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Cruises to Costa Maya

3 Awards
Costa Maya (Photo:Roman Stetsyk/Shutterstock)

About Costa Maya

If you build it, they will come. Costa Maya, located on a peninsula along Mexico's Caribbean coast (about 100 miles south of Playa del Carmen), feels like a private island created from scratch expressly for cruisers. That's because it was; developers created the port terminal/faux village complex not far from the Belize border solely to woo cruise lines, and everything -- from the manmade malecon, a beachfront pedestrian path in nearby Mahahual, to the beach club used for shore excursions -- has been created with passengers in mind.

The port itself, which opened for business in 2001 and was rebuilt after Hurricane Dean in 2007, features myriad facilities in its village -- pools, restaurants, a spa, shops and a small beach (though it's too rocky to swim). The port developers also own a club and water sports area on Uvero Beach, which is actually away from the terminal and is typically used by cruise lines as a shore excursion option. Besides the amenities that tourists see, developers took care of the essentials outside the village including brick-paved roads, concrete cottages for employees (who all come from elsewhere) and a water-sanitation system. (Yes, it is safe to drink water within the Costa Maya confines.)

Beyond that, the folks who created Costa Maya also invested in and remade Mahahual (also known as Majahual), a one-time fishing village of 200 people that's about a 45-minute walk or $8 cab ride away. An attractive malecon anchors a row of seaside hotels, restaurants, dive shops and beach clubs that serve fresh ceviche and offer water activities along lovely white sand beaches with shallow surf (perfect for families). Although development is restricted to low-rise buildings, Mahahual's growth has attracted a small group of entrepreneurs, including a sizable Italian community, interested in making the town the "next Tulum."

For travelers who just want to get into the "don't worry, be happy" mindset, the appeal of the area's beach clubs, usually with free Wi-Fi and the lure of cheap beach massages, can pretty much consume the day. Those who want to venture further have intriguing options, too. The region is home to some lesser-known (but still important) Mayan ruins. The site most cruise passengers come here to see is Chacchoben, a city dating to around 350 A.D.; some excursions focus solely on Mayan food and culture. Bacalar lagoon offers kayaking and swimming in the Cenote Azul, and there's also a Spanish fortress you can tour. While Costa Maya might look sleepy at a glance, there's something for everyone in this corner of the Caribbean -- and it only keeps growing.

  • More about Costa Maya

  • Why go to Costa Maya?

  • Costa Maya Cruise Port Facilities?

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More about Costa Maya

Why go to Costa Maya?

Pros:

Mayan ruins, as well as beach activities, are the main draw.

Cons:

Beachfront town is a long walk or taxi ride from the port area.

Bottom Line:

This port was designed with cruisers in mind and offers a day's worth of fun in the sun.

Costa Maya Cruise Port Facilities?

  • The terminal, a faux village created solely for cruise passengers, is just steps from the dock. The pier-side complex features a number of free-to-use pools, one of which is huge with a swim-up bar; restaurants, bars and shops including the usual suspects like Diamonds International; and a small beach lined with chairs and hammocks for relaxing.
  • On Foot: Some people do try to walk into Mahahual, but it's a hot trek that can take up to 45 minutes. Once you're in the town, it's easy to walk the entire strip.

    By Taxi: The five-minute taxi ride into Mahahual is about $8 per person round-trip. You can easily find taxis in both the port and also once you're in town.

    By Shuttle Bus: Local buses to Mahahual pick up behind the shopping area; tickets for the $3 fare must be purchased in advance and are sold at a booth located in the same area.

    By Car: If you'd like to drive on your own without relying on the local buses, golf carts and Jeeps are also available for rent for around $75 per day.

Good to Know?

Because of the area's small size, Costa Maya and Mahahual have very little crime. The only real hassle are the vendors who walk on the beach (some beach clubs forbid them, but enforcement is lax). A simple "no gracias" sends them along.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The currency in Costa Maya is the Mexican peso. However, many vendors will gladly accept U.S. currency. There's an ATM in the cruise port area and also in Mahahual, but you might want to have cash on hand before this stop, as few vendors take credit cards.

Language?

Spanish is the official language, though English is widely spoken, as most places in the area cater to tourists.


Costa Maya Cruise Reviews
We stayed on the ship at Costa Maya and had a lovely day riding the water slides and visiting the Spa.Read More
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deetravel
Love Costa Maya. We took taxi to Krazy Lobster and spent the day. Taxi is $8.00 one way for 2. Krazy Lobster has free chairs, hammocks, kayaks. We swam out to a reef and snorkeled. Had nice meal. Great place anRead More
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Cruising Cindy Lou
Mexico several times but never Costa MayaRead More
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JDOUGLEJ
We love the shopping area near the ship in Costa Maya, especially the small circular shop near the entranceRead More
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Sailer Duane

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