In the 1950s, Xcalak’s economy was very healthy, boasting developments such as stone and wood construction, an ice factory, and electric plant, storehouses for large quantities of copra, grocery stores, a billiard hall, a movie theater, and an ice cream factory. Xcalak was the most important supply center in the region. After Hurricane Janet (1955), Xcalak was in ruins. Many of its inhabitants died, including the lighthouse keeper and many sailors. The survivors were traumatized and a large group migrated to interior towns. The survivors who remained in Xcalak returned to fishing. The area was repopulated with people from San Pedro and Sarteneja, Belize, as well as from Honduras and El Salvador.
The fishing trade resulted in social organizations. On October 25, 1959, the Cooperative Fishing Production Society of Andrea Quintana Roo was founded. It consisted of 49 members. Fishing techniques were greatly altered with the arrival of the first outboard motors made by Calipso and Lister.
In 1980, a 120 kilometers (75 mi) gravel road was built, forming the Chetumal − Carrillo Puerto highway. This established a land route between the village of Xcalak and the rest of the state. People often recall that the first vehicle to arrive in the village was a Land Rover.
At the end of the 1980s Costa de Cocos and the first dive shop, ‘Aventuras Chinchorro’ (now XTC Dive Center), opened. Soon after that a second dive shop ‘Xcalak Dive Center’ (Now XTC) appeared. These developments increased tourism and marked the beginning of a new period.
On August 24, 1995, the government of Quintana Roo published the decree for the ‘Ecological regulation for the area referred to as the Maya Coast’ (Punta Herero – Xcalak). The decree outlined tourism development plans for the Costa Maya corridor. Xcalak was designated as one of the sites for the greatest development. The restoration of the municipal pier in Xcalak was completed at the end of 1995 to facilitate tourism development. In June 1996, a ferry pier was built at La Aguada in order to provide service between Chetumal and Xcalak. At the same time, the existing airstrip in Xcalak was enlarged.
There are approximately 300 native inhabitants of Xcalak, most rely on fishing for their livelihood; however, many are now working in tourism and recently the Tourism Cooperative was formed. Officials that have their headquarters in Xcalak include: the Municipal Delegation,State Government representative of the Judicial Police, a port captain, immigration officer, and Navy base. As part of the social structure, other associations have been formed: the Parents Association, the Electricity Committee, the fishing Cooperative, and a Community Committee in which different representatives of all community sectors participate. It is through the Community Committee that issues regarding the management and conservation of natural resources are addressed.
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