Gateway to the Grand Costa Maya
Just south of the Riviera Maya and Maya Ka´an, along the Grand Costa Maya, sits Quintana Roo’s capital city, Chetumal. Near the border of Belize, Chetumal offers small-town vibes with can’t-miss attractions and accommodations.
Discover the Region’s Culture
The Museo de la Cultura Maya (Museum of Mayan Culture) is the largest in Quintana Roo. Meanwhile, the Museo de la Ciudad explains the history of Chetumal, from its foundation, the Caste War, the creation, and restitution of the territory, to their customs and traditions. The bayside Boulevard Bahía—just a 10-minute walk from most hotels and the marketplace— is a great spot to sit and watch the sunrise or sunset. The boulevard also offers a taste of the city’s old architecture—charming, English-style wooden houses that are remnants of the British influence over neighboring Belize. The Payo Obispo scale model inside one of these buildings along the bay nods to the city’s past when it was called Payo Obispo in the 20th century and was just a small town of colorful buildings and dirt roads. The boulevard surrounds Chetumal Bay, a manatee sanctuary, and features several monuments and a sculpture corridor, boasting artwork from international plastic artists.
Spend the day at the Payo Obispo Zoo, admiring more than 50 species of butterflies, reptiles, mammals, and regional birds; playing at the interactive farm; or taking a ride on the ziplines. The Yook’ol Kaab Planetarium is another fun thing to do in Chetumal, especially for families. Time your visit when movies are playing at the digital dome theater.
Chetumal blends history and nature and is surrounded by jungles that lead to remote archeological sites like Kinichná, Chacchobén, Kohunlich,Oxtankah and Dzibanché, one of the largest and most important sites of the south of Quintana Roo. An hour outside of Chetumal, you can also plan a getaway to Bacalar where you'll find its beautiful Seven Colors Lagoon, or, closer to town, Calderitas is the perfect place to try the most delicious seafood of the area. One site worth trekking out to is the 295-foot-deep Cenote Cocodrilo Dorado, located in La Unión, 68 miles away from Chetumal, on the natural border with Belize. Here you can partake in several nature activities such as hiking, mountain biking, kayaking along the streams, swimming in the springs and horseback riding. The wall that surrounds the cenote on one side reaches 70 meters in height and is considered the best place in all the Mexican Caribbean to practice rappel. It also makes it one of the deepest in the region, with large, jade-colored pools perfect for swimming or basking in the sun. At sunset, you can admire the clouds of bats that come out of these walls, making their night tours a can’t-miss.
Savor Your Stay
Restaurants in Chetumal range from international eateries to Mexican spots and local specialties. In the evening, Boulevard Bahia opens up to street vendors selling snacks and sweets like marquesitas, a crispy crêpe rolled and filled with jam, chocolate, or cheese. The boulevard is also a popular nightlife spot, and really starts buzzing with music and entertainment come nightfall.