Dive deep into Costa Maya's deep blue waters, a perfect excursion for both beginners and experts. You'll see beautiful coral formations and check out tropical fish.
We didn't know this going in, but Costa Maya is basically a port designed by cruise companies. There isn't much to see beyond the port. We chose a power snorkel excursion and it was the worst excursion we've ever been on. After riding for an hour on a bus, we arrived at a beach that used to be a dolphin sanctuary before it was ruined by a hurricane. We were briefed on the power snorkeling equipment and then were told to follow the guide through the water. Twenty minutes later, we were out of the water and all we saw under there were concrete slabs and wood poles. Not my idea of a good time.
When we returned from snorkeling, we made the mistake of having lunch at Senor Frogs. The prices are 3x the amount of a normal restaurant and we ended up paying $90 for a two-person lunch! This didn't even include alcohol. Do yourself a favor and just eat lunch on the boat.
Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line
I did not snorkel but my kids did and loved it
Provider: Carnival Cruise Lines
My problem was getting to the tour which involved walking down a long pier in the heat and across the shopping area to a parking lot. I thought if my granddaughter could push the wheelchair to where there was a free shuttle that I could probably walk from the end of the shuttle to the bus. But the shuttle had just left when we got there so the man who was in charge of leading the tour just pushed the wheelchair himself to the shopping area and then took it back. The bus took us to the dock for the glass bottomed boat and snorkel tour. I had a hard time walking down the dock and had to stop several times and rest, but I got there eventually. First we went over the reef in the glass bottomed boat. Then they showed us how to put on and use the snorkels. My granddaughter did really well for her first time. I was having a problem staying with the group because there was some current. I saw two squid swimming along the sea floor. Eventually I just hung on to the boogie board with my granddaughter and let Diego the guide tow us. They brought the vans for the ride back to the port out on the pier so I didn't have to walk far to get on. Then when we got back to the port, Diego got the EMTs to put me in a wheelchair and take me all the way back to the ship. My granddaughter was thrilled that she didn't have to push. They also brought us in the far gangway and we were the only ones coming in there. Then the gangway people gave us the wheelchair and pushed me back to the room. This was a very successful excursion.
Provider: Disney Cruise Line
wonderful, interested crew took us to a beautiful reef. advanced snorkelers get in first so more water time and into deeper water. some current but easy trip.
Provider: Holland America Line
WE went to town and found the vendor on the beach with skiffs. It was a 10 minute boat ride out to the reef and an hour in the water. The reef was pretty but not many fish. $15 each.
Provider: Independent Operator
Costa Maya: Sunny weather but windy. Seas were rough which made it hard on water excursions. We took a ship excursion to drive small boats and go snorkeling. Had a 30 min bus ride to beach. Boats were fun but bumpy, snorkeling took some work due to current. Costa Maya would have been more fun on a calmer day. The excursion included a beach break with free drinks so that helped.
Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line
I really liked Costa Maya. There's really not much there, but I found it to be a friendly place with very beautiful water and a lovely beach club. We went on a power-boat/snorkel combo. They bused us to a very nice, new Beach Club where we were immediately fitted with equipment. You get to keep your snorkel, which makes for a fun souvenir. They also had an "open bar" policy, meaning unlimited drinks... whatever you wanted. Food was extra, and the nachos were only mid-grade. Not worth the $8 we were charged. I won't mention how many Pina Coladas I had, but let's just say I got my money's worth and didn't need any on board the ship!
The power-boat ride was really fun! It's a fifteen to twenty minute jaunt to the little floating dock they snorkle from and they cowboy in a zig-zag pattern so everyone gets a fun ride. My husband loved it, and I laughed the whole way. Totally awesome! Once at the floating dock, we brought the boats up and started the snorkel. Not the best snorkel I've ever done as far as seeing sea life, but there were some really lovely conchs and sand-dollars.
I highly recommend this shore excursion. Someone else on cruise critic mentioned that bugs were bad on this trip. Be sure to take bug dope for the beach. There are some awful flies there. My bites itched for a week and I had huge welts. They also sell some nice crafts and jewelry at the Beach Club. Mexico's a great place to buy silver. I purchased a lovely pendant and chain for a very reasonable price. You can bargain with them... it's expected.
Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line
Met our guide, Mario, at the pier and he leads us to a minivan, which then takes us to the village of Malahual. This is delightful; Mario is a native, and his English is excellent and he is funny in a very organic way! " I say Playa, because the lady guests think I am insulting them when I say Beach" He gave us a historical perspective on the area, shared stories about living there (including waving to his sons at their school till he remembered, "no school...Carnivale today" (also know as Mardi Gras in New Orleans). He explained that Malahual is a traditional Mexican fishing village of about 800 souls positioned on the Meso American reef (remember its #2 after the Great Barrier reef). In 2007 Hurricane Dean nearly wiped it out, and it is obvious looking at the village. Still lots of destruction and construction, no palm trees and the mangroves are just starting to come back. But it is fascinating to see how these weather events so completely change a place.
We met our Captain and underwater guide at the fishing pier in Malahual. In no time we were headed out to the first reef, while Mario got us all geared up. The equipment was in excellent condition, much of it looked very new. It was in a sani bath when we arrived and went back in after we were done.
After reaching our first stop, we went in the water following our guide and Mario spotting from behind. The snorkeling was amazing. This is some of the most diverse and extensive coral I have seen on a cruise ship snorkel tour.
The water was pretty rough with some good size swells, but once we all relaxed prone in the water, the waves wash right over you, but not over our snorkels thank goodness! The guide was excellent about pointing out wildlife underwater and showing us the little hidey holes where the fish were.
There is always a fine line with wildlife guides; clearly they wish to provide a great experience for their clients, but they also have a responsibility to responsibly manage and respect the animals they are tracking. Often cruise line tour guides trip over this line for tips; harassing or feeding wildlife to guarantee sightings. I find this upsetting and always complain about it because I want to take responsible tours. This guide walked that line beautifully; he might coax an animal out, but not harass it. He would bring a broken piece of coral to us for closer examination, but never break or damage a live coral. I felt given how rough the weather was we saw a good variety of animals on the first stop.
We got back on the boat to make the second stop. It was getting rougher and it is really rolling. The second stop is a huge coral garden and the diversity is amazing, even though there are not as many fish here.
The snorkeling was great, but I also really enjoyed the Village of Malahual, about 5 miles and a $3 cab ride from the port.( if you are not on an excursion like we were) I enjoyed that it was an authentic place where people live and work. As we arrived on the docks we saw the fisherman working there and their catches; Caribbean lobsters stored in crates under water awaiting shipping to the US, enormous piles of Conch shells saved for decoration after the Conch meat is shipped. The fisherman were happy to show us huge lobster shells and pose for photos. I never got the sense they were looking for tips, just happy to show off their life's work. This place felt real and that delighted us!
After departing the boat we noticed that the driver of our van had the hood up...uh oh! We learn from Mario that it won't start...but not to worry, he's called for another van, it will be here in 10 minutes. Meanwhile we sit at a little beach club a few paces away and can use the restrooms, or order a drink. I have just enough time to take a few photos before the new van comes (not 10 minutes!) and we are leaving this adorable place to head back to the port. I would love to see a snorkel tour with a little tour of the village too ( maybe a little demonstration about the local fishing industry, then a cerveza at the local beach club with some time to sit and explore?)and spend a bit more time there!
If you do this tour, be aware to bring plenty of ones for tips, as the driver, Mario and the boat staff were all tipped at different times. I highly recommend this tour, and hope if you take it, you get better weather!
Provider: Royal Caribbean International