When the Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas cruise we were planning to take over February break switched ports of call due to some port closures, I didn’t mind. Although I did love the original ports, I was excited to check out a new-to-us port of call, Costa Maya. I had heard some great things about the Puerto Costa Maya cruise port and looked forward to seeing it for myself.
The port of Costa Maya is located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan peninsula. It’s bordered by the Caribbean Sea and is in the Western Caribbean. It’s located near the small fishing village of Mahahual village and is south of Cancun. Unlike Cozumel, which is an island, Costa Maya is located on the mainland of Mexico.
Disclosure: I did take a complimentary media cruise on the Odyssey of the Seas, but we did pay full price for this sailing. We also paid full price for our day in Costa Maya.
Guide to the Costa Maya Cruise Port In Mexico
Upon arriving in Costa Maya, we had a beautiful view of the expansive port. In my experience, it’s one of the larger ports that I’ve seen. As you exit your cruise ship, you’ll enter the port area. Be sure to follow your ship’s instructions for what to bring (and not to bring) off the ship. Typically, you’ll need your ship key card and a photo ID, as well as your wallet with cash/credit cards, and towels from your ship. Like other international ports, you won’t be able to bring any fresh produce with you.
Port Amenities at the Costa Maya Cruise Terminal
Once you enter the port, you’ll see the expansive amenities available to guests right at the port. It is a pretty long walk off the pier, so make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. If you haven’t planned any excursions or activities in advance, I would still recommend getting off the ship. There’s so much to do right there.
The first thing you’ll see is a last-minute tour desk, where you can book an excursion. This is a great option for those who haven’t yet planned anything but still want to do a port excursion. However, if you have something you really want to do in Costa Maya, I’d recommend booking it in advance. These tours can book up, especially if there are multiple large cruise ships in port. Several different cruise lines do visit the Costa Maya cruise terminal.
Other amenities at the port include an ATM (US currency), bathrooms, Wifi, and a taxi stand. You can also book golf carts to use to explore locally.
Port Activities In Costa Maya
Unlike other Caribbean ports I’ve traveled to, Puerto Costa Maya is a destination in itself. Guests can choose to purchase a port pass (similar to a day pass), which includes admission to the on-site aviary with tropical birds, Kakaw Chocolate Factory, the tequila museum, and three complimentary house drinks. This can be a great option if you want to stay nearby and just explore within the port, and it’s one of the popular shore excursions.
All of these activities can also be explored and visited individually. On our sailing, the cruise line offered discounted aviary tickets as one of the Costa Maya excursions.
In addition, the port offers a large swimming pool with lounge chairs, multiple restaurants and bars, a Mexican market, shops, a fish spa, and more. You could easily spend a lot of time exploring the shops. It’s really a beautiful port area.
The Dolphin Discovery excursion takes place right at the port and can be booked on the ship. Again, this is something I would book in advance if you are interested.
There’s also the Mayan Wellness Retreat, which includes a spa experience that runs for a little over an hour. This can also be booked as an excursion on the ship. Because of the short duration of this experience, you can also combine it with some other activities at the port.
If you aren’t traveling with kids and just want to relax and enjoy the area, I think the tequila tasting followed by some time at the pool enjoying a cocktail would be a fun experience.
Excursions from Costa Maya Cruise Port
Would you rather book an excursion for the surrounding Costa Maya area? Check your cruise line’s offerings because ours had plenty of fun shore excursion options. Typical Costa Maya excursions include the following:
Chacchoben Mayan ruins tour: The ruins of Chacchoben are located about 50-60 minutes from the port, and the tours run about four hours. If you book this archaeological site tour, you should have some time when you return to explore the Costa Maya port before boarding your ship.
Seven Colors Lagoon: Excursions to this popular freshwater lagoon typically include transportation, food, and drink while you are there. You will probably need to bring towels from the ship. Don’t forget your sunscreen.
Maya, Lost Mayan Kingdom (closed): While the Maya, Lost Mayan Kingdom theme water park was a popular excursion in Costa Maya with zip lines and water slides, it is now closed.
Other excursions in Costa Maya include cenotes tours, all inclusive beach breaks, and other ruins tours.
Best Beach in Costa Maya Mexico: Maya Chan Beach
If you’d like to enjoy a beach day in Mexico on your Caribbean cruise, you’ll find that there are several options of beautiful beach clubs that are available as privately booked excursions along the beach area. This means that you’ll need to book one of these all inclusive beach clubs on your own – not through your cruise line.
There are some risks that come with this. You’ll need to make sure you make it to your ship before all-aboard time. It’s also important that you know the cancellation and refund policy, in case your ship can’t stop at the port or if the itinerary changes at the last minute. When you book a ship excursion, it will be refunded in those circumstances but that may not always be the case if you book for something on your own.
When we were visiting Costa Maya, I knew that we wanted to spend a relaxing day on the beach. I had heard about Maya Chan Beach – one of the more popular destinations among cruise passengers. We decided to book it. It ended up being the best cruise ship excursion we’ve done due to the service, food, and atmosphere.
Overview of Maya Chan Beach
Maya Chan Beach is a private beach resort located in Mahahual. It offers a beach-front location, beach loungers with lots of shade, games, a pool, clean restrooms, WiFi, several beach bars (plus lounge chair service), a small gift shop, and more. Transportation in cabs to and from the port is included and organized for you, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Maya Chan Beach is very popular, and they do cap the number of visitors per day. So, it’s important to book ahead. They do have a great refund policy, but make sure you check the latest info when you book.
Getting To Maya Chan Beach
Once you purchase your admission, you’ll be given instructions for finding the transportation. You’ll need to make your way out of the port to a small location outside. There, you can meet your guide who will arrange your transportation in small groups. It’s a bit of a ride to the beach.
It was a long walk to the end of the port, but we felt that it was pretty easy to find the meeting spot. Be sure to bring your swimsuit, sunscreen, towels, and anything else you’ll need for the day.
Once we arrived at Maya Chan, we were given an overview of the property and directed to our chairs for the day. Because all reservations are made in advance, your seating area will be waiting for you. Our party of four had an open pergola with a beach bed, multiple chairs, a hammock, and table. Seating areas vary depending on party size but you are guaranteed a beach chair for each guest and a beach bed at each seating location.
Food at Maya Chan
We were greeted with rum punch (nonalcoholic for the kids) as well as homemade chips and salsa. Servers continuously come around taking drink orders, and even offered milkshakes for the kids.
When lunch is ready, you’ll be treated to a buffet filled with a homemade Mexican lunch of tacos, soup, beans, rice, and more. We absolutely loved this authentic Mayan-inspired meal – especially the fish and pork.
Amenities at Maya Chan
It’s hard to explain in words how special Maya Chan is. The amenities, including beach floats, floating chairs, sand toys, showers, snorkel equipment, outdoor games, the pool, and the waterfront location are definitely beautiful. But the service is top-notch, and you won’t want to leave.
All of the seating areas are conveniently located near the Caribbean Sea. Like other locations in this area, there is some seaweed in the water at times. But Maya Chan does have employees activitely raking it out of the way.
After lunch, an employee comes around to find out what time you’d like to leave the beach. A cab will be ordered for you, so you’ll be able to leave whenever you’d like, and won’t have to worry about finding a ride back.
If you are interested in booking a day at Maya Chan, I definitely recommend booking it as early as possible since capacity is limited. You can find information on their website. Note that they are closing for a few months in 2022.