MAHAHUAL AND XCALAK TRAVEL GUIDE
Where to Stay - Click here for price key
The following lodgings are listed in order traveling south from town of Mahahual.
Facing the malecón in downtown Mahahual, Nacional Beach Club ($$, tel. 983/834-5719 or cell phone 983/110-5354, www.nacionalbeachclub.com) has nice bungalows with either fan or a/c. There’s a good restaurant/bar, tables and chairs on the sand, Wi-Fi connection, and a small swimming pool. Bike rental and massage available, as are snorkel and dive trips.
If you’re looking to indulge your internal hippie, or just want to save money, stay with the friendly family at Travel In’ ($, Camino Costero Mahahual-Xcalak Km 5.8, tel. cell 983/110-9496, www.travel-in.com.mx). Their main gig is a good international restaurant (see Where to Eat, below), but behind it are two rustic palapas with shared bathroom/shower and a larger, slightly more upscale cabin with its own bath. It’s a few kilometers south of Mahahual, facing the beach. Wi-fi available; lights out in the evening after the generator goes down.
Eight-room Margarita del Sol ($$$, Camino Costero Mahahual-Xcalak Km 7, tel. in Mexico City 55/5350-8522, in the U.S. 717/505-7966, www.margaritadelsol.com) has comfortable suites with kitchens and private balconies. Guests have access to kayaks and bicycles, a swimming pool, and outdoor grill. There’s good Wi-Fi, too; no smoking.
Kabah-Na ($$$, Camino Costero Mahahual-Xcalak Km 8.6, tel. cell 983/700-5917 or 983/112-6350, www.kabahna.com) offers very cool beach cabins facing a gorgeous beach. Wood-shuttered windows are screened and the palm-thatch-roofed bungalows are simple but cozy. Guests can use hammocks and shade palapas on the beach, snorkel and fins, and kayaks. The bar-restaurant, Fusion, is for guests and non-guests.
Tasteful accommodations are found at Alma Plena Eco Beach Resort ($$$$, Camino Costero Mahahual-Xcalak Km 12.5, tel. cell 983/137-5070, www.almaplenabeachresort.com). Cooled by sea breezes and ceiling fans, the stylish rooms have electronic safes, Wi-Fi, and balconies overlooking the beach. Continental breakfast included.
Rustic camping is available at Santa Cecilia ($, Camino Costero, where the coast road from Mahahual cuts inland en route to Xcalak).
Where to Eat - Click here for price key
The following restaurants are listed in order traveling south from Mahahual.
Nacional Beach Club ($$--$$$, tel. 983/834-5719 or cell phone 983/110-5354, www.nacionalbeachclub.com) serves breakfast and lunch until 5pm, and dinner by previous reservation. They offer seafood, vegetarian meals, and international fare.
Recommended by a local businessman, Fernando’s ($$--$$$, downtown Mahahual) is a restaurant-bar at the beach. They offer fair prices, nice food, and a pleasant atmosphere. They serve some quality tequilas, too, of 100 percent agave.
We had several good meals, including yummy breakfasts, at Travel In’ ($$--$$$, Camino Costero Mahahual-Xcalak, Km 5.8, tel. cell 983/110-9496, www.travel-in.com.mx). It’s open 5:30PM to 9 (or later by request); closed Sunday. Albert knows his wines and always has an eye out for special vintages to bring to the bar, which is popular with locals popping in for a drink and a chat.
Fusion ($$-$$$, Camino Costero Mahahual-Xcalak, Km 8.6, tel. cell 983/700-5917, www.kabahna.com) has pretty good food facing the beach. As its name implies, it is a blend of Mexican and Mediterranean flavors and dishes. You can also just hang here having drinks or smoothies or fresh fruit from a table on the sand, beginning at 10am.
What to Do
A local co-op in Xcalak, Bahía Blanca Tours takes visitors diving or snorkeling at Chinchorro Banks or other parts of the Mesoamerican Reef. You can also rent kayaks or go bird watching or fishing. Just head to the beach in Xcalak and ask locals for the “cooperativo.”
A fishing, diving, and snorkeling business administered by lots of cute, sunburned, blond boys is Extasis (www.xtcdivecenter.com). They also organize boat trips to Ambergris Cay, in Belize.
To arrange fly fishing, archaeological tours, and snorkel and scuba diving trips, among other aquatic adventures, contact Costa Maya Tours (U.S. tel. 813/435-3148, www.costa-maya-tours.com). They cater mainly to cruise ship passengers.
The closest archaeological site to Mahahual is Chacchoben. The site, believed to have been settled around the beginning of the Christian era, has a selection of restored structures dating mainly from AD200 to 700. Things get hectic when the cruise ships call, so come early those days to escape the crowds. From Mahahual it’s 73 km (45 mi), via Cafetal, heading west at Limones, the largest town in the region.
There are no banks in the immediate area. At the present time the ATM at the PEMEX station at the north entrance to town (coming from Cafetal and Limones) gives the best rate and the lowest commission. It’s best to bring plenty of cash to a remote area like this where you never know when the ATMs might be out of service.
Getting There, Getting Around
Mahahual is 140 km from Chetumal. Take Hwy 307 north to Cafetal and from there head east 57 km to Mahahual. Xcalak is another 55 km south of Mahahual. From El Uvero, at the north end of the Costa Maya, it is 45 km (27 mi) to Mahahual and a total of 90 kilometers (54 mi) to Xcalak.
It’s 220 miles and takes about five hours to drive from Cancun to Mahahual. For other driving distances, check out www.mexicoguru.com/mexico-driving-distance.php.
Please confirm all times mentioned here; schedules and routes often change.
From Mahahual, the ADO bus line has one first-class bus per day to Cancun (5 hours, currently departing at 5:30PM) and another to Chetumal (2 hours, leaving at 6PM). At the present time there is no bus to Merida, but you can take the a bus to Felipe Carrillo Puerto and catch one from there. The second-class Caribe bus line has service twice a day from Chetumal to Mahahual; it continues on to Xcalak. Catch it in Chetumal at 6AM or 4PM, or from Mahahual to Chetumal at 6AM or 3PM. Colectivos (vans) connect Mahahual to Felipe Carrillo Puerto twice a day and make about a dozen runs per day to Chetumal.
The closest airport is the international airport at Chetumal (airport code CTM, tel. 983/832-0898). The small airport receives Aeromexico and Aeromar flights. Other airports in the region are those of Campeche, Merida, and Cozumel (the latter, an island, requires a ferry boat ride to the mainland). The busy international airport at Cancun has the most flights on the greatest number of carriers, both Mexican and from other countries.
Geared toward cruise ship passengers in town for the day, Costa Maya Tours (www.costa-maya-tours.com, U.S. tel. 813/435-3148) rents golf carts and also Jet Skis.