Located in the heart of town, Casita Carolina (Av. Costera btwn Calles 16 and 18, tel. 983/834-2334, www.casitacarolina.com, US$37.50–42 s/d, US$25–42 s/d with shared kitchen, US$50 s/d cabaña with kitchenette) is one of the area’s most charming and convenient accommodations. Three of the six units occupy a converted family home and share a common living room and fully equipped kitchen. The other units—a cabaña apartment, a cozy casita, and a palapa bungalow—face a large grassy garden that runs to the lakeshore. The rooms vary in size and decor, but all have a private bathroom, a fan, and a homey feel. Friendly American host and owner Carolyn Niemeyer Weiss lives on-site; she also hosts a weeklong artist’s retreat in February.
Hotelito Paraíso (Av. Costera at Calle 14, tel. 983/834-2787, www.hotelitoelparaiso.com, US$50 s/d with a/c) has 14 stark, modern rooms, with minifridge, cable TV, Wi-Fi, and air-con. All open onto a large grassy area that runs right to the lakeshore; there’s a palapa shade, plenty of chairs, and even a grill. Kayaks also are available for rent for US$4.50 per hour.
Outside of Town
Located on almost 150 acres of mostly undeveloped land, Hotel Villas Ecotucán (Hwy. 307 Km. 27.3, tel. 983/834-2516, www.villasecotucan.info, US$55 s/d/t/q) has plenty of activities for everyone—jungle walks, swimming, and kayaking, as well as excellent bird-watching and lake tours. Accommodations are in five palapa-roofed cabañas and two suites. Each is spacious and simple, with a private veranda to enjoy the view of the lake and surrounding vegetation. Rates at this family-orientated place include two adults and two kids, plus a full breakfast for all.
Rancho Encantado (Hwy. 307 Km. 24, tel. 983/839-7900, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/229-2046, www.encantado.com, US$110–130 s/d) has 12 spacious casitas featuring Mexican tile floors, good beds, and porches that overlook either the lush garden or the lagoon. The prettiest spot here, however, is a pier that leads to a shady dock strung with hammocks—it’s perfect for swimming and relaxing. Guests can receive massages and body treatments in a small kiosk built over the lake; a hot tub is nearby. The only downer here is the persistent hum of traffic from nearby Highway 307—most get used to it. Rates include full breakfast.
Built on a bluff, Hotel Laguna Bacalar (Blvd. Costero 479, tel. 983/834-2206, www.hotellagunabacalar.com, US$60–65 s/d, US$76–82 s/d with a/c) has clean and spacious rooms, most with a balcony and dramatic views of the lagoon. The decor, once seriously kitschy, has been toned down to just a bit of shell art. Stairs zigzag down to the water, where a pier, ladder, and a diving board make swimming fun and easy. There’s also a small pool near the rooms. The hotel restaurant (7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, US$5–15) serves basic, reliable meals—guests can access the wireless Internet there for free. From the highway, look for the large sign and huge white and aqua structure just south of town.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition