Chetumal, México – The Gateway To Bacalar Lagoon

Chetumal, the capital city of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. 

And our housesitting travels saw us arriving here in June, one of the hottest months of the year. Note to self – pick your locations wisely when travelling anywhere throughout México in the summer.

The heat hits hard in this country!

Chetumal is located on that México-Belize border, overlooking a vast but shallow body of water called the Bay of Chetumal, which is a sanctuary for manatee. If you’re standing on the malecon looking out over the water you have a view to Belize, it’s that close. 

While we were in Chetumal we thought it we be great to do a day trip to attractive San Pedro, in Belize.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the ferry times to work with our house-sitting commitments. We had two dogs and three cats to look after on this particular trip.

There are lots of benefits to house/pet sitting. Free accommodation, lots of cuddles with pets, visits to locations not necessarily on the tourist trail, living in locals homes instead of staying in a hotel room to name a few. 🙂

But it does come with responsibilities. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Water Taxi direct from Chetumal to Belize daily.

So what could we do in Chetumal for a month?

To figure this out we did what any good tourist would do, researched the Top 10 things to do in the area. Unfortunately, we found it a struggle to build a list of exciting activities.

Harsh?!?! Maybe….🤫

But here’s a couple of things we would recommend –

1. Bacalar Lagoons – this is my number 1 favourite place to visit in Quintana Roo. We visited Bacalar five times while we were in the area, see our blog for this little piece of Blue Paradise. Check out out blog on Bacalar Lagoons.

2. The Museum of Mayan Culture- located on Av de Los Héroes in Centro Chetumal. The museum is insightful and informative display of the Mayan culture.  Open Tuesday to Sunday, and it’s a great starting point to get an understanding of the Mayan culture.

3. Just a block away is another museum, Chetumal City Museum.  This museum focuses on Chetumal’s modern history, including the many hurricanes that have tried to wipe this Mexican coastal city away. It is a small museum just six rooms, the exhibits feature many fantastic displays, taking us a step back in time.

4. Strolling down the malecon. I have to admit Chetumal is not the most exciting of places we have visited in México. However, when you walk along the malecon, we were instantly relieved of the heat from the bitumen roads and concrete buildings by the beautiful breezes that blows across the bay. The walkways stretch for miles, perfect for walking with a couple of high energy dogs, and once the sun sets of an evening the area comes to life. You will find a explosion of colour, food vendors, families and loud music. It is also a great spot to pick up dessert. We loved people watching here, and seeing families out enjoying themselves.

Pet Sitting, Joe Joe and Roscoe

5. Get your tourist shot at the city sign. When visiting a new place we always look for the ‘city sign’ and a photo opportunity. Chetumal has several signs to choose from; most of them featuring aqua coloured water in the background making for that perfect ‘Insta’ shot!

6. We must admit, travelling as empty nesters and being sooo hot we decided not to visit the zoo. I’m sure it is a great day out for families though. You don’t have to travel too far; it’s right in the city. Check our map for the location. 🙂

Before our homeowners left for a month in France, they recommended we visit a delightful bakery in downtown Chetumal called Panaderia la Tartaleta. The bakery was just a few blocks from where we were staying and had a French influence in its sweet treats, baguettes & croissants. Freshly made juices and coffee are also on the menu and very tasty. The staff were super friendly, and the fans were a welcome relief from the heat. We recommend a visit if you need a very affordable and yummy morning tea or lunch.

We’ve pinned the location of this delightful bakery on our map in this blog.

A visit to a new place, also often finds us out searching for tacos! And we managed to find ourselves a few great tasting ones here. One of our favourites was Banquetakos Chetumal on Blvd Bahiaa, these guys really know how to load up a tortilla and provide an excellent taco experience. They also provide fantastic customer service, and helped us understand some of the localised Spanish terminologies. We really enjoyed eating here!

Some other things see while you’re in the area –

Just 1 hour from Chetumal on Highway 186 (not on the tourist trail) is the archaeological ruins of Kohunlich, Dzibanche and Kinicha. Kohunlich ruins would be rated in my Top 3 of the Mayan ruins we have visited in México. Definitely worth a visit, see our blog Kohunlich, Dzibanhe & Kinichna – Mayan Ruins in Southern Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Kohunlinch Archaeological Zone

Just 10 minutes up the road from Chetumal is a sleepy little fishing village called Calderitas, this area is also known as the Mexican Caribbean because of its laid back lifestyle and links to rasta roots. If a fresh seafood lunch on the edge of the water is what you are after, go to Calderitas.

Like a lot of the state of Quintana Roo, we came across an archeological site for us to explore – Oxtankah. The ruins of Oxtankah are in the Calderitas area and not on the tourist hit list which we were happy about, we virtually had the place to ourselves.

Although it was hot, Oxtankah is set amongst some very old shady trees, made us feel comfortable enough to spend an hour or more exploring the ruins and thinking about how life would have been like in this Mayan village. The ruins aren’t large but the site is impressive and worthy of a visit.

Once we were done at the ruins it was back to Calderitas to find a cold beer and enjoy the brilliant colour of the water.

While we don’t feel the need to return, we don’t regret the time we spent in Chetumal.

Many thanks to our Editor – Jess Downes

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