Overview Costa Maya Cruise Ship Port | IQ Cruising

Must Know: Costa Maya Cruise Port

Panoramic Photo of Costa Maya Cruise Port

Overview

Introduction to Costa Maya
Docking, Piers, Terminal, Mayan Ruins, Mahahual Beach and Tours.

By: Editor-in-Chief | Date: July 12, 2017

Costa Maya - Port of Call

Many travelers on a cruise calling at Costa Maya choose to stay at the port terminal not realizing there is much more to see and do close by. In fact, because the area where the port is located is so sparsely populated (south border of the Mexican State of Quintana Roo with Belize) the port has developed an excellent terminal along the last decade, with great services, entertainment, bars, restaurants, and shopping.

Photo of Mahahual Beach in Costa Maya

Mahahual Beach - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

However, Costa Maya is one of the ports in the Western Caribbean itineraries that offers a great variety of experiences. For those looking to enjoy a relaxing day basking in the sun, there are pristine beaches; and if more into active pursuits, snorkeling, scuba, catamaran sailing, fishing or jet skiing are available. A couple of spectacular Mayan archeological sites are highlights close by - in particular Chacchoben. If cruising with children cruise travelers can enjoy two zip line courses and water slides at the Adventure Park close by.

Photo of Chacchoben Temple in Costa Maya

Chacchoben Temple - Costa Maya

Photo credit: Chacchobean Ruins

Even the frequent cruisers that have seen and done all will find things to do in the Terminal: shops, restaurants, dolphin encounters, a salt water swimming pool with two famous and fun Caribbean venues: Señor Frogs and Carlos n' Charlie's.

Photo of Terminal Swimming Pool in Costa Maya

Terminal Swimming Pool - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com


The Pier and Terminal

Photo of Pier Trolley in Costa Maya

Pier Trolley - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

Whatever you decide to do, all cruise travelers will have to pass by the terminal building. The entrance to the terminal is impossible to miss with its bright orange color at the end of a long pier. At a 90 degree angle to this pier is the primary docking pier where ships moor. Although the accesses pier to the terminal is long, the good news is that there is a free trolley for those with walking difficulties or not willing to walk, which is particularly convenient if cruising with young children. The pier trolley travels on a continuous loop but be prepared for a bit of a wait if 3 mega ships are in port, which only seldom happens.

Photo of Pier in Costa Maya

Pier - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

As you get close to the entrance to the Terminal, you will see the Tour Dispatch area on your left and a 'late minute' tour desk to book an excursion if you haven't booked one already. Once inside the terminal, shops are the first thing you will come across.

Photo of Tour Dispatch in Costa Maya

Tour Dispatch - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

On the left, craft markets sell all sorts of souvenirs whilst on your right, the typical duty-free shops you would expect in any Caribbean island such as the ubiquitous Diamonds International and its sister Tanzanite International, but also a couple of typical Mexican stores selling Tequila or Boots. Insider's hint: Cigars and Tequila are the best buy (quality/price) in Costa Maya

Photo of Diamonds International Shop in Costa Maya

Diamonds International Shop - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

At the Terminal you will also find basic services like an ATM (US dollars only) or Restrooms but also a massage area and beach bars; a top highlight is the Dolphin Discovery with pools where shows and swimming with the aquatic mammals are main features. The other main attraction of the Terminal in Costa Maya is the already mentioned large salt water swimming pool bordered by the pool bars of both Señor Frogs and Carlos n' Charlie's.

Photo of Dolphin Discovery in Costa Maya

Dolphin Discovery - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

Photo of Shuttle Kiosk in Costa Maya

Shuttle Kiosk - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

The terminal has two exits both opening into a large parking area used by tour buses but also where you will find other local transportation and an excursion kiosk offering local tours to and around Mahahual. It is here that you will find a shuttle bus to Mahahual ($3.00 per person each way), Taxis and Golf Carts (starting at $30 per hours) if you wish to explore the area on your own. A local tourist booth offers a variety of packages in Mahahual's beach clubs with umbrellas, lounge chairs, showers, all sorts of water sports and, obviously, bars (some serving light fares as well).

Photo of Road Outside Terminal in Costa Maya

Road Outside Terminal - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

If none of these packages appeal, or if you just want to spend a couple of hours at the beach in Mahahual, it is pretty easy to get on the shuttle or take a taxi to look around before deciding where to lay your towel and what to do. There is only one road out of the Terminal's parking area. Passing the exit gate, this road with a central pedestrian corridor is lined by buildings that not long ago had a bustling activity. Unfortunately, a couple of hurricanes (2007 and 2012) devastated the area and these buildings have not been restored to their former glory as yet. It is on this road that those booked with a local tour operator - Tucan Tour - will meet the guides taking excursionists to the Mayan ruins of Chacchobean, Kohunlich, Dzibanche and Kinichna.

Photo of Jade Sculptures at the Museum in Costa Maya

Jade Sculptures at the Museum

Photo © IQCruising.com

It is also on this road that the cruise traveler you will find the Mayan Museum (on your right). This small free museum has a rather shabby entrance but the interior displays interesting jade exhibits and historical boards for those wishing to learn more about this pre-Columbian civilization.

Photo of Taxis in Costa Maya

NAME - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

Right after the museum, there is a taxi stop and a 'fake' Mayan pyramid that many like to climb for a photo memory. Some cruisers and staff say that the taxi stand rates are better at this stop than at the terminal but the Editor hasn't found this to be 100% accurate.


Mahahual Beach and Village

Photo of Mahahual Beach in Costa Maya

Mahahual Beach - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

If planning to go to Mahahual it is good to know that the southern area is the nicest but also the most crowded and that in the northern tip of the beach the ocean is very shallow and not as inviting. Hence the Editor's recommendation: regardless of how you planning to get to Mahahual head to the middle section of the beach.

Photo of Malecón Mahahual in Costa Maya

Malecón Mahahual - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

Parallel to the Ocean and bordering the sand, there is a main pedestrian 'road' - the Malecón Mahahual. This is lined on the land side by bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, a couple of hotels, water sports shops (fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, catamaran, jet skiing and so on); and one of the Editor's favorite bookshop in the Caribbean where no-shoes and no-shirts are welcomed.

Photo of Bookshop in Mahahual, Costa Maya

Bookshop in Mahahual

Photo © IQCruising.com

On the beach side of the Malecón the cruise traveler will find one beach club after another with chairs, umbrellas, bars and water sports. Some also offer massages. At the southern tip of the beach, there is a Señor Frogs.

Photo of Mahahual Beach in Costa Maya

Mahahual Beach - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com

You should have in mind that Mahuhal is a very, very laid back sort of beach and that no one is in a rush to offer any sort of service in this small village - just join the flow (or lack of) and look at leisure for whatever you feel like doing with no pressure.

Photo of Mahahual Beach in Costa Maya

Mahahual Beach - Costa Maya

Photo © IQCruising.com


Excursions and Tours

As much as there are lots of nice and easy things to do on your own when calling at the port of Costa Maya, all cruise lines and independent local tour operators offer excellent excursions that the cruise traveler should consider.

Photo of Waterslide in Costa Maya

Waterslide - Costa Maya

Photo courtesy of Mayan Lost Kingdom

Typical tours like the ones exploring the Mayan Ruins of Chacchoben or Kohunlich are a must - the first can also be combined with beach time. A Beach Break is also combinable with a Catamaran Sail, Snorkel, Dune Buggy, Paddleboard or a Segway Tour. Scuba is available for both beginners and certified divers. At the Mayá the Lost Mayan Kingdom you can enjoy the excitement of a two zipline course, the fun of waterslides or relaxing by a pool.

