Costa Maya Cruise

Stunning Mayan ruins 
Wild animals and lush vegetation 
Exciting and fun seawater activities

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Costa Maya

Discovering a fascinating civilisation

Puerto Costa Maya, where the Caribbean and Antilles MSC cruise ships dock, is out of sight north of Mahahual, but its influence is felt on cruise-ship days, when the village springs to life with souvenir stands and jet-ski rentals along the slick seafront promenade, an extremely miniature version of Playa del Carmen.

The two towns in the area, Mahahual and the smaller Xcalak, were hit hard by Hurricane Dean in 2007. Mahahual was rebuilt, but Xcalak is still quite battered. On an MSC Caribbean and Antilles cruise you will typically stay around Mahahual, while divers and anglers head south to Xcalak. If you stop for only one ancient site in the Río Bec area, Kohunlich is your best excursion choice.

The ruins, seldom visited by anyone other than enormous butterflies and wild parrots, are beautifully situated, peering out above the treetops. The buildings date from the late pre-Classic to the Classic periods (100–900 AD) and the majority are in the Río Bec architectural style. Foliage has reclaimed most of them, except for the Templo de los Mascarones, which is named after the five 2m-high stucco masks that decorate its facade.

Disturbing enough now, these wide-eyed, open-mouthed images of the sun god, Kinich Ahau, once stared out from a background of smooth, bright-red-painted stucco. Also look for an elite residential area called the 27 Escalones, worth the detour to see the great views over the jungle canopy from the cliff edge on which it is built. Set in a drier area with sparse trees, these two neighbouring ruins are an interesting contrast to Kohunlich.

Kinichná’s hulking pyramid, built in metre-high stones, layer upon layer by successive leaders, barely clears the trees, but you can look over the surrounding terrain (and spot a glimpse of the Dzibanché ancient Maya archaeological site), now broken into farmland.

Must see places in Costa Maya

Discover our excursions

13 results found

  • DUNE BUGGY JUNGLE & BEACH SAFARI

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE
      • Duration
        3:30 h

      • Adults£69Price per person

      • Children£65Price per person

      CMY04

      In order to increase your holiday enjoyment quotient even further, this tour ups the ante with an opportunity to explore the Costa Maya’s spellbinding shoreline in a brand new, custom-made beach buggy. First popularised in the 1940’s, this recreational vehicle has lost none of its carefree charm and continues to stand for endless fun in the sun. In the interest of safety, you’ll naturally be given a thorough briefing before you set off en route to your first stop at beach where you can enjoy the view. Wave to the people as you then move on and keep a lookout for the area’s fabulous birdlife and resident iguanas as you travel off road to a beach club. Take full advantage of the ample facilities, leaving you only with the problem of choosing what to do. Fancy soaking up the rays in a comfortable sun chair while sipping a delicious drink and snacking on something tasty? No problem! Or would you rather swim in the Caribbean Sea, have a go at beach volleyball or explore the spacious beach? Go for it – or simply do them all. Plenty of time will be yours to do whatever you fancy before you begin the drive back to the pier and your ship. Please note: due to the driving involved, the tour is strictly alcohol-free. Food can be purchased at extra cost while at Cacum’s beach. Cash only in either US dollars or Mexican pesos will be accepted. Guests must be at least 4 years of age to take part. Guests wishing to drive must be at least 21 years of age and in possession of a valid driving licence. Occupancy per beach buggy: 4 guests. All buggies feature anautomatic gearbox.This tour is available only during your cruise.
    • JAGUAR TRUCK: MAYAN ADVENTURE EXPEDITION

