Tiny Mahahual (also spelled Majahual) has something of a split personality. With a population of only 600, it's a quiet beachfront outpost with clear, calm waters, good snorkeling and diving, and not a whole lot to do. That's just the way its Mexican and expat U.S. and Canadian residents like it. When the cruise ships are in port, however, this sleepy spot gets a locally unwelcome shot in the arm. Passengers flood its waterside palapa restaurants, beach clubs, and the boardwalk fronting the town's few blocks; it's lively but can be overwhelming. That's when locals and savvy overnight visitors retreat to the handful of delightfully remote beachfront hotels and inns on Mahahual's outskirts, waiting out the crowds in a hammock, beach book in hand.


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