Oxkutzcab is conveniently located near the Loltún caves, Hacienda Tabi, and the Puuc Route. It’s a small village that is surrounded by extremely fertile land—it is known as the orange capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, and a huge citrus processing plant nearby employs many area residents.
As you approach town, be sure to look for the orange groves alongside the high healthy fields of corn, banana, and coconut palms farms.
Oxkutzcab’s central plaza is bordered by a large Franciscan church, the Templo y Ex-Convento de San Francisco and an attractive arched building, which holds municipal offices. The plaza itself has concrete benches, a gazebo, and a painted plaster statue of a woman carrying a load of oranges on her head.
Leonardo Paz is an accomplished painter and muralist and an Ozkutzcab native son. He painted the long, beautiful mural above the market and several smaller works around town. In the plaza, look on the backside of the gazebo to see paintings depicting the War of the Castes and the infamous auto-da-fé, when in 1562 Franciscan priest Fray Diego de Landa burned scores of irreplaceable Maya codices and sculptures.
Facing the town church, Mercado 20 de Noviembre (6 a.m.–4 p.m. daily) is worth wandering into. Paz’s colorful mural mirrors the scene just below it, with indigenous women sitting in front of huge piles of fruit and packing boxes stacked in every free space. Most memorable is the incredible assortment of citrus fruits, including oranges, limes, grapefruit, gaudy pink pitayas, and tiny yellow nanzim.
Entertainment and Events
Oxkutzcab’s two-week Orange Festival is celebrated in late October or early November and is renowned throughout Yucatán. Definitely stop by if you are in the area, and be sure to make a hotel reservation if you want to stay overnight during the festivities.
Accommodations and Food
On the road that leads toward Loltún Caves, Hotel Puuc (Calle 55 at Calle 44, tel. 997/975-0103, hotelpuuc [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$20.50 s with a/c, US$25 d with a/c) offers 24 rooms, most spacious but all clean with mini-split air-conditioners and cable TV. There’s plenty of parking and a good mom-and-pop restaurant on-site. The friendly owners also know a lot about area ruins, churches, and caves—be sure to ask for advice if you need it.
At the Hotel Puuc, Restaurante Labná (Calle 55 at Calle 44, tel. 997/975-0103, 7 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, US$2–6) serves regional food in a simple, brightly decorated dining area. Menu items include Yucatecan-style chicken and pork plus Mexican standards such as quesadillas and grilled beef.
There also are a few simple eateries on the town’s central plaza.
Oxkutzcab’s main bus terminal (tel. 997/975-0308, Calle 51 at Calle 56) has service on Mayab and ATS bus lines. Both are second-class, but ATS service is slightly faster and more expensive. Destinations include Chetumal (US$13, five hours), Carrillo Puerto (US$8, 4 hours), Mérida (US$4, 2 hours).
To get to Loltún Caves, flag down a combi outside Hotel Puuc.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition