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.
Things to do are 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 rays at one of Mahahual’s beach bars. 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 atmosphere for everyone, usually with one of the “floating hotels” seen off shore.
At Restaurante Mahahual Kay gets ready to dig into a Mexican favorite coctel de camaron.
Several inexpensive hotel accommodations are available in town, with restaurants nearby.
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. For timid land-lubbers transparent kayaks are 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.
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.
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!
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.
Two good accommodations in Xcalak are Casa Carolina and Costa de Cocos bungalows. 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.
Check out our detailed information about the Costa Maya, Mahahual and Xcalak on our Destination section!