Mahahual to Xcalak
Tourism sprouts a new town and real estate boom in southern Quintana Roo
Sipping a cerveza while her friends get their hair braided, it's a party on the beach 'till the whistle blows to re-board the boat. Up to three cruise ships a day stop in Mahahual for a bit of on-shore adventure and beach fun. Water sports, drinking, eating and shopping are the preferred activities but there are also tours like a quick trip to the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben, about an hour away.
All the ingredients for a good timeare either on the beach or Mahahual's main drag facing the sea. Natives who live here or are staying locally usually come with their own party provisions. Camping is even tolerated right on the main beach. Mahahual is essentially a one street town, the beach and main street being the big attraction. And things are just getting started here with new businesses popping up all the time. A few years ago there was next to nothing here, before the cruise ship dock was built. Now with up to three ships docking a day there is a new economy and new opportunities for all.
Cruise ship patrons soak in the raysat one of Mahahual's beach bars. (below and right) Local parents party in the shade at the edge of the beach while thier kids play in the Caribbean.
Taxis are everywhere,in town and by the cruise ship pier, waiting for the tourists' mad dash to Mahahual's beach bars, restaurants, shops and sights.
It's a carnival atmospherefor everyone, usually with one of the "floating hotels" in the background.
The main beach has plenty of fine sand for carefree swimming. Boat tours are available for more fun at sea. On a good day it's pretty much paradise on the Mexican Caribbean. Aerial view
Several inexpensive hotel accommodationsare available in town, with restaurants nearby.
At Restaurante MahahualKay gets ready to dig into a Mexican favorite coctel de camaron.
For timid land-lubbers transparent kayaksare a dry alternative to snorkeling, but don't forget the sun-screen!
We even bumped into an artist friend,Juan, who comes here to offer his mini paintings.
(Going south) The main street through Mahahual is also the beach road to Punta Herradura and Xcalak. Once we left Mahahual town center going south things quickly reverted to a non-touristy scene. There are a few accommodation options using alternate energy. Pole power is in town and will soon be run down the beach road. Kay's travel journal
Hands down our favorite breakfast cafe was Casa del Mar on the beach, just south of central Mahahual. Great food, friendly service and an excellent sea view at this little beach palapa restaurant.
We spent the night at Maya Luna 5-10 minutes south of central Mahahual (no web site for them yet). They had clean rooms on the beach, fan only, alternate energy. There are also nice rooms at Balamku beach inn a little farther south, and good food and accommodations at the Travelers Inn.
Going much farther takes you away from Mahahual and past a series of lots, many of them abandon with beach house ruins. We stopped at several and fantasized about buying them, especially the ones with big beaches. As you can imagine, real estate is a hot item here. Keep in mind it's buyer beware!
This was one of the widest beaches we saw.
Even with a dilapidated building on it you know it's big $.
Here's another diamond in the rough, quite photogenic in its Caribbean setting.
Along the way we noticed a boardwalk leading into the mangrove. From the Mahahual/Xcalak aerial photos we knew there were lots of giant lagoons along the coast and so we were fairly certain this boardwalk led to one. Almost immediately the mangrove overgrowth gave way to a giant lagoon/estuary where two air boats were tied up. To our surprise, thousands of freshwater jellyfish were amassed along the shoreline, quite amazing to see.
Kay's Bird log:
- Grey Headed Kite Leptodon Cayanesis
- Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula
- Leniated Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalenise
- Boat billed Flycatcher Meganynchus pitangua
- Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis
- Brown Jay Psilorhinus morio
- Yucatan Jay Cissilopha yucantanica
- Tropical Gnatcatchers Polioptila Plumbea
- Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus
- Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
- Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
- Snowy Egret Egretta (Leucophoyx) thula
- Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Before arriving in Xcalak there is a small bridge over the Rio Huach (photo above, click: for aerial photo), a river leading to a large brackish estuary, good birdwatching.
Arriving in Xcalak
Two good accommodations in Xcalak are Casa Carolina (top 2 photos below) and Costa de Cocos bungalows (bottom 2 photos below). Activities are primarily fishing, snorkeling, diving and relaxing. The town is a fishing village with tourist services offered in a few locations and at the accommodations.
In Xcalak town center there isn't much for tourists but Silvia's restaurant and the athletic field. This is about as kicked back as you can get. You will find the locals to be friendly warm people, and the ex-pats always have a good story or advice for visitors. Evening activities include reading a good book, going to a resort's bar (Costa de Cocos) and reviewing the days' adventures, or whatever else you can come up with. Xcalak is best known for outdoor sea adventures like kayaking, fishing and diving.