How to Get From Cancun to Bacalar+ Practical Tips on the Maldives of Mexico

Are you wondering how to get from Cancun to Bacalar, one of Mexico’s most magical places? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about getting to Bacalar by rental car, taxi, bus trip, airplane, or organized tour. For each option, I’ve included important details such as the relative costs, pros, and cons, how-to’s, and tips.

By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll be ready to travel to Bacalar from Cancun like a Pro! I will also add some useful information about Bacalar to help you plan your entire trip.

I live in Cancun and I have been to Bacalar multiple times including a few months ago it’s one of my favorite places in Mexico.

Before we jump into transportation options, let’s take a quick look at Bacalar’s location and its distance from Cancún.

Bacalar Cenote Esmeralda
Bacalar Cenote Esmeralda

Where is Bacalar Mexico?

Bacalar is a small town located in the Bacalar Municipality in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, not far from the Mexico-Belize border.

This hospitable community is 215 miles south of Cancun and 24 miles north of Chetumal and is a great place to explore!

The town of Bacalar sits on the shores of Lake Bacalar, a fresh-water lake also known as “Laguna Bacalar” or “La Laguna de los Siete Colores” (the Lake of Seven Colors) thanks to its striking array of blue, turquoise, and teal-colored water ringed by white sand. If you are a lover of nature and crystal-clear water, this may be your dream destination!

 The beauty of the area has earned Bacalar the well-deserved title “The Maldives of Mexico”. 

Bacalar is an amazing spot for relaxing and getting away from your usual routine, going kayaking or paddleboarding and watching spectacular sunrises. One of the best things to do is take a boat out on the lagoon and enjoy the gorgeous colors.

The town also boasts an interesting history since it has existed since the pre-Columbian era, when it was part of the Mayan civilization.

It was also the first city captured and held by the Spanish conquerors. The Spanish had to fight off marauding pirates and built a fortress there in the 17th Century to help ward them off (the Fort of San Felipe).

Laguna Bonanza Bacalar
Laguna Bonanza Bacalar

How far is Bacalar from Cancun?

Bacalar is 215 miles (348 kilometers) from Cancun.

The trip from Cancun to Bacalar takes about 4 hours and 21 minutes by car and 5 to 6 hours by bus.

How to get from Cancun to Bacalar: 5 options

If you’re wondering how to get to Bacalar from Cancun, check out these best five options: private transfer, rental car, bus, taxi, and tour. 

I’ll go over each option in detail so you can decide which method is best for you and your budget, needs, and preferences.

1. Cancun to Bacalar Private Transfer (Most comfortable)

The most comfortable and fastest way to get from Cancun to Bacalar is by private transfer. It is safer and more comfortable than going on public transportation and more straightforward than traveling by taxi.

My favorite private transfer company is Cancun Airport Transportation. This is a trusted and reliable company that can take you from the Cancun Airport or your Cancun hotel (usually in the hotel zone) directly to your hotel in Bacalar.

You can choose a one-way or round-trip service. There are also different options depending on whether you are traveling solo versus as a couple, small group, or large group.

Cancun Airport Transportation transfers included a private vehicle, a bilingual driver, bilingual staff to welcome you at the airport (if that’s where you’re traveling from), traveler insurance, and taxes and airport charges.

This company has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating and many happy customers. Travelers loved the reliability of the company, their excellent and reliable service, the clean and comfortable vehicles, and the bi-lingual driver.

Get your free quote here ⤵️

2. Rent A Car: Driving from Cancun to Bacalar

If you’re expecting to spend a few days or longer in Bacalar, and you plan to explore the area, or if you are planning to go on a road trip, renting a car is the best option and the one I personally recommend, regardless.  

Not only will it make the journey to Bacalar more interesting, but it will also give you the freedom to get around easily once you’re there.

The nicest parts of the lagoon are south of the town itself, so having a rental will put the whole lake at your fingertips. Plus, you can visit incredible archeological sites near Bacalar, and check out some of the beach beaches in Bacalar.

You can also get an early morning start if you have your own transportation.

Me in Bacalar
Bacalar back road

Car rental tips:

Of course, you may be nervous about renting a car in Mexico, especially if you don’t speak the local language. There are definitely some scams to be aware of! However, by the time you’re finished reading this section, you should be able to rent a car without a hitch.

All you need to rent a car in Mexico is your passport, a valid driver’s license in the Roman alphabet, and a valid credit card with a large enough credit limit to cover the security deposit and you need to be over 25 yrs old, if not you may be able to rent a car with some rental company but with a surcharge.

Car rentals are available in downtown Cancun and at the Cancun International Airport. The best time to book your rental is in advance. That way, you’ll get the best deals.

It’s also worth checking with your hotel in Bacalar to see if parking is available. That will make things easier once you arrive.

