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Want to get from Playa Del Carmen to Bacalar, and trying to figure out how to organize your trip?
I’m here to help you!
Playa Del Carmen and Bacalar are two popular destinations in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Many travelers who visit Playa Del Carmen take a trip to Bacalar, a small town famous for its incredible lagoon and eco-tourism.
What is so special about Bacalar?
Bacalar is a pueblo magico (or magical town) famous for its Lagoon of 7 Colors, a gorgeous freshwater lagoon that boasts different shades of blue, from dark ink to clear turquoise, and offers plenty of opportunities for water sports like kayaking, sailing, and swimming.
✅ Read my complete guide to the best things to do in Bacalar.
How far is Playa del Carmen from Bacalar?
Playa Del Carmen is 279 km (173 miles) from Bacalar. The journey takes an average of 3 hours and 25 minutes in normal traffic.
Taking ADO bus to Bacalar
Taking a bus to Bacalar is the cheapest option, but it also requires some extra time, since the bus makes numerous stops. ADO is the largest bus company in the Yucatan Peninsula that serves major destinations like Valladolid, Merida, Campeche, and Bacalar.
ADO buses to Bacalar leave Playa Del Carmen every 1-2 hours, so you will have multiple options.
Where to buy ADO bus tickets in Playa Del Carmen?
You can buy ADO bus tickets at the main ADO bus terminal on Quinta Avenida in Playa Del Carmen or online. The best way to get your bus tickets online is by downloading the ADO app.
When you pay for your tickets via ADO app, you will receive an email confirmation with the link directing you to the QR code that you need to show to a bus driver before getting on a bus.
How much is the bus ticket to Bacalar from Playa Del Carmen?
A one-way ticket to Bacalar costs between 380 to 500 Pesos depending on the time and day of your trip. ADO has ticket discounts for certain times, so if you travel late at night, you could pay less than if you travel in the afternoon.
How long is the bus to Bacalar from Playa Del Carmen?
The bus drive from Playa Del Carmen to Bacalar is about 3,5 hours.
Tips for taking the ADO bus to Bacalar
- Bring your headphones – ADO buses have TV’s that sometimes play movies too loud. Bring your headphones or earplugs if you want to nap during a trip.
- Wear layers – AC can sometimes be on during the whole trip. Bring layers, so you don’t feel cold.
- Keep your luggage tag secure – When you get on the bus, you will give your luggage to an attendant who will put your suitcase in the luggage compartment of the bus and will give you a small paper slip in exchange. You will have to give it back when you get off the bus and ask for your luggage.
- Always carry cash – If a ticket office is closed, you can buy ADO tickets on a bus. Bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.
Are ADO buses in Mexico safe?
Yes! ADO buses are safe and are used by many locals and tourists. ADO buses in Mexico are comfortable and clean, and are perfect for saving cash, if you don’t want to rent a car.
✅ Read: a complete guide to Los Rapidos Bacalar
Playa Del Carmen to Bacalar by car rental
I recommend and use DiscoverCars, one of the most popular platforms for renting cars online, where you can find dozens of vehicles at competitive rates.
➡️ Read my complete guide to the best boat tours in Bacalar
Why rent a car with DiscoverCars
Type in your travel dates, specify the type of vehicle that you are looking for, and the platform will do all the work for you showing you all the available options.
One of the best things about booking your vehicle with DiscoverCars is that you can also buy your Mexican car insurance with them which is required to drive a car in the country.
How much does it cost to rent a car in Playa Del Carmen?
You will pay between $30-40 USD per day to rent a car in Playa Del Carmen depending on the make and model of vehicle.
Is it safe to drive from Playa Del Carmen to Bacalar?
The drive takes you along the Carretera Federal, the main road in Mexico’s Rivera Maya. While traveling on it is perfectly safe, you need some getting used to driving in Mexico.
My advice is to get a good insurance through DiscoverCars, because it’s a busy road with a lot of traffic.
Taxi from Playa Del Carmen to Bacalar
The most expensive way to get to Bacalar is by taking a taxi, which could cost anywhere from $200 to 300 USD. This is far more expensive than a daily rate for a car rental, so at this point, you are better off just renting a car for your trip to Bacalar.
Guided of Bacalar
If you don’t feel like planning all the logistics, to take a guided tour of Bacalar. Tours depart early morning and come back to Playa Del Carmen late in the evening, so you will spend all day on the road.
What are the tours of Bacalar like?
Most tours of Bacalar include a boat ride along the gorgeous Bacalar lagoon and a walking excursion where you can enjoy some of the top highlights of Bacalar like the Fuerte San Felipe.
During the tour, you will also have a lunch break and free time to explore the area. I have been to Bacalar many times but look forward to coming back here every time because there are simply no other place in Mexico like Bacalar!
➡️ Check: Best things to do in Sisal, a hidden gem of Yucatan
How much is a tour of Bacalar from Playa del Carmen?