      ACTIVE & ADVENTURE
      • Limited seats

      • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

        Difficulty Level
        Strenuous

      • Duration
        4 h

      • Adults£69Price per person

      • Children£62Price per person

      CMY29

      What’s black and red and built for fun? The Jaguar Truck – your specially equipped mode of transport on a tour dedicated to delivering an entertaining and varied adventure with plenty of time in the great outdoors. After boarding the truck, your first stop is scheduled following an only 15-minute drive. You can then either team up with a fellow guest to ride a tandem or simply walk through the rainforest to reach your destination: a beautiful Mexican cenote. The deliciously refreshing water is perfect for a soak, after which you’ll get back on the truck and head for your next stop: the beach. While your friendly tour guides get busy setting up camp, you’ll have time to practise boogie boarding or stand-up paddle boarding, take a floatation tube for a dip in the sea or simply relax on the fine white sand. Once you’ve enjoyed lunch on the beach, your return journey in the customised Jaguar Truck will give you a chance to enjoy further gorgeous views of the Costa Maya coastline. Please note: the tour is designed for guests who enjoy high-level outdoor activities. Guests will be required to fill out and sign a waiver/release form. Guests wishing to take part must weigh no more than 320 lbs/145 kg. At a maximum depth of 4 ft./1.2 m, the cenote is a safe environment even for guests who are not strong swimmers. Guests must be at least 8 years of age to take part and are generally recommended to wear a hat, comfortable shoes, light clothing (that can get wet while paddle boarding), apply sunscreen and insect repellent (from August to December) as well as to bring a change of clothing and a towel. This tour is available only during your cruise.
    • OFF-ROAD JEEP & BEACH TOUR

      ACTIVE & ADVENTURE
        • Duration
          3:30 h

        • Adults£75Price per person

        • Children£69Price per person

        CMY24

        Exhilarating, entertaining and a great way to spend some time off the ship, this tour will see you board and possibly drive a jeep to discover some of the roads less travelled along the mesmerising Costa Maya. Once you’ve got settled in your 4-person jeep – with one of your number doing the driving – you’ll head out in convoy, first through the pretty little fishing village of Mahahual and then off road into the lush rainforest that flanks the coastline. With sublime views of the Caribbean Sea, stretches of sandy beach and tiny villages to enjoy on the way, your 1-hour drive will take you south to reach Explora Beach. Pristine sands and a secluded location make this the ideal spot to stop for a delicious Mexican-style lunch, followed by time to do whatever you please. The water is just the place for a refreshing dip, the beach perfect for working on your tan, playing beach volleyball or going for a stroll and the stunning surroundings well worth a photo or two. You’ll return to the pier and your ship in the same way you came – by jeep. The only thing left to decide is: who gets to have fun driving on the way back? Please note: all jeeps feature a manual gearbox (stick shift) and each jeep seats 4. Guests are recommended to wear comfortable shoes and swimwear under their clothing as well as to bring a towel, a hat, high-factor sunscreen and a some cash to pay for any additional purchases. Guests wishing to drive must be at least 21 years of age and in possession of a valid driving licence. Guests must be at least 3 years of age to take part in the tour. The tour is considered to be unsuitable for pregnant women and guests with pre-existing back/neck injuries.Guests will be required to sign a waiver which may only be available in English.This tour is available only during your cruise.
      • CHACCHOBEN MAYAN RUINS

        CULTURE AND HISTORY
          • Duration
            4 h

          • Adults£62Price per person

          • Children£55Price per person

          CMY06

          The dawn of the once highly developed Mayan civilisation can be traced back to around 2,000 B.C. and many of their amazing architectural structures can still be visited in Mexico to this date. In around A.D. 700, these clever people built the pilgrimage site of Chacchoben, your destination on this half-day tour. After meeting your bilingual guide, you’ll head inland on an air-conditioned coach with information on the site and the Mayans provided during the ride. On arrival, your guide will show you around the site, explaining the purpose of the various structures. Amazingly, one of the pyramids still features some original red paint on its stucco walls, while a mural depicting the astronomical positions of planet Venus has stood the test of time in one of the temples. For those of an energetic disposition, there’ll also be time to climb some of Chacchoben’s tallest structures: the imposing Gran Basamento, a place where archaeologists found remains of ceremonial offerings dating back to 1,000 B.C.. The highest point of the temple sits above the tree canopy and affords eminently photo-worthy views. You’ll also get to find out a little about the area’s diverse wildlife and Mayan medicinal plants, which continue to be used to this day. A complimentary bottle of water is also included in your excursion and the relaxing return drive to your ship at the Costa Maya brings your tour to a close.Please note: the price of the tour excludes the cost of any additional soft drinks, crisps or biscuits that guests may purchase at the archaeological site. As the tour involves longer periods of walking over uneven ground and some climbing, it is considered to be unsuitable for guests with mobility problems. About 10-15 minutes will be allocated for guests to make purchases at the market inside the archaeological site. A government-imposed fee of approx. US$5 is payable by guests wishing to use video equipment (including mobile phones) at the archaeological site.
        • KOHUNLICH MAYAN RUINS

