Puerto Costa Maya (typically referred to as Costa Maya) isn’t your typical cruise port. Located on the southeastern coast of Mexico along the Yucatan peninsula, it’s privy to some of the best natural wonders, historic structures, and scenic views in Mexico, making a Costa Maya cruise an enticing vacation. It’s right by sandy beaches lining the Caribbean Sea with coral reefs located just a short distance off shore and also close to ancient Mayan ruins, intriguing animal encounters, and exhilarating activities.
While the surrounding beauty and fun excursions make it a quintessential Caribbean cruise port of call, what makes the port different is that Costa Maya was built in 2001 (and rebuilt after Hurricane Dean in 2007) to almost predominately cater to cruisers, meaning it is set up to make your day in port easy, fun, and relaxing. The port area of Costa Maya is referred to as Costa Maya village and it is made up of a variety of attractions that will give you an exciting and cultural experience just steps from your ship. Beyond the shops and restaurants, you’ll find a pool with a swim-up bar, a small beach to relax on, and even a dolphin experience.
Mahahual is a cute little beachfront community bordering the Caribbean Sea that makes for a great beach day trip during Costa Maya cruises. The town of Mahahual has set up the beach area to make it welcoming to visitors and you’ll find beach bars and restaurants plus a scenic waterfront pedestrian path. Snorkeling is especially popular in Mahahual since the reef within its waters is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest reef in the world. We also arrange shore excursions to prime snorkeling spots along the reef. If you’re just wanting to relax on beaches, most visitors head to the main beach on the northern end, while locals and travelers who like getting off the beaten path tend to seek out the beaches on the southern end of Mahahual which often have fewer crowds due to being more remote.
For more of a club like atmosphere, arrange an excursion to Uvero Beach in Mahahual where you’ll find the Uvero Beach Club. While at this tropical club, you can partake in water sports like kayaking and snorkeling, mingle at beach bars to sounds spun by DJs, or relax in one of the lounge chairs with a drink in your hand.
The Seven Colors Lagoon is located near Costa Maya and is an included stop on some of the shore excursions we offer. The lagoon gets its name from the seven different hues you can see within it, all shimmering in shades of blue and green. You can even swim in it, which makes for a memorable time – especially if you bring a waterproof camera. Fort San Felipe Bacalar is also located by Seven Colors Lagoon, where you can see the early 18th century fort built to protect the area from looting pirates.
The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has many ancient ruins that used to be part of Mayan civilization. One such site that is a great option for travelers visiting the Costa Maya cruise port is Chacchoben, since it is just about an hour away from the port and has pyramid-shaped structures that date back thousands of years.
Though the name might make you think this site consists of more historic ruins leftover from the ancient Mayans, that’s not actually what you’ll find there, but you will find tons of adventure and thrills. Lost Mayan Kingdom is an adventure park located about 10 minutes from the Costa Maya cruise port that has a waterpark with massive waterslides, zip lines soaring over treetop canopies, river tubing over small rapids, and even a cenote to swim in.
Located within Costa Maya village is a salt-water pool that is free for cruisers. Pack your swimsuit in your daypack and lounge around the lagoon-shaped pool, float in the water, and hang out by the swim up bar for a relaxing, sunshine-filled day. If you need a break from the water there are shops, restaurants, and bars lining the perimeter of the pool area.
This unique aviary park is made up of a series of hanging bridges that take you through the lush forest by Costa Maya and gives you plenty of panoramic photo opportunities of the port. Kids and adults will both delight at the fun of walking along the bridges and seeing the many birds that call Aviarus home, including flamingos and parrots.
Located just five miles from the port of Costa Maya is an animal encounter that is a dream come true for many people: swimming with dolphins. On a shore excursion at the Dolphin Discovery Costa Maya, you’ll be able to touch and hug a dolphin and learn more about them from the marine mammal specialist who will guide you through the dolphin interaction portion of your tour.
The beach bars are typically a hit in Costa Maya and will get you into a laid back Caribbean mood. For one of the region’s most popular drinks, the mojito, head to the aptly named Mojito Bar and try its original recipe. Bar de Arbol (often called Tree Bar) is another popular place to grab a tropical drink thanks to its fun decor of twisted tree branches and palm leaves with the ambiance of the pool bar within view. For a fruit-filled cocktail, La Fruteria is a bar that infuses an abundance of fresh fruit and coconut juice into its drinks.
For a restaurant experience with local cuisine during your Costa Maya cruise, you also have several choices. The Flavors of Mexico restaurant is a good choice to try some traditional Mexican dishes. If the Mexican delicacy you most want to try is a taco head to La Tortilleria restaurant, which creates its tacos on homemade tortillas. Another fun and delicious place to eat is El Faro, which is a great place for seafood and dining with your toes right in the sand.
If you love chocolate, another fun food-related experience to do during cruises to Costa Maya, Mexico is to visit Kakaw, a chocolate factory where you’ll learn about the history of chocolate and taste some local flavors.
You can also partake in a tequila tasting experience that takes you through the method of tequila distillation with a Master of Tequila who will explain the intricacies of the popular Mexican liquor and give you some samples to taste.
Despite being a tourist-centered area of Mexico, there are still many cultural experiences to be had in Costa Maya. You can learn about the local culture by striking up conversations with the people who work there, who often come from all around Mexico and are often adventurers who love to see new places just like yourself. Spanish is the official language of Mexico, but you’ll find that many of the Costa Maya locals speak English.
During your Costa Maya cruise port of call, you can also browse local artisan crafts in the shop, try some Mexican tequila in one of Costa Maya’s bars and learn the proper way to drink it, or head off on a shore excursion to learn more about the ancient Mayan ruins located not far away.
Once you leave Costa Maya village, you’ll find that you’re right in the middle of small-town Mexico. There’s not much to see right around the port other than a few beaches and a one-road town.
When you arrive in Costa Maya, cruise ships will pull into port at the primary docking pier. It’s a short walk from there to the terminal where you’ll come across shops, restaurants, and the other attractions we talked about earlier. After you exit the terminal, you’ll come to the tour dispatch area where you can meet up with your shore excursion guide, or get on a shuttle bus to Mahahual. If you’re not doing an excursion, bypass the parking lot and spend your time in the village part of the terminal where lots of fun awaits you.
Within the terminal you will also find an ATM dispensing U.S. dollars, restrooms, and a massage area.
While in Costa Maya, cruise around town by foot to check out all the shops and bars. If you want to get away from the port area to check out some of the nearby adventures and historic sites, the easiest way to do so is to book a shore excursion that will escort you there in a comfortable, air conditioned bus or shuttle. There are also taxis available outside the port village.
In addition, there is a rental car agency located in Mahahual and you can book one in advance to be delivered to the cruise terminal for your use.
Cruises to Costa Maya, Mexico, put you right in the middle of a vast array of shopping opportunities. Costa Maya has boutiques, craft markets, duty-free shops, high-end jewelry stores, and more.
While browsing the shops of Costa Maya you’ll find handicrafts made by Mexican artisans, both near and far. You can discover handmade art, locally made pottery, traditional blown glass pieces, colorful textiles, jewelry, clothing, and much more.
When traveling to Costa Maya, cruise passengers should be aware that the Mexican peso is the official currency and have some on hand, particularly if traveling away from Costa Maya village. However, in the village you’ll find that the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. The same dollar sign is used for both pesos and U.S. dollars, so double check what you’re reading it in reference to if you’re not sure.
ATMs are located at the cruise terminal and dispense U.S. dollars – another sign of how widely accepted the currency is for passengers on cruises to Costa Maya, Mexico.
For tipping customs, a tip of 10% to 20% is generally expected for service at restaurants, bars, and spas. A small tip is also appreciated for a taxi ride, particularly if the driver helped you with your bags. When leaving a cash tip, doing so with either pesos or U.S. dollars is fine and will be appreciated, though if you have pesos that’s usually more practical for the person providing the service in Costa Maya to receive.