I get asked a lot of questions about Costa Maya and Mahahual on the internet, and also in Playa del Carmen, and basically everywhere I go. Today I will start to answer some of the most frequent questions I get.
1) How do I get to Mahahual?
There are several ways to get to Mahahual. The easiest way for people from the USA and Canada, is to fly into the Cancun International Airport. There are daily flights from USA and Canada, and some major USA cities( like Houston) offer several flights a day. Most flights from the southern states are only about two hours. There are also flights from Europe every day to Cancun. You can also fly into Chetumal from inside Mexico, which is kind of expensive, and rent a car, or take the bus from Chetumal to Mahahual, which is about a hour away by car, which I don’t reccomend.
Once you are in Cancun, you have two options, you can rent a car and drive four hours on highway 307 and take the Mahahual exit, or you can take a bus. If you choose to rent a car, there are numerous rental car places at the airport, or you can book one in advance. The drive is around four hours, and it is safe, and the highways are good from Cancun to Mahahual.
Renting a car is good if you plan to travel around Quintana Roo, and see several different cities or sights, but if you are just going to Mahahual and staying there for a week or two, I would suggest taking the bus. You really don’t need a rental car once you get to Mahahual, you can walk everywhere or ride a bike. Also you can take a taxi anywhere in Mahahual for 20 pesos. I have experienced a lot of people from the USA who have rented a car while they were in Mahahual, and the car sat for a week, and they still had to pay everyday. I knew a woman when I first to got to Mahahual, who was staying in the same hostel I was ( she was from Germany), who when she to got to Mahahual and realized she did not need a rental car, drove it back to Cancun, and then took the all night bus back to Chetumal, and then Mahahual, because she could walk everywhere. I have also met a lot of people who told me they wished they had not rented a car, because it was a waste of money, once they got to Mahahual.
If you decide not to rent a car, and take the bus from Cancun to Mahahual, your direct route is the ADO daily bus. Most flights that come to Cancun from the USA and Europe arrive late morning or early afternoon, and the ADO bus leaves at 8:20am for Mahahual from Playa del Carmen. So if you want a direct ADO bus to Mahahual, you usually have to stay in Cancun or Playa del Carmen overnight and catch the 8:20am direct to Mahahual. I would suggest taking the airport shuttle from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and then leaving on the 8:20am direct to Mahahual, it is an air conditioned bus and goes direct to Mahahual, and drops you off at the Quitno Sol Hotel right on the malecon. The bus ride is exactly four hours and the cost is around 300 pesos (varies sometimes between 286 pesos and 320 pesos, about $26 USD). This bus also leaves Mahahual everyday from Mahahual at 5:30pm and returns to Playa del Carmen and Cancun, for those wishing to return for their flights back.
If you want a bit of adventure and want to get to Mahahual the very same day your flight arrives, there are also several other options. For one you can take a hourly Mayab bus that leaves Cancun and Playa del Carmen for Chetumal, these busses are half the price as the ADO direct bus, and make a bunch of stops along the way. You take the Mayab and get off at Limones, which is on the turn off to Mahahual. The Caribe bus comes by there several times a day to Mahahual, and the best time to catch this bus is at 6pm. It costs 40 pesos and it is about a 45 minute ride from there into Mahahual. The Mayab bus costs about 125 pesos from Playa del Carmen to Limones. These are the busses the majority of the people travel on when going from big town to the next. These busses are very comfortable, but don’t have the movies and all the luxuries that the ADO bus does, but they are cheap and reliable and I take them a lot.
If you really want to add some adventure to your experience in Mexico and your trip, do what I and a lot of other people here do, take a collectivo from town to town. A lot of backpackers take this route, and I would only reccomend this for the more seasoned traveler. The cheapest way to get to Mahahual is to take a collectivo from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen, then a collectivo (collectivos are vans or shuttles that go from town to town, and are really cheap) to Tulum, from Tulum to Felipe de Carillo, and from there to Limones. This will cost you around 100 pesos, and then you can take Caribe into Mahahual. There are also collectivos and taxis that can take you from Limones to Mahahual, but the taxis are around 300-400 pesos, expensive, and the collectivos are usually full from returning from Chetumal. On the collectivos you get to see and experience the real Mexico. People going to and from working, shopping, taking kids to school, doing their daily routine.
But one point I must stress, if you take the Mayab or collectivos to Limones be sure to arrive there in late afternoon, because the best and cheapest way into Mahahual is the Caribe that comes by at 6pm. My first time going this route, I left Playa del Carmen at 10 am in the morning and arrived in Limones at about 1pm and I had to wait 5 hours for the Caribe bus into Mahahual to get there at 6 pm. A couple of months ago, I was advising a couple of Austrian guys on how to get to Mahahual by using the collectivos, and I warned them not to get into Limones early, or they would end up waiting all day by the side of the road. Well they didn’t listen and got to Limones from Tulum around noon, and had to wait for awhile. They got some luck, and a guy picked them up hitch-hicking on his way to Mahahual, so he saved them about 6 hours. Mahahual is a lot easier getting out of on the collectivos, than getting in, because there are is a lot of transportation between Chetumal and Mahahual. Usually if you wait at the Mahahual turn off of 307, you can sometimes hitch hike into town, and I know a lot of people who do this all the time.
So this in a nutshell how to get to Mahahual. There is only one road in and one road out, so it is not hard to find, just figuring out to get there is the fun and adventure.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina