First and foremost… the title of this blog was going to be Joe’s pun “Our First Stop in Mexico was Bacalar-vly”. But then I thought of a title more fitting to our fun-filled sunrise activity on Bacalar’s lake. “What fun-filled activity is this?” I hear you asking.
STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING!
Yes, after we had our FINAL EVER LAND BORDER CROSSING (!!!) of the trip, we arrived in beaut Bacalar, which we had travelled to for one thing and one thing only.
When we were thinking about places we wanted to visit in Mexico, Bacalar hadn’t been on the list. In fact, we hadn’t even HEARD of Bacalar. We were first told about Bacalar by some English guys in our hostel in Léon, Nicaragua, who described it as one of the most amazing places they had visited. Pretty big call!
So of course we had to Google it and when we saw photos of this incredibly clear blue lake with underwater cenotes, we knew we just had to go! Even better, this was the perfect chance to do our stand-up paddle wedding activity which we had originally planned to do in Honduras. Winner!
How To Get To Bacalar
We travelled to Bacalar from Caye Caulker in Belize but we met other people who were heading south through Mexico and had come to Bacalar from Tulum. We had already been told by several people that buses in Mexico were incredible and we would be reminded of the good ol’ days of comfy bus travel in South America (except Bolivia – locked toilets and a random person’s vomit on the bus stairs still haunt us), so we were very excited for some relaxing bus journeys.
After getting the boat back to the mainland from Caye Caulker, we taxi-ed across Belize City with our Aussie travel family Bonnie and Brittany and got a chicken bus to Chetumal…. or so we were told. What actually happened was we got dropped off at the Belize-Mexico border and told that we would have to take a different bus to Chetumal. Brill.
The actually border crossing was a little bit of an adventure. We got signed out of Belize, then realised we couldn’t actually see the Mexican border office. When a pushy taxi driver tried to charge us crazy money to take us there, we decided to walk… and started to regret it when after 15 minutes and getting lost twice, we still weren’t at the office. Luckily we stuck with the walk for 5 more minutes and eventually found it.
Getting to Bacalar was then super easy – we paid $1 to get the local bus to Chetumal (it would have been less but we didn’t have any Pesos yet) then went to the ADO bus station and got a lovely, air conditioned, non-chicken bus to Bacalar.
A good start to our Mexican adventure!
After a day of lazing in the sun and swimming off the pier at Yak Lake House hotel, we booked in to do a SUP tour the next day. The big question – sunrise or sunset SUP??
A sunset SUP tour takes you across the lake and through the mangroves for wonderful sunset views. A sunrise tour on the other hand, takes you along to the underwater Cenote Negro and then to the pirate ship for jumping off into water.
We’ve seen some amazing sunsets on our honeymoon adventure – at Volcan Telica in Nicaragua, Huacachina in Peru and Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica – so we decided to have a change and do a sunrise tour. We also chose this one because we were super excited to see a cenote, especially an underwater one!
We met downstairs in the hostel at 6am for a cuppa before heading out on the paddle boards, just as it was starting to get light. This is also a good time to mention that Joe had never been on a paddle board before, so was a bit apprehensive and convinced he was going to be the first one in the water. Luckily for Joe, he wasn’t actually the first one to fall in, although he was definitely in the water within the first 10 minutes. Spoiler alert – I never actually fell in… SMUG!
When we arrived at Cenote Negro (the black cenote) the sun was coming up over the horizon and the whole place looked amazing. We paddled towards the shore to get a better look at the black depths of the cenote (which looked pretty creepy, I had to keep reminding myself we were in a lake) then swam and sat on our boards to watch the sun rise.
Blue sky soon made an appearance and we could see the lake in all its lovely glory. We headed across the water towards a ‘pirate ship’ next to some deeper water, perfect for trying out a few triple backflips… or not.
By this point we were definitely in the swing of paddle boarding and Joe was managing to stay on his board. He was really chuffed. Look at him go!!
After about 3 hours of cruising the lake and marvelling at its amazing water, we paddled back to the hostel for breakfast. We’re definitely glad we did the sunrise tour – it was really cool to see Cenote Negro and getting to watch a sunrise is always pretty special. The whole tour was really relaxing and the guys leading the group were great. Luckily we had our GoPro with us but even if we hadn’t, the tour price included photos that the guys took on their GoPros and emailed out afterwards. A nice souvenir for people without cameras! The tour itself cost 550 pesos each (around £22) and we would definitely recommend going with Yak Lake House if you’re planning a visit to Bacalar.
And if Bacalar isn’t yet on your list? Well you better put it on there! The lake is beautiful and the town is small and chilled out, with a cute little square that livens up in the evening with marquesita (a kind of wafer with fillings) and taco stalls. A perfect place to start (or end) to a trip to Mexico!
Have you ever done stand-up paddle boarding? Where are your favourite places to visit in Mexico? We’d love to hear your tips! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more travel photos.