251km (156 miles) S of Tulum; 37km (23 miles) S of Lago Bacalar
Quintana Roo's capital and second-largest city (after Cancún), Chetumal (pop. 210,000) is a tourist destination only in the sense that it's the gateway to Belize, Tikal (Guatemala), and the Río Bec ruins. It has little to offer a tourist, with the one huge exception: the best museum devoted to Maya culture outside of Mexico City. The federal government is rebuilding the rundown zoo on Avenida Insurgentes at Andrés Quintana Roo into the modern, highly interactive Biouniverzoo, devoted to native species. The first phase opened in December 2010 with such exhibits as a cenote populated by bats. As you descend into the cenote, glass viewing walls allow an up-close look at the blind catfish that live deep within the underground water. Signs are in Mayan, Spanish, and English. Reactions from locals attending the opening were generally favorable, but there is much more work to be done on the project, which aims to create Mexico's best zoo. Biouniverzoo is open Wednesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm; admission is 150 pesos adults, 80 pesos ages 3 to 12; younger kids are free.