picture-perfect spot is where Laguna Bacalar and nearby Laguna Mariscal connect through a small canal. As the name suggests it did actually have pirates when the canal was a trade route.
Today it’s a spot to hang out, swim, have a few cervezas in the water, and just take in the natural beauty of the area. Here you’ll also find the remnants of a failed restaurant that is now covered in murals and stands in stark contrast to the pristine nature of Laguna Bacalar.
Add on Stops Bacalar Boat Tour
Not included on most standard boat tours is Cenote Azul. It’s not part of the Bacalar Lagoon like the others, but it’s still one of the best cenotes in Bacalar. It’s 90 meters wide, making it one of the deepest, and feels more like a small lake.
It’s open 10 am – 6 pm every day and is the perfect spot to swim, kayak, snorkel, or paddleboard. There are equipment rentals and a restaurant at the entrance, and the surrounding vegetation makes it feel like an oasis in the middle of the jungle. There is also a restaurant and bar here if you choose to spend more time.
Another worthwhile place to visit is a narrow section of the Bacalar Lagoon known as Los Rapidos (The Rapids). Again not part of the stadard boat tour in Bacalar, but can be arranged from town or possibly added on depending on the tour company.