          CULTURE AND HISTORY
          • Shooting videos and/or taking pictures is not allowed or subject to fee

          • Snack included

          • Limited seats

          • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

            Difficulty Level
            Strenuous

          • Duration
            6:30 h

          • Adults£69Price per person

          • Children£62Price per person

          CMY28

          Situated on the Yucatán Peninsula and one of Mexico’s absolute must-sees is the archaeological site of Kohunlich, a terraced city built by the Mayans between approx. A.D. 250 and A.D. 600. The site’s unusual-sounding name is derived from the English name of the cohune palm, a common sight in the area. Your tour of cultural discovery begins with an air-conditioned coach ride, during which a bilingual guide will entertain you with information on the Mayan remains ahead. At the site itself, you’ll be escorted through the park-like setting of the historical complex, whose highlights include a sunken palace, an acropolis, courtyards and even an ancient ceremonial ball field. But the site’s main attraction is undoubtedly the Temple of the Masks, dedicated to the Mayan sun god KinichAhau. Although the oversized stucco masks on either side of the temple’s central staircase are easy enough to see from the ground, you’ll have to climb up the pyramid-like structure to get a closer look. Parts of the stucco – which dates back to earlier than A.D. 500 – still retain some of their original colour. With memories of the beautifully secluded Kohunlich fresh in your mind, you’ll then get to enjoy a light packed lunch on the coach journey back to the Costa Maya and your ship. Please note: the tour involves a 2-hour coach drive each way without a comfort stop; guests are therefore recommended to use the facilities prior to departure. As the tour involves longer periods of walking on uneven ground, guests are requested to take extra care. The tour is considered to be unsuitable for guests with mobility problems or using a wheelchair. Guests are recommended to wear high-factor sunscreen, insect repellent and comfortable shoes. Depending on the exchange rate on the day of the tour, a fee of US$5-US$8 will be payable by guests wishing to use video equipment (including mobile phones) at the archaeological site. The site does not permit the use of tripods, professional video equipment or flash photography. The tour also involves an approx. 5-minute walk between the car park and the entrance of Kohunlich.
        • DOLPHIN ENCOUNTER

          NATURAL WONDERS
          • Limited seats

          • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

            Difficulty Level
            Easy

          • Duration
            1:30 h

          • Adults£59Price per person

          • Children£52Price per person

          CMY31

          Get ready to kiss a dolphin! In this experience of a lifetime you will be able to kiss, pet and interact with the magnificent mammals. You’ll be greeted by your smiling guide at the end of the dock who will brief you on the day’s event, it is only a five-minute walk to the Dolphin Park and you will be given a locker and a lifejacket. After a brief educational and safety training, enjoy about 30 minutes in the water on a submerged platform, a great way for even novice swimmers to enjoy this incredible experience. You’ll be surprised by the great intelligence and friendliness of these wonderful marine mammals.Please Note: Cameras and valuable are to be placed in the lockers for safe keeping as cameras are not allowed in the water. Pictures of the tour are not included in the price of the excursion, but are available at the guests own additional expense. Children under 3 years of age will only be able to enter the water with a paying adult. Pregnant women who are up to five months along are able to participate. Lockers are included in the price of the tour. Please bring a towel, biodegradablesunscreen, cash/credit cards for any additional purchases and a change of clothes. All participating guests will be required to sign a waiver which may only be available in English. This tour is available only during your cruise.
        • DOLPHIN SWIM ADVENTURE

