Grand Costa Maya: A Guide to This Mexican Caribbean Hidden Gem

The Grand Costa Maya is a region located in the south of the Mexican Caribbean, consisting of the destinations of Chetumal, Bacalar and Mahahual. The region is considered a hidden gem of Quintana Roo due to its peaceful atmosphere, the warmth of its citizens and Mayan culture reflected in its many archeological sites, museums and gastronomy.

In Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo, visitors can go for walks along Boulevard Bahia surrounding the Bay of Chetumal—an ideal place to enjoy the city’s sunrises and sunsets. Another must-do is a ride on the ChetuBus for a tour of 14 noteworthy attractions in the city. Chetumal’s gastronomic scene has evolved over the years; locals have innovated with new culinary concepts and multiple restaurants with Italian influence have emerged, including Sergio’s Pizza and El Patio Del 30. Guests can head to El Buen Pan for dessert and coffee. Off the beaten track, visitors can explore Xul Ha Lagoon and enjoy a cabin stay at nearby Sujuy-Ha.

A few minutes from Chetumal is the town of Calderitas, where hotels like Villa Marcela welcome guests with sea views and activities such as paddleboarding and kayaking. Located 15 minutes away is the archeological site of Oxtankah, which invites visitors to connect with nature and Mayan culture.

A former fishing village, Mahahual is a flourishing cruise destination and offers multiple beach clubs such as Blue Kay Mahahual. Home to the Great Maya Reef—the second-longest reef barrier in the world—Mahahual is also one of the most important diving destinations in Quintana Roo. Visitors can explore the reef with Pepe Dive Mahahual, which guides divers through the 37 miles of virgin reefs, labyrinths and marine life. Visitors can also explore The Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve—the largest coral atoll in Mexico. Located nearby is the archeological site of Chacchoben.

Bacalar is popular for its distinct natural scenery, such as the Lagoon of Seven Colors. Bacalar Lagoon Tours offers sailboat rides, while Nimfa Tours Bacalar specializes in personalized, private experiences; travelers can also make the journey on a pontoon with Cucos Tours. Bacalar has an interesting history of visiting pirates, during which the Fort of San Felipe was built. The fort is now a museum where visitors can learn more about the destination’s past.

Popular eateries in Bacalar include Nixtamal Cocina a Fuego y Ceniza, Macario Bacalar and tropical restaurant La Playita Bacalar. Most accommodation options feature great views coupled with privacy. Hotel Zensus Bacalar offers 10 cabins and is ideal for disconnecting from the world.

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