Majahual/Xcalak/Lake Bacalar, Costa Maya, MX

Majahual is still a tiny fishing village even though the Mexican government has bigger plans.  Right now, it consists of 2 small hotels, a handful of good resturants, a narrow beach with a reef within easy swimming distance and one beach road with souvenir vendors working out of temporary shelters patiently waiting for the next cruise ship to dock a few KM up the beach.  Try to avoid Majahual when cruise ships dock; it's crazy and crowded!!  It's best to arrive just when the cruise ship leaves port and the vendors are closing up.  Youu can get pretty decent deals on some souvenirs.   But don't expect to haggle much or get an excellent deal as the next cruise ship will be arriving in a day or two supplying Majahual with thougsands of souvenir happy shoppers.  Probably no one ever heard of this wonderful fishing village until the Mexican government made the decision the country needed another port to take advantage of the growing cruise industry.  The village  itself is still quaint but since the cruise industry wants to turn this village into a major port it now has electricity and even street lights and that's too bad; some of the charm is lost.  The government has even created a village of it's own at the port calling it Puerto Costa Maya.  It's a preplanned community near the docks where the locals who provide services to the cruise industry live.  It's just in it's infancy so only a few homes exist right now, but the named streets are already there.  Puerto Costa Maya does have a Tienda (small grocery store), laundrymat and an internet cafe with phone service.

Most property along the Costa Maya's many crescent shaped beaches in either direction of Majahual are privately owned and almost all of it is still undeveloped so at night it's pitch black (outside of Majahual) and the stars appear so bright and close you can touch them!   What to do in and around this tiny village?  Enjoy the nite stars with your sweetheart, snorkel off the reef (better yet take a kayak out to the reef) to see some incredible fish and coral, sit on the beach under a giant coconut palm just chilling watching the gentle waves hit the shore or walk the beach and collect conch shells.  Get the gist?   It's unpopulated, relaxing and quiet. Ahhh.... If you want more adventure and you have a car,  there are a coupld of great day drips.  Luckily there is now a Pemex gas station outside of Majahual which saves considerable time and money.  Previously the closest Pemex was in Phillpe Carillo Puerto about 1 hour north. 

Day Trip #1 from Majahual - Visit Belize for a day!  Need to make reservations in advance and you need a passport..  Early in the day head south to Xcalak (about 60 KM south - allow 45 min to 1 hour to drive it) when the road ends turn left and look for XTC Dive Center www.xtcdivecenter.com.  Hire an XTC captain to take you in an small open boat to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize for a day.  The 1 1/2 boat ride in each direction is well worth the price alone (about $200 per boat for up to 8 people).  You stay safely inside the flats so the water is between 3 and 15 feet deep as you fly along seeing lots of fish, sting and manta rays, birds and hundreds of uninhabited islands and mangroves. You spend a about 5 hours shopping, renting golf carts to get around town, eating lunch, more shopping and then head back to Xcalak arriving in time for dinner.

  Day Trip #2 from Majahual Visit Chacchoben ruins/Lake Bacalar/Fortress of San Felipe Bacalar/Cenote.Azul!  Head south on 307 from the Cafetal exit (turn off to Majahual) to visit the ruins of Chachoben.  They are small as compared to Chichen Itza or Coba but were just opened in 2001 so not too many people know about them. They are right off a main road that heads to Merida off of 307 a few KM south of the Majahual turn off.  Don't expect brochures and you need exact change in Pesos ($33 per person) and brush up on your Spanish as no on speaks or understands English but we had no problems.  Only some of ithe ruins are excavated and it sits in the jungle so it feels like you are the one discovering the ruins for the first time.  Massive palms, Spanish moss hanging everywhere and trees with huge butresses all between a few impressive pyramids.  If you are quiet and patient you can hear Howler monkeys in the distant jungle.  Expect to spend about 1 hour or so there exploring.  When we visited, we were the only ones which was great for taking pics, but because there wasn't a ship in port to bring guests to the ruins, the local vendors were not open.  It looked like there were some nice things to choose from and some pretty good prices too.   

From the ruins, head back to 307 and head south about 30 minutes to Lake Bacalar, Mexico's largest fresh water lake.  It's 50 KM long that looks like the Caribbean - 7 colors of blue!  Just breathtaking!  To get to the lake, you can turn left anywhere along 307 when you get to the village. You can swim, canoe, etc. on the lake but it all costs money.  While in the town visit the famous San Felipe Fort built in 1733 to defend the locals and Spanards from Pirates.  It has a moat around it and a small informative musem ($5 US) with great views of the lake. Within walking distance in front of the fort and on the lake front is a great resturant with outdoor dining; stop and enjoy lunch right on the lake.  There is a narrow local road with a garden island between it's lanes that wanders along the lake front and takes you back to 307 on the south side of the village.  Just before 307 is the Yucatan's largest and deepest cenote - Cenote Azul.  You can swim in the cenote and there is a seafood resturant overlooking it; it's good but it's pretty expensive.  The village of Lake Bacalar is very quaint and sees few tourists so be sure to drive through and check it out..