The road that goes from Cancun down to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Bacalar is in pretty good shape. It is straight and has good signage, so it is easy to follow.

Read on for more car rental tips.

Xul-ha Bacalar
Xu-la Bacalar
➡️ How do I find cheap car rentals

I have rented cars multiple times in Mexico, and my go-to company for finding a rental is Discover Cars. Discover Cars is search results and transportation booking engine that helps customers avoid common car rental pitfalls. It is the easiest way to find the best car rentals!

Hidden prices are a big issue when it comes to renting a car in Mexico. If you do a search for a Cancun car rental, you may see extremely low prices. These aren’t real! They are the base price for the rental minus the mandatory liability insurance, taxes, and fees.

Discover Cars helps bring all those hidden fees to the forefront during the booking process so you know exactly how much you’ll pay, what you’re getting, and how much you’ll need to put down for the security deposit.

Another advantage to using Discover Cars is that it is easy to see the best price across multiple car rental companies.

You can also add search criteria such as your country of residence, your age, what car you want, what amenities you need such as a car seat (usually available for an additional charge), etc.

You can also see the rating of the different car companies.

➡️ Do I need Mexico Car Insurance?

When it comes to renting a car in Mexico, car insurance is one of the most confusing issues you’ll encounter. Here’s what you need to know

First, liability insurance is required by law in Mexico. This insurance covers damages to third parties (i.e. other people and their cars who are involved in an accident with you).

If you don’t see liability insurance in the price of your rental, contact the company and ask how much it will cost. You will have to pay for it no matter what, so it’s better to know that information upfront.

Second, it is up to the Mexican car rental companies whether or not they accept credit card insurance. They may arbitrarily accept or reject a credit card collision damage waiver.

Even if they accept your credit card waiver, you will still need Mexican Liability insurance.

Third, the amount of insurance coverage you pay for (and who is providing that insurance) can impact the amount of the security deposit you have to put down.

For example, if you buy liability insurance, theft protection, and other kinds of insurance from the car rental company, they may offer you a smaller security deposit amount.

If you don’t opt for this additional insurance from them, the deposit may be larger. Either option is fine, just so long as you have enough credit to cover the security deposit amount.

What’s my favorite solution? I always get Discover Cars Full Liability Insurance with zero deductible.

It is extremely affordable and eliminates a lot of confusion. For me, peace of mind is totally worth the extra expense.

Bacalar Drone View
Bacalar Drone View
➡️ Credit Card Insurance through a U.S. Card

You may have a US credit card that includes a car rental Collision Damage Waiver for their cardholders.

If that’s the case, you should know that Mexican car rental companies can choose to accept or reject these waivers at their discretion.

Contact the company ahead of time to ask about it. Even if the waiver is accepted, you will still need to get Mexican liability insurance.

I like to avoid confusion by getting Full Coverage Insurance, which also reduces the security deposit amount, most of the time.

➡️ Is it safe to drive from Cancun to Bacalar?

Yes! It is safe to drive from Cancun to Bacalar. You must take highway 307 all the way to Bacalar. This road is quite straight, fairly well-maintained, and has good signage. It basically cuts straight down through the Riviera Maya passing Playa del Carmen and Tulum before reaching Bacalar.

If you choose to rent a car to get from Cancun to Bacalar, I highly recommend you check out the following driving tips so you can stay safe and have a good trip.

Bacalar Drone Kayaking in Los Rapidos
✔️ Police Checkpoints

The police in Mexico have a bad reputation for asking for bribes. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth to this. 

Of course, not all police are corrupt. Some may only want to check your papers and registrations. Others may pull you over for a traffic infraction.

If you truly committed an infraction, you should accept responsibility and accept the ticket. Note: some policemen don’t issue tickets to tourists, instead, they’ll ask you to follow them to the nearest police station to pay there.

However, if you believe you did nothing wrong, the police may be out for a bribe. Please do not give in to this! Paying bribes only encourages corruption and propagates the problem.

Sometimes I have had policemen ask me for a bribe. I tell them that they should either let me go, or give me a ticket. Often, they will simply let me go after making me wait a while.

✔️ Topes: Speed bumps

The speedbumps in Mexico are worth mentioning because they are huge! Many speed bumps are very tall and can scrape the bottom of your vehicle. 

Go over them slowly. If you still scrape, drive over them at an angle instead. And as a worst case, you can have all your passengers get out until you are over, though that shouldn’t be necessary unless your rental car has extremely low clearance.

Besides speed bumps, you should also watch out for potholes (which can be very deep).

Bacalar San Felipe Fort
San Felipe Fort Bacalar
✔️ Drive Defensively

In general, there is a lot more going on in and around the roadways in Mexico than in places like the United States. It’s likely you’ll encounter pedestrians, animals, erratic drivers, and other different traffic conditions.

Be extra cautious and aware of what is going on around you. Don’t expect other drivers to follow traffic rules or respect your right of way.

