Frequently Asked Questions Coming to Xcalak, Mexico
Written by Rob Mukai on Oct. 07, 2016
What is your check-in/checkout time?
Check-in time is anytime after 2:00 pm. Although we do request that you don’t arrive too late. And if you are planning to, please let us know in advance. Checkout time is 11:00 am. This gives us time to turn the room around for our next guests. If you need a later checkout time, that can be arranged, but please let us know in advance.
How do I handle currency?
Most places in Cancun down to Tulum will take US Dollars and everywhere will take MXN Pesos. Outside of the Cancun - Tulum corridor, you are probably almost totally MXN pesos. Fishing guides and the dive shops here will take USD and MXN. At Acocote Eco Inn, we accept USD and MXN as well. If you don’t want to carry a lot of cash with you, you also have the option of using ATM's here. You can withdraw MXN pesos (up to about 9,000 pesos per day). Unfortunately, there are no ATMs in Xcalak, however there are about 2 ATMs in Mahahual (about an hour north) although they don’t always work. Another option is money changers. There is a money changer in Mahahual who handles USD.
If you are driving through Tulum, there is a bank called CI Banco that will exchange money even if you don’t have an account with them. It is right across the street from the big HSBC bank right on 307 in the middle of Tulum.
Finally, if you do bring a bunch of cash, one way to handle it is to break it up and pack it in different places. So put some in your back pack, some in a suitcase, if you have a money belt you can put some in there. It is usually a good idea not to carry a lot in your wallet.
Where do I get a map to get to Acocote Eco Inn?
As far as maps go, you can get a paper map, or you can use google maps or a gps. Google maps works well even if you don't have cell service (there are a lot of gaps in cell service south of Tulum and none in Xcalak). Just make sure you download the maps a day or so before your drive (Your phone only holds on to them for a month or so). How you do it depends a bit on your phone but here are the instructions. The drive really is pretty simple. There are actually only 3 turns you take to get to Xcalak. Then once in Xcalak, follow these directions to get through town.
What is your phone number?
Phone number is +1-801-514-5500. It's a US number. There is no cell service here, so my phone works over wifi. Unfortunately it isn't that consistent and I miss calls a lot. You can try using Whatsapp, as that gets through more consistently. The most consistent way to contact us is via email. I usually check email at least 2x a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Most days I check it more often than that.
Where should I buy groceries?
The easiest place to get groceries is probably in Tulum. As you get into Tulum town past the archeological site, you will come to a big intersection. Right to Coba and left to Boca Paila. Go to Boca Paila. About 200 meters on the left there is a Chedraui Super Market. You can get everything there. In Xcalak there are a few dry goods stores where you can get chips, Coke, etc. and you can get vegetables and fruit from the trucks that come by the inn 4-5 times/week. But it is best to get the bulk of your stuff on the way down and fill in with the trucks. If you need ideas for recipes or grocery lists check out this blog post.
Where is the nearest gasoline from Acocote Eco Inn?
The closest Pemex gas station is just after the turn to Xcalak on the Cafetal road to Mahahual. I am assuming you are coming from Cancun. Just after Limones you will see the turn to Mahahual/Xcalak. Turn left. It is called the Cafetal Road. Once you make that left turn you will go 51 KM, you will hit a tope (speed bump) then the next turn to the right is the one to Xcalak. We have an Acocote Eco Inn Sign on the corner. The Pemex station is about a half a mile beyond the turn. So, go past the Xcalak turn off and you will see the Pemex sign. Top off there, turn around and come back to the turn to Xcalak.
In a pinch there is gasoline you can buy from a Tiende in town. Ask us, if you are really running low.
Where do you get liquor?
The best place to get wine and liquor would be the Chedraui in Tulum. They have a wide selection and if you are there to get groceries anyway, you can do it in one fell swoop. Once down in Xcalak, a number of the Tiendes or dry goods stores will carry beer but that’s about it. You can get liquor (some scotch, tequila, rum, etc. in Mahahual about an hour north.) So your best bet is if you want some liquor bring it down with you. One thing to be aware of, they stop selling alcohol at 3:00 pm on Sundays.
Do you tip in Mexico?
