When many cruisers take a look at their itineraries, they often pass over the Costa Maya cruise port as just another stop they are unfamiliar with. However, there is a lot to do in this western Caribbean port.
Costa Maya, in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is one of the best cruise stops in the Caribbean. Once you visit, you will see why.
Have a great adventure at the cruise port and the surrounding countryside, where you’ll see different activities for every interest. You can go scuba diving or kayaking, experience an ATV adventure and zip lines, slide in various water slides, and many more!
Additionally, impressive Kohunlich Mayan ruins – especially that of temples – dot the area, while lagoons and beaches teem with small restaurants and bars. For those who don’t want to go more than a few steps from the port, there’s also a swimming pool, bar, and amenities right off the pier.
The Costa Maya Cruise Port
The Costa Maya Cruise Port Area
Cruise ships dock right at the pier in Costa Maya, so there is no need for tendering to shore. This is great because it means you can get off the ship right away to make the most of your day or lingering around and waiting for the crowds to disembark first.
After walking off the cruise ship pier, cruise passengers are greeted by a lovely port area with shops, a few restaurants and bars, and a swimming pool.
There is a lot to do at this Caribbean port, including swimming with the dolphins, swimming in a massive swimming pool, visiting the bars, getting a massage, and shopping. While this is nothing like the major shopping district in Cozumel, it is pleasant and fun to walk around.
Ship-organized tours assemble and board buses in this area. If you are on a privately-arranged tour or want to take a taxi or bus to the nearby village of Mahahual, then you’ll want to head right outside the port gates.
Going to Mahahual
With just a tiny bit of effort, you can spend the day in the beach town of Mahahual, which has a fun and laid-back promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. After leaving the port area, you can take the trolley bus or taxi (about $3 per person) for ten minutes south to the town.
A popular choice among cruisers here is “40 Canones,” which offers delicious bites and a prime viewing spot right on the Caribbean Sea. Patrons can relax in a lounger, order chocolate and drinks like tequila, and spend the day relaxing in the beautiful sunshine.
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This part of the Caribbean has a seasonal seaweed problem, but the locals do their best to keep it cleared away. When you are ready to return to the cruise ship (leave time for about an hour before departure), simply get back on the trolley or hail a taxi.
The village of Mahahual has been identified by the Mexican government for additional resources and development. So depending on your views, either get there before that happens or be excited about additional options and facilities.
Costa Maya Cruise Port Beach Clubs
Costa Maya, located along the shores of the Caribbean Sea, offers beautiful white sand beaches, umbrellas, lounge chairs, and many more! Along with the beach bars and restaurants in Mahahual, there are several all-inclusive beach clubs to choose from, with the most popular being Maya Chan.
REVIEW: Maya Chan Beach Club
With an entrance fee of $69 per adult and descending price tiers for the under-18 crowd, visitors can enjoy all-you-can-eat food and drink (including alcohol), non-motorized water sports, snorkel equipment, and beach loungers with umbrellas. Children’s sand toys are available at no charge as well. Free WiFi is also available.
To top it all off, transportation from the port is also included, making this a really easy way to enjoy a fun day at the beach without worrying about prices or how to get there.
Visit the Mayan Ruins
For those interested in history or yearning for something besides a beach day, Puerto Costa Maya has you covered.
There are two incredible, ancient Mayan cities relatively close to the Caribbean cruise port. There are quite a few smaller sites nearby as well, but the two largest and most interesting are Chacchoben and Dzibanche, which are among the best destinations in Costa Maya.
Built over 1,300 years ago, they really are spectacular. If the only Mayan site you have seen is Tulum, near Cozumel, these ruins will be especially impressive.
While Tulum is situated in a very atmospheric location, perched along the sea, both of these sites are much larger and decidedly more impressive to view.
Chacchoben and Dzibanche are easily visited by either cruise line excursions or independently booked tours. Chacchoben is just under an hour from the pier, while Dzibanche is a little further afield, at two hours and 20 minutes.
Both contain several pyramids, ball courts, and other ruins of these once-mighty cities. Many tours provide visits to either a combination of both cities or one city, as well as a butterfly farm and other interesting stops.
If you are limited on time, Chacchoben is the better choice as the ruins there are more complete, and the closeness to the port makes it an easy trip. Make sure to bring along cash for any small purchases as well as sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes.
This lake is often known as the “Lake of Seven Colors” and never fails to impress visitors with its many-hued waters. At nearly 26 miles long but only 1.2 miles wide, Bacalar Lagoon is breathtakingly beautiful.
Around an hour from the port, the Bacalar Lagoon is often combined with visits to the Chacchoben Mayan ruins discussed above.
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Situated on the water’s edge is the Bacalar Fort, which was constructed to guard against pirate attacks. Another popular activity is to take a boat out into the lagoon with stops for swimming and bathing in the clear waters. However you choose to enjoy the lake, it is sure to impress.
Final Thoughts of Costa Maya Cruise Port
Whatever you decide to do in Costa Maya, you are bound to have a spectacular time. The port is way more relaxed than Cozumel, but it still carries a lot of the charming Mexican culture that travelers have come to love.
With the beaches, ruins, and gorgeous sights, the Costa Maya port is sure to leave you with lasting memories and fantastic photos.
This article was originally published in November 2020. It was updated and republished in December 2022.