A Magical Destination
This place is a colorful community of nature lovers, who enjoy adventure, history and celebrating cultural events. It has perfect scenery, and for this motive on October 2nd 2007 the governor of the state, Felix Gonzalez Canto, and the Secretary of Tourism of the state, Gabriella Rodriguez, informed the public that Bacalar had been declared a “Magical Town” in Mexico.
This name originates from pre-Hispanic times. In this historical relationship this site was named Siyan Ka’an Bakjalal. Siyan Ka’an translates to “birth of the heavens” surrounded by reeds. In the pre-Hispanic times, Bacalar was one of the most important populations and the head of Uaymil, one of the 16 provinces in which the Yucatán Peninsula was divided into before the Spaniards arrived. It was the first commercial place and the point of transfer from the merchants to trade with Central America, particularly with the region of Ulua, in Honduras. Bacalar is located an hour from Mahahual, facilitating the visitors from both destinations to travel from one point to another and to get to know the two hidden treasures of the southern part of Quintana Roo.
The Bacalar Lagoon, otherwise known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors, is an enormous extension of shallow water with a diverse range of blue tones that generate a scene that is just fascinating for all visitors. This lagoon is part of a system that is approximately 40 kilometers long and communicates with the Chetumal Bay, through the Rio Hondo (Deep River) and the Chaac estuary. There are several hotels and privately owned residences that have been constructed, which are normally occupied on the weekends and during vacation time.
San Felipe’s Fort
The San Felipe fort, which was built in 1729 in the XVIII century has stood as an example of military architecture of New Spain which avoided the incursions of the Pirates, and is also where innumerable historic battles against the English which tried to control the Commerce of different types of precious wood in the region, such as blackwood. In that time this bridge was made in a way that it could be retracted for defense purposes, instead of water there were pointy stakes to protect themselves from being invaded.
Today this is a beautiful garden with Mayan design and Spanish inspiration, in which machetes, rifles, cannons and rattlesnake tails can seen. These have deep meaning in the Mayan religion. In this Fort the Bacalar San Felipe Museum was founded, which even though it is small, it narrates in a general manner the developmental and historic past of this site with drawings, maps and illustrations that show the visitor how the ships arrived to this lagoon.
The Blue Cenote is located 30 kilometers northeast of Chetumal. Its liquid mantle, which connects the Bacalar lagoon, gives you a special feeling. With its 90 meters of depth, it receives its name because of its turquoise and blue waters. In this Cenote lies a typical regional restaurant that offers dishes based on seafood & wildlife in the area.
This is an amazing place for scuba diving because even though it has little visibility, it offers a labyrinth of roots and tree trunks that are intertwined and hollowed out in different sizes. Over time it has turned into rock formations that have formed deep walls that are inclined vertically. Under the water the bottom remains invisible at a distance due to its 90 meter depth. It has inviting caverns. As long as you have experts guiding you with proper training this is a great experience for scuba divers.
During the month of February you can enjoy Carnival, in August you can enjoy the San Joaquin parties of the local town where there are several religious activities and also different boat races and aquatic sports and entertainment that have to do with this celebration. Boat and Jet Ski racing also take place in the Bacalar Lagoon.
In Bacalar, like in the rest of the state, there’s a great food influence from Yucatan and Belize. The latter always includes rice and beans, which has a distinct taste from being cooked with coconut oil. You can also have tamales with a different type of bean or “brazo de reina” which is translated to “arm of the queen,” which is a tamale made with “chaya,” comparable to spinach in this region. We recommend trying “puchero” a type of stew with different types of meat, garbanzo beans and vegetables, and “chocolomo”. A pork soup.
In the days of “Todos Santos” or all saints day, mucbil pollos” (chicken) is prepared. These are tamales from the region that are baked. There are different kinds of elaborate fish and seafood dishes served with “cazon” or baby shark, bread and different kinds of preparations in which conch, grouper, red snapper, and lobster are used. These are but a small sample of the list of delicacies that come from the sea that are prepared in very different ways in this paradise.
How to arrive
By Car: Take the 186 highway leaving Chetumal go straight which will take you onto the 307 Chetumal/ Cancun highway, about 42 km down this road you will reach Xul-Ha, you can take any of the runoffs on the right in order to reach it.
Public transportation: The ADO bus terminal located behind the Museum of Mayan Culture, you may ask for vans going to Xul-Ha. The first departure is at 10:40 after which there are departures every hour. Prices do not exceed $60.00 pesos per person and you can return the saw way, however the return bus must be hailed on the main road seeing as to how there is no bus terminal in Xul-Ha.