Chetumal, Mayan for “where the red trees grow”, is the capital of the Mexican Province Quintana Roo, situated on the Yucatan Peninsula. The town, located relatively close to the Mayan Riviera, may not spring to mind as the best choice for a stay in an All-inclusive hotel, though with a number of excellent Mayan archeological sites, the beach, jungle and the opportunity for a great shopping adventure in the duty free zone at the Belize border nearby, I have no problem to recommend staying at least a few days in this authentic Mexican Town. A great time to book a Chetumal hotel is during the yearly Carnival celebrations at the end of February or the beginning of March! more...
A wonderful legend tells it was in Chetumal where the Mayan and Spanish culture for the first time and forever became united through the marriage of the Mayan Princess Zani Ha with the Spanish soldier Gonzalo Guerro and the birth of their child, the first Mestizo.
This lovely midsize town south of the Mexican Riviera sits close to various Mayan architectural sites and mixes the colors and vibes of the jungle and the sea. The ancient Maya Port remains of great importance since the exchange of goods between Mexico and Belize takes place through the port of Chetumal. If you like to go on a serious shopping spree during your vacation, you will enjoy the duty free zone between Mexico and Belize. I can tell you from experience that clothes and other articles are being sold at bargain prices!
Chetumal has been devastated by various hurricanes but its survivors never gave up on the location. It is the youngest capital of any Mexican State and 7-8 hour drive from the Mexican mega tourist destination Cancun. Its beauty, authenticity, history and location along the main route to the capital of Belize and the world-famous and truly exceptional archeological sites of Tikal in Guatemala, makes this unassuming town that buzzes with features, a place worth visiting. Hotels in and around Chetumal range from budget to all–inclusive luxury hotels and there is no shortage of great restaurants either. For lunch I recommend checking out one of the many small cozy markets where you find small, authentic Mexican food stalls that serve up cheap authentic food of excellent quality.
How to get there
The airport of Chetumal is served by direct flights from Mexico City, Cancun and Merida with connecting flights to Cozumel, Belize City and Flores.
By road highway 307 links Chetumal to Cancun (384 km) and other destinations off of 307. Highway 186 runs westward to Escarcega and beyond. From Merida (414 km), take highway 184 to Felipe Carrillo Puerto then 307 south. Renting a car is fast and easy and bus services in Mexico are very extensive.
Tours and attractions
The Bay of Chetumal stands out for its fabulous colors and is one of the main attractions of the region. Check out the crystal-clear waters of Rio Hondo and Laguna de Bacalar, also known as the Lagoon of the Seven Colors.
The Kohunlich and Dzibanche archeological zones are not to be missed while visiting Chetumal. The Explorean Kohunlich hotel is a very popular all-inclusive hotel located in the rainforest, an ideal departure point for soft adventures.
Another prime attraction to visit is Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote), which has crystal-clear waters that give the visitor clear visibility, even 200 feet underwater. Divers visiting Chetumal cannot pass up this prime diving spot. Cenote Azul could be the best-kept secret of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Museum of the Mayan Culture (Museo de la Cultura Maya) offers a great inside into the Mayan Culture with authentic and replica’s of classical archeological treasures. It, gives a great inside into the Mayan culture, its origins, as well as the various aspects of their daily life.
Chetumal and Belize City enjoy a strong bond that includes cuisine, architecture, music and local traditions. The special relations between these two cities play an important role in connecting Mexico with Central America.