Adventure

The Cheap, Tropical Paradise You’ve Never Heard Of

You could be here now.

Long wooden piers stretch out across undisturbed water. At the end of each is a small cabaña with a thatched roof made from banana leaf, and underneath, a hammock strung up just for you.

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The water is literally sparkling. It’s the bluest of blue – but not just one blue. It changes with the sun like a kaleidoscope; aqua, turquoise, baby blue, lavender, and sometimes such clarity that it’s a bright white from the sand below.

We wont judge you for mistaking this scene for somewhere in the South Pacific. Maybe Bora Bora or Tahiti? You know, like those picture-perfect honeymoon destinations you see in travel magazines. In fact, it’s hard to believe that this isn’t the ocean at all. And the best part? It’s dirt cheap and easy to get to.

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Welcome to Laguna Bacalar, the lake of your dreams. The fresh water lagoon spans 42 kilometres along the south east coast of Mexico close to the Belize border. It serves as relaxing escape from the bright lights of Cancun or the busy beach of Tulum. The slice of paradise is so hidden that you might even be lucky enough to have the whole place to yourself.

Laguna Bacalar is nicknamed ‘The Lake Of Seven Colours’ and it’s believed by some that its waters offer healing powers. The lake is relatively off the beaten track for travellers, but it’s a popular holiday destination for locals. The main hub is the small and quiet town of Bacalar, offering plenty of options for lake front accommodation and cheap and delicious tacos, guacamole and ceviche.

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Spend your days exploring the lake by kayak or sailboat, with activities including snorkelling, fishing and jumping from trees into refreshing cenotes or just lazing by the water. The lake is shallow so you can keep wading all the way out ’til the piers become lost over the horizon.

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To get to Laguna Bacalar, you can take a safe and reliable first-class bus from Tulum for about $15AUD – it’s a three hour journey.

Stay at Los Aluxes for a wee slice of luxury (they have a very photogenic private pier with a beautifully made swing set over the water that’s sure to make your ‘gram followers jealous).

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Or, for a more authentic experience, hire a tent at one of the campgrounds setting you back just $12AUD per night.

(All photos: author’s own)