September 28, 2023

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What to Do in Costa Maya Mexico When You're on a Cruise

What to Do in Costa Maya Mexico When You’re on a Cruise

Updated Nov. 2022!

After almost three years, I finally had the chance to return to Costa Maya last month.  Costa Maya has always been one of my favorite cruise ports in the Western Caribbean. 

A stop at the Costa Maya cruise port is a good excuse to eat some good local food and simply relax on the beach.  

If you’re going to Costa Maya on your cruise, lucky you!  By the time you’re finished reading this article, you’ll know why it’s one of my top Caribbean cruise ports. 

And you’ll learn how to save money here, too.

Port of Costa Maya Mexico welcome sign.

Best Things to Do In Costa Maya, Mexico

You don’t have to spend a lot of money.

In this article, I’ll explain how to spend a really great day in Costa Maya without buying an expensive shore excursion.

Puerto Costa Maya (the port’s official name) and the nearby sleepy town of Mahahual was once a rural fishing village.  It wasn’t until 2002 that this region was transformed into the popular cruise ship destination. 

Costa Maya was the first “manufactured” cruise port in the Caribbean, but the infrastructure didn’t last too long.  In 2007, Hurricane Dean had a devastating impact in the area. Costa Maya cruise port was closed for a little over a year. 

Finally, Costa Maya reopened and the port complex has been growing ever since.

Where is Costa Maya, Mexico?

When your cruise is going to Costa Maya, most people wonder, “where is it and what’s there to do when I get there?”  Actually, a lot of people haven’t even heard of Costa Maya, Mexico.  Or they’ve heard the name but have no clue what to do there.  

Situated along the turquoise-colored Caribbean Sea, Puerto Costa Maya (Costa Maya cruise port) and its nearby towns rest between the sea and the deep jungle.  

Geographically speaking, Costa Maya, Mexico is located on the Yucatan peninsula, near the southern border of Quintana Roo, one of 32 Mexican states. 

What to Do in Puerto Costa Maya Instead of a Shore Excursion

Cruise lines offer full-day and expensive shore excursions to visit the incredible Mayan pyramids, dolphin encounters or snorkeling.  That’s great if you want to spend time on a motor coach.

Then there are the on-site tour operators who greet cruise passengers as they enter the port, hoping to pick up some last-minute business.  These hard workers offer many of the same excursions as the cruise lines.  

When I’m in Costa Maya, I just want a really good lunch and a cold drink.  Followed by a couple of hours lounging in a beach chair or floating on a mat in the ocean.   

Here’s how to do exactly that, save a bundle of cash and have one of the best port days ever. Head over to the town of Mahahual and its beautiful beaches.

How to Go Mahahual Beach from Costa Maya Cruise Port

Directions from the cruise ship complex to the transportation area has changed over the last few years.  

As of November 2022, here’s how to get to Mahahual and the beaches on your own.

Walk (or take the free tram) along the lengthy pier from your ship to the port’s colorful entrance.  Don’t hesitate to hop aboard the tram if it’s really hot outside.  The walk is longer than it looks!Costa Maya tram 1.  After you pass through the entrance, follow the pedestrian path as you enter the bustling cruise recreation and shopping complex.  You know you’re on the right path as you pass the grand staircase on your right.

Costa Maya staircase with short cut to trolley to Mahahual

Update:  This little breezeway path behind the stairs is now closed. 

You can’t “cut” through behind the stairs anymore to the taxi and transportation area.  Now you have to walk past a zillion shops and snack bars until you come to the beautiful pink flamingoes.

Flamingoes at Costa Maya Cruise Port

Look to Your Right, Across from the Flamingoes

2.  There are of course more shops.  But what’s special about Amorino is that it’s the quickest (and maybe tastiest) shortcut to the transportation area out of the cruise complex!

Amorino Gelato in Costa Maya cruise port.

Be polite as you cut through the shop and maybe promise to stop on your way back for a creamy gelato.

3.  Once you’re on the other side of Amorino’s, you’re getting closer to the taxi and rental area.  Plus you’ve avoided at least another dozen shops that try to lure you inside to buy.

TIP:  Some of these locally owned shops have wonderful items, including unique turquoise and sterling silver jewelry, so plan to have some time to browse or shop on your way back to the ship.

