This a great house! Our group of 6 (3 couples) rented out the entire house. The house has two apartments that are almost identical. Each apartment has two bedrooms and one full bathroom. The kitchens are well stocked and we had everything we needed to cook several meals in our apartment. Drinking water is provided which is great for making ice, refilling water bottles and rinsing fresh fruit and veggies.
The house is located on a small beach front road and the beach is across the road. It is not bothersome as the road is a dead end road and rarely has traffic. The house is very much beach front, even if you have to cross the small dirt road to get to it. It is still literally steps from your door.
My husband and I and one of the other couples had the top floor apartment and enjoyed the balcony for morning coffee and the nice cross breezes created. We never were to warm while sleeping, and always seemed to have a small breeze.
We took advantage of the food truck when it came by with fresh corn tortillas and fruits and veggies. The produce on the food trucks was far better than what we found in any of the stores…even the Cheduai where we stocked up in Tulum on the way to the house.
Sheyla and Manuel are the care takers along with their two adorable sons and their dog. The dog provided an extra level of comfort for security purposes, even though we all felt safe during our stay. It was nice knowing the dog was protecting the house too.
The caretakers speak very little English, but are very intuitive at figuring out what you need! The house has great WIFI and a translator app on your phone can be extremely useful. Our Spanish is very basic, and we never had an issue.
You could snorkel a few hundred yards off the shore in front of the house, and Ron and Roberta provide great instructions in the house “manual” as to the best places to go. The beach has a couple palapas with beach chairs and they are perfect for lounging and provide shade if needed.
We will definitely return to CGI, it is exactly what you need if you want to vacation away from the crowds and enjoy peace and serenity all while soaking up the sun.
This is our second trip to Xcalak, and first time at the Coral Garden Inn...we will be back! The house/ location/ beach was such a perfect set-up and location for our family (ages from 9 months to 70). We rented both units and everyone had plenty of space/privacy. For a group who likes to get somewhere and "just chill", the house/beach combo was great...no need to go anywhere as all your beach relaxing and water activities are literally right outside your front door. It was also an easy quick drive into town (15-20 mins) for guided excursions like fly fishing (Captain Victor was great!) and Snorkel/Bird Island tours (XTC dive center highly recommended).
The beach is literally steps out the front door and beautifully maintained. The shade palapas are great, and the shallow sandy water was great for baby to splash around in. Water shoes required to walk farther out due to some shells/coral but nothing too bad...and the water stays waist-chest deep almost all the way out to the reef which was great for everyone to enjoy as swimming is not required. We used the kayaks provided and saw Eagle Rays, a turtle, and lots of Barracuda and other fish out towards the reef. We also brought snorkel gear and enjoyed snorkeling around the coral heads and seeing SO many colorful fish! The info book in the condo has great map/explanation of snorkeling areas immediately around the house. We brought our inflatable stand-up paddleboard and it was LOVELY paddling up the coast from the house. As one of the last properties for a ways north, the seclusion and beauty of the coastline was an amazing way to spend each morning! While the home is a bit further up the beach road than some of the other VRBO's, we enjoyed the privacy of this and the water/reef area is better, in my opinion, farther North from town.
The upstairs unit enjoyed an amazing breeze day and night, and in combo with the fans the unit was always comfortable. The downstairs unit was also breezy, although on calmer nights the bedrooms were a bit stuffy due to privacy hedge in front, but the convenience of running straight out the front door and onto the beach was worth it! No stairs involved = great with a crawling baby!!! Both condos were furnished wonderfully with comfy beds, kitchens well stocked for cooking/meals, and full size appliances. WIFI was great entire time, the solar power/water catchment system the house runs on honestly wasn't noticed...it didn't seem any different than being "on the grid" in the states as far as functionality of electricity/water etc. The speakers for an iPod player were a nice addition! Caretakers were helpful but not intrusive. Doing a big shop for groceries/beer in Tulum was the way to go for supplies for the week...food truck/local shop has very limited items and depending on time of year local fish is hard to get due to fishing regulations. We enjoyed dinner out a few nights (Costa de Cocos, Tierra Maya) as well.
