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Southern Quintana Roo

Chetumal, capital of the State of Quintana Roo, was founded in 1898 in the heart
of Mundo Maya, with the exuberant jungle at is back and enormous Chetumal Bay in front.
This bay is the Outlet of the Hondo River, a waterway that played a decisive role in Chetumal’s development. The city was first named Payo Obispo after a ranch that was originally located here, where Friar Enriquez de Rivera, Bishop of Guatemala, stayed on his preaching tour from Verapaz to Bacalar in the 17th Century.

Due to its proximity to Belize, the city was built in a distinctly Caribbean style characterized by its wooden houses. The broad, tree-lined avenues and the boulevard running along the bay are pleasant walks where scenes of old Payo Obispo can still be viewed.

Today, Chetumal is a modern, dynamic, expanding city with hotels, restaurants and all the amenities. Without a doubt, one of the most popular places for travelers to visit is the Museum of Mayan Culture, a very sophisticated interactive Museum that exhibits and explains the complex world of the Maya; their social classes, traditions, religion and politics, herbal lore, calendar and mathematical system, amongst others.

A three story cottonwood represent Mayan Cosmology, the basement being the underworld, the ground floor life on earth and the second story, heaven. The scale models of ancient cities show the diverse architectural styles prevalent in the area throughout the centuries.
Chetumal is the ideal starting point for the excursions throughout Mundo Maya. It has an airport only ten minutes from the historical downtown area and a cruise ship dock only 2 hours away. It is also the crossroads between Belize and Guatemala to the South of Merida and Cancun to the north of the Yucatan Peninsula.

One or two-day excursion will take you to some charming places. Bacalar Lagoon, known for its variegated colors ranging from turquoise blue to emerald green, is singularly beautiful.
Laguna de Guerrero is a manatee refuge, while the transparent blue water of Cenote Azul – so deep no one has ever reached the bottom – invites you to take a refreshing plunge. A boat tour down Rio Hondo is a delightful way to discover untouched mangrove forests and low lying jungle along the riverbank.

Up the coast, Ascension and Espiritu Santo Bays are part of a conservation area that protects the region’s unique bio system.

In Majahual, Costa Maya port is the newest attraction, where the fishing villages of Majahual and Xcalak offer up the catch of the day and lobster when in season to the Caribbean cruise ship that stop over here. Many small eco-hotels have sprung up under the palms trees, offering rustic accommodations for travelers in search of adventures and a different kind of vacation experience.

Offshore, Chinchorro Bank – an enormous coral reef formation in the shape of an atoll – is a Mecca for Divers because of the rich variety corals, sponges, fish and crustaceans of every imaginable color and shape that live here.

This fabulous underwater garden is also a cemetery for hundreds of ships that have sunk here throughout the long centuries.

There are Spanish gallon from the Colonial Era, steam ship, pleasure yachts and even submarines. Historical documents tell us that if Christopher Columbus had come in just a little closer to shore during is fourth voyage to the New World (1502-1504) he might have joined his fellow navigators in Davey Jones’ locker.

The region is equally rich in archaeological sites. The remains of several ancient cities are located just short distance from Chetumal. Oxtankah is 30 minutes away, while Kohunlich and its enigmatic giant masks are less than a two hours drive from the capital. Dzibanche, Kinichna, Chakanbakan and the 17th century Franciscan monastery at Chichanha are also about two hours away.

Modern Hotels and quaint lodgings welcome visitors in search of peace and adventure in Chetumal, Bacalar and Kohunlich.

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