Most tours of Bacalar from Playa Del Carmen cost about $120 per person, which is a pretty good deal considering that they provide round-trip transportation, and activities for the entire day.
When taking a tour of Bacalar, don’t forget to bring cash to tip your guide and buy some souvenirs along the way. Different tours also have different activities, so make sure you understand what you have to pay for, before booking a tour.
✅ Read my complete guide to tipping in Mexico to know how much you should leave for your guide.
Best tours of the Bacalar lagoon
If you are visiting Bacalar on your own, you will need to find a good tour of the Bacalar lagoon. Luckily, you don’t have to do a lot of work, because I sourced some of the best Bacalar boat tours that you can book online.
Most bacalar Boat tours incude stops at Isla Pajaros and Canal de Los Piratas as well as several Bacalar cenotes.
Private tours of the Bacalar lagoon
The price depends on what kind of tour you take and how many people are in your group. Taking a private boat tour of the Bacalar Lagoon is the best option! They allow you to explore the lagoon at your own pace and offer a more personalized experience.
✅ Check my complete guide to the best boat tours of the Bacalar lagoon.
Best stops between Playa Del Carmen and Bacalar
- Akumal – Akumal is a coastal resort located just north of Tulum famous for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters that attract plenty of wildlife.
Akumal is known for the cute turtles that like the calm waters of Akumal Bay, and you can enjoy a snorkeling session if you want to see these amazing creatures.
If you take a snorkeling tour in Akumal to see these majestic creatures, keep your distance (at least 10 feet) and do not bother or touch them. This has become somewhat of a problem, as many turtles have left this area because of the increased tourism activity in the waters of Akumal Bay.
Book a tour with a licensed tour guide who can give you proper guidelines for snorkeling, and don’t forget to use reef-safe sunscreen, which will not damage the marine ecosystem.
- Tulum – One of the most popular destinations in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Tulum is a beach town known for its crystalline cenotes, Mayan ruins overlooking the Caribbean, and some of the most beautiful hotels in Mexico.
Tulum is also a perfect base for your adventures in the region, as it’s within driving distance from Coba ruins, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and Chichen Itza, a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
- Laguna Ka’an Luum – Located about 15 minutes from Tulum along Highway 307, Laguna Kaan Luum is one of the best stops along your journey to Bacalar. The most notable feature of the lagoon is the dark blue cenote in the middle which creates a stark contrast with the lighter outer areas of the lagoon.
- Mahahual – a hidden paradise in the Costa Maya region located at the doorstep of the Great Meso-American Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world that spans the coastlines of Mexico and Belize. Most travelers come to Mahahual for diving, but the town is perfect for escaping crowded destinations in Mexico Caribbean if you want a relaxed getaway.
Where to stay in Bacalar
- Budget: Hotel Casa Ariana is a simple, but cute property within walking distance from Bacalar Lagoon with spacious rooms and free Wi-Fi. If you want to visit Bacalar on a budget, look no further than this place!
- Mid-budget: La Galuna Bacalar is one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Bacalar with a minimalistic design and a big swimming pool tucked in a quiet corner away from all the noise.
- Luxury: Mia Bacalar Luxury Resort and Spa is one of the most well-known luxury hotels in Bacalar with a restaurant, pool, spa, and awesome amenities, so you don’t have to leave your hotel.
✅ Read my complete guide to some of the best hotels in Bacalar.
How do you get from Playa del Carmen to Bacalar?
You can get to Bacalar by ADO bus, car rental, or guided tour from Playa Del Carmen.
Is Bacalar worth visiting?
Bacalar is one of the most beautiful destinations in Mexico that’s worth a visit. It’s home to the incredible Bacalar lagoon which boasts crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming, kayaking, and sailing.
Where is Bacalar located?
Bacalar is located on the southern end of the Yucatan Peninsula not far from the border with Belize.
Is there an Uber in Bacalar?
There’s no Uber in Bacalar, but if you need to get around, you can take a taxi. If you want to take a taxi in Bacalar, have some cash on you, because credit cards are not accepted.
Does Bacalar have a beach?
No, Bacalar doesn’t have a beach, but it has wooden piers (balnearios) from where you can jump in the crystal clear waters of the Bacalar lagoon.
How many days do I need in Bacalar?
I recommend no less than 3 days in Bacalar. Ideally, plan to stay about 5 days in Bacalar to get the most out of your experience. The town might be small, but time will fly once you get here! The Bacalar lagoon has many activities like sailing, kayaking and swimming and you can even go diving in one of Bacalar cenotes.
Taking a trip to Bacalar from Playa Del Carmen: final word
Bacalar is one of the best day trips from Playa Del Carmen that offers some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Mexico. Whether you visit Bacalar by car, ADO bus, or guided tour, you will fall in love with this wonderful pueblo.