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Magical Bacalar with Kids

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

Anyone who sees a photo of Laguna Bacalar falls in love with its gorgeous turquoise waters. I did too and that was why I made sure to include it on our 2-month backpacking adventure through Central America.

Most people imagine this “Maldives of Mexico” is a beautiful island with white sand beaches and that blue, blue water. But, what makes Laguna Bacalar so special is that it is in fact a fresh water lagoon in the south of Mexico.

Cenote Cocolitos

Cenote Cocolitos has a small inexpensive beach club with changing rooms and toilets to complete the crystal clear, warm and shallow waters. The swings and hammocks trailing in the water make it the perfect spot to relax and mix with locals in its turquoise waters, while the kids try endless acrobatic stunts leaping into the water.

If the hammocks and swings hanging in the water weren’t enough this is also one of only a few locations in the whole world where one can find Stromatolites. These are flat and circular stone-like formations, formed by bacteria that were the earth’s earliest signs of life. Some of the dead/fossilised ones are 3.6 BILLION years old (the earth is only 4.5 billion years old). These here at Cocolitos are 2,000 years old and may be the largest sized living freshwater organism on earth - 10km (we’re just seeing the sprouts upward in these photos). They really just look like funky rocks but they are incredible. It is very important not to touch them, and there are posters and sometimes barriers up to remind the lucky people frequenting the area to leave them be.

It is best to visit on weekday mornings to avoid the crowds of families that tend to flock here most other times.

The shallow waters are great for little kids to play in. Quinn was able to walk out really far, and with the swings and hammocks actually in the water, it felt really safe, easy with the baby and very relaxing.

The small eatery on-site has some delicious dishes, from fresh seafood ceviche to sandwiches and of course ice-cold cervezas. They had our favourite, fresh lemon juice, as well as a range of Mexican treats to eat. Otherwise, you can always pack your own snacks and have a little picnic to enjoy on the grass or rent a table under the cool shade of a palapa. While you are allowed to bring in food and drink, they do charge $100 MEX for renting a table or land-based hammock. There is also a $50 MEX fee for entry.

Balanerios and Boats

Cenote Cocalitos is almost 200 feet deep and it offers a day full of action-packed adventure. There’s a boat ride option that’s super popular as a classic way to learn more about the many cenotes within the realms of Laguna Bacalar. We actually didn’t go for this and used our day on the lagoon as our chill day, doing nothing but acrobatics in and out of the water all day and spending minimal cash for the privilege, but the option is there for people who want to move more than I do!

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul in Bacalar is one of the deepest natural pools in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. With an impressive depth of almost 300 feet and a width of 650 feet, it appears more like a lake than a sinkhole. It’s an open cenote, meaning it’s completely uncovered by any limestone formations. It completed our set of cenotes from the underground, stalactite covered kind (Choo-ha), the semi underground collapsed ceiling kind (Ik Kil) we now ticked off the open water style.

The bright blue color is mesmerizing and many come to relax the day away here. The water is an excellent temperature, just perfect. A rope runs right through the middle for taking a rest in the water when swimming which was great for our seven year old. There is a wide variety of fish living beneath the shimmering surface, too and you can rent a snorkel or bring your own. It also has a fallen tree that you can climb onto and jump off into the calm waters which we all loved.

When traveling to Bacalar it is a must to check out Cenote Azul. To check out our other top picks for cenotes, have a read of the Coba underground cenotes and the sunken vibe covered delight at Ik Kil.

Where to stay in Bacalar

While it is the lagoon that draws people to Bacalar, we also enjoyed the authentic feel of the town, which was a welcome respite from the touristy Mayan Riviera. We managed to pick up loads of fresh fruit and milk at a road side stall for a cheap breakfast in our bungalow stay. For this section of our adventure, we stayed at El Mirador which can be found on Air bnb or for around £30-40 but is also slightly cheaper if you just rock up. There was nothing particularly special with the accommodation itself (it’s a bit rough around the edges and not quite finished), but certainly nothing wrong with it - powerful AC, friendly staff, shared kitchen, comfy beds, BUT it’s super power was its location. Walking distance (5 minutes) between cocolitos and cenote Azul absolutely made our trip to Bacalar. Would definitely recommend it. They also let me check out a few hours late so we could let the baby have her lunch nap in the beautiful air conditioning before moving onto our next destination.

Top rated for young kids

In summary, Laguna Bacalar and cenote Azul are family-friendly destinations and is a great choice for anyone with younger children in tow. The colors of the water are breathtaking, ranging from bright blues to greens and everything in between and has gone down as one of the kids’ favourite places in Mexico, they spent hours playing in the water.

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