Chetumal Mexico: Top Things to do and Explore

Chetumal is the capital of one of Mexico’s most beautiful and most visited states by tourists: Quintana Roo.

Located in the country’s southeast, Chetumal is known for being where Mexico begins, referring to its location on the border with Belize.

Despite being the capital of the most sought-after state, the city is tranquil.

What is Chetumal known for?

chetumal mexico
Source: Michael Wong / flickr

Chetumal has excellent tourist attractions and beautiful natural landscapes and is a vital port for the region.

Since the trade sector works effectively with the neighboring country: Belize.

Although the bay displays a particular charm, it is interesting to recognize Chetumal Mexico as a strategic point to visit other nearby places:

  • Bacalar
  • Mahahual
  • Calderitas
  • Xcalak

You can discover several other towns if you spend some time in Chetumal.

Its year-round climate is tropical warm. However, visiting from December to March is recommended since the probability of encountering rain is almost null.

Where is Chetumal Mexico?

Before I show you what to do in Chetumal, let’s first see how to get there.

The easiest way to get to Chetumal is by air.

From Mexico City, you can find very cheap flights to this destination. The flight will take approximately two hours.

Remember to search in advance to find low-cost flights.

If you have more time and are in Cancun, you can take a bus or cab to Chetumal.

I always recommend renting a car, though, as it allows you to move around and explore other places at your own pace.

The trip by road from Cancun to Chetumal is about five and a half hours, but you can make as many stops as you want.

Now that you know how to get to Chetumal, I will show you the 8 best things to do and see during your trip. Enjoy!

Top 8 things to do and see in Chetumal Mexico

1. Visit the Altamirano market

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In this extensive market, you will find various regional handicrafts and traditional dishes from southern Mexico.

It is influenced by its proximity to Belize, creating a fusion of flavors you will not find in other parts of the country.

I think the Altamirano Market is one of the best things to do in Chetumal as it will allow you to learn more about the culture of the capital of Quintana Roo.

You will see and appreciate typical products and what the locals consume.

2. Stroll along Chetumal’s Boardwalk

chetumal mexico
Source: sensi1 / flickr

Enjoy a relaxing walk near the coast, where you can observe the mangrove ecosystem and the native fauna, especially alligators and different bird species.

Also, pay attention to the monuments along the way, including the “Monumento al Pescador,” “Monumento al Renacimiento,” and the “Monumento a la Bandera.”

The best time of the day to walk along is during sunrise or sunset because the sky is painted with colors and draws a reflection in the serene waters.

Besides this, the Malecon (boardwalk) is the ideal place to treat your palate to a famous Mexican snack: marquesitas.

These are very popular, especially in the Yucatecan region. They are similar to crepes or wafers, rolled up like a burrito.

The dough is cooked on a hot griddle and filled with jam, cheese, cream, or whatever flavor you prefer.

I highly recommend you try them because they are a delight!

3. Learn about the history of Chetumal Mexico by visiting its museums

chetumal mexico
Source: Jorge Fuentes / flickr

The Museum of Mayan Culture is one of Chetumal’s best things to do if you want to know more about its history, as it reviews the Mayas’ origins, traditions, and legacy.

It is considered the largest Mayan museum in the state of Quintana Roo.

The City Museum is another one I recommend you to visit: in this place, you can find part of the life of Chetumal.

It exhibits photographs, tools, and historical documents that give an insight into life in this bay.

And as if that weren’t enough, you can see several works by local artists at the Fine Arts Cultural Center.

You may want to read: 30 Best Mexico City Museums and World-Class Art Galleries

4. Explore the Archaeological sites

vamonos to mexico
Calakmul ruins – Source: Selkie / flickr

Mexico is the perfect country to learn about the great civilizations that existed on our continent, and without a doubt, one of them was the Maya.

Although you can learn a lot during your visit to the Museum of Mayan Culture in downtown Chetumal, nothing compares to the experience of visiting an archaeological site.

One of the most famous is Calakmul. It is located 235 kilometers from Chetumal, almost four hours away, and although it’s quite a long distance, it is well worth it.

