Chetumal Tourist Attractions
How to get thereBy bus from Mexico City in about 22 hours.Chetumal, capital of Quintana Roo, is situated at the southern extremity of the Yucatán peninsula's east coast, at the mouth of the Río Hondo which forms the frontier with Belize (formerly British Honduras). Improvements in transport and communications together with the establishment of a free port have brought a marked upturn in the fortunes of this harbour town.
HistoryChetumal, formerly called Chactemal (Mayan: "place where the redwood grows") has had a long and eventful history. For centuries it was the hub of Mayan maritime activity, boat building included. Gerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero, the first Spaniards to arrive, did so inadvertently in 1512 as the result of shipwreck. At first enslaved by their Mayan captors, Aguilar was later freed by Cortés to whom he rendered invaluable service as an interpreter, while Guerrero married a Mayan princess and for a long time successfully fought the Spanish invaders. The Spanish chapter of Chetumal's history really only began much later, in 1898, when the town proper was founded by Captain Othón P. Blanco (alias Payo Obispo, a name he later discarded). The principal purpose was to help suppress the smuggling of arms and munitions destined for the rebellious Indians during the "Caste Wars". In the early years the collection of timber houses grew up more or less haphazardly, the townsfolk living as best they could from farming and fishing. In 1954 however Chetumal was almost completely destroyed by a cyclone. Mexico's federal government stepped in to rebuild the city, since when it has developed into the major centre of trade and commerce on the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula.
Museo de la Cultura Maya
Apart from its one or two old timber houses, modern Chetumal has little to distinguish it. Mention should be made of the Museo de la Cultura Maya on av. Héroes, which gives an insight into the art of architecture, religion and daily life of the Maya people. Recently also tourism has been expanding, exploiting Chetumal's potential as a base for excursions to the numerous archaeological sites in the vicinity and also the attractive coastal lagoons and reefs.
Laguna Bacalar, reached via the MEX 307, lies 35km/22mi north-west of Chetumal. The calm, shallow waters of the 56km/35mi-long freshwater lake are ideal for a wide variety of watersports and also fishing, while the shores are dotted with Mayan ruins and the remains of old Spanish settlements. In the small town of Bacalar at the southern end of the lagoon (interesting fiesta: August 13th-16th, San Joaquín), the Fuerte de San Felipean, a Spanish fort built in the early 18th c., now houses the local history museum. The Cenote Azul, 3km/2mi outside the town, is only 200 m (220 yd) across but 70 m (229 ft) deep (bathing; fish and game restaurant).
Fuerte de San Felipe
This fort was built in 1729 to protect the lake. It now houses a historical museum.
Opening hours: 11am-7pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Mexican Constitution Day (Día de la Constititución) (Feb 5), Mexico - Benito Juárez Birthday (Mar 21), Mexico - Battle of Pueblo Day (May 5), Mexico National Day (Sep 1), Mexican Independence Day (Sep 16), Mexican Revolution Day (Nov 20), Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec 12), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $5.00, Child $3.00
Bahia de Chetumal
Bahía de Chetumal provides further opportunities for excellent fishing. On its east side the bay is enclosed by a tongue of land, towards the south end of which the fishing village of Xcalac (reached by a poor road from Majahual) looks out over the Caribbean. Xcalac is a good centre for deep-sea angling and diving. The Chinchorro Bank, part of a huge coral reef, lies some 2mi offshore.
Felipe Carrillo Puerto
Situated on the MEX 307 at the intersection of several roads 153km/95mi north of Chetumal, Felipe Carrillo Puerto (30 m (98 ft)); population: 31,000) was, as Chan Santa Cruz ("Little Holy Cross"), the centre of the cult of the "Speaking Cross", the Indian movement that was the driving force behind the "Caste Wars" of 1847-1901. At the time, Chan Santa Cruz was also temporarily the capital of the independent Mayan state of Yucatán.The remains of the original temple ("Oratorio") of the "Speaking Cross" can be seen on the north-west corner of Calle 60 y 69, while photographs and documents relating to the "Caste Wars" - as well as to the town's history in general - are displayed in the museum ("Santuario de la Cruz Parlante"). The large church built for the cult in 1858 stands on the main square. It was here that the "voice" of the Cross - in reality of course a concealed human voice - spoke to the Indians, guiding their destiny.
Located in a jungle setting, the excavations of Kohunlich cover an area of more than 2sq.km.
This archeological site gets it's name from carvings on Edificio 6 (Building 6). The name of the site means "writing on wood".
Opening hours: 8am-5pm
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $10.00