This is a view of Mahahual seen through another blogger’s eyes, from last month.
We’ve had a terrific week here so far. The weather has been beautiful & everyone is so friendly.
The diving has been tremendous too … until today, it’s blown out & the harbor is closed down. We’re hoping to get back out on Saturday. We spent the day on the beach in front of the Tropicante, went for a nice walk down the malecon after the ship left & we’re on our balcony now watching the waves break on the reef. Not a bad way to spend the holiday! We’re completely in love with this little town & I can’t wait to share all of the details when we get back.
Hope you had a great day too!
Warm thoughts to all!
If you don’t feel like putting in such a long day consider stopping in Playa Del Carmen for the night or even longer if your schedule allows for it. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, beaches and historical sites to check out before continuing south.
The drive is long and feels never-ending at some points. From Cancun directly to Mahahual it’s about 4 hours & once you pass Tulum there’s very little until you reach the town. It’s a pretty drive through a dense jungle followed by more open wetlands covered with mangroves. One thing’s certain, you’ll be ready to get out of whatever vessel you choose by the time you get there 🙂
Private Transfer: $280 round-trip for 2 passengers + tip
This is the option we picked & we booked it through AGI Tours. We had a great experience with AGI from start-to-finish & I would highly recommend this option if ease of transfer & flexibility are important to you. Javier was very helpful over email and sent us all the details we needed to find their agents upon arrival. Everything is prepaid ahead of time (except for the tip) so all you have to do is hop in and relax. Our flight was delayed by a couple of hours & our AGI representative was there waiting for us holding a sign with our name. Our driver arrived about 15 minutes later, loaded our bags into the back, handed us both a chilled bottle of water and we were on our way. They’ll stop twice for bathrooms and a store, once in Tulum and once further down in a little town that I can’t remember the name of. Consider leaving a nice tip as it’s a very long drive & our driver had to turn right back around and head back to Cancun, a tiring day for him.
- It’s flexible – the driver will wait until your flight arrives.
- Direct from Cancun to wherever you’re staying in Mahahual.
- Same day arrival is easily achieved.
- It’s more expensive than the bus but I think the pros offset the price difference of $35 (per person) each way. $35 is a lot cheaper than getting stuck overnight due to a flight delay!
ADO Bus: $70 per person round-trip
The ADO bus travels a daily route between Mahahual and Playa Del Carmen which is about an hour south of Cancun. The buses are well maintained with cushy seats & air conditioning. It leaves Playa at 4:45pm so to make this option work your flight needs to get to Cancun by around 2:00 because you’ll first need to catch the hourly shuttle from Cancun to Playa for $10 then the bus to Mahahaul is another $25. This was our top choice before we found the AGI transfer. We just didn’t want to risk getting into Cancun late and not making the bus in time which turns out would have happened with our delay in Miami. For us, the extra money was worth the guarantee that we’d make it the same day. The bus leaves Mahahual l for the return trip at 7am so plan your flight home accordingly. Most flights come in the morning and leave mid to late afternoon so you shouldn’t have any trouble there.
- A great value at $35 each way!
- Same day arrival is possible.
- Delays out or your control could cause you to miss the bus and overnight in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen.
Rent a car: about $425 a week depending on what you rent
Important – you do not need four wheel drive! The roads between Cancun and Mahahual are in terrific shape so don’t get talked up into more car (and expense) than you need. You also don’t need a car once you get there. Everything is in walking distance so you’ll just end up parking it and having it sit all week. We opted against renting a car for that reason and because we knew we’d be tired. If you decide to rent a car I’d recommend staying the night in Cancun and driving fresh the following day. It was dark when we got to Mahahual and I wouldn’t have wanted to navigate in the dark. To be fair, there’s only a couple of turns but I know we would have second guessed ourselves.
- The ultimate in flexibility! Come and go as you please!
- It’s the most expensive option.
- You won’t need the car once you get there so you’re paying for each day but only using it twice.
Partial Cruise: price varies widely
I just learned about this option in the last few weeks. A partial cruise is when you board in one location and disembark in another. Royal Caribbean allows it as do other cruise lines. I’m not a huge cruise fan but what a nice way to get to your destination! This will be especially nice when we relocate to the Florida Keys which is the plan at this point, at least for a little while. There are plenty of cheap last minute deals for cruises out of Miami with Mahahual (Costa Maya) on the itinerary. The prices we found on a quick search were less than flights from Miami to Cancun and no ground transportation needed! The cruise line will arrange for a customs representative to meet you at the port for your visa and you’re on your way. We will definitely be exploring this option in the future for Mahahual and everywhere else with a port.
- Much more relaxing than the other options. Sit back, relax and you’re there! You might even get to visit some other ports on your way.
- You can bring far more luggage for less on a cruise than you can flying making this a great option for longer stays.
- This option only works if you live near a port. If you have to fly to a city with a port or take a long drive to one it’s probably not worth it.
- You need to be going for a longer period to make this worthwhile.
