Azul Nomeolvides

Bacalar, The Yucatan, Mexico Book from Book from £97 per night

Eco-friendly jungle hideaway with quirky cabanas (for 2-4) overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Bacalar
Deep in thick jungle near the border with Belize, Lake Bacalar is like a vivid mirage appearing in the desert. Its rim of glassy turquoise water - a result of the white limestone bottom – is reminiscent of a coral atoll, but there are no reefs to be found here. Instead, some of the world’s oldest life inhabits the lake, and some of the rarest. Meanwhile, on the densely forested banks, foxes, monkeys, iguanas and raccoons roam, while tropical birds sing the soundtrack of jungle life.

This blissful scene inspired Samantha and Bernie, an architect and photographer couple with an eye for design and a love of nature. Conscious to preserve the precious environment but keen to share its beauty, they erected six pyramid-shaped cabanas, enveloped within the tree canopy. The whole property is off-grid, and you’re encouraged to get back to nature. Lounge in one of the hammocks to take it all in, or float on the lake’s mesmeric waters; or do both at once. There are kayaks to borrow, and nearby Bacalar town has a buzzy bohemian vibe, with great restaurants including veggie options. Although its reputation is growing, it's still very much off the tourist trail - and we love an undiscovered gem. Consider it at the top of our bucket list for the post-pandemic world.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • Immersed in untouched jungle that few tourists reach – a true undiscovered hideaway
  • Stunning lakeside setting overlooking some of the clearest, bluest freshwater - the 'Mexican Maldives'
  • The A-frame cabanas are cleverly designed to minimise impact on the environment, maximise on the views, and remain cool inside
  • Impressive green credentials. The property is entirely off-grid and every effort is taken to preserve the natural environment. This is ecotourism at its best

Lows

  • No kids under 13 allowed - it's more of a couples' retreat
  • You’re deep in the jungle and living among the wildlife, so expect a few creepy crawlies; the owners make a natural repellent out of tobacco, garlic and chilli to help keep them out of the cabins
  • This is a rugged and remote retreat and you’re encouraged to disconnect – don't come looking for mod cons
  • The shore is mostly rocky - don't expect a sandy beach

Best time to go

November to April tend to be the most agreeable months as they are cooler with less rain. June to September is the rainy season, but this often means nothing more than a downpour in the afternoon with clear mornings and evenings. September is usually the wettest month and brings the added risk of hurricanes.

Our top tips

Lake Bacalar is known for its cauliflower-like stromatolites, which are clusters of cyanobacteria that produce oxygen. The largest of these are thousands of years old and only exist in a few parts of the world. Take care not to touch or step on them when swimming as they live near the surface of the lake.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Boutique cabanas
  • 6 cabanas (for 2-4)
  • Breakfast + other meals on request
  • Over 13s only
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The six A-frame cabanas are architecturally impressive. Elevated on pilotis (stilts), they enjoy picturesque views while having minimal impact on the land. Each is built with local materials, with grass roofs and natural wood, and their tall structure along with the shady canopy helps keep them cool and well ventilated.

All cabanas are open to the elements. For front-row views of the lake, opt for Sakti or Amaru; if you don’t mind being the row behind, Aine and Tara also have watery vistas. Ulana and Umai face the jungle so enjoy leafy views instead.

Most cabanas sleep two in a kingsize bed, except for Umai which has an additional double bed so would suit families with teenagers. All have private outdoor bathrooms with organic toiletries and rainshowers. Wastewater is recycled, and electricity is 100% solar - bravo Samantha and Bernie!

Features include:

  • Fan
  • Mineral water
  • Mosquito net
  • Pool/beach towels
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries

Eating

Breakfast is served in the dining area and includes a soul-satisfying bowl of oats and chia with granola and tropical fruits of the season. You can help yourself to fresh coffee, lemony iced tea and cookies at the bar. If you’re after a more substantial breakfast, ask about the day’s special, available for an additional fee.

Lunch and dinner are offered on request. Menus vary according to the season but expect slow cooked food and organic local produce. Alternatively, you can head into Bacalar for dinner, where there are dozens of restaurants. Sam and Bernie recommend Finisterre and Macario for high-quality cuisine. At lunchtime, try the vegan tacos at Mango y Chile or the sourdough sandwiches at Madre Masa bakery.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take a sailing boat trip on the lake and see a huge range of birdlife, or grab a kayak to paddle across the calm waters
  • Head into Bacalar town for an evening stroll (staff can book taxis if required). When the sun goes down, local artisans gather in the park to sell their handicrafts
  • Swim and snorkel in the Cenote Azul, a natural well over 100 metres deep
  • Head to San Felipe Fort in the centre of Bacalar and learn about the area’s history, including tales of British piracy
  • Visit the archaeological ruins of Kohunlich, Dzibanche or Kinichna, all near one another in thick jungle about an hour away
  • Relax in one of the many hammocks on site, play table tennis in the dining area, then cool off in the azure lake.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Only children aged 13 and over are accepted at Azul Nomeolvides. One cabana (Umai) sleeps four so is the best option for families with teens. No extra beds are available. Most cabins have unprotected drops from their balconies.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Location

Azul Nomeolvides is situated on the tropical Lake Bacalar in Quintana Roo, near the regional capital Chetumal and the border with Belize.

By Air:
The small airport at Chetumal (45km away) is the nearest and has domestic flights to/from Cancun and Mexico City. Taxis are available and safe, or you can hire a car (see below). If you're driving from Cancun, it's approximately a four-hour drive.

By Car:
See our car rental recommendations. If you're coming from Belize, note that rental cars from outside Mexico can't be driven into the country due to insurance restrictions.

By Bus:
Buses operate between Chetumal and Cancún (5 hours), Mérida (6 hours), Tulum (3 hours), San Cristobal de las Casas (14 hours) and Palenque (11 hours).

Detailed directions will be provided when booking is confirmed.

Airports:

  • Chetumal Airport 45.0 km CTM
  • Cancun Airport 325.0 km CUN

Other:

  • Beach 96.0 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 10.0 km

Rates for Azul Nomeolvides

Arriving on: