Xcalak (pronounced SHKALAK) is located some 250 miles south of Cancun at the southern most tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. As the southern most town in the state of Quintana Roo, Xcalak is located just seven miles by water from the country of Belize.
Xcalak really has the feel of both Mexico and Belize with the second largest barrier reef just off the palm studded coastline of the Mexican Caribbean. The town of Xcalak has resisted the progress of the outside world and you will be hard pressed to find phones, newspapers and television sets.
People in Xcalak are laid back and friendly with relatively few tourists. Gas is available on a good day (don’t count on it) and there are relatively few places to buy groceries of any kind.
Xcalak is one of the top Do It Yourself fly fishing destinations in the world, with a variety of areas that can be fished for bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook. The lagoons of the west shore can be accessed by both foot and kayak, the turtle grass flats of the Caribbean side are easily accessible by car and there are a variety of inland lagoons containing tarpon and snook that can be accessed by kayak.
My experience is that the bonefish average in the 3-4 pound range with the occasional fish over five pounds. Fish tend to be larger than their Belize cousin to the south.
Permit fishing can be very good in Xcalak, but are primarily accessed using a guide in more open and deeper waters. Permit are found in the 30 + pound range but average more in the 7–12 pound range.
Like most tropical locations, Xcalak can be very windy, so your rods should lean toward the heavier side. It is possible to find protected areas (especially with a guide) but don’t be surprised to find a very brisk wind blowing right in your face.
Because of the windy conditions I recommend a heavier and stiffer leader to help cast into the wind and turn over flies. The fish don’t seem to be leader shy so it is more important to make sure the fly gets to its mark than worry about spooking the fish.
Conventional bone fish flies in size #4 - #8 will work fine with the typical fly being size #6. The guides prefer a flashier fly to attract attention, but when presented properly most patterns seem to work. I shake it up with a Pop’s Bitter as a crab pattern when the coventional “Charlie or Gotcha” style get rejected.
The tarpon and snook fishing is accessed through the in-land lagoons located from south of Xcalak to the north. These need to be explored with kayaks and boats.
Our group always takes their inflatable kayaks with them to Xcalak as there are a variety of areas where it is necessary to do some paddling to gain access.
The most convenient way to get to Xcalak is to fly into Cancun and drive south on Route 307 taking you past Play del Carmen, Akumal and Tulum. I count on about a 5 ½ hour drive from Cancun to Xcalak but that depends on the stops you have to make along the way. Remember there are few facilities in xcalak flatsXcalak so you will want to make a stop at a grocery store for provisions and liquor. We usually hit the big Walmart in Carmen del Playa to stock up but there are convenient stops in Tulum as well.
The road to Xcalak is now a breeze traveling on either a four lane highway (to Tulum) or a two lane highway (all the way to the turn off to Majahual). Just before entering Majahual will be the turn off to Xcalak. There is a gas station just past this turn off where we gas up so we have a full tank as we enter Xcalak.
Entering Xcalak you will find yourself on a dirt-sand-pothole road which reminds you that you are in a small fishing village in Mexico, exactly the way it should be.
You will need to rent a car in Cancun which can be an interesting experience in Mexico, so do this in advance through your travel agent or online.
DIY Spouse Rating: 6
The town of Xcalak, Mexico is a quiet, out of the way Mexican fishing village with very few amenities but offers some great fishing.