Bacalar, Mexico

While many flock to Tulum for yoga retreats or to Cancún for beach bars and nightlife, further south lies a small corner of paradise as yet undiscovered by the Quintana Roo crowds. Delve into Mexican culture as you wander round the area's various eateries and artisan stores, asking locals for tips as you go. Tear your eyes away from the colourful street art to find the blue lagoons and Mayan ruins awaiting you just outside of the town centre. Bacalar is the tranquil - and affordable - sanctuary you've been searching for.

Don't miss…

Unlike neighbouring hotspots, this city's inland location has become one of its most alluring features. The area's best-kept secret, Lake Bacalar, is known locally as the Lagoon of Seven Colours. Dazzling shades of azure, turquoise and jade create an aura of calm, enticing sunbathers to paddle in the depths of this freshwater lake. Give yourself an exfoliating facial with Lake Bacalar's mineral-filled mud or rent a jet ski to explore the rest of this vast blue lagoon. If diving is your thing, don't miss nearby Cenote Azul and its illuminated underwater caves. Stranded between endless blue water and forests of green, you will truly feel like you're in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (minus the sea creature).

Who to take with you

A friend equally desperate for some time away from the crowds.

When to go

Have the place to yourself between April and June, or visit mid-August to catch final dances and parades of the Festival of San Joaquin de Bacalar.

Most likely to bump into...

Eager archaeologists searching for Mayan ruins. Nearby sites of Kohunlich, Becan, Chicanna, Dzibanche and Chacchoben are popular spots for explorers. Take a trip to Fuerte de San Felipe, an 18th-century fort-turned-museum that exhibits weapons and artefacts with breathtaking views over the lake.

Essentials to bring with you

You won't be able to tear your eyes away from the picturesque lagoon, so protect them with big pair of big, dark sunglasses, Brigitte Bardot style.

How to get there

Fly to Cancún International Airport and get a car transfer to Bacalar. It's a long trip, but it's worth it.

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