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Mahahual Beach: The Best Half Day Costa Maya Excursion


Our family of 5 (15, 13 and 12 years old) went on a 6 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Liberty of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. Our ports of call were Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize. Before we left on vacation, I organized our own excursions at each port. One of my favourites was our private snorkelling and fishing trip off of Mahahual Beach, a quick and inexpensive cab ride from the port of Costa Maya.

This was our third cruise that we have taken in the last 5 years. Our first in the Caribbean (the other two were in Europe). Like always, I have mixed feelings about our actual cruise experience. There are many reasons why I love cruises. These range from how much my kids love them to how convenient and easy a vacation they are.  Unfortunately, there are many reasons why I don’t like them. The lack of flexibility to explore an area and how crowded a cruise ship can be are two key reasons. If you are undecided about whether a cruise holiday is right for you, please read my two blogs that set out the pros and cons of taking a cruise: Cruise Ship Holidays: 7 Reasons To Cruise and Cruise Holidays: 6 Reasons To Avoid Them.


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
The main swimming pool on our cruise.


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
The water park on our Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas.


Regardless of what I thought of our cruise, our time snorkelling and fishing at Mahahual Beach was one of our highlights of our whole holiday.


Arrival at Puerto Costa Maya

Our cruise ship arrived late morning at the port.  We only had from 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm to explore the area.  This might seem like a lot of time, but it really isn’t. Normally it takes a bit of time to get off the boat as everybody wants to leave at the same time. In addition, you absolutely can not be even a minute late back to the boat. The cruise ship will not wait for anyone unless they are on an excursion booked through the cruise.  Then, it usually takes around 20 minutes to walk along the dock to connect to land and go through the port itself. If you think about it, you really lose about 2 hours waiting to get off, allowing yourself to get through the port, and then, giving yourself a buffer so you are back in good time.


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
Fooling around on our way back to the boat.


In this case, the port wasn’t too big. There was a nice collection of little shops and we were able to quickly walk through it.


Cost Maya Private Charter Excursion

We booked our private snorkelling and fishing trip through Costa Maya Cruise Excursions. We were looking for something that would take us away from the crowds on our cruise and give us some quiet time enjoying the Caribbean Sea. This excursion gave us everything that we needed.

We were responsible to meet our guide and boat at Mahahual Beach. Initially, this seemed a bit daunting. We had limited time, didn’t know where we were going, and couldn’t be late. We had no time to get lost or figure out the lay of the land. When the website said it would be an easy cab ride from the port to Mahahual Beach, we had to believe that it actually would be.

And it was. We walked through the port, exited and found the taxi stand right outside with dozens of taxis waiting. For $2 USD per person (in cash), we were off. Seven minutes later, we arrived!


Mahahual Beach

Mahahual is a former fishing village that has now been turned into a beautiful beach and vacation town. It still has a laid back feel to it. The hotels are small, only a couple stories tall, and are found just on the other side of a pedestrian walking zone mere steps to the beach. There are tons of beach restaurants and beach service up and down Mahahual Beach. However, everything is small, quaint and welcoming. I immediately fell in love with the look and vibe of this place.


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
Mahahual Beach from our private boat.


We easily found the hotel/restaurant that we had to check in for our excursion. We were invited to go to the beach, have a drink and wait for our boat and our guide. As we sat on the beach enjoying our drinks, I couldn’t help notice how serene the beach was and how crystal blue the Caribeean Sea was. The waves were gentle and I could easily see the gentle slope of the bottom of the Sea.


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
Mahahual Beach


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
Our boat and the Caribbean Sea.



Snorkelling and Fishing

Shortly thereafter, we met our captain and crew and we were off.  Our boat was a Mexican skiff called a Panga and was just the right size for us. There was a small roof that provided a little bit of sun cover, but not a lot so make sure you wear a hat and a cover up for your upper body, and wear lots of sunscreen.

mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
Just hanging out on the boat.


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico
Trying to stay out of the hot sun.


After 20 – 30 minutes of boating, we arrived at the coral reef and there we snorkelled with a guide. We saw beautiful coral, tropical fish and even swam with some sea turtles. It was fantastic. The water was lovely and warm.

