Unlocking the secrets of Xcalak

Getting there
Most visitors to Xcalak fly to Cancún and rent a car for the 4 1/2-hour drive south on well-maintained roads. From LAX, nonstop service is available on Alaska and Mexicana, direct service (at least one stop, no change of planes) is on Continental and Aeromexico, and connecting service (change of planes) is offered on American, Continental, Mexicana and Aeromexico. Restricted round-trip fares start at $218. When driving from Cancún, remember that the last gas station before Xcalak is in Felipe Carrillo Puerto.

The numbers below, unless otherwise specified, are in Mexico. To call from the U.S., dial 011 (international code), 52 (country code), 983 (area code) and the local number.

Where to stay
Casa Carolina, 1 1/4 miles north of town on the coast road; 831-0444, . Our home base. Four guest rooms and a three-bedroom house. Rooms have sea views and include full kitchen and continental breakfast. A guest room for two is $65-$75 a night.

Hotel Tierra Maya, mile north of town on coast road; inquiries handled in Florida at (800) 480-4505 or (941) 627-3888, fax (941) 627-0089, . Six rooms. Doubles $60-$85, breakfast included.

Costa de Cocos, three-quarters of a mile north of town on the coast road; inquiries handled in Colorado at (800) 538-6802, . Sixteen cabanas, good restaurant and bar. Doubles $98-$120, breakfast and dinner included.

Where to stay
Sylvia's, in the middle of town. Inexpensive home-style meals including the house specialty, pescado entero (whole fish). Popular with locals. Open late. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, $5-$10.

Xcalak Caribe (also known as Alan's Bar), on the beach south of the town pier. A good spot for a cold beer and lunch or dinner ($5-$10).

Maya Grill and Bar at the Hotel Tierra Maya (see above). The best hotel restaurant in town. Don't miss the leek soup. Expect to pay $10-$15 a person.

To learn more
Mexican Tourism Board, Mexican Consulate, 2401 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057; (800) 446-3942 for brochures or (213) 351-2069, fax (213) 351-2074, .

Other Web sites that may prove helpful are and .