Being in Bacalar was without a doubt one of the highlights of my year, and it’s a trip that I will look back on for years to come. While the absolute best part was definitely lounging next to the lagoon without a care in the world, the next best part was definitely all of the day trips from Bacalar that we took while we were there.
Mexico is such a magical place, and there will always be too much to see, do, and explore that can never truly fit into one trip, which just means you have to keep going back to get the full effect! However, I hope to help you get the full impact of Bacalar and the surrounding area with this post about Bacalar day trips!
If you’re planning a trip to Bacalar, keep scrolling (use the table of contents if you want to skip to something specific!) and be sure to check out my other posts about Bacalar to plan the perfect vacation!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is one day enough in Bacalar?
I’m gonna cut to the chase: no, I don’t think one day is enough in Bacalar. Now, if you’re absolutely strapped for time, and you have to choose between seeing it for one day, or not at all, I think you should without a doubt make the trip and do what you can in a day, but it will definitely feel rushed.
In one day you could reasonably spend a bit of time walking around the center, and then spend the rest of the day in the lagoon. You could probably squeeze in a boat tour if you’re really ambitious, though personally, that sounds exhausting if you only have one day available to you.
There’s a lot to see around Bacalar as well—which I’m sure you’re aware of, given that you’re on this post!—and it’s much nicer to use as a base while taking day trips from Bacalar.
How many days should I spend in Bacalar?
Honestly? You should spend as many days as you can in Bacalar. We spent nine days in Bacalar and it felt perfect, though I certainly wouldn’t have complained if we’d had even more.
Bacalar is definitely a destination that is best suited to a relaxing vacation, and let’s be honest, it’s kind of hard to overdose on relaxing by a pristine turquoise lagoon. I think a good average time frame for most people to spend in Bacalar would be around five days. This gives you a fairly even balance between enjoying the lagoon and the town, as well as taking day trips from Bacalar.
The only time I would say that 2-3 days is sufficient is if you’re fitting Bacalar into a wider itinerary where there’s no need to fit Bacalar day trips into the plan, because you’ll be heading there anyway!
No matter what you opt for though, Bacalar is a magical destination, and I know you’ll have an amazing time.
Best day trips from Bacalar
1. Explore some untouched Mayan ruins
If you only do one day trip from Bacalar, make it this one. You can also read my full guide for how to visit Mayan ruins near Bacalar (coming soon).
Mayan culture is integral to understanding this region of Mexico, and the ancient Mayan ruins are some of the best ways to actually see and understand the way that they lived.
The archaeological sites that are outside of Bacalar are especially worth visiting because they’re so insanely empty. Like, we spent a day going around to three different sites—Dzibanché, Kinichná, and Kohunlich—and we only saw a total of four other tourists. Like… that’s insane. For context, when we were in Mexico City we went to Teotihuacán, the well-known ancient city, and there were so many tourists that it was verging on feeling like an amusement park.
There is something so special about getting to climb these giant pyramid temples, and walk around the old plazas, with no one else in the way. It feels like you can actually fill in the blanks and imagine what it might have looked like at its peak. The sites are like, properly in the jungle, and we heard toucans and howler monkeys (tragically we didn’t get to see either of them, but maybe you’ll be luckier than we were). Make sure to bring bug spray and sunscreen!
I recommend taking a tour to visit these places, because then you’ll have a guide to tell you all the most important information about the history of the region. We did this one, which included a three-course nice lunch at a beautiful resort nestled in the middle of the jungle!
Remember to check out my full guide for how to visit these archaeological sites (coming soon) if you’re interested in how to decide between the seven different sites around Bacalar or want to know how to get there without a tour.
2. Have a ziplining adventure
This is a pretty easy option for those wanting a bit of adventure in their itinerary. Tirolesas Kan Kin is a 1500 meter long zipline route comprised of fived individual ziplines just 10 minutes outside of the center of Bacalar.
