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This Unknown Tropical Mexican Destination Is Incredibly Safe And Has Fewer Tourists

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Mexico is the number one destination for Americans going abroad.

Famous for its Caribbean beaches, Indo-Mayan culture, and gorgeous colonial towns, it has a vast and diverse offer, unlike any other Latin American country.

Now that Cancun’s overspill of tourists has reached most of the wider Mayan Riviera, however, bringing with it gentrification, price surges, and security concerns, crowd-wary travelers are looking for ‘quieter’ alternatives to the resort zone where they can still bask in Mexico’s sun while truly relaxing.

Young Woman In A Yellow Dress Walking A Pier Stretching Out Onto Lake Bacalar, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

Fortunately for them, there is an unknown tropical destination that both hosts fewer tourists and is much safer than average:

The Gorgeous, Trendy Bacalar

Located in the deep South of the state of Quintana Roo, far away from Cancun’s bustling resort strip and nightlife, Bacalar is a small town on the shores of Lake Bacalar, home to a limited number of boutique hotels and guesthouses.

Unlike Cancun, in the North, it is yet to be overrun by international hospitality brands nor suffer the effects of ‘Americanization’. It is still quintessentially Mexican at heart, a rare feat considering the Mexican Caribbean’s recent development boom.

Bacalar Mexico

Part of the reason why Bacalar has stayed true to its roots is the different approach taken by local authorities in promoting tourism, heavily centered on eco-tourism as opposed to luxury stays.

You will find a handful of five-star listings in the area, but you should definitely not expect your average Cancun resort’s grandiosity.

Bacalar Can Feel More Traditional

Several local restaurants are family-owned and continue to specialize in Mayan and modern Caribbean cuisine, as opposed to pandering to the tastes of an international clientele, and if Americanized, watered-down versions of Mexican is what you’re after, maybe you’ll find Bacalar’s food scene harder to navigate.

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Couple on dock in bacalar

The variety is still there: those with dietary restrictions, including vegans or vegetarians, should have nothing to worry about, particularly if staying in a well-equipped hotel, but visitors should be aware Bacalar is Mexico without all the additional ‘fluff’.

A Turquoise-Colored Lake

Additionally, it is not a coastal destination, though we doubt you’ll ever notice the absence of an ocean or swimming sites vacationing in Bacalar. Instead of the Caribbean Sea, you get the stunning Lake of Seven Colors, with its different shades of turquoise blue and bright teal.

As it is an enclosed body of water, separated from the Mayan coast, Lake Bacalar and its sandy banks do not see any sargassum during the humid season, which makes it an ideal spot for swimmers. The water isn’t salty, either.

Lake Bacalar

Other than swimming, Bacalar is popular among aquatic sports enthusiasts, with up to 400 watercraft operating locally.

Bacalar’s rising fame has reached the TikTok masses, and it’s certainly got more popular as of late, but tourism here is nowhere near Northern Quintana Roo’s levels.

Bacalar Is Getting More Popular

And Security Efforts Are Ramping Up
A Charming Heladeria In Bacalar, Southern Quintana Roo, Mexico

As recent estimates show, it is welcoming as many as 20 busloads of travelers this season, with around six thousand travelers visiting this destination daily. This is hardly a surprise, as beachgoers are now desperate to escape the seaweed-battered coast.

With an increase in the number of visitors, officials have been concerned about a potential deterioration in safety, as it’s got customary with tourist hotspots in Mexico. That is why they are acting fast.

They are deploying units to oversee tours and excursions taking place in the lake, as well as boosting patrols, in order to ensure operators comply with safety requirements and do not put travelers at risk when taking them out on the water, as reported by The Cancun Sun.

Bacalar, Lake Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Much like Cancun, Tulum, and Playa Del Carmen, Bacalar will also see the launch of its own land-based tourism police, set to keep tourists safe from petty criminals and organized crime.

Trained officers are reportedly bilingual, being able to assist foreigners in both Spanish and English, and they’re part of Bacalar’s new ‘reinforced safety’ measures.

These will ensure Bacalar remains one of Mexico’s safest destinations, especially now that it is projected to shatter previous travel records.

It could host up to 50,000 visitors in the next few months, a less-than-stellar figure compared to its Quintana Roo competitors but a massive increase nonetheless considering its pre-pandemic figures of 38,000 on average.

Young Woman Pictured In Lake Bacalar, Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

In order to fulfill their safety obligations to tourists and locals alike, Bacalar’s ruling authority will receive reinforcement from Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo, and the state-run Secretariat for Citizen Security (SSC).

Bacalar Is Not The Next Tulum

As for the rise in tourism, crowd-wary visitors have nothing to worry about, as Bacalar is anything but Tulum’s successor.

The Municipal President, José Alfredo Contreras Méndez, has stated growth will happen in an ‘orderly and sustainable manner’. Bacalar’s tourism is not centered on all-inclusives, which effectively rules out the installation of major resorts on the lakeside.

Woman Doing Paddle Boarding In Lake Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Instead, they are focusing on promoting the region as a safe haven for high-spending travelers looking for a reclusive getaway and utter relaxation away from the crowds on the coast.

In sum, Bacalar will continue to be a safe, less-crowded alternative to Northern Quintana Roo’s resort towns.

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