A coastal city by the Mexico-Belize border, Chetumal is one of the few places unexploited by large groups of tourists. Explore Chetumal’s secluded beaches and learn about the rich, historical Mayan past at the city’s cultural museum.



Rich Cultural History


A mere 15 minutes away from the Belize border, Chetumal is often viewed as just the gateway to Central America. However, this quaint town is filled with a rich collection of Mayan history at cultural museums and nearby architectural sites.  


Several museums are located in Chetumal including the Museum of the Mayan Culture. A walk through this museum will introduce you to a collection of years of research into the life of Mayans through interactive displays and original artifacts. One of the most fascinating displays is the Holy Ceiba-- a three-tiered structure representing the Mayan belief of the universe with the underworld, the present life and the celestial realm. Learn about the traditions of the Mayans such as their complex funeral processions, self-sacrifice of the nobles, and agricultural practices.


chetumal museum


To experience the environment of ancient Mayan times, visit the nearby ruins at Dzibanche where you can climb the ancient temples above the treetops set in the deep jungle. Another closeby archeological site, Kohunlich, shares the artistic side of the Mayans with its Temple of the Masks decorated with 6- to 8-foot stucco masks of humanized faces. The geometric masks represent the Kohunlich rulers and are positioned to look toward the sunset in honor of the Maya Sun God.


chetumal ruins dzibanche


Untouched Beaches & Blue Lakes


Chetumal is surrounded by miles of untouched beaches and lakes with crystal-clear blue waters. A half-hour drive from Chetumal is Laguna Bacalar, known for its several shades of blue reflecting off its white sandy lakebed. This is the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico and the best way to see it is by kayak. 


chetumal laguna bacalar

The white sand beaches and crystal blue waters provide a literal dreamy backdrop. Sea breeze and fresh cut flowers can gently waft over the event. Also in the area is Cenote Azul, a deep blue water sinkhole,  perfect for swimming. As you dip into the cool waters, you may feel an adrenaline rush knowing the water below you is 300 feet deep-- the same as a 24-story building.


chetumal cenote


Take a scenic drive to the coast to Xcalak, a beach renowned for its simple and untouched feel. Although you’ll feel like you have it all to yourself, you may see  local fishermen pulling their lines for their daily catch or diving enthusiasts gearing up for Chinchorro Bank to explore underwater shipwrecks. 


Getting Around


Chetumal has a small airport with flights only going from and to Mexico City. The city is easily accessed by road as it sits right along the Highway 307. Cancun (5 hours away), Playa Del Carmen (4 hours away), and Tulum (3.5 hours away) are located along Highway 307. If you are on a budget, you can reach Chetumal by catching a public bus from the bus station located on the edge of town. Once you arrive at the Chetumal bus station, you can take a taxi waiting outside to reach your accommodation. 


Another option is to take a colectivo, which is a mini-van shared with other passengers that will take you directly to your final destination. Although inexpensive, be sure to account for the extra time it may take to wait for passengers to join the colectivo and also the time taken to drop off other passengers along the way.  


Although Chetumal is a large city, if you stay in the central area then everything can be reached by foot or bike. You can also ride the Bule Buzz, a guided trolley tour, that runs through the Avenida Héroes to Boulevard Bahía.


Interesting Facts


  • Eat at one of the specialty seafood restaurants in the nearby fishing village, Calderitas, just 4 miles north of Chetumal.

  • A must-do for diving enthusiasts is Chinchorro Bank where you can explore and swim through several underwater shipwrecks.