Xcalak Beach Hotels: What to Expect

Xcalak’s beaches are remote, and hardly developed. It’s pretty much just turquoise water, palm trees and sand. You won’t find annoying beach vendors, Jet-Ski rentals, or crowds. If that sounds good to you, you’re going to enjoy staying at an Xcalak beach hotel. That’s the best way to get a taste of straight-up beach life in Xcalak.

Before booking your stay at a beach hotel in Xcalak, there are a few important things you should know about staying on the beach.

  1. You’ll be living off-grid, but you’ll have fresh water and electricity. “Off-grid” might sound rustic but don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of modern comforts in the middle of the jungle.
  2. The dirt road to your Xcalak beach hotel can be onerous or an adventure. It just depends on your outlook.
  3. Hotels are set up to help you enjoy the beach. Activities like relaxing, reading, swimming, and snorkeling are popular in Xcalak.
  4. There aren’t many supplies available in Xcalak. Pick up what you need before arriving.

Still interested? Good. Here’s what to expect when you stay at an Xcalak beach hotel.

Yes, the beach hotels have power and water

Solar panels and a cistern on the roof

Staying off-grid at an Xcalak beach hotel doesn’t mean you won’t have power or water. The solar panels, generators, and rainwater cisterns ensure a substantial supply. However, hotel managers do ask that you use power and water responsibly.

Xcalak’s beach hotels use solar power for their main source of electricity. If it’s cloudy and the solar panels can’t meet demand, backup generators provide electricity. Rest assured you’ll have electricity 24/7 no matter where you stay.

Do your off-grid beach hotel owner a favor – don’t waste energy. Turn off lights and ceiling fans when they aren’t needed.

Tip: leave energy vampires like hair dryers and curling irons at home when you visit Xcalak.

Shower and tap water in your Xcalak beach hotel doesn’t come from a treated pipeline, it’s rainwater from a cistern. This captured rainwater is safe for showering and washing, but it is not potable. Hotels provide purified drinking water in five gallon jugs, usually from Cristal or Xcalak Water.

Do your Xcalak beach hotel owner another favor – don’t waste water. Rainy days in Xcalak aren’t common, which makes rainwater precious. Don’t linger in the shower.

Tip: when washing dishes in tap water add a capful of bleach to your rinse water as a disinfectant.

So what about modern comforts?

Xcalak’s beach hotels are darn luxurious for being on the outside edge of nowhere. The architecture of the hotels embraces beach life so that rooms are light and airy. Expect comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms with hot water, in-room Wi-Fi, power outlets, and energy-efficient lighting.

Your room will have a ceiling fan, but no air conditioning. AC is just too much for solar power.

Getting to your hotel will be bumpy

View of Xcalak beach road through a windshield

Some people find driving Xcalak’s beach road an adventure, and others consider it onerous. The dirt road runs parallel to the Caribbean coast, between the jungle and the beach. On the ride you’ll see jungle wildlife and fauna, lovely beach houses, and brief, stunning views of the sea coast.

The most distant Xcalak beach hotel is only 12 km / 8 mi from town but because of the rough condition of the beach road, the ride may take up to 45 minutes. During the rainy season there are large puddles and potholes. Take your time and drive near the edge of the road to avoid deep puddles. You do not need a 4 wheel drive in Xcalak if you drive reasonably.

The beach hotels provide for relaxation and fun

Colorful beach toys

Enjoying the uncrowded beach and the tropical coast (with the second largest barrier reef in the world) is part of what makes visiting Xcalak unique. Expect the beach hotels in Xcalak to have:

  • hammocks
  • lounge chairs
  • a library (with English books)
  • palapa shaded areas on the beach

Most accommodations make the following sports gear available to their guests, but not all. Check with your Xcalak beach hotel to confirm.

  • snorkel gear (most hotels)
  • kayaks (most hotels)
  • bicycles (some hotels)
  • stand-up paddleboards (some hotels)

Though not technically an “amenity”, you can expect most Xcalak beach hotels to have a dog or two on the property. Dogs work as the doorbells, guards, and companionship in Xcalak. If you don’t like dogs or would prefer an accommodation without dogs, check with the proprietor before booking.

Xcalak, being in a National Marine Reef Park, has a daily visitor fee. It’s expected that tourists purchase and wear a national park bracelet. Support the protection of Xcalak by asking your hotel manager how to get yourself a bracelet.

Your Xcalak beach hotel doesn’t have everything

Basic supplies for Xcalak including horchata, rum, and Tang

One of the main draws to Xcalak is the town’s authenticity. The lack of tourist development is charming, but rather inconvenient if you need supplies quickly. The only places to buy supplies in Xcalak are small convenience stores, a dive shop, restaurants, and from grocery trucks.

If you are driving to Xcalak from Cancun, stop in Tulum for supplies. The Chedraui in Tulum is a major grocery/department store where you can get most everything.

Essential Xcalak packing list:

  • Mexican pesos (it’s cash-only here in Xcalak)
  • sunglasses & hat
  • biodegradable sunblock (you don’t need a souvenir sunburn to prove you were in Xcalak)
  • flip flops
  • swim wear
  • camera (to capture your memories for all time…and share on FB of course)
  • mosquito repellent
  • medicines (prescription drugs, aspirin, motion sickness pills, etc.)

If you plan to be cooking at your Xcalak beach hotel, you can buy your groceries in Tulum or from the local grocery trucks. The grocery trucks have less to choose from than a grocery store, but are way more fun; here’s what to expect.

What about booze?

You hotel probably has some alcoholic drinks and maybe even a guest bar, but if you want a steady supply – lush – you should buy alcohol before coming to Xcalak.

If you like going out to drink, the bar at Costa de Cocos’ Reel Inn Restaurant is lively in the evenings and on weekends.


Now you know what to expect, it’s time to choose your Xcalak accommodation