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I made my way from Tulum to Mahahual by public transport.
Tulum was a pleasant surprise. It is not a ‘picturesque’ town but it has a good ‘vibe’.
The Weary Traveller is a Backpacker Hostel. But a reasonably clean and pleasant one.
So far, in Mexico, I have stayed on the ‘well trodden path’ … I wanted to get off of that path and have a look at some quieter, lesser known places.
I planned to stay in Mahahual for 7 nights.
TULUM TO MAHAHUAL:
The ADO bus leaves 3 times each day: midnight, 9:00am, and 5:00pm. I chose the 9:00am
Mahahual, previously a quiet fishing village, it is now a rapidly developing tourist center.Mahahual (Old Village) is only about 3 kms south of the Costa Maya Cruise Port, and cruise ships can easily be seen from the village.
Mahahual has soft sand beaches, grass thatched palapas, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that runs along the coast.
The affluent cruise ships bring in lots of income … and prices have been ‘hiked’ accordingly.
When there are no cruise ships in port Mahahual is quiet, relaxed, and peaceful … but the inflated prices remain.
The Old Village only has 3 roads:
- The pedestrian walkway along the beach
- Back from that, the main road through town
- Back from that, a single ‘back street’
So far, in Mexico, I have found free internet to be widely available in the restaurants and bars. Your accommodation usually includes free internet too. In the bigger towns and tourist areas, this seems to be reasonably reliable. Mahahual was no different.
This means that you don’t need the usual GRANDPAcker 2GB Mobile Phone Data Package; you should be able to get away with less data.
After my total frustration with Telcel, I was giving AT&T a try … I had my first problem in Mahahual. There is NO AT&T SIGNAL in Mahahual. You need Telcel or Movistar.
But, I managed to survive on the free internet around town.
The main Old Village beach is only about 1km long … but beautiful.
WHERE TO STAY:
You can stay anywhere in the Old Village and, perhaps, up to 500 meters on the coast north or south of the Old Village borders if you don’t mind a small walk. Further if you have transport.
The road through town is not very ‘picturesque’. But you only have to walk 25 meters from there to the beach.
The ‘Back Street’ is even less ‘picturesque’. But you only have to walk 50 meters from there to the beach.
The main ‘action’ is in the Old Village … along the main beach.
A general accommodation search for the 1st week of November (the last month of ‘Hurricane Season’) reveals the following …
HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):
It is nigh impossible to find accommodation that isn’t already listed online.
Hotel and Hostel search sites display prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You, usually, have to add 19% to the displayed price to get the final price.
As you can see, even looking 4 weeks in advance for accommodation just before Peak Season, accommodation is too expensive for GRANDPAckers.
You will notice that where I stayed, the Hostel Jardin, is not even listed … being one of the cheapest in town, it was already booked out.
If you start your search very early, you may be able to find the ‘deep’ discounts that you need in order to afford to stay in a GRANDPAcker Standard Hotel in Shoulder Season … if, not, you are looking to come in Off Season.
TRIPADVISOR VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):
If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental.
Holiday Rentals are usually rented by the week. A simple future search on TRIPADVISOR.COM demonstrates what’s available nicely (please note that these prices are in US$s):
Vacation Rentals are, usually, displayed INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any Security Deposit (if required).
The Vacation Rentals available (above) are too expensive for GRANDPAckers.
I booked 2-3 weeks before my arrival. I arrived on the 28th September in Hurricane Season. I have been in the Yucatan Peninsula for 1 month now in Hurricane Season and I haven’t seen a Hurricane yet …
I used BOOKING.COM to pre-book 1 week at Hostel Jardin. It was the only place that I could afford.
I got a discounted rate of MXP465 / night for a Double Fan Room with hot water ensuite. On arrival, they accepted MXP3,150 for cash (MXP450/night).
The Jardin is situated in the Back Street of the Old Village.
Coffee is free in the morning and there is a small communal fridge.
An enclave in the ensuite entry provides a wardrobe.
Have a look yourself:
You can walk around the Old Village on foot.
Trike / Tuk Tuk:
You don’t find things like Trikes or TukTuks in Mexico, so those ‘supercheap’ options are not available to you.
Scooter / Bicycle:
The Jardin provide free bicycles for its guests. You leave a MXP100 deposit which you get back on its return. The bicycles are old and barely functional … but they will get you to where you want to go.
The truth is that there aren’t many places to go … except, perhaps, to a working ATM (see below)!
Taxis are reasonable cheap in Mexico if you know what the Rule Of Thumb should be. Alas, tourists get over-charged frequently.
Taxis do not use meters and the price should be confirmed first. The guideline is MXP10 for the ‘flag fall’ plus MXP10 / km. You can almost double this at night.
So far, I have found UBER Taxis to be a safe and cheaper option than using the Taxis on the street. But, alas, UBER does not operate here.
Mahahual is so small that you won’t need a taxi. You will get in and out of town on public transport.
EAT & DRINK:
Along the Old Village waterfront you will find a plethora of restaurants offering meals in the MXP120-250 price range.
There are a few cheaper places on the main and back streets where you can get a reasonable, basic meal for MXP50-100.
On the ‘edges’ of the Old Village you will find ‘local’ cafes selling Breakfasts for MXP55-70.
You have your usual ‘Street’ options of Tacos at MXP10-12 and Tortas at MXP30.
Eating in Mahahula is not cheap.
There are Superminis around town if you want to take advantage of the fridge back at your Hotel / Hostel … but, again, prices are higher than normal (see ‘Prices’, below).
The cost of drinks is, also, above average with hardly any (if any) Happy Hours to ease the pain on your wallet.
A beer along the waterfront will, typically, cost you MXP30-35. You can get a beer for just MXP25 if you go to a quieter ‘local cafe’ away from the waterfront.
GRANDPAckers will, most likely, be in Mahahual in Off Season. The restaurants and bars will be almost empty.
YOUR HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe in Mahahual. But, as always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO SEE / WHAT TO DO:
The Old Village Beach.
Snorkel the nearby reef.
Relax, there is almost nothing else to do.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
There is one ATM in the Old Village – which is usually out-of-cash or out-of-order. Don’t rely on it. Come with plenty of cash.
If you need money, go to New Mahahual (on a bicycle) to the end of the main dual carriageway through town. There you will find an up-market Hotel. Inside they have an ATM that works ‘almost all of the time’.
Alternatively, head about 4kms inland back up the main road to the Petrol Station. They have an ATM that works ‘most of the time’.
There are plenty of Tourist Shops selling goods at Tourist Prices along the Old Village waterfront.
Mahahual does not have a Supermarket. There are several Superminis around town.
Typical prices are inflated:
- Grapes: MXP120/Kg
- Mangoes: MXP50/Kg
- Bananas: MXP30/Kg
- Natural Yoghurt: MXP30/L
WHEN TO GO:
July through October is hurricane season in this part of the world, and the weather becomes more changeable and less predictable during these months.
The rainy season is May through October.
The high season is December through May as these are the months with the most temperate and driest weather.
GRANDPAckers should find some affordable accommodation options in Off Season: June to September. May and October may be possible if you find deep discounts and book months in advance.
Peak Season is likely to be impossible … you won’t even be able to afford to Backpack it.
From Mahahual I head inland to the lake-front town of Bacalar.
I will tell you more about that in a later post.
Many GRANDPAckers will love Mahahual but they will only be able to afford to come here in Off Season.
But, Off Season is still very nice.
The cost of accommodation (again) is the problem …
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