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The neighborhoods of Mahahual, Mexico, a beautiful beach community


I love Mahahual. There are five distinct areas, or neighborhoods, well beyond the fenced-in cruise ship zone.

Here is the lay of the land.

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View from the rooftop deck of our apartment building on the malecon, looking towards the cruise ship dock.

#1 – The village on the malecon

The most popular neighborhood is Mahahual’s beach village along the malecon, which means beach walkway. One one side of the malecon you’ll find beach and coral reef. The other side has shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and a few condos, like where we live month-to-month.

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Mahahual’s malecon, about halfway from the lighthouse, where the walkway starts. Our rental unit is in the white building.

The malecon starts at the lighthouse, which you cannot miss as you are driving into town on the only road leading in from the highway. The malecon technically ends south of town at Hotel Arenas, as of this writing. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the paving job continues in the future because Mahahual keeps growing. The route south of town goes further – unpaved, and that area is described later.

There are new condos getting built along the malecon, ranging in prices and sizes, with plans for even more building underway.

#2 – The Casitas

This is an area north of the village, a couple of kilometers inland from the lighthouse. You will pass the neighborhood’s main entrance on the road from the highway into the main village area. It’s a huge neighborhood of mostly nice homes. There are traditional concrete Mexican small homes, duplexes, and also larger and ornate homes.

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A random street view of The Casita neighborhood.

International people live and stay in this neighborhood, along with local Mexicans who work in Mahahual, and also some Mexican families on vacation. This is a neighborhood pitched for investment – even though it’s a few kilometers from the beach, it’s still much closer to the beach than the inland neighborhood of Tulum. Also, part of this neighborhood is less than one kilometer from the beach. In Tulum, if you live in town close to the beach road, it’s a minimum six mile round trip. (Beach proximity and access is one reason I think Mahahual is better than Tulum.)

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My husband Tedly riding his bike through The Casitas after we visited some small grocery stores for supplies.

There are some bodegas, or small grocery stores, and other shops in this neighborhood. The biggest one is Bodega Baroudi, with the widest selection of goods in all of Mahahual, but they still don’t have everything, so you have to shop at other places as well.

There is a shaded walkway down the center of the main street in The Casitas. Tourists will see this as they are heading from the ship to the village.

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By the way, the cruise ship dock is further north of The Casitas. The dock is a roughly 5K from the main drag on the malecon, so most tourists should take a cap from the dock to the village because it’s a long, hot walk. A cab is only a few bucks round trip.

The Casitas neighborhood has several vacant streets, reading for more building. The roads are paved and the hookups are ready. It’s obvious Mahahual planners are expecting this area to grow in coming years, and they are laying the groundwork now.

It reminds everyone of how Playa del Carmen exploded in the last 20 years. I don’t think Mahahual will take off that much, but I do think it will grow by leaps and bounds.

#3 – The 55’s

This is another neighborhood north of the village, also off of the road that leads into Mahahual from the main highway. Unlike The Casitas, there is no main entryway into The 55’s. This neighborhood has several entry points, which look like regular roads, some paved and some not paved. Many people who work in Mahahual live here.

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One of the roads leading into The 55’s.

It’s not as ‘upscale’ as The Casitas to the casual observer. We were invited to one home once and we found the people in this area to be friendly, inviting and helpful when we were looking for someone. People seemed to all know each other here, even though it is a large and sprawling area. I liked that.

I believe the neighborhood is called The 55’s because it’s the kilometer marker where the neighborhood starts on the only road into town from the highway.

There are a wide variety of homes and a few businesses in this neighborhood, just like you would find in any neighborhood anywhere in the world.

#4 – North Beach Road

Head away from the village onto the road leading out of town towards the highway, and turn down the beach road headed north, and you will find paradise. There are actually two roads – one is paved, and one is not.

The paved road will shoot you up pretty quick to the last turn off before the tiny fishing village of Punto Herrero in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere (the south end of the biosphere – the north part is up by Tulum).

The unpaved road has miles of pristine beaches, with a few boutique hotels and some private homes dotting the landscape. On our trip to Punto Herrero, we took the unpaved road up, and the paved road back. It took several hours to get there, and barely 90 minutes to get back. We stopped several times on the way up to poke around some properties for sale and also to check out some of the landscape once we hit the park/biosphere.

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Tedly on the roof of a property for sale on the unpaved North Beach Road.

Incredible, incredible, incredible.

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Beach on the way to Sian Ka’an biosphere north of Mahahual.

Unfortunately, plastic litters nearly every beach. We found it at every single stop along the way. This saddens me, as I’ve written about before.

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Tedly is just as frustrated as me about the plastic that ends up on every beach we visit, in every country.

There are a few different names of areas north of town: Puerto Bravo, Rio Indio, El Placer, Uvero, Pulticub, etc. You can see them on a zoomed in Google map, but don’t be fooled – these are not villages and there are no services on this road.

There is electricity on many properties on the North Beach Road, and it looks like the electricity will go further north soon. There are poles up without the lines as of this writing, about a third of the way to Punto Herrero.

#5 – South Beach Road

When you get far enough south of the malecon, there is no electricity – everything is off the grid. Like the North Beach Road, this is dotted with smaller, environmentally friendly and boutique hotels and private homes. The road is unpaved, the scenery is stunning.

There is a paved road a little bit inland, similar to the north end. That paved road starts from the road into town from Highway 307, and it leads to Xcalak, another fishing village to the south. It’s larger than Punto Herrero, but still small.

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Undeveloped coastline near Mahahual. The entire region is called Costa Maya.

As the Riviera Maya region covers Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and other places, Costa Maya covers Mahahual, Xcalak and other places.

We’ve been very lucky to live in a condo right on the malecon. By the time we leave in a few weeks, we will have lived here for just under three months. My husband also lived in The Casitas for a month while I went home to New York for ahwile.

Living by the beach is best, for us. I could see a future with an extended stay north or south of the village on one of the beach roads. It’s more exclusive. To me, it looks like heaven on earth… once I pick up the plastic that washes ashore.

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A beautiful beach near Mahahual. Covered in plastic.

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Categories: budget travel, Costa Maya, Mahahual, plasticTags: , ,

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