It is said that Calakmul was home to fifty thousand Mayans, with constructions dating from 332 BC. – 925 A.D. 

All this makes the ancient town a fantastic place – Add to this the jungle and tropical life of this forest.-

Calakmul is home to a great variety of native animals. With 7,238 square kilometers of vegetation, it was declared in 2014 by UNESCO as a Cultural and Natural Heritage of Humanity.

Another option to enjoy the Mayan culture is to visit the ruins of Kohunlich.

An ancient ceremonial center and a Mayan city. It is located 65 km from the town of Chetumal.

Learn more about The Mayan Route

5. Visit Mahahual beach

chetumal beach
Mahahual beach – Source: dani w / flickr

Undoubtedly, this place has to be on your list of places to visit in Quintana Roo.

Located 142 kilometers from Chetumal, it is a one-hour and 40-minute bus ride.

Mahahual is a paradise that has become a better-known place in recent years, although it remains quiet.

The Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve and the Xcalak Marine Park stand out here.

It is the perfect place for a relaxing getaway, either for the day from Chetumal or an overnight stay.

Mahahual Beach is a well-known area for diving due to its coral reefs and various marine life.

6. Admire the Seven Color Lagoon in Bacalar

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Bacalar is only a 40-minute drive from Chetumal, so it should be a must-see.

It is known as one of Mexico’s Magical Towns, nicknamed “the Mexican Maldives.”

Bacalar is a destination with many things to do and see. Among the main ones is the Lagoon of the seven colors.

The name was given due to the different shades of the water, which are dyed according to the depths and sunlight.

You should not miss the Pirates’ Channel, the Black Cenote, and the Island of the Birds on your visit to Bacalar.

Treat yourself to the tranquility of the resorts, especially Sujuy-Ha, located in the farthest part of the Lagoon.

It is super quiet; no motorcycles or boats pass by, and there are almost no people!

And if you also want a little adrenaline, you can’t miss the Bacalar Rapids.

Between the Lagoon of Bacalar and Xul-Ha, there is a flow of water that contrasts with the calm of the lagoons, so let yourself go on a float or a raft and enjoy the ride!

7. Relax in Las Calderitas, near Chetumal Mexico

calderitas mexico
Source: israel ruiz / flickr

Las Calderitas is a beach resort located north of Chetumal, only eight kilometers away, about a ten-minute drive.

Calderitas is a lesser-known place, therefore ideal for relaxation.

Because it’s located on the coast of the Bay of Chetumal, much of its attraction is centered on the water.

You can’t miss Tamalcab Island’s white sand and crystalline waters.

If you are lucky, you might run into its unique fauna: spider monkeys, herons, and ospreys are some of its inhabitants.

In addition to all these activities, Calderitas is a strategic point to go to Oxtankáh since it is located four kilometers away.

Oxtankáh is an archaeological zone of the ancient Mayan civilization, a site of great relevance where you will find constructions dating from 600 B.C. and 1100 A.D.

You will also find a museum that exhibits utensils and ceramics.

8. Enjoy Mexican and Belizean flavors in one place

belize border
Source: Joseph / flickr

Chetumal is immersed in Mayan roots, adding a lot of influence from Belizean traditions, especially in gastronomy.

In this fusion, rice, beans, and lots of coconut oil, typical of Belizean food, cannot be missing, adding Mexican food’s magic and spicy flavors.

This area of Mexico is primarily known for its tamales, tacos, and seafood due to its location.

Join a volunteer program in Chetumal Mexico

The perfect opportunity to get to know where Mexico begins and stay longer living like a local is by doing a volunteer experience in Chetumal.

This way, your trip will take on a different meaning, which will allow you to get to know Chetumal and its surroundings, meet many travelers, and at the same time, save some money!

You can also see all the volunteer opportunities in Bacalar since, as I mentioned earlier, it is a short distance from Chetumal.

Indeed, many tourists don’t think of this place when planning their trip to Mexico.

But as you’ve seen, there is a lot to do in Chetumal, and it is a great base to visit other must-see places in Quintana Roo, such as Bacalar and the archaeological sites.

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