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Mexican Riviera

Costa Maya Cruise Port Tips

Costa Maya Mexico beach
Costa Maya is known for beaches and Maya ruins.
The Costa Maya cruise port is a small but up-and-coming destination on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.

This isolated port is in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco and the state of Quintana Roo -- the same state as Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. It lies much farther south near the border with Belize. Playa del Carmen is a 3.5-hour drive away.

Cruise travelers are more likely to visit Costa Maya if their western Caribbean itinerary includes Belize. The port has some similar features with its sister municipalities, but it also some important differences.

Fast Facts


  • The private cruise terminal is two miles from the town of Mahahual and the best beach.
  • Two major commercial attractions are within walking distance of the terminal.
  • Mayan ruins are major cultural attractions and shore excursions.


Attractions


Unlike the larger Cancun and Cozumel, Costa Maya was developed specifically as a cruise destination by a private company. This cruise-focused island has shops, restaurants, bars and pools. The closest nearby villages are Mahahual and Xcalak.

Mahahual lies about two miles from the cruise port, while Xcalak is about 36 miles or 92 kilometers south of the port. The port itself has a tourist shopping mall, plaza and saltwater pools.

The former fishing village at Mahanual has a boardwalk lined with hotels, restaurants, beach clubs and dive shops and beach clubs. They face white sand beaches with a shallow surf attractive to families.

Visitors can take a taxi to get there or go on excursions that include the beach as well as other water activities.

Interacting with dolphins has become a major attraction in the Caribbean, and Costa Maya is no different than other destinations. It has Dolphin Discovery, which offers a range of swimming with the dolphin packages. It is a three-minute walk south of the cruise port.

Costa Maya beach
Costa Maya beach. Credit: Wikimedia public domain
Lost Mayan is a themed water park based on a 1940s expedition. It has zip lines, pools and water slides among other features. The park is a half mile walk north of the docks.

Cruise lines offer both Dolphin Discovery and Lost Mayan as shore excursions that include transportation. Passengers who don’t mind walking might want to consider buying tickets directly from the parks if it saves money.

Anyone interested in Mayan culture may want to visit Chacchoben, Kohunlich, Dzibanche and Kinichna, three archaeological sites which sit close to each other.

The most convenient Mayan excursion is about 50 minutes away at Chacchoben. It dates back to 1000 BC. The site is only partly restored, but cruise lines are promoting it more for excursion trips.

The other three sites are about two hours from the port, so visiting them is a full-day trip. Kohunlich is available from some cruise lines as a shore excursion.

Anyone who wants more modern activities may visit Dolphin Discovery or Lost Mayan Kingdom Adventure Park, both of which are close to the cruise terminal.

Snorkelers and scuba divers will have plenty to see at Banco Chinchorro, the largest coral atoll in the country. It is 20 miles away over the water. The atoll land is covered in mangrove while the inner lagoon has plenty of fish along with some shipwrecks.

Otherwise, cruise lines offer plenty of standard excursions such as sailing, fishing, cycling, Jeep tours and ATV tours.

Nearby Beaches


Most cruise visitors end up at Mahahual Beach, which is conveniently near the port. Mahahual Beach is often available as a shore excursion from cruise lines that include transportation.

The beach is two miles from the cruise docks right by the town of Mahahual, so visitors might combine shopping in town with a visit to the beach. Energetic people can walk the two miles; others can take a taxi or excursion bus to get there.

Other beach options include Pez Quadro Beach Club, Maya Chan Beach and Sian Ka'an.

The docks have a nearby beach, but it’s too rocky to swim.


Shopping / Restaurants


Costa Maya is one of the smaller cruise ports in the Caribbean because it was privately developed. The company that developed the port also invested in the town of Mahahual.

Shopping and restaurants are available in both locations, although somewhat limited compared to larger ports.

Getting Around / Transportation


Anyone who wants to go into the town of Mahahual can walk the two miles in about 40 minutes or take either a taxi or shuttle bus.

Taxi rates are set by a union, but it’s a good idea to ask for the rate before getting into the cab. The recent rate for getting to Mahahual was $5.

Weather / Best Times to Go


Like most western Caribbean cruises, Costa Maya is popular during the winter and early spring because of comfortable temperatures and low risk of rain.

The Caribbean coast of Mexico and Belize has average high temperatures in the mid-80s Fahrenheit during the winter and upper 80s to low 90s for the rest of the year.

Rainfall averages between one and three inches from January through April and reaches nine to 10 inches in September and October during the Caribbean hurricane season.

March and April are the best times to go for a combination of warm temperatures and low risk of rain.

Other Tips


Taxi service is available between Costa Maya and Mahahual.
Car rentals are available at the cruise port.
Currency is the Mexico Peso, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.

More Tips