          NATURAL WONDERS
          • Limited seats

          • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

            Difficulty Level
            Moderate

          • Duration
            1:30 h

          • Adults£85Price per person

          • Children£79Price per person

          CMY32

          Set in a natural ocean pool with a sandy bottom, adventure awaits you for your chance to swim, kiss, caress and even be pulled by a bottlenose dolphin’s pectoral fin. You’ll be greet by your smiling guide at the end of the dock who will brief you on the day’s events, it is only a five-minute walk to the Dolphin Park and you will be given a locker and a lifejacket. After a brief educational and safety training you will spend about 30 minutes in the water with the dolphins where you can enjoy this rare opportunity to touch the sleek and playful mammals and pose for the world famous dolphin kiss. Standing on a submerged platform, you’ll be introduced to your dolphin friend. You’ll be led into deeper waters where you’ll be pulled by their pectoral fins and swim with your dolphin. Be amazed by your dolphin’s speed, grace and agility as they perform fast swims, high jumps and other breathtaking behaviors. Please Note: Guests with back and/or neck injuries, as well as women who are pregnant cannot participate in the tour. The minimum age to participate is 8 years old, minimum height requirement is 42 inches tall. Cameras and valuables are to be placed in the lockers for safe keeping as cameras are not allowed in the water. Pictures of the tour are not included in the price of the excursion, but are available at the guests own additional expense. Lockers are included in the price of the tour. Please bring a towel, biodegradable sunscreen, cash/credit cards for any additional purchases and a change of clothes.All participating guests will be required to sign a waiver which may only be available in English. This tour is available only during your cruise.
        • CATAMARAN SAIL & SNORKEL

          SEA & SUN
            • Duration
              3 h

            • Adults£45Price per person

            • Children£42Price per person

            CMY02

            Two water-based pursuits team up to make a tour full of excitement and fun: first you can enjoy the Caribbean Sea on a modern catamaran and then go snorkelling in the crystal-clear water. After meeting your guide when you leave the ship, you’ll make your way to Fisherman’s Pier to board the catamaran. A safety briefing will be given and fully certified divers will remain on hand throughout the sail to ensure your safety at all times. You’ll also be kitted out with a life vest, which you will be requested to wear while on board and in the water, plus a brand new snorkel tube for reasons of hygiene. You can first savour wonderful views as you sail out; then, when your catamaran drops anchor, marvel at the colourful world under the sea, where jacks, snappers, angelfish, queen triggerfish, groupers and even turtles can be found rubbing shoulders – or perhaps dorsal fins – in a spirit of (mostly) peaceful coexistence. Once the catamaran sets sail again, your on-board guides will continue to entertain you. Finally, you’ll be free to go straight back to the ship when you arrive back on dry land or remain in town and make your own way back when you’re ready. And as use of all necessary equipment is included in the price of the tour, you won’t have anything to carry around with you if you do choose to have a look around town. Please note: for hygiene reasons, a brand new (unused) snorkel tube will be issued to each guest wishing to snorkel. Your transport back to the ship will depart from Fisherman’s Pier at a designated time. Guests wishing to stay in town for longer will have to return to the ship at their own expense.
          • CLEAR-BOTTOM KAYAK & BEACH ADVENTURE

            SEA & SUN
            • Drink included

            • Snack included

            • Possibility of swimming

            • Limited seats

            • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

              Difficulty Level
              Moderate

            • Duration
              3 h

            • Adults£42Price per person

            • Children£29Price per person

            CMY38

            Have some fun off the ship, get some gentle exercise and check out the underwater residents at the same time on an entertaining tour that will see you board a clear-bottom kayak and paddle around the waters of Mexico’s Costa Maya. The outing begins with a short transfer to the beach of Mahahual where you’ll then be briefed before boarding a two-seater kayak. And thanks to its completely transparent bottom, you’ll be getting a first-hand look at the colourful marine dwellers as you glide through these coastal waters. Once back on shore, you’ll return to the beach for time to have a snack, do some shopping in the nearby shops, go for a swim or simply relax in the shade of an umbrella. At the appointed time, you can either return to the pier by Kodiak truck or remain on the beach and return at your leisure (and at extra expense not covered by the price of the tour).Please note: all participating guests will need to sign a waiver, which may be available in English only. The tour is not available for guests with heart problems, asthma, diabetes or limited mobility. Guests must be at least 12 years of age to take part. Guests younger than 18 years of age must be accompanied by a paying parent or legal guardian throughout the tour. The combined weight of both passengers per kayak must not exceed 900 lbs./409 kg. You can book this tour only during your cruise.
          • GLASS-BOTTOMED BOAT & SNORKEL TOUR

