Turtle Beach at Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico

Things to do in  Costa Maya

The undiscovered coast—for now

Less known than the bohemian-chich Riviera Maya up the Quintana Roo coast, the Costa Maya stretches roughly from Sian Kaan down to the Mexico-Belize border. And therein lies the charm—there’s less outright tourism along this coastline, where you’ll likely encounter Mexicans vacationing alongside visitors, with just as many things to do. Visit the Maya ruins at Chacchoben, explore the spellbinding Bacalar Lagoon, and snorkel among the reefs and mangroves of the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve—and that’s just scratching the surface.

Top 1 attractions in Costa Maya

Quintana Roo

One of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, Quintana Roo is the gateway to the Mexican Caribbean. Palm-lined beaches, Mayan ruins, and family-friendly nature parks characterize this east coast state where you can snorkel coral reefs, cool off in ancient cenotes, and party in the nightclubs of Cancún and Playa del Carmen.More

Top activities in Costa Maya

One Day Tour to Chacchoben Mayan City and Bacalar Lagoon with a Certified Guide
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Ancient Chacchoben Mayan Ruins + Mayan Experience from Costa Maya
Special Offer
Private beach, all inclusive.

Private beach, all inclusive.

Bacalar Private Charter Shore Excursion

Bacalar Private Charter Shore Excursion

per group
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Costa Maya

When to visit

The best time to visit is during the dry season, generally from October to April, but note that this time coincides with peak travel season. The rest of the year has pleasant, sometimes wet weather outside of hurricane season from August to late September, which is not a good time to visit. If you can brave crossing the Belize border to San Pedro, the Costa Maya International Festival, celebrating local culture in early August, is worth checking out.

Getting around

While buses will get you to the Costa Maya from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and elsewhere along the Riviera Maya, public transportation is minimal and often unreliable. Taxis and hired trolleys are great for reaching Mahahual (and elsewhere) from the Costa Maya cruise port. For longer distances, renting a car or trying guided tours and shore excursions to Bacalar, Chacchoben, and other regional highlights is best.

Traveler tips

With mesmerizing turquoise waters, the Bacalar Lagoon, actually a long narrow lake, is a highlight of any Costa Maya trip. Travelers come from as far as Cancun on guided day trips, with most hiring boats to cruise the lake for a few hours. If you hire a boat, ask to stop at one of the lake’s cenotes, among the deepest in the region. Also, consider visiting the town of Bacalar, a quiet but fun lake settlement with an 18th-century fort-turned-museum.


People Also Ask

Why is Costa Maya famous?

Costa Maya is famous for being a less developed alternative to the Riviera Maya, farther up the coast in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The area’s top highlights include the Bacalar Lagoon, a long, narrow lake with turquoise-blue waters, Maya ruins at Chacchoben, and the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve.

Can you swim at the Costa Maya Port?

Technically, yes. While it is possible to swim at the beaches near the Costa Maya Cruise Port, most are small and part of exclusive resorts. There are better beaches nearby—among them is Mahahual Beach, about 35 minutes south of the port on foot in the town of the same name.

Is Costa Maya open to cruise ships?

Yes. The Costa Maya Cruise Port is among the first ports in the Western Caribbean built purposely for cruise ships. The port, which sees between one and two million cruise ship passengers annually, has a shopping mall and serves as a launching point for shore excursions all over the region.

Are there ruins in Costa Maya?

Yes. There are ruins and archaeological sites in the Costa Maya. Among them are archaeological sites at Kohunlich, located about 45 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of Bacalar; Chacchoben, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Bacalar; and Ichkaba, located 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Bacalar.

How far is Costa Maya from the Riviera Maya?

Costa Maya lies about 190 miles (300 kilometers) south of the Riviera Maya near the Mexico-Belize border. Driving takes about 3–4 hours. Bacalar, usually the first stop on day trips from the Riviera Maya, is about 175 miles (280 kilometers) south of Playa del Carmen and 134 miles (215 kilometers) from Tulum.

How far are the ruins in Costa Maya from the port?

Most ruins in Costa Maya can be visited from the Costa Maya port in one day or less. Among these are archaeological sites at Kohunlich, about 106 miles (170 kilometers) west of the port; Chacchoben, about 43 miles (70 kilometers) west of the port; and Ichkaba, located roughly 87 miles (140 kilometers) west of the port.

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