The state capital of Quintana Roo, Chetumal is a vibrant port city on the Yucatan Peninsula’s east coast. Surrounded by jungle and just minutes from Maya ruins, Chetumal sits on the border with Belize and serves as a jumping-off point for trips to the Belize Cayes and Tikal in Guatemala. Between the two countries is a duty-free shopping zone.
The best way to explore Chetumal is on foot, with a stroll through the quaint downtown area and along the waterfront Boulevard Bahía. The city has several parks and a manatee sanctuary on the north side of the bay. The Museum of Maya Culture explores the region’s indigenous past. The history of the port is told at Museum of the City. Just north of Chetumal, the fishing village of Calderitas offers no-frills beachfront dining with sweeping ocean views.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visit Chetumal independently or as part of a tour of the Yucatan.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as the best way to explore the city is on foot.
- Enjoy the lively evening atmosphere along Boulevard Bahía.
- Shop for handicrafts and taste authentic Mexican food at the local market.
- Cenotes and Maya ruins are just a short drive away.
How to Get There
Chetumal sits on the peninsula’s east coast, about 235 miles (382 kilometers) south of Cancun. The easiest way to get to Chetumal is by bus from Riviera Maya and Yucatan. If you drive, take Highway 307 from the north or Highway 186 from the west. Buses also arrive from Belize and water taxis travel between Chetumal and Belize Cayes.
When to Get There
Chetumal can be visited year-round and receives far fewer tourists than other popular resort destinations in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan. Rainy season runs from May to October; during this time expect higher-than-average humidity and a chance of wet weather.
Chetumal Maya Ruins
While in Chetumal, set aside some time to visit the Maya ruins of Oxtankah. Located in a remote area about eight miles (13 kilometers) north of the city, Oxtankah was a coastal trade center that flourished during the Classic period. The architectural style of its temples, palaces, and plazas resembles that of other sites in the Petén region of Guatemala. Further west, the Maya archaeological sites of Kohunlich, Dzibanché, and Kinichná are also worth a visit.