            SEA & SUN
              • Duration
                2:30 h

              • Adults£52Price per person

              • Children£49Price per person

              CMY26

              Since the waters off the Costa Maya boast the world’s second-largest coral reef, it would be rather a shame to miss out on seeing it at first hand – and if you prefer without even getting your feet wet. After the short transfer from the pier to the lovely beach at Mahahual, a small fishing village just south of the cruise ship terminal, you’ll board a glass-bottomed boat and begin your adventure. With the iridescent waters of the Caribbean Sea beneath you and panoramic views to soothe the eye, you’ll sail to the reef location. After taking some time to get acquainted with the teeming wildlife through the boat’s glass underbelly, you can – if you want – take to the water itself to meet and greet the reef’s colourful inhabitants. Thanks to the small group size, you can feel safe in knowing that your fully qualified guides will remain close at hand throughout your snorkel tour to assist you at every turn. Once you return to the beach at Mahahual, you can choose whether to return straight to the ship or if you’d prefer to have a look around downtown and then return on your own steam. Please note: guests must be at least 8 years of age to take part. For safety reasons, the tour is considered to be unsuitable for pregnant women, guests with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, with cardiac conditions (including a history of cardiac arrest and/or surgery), diabetes, epilepsy, back/neck injuries and guests taking medication such as anti- depressants, lithium, beta-blockers and base vein constrictors. Guests wishing to remain downtown after the tour will have to return to the ship at their own expense.Guests will be required to sign a waiver which may only be available in English. This tour is available only during your cruise.
            • JUNGLE BEACH BREAK

              SEA & SUN
                • Duration
                  5 h

                • Adults£35Price per person

                • Children£32Price per person

                CMY01

                Treat yourself to a few hours off the ship to visit one of the most popular beach clubs on the Costa Maya –the perfect spot to relax in style. After leaving the ship and boarding an air-conditioned coach, a short journey will take you to this exclusive Caribbean getaway and its glorious golden sands. You’ll be met on arrival and shown around the facilities available to you at the resort, which include an open national bar, a beach volleyball area, beach chairs, a beach party areaand a chance to go kayaking. Further resort amenities that you can use at extra cost are a restaurant, souvenir store and snorkelling straight from the beach. Spend as long as you like enjoying the wonderful resort complex and the beach; when you’re ready to leave, simply catch one of the regular shuttle buses to get back to the pier and your ship. Please note: food can be purchased at extra cost while at the resort. Cash only in either US dollars or Mexican pesos will be accepted. There will be regular opportunities to return to the cruise ship pier throughout your stay. The shuttle service is dependent on the availability of transportation. The resort also features water sports facilities, which you can frequent/hire at additional cost not covered by the price of the tour. Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The tour is suitable for guests with mobility problems.Only adults over the age of 21 can drink alcohol from the National Open Bar.
              • MAYÁ: LOST MAYAN KINGDOM ADVENTURE
                PARK

                SOMETHING SPECIAL
                  • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

