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Mahahual Beach: A Guide To The Best Costa Maya Excursion


Last Updated on July 25, 2023 by Nicole

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 in Mahahual Mexico, a quick and inexpensive cab ride from Costa Maya cruise port.

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 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 of them. 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 ThemI hope they help.

Costa Maya cruise port
The main swimming pool on our cruise.

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Costa Maya cruise port
The water park on our Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas.

Regardless of what I think about cruising, our time snorkelling and fishing in Mahahual Mexico was one of our highlights of our whole holiday.

Arrival at Costa Maya Cruise Port

Cost Maya cruise port details

Our cruise ship arrived late morning at the Costa Maya cruise 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.

In my experience, exiting a cruise ship at a port takes a lot of time as everybody wants to leave as soon as possible, especially when you only have a half day to explore. 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 a shore excursion booked through the cruise. Then, it usually takes around 20 minutes or more to walk along the dock which connects the cruise ship to land and go through the port itself which could be very large. If you think about it, you really lose about 2 hours waiting to get off the ship, allowing yourself to get through the port, and then, giving yourself a buffer so you are back in good time.

Costa Maya cruise port
Fooling around on our way back to the boat.

In this case, the Costa Maya cruise port wasn’t too big. It took us around 10 minutes to walk from the ship to the entrance to the port. From there, we walked another 10 minutes through the port past a a nice collection of little shops and were quickly able to find the exit from the Cost Maya cruise port.

From Costa Maya Cruise Port To Mahahual Mexico

Mahahual Mexico

I booked our private snorkelling and fishing trip through Costa Maya Cruise Excursions. I was 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 in Mahahual Mexico gave us everything that we needed.

We were responsible to meet our guide and boat at Mahahual beach in Mahahual Mexico. 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 Cost maya cruise port to Mahahual Mexico, we crossed our fingers and hoped that it actually would be.

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

Costa Maya cruise port
A map from the Costa Maya cruise port to Mahahual beach.

Mahahual Beach in Mahahual Mexico

Mahahual Mexico 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 Caribbean Sea. There are tons of beach restaurants and bars, with table service. However, everything is small, quaint and welcoming. Most importantly, Costa Maya felt safe. I immediately fell in love with the look and vibe of Mahahual Mexico.

Mahahual Mexico
Mahahual Beach from our private boat.

A couple minutes from the taxi depot, we easily found the hotel/restaurant where we had to check in for our excursion. While we waited for our boat and guide, we were invited to go to the beach and have a drink. As we sat on the beach enjoying our drinks, I couldn’t help notice how serene Mahahual Mexico was, from the beautiful sandy beach to the crystal blue water of the Caribbean Sea. The waves were gentle and I could easily see the gentle slope of the beach in the water.

Mahahual Mexico
Mahahual Beach
Mahahual Mexico
Our boat and the Caribbean Sea.

Accommodation in Costa Maya Mexico

If you are interested in spending a few days enjoying the beautiful beaches in Mahahual rather than a half day shore excursion, I’d recommend exploring and the interactive map below to find the best accommodation for the best prices.

Snorkelling and Fishing in Mahahual Mexico

After a delicious Tequila cocktail,  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 Mexico
Just hanging out on the boat.
Mahahual 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 Mexico

Lots of taxis were waiting at Mahahual beach to take us back to Costa Maya cruise port. It was as easy returning as it was going. In addition, we had more than enough time to sit down at one of the many restaurants and bars at the Costa Maya cruise port, have a drink and go for a walk along the esplanade before we had to return to the ship.


I would highly recommend this half day private snorkelling trip. We loved Mahahual Mexico, the snorkelling, the fishing and the speed boat ride. It was easy to walk through and depart from the Costa Maya cruise 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 Costa Maya cruise port and spend your time at Mahahual Mexico, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and the beautiful beach and waters of the Caribbean Sea. You will leave the cruise ship crowds behind and feel like you have found a little bit of paradise.

Our second highlight from our cruise was our incredible shore excursion in Cozumel. We toured Punta Sur Eco Beach Park on electric bikes and came across untouched beaches, iguanas and crocodiles. If interested,  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 in Mahahual Mexico near the Costa Maya cruiseport. It was fantastic. Here's why. #travel #familytravel #Mexico #cruise

the authorNicole


  • 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!

    Green recently posted…Beach Chair with Canopy

  • 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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