Costa Maya

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

10 results found

Limited number of guides in languages different from English. Should your language be not available the tour will be performed in English.
  • CHACCHOBEN MAYAN RUINS

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    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 Chacchoben’s tallest structure: 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 drink 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.
      • Duration
        4 h

      • AdultsR1275Price per person

      • ChildrenR1175Price per person

    • KOHUNLICH MAYAN RUINS

      CULTURE AND HISTORY

      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 Kinich Ahau. 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.
      • 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

      • AdultsR1395Price per person

      • ChildrenR1275Price per person

    • BOAT BLAST SNORKELLING & BEACH BREAK

      SEA & SUN

      CMY21

      If you’ve ever fancied being the skipper of a speedboat, join this tour and climb aboard a two-seater craft, put pedal to the metal and zip through the sparkling blue of the Caribbean Sea – a priceless experience. These watercraft are easy to operate and a full safety briefing will naturally precede your jaunt. In the interest of hygiene, you’ll be issued with a brand new (unused) snorkel tube and for safety reasons, also a life vest that you will be required to wear throughout. Fully informed and kitted out, you can then take to the water for the ride of your life. You’ll follow your guide along the gorgeous coastline to reach one of the area’s most spectacular reefs. It is here that you’ll get to enjoy about 45 minutes of guided snorkelling amid the magical underwater world supported by the coral reef. Watch out for lobsters, starfish, sea anemones and a whole host of other marine creatures. Once you’ve returned to the beach, the many and varied facilities of the Uvero Beach Club at are your full disposal, so get comfy, relax and enjoy the surroundings before you begin your return journey 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. Guests must be at least 8 years of age to take part; guests under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Each boat takes two guests, whose combined weight must not exceed 500 lbs/227 kg. Guests wishing to captain their boat must be at least 18 years of age. For safety reasons, the tour is considered to be unsuitable for pregnant women, guests who have recently undergone surgery, guests with pre-existing back/neck injuries, vertigo, diabetes, cardiac or respiratory conditions such as asthma and guests with a history of seizures or on any form of blood-pressure medication.
        • Duration
          5 h

        • AdultsR1395Price per person

        • ChildrenR1225Price per person

      • CATAMARAN SAIL & SNORKEL

        SEA & SUN

        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.
          • Duration
            3 h

          • AdultsR935Price per person

          • ChildrenR885Price per person

        • JUNGLE BEACH BREAK

          SEA & SUN

          CMY01

          Treat yourself to a few hours off the ship to visit one of the most popular luxury beach clubs on the Costa Maya – a heavenly destination and 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 area, beach games for kids and a chance to go kayaking. Further resort amenities that you can use at extra cost are a restaurant, souvenir store, snorkelling straight from the beach and a water sports store. 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 small shops, hair-braiding and henna tattoo artists as well as 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.
            • Duration
              5 h

            • AdultsR715Price per person

            • ChildrenR665Price per person

          • Car With Driver and Guide YC

            SOMETHING SPECIAL

            CMY87YC

            Car With Driver and Guide YC
            • No guide available

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

              Difficulty Level
              Easy

            • Duration
              4 h

            • AdultsR9215Price per person

            • ChildrenR9215Price per person

          • Car With Driver and Guide YC

            SOMETHING SPECIAL

            CMY88YC

            Car With Driver and Guide YC
            • No guide available

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

              Difficulty Level
              Easy

            • Duration
              8 h

            • AdultsR14825Price per person

            • ChildrenR14825Price per person

          • SALSA COOKING, DANCING & BEACH BREAK

            SOMETHING SPECIAL

            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.
            • Limited seats

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

              Difficulty Level
              Easy

            • Duration
              3 h

            • AdultsR1275Price per person

            • ChildrenR1175Price per person

          • Van with Driver and Guide 3-5 pax YC

            SOMETHING SPECIAL

            CMY89YC

            Van with Driver and Guide 3-5 pax YC
            • No guide available

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

              Difficulty Level
              Easy

            • Duration
              4 h

            • AdultsR12325Price per person

            • ChildrenR12325Price per person

          • Van with Driver and Guide 3-5 pax YC

            SOMETHING SPECIAL

            CMY90YC

            Van with Driver and Guide 3-5 pax YC
            • No guide available

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

              Difficulty Level
              Easy

            • Duration
              8 h

            • AdultsR19755Price per person

            • ChildrenR19755Price per person

          The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that 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 programs 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.