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

  • Tulum


  • Fury Catamaran

    Fury Catamaran

  • A Beach

    A Beach

Discover our excursions

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



    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

    • Duration
      6:30 h

The excursions in the programme 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.


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.