Getting Around in Chetumal
Chetumal, situated on the Yucatán Peninsula’s eastern coast, is known largely as a port city. It’s the primary trading station for Mexico, and it provides visitors with an interesting blend of both old-world and modern elements. It’s relatively small, but you won’t want for things to do in this charming area.
Founded on a former Mayan settlement in the late 19th century, Chetumal was originally a port city called Payo Obispo. Its main inhabitants were from Belize, many of whom were refugees from the Caste War of Yucatán. It wasn’t until the late 1930s that the city’s name changed to what is now known as Chetumal. Since then, it has suffered the wrath of several hurricanes. Although it was always a small city, the presence of an international airport and the adjacency to the Belize border have ramped up its popularity and made it a far more popular tourist destination.
The Museum of Mayan Culture is divvied up into several different sections and features hundreds of regional exhibits that explore the Mayan society in depth.
Things to Do
If you’re a history buff, you need venture no further than the old Chetumal district. Situated downtown, it’s a beautiful representation of historic Chetumal. There are dozens of colonial homes in beautiful condition situated on completely sand-ridden roads. The Museum of Mayan Culture is divvied up into several different sections and features hundreds of regional exhibits that explore the Mayan society in depth. It’s also worth the trek just outside the city to Kohunlich, which is home to many of the world’s most fascinating archaeological finds, including the Temple of the Masks.
Venture onto the main street and you’ll stumble onto plentiful merchants peddling their local wares — this is the place to snag a bag of local candy or some native clothes and accessories. Of particular note are the many handcrafted goods that promote the area’s rich history and Mayan culture. You’ll find everything from elegant figurines to wooden jewelry boxes. Boulevard Bahía is the place to be if you want to spend some quality time by the bay, walk a few miles, and enjoy some local cuisine at one of the area’s many restaurants.
If you’re with the family, it’s also an ideal place to enjoy a carnival ride or eat to your heart’s content. You’ll also want to check out Zoo Payo Obispo to observe a dramatic selection of regional and global animals. Bring everyone to the city’s history museum, situated on the grounds of the Quintana Roo Cultural Institute. You’ll find hundreds of fascinating exhibits, photographs, and artifacts here that take visitors through the city’s immense growth.
Chetumal, as it is known today, is fairly young. Its vibrancy is due in large part to its importance as a commercial entity. The busy city center is packed with familiar global chains that mingle with local establishments. Despite this buzzy atmosphere, you can still feel the local flavor in more relaxed market areas, where stall vendors peddle fresh fruits and food stall owners offer a taste of native cuisine.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of quality hotels in and around Chetumal, many of which offer the creature comforts of home without the splurge-worthy price. The area is also home to several hostels, which are ideal for nomads who want to reserve their funds for activities and shopping. If you’re traveling by air, look for properties outside of downtown, as they’re closer to Chetumal International Airport.
What to Bring
Heat is king in Chetumal, so it’s smart to pack light pieces. Even if you’re traveling during winter, you won’t need layering pieces — the season is typically short and free of any precipitation. You’ll want to bring along a hat to shield your face from the oppressive sunshine, along with plenty of sunscreen, a water bottle, and a light wrap that you can wear as both a sarong and a shoulder cover-up.
Water Taxi Comfort
You won’t find an easier way to get around the area than the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi Limited. Visiting bustling Chetumal puts you within easy distance of everything from world-class shopping to Belize, Cancun, and Cozumel. Via your water taxi, you can also enjoy effortless and comfortable transportation to Belize City, Caye Caulker, and San Pedro.