Something Different — Mahahual!
So, I had decided early this year that I wanted to go somewhere this summer since it has been about two and a half years since I’ve taken a real vacation. After some searching, I settled on Mahahual, Mexico. It’s near the bottom of the Yucatan Peninsula and not real easy to get to. Here’s a map:
I planned on renting a car while there, so now I had to decide whether to have a shorter flying time and fly into Cancun, then have a 4-1/2 hour drive to Mahahual. Or have a longer flying time and fly into Chetumal, then have a 2 hour drive to Mahahual. I decided on the latter. The Chetumal airport is a tiny little thing and you have to walk down those movable metal stairs from the plane to the tarmac. I haven’t done that in years! Since I landed at 8:30 p.m., I reserved a room at the Fiesta Inn in Chetumal for one night because I didn’t want to make that drive to Mahahual in the dark. I’m glad I did because I had to get used to driving a stick shift again, not to mention watching out for all the topes (speed bumps)…not fun in the dark. Here’s my spiffy little BAIC.
Since I had never heard of that model of car before, I had to Google it…it’s made in China. It was pretty nice, though. Much better than the one I rented in Coba to see the ruins. That one had a lot of wear and tear with a mere 160,000 miles on it. This one was just under 10,000 and in much better condition.
The Fiesta Inn was right downtown and it only took me 10 minutes to get there. It’s a very nice hotel…modern, with all the amenities.
I drove around Chetumal just a little bit the next morning. It has a population of about 150,000, so it’s not huge. I drove along the coast, but they just have a very narrow shoreline that’s lined with a low brick wall. It didn’t really look like a swimming beach. They may have more beach areas up the coast, but I didn’t want to take the time to check it out. After all, I needed to get to my next destination!
Yes…Walmart!! I’ve never been to a Walmart in Mexico before, but they’re pretty much the same as they are here. Since Mahahual is somewhat isolated, I decided to stock up on some necessities and snacks. When I came out with my purchases, I saw that there was a flattened cardboard box on my windshield. A guy came up and pulled it off and I realized that he put it there to protect it from the sun, and expected a tip for being so considerate! What the hell…I tipped him.
So, off I go to Mahahual. Highway 307 goes from Cancun down the peninsula close to the Belize border. I was speeding my way north, going 100 kilometers per hour, passing trucks and thinking I was going really fast. Then I Googled what 100 kph is compared to mph and it’s 62. Okay, so not as fast as I thought I was going. It’s a good highway and kept up well but, again, you have to watch out for the topes. Whenever you go through towns, you have to deal with a lot of them. Sometimes they have a warning sign in advance, but often they do not. And they have all different kinds of them
When I was doing my search for destinations, I also considered Bacalar. It’s much closer to Chetumal and sits on a fresh water lagoon. I decided on Mahahual because I wanted to be on the beach, but I stopped to take a look at Bacalar on the way. It’s a very small town, but very quaint. I wouldn’t mind spending some time there. The water is beautiful and it’s very peaceful.
They had some small ruins there, but I didn’t explore them because it felt like it was about 150 degrees out there.
A very small el centro area with some cute little shops.
Here is some information on Bacalar…
So, here’s what you see when you drive up to Mahahual.
Then you have to drive about a mile south to get to the main part of town. Here’s my hotel. Their rooms don’t have numbers, they have names. I had the Pelicano Room. It doesn’t sit right on the beach but is only about 50 steps from there.
It actually reminded me of my bedroom at home because I have a Mexican theme in orange tones. I just wish I had the saltillo floor instead of carpet.
Fortunately, my toothbrush matched the decor.
So, when I reserved my trip back in February, I didn’t even consider the problems of sargassum (seaweed) on the beaches. But as the trip was getting closer, I started to see news and posts of the extensive amount of it on the beaches along the Riviera Maya and Costa Maya. I checked out the Facebook page for Mahahual and saw that there was, indeed, a problem with sargassum. I actually considered canceling my trip, but then decided to go ahead with it. So, after checking in the hotel, I had to go to see what the beach looked like. Honestly, I was expecting the worst…so I’ll start with the worst first.
First, though, my obligatory “toes in the sand” photo…along with a little sargassum.
This is what the poor business owners have to deal with when there’s an excess amount of the stuff. Some establishments appear to be better equipped to deal with it, while others struggle with it. These businesses solely rely on the tourism industry, and business has been down due to the fact that no one wants to get in the water, so why go to a beach? Sad.
You know it’s bad when you have to use a backhoe to get it out. Most places were just using wheelbarrows.
But this was the worst. It was difficult to walk by this area because of the smell.