Feel free to honk your horn to communicate with other drivers. You can toot to let them know you are there, warn them not to merge into your lane, honk to scare off dogs, etc.

✔️ Gas stations

Once you head out of urban areas, gas stations will be less frequent, so be sure to fill up when you need to.

Also, there is no self-serve gas in Mexico. Instead, an attendant will pump the gas for you and accept payment.

If you pay in cash, notice exactly which bills you are handing over. Some attendants will switch a large bill for a smaller one and then tell you that you haven’t paid enough. Avoid this by knowing what you hand over in the first place.

✔️ Avoid Driving At Night

Most roadway accidents in Mexico happen after dark. There are more drunk drivers on the roads at these hours, and many vehicles may drive around with no headlights or tail-lights, making them extremely hard to see.

3. Cancun to Bacalar by Bus

Another popular option for getting from Cancun to Bacalar is going by bus. This is the cheapest way to get to Bacalar.

If going on public transportation suits you best, I recommend taking an ADO bus. ADO buses offer safe, reliable, and cheap transportation service to multiple destinations all across the Riviera Maya and the Yucatán Peninsula.

They are usually very clean and have air conditioning. In fact, some have so much air conditioning that they might be chilly! Supposedly, some Ado buses also have wifi, but it may not always work.

Of course, traveling to Bacalar from Cancun by bus will take longer than going by car or private transfer because of the stops. Expect the trip to take 5-6 hours instead of 4.5.

If you are going to Bacalar directly after flying in, you’ll need to take an ADO bus from the Cancun Airport to Downtown Cancun, then take another ADO from Cancun downtown to Bacalar.

Where is the ADO Bus service at the Cancun Airport?

Cancun International Airport has four terminals. You can find ADO bus stations at Terminal 2, 3 and 4. You can choose your departure terminal when you’re booking. 

Where is the ADO terminal in Downtown Cancun?

Ado Bus from Playa del Carmen to airport
Photo © Danny Foster from Flickr

The ADO bus station in downtown Cancun is located on Uxmal Avenue. This is quite easy to get to if you are staying in or near downtown.

You can reserve the cheapest bus tickets in advance through the ADO bus website or by paying for the ticket prices at an ADO station.

Note: It’s also possible to go from Cancun Airport directly to Chetumal, then find another bus company to Bacalar (or a taxi), but I think the option I mentioned above is simpler, plus, the total travel time will be less. It is easy to find the bus schedules by looking at the ADO website.

4. Taxi from Cancun to Bacalar (not recommended)

Although you can get from Cancun to Bacalar by taxi, this is the most expensive option. Personally, I think getting a private Cancun shuttle (option 1) is the way to go. Taxis can be unreliable and expensive.

However, if you do want to go by taxi, you can do so! It’s certainly easy enough to find a taxi to take you from the Cancun International Airport to Bacalar.

You can book a taxi from one of the allocated taxi desks inside the airport. That way you can come to an agreed-upon price. Most importantly, you’ll know the taxi is registered.

You won’t have to wait for a bus this way, and if you haven’t reserved a private transfer in advance, a taxi may be a good idea.

Bacalar Cenote Azul Aeriel View
Cenote Azul Aerial view

How much is a taxi from Cancun to Bacalar?

A one-way taxi ride from Cancun to Bacalar could cost about 278 USD (upwards of 5,000 MXP).

Set the Price Before You Get In

Whether you book a cab from one of the desks inside the Cancun airport or hail a cab from the curb, you should definitely set the price BEFORE you get inside the vehicle. That way you’ll avoid nasty surprises at the end of the trip.

Is there a Uber in Cancun

Since we’re talking about taxis, you may be wondering if Uber operates in Cancun. Although Uber is available in some parts of Mexico, Cancun and the whole state of Quintana Roo are not among them. 

Why is there no Uber in Cancun? Technically there is Uber in Cancun (although not from the Airport), but Uber drivers are afraid of Taxi drivers who frowned upon this infringement on their business and took measures to prevent Uber from operating. The situation became unsafe for Uber drivers and passengers. Thus, no Uber.

5. Cancun to Bacalar Tours

Personally, I think it is worth going to Bacalar for a few days. The area is one of the most beautiful places in Mexico and there are plenty of activities to enjoy. However, if your time is limited, you can join an organized tour instead. 

By going on an organized tour, you’ll have your transportation covered and get to see the most sites in the quickest amount of time.

Here are three of the best top-rated tours from Cancun to Bacalar.

👉 Amazing Magic Tour Bacalar

Relax during the 4+ hour drive from Cancun to Bacalar. Eat breakfast in a traditional market, swim in the fabulous waters of Cenote Azul, check out the stratified structures at Cocalitos, and experience the beauty of Bacalar Lagoon (the Lagoon of 7 Colors) by traversing the Pirates’ Channel.

