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7 Great Things To Do In Costa Maya
Mexico's port of Costa Maya is included on many Western Caribbean cruise itineraries. This cruise port can accommodate up to three cruise ships and is designed to be a destination on its own. The Costa Maya port area includes saltwater pools surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants. Live performances, shows and traditional regional dances are featured as well.
While some cruise guests spend their entire day relaxing and enjoying the Costa Maya port area, most prefer to leave and explore the region. There’s much to see and do here, with experiences for all age groups and interests. Here are seven great things to do in Costa Maya, Mexico.
1. Visit Mayan Ruins. Costa Maya is the gateway port for a number of excursions to local Mayan ruins. Tours of the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben (The Place of the Red Corn) are generally the most popular with cruise passengers. Chacchoben's partially excavated Mayan ruins are located in two main groups surrounded by lush jungle vegetation. Tours of historically rich Chacchoben offer plenty of opportunities to photograph striking temples and Mayan structures. Monkeys, deer and other animals may be seen here as well. Sometimes Chacchoben tours are combined with other activities such as beach breaks and visits to a local butterfly farm. There are several other excavated Mayan sites in the area as well, including Kohunlich, a Mayan ceremonial center containing a massive temple dedicated to the Sun God. Those looking for Mayan site with fewer crowds may choose to visit Dzibanche, where it’s still possible for visitors to climb one of the structures for beautiful views. Much less of this site is excavated, but the Mayan temples there are stunning.
2. Explore The World’s Second Largest Barrier Reef. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest barrier reef in the world. Located just off the coast of the Costa Maya region, this ecosystem is a must-visit spot for SCUBA divers and snorkelers. The reef is home to hundreds of species of fish as well as sea turtles, dolphins and more. Cruise lines and others offer a wide variety of excursions here including two-tank SCUBA divers for certified divers, discover SCUBA programs and multi-hour snorkeling adventures. Those who plan on diving should bring their certification cards and other diving-related cards with them on their cruise. For those who would prefer not to swim, glass bottom boat trips are often available.
3. Relax in Mahahual. Many Costa Maya cruise passengers end up on the beaches in Mahahual, a small fishing village just a short five-minute drive from the Costa Maya cruise pier. Open air shuttles take cruise passengers to Mahahual for a few dollars each way. Located on the Caribbean Sea, Mahahual’s boardwalk is lined with beach clubs, restaurants, bars and shops. Shuttles offer multiple stops, with the last stop near the southern end of the beach providing slightly better beach club options. Cruise guests will find lots of water sports and crafts vendors all along Mahahual’s beach area, plus massages are available on the beach as well. Some cruise lines and independent tour providers offer culinary tours, which are typically based in Mahahual as well. These tours generally involve learning how to make guacamole and several types of salsas, plus sampling different kinds of margaritas. Sometimes a little salsa dancing is added to the mix as well.
4. Get Active. There are so many ways to explore and be active in Costa Maya. Cruise lines and independent tour operators offer multiple options including kayaking tours, biking excursions, dune buggy safaris, paddle boarding and catamaran sailing trips, jet skiing and off-road ATV adventures. Some shore excursions combine these activities with some beach time, too.
5. Purchase A Resort Day Pass. Cruise passengers wishing to enjoy the beach and escape the crowds often seek out resort day pass options. Maya Chan Beach Resort is an all-inclusive beach property located about four miles south of the Costa Maya cruise port. Space is limited at Maya Chan, so advance reservations at this property are required. The resort’s day passes include round-trip transportation, a private shaded palapa or pergola for each reservation, beach beds and oversized beach chairs, all-you-can-eat buffet, an open bar, free Wi-Fi, snorkeling equipment, glass bottom kayaks and more. Maya Chan does not provide towels, so guests must bring those supplied by their cruise ship. Almaplena Eco Resort & Beach Club, located about a twenty-minute drive from Costa Maya’s cruise pier, also sells a limited number of day passes for cruisers. Some beach clubs in Mahahual also sell reserved day passes as well, including Nohochkay and Barefoot Beach Club.
6. Be Thrilled at An Adventure Park. Want to put a little adrenaline into your day? Located just a short ride from the Costa Maya cruise pier, the Lost Mayan Kingdom Adventure Park contains nine different water slides for guests to enjoy including the harrowing Kamikaze slides and tube slides. Those seeking even more of an adrenaline rush can fly along the park’s two zip line courses, try out the ropes course and take a spin on the Kukulcan Zip Coaster. Height, weight and age requirements exist for some of the adventure park’s attractions, so make sure to check the details before booking. The Lost Mayan Kingdom Adventure Park also features a pool, a relaxing lazy river tube ride, and smaller slides for children. There’s a natural cenote on the property as well.
7. Discover Seven Colors Lagoon. A few cruise lines and independent tour operators offer excursions to the town of Bacalar, located on a large fresh water lake. Fed by cenotes, spectacular Laguna Bacalar is often called the “Seven Colors Lagoon” since its sandy bottom allows it to reflect many shades of blue. Make sure to bring your camera to take pictures. Cruise ship excursions generally offer a boat ride on the lake with several opportunities to swim. Bacalar has a swashbuckling past, having been invaded by pirates hundreds of years ago. Cruise guests typically visit the imposing stone Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar, which also offers great lake views.
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