Almost 50 kilometers (31 miles) long, Laguna Bacalar is the second-largest lake in Mexico and certainly among the most beautiful. Well, it’s not technically a lake: A series of waterways do eventually lead to the ocean, making Bacalar a lagoon, but it is fed by natural springs, making the water on the western shore, where the hotels and town are, 100 percent agua dulce (fresh water).
The Maya name for the lagoon translates as Lake of Seven Colors. It is an apt description, as you will see on any sunny day. The lagoon’s sandy bottom and crystalline water turn shallow areas a brilliant turquoise, which fades to deep blue in the center. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was the Caribbean.
The hub of the Laguna Bacalar region is the town of Bacalar. Located on the west side of the lake, it won’t win any prizes for charm, but it does have a terrific museum, one of the best hotels around, a handful of decent restaurants, and, of course, gorgeous views of the lagoon.
You can easily walk to all the sites of interest in Bacalar, with the exception of Cenote Azul . A taxi there from town costs around US$2; cabs typically wait for passengers around the central plaza and on Avenida 7 in front of Iglesia San Joaquín.
Bacalar’s modest bus terminal (Hwy. 30 near Calle 30) is on the highway, about a 20-minute walk from the central plaza. The buses are almost exclusively de paso (midroute) service, which means there’s often limited availability (i.e., as soon as you know your schedule, buy your ticket).
Combis and taxi colectivos (US$1.25–1.75, every 30 minutes) run between Bacalar and Chetumal  daily. You can catch either in front of Iglesia San Joaquín (Calle 22 near Av. 7), one block up from the central plaza.