Paradise does not end in Tulum…or the Sian Ka’an. There is a whole world south of the Riviera Maya called the Costa Maya. If you are looking to get away from the popular destinations of Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and yes, even Akumal, the Costa Maya could be just what you are looking for.
This destination has the laid back, old school, beach vibe that so many people love about the Riviera Maya. We have been traveling there for over a decade, and love the vibe you find in both Mahahual and Xcalak. Note. This destination may not be for everyone, and I can I think of a few people I know that would find it too quiet, too paradise-ish. There are travelers who love the camaraderie of popular destinations. They like that there are lots of people to interact with, restaurants to go to, things to do. They feel a part of something, and like that. If that describes you, Mahahual may not be your place.
— The Bitch in APT 23 (@ManuelEBaher) May 14, 2016
If your get away list includes any of these options, then Mahahual just might be your place.
Do know that Mahahual is a cruise ship stop so there are 10 days out of each month where cruisers descent to specific beach clubs and go to local attractions. But all is quiet by 5 pm. If you are staying outside the downtown core or decide to have a beach day, most likely you will not even notice the cruisers. Here is the annual schedule for cruisers. Check the dates and just plan around them.
Let me explain what we mean by ‘downtown’ and ‘out of town’. Downtown means accommodations that are beachside along the malecon. Downtown means more people and local restaurants. Out of town mean beaches and properties only used hotel guests. Day trippers, or in town visitors will not venture the few kilometers to the south. The beaches are not private, all Mexican beaches are public property, but you will only encounter other guests on your beach, making it feel like your very own private beach. If you rent a vacation villa to the north, you will step back in time and feel like you have Mexico all to yourself.
40 Cannons – Downtown – Named after the many Spanish ship wrecks found off the coast, the hotel creates ‘travel envy’ to anyone not staying there. Rooms are well appointed, you have your own beach club across the street, their hotel restaurant is great, and you will love the sea breezes. This hotel is ‘in town’.
Costa Maya Villas – Downtown -If you are hoping to cook at home, chill on your own patio yet be close to town, Costa Maya Villas is perfect. These are two bedroom units, there is a wonderful pool, access to the beach, and everything you need to call this a home away from home. This is ‘in town’ accommodation but a 5 minute walk to local restaurants and shopping.
Almaplena Eco Resort & Beach Club – Out of Town – This is where the term private beach came from. This small eco hotel is 15 kilometers south of town, and is dreamy. White sand, clear blue sea, laid back vibe, glorious tropical gardens. Snorkel from shore, or just chill on the beach. Their on-premise restaurant is perfect for tropical meals and local flavors.
This list could be long, as there are some great places to eat that also have some great views. Some of our favorite local places to eat are: Nohoch Kay Restaurant – Located on the malecon in the center of town. We have known Jaime for decades and he never lets us down.
Luna de Plata – This cozy Italian Restaurant is at the far end of the malecon (walking distance) to the south. It has spectacular evening views of the beach and Caribbean Sea. Menu is quite diverse with a focus on Italian and Seafood. Enjoy a quiet evening, have a glass of wine, sit back and take in the view.
Pez Quadro de 40 Canones – We are huge fans of this hotel and of their food. The Mayan Breakfast is delightful, dinner just as wonderful. Views are great as the restaurant faces the sea. Yes, it is a bit more expensive than other restaurants in Mahahual but if you had this meal anywhere else, the price would be 10 times as much.
If you are planning on spending a few days in Mahahual and want to get the most out of the activities it has to offer, we do suggest having a car. This allows you to explore the history, culture, and local attractions without having to use tour operators. If you want to be led to local history and culture, by all means, the services of local guides is a great way to go and you can forgo the car. Up to you, as only you know how you like to travel.
Local Mayan Archeological Sites – On Hwy 307 and also to the south on Hwy 186, you will find some spectacular Mayan Archeological sites that really should not be missed. Our suggestions for day trips are Chacchoben, Dzibanche and Kinichna, and Kohunlich. If you are traveling with children, Kohunlich might be your best option solely for the howler monkeys. They will love the sound these monkeys make and make a trip to an archeological site sound fun.
Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya. Look at all those stairs! Who wants to climb those bad boys? Book a trip now! pic.twitter.com/NfFtpaXzWE
— The Travel Planner (@TravelgalDiane) January 30, 2015
Diving and Snorkeling – This could be one of the main reasons people come down to Mahahual, especially avid divers. The Chinchorro Banks is the largest atoll in the western hemisphere, and home to many Spanish wrecks that date back to the 16th century. But we need to let you know, weather conditions, specifically high seas, makes this dive a hard one to do most of the year. Many divers have gone to Mahahaul for a week and found sea to rough to head out to the atoll. that said, we suggest you try this trip in the summer, when the seas are calmer and mother nature may be on your side. Snorkeling is possible all of the time as the reef serves as protection, therefore letting snorkelers cruise around and see the wealth of sea life and corals. Hook up with a local dive center and go see what you can see in the Caribbean off the shore of Mahahual.
New Eco Park Lost Mayan World – This is a new attraction in the Costa Maya that is making a lot of people very happy. If you are into ziplines, water slides, jungle adventures and having fun, this could be a nice break from the beach.
— cancuncanuck (@cancuncanuck) April 27, 2016
Mahahual is located 5 1/2 hours from the Cancun Airport or just 4 1/2 from the Riviera Maya. Public transportation is a convenient way to head south, especially after a long flight, though a rental car is a nice way to take in the entire coast.
Take Hwy 307 south until you hit the signs for Mahahual, a straight shot. If you want to spend the night in Playa del Carmen before you head south, check out The Bric Hotel located in the heart of town just off 5th Avenue.
Enjoy your stay. Check out more articles and information about Mahahual from your local experts.