In many guides and blogs, the beach village of Mahahual is recommended as an undiscovered gem on the Caribbean coast. That sounded like music to us, but we were a lot less enthusiastic ourselves. Why do we not recommend Mahahual? And which bounty alternative do we recommend? Read on to find out!
The positive sides of Mahahual
The beach village is little more than a small coastal strip on a clear blue sea. A sea with a beautiful coral reef just off the coast and an even more beautiful reef at a sailing distance from the beach. This is the perfect place for wonderful days lazing by the beach, interspersed with snorkeling and diving. Along the beach, a wonderful massage is offered to complete the laze. The prices range from 20 to 30 dollars per hour.
You can also snorkel yourself with your own or rented set just off the coast. But especially popular are the snorkeling and diving tours to the protected reef Banco Chinchorro. There you have a good chance of swimming with beautiful fish and sea turtles. And did you know that there are also a number of shipwrecks under the water?
In addition, Mahahual has a number of wonderful places to settle down for a snack and a drink. Panaderia La Tarteleta is a tasty bakery for a breakfast with fresh croissants, a cake and really good coffee. And all for a small price. As a vegetarian, I am always happy with vegan restaurants, because then I finally have a lot of options. In Mahahual you have to go for vegan and vegetarian options at Ohm Shanti, below the Bambu Hostel. We didn’t like the quinoabowl (90Q), but the falafel with hummus (130Q) was delicious. The perfect crepes with nutella (60Q) for the sweet appetite were found at Gelateria La Dolce Vita. But our absolute favorite in Mahahual was without a doubt Nohoch Kay. And we were certainly not alone in that, because it is almost always busy here. I rarely ate such tasty vega fajitas as here (110Q)!
The downsides of Mahahual
Still, we were not positive enough about Mahahual to recommend it. It is primarily a very touristy place. Almost everything is aimed at travelers and especially the (American) passengers of the many cruise ships that dock here.
We don’t always mind tourist spots, because it often means that it is really a beautiful place. But in Mahahual it actually has the upper hand and little good remains. Prices are often (also) indicated in dollars, the beach is packed with beach tents with sun beds and the walkway along the beach is packed with souvenir stalls. And did you know that there are quite a lot of ATM machines in Mahahual, but that they all only hand out American dollars?
Tip: you can find the only ATM machine that does issue Mexican pesos at Costa Maya Inn. That is quite far from the coast if you do not have a rental car. So it would be a good idea to get Mahahual with enough money in your pocket.
Often the tip is given to keep an eye on the schedule of the cruise ships (click here for the schedule). Most of the tourists in Mahuhual come from these ships. So as soon as the ships leave around 5 or 6 pm or on days when there are no ships, it is much quieter there. But unfortunately many restaurants are closed and there is little to experience. We found it to be particularly empty and uncomfortable.
The bounty beach alternative: Cabanas Ecoturisticas Costa Maya
We found the perfect solution at Cabanas Ecoturisticas Costa Maya. These beach huts are about a 30-minute drive from Mahahual and are truly a small paradise. On a white beach there are off the grid cabanas, palm trees, the coral directly in front of the coast, kayaks and snorkel sets waiting for you and a cozy campfire burning in the evening. Admittedly, we booked this place by accident because we didn’t realize how far it was from Mahahual. But it was worth every kilometer.
Knowing more? Read this blog about our time in this bounty paradise!