Skip the Tourist Hoards & Vacation Like A Local in Mexico
Things to Do

Skip the Tourist Hoards & Vacation Like A Local in Mexico


Xul-Há, a tiny town glued to the border of Belize, offers up the perfect balance of tranquility and action sports for water and landlubbers alike—and it’s where you go if you want to travel Mexico like the Mexicans do. Xul-Há is the perfect, peaceful getaway for those anxious to escape the tourist hordes and connect with friendly locals and exceptional natural surroundings.

lagoon-sky-clouds

Courtesy of Comisión Mexicana de Filmaciones

Xul-Há Is a Hidden Gem Among Mexico’s Top Attractions

In the ancient Mayan language, Xul-Há means where the water ends; fitting, as this tiny town sits at the far southern end of the crystalline, multi-hued lagoon, Lake Bacalar. Unlike it’s better-known neighbors Tulum, Cancún and Playa del Carmen that attract international crowds, this sleepy lakeside town only comes alive on weekends and holidays when Mexican families, nature and sports lovers drive up from Chetumal to their lakeside holiday homes.

The best way to explore the wonders of the Xul-Há lagoon is by paddling out. The lake is especially popular with kayakers, who embark from its nearly-empty shores and explore the breathtaking scenery without the crowds. If you don’t have your own kayak, rent a single or double from Xul-Ha Coco, a lovely little B&B that attracts a higher-end local crowd with spacious rooms and mesmerizing views just two blocks from the lakefront.

bacalar-lagoon-mexico

Courtesy of Elelicht

What Makes Xul-Há, Mexico So Special?

As you float blissfully along, look down—the lagoon is home to a unique, natural phenomenon that knocks the socks off geology lovers. Lake Bacalar has acres of rare stromatolites or freshwater rock-reefs.

The stromatolites grow in a part of the lagoon known as the “rapids,” where the canal narrows, increasing the water’s speed and releasing a large quantity of oxygen into the surrounding waters. This creates the perfect conditions for these living rocks to grow and it’s one of the only places on earth where this phenomenon occurs. The stromatolites in the Xul-Há lagoon are a testament to thousands of years of crystallization and growth and are an essential home to much of the underwater life in the lake. If you’re not a paddler, head to the Restaurante Los Rápidos located right at the stromatolites site, where you’ll enjoy a home-style lunch and leisurely float down the rapids themselves.

blue-shades-water

Courtesy of holachetumal

Numerous Activities in Xul-Há, Mexico

When you’ve worn yourself out in the water and it’s time to recharge, get Energized with a cappuccino from El Café De Frida. It might just have the best coffee on the Yucatán Peninsula and its smoothies give any trendy juice bar a run for its money. If your stomach is grumbling, grab a tasty empanada to round off your afternoon snack, then stretch your legs out in preparation for more adventures.

Exploring the impressive natural features of the lagoon is one of the main draws for visitors to Xul-Há—even for lovers of dry land. The Costera de Xul-Há road/trail entices mountain bikers along the lake’s edge—you’ll revel in the views as you navigate rocky roads. Where the costera ends, you’ll find Sujuy-Ha, a guesthouse located at a particularly peaceful part of the lagoon, whose overwater docks, picnic and leisure areas are open to the public for a small fee.

bacalar-lagoon-mexico-tiki-huts

Courtesy of Lidia Tretyakova

Where to Stay in Xul-Há, Mexico

Xul-Há Coco is our top pick for value, style and location, but if you’re looking to get away from it all, Sujuy-Ha offers more rustic accommodations outside of town.

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