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What to visit in Quintana Roo, how to travel from Cancun to Bacalar in 10 days

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cancun beach dolphins lookout
cancun beach dolphins lookout

You are already planning your trip to the beautiful state of Quintana Roo, and I understand it, it is one of the most attractive destinations in Mexico thanks to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. This extends from Puerto Morelos to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

However, if we continue moving forward, we find the idyllic lagoon of the 7 colors: Bacalar. White sand, palm trees, turquoise blue sea, cenotes hidden in the jungle…

All this paradise extends 343 km along the coast, and here we will tell you what to visit in Quintana Roo, traveling from Cancun to Bacalar in 10 days.

When to travel to the Riviera Maya

 I think we all like to travel and find a landscape similar to the one we see on postcards, so I must say that Quintana Roo receives more and more tourists each year, and sometimes it is difficult to appreciate natural beauty without a crowd. around.

I have been living in this area of ​​the country for 8 years, and every time I want to get to know a new place, I try to make it during the low season and during the week.

If you want to find better prices and fewer tourists, the best season to travel to the Riviera Maya and Quintana Roo is in the months of February to May and September to November . You will also avoid the hottest period from June to August.

Transportation from Cancun to Bacalar

The most convenient way to do the tour is by car. It is not the cheapest but the most practical.

In Cancun there are many car rental companies, look for the one that suits your budget. Try to travel with the broadest insurance but keep in mind that the greater the security, the greater the cost. Renting the car online will always be cheaper, and remember that you will need a credit card to hire the service.

Another advantage is that you can rent the car in Cancun and deliver it in another city. Approximate price per day: $ 500 pesos

If you prefer, it is also possible to take the bus tour . The ADO company has frequent runs to almost anywhere in the Riviera Maya. You will also find better prices if you buy your tickets online, especially if you do it in advance.

In case you move by bus, when you get to the cities you will have to look for the buses, which will help you to move to the attractions or other points within the city and nearby areas.

What to visit in Quintana Roo – Cancún

Cancun is our starting point to tour Quintana Roo. If you come from another country, surely your plane lands in this city so it is the most practical to start the journey.

Cancun, although few know, is an island 22 km long where the Hotel Zone is concentrated. This island that resembles a “seven”, joins the mainland through two bridges: the Calinda, 4km from the city center, and the Nizuc, at the other end to the airport and the Riviera Maya. The city as such is located on the mainland.

Beaches in Cancún

The beaches in Cancun are really beautiful. The colors here are not seen in any other beach in the Mexican Caribbean.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to see the beach from Boulevard Kukulcán. If you are not staying in a hotel in the Hotel Zone, there are several public entrances to the beach, you can locate them on the map below.

  • Beaches with calm and shallow waters: from Km 3.5 to Km 8.
  • Beaches with deeper waters and waves from light to high: from Km 9.5 to Km 20.
  • Beaches with the highest concentration of tourists: Playa Tortugas, Playa Langosta and Playa Caracol.

Diving in Cancun

The reefs of Cancun are of low depth and you will always see multitudes of fish, with excellent temperature and visibility. Look for a dive shop that is well established and has professional staff and equipment in good condition.

I recommend Coconut Divers, they have very good facilities and a professional atmosphere but very fun.

You can also visit the Underwater Museum of Cancun, unique in the world.

Restaurants in the Hotel Zone

The culinary activity has become a real protagonist in Cancun. There are for all tastes and budgets, but in general the restaurants of the Hotel Zone are more expensive than in the center.

In this culinary paradise, be it Mexican, Italian, Lebanese, fusion, Japanese, Spanish, French, Thai… whatever you are looking for you will find it, with the addition of an incredible view of the Nichupté lagoon (very few will have ocean views, unless it’s your hotel’s restaurant).

Night life

There will not be a night when you do not find a party in Cancun. The mix of nationalities make the Party Center a space for multicultural fun at large doses. And as they say it out there, Cancun puts the Las Vegas nightlife to shame.

One point that you should consider is that the entrances to the antrum usually include “open bar”, so they are somewhat expensive (65 USD approx.) And honestly the alcohol is not of the best quality.

Downtown hotel Cancún

Marazul Hotel Boutique

Small boutique hotel in the center of Cancun. It is ideal if you want something cheap, you can move to any part of the city and easily take the bus that takes you to the hotel zone.

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Hotel Hotel Zone

Hotel Real Inn Cancun

This is not a resort, rather it is a good hotel at affordable prices at the beginning of the hotel zone of Cancun. Tortugas beach is a few meters away and you can easily move anywhere.

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Resort Hotel Zone

The Royal Islander

This is the resorts that for what it costs and what it includes makes it a very good option. The hotel has several pools and the prices usually only include breakfast. Book with a LOT of anticipation.

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What to visit in Quintana Roo – Puerto Morelos and Ruta de los Cenotes

To go from Cancun to Puerto Morelos you have to take the road to Tulum / Mexico 307. This is the road that will take us to all other points to our final destination, Bacalar.In 35 minutes you will be in Puerto Morelos, a small fishing village, where you can relax and eat good seafood in small restaurants facing the sea. You can also visit the Botanical Garden or snorkel on the reefs.If you want a little more adventure, you can visit the Ruta de los Cenotes, a corridor that extends for more than 35 km in the direction of Leona Vicario. The cenotes were sacred places for the Mayans, since they were considered as the gateway to the underworld and in them they practiced different rituals.The cenotes that can be visited in this corridor are: Boca del Puma, Verde Lucero, Chilam Balam, La Noria, KinHa, Siete Bocas, Las Mojarras and Cenote Zapote.

In these places you can perform different activities such as snorkeling, diving, zip line, horseback riding, cycling or quad bikes, bird watching, among others.

The cost of entry ranges between 100 and 300 pesos per person.

Remember not to use sunscreens or sun blockers when swimming in these places.

What to visit in Quintana Roo – Playa del Carmen and Xpu-Ha

From Puerto Morelos to Playa del Carmen are only 35 km along the same road Tulum / Mexico 307.”Playa”, as many of us call it, is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It is located right in the heart of the Riviera Maya and here you can find the best international restaurants and the most varied nightlife. Here are some examples of things you can do in Playa.

5th Avenue

This pedestrian street is a cultural mosaic full of life. You can spend the afternoon walking or sitting down to enjoy in a bar or cafe.

12th Street

Here the best bars and clubs of Playa del Carmen meet. Throughout the year there are different music festivals, from electronic to jazz.

Beaches.

The beach of “Playa” is not what it used to be before. Those wide beaches of fine white sand have been lost with erosion. A good alternative is to visit Xpu-Ha, (only 25 km away) a beautiful beach with shallow waters and without a lot of tourists.

To enter there is a dirt road from the road. Xpu-Ha siginica “estero de dos aguas” and to the north, there is a cove that connects the sea with a cenote between the mangroves. You can not stop snorkeling in this place.

What to visit in Quintana Roo – Akumal Bay and Caleta Yal Ku

Akumal is only 37 km from Playa del Carmen.

Historically, this was the first tourist destination of the coastal strip of the Yucatan peninsula bathed by the Caribbean Sea.

In its beginnings it was a huge coconut plantation owned by Don Argimiro Argüelles, until 1958 when it was discovered by CEDAM (Club de Exploración y Deportes Acuáticos de México), an exclusive diving club that was dedicated to the search for underwater treasures.

Akumal has become famous for being able to snorkel and see the turtles feeding on seagrass. However, since February 2017, the swim with turtles has been temporarily suspended due to reordering of the tourist service. Still, the bay is very beautiful and worth knowing.

Akumal is formed by other bays, to the north is the Media Luna Bay and at the end of this we find the Yal Ku Lagoon.

Yal Ku is a crystalline cove with colorful fish where fresh water flows into the sea, a fragile ecosystem that must be cared for. You can bring your own snorkel equipment or rent one there. They also have bathrooms, showers, changing rooms and a restaurant. The entrance fee is $ 200 pesos.

There are several bars and restaurants in the bay of Akumal with different culinary styles and live music, so it is a good option to spend the night at this point.

Hotel recommended

Del Sol Beachfront

Most people choose this hotel because of its excellent location. The facilities are very good but the views you will have are better and with access to the sea. Just book well in advance as the rooms are sold out quickly in high season.

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What to visit in Quintana Roo – Cenote Manatí, Tulum and Boca Paila


Cenote Manatí, also known as Casa Cenote, is located 20 minutes (23.3 km) from Akumal, within a residential area called Tannkah.

This cenote converges in a freshwater lagoon that empties into the sea. It is said that formerly it was common to see numerous manatees swimming there; I have never seen one, but there is a great variety of freshwater and saltwater fish. It is ideal for snorkeling, diving or just taking a kayak ride. The entrance fee is $ 120 pesos.

Just 15 minutes from Casa Cenote, we arrive in Tulum, where the culture, history and some of the most beautiful beaches of the Riviera are combined.

It was a Mayan fortress that lived its greatest splendor at the end of the classical period. The Castle, its iconic structure, is located on the edge of a cliff where the impressive Caribbean Sea can be seen. If you want to visit the archaeological site, I recommend that it be very early and during the week to avoid large concentrations of tourists.

