This post is also available in: Dutch

Latest update: 17 May 2023

Mahahual is a highly relaxed fishing village on the Mexican coast. For me, it is the place to do absolutely nothing and recover from all the impressions I have gained on my Mexico trip so far.

Cruise ship madness

According to Lonely Planet, 920 people live in Mahahual (2016). On the days when the cruise ships dock in the Costa Maya port, up to 10,000 tourists visit the village! It obviously becomes super crowded. The whole town suddenly turns into a chaotic tourist destination full of souvenir shops, hurried taxi drivers, and desperate tour salespeople. This is the time for the locals to make money. The cruise folks pay a six-to-eight-hour visit and then get back on board again. Some passengers do not even leave the harbor. So peace and quiet quickly return when the cruise ships leave. Mahahual only expects the cruise ships three times a week during the high season. In the low season, only a few times a month. The cruise ship area is not accessible when there is no ship.

Tip! Are you coming to Mahahual for your rest? Check this site to see if cruise ships dock during your stay.

Awesome base for Banco Chincorro

During my stay, Mahahual is not overrun by tourists but by rain. And it is still the dry season. How unfair is that? Between the showers, it’s easy to enjoy the town and Mahahual Beach. The sand is so soft, and the blue water stays shallow for a long time. The village is a perfect base for diving and snorkeling excursions to the Banco Chinchorro reef. I’m lazy and skip all the tours. I eat, drink, read, and sleep.

Accommodation options in Mahahual

I sleep at hotel Ko’ox Matan Ka’an. The friendly Gerben is the manager and is famous from Dutch TV! Well, he is a little famous: he participated in Ik Vertrek years ago. Today, it looks like he sold the hotel again. The rooms are simple but spacious, and the bathroom is so large you can shower with about ten people simultaneously. If that’s what you want 😉

Please note when booking: there will be an additional 19% in taxes on top of the price on Booking.com. If you’re going for something more social, more backpacker-ish, check out Bluekay. It is right on the beach and has a very chill vibe.

Eating and drinking in Mahahual

Bluekay also has a restaurant of the same name. Although the atmosphere is very nice, and the plates look pretty, I find it disappointing. It’s just not that good, unfortunately. The pancakes at breakfast are a bit too dry, and the coffee is undrinkable. I even try it a second time, and again it looks tasty, but it actually isn’t. I actually feel a bit sad about it.

Google Maps location

I instead recommend Nochoch Kay for dinner. This fish restaurant lives up to its name. Nochoch Kay means big fish, and yes, the portions are big.

Google Maps location

I prefer to enjoy the beach, the palm trees, the blue water, and the fishing pelicans at Yaya beach club. They have comfy beach beds and good service. You can use the facilities for free if you eat and drink here. The shakes are delicious, and I love Green Delight: an avocado dessert with yogurt and cookie crumbs. Yum! At the back of Yaya, there is a small yoga studio if you’re up for a class.

Google Maps location

By bus to Mahahual

Mahahual is really small. To illustrate: the bus station consists of a bench and a chair in front of the local liquor store (Google Maps location). This is where you can also buy your bus tickets for the ADO bus. Tulum is about three hours away, and Bacalar is about 1.5 hours. Check Busbud for the easiest way to get there.

Tip! No ATM exists in the ‘centre’ (Jan ’18). You must go to the Costa Maya Inn hotel, near the Costa Maya cruise ship port. That’s a bit of a walk. So bring enough cash!

The only place where you can withdraw cash in Mahahual.

More Mexico inspiration?

blog overview Mexico
  • Accommodation. All-time favorite: Booking.com. Find hostels via Hostelworld.
  • Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. You could also try WithLocals. ‘Free’ walking tours are available at GuruWalk. And for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
  • Attractions and museums. Get a 5% discount on museums and attractions at Tiqets with the coupon code KIMOPREIS22.
  • Bus. Book bus trips in Mexico with Busbud or 12Go.
  • Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers. If you want more options, compare prices at Discover Cars.
  • Flights. Compare all your options! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
  • Money. Your debit and credit cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel. 
  • Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have many options! For the Dutch, try ANWB vakanties, Tui or Sawadee, or maybe you can find a sweet deal at Vakantie Discounter or D-reizen?
  • SIM card. Beware of unexpectedly high calling and internet costs. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive, or arrange one online via Airalo.
  • Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
  • Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com or Amazon.
  • Visum. Make sure you have the right documentation to travel to Mexico. iVisa can help you out.
  • Yoga retreat. Or: try a yoga retreat in Mexico!

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, I might receive a small commission.

First published: March 2018. The article has been updated since.

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