Costa Maya walkway to taxi area.

4.  Here’s what you’ll see as you approach the taxi area.  Yes, you’re in the right place…it’s undergoing some improvements so don’t mind the appearance.  Keep walking…

Here’s where you can rent a golf cart or hire a taxi.  The trolley and/or shuttle are currently not operating, at least not when I was there.

Taxi or Golf Cart to the Beach

You can take a $8 taxi ride (that’s per taxi for one or more people) to anywhere in Mahahual.  Or you can rent a golf cart for the day.  

The current rate for a golf cart is $60 for a four-seater or $80 for a golf cart for 6 people for the entire day.

The golf cart rental company employees are wearing red shirts, thus the company name, Red Shirt Golf Carts!

map of the costa maya and mahahual area

5.  Take a taxi to 40 Canons/Cuarenta Cañones/40 Canones.

Tell whomever is driving that you want to go to 40 Canons Hotel or in Spanish, simply, Cuarenta Cañones.  It’s a 10-15 minute ride until you reach the last stop at the end of the road.  The town is actually Mahahual.

The driver will stop at the entrance to the hotel.  Enter the whitewashed breezeway at 40 Cañones and walk towards the beach. You can’t miss it.

40 Canons Hotel breezeway in Mahahual, Costa Maya Mexico
View looking back towards the road with my back to the beach.

And Then There’s This – 40 Cañones Beach Club

40 Canons Beach Club
Pez Quadro Beach Club opposite 40 Canons.

and this…

40 Canons at the Promenade in Mahahual Mexico - Costa Maya Port
You can walk and walk along this quiet Maleçon (promenade) along the sea. Some nice little shops, too.

Spend the day on the beach – there are several beach clubs along this stretch of promenade.  All charge a fee.

Pez Quadro, the Beach Club at 40 Cañones, has an All You Can Drink package that also includes a meal, wifi and lounge chair for $85 per person. 

There’s also an all you can drink non-alcoholic package with the same amenities for only $45 per person.  That’s a bargain price for sure.  The food at the hotel is excellent.

Add a lobster meal and it will cost more; $119 and $60 respectively. 

40 canones restaurant costa maya mexico
My favorite restaurant in Costa Maya is at 40 Cañones.

Time for a Mexican (or Italian) Lunch

Personally, I always go to the outdoor dining area at the hotel for a fabulous lunch.  At 40 Canons you can choose Italian or Mexican.  The owners are Italian and serve traditional Italian meals.

Shrimp fajitas at 40 Canones Costa Maya Mexico
Freshly caught shrimp for their fajitas, tasty guacamole and so much more.

I love the shrimp fajitas.  Guacamole is awesome, too…everything there is good.  A full lunch with a drink will run from $12 to $30 depending of course if you order a fresh-caught lobster or a cheese quesadilla.

If you go with the Pez Quadro Beach Package, one dish is included in the rates.

Homemade guacamole and chips at 40 Canones in Costa Maya Mexico
More of the same…so good.

After lunch, I like to take a walk along the promenade then head back to the hotel and the beach club.

You’ll find the beach and town quiet, peaceful and pretty much undeveloped.

When it’s time to head back to your ship (be sure to allow at least a full hour) just walk back to the road through the hotel.  Taxis are usually available, but leave enough time just in case you have to wait.

As you drive back to Costa Maya (for a short distance it’s a different route) look for these rainbow-colored cabanas.

Colorful tiny houses in Mahajual Mexico near Costa Maya
I asked the driver to slow down so I could get a photo of these tiny houses.

Once back at the cruise port, just follow the crowds out towards the pier.  You can buy any last minute souvenirs from the hundreds of stalls and shops at the complex.  Or that gelato I mentioned earlier!

trolley at Costa Maya port
Hop on the free trolley to go to and from your ship.

Too tired to walk?  Take the complimentary trolley back to your ship.

Seriously….You Could Have This…

swimming pool at entertainment complex in Costa Maya
Doesn’t look too bad…

Or You Could Have This…It’s Your Vacation

sandy beach at Costa Maya in Mahajual Mexico

The beautiful beaches of Costa Maya, Mexico.  One heck of a cruise port!

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