CHETUMAL - GRAND COSTA MAYA
Tourism in CHETUMAL - GRAND COSTA MAYA
Costa Maya is located on the south of the Quintana Roo state and has many locations to choose from: a typical Caribbean enclave like Chetumal, a Magic Town like Bacalar, beautiful beaches like Mahahual and Xcalak and amazing Mayan sites such as Chacchoben or Kohunlich.
Blessed with an unbeatable combination of tropical forest, wetlands, white-sand beaches, coral reefs, abundant wildlife and magnificent archaeological sites, Grand Costa Maya has long been one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets. This is an ideal place for adventure lovers as well as for people who loved Mayan culture, since several communities in here have preserved timeless traditions.
Tourism in CHETUMAL
The City of Chetumal is the small, quaint and relatively young capital of the state of Quintana Roo. Chetumal comes from Chactemàal that means “Place of the Red Wood”, in Maya and it was founded in 1898 with the name Payo Obispo.
It has a Caribbean flavor featuring many small English-style wooden houses and is a very enjoyable destination with countless attractions. You will find culture, history, and natural beauty as well as gentle and kind people. The city offers accommodation, tourist attractions and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, and it offers well-connected roads and an airport.
The Boulevard Bahia in Chetumal goes along the waterfront and is the longest in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. Walk along the Boulevard will be delightful during the day and night, you will discover some of the most significant landmarks in Chetumal like the monuments of the Fisherman, the Manti and the one which represents the renaissance of Chetumal after the pass of the hurricane “Janet”.
This is the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, as well as great meal with an incredible view.
The colorful architecture of Chetumal will transported you back in time, while you walk though the streets of this beautiful Caribbean town.
How to Get to CHETUMAL
The International Airport of Chetumal lies just 2 km. from the city and offers a daily flight to Mexico City (95 minutes). You can also arrive by private plane flying from Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.
Chetumal is easily accessible by road from most cities in the state with a modern, safe and convenient highway, so you can get around by car rental or you can take a bus from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. From Cancun, the drive is roughly 4 hours and pretty direct following highway 307 South. The route passed through numerous small towns of the Riviera Maya and Felipe Carrillo Puerto.
From the city of Belize, you take the road to the Santa Elena border bridge, passing through Orange Walk and Corazal, and crossing the border take the Federal Highway 307.
From Mérida, take the Highway 184 passing through the archaeological sites of Mayapan and Acanceh, and take the junction to the Puuc Route and the town of Tekax, until you connect with the Federal Highway 307.
A good paved road connects Chetumal with other Southeastern states like Chiapas, Tabasco or Campeche, Mexico’s Federal Route 186 traverses southern half of the Yucatán between Escárcega and Chetumal, passing through the archaeological sites of Calakmul, Balam Ku, Xpuhil and Rio Bec.
Tourist Attractions in CHETUMAL
It runs around Chetumal Bay with a nice view of the Bay. You can run, stroll or tour this peaceful area by bicycle enjoying the many cafes, restaurants, parks and the fresh sea breeze.
Explanada de la Bandera
It is the first monument built in Chetumal and is located in front of the Government Palace. This monument commemorates the defense of the country when Mexico declared war on Germany and it has a white obelisk with a clock and two golden eagles in each side.
Monumento del Pescador
The Monument to the fisherman is a landmark located in Boulevard Bahia, a perfect spot for a souvenir picture with family. The inscription in the monument quotes “Chetumal. Here is where Mexico begins”. A fountain and a wooden corridor surround it.
Chetumal’s Architectural Landscape
After Hurricane Janet, the city was rebuilt combining the modern style and the so-called “Old Chetumal”, with houses in romantic English colonial style. Colored wooden houses and corrugated metal roof, reminiscent of the architecture of the Bahamas or Jamaica, characterize the streets of Chetumal.
Parque “El Renacimiento”
It is a nice park with an sculpture named “Renaissance”, because it represents the revival of the city after the devastation of Hurricane Janet in 1955. Nearby are a shopping center and the Palace of Justice building.
Casa de la Crónica
The House of the Chronicle is a nice place to hang out offers you with articles and pictures regarding the history of the city. It is located inside the Cayman Park.
Payo Obispo Zoo
The Park encompasses 11,000 hectares and is home to reptiles, birds, butterflies and mammals of the region. Enclosures in the zoo are designed to mimic the natural habitats where the animals live in, and you can walk along enormous mahogany and ceiba tress that reach heights of up to 50 feet. Horse rides are available at the zoo, as well as tour guides. Children can feed the birds and the fish. Hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00 hrs.
Museum of the Mayan Culture
The displays and models provide a fascinating insight into the Mayan cosmology. The museum was opened in 1993 and it is unique in its kind in Latin America. The first floor represents the roots of the tree where the Maya underworld named Xibalba reigns. The middle floor is the tree trunk, known as Earth, home to humans and all their trappings. The top floor is the leaves and branches and the 13 heavens of the cosmic world. This distributed around a central courtyard flanked by tall and wide corridors that provide access to the different rooms.
The exhibition shows the daily way of life and the religions practiced by the Mayans. There are many scale models of famous archeological sites, reproductions of murals and many artifacts. There is a crafts store, a bookshop and a temporary exhibition room.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9:00 to 19:00 hrs. Sundays 9:00 to 14:00 hrs. In the museum’s courtyard is a Na (thatched hut) with implements of daily Maya life on display like gourds and grinding stones.
International Business and Convention Center of Chetumal
The modern complex features business center, commercial spaces, kitchens, service areas, dressing rooms and all the services to meet all needs for events, exhibitions and fairs.
Museum of the city of Chetumal
The museum was founded to preserve the history of Chetumal. It is located in a unique architectural complex known as the Cultural Center of Fine Arts. It has six rooms with a splendid decoration showing the history of the city, with it’s English colonial air, including the Mayan civilization, the Caste War and other crucial events in the history of Chetumal, like the hurricane “Janet”. The museum offers workshops and classes year round,
as well as a magnificent open-air auditorium known as the Minerva Theater. Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9:00 to 19:00 hrs. Sundays 9:00 to 14:00 hrs.
Mural Pictórico del Congreso (Congress Mural)
This is a large mural created by Elio Carmichael on the ceiling and wall called “Form, Color and History”. The paintings depicted the history of the city since the creation of the Maya according to the legend of the Popol Vuh (sacred book of the Maya) until the “Caste War” in the mid-19th century.
Playa Obispo Scale Model
This is a remarkable, outsized scale model of the former Payo Obispo, reconstructed from the memories of old residents with the charming wooden Caribbean-style houses. Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 19:00 hrs.
Planetarium Yook’ Ol Kaab
It features an astronomical observatory with an 16-inch telescope, the most powerful in the Mexican southeast; a solar clock; an auditorium with capacity to hold up to 190 people; and two rooms, one with a permanent exhibition that shows the Mayan Cosmology and the other for temporary exhibitions related with the universe. It also has a 12-m dome housing a Digistar 4 system with two peripheral projectors. Planetarium Show Schedule: Tuesday to Friday 18:00 hrs. Saturdays and Sundays 12:30, 15:30, and 18:00 hrs.
The beautiful Chetumal Bay has coastal lagoons, islands and extensive mangrove systems. The emerald green waters shelter a rich and diverse wildlife. Along the bay you can get a glimpse of the ancient Mayan culture, as well as some constructions of the colonial times. There is also a nice resort with restaurants offering unforgettable seafood dishes and a beautiful spot where a stream feeds the stunning Milagros Lagoon.
The nearby village of Calderitas, located just 15 minutes from Chetumal, is the place where you ought to go if you want to enjoy some good food right by the water; you will find several restaurants on a deck along the water’s edge with beach huts. A bit further up the coast from the restaurants there is a trailer park if you want to sped the night, there is also a hotel, boat rides and kayak rentals.
Part of the interconnecting backwaters of the Chetumal Bay, is about 4 miles long. Beside the lagoon is the “Protected Natural Area for Care and Rehabilitation Center for Marine Mammals” also known as the Chetumal Bay Manatee Sanctuary, a protected natural area of 281 000 hectares covering the Hondo River, the Bay of Chetumal and Guerrero Lagoon.
Since 1996, various government agencies, as well as colleges, private institutions and international conservation organizations have joined forces to help support this sanctuary. Sanctuary is home to one of the largest remaining populations, around 150-200 individuals, of Mexican Caribbean manatee. This area is also home of other endangered species like: the marsh crocodile, river turtles and jaguars.
Manatees are large slow aquatic mammals and weigh between 300 and 500 kg (600 to 1,200 pounds). They are uniquely adapted for eating aquatic plants and can remain submerged for up to 20 minutes.
