Cruise and Beach Destinations
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Riviera Maya

Best Costa Maya Shore Excursions

The best Costa Maya shore excursions mostly involve full day trips to famous Mayan ruins in the region.

The Costa Maya cruise port is a privately built village that emphasizes shopping, dining and some entertainment.

The port is in the same Mexican state as Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, but it lies far south of them near the Belize border.

Cruise visitors will find enough at the port village to keep them busy for a few hours or maybe longer. It does have the standard recreational attractions such as snorkeling and paddle boarding that visitors can find at any Caribbean cruise port. But anyone who wants something more will find that Costa Maya has a few good options.

Dolphin Discovery and Lost Mayan Park

Cruise visitors have two major attractions within walking distance of the cruise port. They are Dolphin Discovery and the Lost Mayan water park.

Dolphin Discovery, which lets visitors swim with dolphins, is a three-minute walk from the cruise port. Tickets for Dolphin Discovery usually cost between $100 and $200 depending on the program.

Lost Mayan has zip lines, pools and water slides among other attractions. The park is a half mile or 10 minute walk north of the docks. Cruise visitors will see the giant Mayan temple with water slides from the decks of their ships as they arrive. Tickets for Lost Mayan started at $99 for adults and $89 for children.

Cruise lines offer both excursions for a price that includes transportation. Passengers who don’t mind walking can buy tickets directly from the parks.

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins

Chacchoben Mayan ruins
Chacchoben Mayan ruins. Credit: Wikimedia Creative commons license

By far, the dominant unique attraction is the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben. Various sources say that settlements in the area began as early as 1,000 B.C. The city reached its high point around 360 A.D.

The site is about a 50 minute drive from the cruise port. Total trip time ranges from five to six hours depending on the tour operator and any amenities. Amenities usually include lunch, a tour guide and stops along the way.

Tour prices start as low as $65 per person and go as high as more than $100.

Bacalar’s Seven Color Lagoon

Bacalar is known for its “Seven Color Lagoon”, the second largest lagoon in Mexico. The lagoon offers multiple shades of vibrant blue on sunny days.

Visitors can go there to sun, lie on the beach and especially kayak on the lagoon.

A typical shore excursion to Lake Bacalar takes about three hours and costs $85 or more per person depending on amenities. The price includes kayaks.

Costa Maya Beaches

Costa Maya has beaches and beach shore excursions like everywhere else in the Caribbean. They are small and best suited for cruise visitors who want to relax.

The most popular one for shore excursions is Mahahual Beach in the tourist town of Mahahual. It’s a quick 10 minute drive from the cruise port.

Although the town caters to tourists, it is much smaller and more authentic than major Mexican cruise ports such as Cozumel.

The beach itself is narrow and is often packed with palapas (tables with thatched roofs). Visitors can wander the town for shopping and dining.

The most common shore excursion to Mahahual Beach is $70 to $90 with all you can eat and drink. The price depends on the length of time, which may range from three to six hours.

Dzibanche Mayan Ruins

Dzibanche has a reputation for being one of the most important Mayan cities in the state of Quintana Roo. Tour operators say it is the only one where visitors can still climb to the top of the temples.

Unfortunately, Dzibanche is more than two hours from the cruise port. So it’s a good option only for anyone who is willing to drive that far for a better experience with Mayan ruins. Because of the distance, it also is more expensive than Chacchoben with prices starting at about $100 per person.

Some excursions to Dzibanche also visit the Kohunlich ruins.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
January 06, 2022

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