Mahahual And Xcalak

Last Updated Oct 18, 2023

In the category of amazing road trips in the Yucatan Peninsula, the drive to Mahahual and Xcalak have to be mentioned right or near at the top of the list. Because you know, a road trip is never just about the destination (which both of them are great in this case), but about the road in itself.

It is hard to think of a more interesting road trip than the one that takes you from the Riviera Maya to Mahahual first and then to Xcalak, literally at the end of the road. Because:
Once you get past Xcalak, there is no more Mexico. You have reachd the ending point of this country.
The next thing you will find on the way is a small canal and after that, Belize.

In the never-ending search for “the next Tulum”, Mahahual was at some point at the top of the list.

This sleepy fishing village, away from civilization, with a stunningly beautiful beach, and lots of possibilities. However, the window seems to have closed for Mahahual becoming “the next Tulum”, as these days it’s a relatively “booming” tourist hotspot where the virgin-like quality of the place is already a nostalgic memory.

On the other hand, Xcalak still inspires those images of paradise lost on Earth.

From Cancun and all the way to Belize, Xcalak might be the most underdeveloped town on the Riviera Maya coastline.

This quaint little village located at the end of the country has been blessed with natural beauty and the elusive peaceful atmosphere so hard to find these days.

Set right in front of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system, its waters are calm and rich in biodiversity, making it a hidden gem destination for scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts.

But let’s go back to that road. Because this is the story of a road trip across the spectacular Riviera Maya.

Let’s start at the beginning, the place where everything started, and where most visitors arrive: Cancun. If we’re going to do this road trip, let’s do it the right way!

Visualize this image:
Your plane lands, bringing you from a remote cold corner of the world, and you can feel the hot sea breeze hitting your face as soon as you put a foot out of the airplane’s door.
You walked through a long line of mariachis singing welcoming songs to you, and timeshare salespeople trying to lure you with free shots of tequila.
Somehow you make it to your rental car company undisturbed and have just fastened your seatbelt.

👉 To learn more about car rental services in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, check out our article!

Somehow you make it to your rental car company undisturbed and have just fastened your seatbelt.
Now what?

Head south of course,
always south!


Get out of the airport of Cancun and when you get to the highway turn right. Then just stay on this road all the way to Xcalak.

There will be plenty of tempting stops and destinations along the way:
Picturesque beach towns such as Puerto Morelos, where you will find craft markets and restaurants on the beach.
Places with the most incredible party atmosphere and beautiful beaches just like Playa del Carmen.
A beach town full of "good vibes" where hippies and hipsters meet for yoga sessions by the sea and lively nights embellished by the sound of famous DJs, that's right, we're talking about Tulum.
Sacred cenotes, magnificent theme parks, wonderful Mayan archaeological sites...

Of course you can choose to continue your journey without turning aside from the final destination, like the impasive Ulysses tied to the mast of his ship 😛, staying on course on your road trip to Mahahual and Xcalak at all costs. But isn't part of the charm of a "road trip" being able to stop wherever you want, at any time you want?
Isn't that one of the main purposes when you rent a car and decide to go on an adventure by yourself?

And so, isn't it said that the best way to resist temptation is to give in to it? 😉 😇

So instead of following the road without enjoying anything, do not hesitate to make some stops along the way and enjoy the Mexican Caribbean to the fullest.

👉 For more information, check out our articles.
15 must do excursions from the Riviera Maya!
Archaeological sites in Cancun and the Riviera Maya
All about the theme parks of the Riviera Maya

Oh, are you still here?

Manglar Xcalak

Well, since you didn't give in to the siren's songs (yes, it was a test, dear readers, you passed it with flying colors!), let's continue on our adventure towards the south.
Towards the end of the road.
To Xcalak.

By the time you have left Tulum behind, you have already been driving for almost two hours and you still have three more to go. However, a few miles after from Tulum, the road finally stops going along the coast and the boring straight line turns into a more exciting drive with some curves from time to time.

One more hour and you’ll get to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, a small town that works as a departing point for tours to Coba and other nearby Mayan ruins.

Once again, try to avoid temptations and keep driving straight. Just before you get to Pedro Antonio Santos, you’re ready to leave the main road that continues all the way to Bacalar and Chetumal, and you turn left for an-hour’s drive to Mahahual.

Now the temptation is bigger and understandable, you made it to one of your destinations, but stay on the road. There's one more hour to go to make it to Xcalak, and the road ahead is the most interesting one.


You’re getting to the last corner of the country. Civilization and mass-tourism start fading out as you keep driving ahead. Your promised piece of paradise is just a few kilometers away and you can feel that this drive has been like no other in your life.

Park under a palm tree and get out of the car, see for yourself the promised land of colorful hammocks, turquoise blue waters, and white-sand beach.
You made it!

You have gone across the entire coast of Quintana Roo! You toured the Riviera Maya and discovered amazing places.
Many amazing spots on your road trip that will make wonderful memories.

Because this is the true purpose of a road trip! It is not the destination that counts but the journey traveled and enjoying each place.

Diving in Mahahual

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