The 6 miles long and few hundred meters wide island is located only a little more than a mile far from the cost of Calderitas. It is a beautiful island lined with white beaches where the clear offshore waters are perfect for aquatic sports. This is the perfect spot for people who loves fishing and snorkeling, one of the best in the region. The island is home to spider monkeys, coati, agouti, osprey and several varieties of heron. There are also some vestiges of the Mayan culture.
It is located just over one mile from the Guerrero Lagoon. It is in the conjunction with a river that comes from Bacalar lagoon, a nice place for camping. During the weekends and the vacation season there are several restaurants. You can also rent kayaks and take boat rides. This is one of the best birding locations in the area.
Ribera del Río Hondo
The Rio Hondo is a corridor in the middle of the forest and the natural border between Mexico and Belize, with an approximate length of 209 km. During the colonial times, more than 250 years ago, the river was used as a waterway to get the precious logwood. Later, it was the route to transport natural chicle gum, which was extracted from the chicozapote sap, mahogany and other precious woods. Today, the river is flanked on each side by extensive groves. Along the way there are beautiful springs, streams and ponds.
If you love kayaking, venture to navigate the route used by the pirates from Chetumal to Bacalar crossing the Chac Estuary, or explore the Hondo River and paddle many channels that weave through the mangroves.
Across the Hondo River is a Free Trade Zone, with dozens of tax free shops offering a wide variety of merchandise. To cross the border bridge on foot or by car you don’t need a passport. Belize also has a number of casinos. The Casino also features shows, bars and restaurants with a wide selection of cuisines. Next to the Free Zone is the road leading to Orange Walk and Corozal within Belize. Mexican travelers do not require a visa to enter the country, but if you are traveling by car, you required purchasing auto insurance.
It is a village where you can find huge crystalline swimming pool fed by a natural sprig that is cool and pleasant in a place known as El Manantial (The Spring). There is a restaurant where you can taste dishes made with freshly caught fish. There are charming places along the river road with beautiful scenery.
Two kilometers from El Palmar is La Palma, with crystal-clear streams flowing through large green leafy trees. And 17 km down the road you will find El Balneario, located in a tiny community named Álvaro Obregón, in this area the stream characterized by shallow depths forming pools ideal for swimming.
Laguna Milagros (Lagoon of Miracles)
About 23 km west of Chetumal, in the town of Huay-Pix is the beautiful Laguna Milagros with the amazing azure water where you can swim. The lagoon is almost 2 miles long and a little bit more than a mile across at its widest point. It has some cabins, a trailer park and restaurants offering a tempting menu of fresh seafood. You can paddling in a kayak or enjoy a boat tour. The Laguna Milagros has been the scene of many local and national boat races.
This border town is located on the banks of the Rio Hondo, you have to use a canoe to cross the border to Belize. In this location the main attraction is the “Cenote del Cocodrilo Dorado”(Golden Crocodile Cenote), where visitors can swim in the nearby stream, venture into the jungle with a guide, or explore a cave.
The sinkhole looks like a bright cobalt blue mirror with a diameter of about one hundred meters. The cenote is nestled in a range of hills, up to 70 meters-hight, and there is a cliff where the adventurous can also go rock climbing, rappel or zip line. When the sun comes down, you can see clouds of bats coming out of the walls.
With almost 60 kilometers from end to end (Uchben Kah to the north and Xul-Há to the south), Bacalar is the second longest inland lagoon in the country. In addition, this lagoon is only the door of a huge lake and river system in the south of Quintana Roo. The trade routes of the past took full advantage of this complex aquatic network.
In previous centuries, English pirates entered from Belize in search of the valuable palo de tinte (also called palo de Campeche) through a channel that emptied almost in front of present-day Bacalar. Therefore, the Fort of San Felipe was built at this point, to defend against pirates.
For the visitor, this enormous aquatic system offers unique opportunities for walks and adventures. You can rent a boat to walk around the lagoon, or go deep into its mangroves in a kayak. In the Uchben Kah park there are guided tours that allow you to see the best preserved flora and fauna in the north of the lagoon.
Bacalar is one of the privileged places to practice all kinds of water sports. It is the ideal place for snorkeling and diving, as well as kayaking along one of the most beautiful lagoons in the country. One of the sports that has been gaining interest is SUP, since the calm waters and landscapes of the lagoon, together with its mangroves, have the ideal conditions to enjoy paddle surfing.
In its surroundings you can go hiking or go for a ride on ATVs and explore all the natural beauties and the wonders of the Mayan culture.