There you have it, a few of the most popular ways to reach Mahahual and one creative one. However you choose to get there, enjoy the adventure! Mahahual is a quiet, picturesque, uncrowded (except when the boats are there!) paradise full of warm people. We absolutely fell in love with this little village! I’ve been hesitant to name a location when we go where it’s warm but Mahahual has moved into the top spot. We can’t wait to go back.
Stay tuned for all things Mahahual including where to stay, eat, dive and everything you need to know about the town to plan your trip.
Warm thoughts to all!
WHERE TO EAT
40 Canones – best place for a date
On the malecon further south, about 2/3rds of the way down. On the fancier and more expensive side, it’s perfect for date night. Great atmosphere, beautifully lit, attentive service & delicious food thoughtfully presented. I loved the music too! They were playing smooth jazz versions of 80s pop songs. Sounds a little cheesy but it worked for us. We stumbled on it our second night in town and decided we’d go back for our last night.
Night 1: 4 glasses of wine, 1 spaghetti aglio olio w/ chili flakes, 1 linguine with seafood. 700+ tip (~$40)
Night 2: Caprese, spaghetti pomodoro & spaghetti aglio olio with chili flakes & 6 glasses of wine (we hung out a while and listened to the music). 970 + tip ($55)
De Vino – great Italian food & homemade pasta
This is on the main road, as you walk south it will be on your left near the soccer fields. We went here for dinner twice, on our first night when we were starving and exhausted and again later in the week. If you order a pasta dish ask for their homemade pasta for a small up charge, totally worth it.
Night 1: Veggie bruschetta, one veggie pizza & 2 bottles of water – 230+ tip (~$13). We had enough pizza leftover for lunch the next day too.
Night 2: Pesto with homemade fettuccine, veggie carbonara with homemade fettuccine, 2 glasses of wine & 1 bottle of water –
355+ tip (~$20)
Cafe Colonial – awesome breakfast
This is between the malecon and main road near the Tipsy Turtle. We never would have found this place if not for Steve at the Tropicante. Awesome breakfast! We ate here quite a few times. A ton of food for 85 pesos. Eggs, beans, cake, bread, coffee & juice. The juice is made fresh to order and is blended with ice, refreshing & delicious. After the first visit, we split a breakfast going forward. Splitting was enough to get us through 2 dives and most days we just ate something light for lunch. The homemade hot sauces were amazing too!
1 breakfast with an extra coffee – 100 + tip (~$5.75)
Tropicante – great food & service, right on the beach
Right on the malecon with tables on the beach – only open on cruise ship days. Everything we tried on the menu was great! The owner Steve is terrific & they were willing to modify dishes for us since we don’t eat meat. If you have any restrictions definitely ask & he’ll help you out. The fish tacos & arros con pollo sans chicken add veggies were really good. We were starving after diving & it was late in the day after a light breakfast & we didn’t come close to finishing our food… we ate it for dinner on our deck. Luckily we were renting the apartment above the Tropicante so we had a fridge & full kitchen. I didn’t catch any prices because Steve insisted on buying us lunch all week due to the AC in the apartment being broken, THANK YOU Steve!! That was extremely generous!
Luna de plata – really good pizza, bring bug spray
This is further south …. walk south to the end of the pedestrian only part of the malecon where cars are allowed. Shortly thereafter the paved portion ends and turns into a dirt road & it’s just a few minutes from there. Nice atmosphere and really good pizza with a thick crust. You can order the pizzas with different toppings on each half which we did but they accidentally made two pizzas but only charged us for the one so we had enough leftover for a lunch and a dinner.
Pizza & 4 beers – 430 pesos with 20% tip (~$24)
Have leftovers but no fridge where you’re staying? No problem, they’ll keep them in their fridge for you! You can come back & eat it whenever. Also, holy freaking mosquitoes!! We sat inside & still got torn up. Bring bug spray for anything past the pedestrian section of the malecon & on any night there’s not a breeze.
Karlita’s Bakery – ground bag coffee & bagels
Right on the malecon right before Fernando’s as you walk south. We could not find bagged ground coffee anywhere & finally found it at Karlita’s for 130 pesos (~$7) per bag which lasted us all week.
Nice selection of baked goods, cookies & cakes. The chocolate peanut butter cookies were to die for!
They also have bagels! 2 bagels toasted with cream cheese & jam, 70 pesos (~$4)
Bakery across from cafe colonial
Awesome homemade bread! Two large fresh baked rolls were 6 pesos (~$.35) & made a great lunch with manchego from el primo. They were warm from the oven when we got there – what’s better than that!
Fernando’s – on the malecon
Great atmosphere with friendly service. Fernando is very personable and does a tequila tasting if you’re interested. We were interested but never made it as we don’t like to drink much when we’re diving the next morning. Lots of very sweet cats in the restaurant too. Dinner started with a complimentary welcome drink shot (strawberry daiquiri?) & ended with a warmed coffee tequila.
4 beers, fish tacos (3) & veg tacos (3) – 240 pesos + tip
Pariso – AWESOME chilaquiles!
On the main road just south of Bucceando. So good! We dug in forgetting to take a pic first. Pretty presentation with cucumber slices decorated with a beet slice around the plate. I’d definitely recommend splitting the chilaquiles, it’s plenty of food for two. Great fuel for our bike excursion!
