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“¡Me vale madres”! or “I couldn’t care less!”, pretty much summed up the small tourist region of Costa Maya. It is in the state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, the only state bounded by the Caribbean Sea to its east and was the fourth stop on our cruise.
The modern cruise port consists of a small tourist village at the end of the pier with a few restaurants and bars with a huge swimming pool, alongside the many market-type shops and stalls selling Mexican souvenirs.
We set off to Mahahual Beach, a small fishing village about 10 minutes from the cruise ship pier. Upon arrival at this authentic Mexican village it felt like we were a million miles away from the high traffic tourist destinations most commonly associated with cruise ship destinations.
The streets were not paved and there was little traffic around, apart from the taxis ferrying cruise ship passengers back to port and there was less heckling from street vendors trying to sell their wares.
Mahahual was full of Mexican charm and fortunately hasn’t been swallowed up by the commercialism that cruise ships bring to these small towns. You can have a very reasonably priced seafood or traditional Mexican Taco lunch on the beachfront with a free Margarita, get a nice massage on the beach for about $20 and take a walk along the board walk, feeling completely free and uninhibited. There is even a ‘clothing optional’ beach within a short walking distance!
The offshore Banco Chinchorro National Marine Park is a popular snorkelling and diving site that features several sunken wrecks, including a 400-year old sunken Spanish galleon. The remains and black coral reef can even be seen from the water’s surface.
There are several important wetland bird sanctuaries on the northern shores, and just north of Mahahual, Reserva de la Biósfera Sian Ka’an protects nearly 2,000 square miles of tropical jungle and a magnificent coral reef that is popular amongst fishing and snorkelling enthusiasts.
Costa Maya is the closest port of access to many of the lesser known Mayan ruins in the Yucatan including Chacchoben and Kohunlich. The Kohunlich Mayan Ruins Site are located in lush tropical jungle about 1.5 hours from Costa Maya, where there are the hidden Kohunlich Temples.
The most accessible Mayan Ruin site in the area due to its proximity to the port and layout of the site is located a short 40 minutes drive from the Port. The Chacchoben Temples are a beautiful example of the intricate Maya construction during the Maya Classic period.
If I was to have that ‘real Mexican’ experience then Costa Maya was just that. It was a refreshing change from the more touristy and commercialised ports that we had visited thus far. All I can say about it (with Margarita in hand!), is ¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro! Which translates to roughly ‘cheers’, ‘bottoms up’ or ‘¡salud!
If you’re venturing south of the border then you’ll need a packing list for Mexico and a much more chilled attitude.
For more about Mexico see my previous post on Cozumel
Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)June 26, 2015
I love Mexican colours. Look at that tablecloth! I need to get that quote made into a bumper sticker :)
KathyJune 27, 2015
I loved all the colours of Mexico as well and their very laid-back way of life. When you sit down to have lunch on the beach and they bring you a free Margarita – I knew I was in paradise!
NancieJune 26, 2015
Hi Kathy, Looks like you had a lovely day there. I visited Cancun many years ago (not my favorite destination), and visited some of the Mayan ruins. They were fabulous! Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday
KathyJune 27, 2015
I really enjoyed our two stops in Mexico. The Mexicans have a wonderful laid-back approach to life and I loved their bright happy colours. :)
budget janJune 27, 2015
Sounds and looks like my kind of place. Snorkelling in that water would be divine.
KathyJune 28, 2015
Oh yes the water is absolutely gorgeous in the Caribbean. So clear with great visibility. But probably not quite as good as our own Great Barrier Reef!
JohannaJune 30, 2015
It looks divine. I especially like the idea that it hasn’t been consumed by the big cruise ships in a touristy way.
KathyJune 30, 2015
I guess it may be a matter of time before Costa Maya and in particular the village of Mahahual becomes spoiled by the tourist dollar. However I was glad to see it before this has happened. It was a beautiful place. :)