Every now and then I meet some very interesting people here in Mahahual that are world travelers. People that have decided to leave the USA or their respective countries, and see the world. I met Aussie Steve and his wife last year while they were traveling through Mahahual on their world tour. Aussie Steve had a blog also and wrote about their travels. He wrote some of his impressions of Mahahual and I shared on this blog.
I like to give different views and opinions from other from time to time on this blog. I think people who read this blog like a different outlook or perspective from time to time, than just my opinions and thoughts. I read a lot of other blogs and websites in my research, so I like to see and read other people’s opinions of Mahahual as well.
A while back I met an interesting couple from Cleveland, Ohio who are staying here in Mahahual for an extended period. They are Ellen McGregor Kotran and her husband Tedly. I think if I am correct, they both were in the television business in Cleveland. She writes a blog about their travels, and she has written several articles on her blog about their stay here in Mahahual. I found that has some unique observations of Mahahual that I have not thought about writing.
So today I am going to share some articles she has written about their stay here in Mahahual. I think they are going to be here a little while longer, but I am not sure how long their stay is.
Tulum’s beach is a magical place. In addition to endless white sand and turquoise water, there’s a spiritual feeling many people experience just south of the famous Maya ruins. I’ve heard it described as a spiritual vortex – similar to the vortexes in Sedona, Arizona. That description feels right to me. I will always love Tulum.
That said, we are budget travelers who retired early. We want a simple life, and we don’t have a gazillion dollars for high rent.
So, here are five reasons I personally like living in Mahahual more than I liked living in Tulum, for now.
#1: It’s more affordable to live on the beach in Mahahual, or very close to it.
- There are many options for short visits to Tulum – from hostels and hotel rooms in town, some miles away from the beach, to boutique hotels right on the beach for tidy sums of money. Or, in Mahahual, stay across the street from the beach for much less money. Google hotel prices, and you’ll see what I mean.
- For apartment living, in Tulum you can find monthly places right on the beach, but there is no way I could afford that. So, I paid about $320 in town – miles away from the beach – for one room studio with a bed, small table, basic kitchen, good sized porch, water and wifi included. For Tulum, that was a decent deal. I had a good landlord and I would rent there again. Here in Mahahual, it’s a different scene, with less demand, so prices are lower. We are paying roughly $500 a month for a one-bedroom, split-level apartment with bed, dresser, full kitchen, couch, coffee table, water, wifi, TV and cable included, with an amazing rooftop, ocean view deck, across the street from the beach. Stars and sunrises on the Caribbean Sea. Oh, heck yes.
#2: Mahahual has a malecon. (A walkway with no cars on or near a beach.)
- The beach road in Tulum is congested with speeding taxis and tourists in a rush. Several times, I was nearly hit by cars speeding by me on my bike once I left the bike path from town. There are no speed bumps on the beach road to the north, and every car speeds. Some drivers are texting. It’s not cool. At the few spots where you can see the beach from the road, you can’t enjoy it because of all the traffic.
- In Mahahual, I can jog along the malecon – along the beach – along the ocean. I stopped running while I lived in Tulum because I got too hot without an ocean breeze, and I didn’t feel comfortable running with music on the beach road. I love jogging with the ocean breeze right on me the entire time. You can see it from our rooftop deck.
#3: Mahahual is an authentic small town.
- You won’t find Starbucks here, like you will in Playa del Carmen or in Tulum. There are only mom-and-pop convenience stores, no Oxxos. No Chedraui, no Walmart or Bodega Aurrera. When you buy something at a store, that money goes to a family’s small business. Not a giant corporation. I. love. that.
- If you need something you cannot find in town, Chetumal is the state capitol, and it’s 90 minutes or two hours away, by car, bus or colectivo (colectivo is a shared taxi van, and I’m pictured in one below).
#4: Snorkeling is better in Mahahual.
- You can walk to the reef – it’s very close to the shore in most spots. It runs along the beach through the center of town. If you’re a decent swimmer, you can get to a few spots south of town without a guide boat. There are more fish and coral here closer to the beach than Tulum – it’s not even a competition. The water doesn’t get too rough or – generally speaking – go over six feet until you’re on the ocean side of the reef.
- Plus, Banco Chichorro is accessible by boat from here, if you’re in the market for an incredible dive. (Albeit, it’s expensive.)
#5: Mahahual is more laid back – and people seem happier.
