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How to visit Los Rapidos – Bacalar – the complete guide [2022]

Los Rapidos Bacalar is one of the most popular attractions of this pretty magic town located on the south coast of Quintana Roo Mexico state. I have been there three times and it never stops amazing me so beautiful it is.

Therefore in this post, I will tell you all about it and how to get there and make the most of your time in Los Rapidos Bacalar. But I will also mention some controversy about this place and why some people complain about it (and I don’t disagree)

Bacalar los rapidos aerial views
Los Rapidos Aerial view taken with DJI Mini 2 – Photo Credit @ Isabella Biava

What is Los Rapidos Bacalar

Los Rapidos is a section of Bacalar Lagoon lined by stromatolites and mangroves forming a sort of canal where the current becomes a little stronger and the color of the water unbelievably beautiful. The drone views give you a better idea of the spectacular landscape.

The fun of this place is that you can walk on the platform up to the very end of the canal and float all the way back thanks to the sweet currents.

It actually looks like a river where the current will make you easily float from one point to another.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE ESTROMATOLITOS (stromatolites)
It is very important to know though that the huge round yellowish boulders that you see on the side of the lake and submerged in the water, similar to rocks, are not actually rocks.
Well, they are, but the blobby layer on the surface is not. They are “biochemical sedimentary rocks”. There is a huge campaign going on in Bacalar to promote the protection of this fragile ecosystem. And although I just found out that they are not so fragile as they say and you are not going to destroy them if you walk on them, just don’t do it, to be on the safe side. You don’t need to anyway. You will see a lot of signs all over Bacalar where you can read more on the Estromatolitos but you can also read more about the Myth built around them in an interesting book written by the activist and biologist Maria Luisa Villareal Sonora entitled ON BACALAR’S DEFENSE: VOLUME I. THE NEOLIBERAL ENVIRONMENTALISM TRIAD, HOW DO THEY GANG UP?

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Here is what you will find around Bacalar about the Estromatolitos
people walking on the estromatolitos
People walking on the stromatolites – Here is what you MUST NOT DO!!

Los Rapidos is also the name of the Balneario, the equivalent of Beach Club, but with no beach. As you may imagine you don’t just get to enjoy Los Rapidos for free.

You need to pay for the entrance to a restaurant with facilities if you want to enjoy this beautiful natural place.

The price is very affordable and you don’t have to eat at the restaurant if you don’t want to. And you can pay separately for each facility depending on your need, which is quite convenient.

Here below I will tell you everything in detail.

Los rapidos by the restaurant

Where is Los Rapidos Bacalar located

Los Rapidos is not actually located in Bacalar if we want to be precise, but in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco, right after Bacalar on the way to Xul-ha, which is the last town situated on the lagoon.

In fact, Bacalar is the biggest and most developed town on the Bacalar Lagoon but it’s not the only one.

See it on Google Map to have a better idea of the location of Los Rapidos.

Los Rapidos Entrance

How to get to Los Rapidos Bacalar

Getting to Los Rapidos Bacalar is quite tricky and that is why I always suggest renting your own car, especially in these areas, so that you can move around freely, but let’s see the different options.

First of all, you need to reach Bacalar 🙂 and this post will tell you how to get to Bacalar from Tulum or anywhere else in Mexico.


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Getting to Los Rapidos by public bus (colectivo)

Getting to Los Rapidos from Bacalar by local bus is the cheapest way but it can be challenging because the colectivo (minivan) will leave you on the main road and then you will have to walk for 2 km to get to Los Rapidos.

Los Rapidos Bacalar Map
Los Rapidos Bacalar Map

Getting to Los Rapidos by taxi

You could get by taxi which would cost about 170 to 200 MXN (10USD) each way. Just make sure you tell the taxi driver what time they should pick you up or you could exchange phones.

Getting to Los Rapidos by car

As I mentioned driving is the best way to get around in Mexico in my opinion, especially in the Yucatan Peninsula where is safe to drive and easy to get around.

Los Rapidos is located 8 km from Bacalar on the way to Chetumal. You can see the sign on the road, it’s easy to find.

But you can also use Google Map, which is why I also recommend buying a sim card in Mexico so that you can always stay connected, and use Google Map 🙂

Los Rapidos Chairs and tables

How much does it cost to get to Los Rapidos Bacalar?

The entrance fee at los Rapidos is 150 MXN, 7.5 USD.

Once you pay your entrance fee in the ticket office at the Restaurant you get a bracelet and you have access all day.

You don’t need to spend in the restaurant if you don’t want to but if you bring your own food and beverages you will need to pay a fee.

prices at los rapidos

Things to do in Los Rapidos Bacalar

Once you are inside Los Rapidos Balneario you can do a whole lot of activities including:

1. Floating in the lazy river

The main and most unique activity in los Rapidos is floating in the pristine green waters. In order to do that the owners of the place have built a long platform for you to walk without damaging the stromatolites formations and reach the beginning of the lagoon.

From there you let yourself float back in the water. It sounds like a silly game for children but I assure you is so much fun, especially because of the spectacular natural environment that surrounds you.

It’s surreal.

The water is not so deep but if you don’t feel comfortable you can get a life jacket which is included in the price. However, I have to say that I have read reviews that the life jackets are kind of dirty and smelly. (just giving you the heads up, I didn’t use them so I don’t know)

2. Rent a Kayak

You can rent a Kayak and get to the Lagoon ( Laguna Bonanza and further) just be careful not to hit the stromatolites. The cost is 200 MXN for the single one and 400 for the double seat.

Kayaking in Los Rapidos
taken with DJI Mini 2 – Photo Credit @ Isabella Biava

3. Just chill

You can chill in the hammocks in the water or on the sun lounges in the garden, just keep in mind that they have an extra cost. I can see why in many reviews people complain about it.

4. Have lunch

There is a great restaurant in the premises and chairs where you can sit in front of the beautiful green water while having a delicious meal.

The service is not the best and it may feel a little more expensive than it should, so something to keep in mind.

Girl Kayaking in Los Rapidos
taken with DJI Mini 2 – Photo Credit @ Isabella Biava

What are the facilities available in Los Rapidos Bacalar?

In Los Rapidos, you can use the following facilities:

✔ Kayak (at a cost)

✔ Paddleboards (at a cost)

✔ Restaurant

Los Rapidos Restaurant
Restaurant Los Rapidos

✔ Lockers – 50 MXN pesos + 50 deposit

✔ Changing rooms

✔ Showers

✔ Toilette

✔ Lounge area with sunbeds and chairs (at a cost)

✔ Hammocks (at a cost)

Bacalar los rapidos Aerial view
taken with DJI Mini 2 – Photo Credit @ Isabella Biava

How to enjoy Los Rapidos respecting the environment

DON’T touch or climb or sit on the Stromatolites, nor hit them with anything. Keep your distance to avoid any risk.

DO NOT use sunscreen to swim in the lagoon. Even the biodegradable ones can cause damage to the ecosystem, because they provide nutrients that accelerate eutrophication, one of the causes of changing colors. If you are afraid of sunburns protect yourself with a rashguard.

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❌ It is FORBIDDEN to exfoliate yourself with “lake´s clay” as it causes big harm to the ecosystem and could cause skin problems as well.

DO NOT touch or remove from the environment the Chivita Snail, it is an essential part of the balance of the lagoon.

ENJOY WITHOUT IMPACT: don’t hold on to mangrove or anchor yourself on stromatolites. Don’t trespass inside the buoys of protected zones, and don’t circulate through the canals. Noncompliance may be sanctioned.

Los Rapidos Bacalar Platform

AVOID NAVIGATING, SWIMMING, or WALKING in the Reeds. DO NOT CUT THEM. They have special ecological importance: myriad birds use them for nests and the bearded snail lays its eggs on them. They help retain and emit nutrients.

RESPECT THE BUOYS IN PROTECTED ZONES. Don’t cross them or tie up to them. 

PROHIBITED: SMOKING in the laguna and discarding organic or inorganic waste. Use trash containers, and please always carry and refill your water bottle. Every kind of waste–even if it biodegrades–is a form of contamination. Inform yourself!

❌ AVOID MAKING NOISE and high volumes of music, and live harmoniously respecting the bird sanctuary of this place. (Unfortunately, this is something they do in the Balneario and they shouldn’t and it’s one of the things more eco-conscious travelers are complaining about – read below)

❌ DO NOT use the lagoon as a toilet, use the bathroom before swimming. It is very important to not contaminate it.

✅ BE THE BEST HOST. Inform yourself, share and follow the guide, participate actively in campaigns, post on your social networks, and print and share the campaign flyers in your place. Inspire others to do the same. Help protect our most valuable treasure: this unique lagoon of seven colors and home to stromatolites!

Read the source

Los Rapidos Overview

Is it safe to swim in Los Rapidos Bacalar?

It is safe to swim in Los Rapidos, but if you are not a good swimmer or you don’t feel confident, you should wear a life jacket.

Also, make sure you don’t swim beyond the restaurant because the current gets stronger and it’s difficult, almost impossible to get back without stepping on the mangroves, which is something you should not do – see the above-mentioned rules.

Make sure you get your travel insurance before leaving your country, though.

