Frequently Asked Questions
You will need cash for almost everything in Xcalak, and you cannot get any cash here as there are no bank or ATM’s. There are a couple of ATM’s in Mahahual. One is at the Costa Maya Hotel near the Cruise Ship port. Another is in the Casitas at the first intersection at the Coffee shop across from the largest grocery store in Mahahual. To be safe, you should plan on getting all the pesos you expect to need on your way down if you’re coming from the north, or Chetumal if you’re coming from the south or west.
It is best to get Pesos with your debit card from an ATM at the banks or grocery stores like Chedraui (I recommend the one in Puerto Aventuras, easy exit and entrance on 307) or Walmart in Playa del Carmen. They have the best conversion rates and lowest transaction fees. They will also take fresh unmolested $50 and sometimes $100 USD’s. Tell your bank you are going to Mexico and up your daily limit.
It is always best to use Pesos to buy anything in Mexico because vendors will give you a low conversion rate…. sometimes 1 to 2 points less than the daily rate.
You probably won’t find many places south of Tulum where you can use a credit card. In places like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, credit cards are readily accepted. However, you might want to contact your credit card carrier before you come and alert them the card may be used for transactions in Mexico. There are a couple of restaurants in Xcalak that take Credit Cards but most don’t. Again, they might take USD’s but will not give a good conversion rate.
In case that you want to pay your balance with us with credit card, please consider a 6% commission from your total bill.
The closest restaurant is just a short stroll down the beach. For delicious, authentic local home cooking, have lunch or dinner at Toby's. Silvia's, another home-based restaurant, is a unique local experience and she is usually open to 9 sometimes 10PM. XTC dive center has a restaurant that caters to meats…steak, port, chicken and burgers. And if your there when they spear Lionfish, you can order whole fish, filet or a ceviche with a different twist.
If you’re lucky enough to be here when the Leaky Palapa is open (reservations almost always necessary), you may well enjoy one of the best meals you’ve ever had. Many of our returning guests plan their trips to Xcalak based on when The Leaky Palapa will be open. And remember, at Casa Paraiso you have your own kitchen in your room. You can always shop at the local stores and from the fruit and veggie trucks that come right to our door and enjoy making your own meals with fresh local ingredients. You won’t get a better view while you prepare and dine, than the one from your room!
What to bring
Although you can buy some things in the stores in Xcalak, you should not make the assumption that you will be able to buy some specific thing. Bring a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent.
You should also plan to bring with you anything you're inclined to use in the way of pharmaceuticals, like aspirin, cold remedies, antihistamine, upset stomach medicine, etc. There is a medical clinic in town where they treat emergencies.
Remember that you will need cash for virtually everything you may want to do in Xcalak, and that you can’t get any here.
What not to bring
Our solar powered electrical system is more than adequate to provide lights and keep the refrigerators running 24 hours a day. But, appliances whose purpose is to produce heat use large amounts of energy, like hair dryers, curling irons, flat irons, electric rollers, clothes irons, electric coffeepots and toasters. The energy they require can cause the lights to go out or the refrigerators and ceiling fans to stop working during the night. We would need to crank the generator to get back online. We do have a microwave that we will be glad to let you use to make popcorn.
There are a few very small stores in Xcalak. They’re open mainly in the morning and late afternoon/early evening. Their stock is limited. Trucks selling produce and other food items come right to our front door at least four times a week. The quality of their merchandise is generally excellent. If you’re staying long enough, you can put in special orders and they’ll bring what you’ve requested on their next trip.
It is best to shop at the Chedraui in Puerto Aventuras. It is an easy exit off 307 just before the walkover bridge 1 Km before the town. Then an easy entrance back on 307. They take USD’s but they need to be unmolested and look brand new. Sometimes they take $100 bills but it is best to have $50’s. They give change in Pesos and exchange at the daily conversion rate.
Some of our guests bring a cooler as a piece of luggage and put their snorkeling gear, miscellaneous items, etc. in it. When you get your rental car, dump the stuff out, buy your food at Chedraui or Walmart with a bag of ice, and everything stays cold for the rest of the trip like water and other drinks. Then, pack the cooler when you leave for the airport.
If you want a fishing guide, you may need to reserve a guide in advance.
Some people have a great time walking the flats by themselves. It is common to catch bonefish right in front of Casa Paraiso, and a few people have even caught permit.
But, the most productive fishing will be done with a guide from a boat. At busy times of year, the guides all will have been booked and won’t likely be available.
Go to our Activities pages for contact info for guides and tours. If you need assistance, please let us and we will be glad to help.
Fishing licenses are legally needed. However, you cannot buy the license here. Unless you have a Mexican bank account, so you need to get it before you come.
For info on acquiring a license, just email us or search online.
The town of Xcalak has running water on a limited basis. There was a laundromat but it is now closed.
Casa Paraiso provides purified water for drinking. We collect rain water for everything else. If there isn't enough rain, we supplement our supply with delivered water. If we are not wasteful, we have enough water for our guests' personal use. We provide clean sheets and towels, but we do not have enough water to have guests to do their personal laundry.
You can wear very casual clothing every place in Xcalak, at any time. So you probably won't need to bring many clothes. While you can certainly wash out a thing or two in the sink or the shower, you should probably bring all the clean clothes you expect to need with you.
Note: If you are staying with us for 10 days or more. We will be glad to do a load for a minimal fee and a tip for the housekeeper to wash, dry, and fold your laundry.
Casa Paraiso has fast wireless Internet access for our guests. Xcalak does not have Mexican cell service. The only telephone service we have is through VOIP. We use Skype, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger, although there are others. You can connect to a Belize cell tower standing on the top deck of the hotel and in parts of Xcalak. But, it is expensive if your cell service doesn’t include Belize in your calling plan.
Minimum wage in Mexico is around $ 123 pesos per day. With the conversion around MXN$ 22, that is about USD$ 5.6 a day. We pay our employee’s significantly more than that and what we call Social Security in the States.
Our guests sometimes ask us what should they tip (propina). Our response is basically this: If you are happy with the cleanliness, straightening, and organization of your room, 3% of your daily rate per day is the recommended tip. If you want to give more to help some of the friendliest, happiest, hard-working people in the world, be as generous as your heart speaks to you.