VIDEO: Los Cocalitos in Bacalar, QR

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

  • ¿Listos? = Ready?
  • ¡Comencemos! = Let’s get started!
  • Tres horas = Three hours
  • Treinta y cinco minutos = Thirty-five minutes
  • Laguna de los siete colores = The lagoon of the seven colors
  • Pueblo = town
  • El Santuario de los Estromatolitos = The Sanctuary of the Stromatolites
  • Estromatolitos = Stromatolites
  • ¡Tienes que conocerlo! = You have to check it out!

People always ask me what my favorite spot in Quintana Roo is.  I used to always say it was “Playa Paraíso” in Tulum but after going to Bacalar, Quintana Roo I’m not so sure any more.  

Bacalar is a small town in the state of Quintana Roo. Located tres horas = three hours away from Playa del Carmen, and about treinta y cinco minutos = thirty-five minutes away from Belize. We rented a car and left Playa when it was still dark in the morning to get there early.

If you are driving there, the best thing to do is to hit the road a little earlier than what you anticipate. As the sun is raising, the road gets completely covered in fog making hard to see ahead and forcing you to slow down, so be careful.

Bacalar is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing places in the whole state of Quintana Roo. We were attracted to this town by pictures of the Laguna de los siete colores = The lagoon of the seven colors, but no picture gives justice to the beauty of this lagoon.  This gorgeous stretch of fresh crystal clear water and white sandy bottom astonishes visitors with its varying shades of blue, turquoise, and indigo.

When we got to the town of Bacalar, we had breakfast at the restaurant Los Aluxes. If you have seen pictures of Bacalar, you have probably also seen beautiful pictures of a couple of swings on the lagoon. The swings are right here in this restaurant! Note here: only people  who are staying at the hotel Los Aluxes have access to the swing area in the morning. If you want to enjoy the swings, but don’t want to stay at the hotel, you will have to wait until 1pm which is the time when they open the facilities for customers of the restaurant.  

After breakfast, we drove around the pueblo = town until we found Los Cocalitos, el Santuario de los Estromatolitos = Cocalitos, the Sanctuary of the Stromatolites. Cocalitos is a natural park where people come to enjoy the natural beauty of the lagoon and swim around the stromatolites which are rocks with a variety of sizes and shapes formed in shallow water when sedimentary grains are trapped by microorganisms called cyanobacteria.

Stromatolites provide ancient records of life on earth. Some of them are thought to be 3.5 billion years old. It is believed that the cyanobacteria was responsible for converting earth’s early oxygen-poor atmosphere into an oxidizing one. Which then resulted in the Great Oxygenation Event that dramatically changed the composition of life forms. In other words, we probably owe cyanobacteria, and stromatolites our existence!

Here in Los Cocalitos you can find a restaurant, bathrooms, showers, a camping area, hammocks, kayaks for rent, and boat tours around the lagoon. It was still early when we got there, so we were able to rent a table under the palapa, right by the stromatolites. Los Cocalitos is a stunning place where you can relax, have a picnic, go for a swim, and enjoy one of Quintana Roo’s best kept secrets. We were really glad we found such wonderful little oasis of peace where we got to enjoy the rest of our day and it was a fun surprise to learn about the stromatolites.

We hope you enjoyed this post and learn some basic but useful Spanish vocabulary. Have you been to Bacalar? Can you name all seven colors of the Laguna de los Siete Colores? Let us know in the comments!

May Larios

May Larios García is a Mexican English and Spanish teacher who grew up in a small town in the state of Colima, Mexico. She graduated from the School of Foreign Languages in Colima in 2010. She has been teaching English and Spanish as a Foreign and Second Language since the age of 18. She has worked with students of all ages and hopes to be able to keep helping others learn around the world.

    May enjoys visiting new places, meeting new people, and she can't wait to show you all the awesome places where Spanish is spoken. When she is not working, you can find her in the kitchen creating vegan recipes, sharing laughs with her friends, or at the closest tiangüis or mercado looking for the freshest produce.