Afterwards, we trolled.  Trolling is a type of fishing where fishing lines are baited and are drawn through the water usually with a motorized boat. In our case, our boat cruised all around the bay with a couple of lines in the water trying to hook “the big one”. Unfortunately, we were out of luck. After awhile we gave up and the lines were pulled in. We asked the captain to go speeding around the bay (away from the reef and the shore) and he obliged. We all loved that and it was a great way to end our tour.


mahahual beach in costa maya mexico

Taxis were waiting for us to take us back to the port. It was as easy returning as it was going. However, we had more than enough time to sit down, have a drink and go for a walk along the esplanade.



I would highly recommend this half day private snorkelling trip. We loved Mahahual Beach, the snorkelling, the fishing and the speed boat ride. It was easy to depart from the port, get a taxi there and back, and find the start of our excursion.

If the actual tour itself doesn’t sound appealing, I would strongly encourage you to leave the port of Costa Maya and spend your time at Mahahual Beach enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, the beach, the Caribbean Sea and the beachside restaurants. You will leave behind the crowds from the cruise ship and feel like you have found yourself on a completely different vacation.


If you are interested in our amazing shore excursion that we did in Cozumel, please read Cozumel Electric Bike Tour: An Amazing Shore Excursion With Kids.


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We took a Caribbean cruise and spent some time in Costa Maya in Mexico. We did a private half day snorkelling trip off of Mahahual Beach near the port. It was fantastic. Here's why. #travel #familytravel #Mexico #cruise

We took a Caribbean cruise and spent some time in Costa Maya in Mexico. We did a private half day snorkelling and fishing trip with our three kids off of Mahahual Beach near the port. It was fantastic. Here's why. #travel #familytravel #Mexico #cruise #shoreexcursion #travelwithkids


  • I have never visited this place. I have been to the most popular Riviera Maya but I know the Costa is less hectic (that is how I like places). I think it is a good idea to book your own excursions while on a cruise. They are of better value and your money goes directly to local businesses.

    • I agree. I prefer to book excursions with local companies rather than the cruise ships to save money but also to deal directly with the locals. I have found it to be a much better experience. It is also nice to get away from all the other passengers for awhile!

  • Just was there 3 weeks ago. There was 2 cruise ship tourists for every local, it was shoulder-to-shoulder on the boardwalk. This was with only one cruise ship in that day. The locals told us that now there are up to 4 (Four) cruise ships coming some days. There were lines of jeeps filled drunk tourists roaring south on the dirt road. We told our Mexican hotel hosts to keep the money and we left town. A beautiful little Mexican town ruined!

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  • Wow! I’ve been on a cruise once and it did not have such a cool waterpark on it! We also didn’t get to go fishing/trolling. I think I need to check out Royal

    • Royal Caribbean is a great all round cruise liner. It has amazing kid activities like water slides, wave runner, and rock climbing walls. It also has great adult entertainment.

  • That is one giant cruise ship, but I am guessing that the size offers a few dozen way to enjoy the cruise, I just hope it wasn’t too crowded.

  • Private tours are usually the best tours that you can get, so the guide doesn’t have to divide their attention among a lot of people, the private snorkeling does sound fun, but we only have your word to go on, if there were some more pictures then we might have gotten a a real feel or at least I would have, but that is beside the point, the beach does look real nice, and the water is crystal clear and so inviting, also wow 2$ per person for a cab ride, that is a steal, anywhere else cab drivers would take like 20$ minimum. Too bad you weren’t able to catch that big fish, but maybe next time.

  • The cruise looks fantastic and I must say you made good use of the stop at Costa Maya. Mahahual Beach seems to be really pretty from the pictures you had put up in this blog. I love snorkeling. It must be so much of fun for your kids.

    • Thanks Shreya. The water was warm and the snorkelling was wonderful. My kids love that and also love it when the captain decides to crank up the speed!

  • 12 – 7 pm is NOT a lot of time to explore the island, I am sure. That’s is what I do not like about cruising (probably the ONLY thing) – the limited time you have to explore the cities the cruise stops at. It is never enough. Snorkeling and fishing trips at Costa Maya sounds like a great way to spend your time. Mahahual Beach looks pretty awesome too. I love cruises otherwise, look at yours, such a lovely swimming pool with so many activities for kids.

    • I agree. The time constraints in port are the biggest downfall to cruising. I wish that there were cruises that offered overnights at ports so that you could explore without worrying about the time. Mahahual Beach was lovely and a nice way to explore the area.

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