                    Difficulty Level
                    Moderate

                  • Duration
                    3 h

                  • Adults£59Price per person

                  • Children£42Price per person

                  CMY37

                  Designed to deliver bags of fun for the entire family, this tour takes you off the ship and transfers you to a one-of-a-kind adventure park: “Mayá: Lost Mayan Kingdom”. The themed landscaped grounds feature 9 exciting waterslides, 2 zip line circuits and the winding Kukulcan zip coaster course. Apart from enjoying such adrenaline-fuelled activities, the park is also ideal for relaxing at the pool or natural cenote, or taking a leisurely inner-tube ride through the Mayan jungle setting on the River Expedition. You can stay at the park for as long as you like, but be sure to pay the gift and photo shops a visit to take home lasting memories of your visit before you take the shuttle back to the ship.Please note: a gift shop, photo shop, locker rental as well as food and beverages are available on site at additional cost not covered by the price of the tour. The park operates a strict no alcohol policy for reasons of safety. As the outing involves climbing and longer periods of walking on uneven ground, guests are required to be in good physical health and to take their own personal medical history into account before taking part. The tour is not available for pregnant women or guests with heart/respiratory problems, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, a history of seizures, neck/back injuries, have recently undergone surgery or who suffer from any other medical conditions. Guests younger than 18 years of age must be accompanied by a paying adult throughout the tour. Guests must weigh no more than 240 lbs/109 kg to take part. Guests are recommended to wear water shoes, comfortable clothing, sunglasses, a hat, insect repellent and high-factor sunscreen while at the park. The tour duration totals 3 hours at minimum, but guests can stay for longer and take a shuttle bus back to the ship.
                • SALSA COOKING, DANCING & BEACH BREAK

                  SOMETHING SPECIAL
                  • Limited seats

                  • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

                    Difficulty Level
                    Easy

                  • Duration
                    3 h

                  • Adults£62Price per person

                  • Children£55Price per person

                  CMY30

                  Since there’s no better place on earth than Mexico itself to find out how authentic Mexican food is made, move your hips to the salsa beat and sip a refreshing margarita while you dance, this tour lets you go native for a while and do all three in the most sumptuous surroundings. A coach transfer to a beachfront restaurant affording superb views of the Caribbean Sea gets the party started, after which you’ll first be shown the best way to make Mexican salsas and creamy guacamole – delicious with tortilla chips whichever way you slice and dice it. And the recipe will be yours to keep as a memento so you can recreate the moment back at home. Then tickle your taste buds with a complimentary margarita, a cool Mexican beer or some flavoured water before you hit the dance floor for your salsa lesson. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions and you’ll soon be swaying to the infectious rhythms like a pro. Free time will then be yours to relax and enjoy the beach facilities, laze around in the sun or go for a swim in the sea. Best of all, you can choose between returning to the ship using the transport provided or stay for longer and use a taxi coupon for your return trip. Please note: taxi coupons will be issued so guests can return to the ship at their leisure. The tour is considered to be unsuitable for guests with mobility problems or who use mobility aids such as a cane, walker or a wheelchair. Guests are recommended to wear comfortable shoes and wear (or bring) swimwear under their clothes as well as to bring a change of clothes, a towel, a hat, sunscreen and some cash to cover the cost of any additional purchases.Guests will be required to sign a waiver which may only be available in English.

                The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Cruises guests with an idea of the different tours which can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise. 
                Shore excursions programmes and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.
                 
                Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

                Mexico

                Under the shade of a sombrero
                Under the shade of a sombrero

                One of the world’s great civilizations, Mexico is a great cruise destination with its melange of Mesoamerican cultures, modern indigenous tribes and Spanish traditions; it’s a vibrant modern economy too, the biggest in Latin America after Brazil.

                Mexico’s landscapes are just as diverse, from the shimmering blue coastline of Baja California and the iconic cactus-strewn deserts of the north, to the Mayan villages and gorgeous palm-smothered beaches of the Caribbean Sea. You can climb volcanoes, watch whales, swim underground and tour tequila farms during your holiday to Mexico.

                And sprinkled throughout you’ll find richly adorned colonial churches, giant ancient pyramids and a sophisticated cuisine that has little in common with the world of nachos and burritos. Despite the inevitable influence of the US and close links with the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, the country remains resolutely individual. The music that fills the plazas in the evenings, the buildings that circle around them, even the smells emanating from a row of taco carts: they all leave you without any doubt about where you are.

                 Many first-time visitors are surprised to find that Mexico is far from being a “developing” nation: the country has a robust economy, the world’s fourteenth largest, a remarkably thorough and efficient internal transport system and a vibrant contemporary arts and music scene.