The booking process/pre-arrival info with Roberta the owner was GREAT! I had lots of questions as first time traveling with baby and she was so responsive/helpful. She also touched base with us via email upon arrival to make sure all was good which was a nice gesture, especially since caretakers only speak Spanish and our Spanish is very limited.
A dream come true. It was one of my best vacations ever. A large 2 bedroom Villa on the Caribbean Sea on a charming remote private beach road.
The owners, Ron and Roberta were so helpful and stayed in touch with me throughout my stay. The caretakers were great. The Villa was spotless and the peace and quiet of this private Villa was enchanting. The kitchen was fully furnished and had everything one would need. The beds were perfect and the new sheets were lovely.
Snorkeling was amazing. And, to read in a hammock at sunset was the best.
I plan on returning to Coral Garden Inn as often as my schedule allows. Its a magical place and the stars at night from the roof top unbelievable.. ...you can almost touch them. Thank you everyone for such a wonderful vacation. See you soon!!!
We were looking forward to our stay at the Inn and it was exactly as we had hoped and imagined. The caretaker helped us to settle in and we were very pleased with the suite and the view, from the roof and our 2nd floor suite. My partner enjoyed most mornings with an early walk along the flats practicing his casts. The sightings of tailing fish were many. The family in the lower suite were a welcome addition, their children were adorable and we all got along well. The road between Xcalak and the Inn ensures the peace and quiet remain. As it is potholed with many topes… this is a good think to create your own quiet paradise. Food trucks were another great addition with prawns, tortillas, and the cake lady. The ocean offered up many fun activities besides the fly fishing, kayaks and snorkeling was amazing. Awesome sunsets, spectacular skies full of stars. Everyone was very helpful and friendly. Thanks for a wonderful holiday.
Since discovering the Coral Garden Inn in 2007, my wife and I have traveled there four times.
And I expect to return frequently in the years ahead. We have made many great memories there and hope to make many more. Although the cumulative time we've spent there barely adds up to a month, it truly feels like a home away from home.
Our most recent stay was in January 2013. We traveled to Xcalak with another couple, who became engaged while snorkeling around the coral formations about 200 meters from the house. We also visited in January 2011 (just the two of us) March 2010 (with three grown kids and our three-year-old granddaughter) and July 2007 (just us). Each experience was unique and memorable.
Xcalak is remote -- it's at the end of a two-lane highway about five and a half hours south of Cancun -- and the Coral Garden Inn is even more remote, lying about six miles north of Xcalak on a beach road that often looks like the surface of the moon. If you're looking for easy accessibility, look elsewhere. Xcalak isn't for everybody. But if you're looking for a remote getaway in a tropical paradise, look no further.
The Coral Garden Inn is immensely comfortable. The simple floor plan is open, with the kitchen separated from the main living area by a tall bar and countertop workspace. There's ample seating with a couch and several chairs, and a large dining table that seats six to eight people. A sliding glass door opens onto the patio (downstairs) or balcony (upstairs). The master bedroom upstairs also has a large sliding door that opens onto the balcony. The second bedroom is located toward the back of the house and doesn't receive as much of the cooling breeze as the front bedroom, but ceiling fans and open windows provide ample cooling at night.
But we've never spent a great deal of time inside the house, preferring instead to spend our days on the beach or in the Caribbean Sea, which is literally a stone's throw from the Coral Garden Inn. At night, we typically relax on the balcony or patio, both of which have several comfortable chairs and Maya hammocks. At the end of long days of fishing, snorkeling, swimming and exploring, sleep usually comes easily -- and great food washed down with a healthy dose of rum, tequila or beer also serves as a soporific.