Mahahual is a very small community. The population is under 1,000 and it covers only a few blocks. There is a walkway that is in between the beach, restaurants and shops. It is starting to expand, but it seems to be pretty slow-going. There is a community just blocks away from the coast by the lighthouse, but it doesn’t appear to be catching on…it seemed somewhat deserted and there are some vacant buildings there. I drove through there and it was very quiet. I think most people want to be by the beach, so it can be hard to get visitors to go off the beaten path.
Now let’s get to some better beach pictures. The hotels and restaurants on the beach really were trying to do a good job of keeping them clean…it was definitely an on-going process for them.
“Don’t climb on my branches, I am fragile.”
There were a few vendors on the beach…not many at all.
These guys brought home the catch of the day.
This looked like a father and son team of woodworkers. I would think this wouldn’t be a popular item for tourists because it would be difficult to tote home!
There were quite a few dogs and cats running freely. Most wore collars and were well-behaved.
To the north of the lighthouse, there is a pier where cruise ships dock. They’re not the huge ones like in Cozumel…just the medium-sized ones.
I think this is where the local vendors get most of their business from. They would stream in for several hours and stop by the shops and restaurants. However, the Segways surprised me. It would literally take no more than 10 minutes to roll from the cruise ship south to the end of the walkway. Why not walk? But then I’m just not a Segway kind of gal.
It rained really hard for short times for a couple of days and the water really puddles! But I like how they make little bridges to get over to the beach…ha!
Local kids playing soccer. The World Cup was on while I was there and every TV was tuned to it. Maybe one of these kids will get there some day.
Now on to the food!! There aren’t a whole lot of restaurants in Mahahual and I’m sure I missed some really good ones. The thing about restaurants in Mexico is that you get really huge portions and it’s hard for one person to eat. So when I would only eat half of my plate, the servers would think I didn’t like it. I would have to say that I can’t eat for two people!
I found the best place for breakfast was my own hotel. A woman and (I think) her daughter made and served the meals. They were wonderful…made with care and were really good.
I had Huevos Motulenos at a restaurant along the walkway, but it wasn’t the best…and I love Huevos Motulenos. The Loncherias in Isla Mujeres have the best I’ve ever tasted.
Then I found this place.
Nohoch Kay Big Fish. It was wonderful. I love shrimp and got the following dishes for the next three days…Garlic Shrimp, Cajun Shrimp, and Shrimp in Pablano Pepper Sauce. They were all great. I liked the simple fresh salad they had with it.
On my last day there, I really felt like American food and ordered (not at Nohoch Kay Big Fish) what I thought was a plain burger. I guess they take the name “hamburger” literally, because it had ham on it…haha.
Okay…time to head back to Chetumal for my flight out. I was leaving at 9:00 a.m. and since I didn’t want to make the drive to the airport from Mahahual at 5:00 in the morning, I decided to stay in Chetumal the night before. I forgot to mention on the drive in that they have numerous fruit stands along the highway urging customers to stop. This is a frequent scene along the highway.
So this is the hotel I stayed in in Chetumal before flying out…the All Business Hotel. It is the strangest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Normally, hotels are busy with people coming and going…many have restaurants in the lobby so there’s always some activity going on. Not here. It was the most quiet hotel I’ve ever stayed in. There was an eerie, weird feeling that was just unsettling. The staff didn’t speak a lick of English, which I’m totally fine with, but they weren’t even talking to each other. I drove by the front three times before I could find it.
Even though it seems conspicuous in the picture, it’s not easy to spot when you’re on the street. The bellboy sat at a table in the corner of the vast lobby and didn’t speak to anyone. But he did help direct me to my room. Here’s the big lobby in which there are no people.
And no windows to the outside. So, beyond the right side of this picture where that glass wall is, is where the rooms are.
I’m sorry, but I got a really weird feeling and was conjuring up visions of horror or science fiction movies of people having organs removed from their bodies during their stay here…haha! I made sure my kids knew where I was staying that night in case they never heard from me again!
On the upside, their bed linens were to die for. They were very plush and comfortable. I would definitely give them an A+ on that score.
So, off to the airport the next day. The Mexico City airport is huge and you find yourself lost at times. I found it’s best to just cozy up to an electrical outlet and watch a movie to pass the time. But just when you think you’re just passing one gate to the next, then, bam!…you find yourself to a big mall where you can purchase all the things you’d ever need.
On one last note, my son just got back from Playa del Carmen last week. He took a side trip to Tulum to look at the ruins. This is the picture he took.
This is the same picture I took in March of 2010. So sad. Is it ever going to go back to that beautiful blue again??
And with that, I bid you adios, Mahahual.