The short answer is Yes. The longer answer, is there are a number of different situations. For example, we do ask that you tip our maid (it is part of her compensation) Something like 40-50 pesos per day is adequate. You can also tip our grounds keeper, usually 40-50 pesos per day is adequate. At the Pemex gas stations it is customary to tip 5-10 pesos to the guy pumping your gas. If you are in a store parking lot you will sometimes see someone putting a piece of cardboard over your windshield to protect it from the heat. They will also guide you as you back out. It is customary to tip them 2-5 pesos. A lot of these guys are disabled and this is their only income. Tipping for waiters/waitresses in restaurants is in the 10-20% range. Tipping for fly fishing guides is approx 20% give or take. If the guide helps you get a permit that is worth a little extra! For a daytrip or for a scuba dive think 10-20%.
What is included in the full kitchen?
We supply drinking water (20 liter bottles), organic Chiapas coffee with a french press, milk, rice, beans, breakfast cereal, breakfast bars, oatmeal. Each unit has 6 place settings of dinner plates, salad plates and silverware. Pots and ceramic non-stick fry pans as well as simple spices and olive oil. If you need more or other spices we do have some more available. We have a gas barbecue in the palapa that is available for guest use. Also, we do have complementary espresso drinks every morning at 8:30 so cappuccinos, café lattes, espressos, etc. Each unit has a stove/oven, and a refrigerator with freezer. We have also added insulated water bottles for you to use, so please do not buy plastic water bottles for drinking. We also have stainless steel straws. Just trying to minimize the amount of plastic we use.
I hear you have veggie trucks come by the Inn, what do they carry.
We do have a veggie truck come by the Inn 4-5 days per week. They will usually have fresh fruits (in season) and the main vegetables (cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, habanero peppers, etc.) They will sometimes have meat (chicken, pork, hamburger, etc.) but not all the time. There is also the people that come on more of random schedule, shrimp guy, a guy that brings carnitas, cochinita pibil (Mayan roast pork, is a must try), empanada guy.
Can I get fresh fish/lobster?
We are in a national reef park and so it is illegal for non-residents to catch and keep fish. Even for residents they should be only catching fish for their own consumption. It is possible to get fish taken from outside the park, but please let us know in advance so we can get people to go out when you want it. As for lobster, you can get fresh lobster at the Fishermen’s Cooperative in Xcalak town. You will occasionally get a boat that shows up with a load of lobster for sale. Please be aware lobster season goes from July 1 – Feb 28. Mar-June is the lobster spawning season and they are not allowed to catch them. Also, there is a 5 year moratorium on catching conch. So if you see Conch on the menu it is illegal. --Update: Conch is officially off the 5 year moratorium, so it is now legal to get Conch Ceviche in restaurants. Conch season runs from Mar 1 - Apr 31 and Nov 1 - Jan 31. Also Octopus Aug 1 - Dec 15, and Grouper April 1 - Jan 31.
Do you have Wi-Fi available? Phone Service?
We do have internet. But like everything at the Inn, it is "off-grid". It is microwave based. So it is not anywhere near broadband speeds but is enough bandwidth to get email, and even make Skype or cell over Wi-Fi telephone calls. As for phone service, we do not have a land line or cell service in Xcalak. If you have cell over Wi-Fi capability that is your best bet, otherwise, we use Skype or Whatsapp.
Do I need a park pass?
We are in the Xcalak National Reef Park, and yes you do need a park pass. They are at the time of this writing $68 MXN/Day. We do carry some daily park passes at the Inn, or you can get a 1 year "Passport" for $383 MXN or about $21 USD. So if you are staying here more than 5 days, it's cheaper and easier to buy an annual pass. This will be good in the park near the Inn and will also be good at any of the other 182 Natural Protected Areas in Mexico, 25 are in the Yucatan Penninsula. Click the link here. It is in Spanish, however you can get google to translate it for you.
Do I need a fishing license?
The short answer is maybe ;) If you will only be fishing on foot. DIY walk and wading, you do not need a license, if you will be on any type of vessel, e.g. guided fishing on a panga, or if you use one of the Inn's stand up paddle boards, or kayaks you do need a fishing license. You can now get them on line here. Go to this blog post for details on how to fill out the form.
Do I need to bring soap and shampoo?
Unless you have special requirements, we provide body wash, shampoo, and conditioner in each shower. We also provide towels and linens. We normally change them out every 3 or 4 days to save on water.