Laguna de Bacalar (Lake of Seven Colors) – Bacalar, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Bacalar, Mexico

Laguna de Bacalar (Lake of Seven Colors)

Laguna de Bacalar is also known as the “Lake of Seven Colors” or “Lagoon of Seven Colors,” and for good reason.

The crystal clear waters and white sandy bottom of the lake cause the water color to morph into varying shades of turquoise, blue, and deep indigo throughout the day and in different depths. 

This 60-kilometer lagoon (which is often called a lake, but is actually a series of waterways eventually leading to the ocean) once offered passage for pirates and traders seeking their treasure in the form of precious Campeche wood. 

These days, the lagoon is more likely to see sunbathers and kayakers. It contains several sizable cenotes — excellent swimming holes — as well as stromatolites, the world’s oldest known fossils. Still, despite its location only four hours south of Cancun, tourists remain sparse. 

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Know Before You Go

Walk along the length of the lagoon to reach several public access points with great waterfront views. Here, you can negotiate with a boat captain for a ride to one of the cenotes or out to the "Pirate's Canal." Keep an eye out for wading birds like the stunning roseate spoonbill.

A few bucks will buy your admission to one of the "balnearios" (public clubs) for a swim or kayak paddle -- or a drink. Visit the "Fuerte de San Felipe" for an elevated view of the lagoon and a brief, pirate-centric history lesson.

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