This 12-hour tour includes a small boat trip, buffet lunch, exfoliating sulfur bath, and time to enjoy hammocks and swings in the lagoon. You’ll be picked up and dropped off at your hotel for stress-free transportation.

Bacalar Cocalito Balneario

👉 Colorful BACALAR. Incredible Pontoon Tour

This 13 to 15-hour tour from Cancun to Bacalar hits all the best stops in this perfect place.

This tour includes time to swim in Cenote Azul, a magical pontoon trip through the Pirates’ Channel, and time to explore Cocalitos Cenote (where you can see stromatolites). You’ll also get to explore the town of Bacalar itself and take lots of great pictures.

This tour includes breakfast, lunch, a pontoon ride, and admission to both beautiful cenotes.

👉 Magical BACALAR TOUR with Pontoon Boat ride

Another wonderful excursion option for visiting the most interesting places in Bacalar in one day is this Magical Bacalar Tour. This day trip lasts 13 to 16 hours and includes hotel pickup and drop-off, and roundtrip transportation from Cancun to Bacalar.

Once in the magic town of Bacalar you can enjoy swimming in Cenote Azul, and admire the beauties of the lagoon from the land and from a pontoon boat. You’ll also visit an island of birds, Cocalitos Cenote, and explore the Pirate Channel. Along the way, you’ll learn lots of intriguing history and fascinating facts about the region.

This tour includes breakfast, lunch, roundtrip transport, entrance fees, and a pontoon ride.

Bacalar Balneario Sac Ha
Balneario Sac Ha

6. Travel from Cancun to Bacalar by plane

You may be wondering if you can fly to Bacalar by plane. The answer is: almost! You can’t fly directly to Bacalar (there are no direct flights), but you can fly to Chetumal International Airport (Bacalar´s nearest airport). Once in Chetumal, you can take a taxi to Bacalar.

Chetumal is only 24 miles or so from Bacalar, so this is definitely an option. However, if you are already in the Riviera Maya, I think one of the other travel alternatives I mentioned would be easier. But of course, go with what works best for you.

Flying from Cancun to Bacalar and then taking a taxi takes about 2 hours (plus extra for airport wait times).

Short Bacalar Travel Guide

How to Move Around in Bacalar

The town of Bacalar is quite walkable. However, if you don´t have your own car, it is difficult to reach the main attractions, such as lagoon access (balnearios). The only way is by taxi and it can get quite expensive. However, if you are going to rent a car I would suggest you should do it either from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum.

Top things to do in Bacalar

There are many things to do in Bacalar and you can check them all out in the detailed guide that I published on my other blog. Here I am going to share the top things that you must do when visiting Bacalar.

➡️ Join a boat tour on the lagoon, better if it’s a sailing boat, more ecological, and with fewer people. BOOK IT HERE

➡️ Take a swim in the Cenote Azul in Bacalar

➡️ Visit the Balneario Los Rapidos

➡️ Take a tour of Forte de San Felipe

➡️ Spend a day in Cocalitos Balneario

➡️ Eat delicious Cevice

➡️ Visit the nearby Balneario Sac Ha

➡️ Go Paddleboarding at sunrise

Best hotels in Bacalar

In my first blog Boundless Roads I wrote a full article on my favorite hotels in Bacalar. Here for this occasion, I will just mention my top favorite 3 for different budget

Best Budget Hotel in Bacalar

The Yak Lake House (make sure you book it in advance because it’s hard to find space) – Book it here

Best Average Hotel in Bacalar

Hotel Sun Ha Bacalar – I stayed here and it was fantastic, great value for the money – Book it here

Tropic Bacalar – I also stayed here for a couple of nights and it was fantastic! The Sea front rooms are the best. Book it here

Best Luxury Hotel in Bacalar

Hotel Casa Bakal – spectacular luxury property for those willing to spend a few extra bucks – Book it here

Bacalar canal Drone view
Bacalar Canal Drone

Final thoughts: How to Get from Cancun to Bacalar

As you can see, there are many great options when it comes to getting from Cancun to Bacalar so you can enjoy many outdoor activities.

You can book private transportation for yourself or your group, rent a car, travel by ADO bus, take a taxi, or go on a Laguna de Bacalar Tour from Cancun.

Which of these different types of transportation options fit your travel style and budget the best?

Looking for more fun things to do in Cancun? Check out these Mayan Ruins tours from Cancun. Incredible adventures await!

About the Author

Hey there! This is Isabella, the owner, and writer of this site. I have been living in Cancun for the past 12 years and although I have been roaming around Mexico, Cancun’s spectacular turquoise waters and pristine beach draw me back to this popular Mexican beach destination. That is why I decided to start this blog, to show you all the beauty you can find in Cancun and share helpful travel tips to help you plan a fabulous vacation in Cancun!

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