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Why This Mexican Destination Is Exploding In Popularity Right Now

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Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, receiving more than 38 million tourists in 2022. And the country is on track to receive as many as 40 million tourists in 2023.

It's also the most popular international destination for American travelers who continue to flock south for Mexico's amazing beaches, culture, activities, and food.

Quintana Roo is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico. Located on Mexico's Riviera Maya, this state is home to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and more.

Bacalar Mexico

According to reports, Mexico's Secretary of State Tourism, Bernardo Cueto Riestra, stated that Quintana Roo will welcome at least 1.8 million visitors during the summer vacation period of 2023.

This represents a 4.4% increase from 2022, but one destination in particular is leading the pack: Bacalar, which is experiencing an explosive 20% increase in tourists compared to last year.

Here's why Bacalar is trending with travelers right now:

Woman on Dock in Bacalar

Stunning Natural Beauty

Bacalar is not your typical beach destination. In fact, it's not on the coast at all, unlike popular Quintana Roo destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

Instead, Bacalar is actually a long, narrow lake. It's about an hour from the nearest beach.

But the lake (also referred to as a lagoon) is absolutely beautiful. It's known as the Lake of Seven Colors due to the varying shades of bright blue, turquoise, and green in the water.

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Lake Bacalar

Boat excursions are popular in Bacalar, and you'll hardly believe you're in a real place when you dive off the boat in the lagoon's crystal-clear water. Sunsets in Bacalar are also spectacular.

More Affordable Than Other Destinations

For travelers on a budget, Bacalar is considerably less expensive than other popular destinations in Quintana Roo such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

In Bacalar, you won't find sprawling all-inclusive resorts or super-expensive restaurants and clubs with the same prices you might find in New York City.

Handsome male tourist relaxing in a hammock in Laguna Bacalar in Mexico during kayak trip. copy

Instead, Bacalar is full of budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels. You'll also find luxurious boutique hotels (still more affordable than ones in more touristy destinations) but a trip to Bacalar can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be.

You can also save money by eating the same foods as the locals do. Even activities in Bacalar (like boat tours and kayak rentals) are much cheaper than you might find elsewhere in Quintana Roo.

Lake Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Less Touristy (But For How Long?)

Being off the tourist track in Quintana Roo, Bacalar is also still less touristy than more popular destinations in the region.

It's about 2.5 hours south of Tulum, close to the border with Belize.

Many people have designated Bacalar as the “next Tulum” and compared it to how Tulum used to be 15 years ago. The question is, with Bacalar's recent explosion in popularity, how long will it remain that way?

Couple on dock in bacalar

Needless to say, it's best to travel to Bacalar right now, because it could be unrecognizable in a few years if more tourist development comes to this quiet town.

Tons Of Activities

Bacalar is a great destination for active travelers as much as it is for travelers who just want to relax and enjoy the lagoon.

There are so many things to do in Bacalar.

Woman Doing Paddle Boarding In Lake Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Aside from boat trips, you can also get on the water by renting kayaks or Jet-Skis. Other adventure activities include ziplining over the jungle and swimming in local cenotes.

There are also several less-touristed Mayan ruins near Bacalar (such as Kohunlich, which is about an hour away) or you can visit the ruins of the old Spanish fort in the center of town.

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