Despite beeing only Mexico’s second largest lake, the 50 km long Laguna Bacalar is without doubt the countries most beautiful.
Depending on the weather and the ground, his iridescent blue and turquoise waters, earned it the nickname as the “Lagoon of the seven colours” (Laguna de siete Colores). Numerous fish, water birds and the rare tropical fish otters find an ideal habitat here. With luck visitors can observe some toucans, monkeys and other tropical animals on the lakeshore.
Already 435 AD. the Maya founded the settlement Bak’halal (“surrounded by reeds”) on the west bank of the lake. Bak’halal was a major trading place for goods from Ulúa in Honduras and the Cabecera (capital) Uaymils, one of the 16 provinces into which Yucatán was divided before the arrival of the Spaniards. A thousand years later the Spaniards conquered the region and founded Villa Salamanca de Bacalar in 1544. Tropical hardwoods (including mahogany) from the surrounding virgin forest and palo de inkte, a wood used in dyeing in the European textile industry, were shipped from here to Europe. To protect the prosperous village from ongoing pirat attacks, in 1728 Fuerte San Felipe was built, a hill fort, surrounded by a four-meter-deep ditch.
In the ‘Caste War of Yucatán’ the fort was occupied by the Maya in 1858 and held until 1902, when the Mexican troops gained the overwhelming power. Today, the fully restored Fort contains a small history museum with a remarkable collection on the history of piracy (Museo de la Piratería). On weekends, the fort and its gardens are a favorite destination for Mexican families.
The small town of Bacalar has no attractions to show, and most of the small lakeside hotels are outside of town. Located to the south of the village is the 80 meter deep Cenote Azul, which is the largest of the country with a diameter of 200 meters and a popular bathing place. The restaurant on its bank offers mediocre food, but a shady place with a view.