You won't find any of the touristy stuff that you see up the 307 between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, but that's the beauty of Xcalak and the Coral Garden Inn. I despise that scene and the attendant crowds, which makes the Inn a paradise for me. On our first visit in July 2007, admittedly during the low season, my wife and I didn't see another soul besides the caretakers for an entire week. It's a little busier during the high season, but it's still a place where you'll have the beach all to yourself.
In addition to just relaxing on the beach or balcony, the snorkeling just off the beach is nonpareil. The inn's kayaks make it easy to paddle out to numerous coral formations, and some of them can be reached by just wading out into the sea. The Meso-American Reef, the second-longest barrier reef in the world, protects the area from crashing waves and makes snorkeling incredibly easy for even the most novice practitioner. (Roberta has left detailed directions on reaching many beautiful coral formations in a book inside the inn.) I've still yet to hook into any fish in front of the house, but that's mostly a result of my ineptitude, as I've seen huge schools of bonefish and the occasional permit. (I mostly fly fish in nearby Chetumal Bay with local guide Capt. Victor Castro, who has become a great friend over the past six years.) If you're truly adventurous, ask Agusto, the caretaker, for directions into the big lagoon behind the house. There's some great fishing there, too, but you have to want to get there, because it's not easy to reach.
For my wife and I, one of the great joys of staying at the Coral Garden Inn is cooking our own meals in the kitchen. You'll want to pick up groceries in Tulum or Playa on your way down because the small stores in Xcalak don't carry large inventories. You can also buy fresh tortillas and some produce and, if you're lucky, meats from the grocery trucks that make their way up the beach road every other day or so. But it's best to plan ahead and bring most of what you'll need with you. The kitchen isn't what you're used to back home, but there's ample cookware to pull off just about any kind of meal you want. In addition to the bigger grocery stores in Tulum, we like to stop at the market in Felipe Carrillo Puerto on the drive down. Incredible selection of produce and meats. But brush up on your Spanish because you won't find many English speakers at the market. We also buy fresh fish and lobster (in season) from local fishermen in Xcalak.
On the nights when we don't feel like cooking, you can't go wrong by making a reservation at the Leaky Palapa (open Thursday-Sunday during high season). You'd never expect to find a restaurant of its quality in a place so remote, and proprietors Linda and Marla will make you feel like an honored guest at the family table. It is, by far, one of the best restaurants I've ever visited. I suggest the ginger-glazed lobster bites as an appetizer. For more casual fare, check out Toby's Restaurant. The fish sandwich is incredible after a long day of fishing -- or any time, for that matter.
Getting back to the Coral Garden Inn, you'll find that caretakers Agusto and Juana are present but not overbearing. They can accommodate many basic requests, although you'll need some Spanish and sign language to communicate because they don't speak English. Juana is very good about sweeping and emptying the trash every day, and during our visits she typically waits for us to walk down to the beach before tidying up the inn.
As I mentioned earlier, the Coral Garden Inn isn't for everybody. If you're into the all-inclusive resort scene, don't go to CGI. The house doesn't have air conditioning, but we've never been uncomfortable with the ceiling fans and cooling breezes whipping off the sea and rustling through the coconut palms. Because the house runs on solar power, you can't have hairdryers or coffee makers or any other heat-generating appliances or electronics. But I promise you won't miss these trappings of civilization. Because water is in short supply in the Yucatan, visitors are encouraged to limit showers and to turn off the water while soaping up or shaving or shampooing. While some might find this an inconvenience, it has never bothered me, or more important, it has never bothered my much more civilization-oriented spouse. In fact, we should all probably try to be as conservation-minded all the time as we're asked to be at the Coral Garden Inn.
I write this review and fully admit I'm biased. I love Xcalak and the Coral Garden Inn. It's great for couples, friends, families -- you name it. It's just steps from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. It's remote and secluded, which is what I'm looking for in a vacation. The view from the observation deck atop the inn is amazing. I've watched the sun set over the lagoon many evenings before returning later in the night to star gaze at a sky that isn't burdened by a proliferation of electric lights.
The Coral Garden Inn is a home away from home. The only bad part is leaving.