While Chetumal is well known as being Mexico’s stepping stone to neighbouring Belize, I think that the city of Chetumal and it’s surroundings have a lot more to offer than just being a pit stop for travellers.
First of all Chetumal is known for cheap shopping, many from Belize crossing the border for better bargains than those they find in their own country. It also has a Museum of Mayan Culture, a Fine Arts Cultural Centre and visitors can stretch their legs along the Boulevard Bahía, a 3 kilometer walkway along the shore populated by many restaurants, bars and interesting sculptures.
What has also attracted my attention to Chetumal are the numerous places of interest surrounding the city. Not far away is Calderitas, a small picturesque fishing village that looks to be worth a visit. Also ‘just around the corner’ is Bacala, a set of lagoons and a cenote.
Only a stones throw away are some almost unheard of archeological sites: Oxtankah, Kohunlich, Dzibanché, Kinichná and Chacchoben. If beaches are your thing, Chetumal is a gateway to the Costa Maya; the Caribbean coastline which stretches from Punta Herrero to the small village of Xalak with almost 200 kilometres of white sandy beaches and a tropical reef nestled not too far from the water’s edge. This area, which includes part of the Biosphere Reserve Sian Ka’an (also a world heritage site), is well known for it’s exotic flora and being the home to hundreds of different species of animals from colourful birds and fish to jaguars and manatees.
The Costa Maya seems to have it all – everything that it’s neighbour to the north has – but just less spoilt. Punta Herrero is a eco-resort resort within Sian Ka’an and Majahual a cruise ship landing point which boasts activities such as jet skiing, diving, swimming, jungle trails and boat tours. Not far from Majahual is Banco Chinchorro, an atoll reef and haven for countless marine animals such as turtles, dolphins and fish and, apparently, also home to many shipwrecks – which must make for some pretty great diving. Further south the fishing village Xalak is also said to be a diving spot and a stepping-stone to some interesting mangroves nearby.
As far as I have seen, through various google searches, Chetumal and it’s close neighbours do really have a lot to offer along with beauty comparable to the well-known Riviera Maya to the north. It’s the kind of beauty that I really want to explore before it becomes overrun with too many people and the local culture pushed to the side. That said, I don’t think that it will become too crowded too soon, so I still have some time to get there and explore this great looking spot.