To learn more about BACALAR:
It is a former fishing village where you can indulge in an array of water sports, one of the few untouched pieces of paradise, where water offers an amazing natural playground for fish among an abundant bright coral, you will find from snappers to lobsters. It is an intact heaven for divers. North of the lighthouse is the Costa Maya Pier, designed specifically to receive cruise ships with. Today it has become the second largest cruise port in the country.
It offers a lot of amenities like 3 salty water pools that feature swim-up bars, restaurants, a shopping plaza and artisan markets. The beachfront offers a sea wall Malecon, beach clubs and restaurants. Beside, Mahahual beaches are a successful combination of convenience and tranquility, because of the reefs proximity you can enjoy the deep blue or emerald green waters of some of the most beautiful natural pools in the Caribbean.
The accommodation is for every pocket, from boutique hotels with incredible sea views to small bed and breakfast, or you can also camp.
It is one of the last pristine beaches in the Caribbean with the unique charm of a relaxed and calm atmosphere for those who love the nature. In Xcalak is located the Zaragoza channel, an artificial waterway between the Caribbean Sea and the Bay of Chetumal, without passing through Belize’s territorial seas.
This fishing village offers small hotels and is a beautiful place for biking. An important seabird and wading bird- nesting colony is located a short distance offshore in La Aguada a place with mangrove vegetation. The area doesn’t have much beach but makes up for it with world-class fly-fishing, great snorkeling and diving, and a healthy coral reef and lagoon. You can fish sawfish, mackerel, tuna, barracuda, grouper and tarpon all year long, and from April to June you can find dorado, marlin and sailfish.
The Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Xcalak (Xcalak Reef National Park) was established at the end of 2003, affording protection to the coastal ecosystem. The park spans nearly 18,000 hectares (44,479 acres), from the Belize border to well north of town, and includes the reef (and everything else down to 100 meters (328 feet)) as well as the shoreline and numerous inland lagoons. The park is a paradise for diving enthusiasts for its unparalleled biodiversity.
The shallow waters keep boat traffic to a minimum, and anglers are good about steering clear of snorkelers. Eight miles south is Rio Huach, which is also part of the ecological park of Xcalak.
Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System
It is a marine region that stretches over 1,000 km from Isla Contoy at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula down to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest in the Atlantic Ocean and the second largest in the world, with a length of 600 miles. More than just a barrier reef is an intricate system biodiversity spot with over 500 varieties of fish, 350 species of mollusks, and 65 species of corals.
When visiting a reef area, please be sure not to damage this fragile wonderland. Hire the services certify service providers.
The Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve is 20 minutes from Mahahual by boat. The atoll covers about 500 square miles, it is the largest in Mexico and the second largest in the world. Chinchorro Bank was formed over millennia by the accumulation of fragments of coral skeletons, shells, snails and calcareous material evolved from these creatures.
There is a 60 feet thick coral reef around the atoll completely submerged. The atoll is most taken up by a lagoon of crystal-clear water that is 3 to 25 feet deep and three keys areas: Cayo Norte, Cayo Centro and Cayo Lobos covered with mangrove, palm tree and shrubs.
The flora and fauna of Chinchorro is surprisingly diverse, there are approximately 2,500 types of organisms visible with an infinite variety of shapes and colors. On the windward side of the banks, there are a variety of wrecks from all time periods, so it has become a maritime museum with 68-recorded archaeological sites.
Several ships have run aground in the last 500 years, like Spanish and British galleons of the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of the wrecks are very shallow and can best be explored snorkeling, you can admire rudders, anchors and canyons.
On the reefs, divers and snorkelers may see a diverse variety of coral like elkhorn, staghorn, bran, star, and soft corals, as well as hundreds of colorful fish, turtles, even dolphins and sharks living in the protection of the reef.
The shallow inside of the atoll is 3 to 5 meters deep. There are fishermen stilt houses in the Cayo Central, the largest and most central of the cays, which are used as temporary camps of tourists coming to take photographs, to film or just swim among these beautiful corals.
We remind you that it is very important to be a responsible tourist and not to touch the reefs or corals.
More Tourist Attractions in QUINTANA ROO
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Eco Parks in Quintana Roo
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Water Sports in the Riviera Maya
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Water Sports in Cozumel
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Magical Towns in Quintana Roo
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Ecotourism and Adventure in Quintana Roo
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Shopping in Quintana Roo
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Guided Tours in CHETUMAL - GRAND COSTA MAYA
Flights & Hotels in CHETUMAL - GRAND COSTA MAYA
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