Laguna Bacalar is a fresh water lake that is located only 20km from the Caribbean coast separated by the forest and mangroves. With its magical emerald, aquamarine transparent waters it almost feels like the Caribbean itself. They say that the lake has 7 colors - indeed when it's sunny you can see at least 4 of them at any time. It's an absolutely beautiful place that is definitely off the beaten path in the South of the Mexican coast.
You'll find it amusing that many things here are about pirates, but check the history - this lake was a real hub for the Caribbean pirates! Around the lake there are also cenotes - super deep water holes with clear blue water - it's another miracle of the Nature! You can snorkel or dive into numerous cenotes along the Mexican coast and it's amazing how these weird holes just exist in the middle of the jungle forest for seemingly no reason at all.
Even though the Bacalar town is a small but fully functional town and is located right by the highway Chetumal - Cancun, for some reason only few tourists stop here. It's not really part of package tours or among usual destinations, so you can enjoy this amazing lake without tons of tourists. Accommodation is spread along the shore and go for about $30 per night. We were lucky to find a local fan of backpacking culture and mural artist who calls himself "the first hippie in this town" who showed us a really cool backpackers spot - El Refugio. They have many rooms/cabanas that go for $18, kitchen, wifi, a lot of territory to hang out, great enthusiastic people and mind blowing views over the lake. El Refugio is not a neat hotel in perfection, it's still being restored from hurricane and it's still being designed into a very cool backpackers hub.
While we were there El Refugio crew organized a party which they do pretty often. For the party the place turns into a very lively venue with people invited to make cocktails, to make meals from around the world and to generally hang out. It seems like these parties gather the most artistic and hippie crowd from the entire town. To stay in the Refugio - head to the main square of Bacalar and from there walk North on the second street from the lake for about 5 or 6 blocks, OR check into the corner cafe on the Northern side of the square to see if you can spot the old hippie drinking coffee and reading newspaper.
Bacalar is super easy to reach, it's about 40 minutes North from Chetumal and about 3 hrs South of Tulum. You won't regret staying by this lake, especially because you won't find this laid back, few-tourists atmosphere in the North of the coast.