Photo of Scuba Diving in Costa Maya

Scuba Diving - Costa Maya

Photo by management


Costa Maya Basics and Essential Info

Language Spanish is the official language. However, as in any major tourist cruise port, English is widely spoken.
  Entry Requirements: Although a valid passport is preferred, cruise lines will handle all the procedures before docking and you will not need to take any sort of ID with you besides your ship card.
Currency: The Mexican Peso is the official currency. But in most places the US$ is widely accepted. Like in the US, the peso uses the $ sign and it can be sometimes confusing when seeing prices in Mexican pesos. When in doubt, makes sure you look for MX, Mex$ or MXN. To make it, even more, confusing, many businesses display prices in US dollars. The Peso is divided into 100 centavos (cents). There are 5 different coins: 50 centavos, $1, $2, $5 and $10 pesos; and 6 larger bills: $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1000 pesos.
ATM's: At the Terminal - US Dollars only
Phones: Country Code: 52 (Mexico). Costa Maya area code: 983. To call US or Canada just need to dial 001 prior to the number. To call other coutries dial 00 + country code + area code + local number  
Post Office: In Mahahual
Electricity: Standard American 120 V current. Most places have a 3 prong outlet but in older venues you may find 2 pin ones.
Driving: On the right - Golf Cars available at the Terminal - taxi, shuttle area.
Major Rental Car: Easy Car Rental at Mahahual - can be booked online and car delivered to Terminal.
  Phone Emergencies: General - 911 | Medical Emergencies: 911
Emergencies: US Consular Agency: 872-4574 (Cozumel) - Embassy in Mexico City
Health Issues: Pharmacy at the Terminal

Essential Info - Facts

Costa Maya
(Mexico)

Image of Map of Costa Maya

Current Local Time

Time Zone

Costa Maya has changed time zone to EST (Eastern Standard Time), the same time zone in the East Coast of North America, 5 hours behind UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). Since the change to EST, Costa Maya is not schedulled to participate in daylight saving time.

Weather

Find more about Weather in Mahahual, MX

Money Matters

Currency: The Mexican Peso (MXN) is the legal tender.
US dollars are widely accepted - be aware that you may get back change in pesos.

Tipping:
When at a restaurant a tip is appropriate as in the US (15-20%). You can tip Taxi drivers but it is not expected.

Haggling:
On any shop, haggling is normal and expected, in particular, on duty-free shops.


Facts

Image of Mexico Flag

Mexico Flag

Costa Maya Population: Under 920 Residents in the village of Nuevo Mahahual close by.

Mexico Population: 123,166,749 (July 2016 est.)

Costa Maya Ethnic Groups: Predominantly Mayan descent.

Mexico Ethnic Groups:
Mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 62%, predominantly Amerindian 21%, Amerindian 7%, other 10% (mostly European) | Note: Mexico does not collect census data on ethnicity (2012 est.)

Religion in Mexico:
Roman Catholic 82.7%, Pentecostal 1.6%, Jehovah's Witness 1.4%, other Evangelical Churches 5%, other 1.9%, none 4.7%, unspecified 2.7% (2010 est.)

Public Holidays

January 1 - New Year's Day
February (1st Monday) - Constitution Day
March (3rd Monday) - Benito Juárez's birthday
March/April (movable) - Holy Thursday
March/April (movable) - Good Friday
May 1 - Labour Day
May 5 - Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla
Sept 1 - President's Report Day
Sept 16 - Independence Day
November 2 - Day of the Dead
November (3rd Monday) - Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (1910)
December 12 - Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 25 - Christmas

Useful Links

Costa Maya Cruise Port

Official Website:
costamaya.com

Facebook Page:
www.facebook.com

Mexico Tourist Board

Official Website:
www.visitmexico.com

Florida Caribbean Cruise Association

Official Website:
www.f-cca.com

Attractions - Activities

Chacchoben Ruins:
Official Website


Dolphin Discovery:
Official Website


Costa Maya Adventure Park:
Official Website


Maya Chan Beach Resort:
Official Website


Mahahual:
Official Website

Local Tours

Costa Maya Cruise Excursions:
Official Website


Tucan Costa Maya:
Official Website


Costa Maya Tours:
Official Website


Easy Car Rental:
Official Website

Tours - Excursions

Viator:
Official Website


Shore Trips:
Official Website


Shore Excursions:
Official Website


Shore Excursioneer:
Official Website

Cruising Excursions:
Official Website

US Consulate Agency
Playa del Carmen / Merida

Official Website:
mx.usembassy.gov

Sources

Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, World Bank

FAQ

Is it possible to visit the Mayan Ruins and also enjoy time at the beach.
Yes. Chacchoben is only 1 hour drive away and you will have enough time afterwards to enjoy at least a couple of hours at the beach in Mahahual.

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Last Update: July 12, 2017

The information on this page was accurate when last updated and published but changes may have occurred without notice.
It is advisable to confirm details with local tourist information before planning your cruise, tour or excursions of Costa Maya.
If any inaccuracies are found or if there are any suggestions to improve the content of this page please let us know.

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