Tulum has a very relaxed and cosmopolitan air. Here there are no large resorts, on the contrary, there are small boutique hotels and beautiful cabins, some luxurious and others more rustic, for all tastes and budgets. Many of them are ecological and sustainable.

Throughout the hotel zone of Tulum, there is a paved road where you can ride a bicycle, either to know the surroundings, move to the town or travel the entire coastline to Punta Allen. You can also perform activities such as yoga, temazcal or pamper yourself with a massage.

Playa Paraiso is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches of Tulum. A large expanse of white and fine sand, coconut trees adorning the landscape and a vibrant turquoise blue across the horizon. In addition to having a beach club with the convenience of having all services at your fingertips.

But if you want absolute privacy and tranquility, you must go a little further. At the end of the hotel zone of Tulum, you will find the archway that welcomes the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve . This road is dirt, so the ideal is that you travel in a 4 × 4 vehicle. At 20 minutes you will reach Boca Paila, located between the Caribbean Sea and Laguna Muyil. This corner of the Caribbean enjoys exclusive tranquility because very few tourists arrive here.

It is possible to camp in this area, so if this is in your plans you should come prepared with food and drinks.

Hotel recommended

Manglex Cenote Eco Hotel

This ecological hotel is located right in the middle of the mangroves and has its own cenote where you can swim. Dawn in the middle of the jungle but still preserving the comfort of a hotel room is an experience worth living.

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What to visit in Quintana Roo – Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Sian Ka’an is ideal for nature lovers and birdwatchers , since it is here that most of the species of marine fauna in the region breed and spawn.

This “place where the sun rises”, is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. In this Biosphere Reserve live more than 1,400 species of plants among the jungle, dunes, wetlands , palmares and tulares. In its coasts inhabit more than 300 species of birds, residents and migratory. Ocelots, pumas, jaguars, tapirs, spider monkeys, white-tailed deer, wild boar, manatees, dolphins, crocodiles and sea turtles also live here.

Within the reserve there are 23 archaeological sites. The largest is Muyil, which was an important point of the Mayan trade route. It is surrounded by a lagoon and has a viewpoint where you can make beautiful photographs. You can take a boat tour through the channels of the lagoon and then swim in its crystal clear waters, letting yourself be carried by the current.

You can hire a tour to a local company to take you to make the tours by boat and in a 4 × 4 vehicle. The roads are dirt roads and keep in mind that there are no gas stations in this area.

Enjoy the scenery, take many photos, but do not take any live or dead organism, be it corals, sand, plants, shells, etc…

The price of the entrance to the reserve is 50 pesos approx.

What to visit in Quintana Roo – Bacalar

To go to Bacalar you must take the road to Mexico 307. It is 215 km and approximately in 2 hours you will be at our last point of the route.

Known as the lagoon of the 7 colors, Bacalar is one of the places I like most in Quintana Roo. It is a small town with history that for ten years is considered a Magic Town.

It was founded by the Maya around 415 AD under the name of Sian Ka’an Bakhalal. For centuries it was harassed by French, English and Dutch pirates, who disputed the control of dyewood traffic, while the rebellious Maya continued to be attacked. These conflicts led to the fortification of the city, with the Fort of San Felipe being erected.

On the banks of the lagoon you will find spas, palapas, camping areas, docks and restaurants. It should be noted that the food is excellent and the prices are quite affordable. I recommend you visit and eat at the “Magico Bacalar” ejidal spa, where the entrance fee is 10 pesos and the food is plentiful, rich and very cheap .

A place you should not miss is Cenote Azul, a circular body of water over 300 meters in diameter and up to 90 meters deep. It is said that you have to ask the aluxes for permission to swim here. I always do it, in case the doubts… 90 meters impose even the best swimmer.

Other activities that you can do in Bacalar, are snorkeling, diving and catamaran, boat or kayak rides. You can also visit the Biomaya park, with zip lines that fly over the jungle and the lagoon.

If you want to spend the night in Bacalar, I recommend the Los Aluxes boutique hotel, famous for its swings over the lagoon. The cabins are very comfortable and the food is very good. At night you can enjoy the spectacle of the starry sky over the lagoon.

We have reached the end of the route, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Ten days is really a short time to travel from Cancun to Bacalar and get to know all the wonders of these places, but they are undoubtedly enough to captivate you, get to know a bit of all the attractions you can visit in Quintana Roo and leave you with more desire to return.

And do not forget: leave everything as you found it, and if you can, cleaner.

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