24 Aug 2017
Ready for a new adventure? We just spent 72 hours in Mahahaul and want to share our adventures in the Costa Maya. Get set, ready, go!
Half the Adventure is the Drive to Mahahual
We do like to drive to Mahahaul so we can make a few stops along the way. Friends love to take the bus so they can rest, read and just chill. Take your pick, and start heading south.
Total trip time with no stops from Akumal to Mahahual – 3.5 hours
We take a bit longer due to some favorite stops. Here are our favorite driving breaks when heading south:
- Tulum for an agua fresca at Michoacan – Horchata is the first choice, Jamiaca the send choice
- Muyil Ruins – This is a favorite archeological site for us. It is a small site, so a nice 45minute break from driving.
- Felipe Carillo Puerto – This is a grocery shopping stop. For as long as we can remember, we have stocked up on water, snacks, fruit and of course some beer so we don’t have to worry about shopping when we arrive in Mahahual. The Bodega Aurrera is just off the main road in Felipe Carillo Puerto and has just about anything you might need (or want).
- The Pineapple Ladies – This road stop is just past the coast highway entrance to Mahahual. We dream about this pineapple and get very giddy once we realize we are close to the stalls. It is a pineapple paradise that cannot be missed. You have a choice between whole uncut pineapples, or bagged cut pineapple. The price is not even worth mentioning it is so cheap. I prefer my fresh cut pineapple with lime and a bit of smoked chile, and the ladies deliver! This stop is literally 5 minutes from the turnoff to Mahahaul on Hwy 307 and there are over 15 stalls to choose from.
Once we arrive in Mahahual and check into our hotel, we grab our snorkel gear and head to the sea. The afternoon is all about snorkeling from the beach. If you are not a confident swimmer or snorkeler, hail a snorkel tour on the Malecon. Tour guides are happy to take you to the reef and guide you to the good stuff. We just love to snorkel from shore and see what we can see, which in our case is quite a bit.
Dinner is at one of our favorite restaurants Luna Plata, at the far end of the Malecon. A quick 15 minute walk has us seated seaside looking at the beach and Caribbean Sea. If you were not aware, Mahahual has a large Italian community, and Luna Plata is part of that community. Their menu is full of great pastas, pizza, salads and seafood, a nice treat after a long drive and snorkel. Service is always great and after dinner, we are ready for bed, and a new adventure in the morning.
Day 2 in Mahaual and the Costa Maya
Our next 24hours leads us to the Chaccoben Archeological site just off Highway 307, Cenote Azul in Bacalar, and some more chill time on the beach in Mahahaul.
We had breakfast in the Matan Kaan Hotel as rumor has it they serve up a pretty mean desayuno. Rumors are right. We had a great breakfast at 8 am and chatted with the manager of the hotel. Lovely service, great food, homemade jams and the right price.
After breakfast we headed to Chaccoben where we spent the morning exploring this archeological site and visiting with the spider monkeys. We had the ruins to ourselves, and only saw another couple enter the site when we were leaving midday. We selfishly checked the Costa Maya cruise ship schedule to make sure we were visiting the site on a day when a cruise ship was not in port. If you visit Chaccoben when a cruise ship is in port, there will be other visitors at the ruins. Just saying.
Instead of heading back to Mahahual, we decided to visit Cenote Azul, a small lagoon just south of Bacalar. The entrance fee was 10 pesos, our lunch was reasonably priced. We did hop into the lagoon and snorkel around for an hour. This is a pretty impressive place and a great day trip if you are in the Costa Maya.
The rest of the afternoon was spent snorkeling in the Caribbean off the beach in Mahahual. The sea has been so calm since we arrived, it is hard to resist a snorkel. After a bit of a siesta and a beer, we headed out to dinner at 40 Canons. This beach side restaurant has great food, overlooks the beach, and provides a great sea breeze!! The menu is varied and will satisfy any palate. Listening to the waves while we ate dinner, priceless.
Day 3 in Mahahual and the Costa Maya
We decided to do something new today. Normally we would head out to Xcalak on our third day, visit friends, check out the Costa de Cocos micro brewery, snorkel, chill and head back to Mahahual. This routine took a turn as we wanted to check out the new Eco Park, Lost Mayan Kingdom. Located near the cruise ship pier, we had no idea what to expect. This was a true adventure.
This is what we have to say about the eco park. If you can go on a day when a cruise ship is not in port. We felt that we had the park to ourself as there were few other visitors this day. No line ups, lots of attentive staff, and really a fun time.
This park is a lot more chill than eco parks to the north, like Xcaret, Xel Ha, or Selvatica. We ziplined first, a tour that provided incredible views of the sea and jungle. We then hit the mega slides which were fun, and easy to ride. What we loved were the elevators that took us to the top of the pyramid that was the focal point of the slides. No climbing. The elevators made heights easy. That said the slides were a wild ride. One of the largest slides had a 20 foot drop at the end, something that we were not expecting, albeit fun.
The rest of early afternoon was spent chilling on the lazy river. What a nice slow ride The inner tubes had back rests, the river was truly lazy and we did not see another person while we relaxed through this 45minute excursion.
After chatting with the staff and learning about their experience at the park, we decided to skip a very late lunch at the Mayan Kingdom and head south on the Mahahual beach road for a late lunch. Almaplena hotel has a great little restaurant and paradise beach just 9 kilometers from town. We loved our fresh fish, and took advantage of the beach after lunch. This little stretch of beach is lovely, beautiful and a nice getaway for the afternoon. You truly feel like you are in paradise.
We headed back to town for a little siesta, and then walked down to Noch Kay for a light snack. This is our go to place for fish tacos. Lightly battered fresh fish on warm tortillas hit the spot for us. We decided to walk the full length of the Malecon to the lighthouse and back after dinner. On our way back we stopped into Tropicante to have one of Costa de Cocos microbrews. Truly great beer and worth the stop.
Heading Home to Akumal
We are always a bit sad to leave Mahahual but thankfully we are returning to a destination just as beautiful as where we are leaving. We took a trip to the pineapple ladies so we could stock up on a few uncut, fresh pineapples. We had just finished breakfast at Fonda El Izote, a local cocina economic that serves a pretty mean breakfast. This dirt floor eatery is nothing to look at, but the food sure is worth it. We had no room for fresh cut pineapple on our way back up to Akumal,but we did have our stock of pineapple for the next few days.
Where is Mahahual in the Costa Maya?
Mahahual is a coastal beach town south of the Riviera Maya. This area, which includes Mahahual, Bacalar, and Xcalak is called the Costa Maya. From the Cancun airport the drive is about 5 hours, from Playa del Carmen 4 hours, and from Akumal about 3.5 hours if you don’t stop. With mini excursions added into the day, like we have done here, we plan to make it to Mahahual in 7 hours. Curious about this little beach town? Read more about the Costa Maya and Mahahual.