- The vibe here is so casual, it’s contagious and coveted. Kinda like how Tulum was more than a decade ago. I’ve overheard visitors from the cruise ships say this is the best port they experienced on their trip.
- Think about it: don’t you always feel better when you see the beach and the ocean? Because of the malecon, the Caribbean Sea is accessible to everyone – it’s right there. It’s not just for the high rollers jetting in for vacation paying big money for a ‘private’ beach, as in Tulum. Maybe this easy access to the beach helps create the collective happy vibe here in Mahahual.
Will it stay this way here? Or will it grow to be more like Tulum, or Playa del Carmen? I have no idea. I can’t see the future. I do know this – there is some development already happening here, with more planned.
For now, at this point in our early retirement lifestyle, Mahahual has many positive points that are more comfortable for us than Tulum. It’s easy going, it’s friendly, it’s less expensive, it’s beautiful. And we like these points. No, we love them.
Dental care in
It takes 90 minutes to two hours to get to Mahahual from the nearest large urban centers in southeastern Mexico: Chetumal, the state capital, and Felipe Carrillo Puerto, which is the next largest urban center south of Tulum.
My husband thinks of Mahahual as a tropical island because it’s 35 miles off the main highway running north and south in State of Quintana Roo, and there is basically nothing but mangroves or jungle once you turn off the highway. Mahahual’s seclusion is part of its charm for us.
Americans expect full services and convenient comfort in places where they live, like malls, post offices, grocery stores and Walmart. None of that is here. There are bodegas with all the basic food supplies you need to live, and there is a medical clinic with ambulances on standby on cruise ship days.
Once a week on Tuesdays, a dentist drives here from Chetumal. This is a huge boon – as it saves a nearly a four-to-five hour round trip to Chetumal on public transportation.
My husband and I were due for our cleanings, so I made an appointment a week in advance by stopping at the office of Dr. Mario Adrian Soto Diaz. His office is in a building just off the main drag by one of the less expensive hotels, by the main taxi stop.
Dr. Diaz has a modern office set for basic care with a dental chair like you would see in the U.S. and sterilized tools. He is a pleasant professional. One look inside my mouth and he instantly accurately recounted my dental history.
He was thorough and gentle during my cleaning. My teeth feel great – clean and smooth. Dr. Diaz didn’t find any cavities, but he did alert me to some cosmetic work I will need to have replaced, probably within the next year. To anyone staying in Mahahual, I recommend Dr. Diaz, should you need a dentist while you are here.
Dr. Diaz told me most of his patients are people like us – people who either retire here or who live here for an extended time. If someone has a dental emergency, the can be seen right away on Tuesdays without an appointment. But that doesn’t really happen.
Sadly, many if not most of the local people cannot afford the luxury of a dental cleaning. The gringo price for us was the equivalent of a mere $33 each. For the convenience and the Dr. Diaz’s expertise, that’s really nothing. But, that’s incredibly steep for a working class Mexican. We are so lucky to have the means for the cleanings.
I also have some experience with medical care in Mexico, including an annual gynecologist visit in Chetumal, including a mammogram, immediate care in Tulum for likely Chikungunyaand another time for parasites, and also for a urinary tract infection while I visited Campeche. All good experiences overall.
But back to Mahahual. I really love this place on so many levels. We are here for just under one month more before we start our next adventure.
Mahahual is mostly known to tourists who come on cruise ships and visit for a few hours in a day. When those tourists board the boat to leave, this place reverts back to a tranquil, laid back paradise. Even when the cruise shippers are here it’s a paradise — it’s just a little more crowded.
Aside from the cruise ships, there are more Americans coming here to retire, or for extended stays, like us. There appear to be more foreigners buying land and property in this area. If Mahahual sounds like a place you’d like to check out, read more about it here.
For those people searching the internet for “sargassum” and “Mexico” and “Caribbean” and keep landing on this site because of my previous Tulum posts – this post is for you.
No sargassum to speak of here in Mahahual.
Just regular, run-of-the-mill seaweed and sea grass. That’s what much of those dark spots are under the water.
There also are bits of coral close to the shore.
There are many colorful fish. But today was my first time with the GoPro, so I was a little slow, and only caught a couple of good ones.
In addition to no sargassum, there aren’t any tourists either, if it’s a day with no cruise ship parked at the dock.
So, we just snorkel on. Come visit. Mahahual is only a couple more hours south of Tulum.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina