Ecotourism in Bacalar
By Monserrat Gutierrez |
Plan an ecotouristic trip to Bacalar and visit the Seven Color Lagoon, swim in the Cenote Azul and buy logwood handcrafts.
TRAVEL TO QUINTANA ROO’S BEACHES
In the radiant state of Quintana Roo, four hours from Cancun’s tourism bustle and only half an hour from Chetumal, is the town of Bacalar, a place that has for you many alternative activities that leave conventional tourism aside. Here you can enjoy ecotourism while visiting the Seven Color lagoon, the stromatolite zone, San Felipe Fort and the city downtown. Dare to plan a sustainable vacation in this paradise located in the Yucatan peninsula.
Bacalar, from the Mayan Sian Ka’an Bakhalal, means the birth of the sky in the place surrounded by reeds. Due to its great historical, natural, cultural and tourist value, in 2011 it was declared a protected natural area. As a consequence, the activities carried out there shouldn’t alter the ecosystem’s equilibrium so, the use of resources are guarded to be carried out in a sustainable manner, preserving flora and fauna. Likewise, it looks to promote research within the ecosystem to generate knowledge about its biological importance and promote the development of technologies that allow the sustainable use of resources. Therefore, your vacations in Bacalar, beyond inviting you to enjoy a sunny beach destination, will be a great opportunity to learn about conservation and protection of the natural world.
THE SEVEN COLOR LAGOON
Bacalar’s main attraction in the Seven Color Lagoon, because inside it you can see seven different shades of blue. Few experiences in your life can be compared with the pleasure of swimming in its multitonal waters. The activities in the lagoon consist on ecological tours, boat or kayak excursions, sport fishing and swimming, among others. We recommend you do all these activities under a local guide supervision. Above all, if you want to dive, be sure to deal with certified experts, as they have the task of preserving, caring and setting limits within the same tourist areas with the intention of avoiding pollution and wear of spaces. DINKtravelers are very responsible with the environment, but it is worth remembering that you should only use biodegradable sunscreen, avoid any type of littering or carrying out activities that may damage the lagoon or its surroundings, and leave the flora and fauna intact (including sea shells, which aren’t souvenirs).
WHAT ARE STROMATOLITES?
Bacalar is inhabited by one of the first signs of life in the planet. This wonderful forms of life, that are estimated to be over 350 million years old, can be found along seven kilometers in the area known as Los Rápidos, in Bacalar’s lagoon, within the public spa named “Cocalitos”. Because this place is very crowded, some tourist activities have permanently damaged these ancestral stromatolites, so now there are established conservation regulations that you must respect. It’s very exciting to watch the nature that gave life to our environment, especially because there are few places in the world where you can still find species this ancient. Mexico has two areas where you can visit them, but we must make sure that they will be preserved, so we suggest refusing any activities that could damage the ecosystem or the stromatolites, such as riding motorboats or renting jet skis. Help us to preserve Bacalar as beautiful as ever.
SAN FELIPE FORT
Same as certain zones in the Yucatan peninsula, Bacalar was constantly attacked by pirate boats during the colonial times in Mexico. Finished in 1733, San Felipe fort served to protect the town of Bacalar from English, Dutch and French pirates who, like the Spanish conquerors, wanted to find the best route to take possession of the territory treasures. Inside the fort, which since 1983 serves as a museum, there are Mayan pieces, weapons ammunition dating to the colonial era, and other archaeological goods exhibited. Located in Bacalar’s downtown, it’s an excellent option for you to know this destination’s history.
- Schedules and prices: From Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 19:00hrs.
- General admission $20 MXN Foreigners $50 USD
ECO FRIENDLY LODGING
In Bacalar there are many lodging options near the lagoon or the Blue Cenote; however, some of them don’t necessarily have options to reduce the impact to the environment. In your search for hotels, choose those that don’t offer air conditioning, but natural ventilation or ceiling fans, which help reduce the use of electricity. Also, book rooms at hotels that recycle and reuse materials, have wastewater treatment and/or have renewable energy facilities. We know that some of these options may be more expensive, but they are a luxury that is worth paying for, because any investment in protecting the environment is a safe bet to be able to continue traveling to these magical destinations.
SUPPORT LOCAL COMMERCE
Logwood has been one of the main materials used to create handcrafts at Bacalar. It’s used to make carved figures, dyed huipiles or hammocks that you can take home as a souvenir. Other popular crafts include works made with palm, a material with which baskets, hats, bags and huaraches are produced.
FESTIVALS IN BACALAR
At Bacalar, local festivals are defined by the liturgical calendar, that is, the one that Catholicism follows. During the celebration of the Virgin of the Candelaria, the Carnival, the Virgin of Guadalupe and the famous Dia de Muertos, you will find a cheerful Bacalar, full of life and color. Therefore, one more reason to visit this town is to join cultural activities that reflect traditions and customs. Soak yourself in Bacalar’s cultural diversity and build bridges between travelers such as yourself and the community.