Do I need travel insurance in Mexico? Yes, you do! Whatever it is the way you love to travel, either by car, tour, or bus, always make sure you get travel insurance. I can never stress enough what a lifesaver it can be in unexpected situations. Although I hope I never need it, it gives me peace of mind to know that whatever happens I am covered. I have been using either World Nomads or Safety Wing. Depending on your needs or you can compare different insurance companies on this useful site, TRAVEL INSURANCE MASTER. Make sure you read carefully what’s included before making the purchase. If you want to learn more about both insurance and all your options, you can head over to my thorough post on the best travel insurance for Mexico. I am sure it will shed some light on why you need it when traveling in Mexico and how to choose the best one for you.

Los Rapidos Overview
taken with DJI Mini 2 – Photo Credit @ Isabella Biava

What people say about Los Rapidos

When I went to los Rapidos I focused on the beauty of the natural place but I have to be honest the level of service is really low, especially in the restaurants.

I thought it was me being too sensitive, but then I read the reviews both on TripAdvisor and on their Facebook page and many other visitors think the same.

There is also a debate on how they are not actually protecting the environment despite all the signs they have on every corner.

To be honest, although I really love that part of the lagoon, there are many other beautiful places that you can visit and they are equally fascinating and I am talking about them in my complete guide to Bacalar.

Better and more eco-friendly alternatives to Los Rapidos

There are so many other wonderful places on the Bacalar Lagoon that will allow you to enjoy the spectacular blue shades of the lake in a peaceful and more eco-friendly environment.

Here are my favorite ones:

Balneario Sac-ha

Balneario Lol-ha

Laguna Bonanza

Club Playa Kin Ha Colors

✨ Mexico Travel Planning Guide ✨

👉 Do I need travel insurance to travel to Mexico?

I would do it if I were you. You never know what can happen and knowing that no matter what, you will be covered with any expenses will give you peace of mind, and make your travel worry-free. You can check out World Nomads or SafetyWing which I have used alternatively depending on my needs of the moment.

🚰 Can I drink tap water in Mexico?

No, you can’t! Maybe in some areas or in some homes where they have installed water filters but to be on the safe side, I would say, never drink tap water in Mexico. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up where you find available potable water sources. Most of the hotels have those.

🚗 Is it safe to drive in Mexico?

The short answer is: depending on where you are. Although in general if you stick to the main roads and don’t drive at night you should probably be safe. In lesser tourist areas you should probably check the local news to stay up to date. Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula is easy everywhere, even at night, although I would still avoid it. I usually use Discover Cars because the site offers the options to compare prices among different car rentals and you can add their own full coverage.

Read more on my guide on Renting a car in Mexico.

📱 Will my phone work in Mexico?

It will probably work, especially if you have a European or US phone, but your roaming rates may be to the stars (check with your SIM provider). Even if have an affordable international rate, you will be much better off by buying a Mexican SIM Card. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and it will keep you connected with your friends, family, and, more important, google Maps so you will never get lost!

🤕 Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?

The short answer is, yes it is. However, there are parts of Mexico that are indeed troubled and you should avoid for now, and others that are super safe and easy to travel around.

Regardless of where you are you should always use some common sense rules such as, never flaunt expensive clothing, accessories, electronics, or money and keep a low profile.

Read more on my detailed guide on safety in Mexico. If you are traveling to a specific destination I have got you covered as well:

💉 Do I need any vaccine to travel to Mexico?

No, there is no vaccine requirement (of any kind) to travel to Mexico

🇲🇽 Do I need a visa to travel to Mexico?

If you are coming from the US or Europe you don’t need a VISA to enter Mexico. Once you get in you need to fill out a form which you need to keep with you until you leave. If you don’t have it you will pay a fine.

Although the tourist visa for US and European travelers used to be 6 months long which you could easily renew by leaving the country for a couple of days and going back, nowadays they have been stricter. You may be asked how you would sustain your living and other similar questions. Sometimes they even ask you to show your credit cards.

It seems odd but they can do that. If you intend to stay longer than a usual couple of weeks’ vacation time, just be honest and explain your plans. If you are not from the US, check this site to see if you need a visa

💸 Where do I find the best travel deals for Mexico? 💸

A trip to Mexico can be expensive if you love to travel with all the comforts (like I do). There are a few tricks that will help you find the best deals. Here are my tips:

👉 DON’T travel in the high season, which is Holy week, Christmas and winter in general, and August.
👉 Book months in advance to find early booking discounts
👉 Use aggregators such as Discover Cars to find price comparisons and VRBO for vacation rentals!
👉 Look for packages flights+hotels on Expedia or Skyscanner as usually, that’s where the best deals are.
👉 Check on Booking.com or Hotels.com for hotel deals

Happy travels!!