Here you can glide above the jungle and take in crazy beautiful views while having a bit of an adrenaline rush. Because of its location in the jungle you may even see some monkeys!
The activity takes a little over two hours and you can book ahead through tour groups like Chetumal Tours. It’s suitable for most age groups, costs under $40 USD per person, and is a great thing to do if you want a break from sunbathing or just need a little thrill.
3. Soak up the sand and the sun in Mahahual
While the lagoon at Bacalar is more than enough to meet your swimming and sunbathing needs, I understand that sometimes we just want to feel the sea! If you’re after a bit of saltwater, then this day trip from Bacalar might be for you.
Mahahual is a little over an hour drive away from Bacalar, and it’s the closest option from Bacalar if you want to dip your toes in the Caribbean sea. The town itself is quite small, but in a quaint, beach town sort of way. It is also the main cruise port for this part of Mexico (known as Riviera Maya), meaning there are lots of hotels and bars and restaurants to choose from, and of course the Mahahual sign for a photo-op.
You can visit Mahahual either by renting a car and driving yourself (we used Discover Cars when we visited, and it’s a simple, straight shot to the coast), or you can easily book a taxi. You can typically agree a rate in advance for the round trip plus 6-8 hours of the driver waiting for you while you enjoy yourself at a beach club.
Or, if you know you want to be free to have a few drinks and don’t feel comfortable negotiating a taxi rate in Spanish, the easiest option is to book the exact same thing through GetYourGuide. This Mahahual experience includes round trip transportation and admission to an excellent beach club so all you have to do is vibe the day away!
4. Immerse Yourself in Mayan Culture in Chetumal
One of the easiest and fastest day trips from Bacalar on the list is a visit to Chetumal.
Chetumal is the city you’ll have to fly into if you’re arriving in Bacalar by plane, and it’s only about a 35-40 minute drive between the two cities. However, distance isn’t the only reason I say it’s the easiest and fastest.
There isn’t like, a ton to do in Chetumal, but I wanted to include it nonetheless because it’s so close and it’s always nice to see the surrounding areas. The main attraction for most tourists would be the Museum of Mayan Culture, which is open every day aside from Monday, 9am-5pm. We didn’t get a chance to come here when we visited Bacalar, and to be honest I really regret it. Visiting the Mayan ruins was such a highlight of the trip, but it left me with more questions, and a longing to go even deeper in learning about Maya civilization, so I wish I’d made the time to dive deeper here.
There are also some nice restaurants and bars in the downtown area, as well as a beautiful waterfront promenade, if you did want to make a full day of it, but I think most people will be happy to check this Bacalar day trip off the list in half a day or so.
You can always get a taxi from Bacalar to bring you to Chetumal, but it’s also an easy drive if you want to book a rental car through Discover Cars.
5. Go further afield to Tulum
It’s a bit far, and a bit impractical, but what’s the point of traveling if not to push the limits a bit and try to achieve the impractical??
Tulum is a roughly two and a half hour drive from Bacalar, so if you get an early enough start, it’s totally doable—just a bit of a long day. In all honesty, there’s a ton to do in Tulum, so personally, if I was going to go I would prefer to spend at least a few days here to make sure to get the full effect.
However, if you want to get a little taste of this hotspot in a day, I recommend spending the bulk of your time at the beach, before having a late lunch in town, just in time to head back before it’s too late.
Again, it shouldn’t be too difficult to negotiate a roundtrip taxi rate for the day, but driving yourself would be relatively simple and cheap. Check rental car rates for your trip dates at Discover Cars, which is always my go-to for getting great prices and being able to use all the filters I want to find the right car for my needs.
Are you inspired by these day trips from Bacalar?
I hope this post has inspired you to plan and take some day trips from Bacalar during your trip!
No matter what you choose to fit into your itinerary, I know you’ll have the best time, because Bacalar is genuinely one of the best destinations I’ve ever been to, so there’s no wrong way to visit.
Be sure to save this post for later if it helped, and leave me a comment letting me know if you’ve been to any of these places!