Chilaquiles with beans, cheese quesadilla with beans & salad, 2 coffees – 120 pesos + tip (~$7)
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Mahahual that I didn’t mention? Leave it in the comments!
Warm thoughts to all!
If you’re planning a trip, this post will help you with the practical stuff: where to stay, what to pack, where to shop around town & tips for money management.
Where to Stay
We love self-catering places & the apartment above the Tropicante was absolutely perfect for us! The top 3 things that are most important to us in a place to stay are: 1 – walking distance to bars, restaurants, shops & diving, 2 – a great view with outdoor living space, 3 – a kitchen with a fridge and basic utensils, plates, cups, etc. The Tropicante Apt nailed all three.
If you want to be part of the action you can’t get any better than this. Steve was a wonderful host – he owns the Tropicante restaurant downstairs in addition to the apartment. He greeted us as soon as the AGI dropped us off, gave us his own personal coffee to use for the next morning, handed us each a cold beer and gave us some dinner tips while showing us around the apartment. He also insisted on buying us lunch at the Tropicante all week in exchange for the apartment’s AC being out (thank you Steve!). He’d been waiting for the electrician to come for a while, sometimes the ‘manana’ attitude works against you! It wasn’t bad at all, the apartment has great airflow and there was a nice steady breeze all week. There’s a huge covered balcony overlooking the ocean, beach & malecon – we pretty much lived on that balcony. I was out there early every morning having coffee, listening to the birds, reading and enjoying the beautiful view. I can’t think of a better way to start my day. There was even a daily yoga class on the beach under the palms.
We spent every evening on the balcony too, having a beer or some wine while enjoying the post sunset glow. The apartment has two sliding glass doors leading to the balcony and a back door with a screen giving the whole place great air flow. We left the doors open day and night. We felt very safe here & will definitely be back!
Where to Shop
Since we had a refrigerator we bought some basic groceries for snacks, lunches, happy hour, etc. We went to pretty much every store around the malecon & in the casitas since this was a research trip for us and I like to see the variety & cost of goods that are easily available. We could definitely get by shopping at the stores around town.
Karlita’s – bagged ground coffee
On the malecon right before Fernando’s restaurant heading south. If your place has a coffee maker as ours did this is the place to buy ground coffee for $7 a bag. The kind with a touch of cinnamon was the best! Also a great place to pick up a nice dessert – there was a beautiful array of homemade cakes for sale by the slice.
El Primo – best all around shop
On the main road near Fernando’s liquor store, they had the best all around variety and always a decent selection of fresh fruits & veggies. They have some cheese out and more in coolers behind the counter – I need to work on my Spanish!
Produce store – best variety of fresh fruit & veggies
I can’t remember the name. On the main road a couple blocks south of El Primo.
Bakery – best fresh baked bread!
Across from Cafe Colonial – there’s nothing better than bread made from scratch still warm from the oven.
There are a few stores in the casitas (3 that we checked out). If you’re looking for US brands and products, this is the place to go.
ATMs & Money Management
No where we went took credit cards so definitely plan for that and while everywhere will accept US currency, you’ll get a worse exchange rate paying with US in town. The best thing to do is get pesos from one of the ATMs. There’s a maximum withdrawal limit per day so work that into your planning especially if you have a big expense to pay at the end of the week.
- On the malecon: inside the Bucceando dive shop & on the side of De Vino – 3000 peso limit per day
- Inside the casitas – 5000 peso limit per day
What to Pack
This is an extremely casual place with no dress code anywhere. Pack light! Layout what you think you need then put a 3rd of it back. Things you’ll want to bring:
- Water bottle – our apartment had a 5 gallon water jug that we used to refill our water bottles all week. Less trash produced – everybody wins.
- Bug spray – if the breeze dies off, you’ll probably want this.
- Sunscreen – just not on dive/snorkel days, the chemicals are bad for the reef. Rashguards are a great alternative for sun protection if you’re in the water!
- Hat or visor
- Ground coffee – but now that we found it at Karlita’s, less of a must to pack
- A few good books – if you forget to bring books or run out, the Tropicante restaurant has a huge variety of used books for sale and even a box of free ones out front.
Have a question about something I didn’t cover? Leave me a note in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it!
Until next time …
Warm thoughts to all!
Read more for adorable dog pics!
Dogs of Mahahual – Part 1:
Top Left – a friend at breakfast on our first day. I tried to feed him a homemade tortilla but he wasn’t interested. He did enjoy a few pets & our company – we enjoyed his company too!
Top Right – this guy might steal quesadillas off unsuspecting tourist’s plates. He had his routine down on cruise ship days!
Middle – such a precious little one & those eyebrows!
Bottom – this one didn’t get too close but sweet nonetheless!
Dogs of Mahahual – Part 2:
Top – these two lived at a shop just south of the apartment and could be found napping in the sun and guarding their turf – very cute! The black one was definitely more skittish but warmed up to us after a few days. If another dog gave them a hard time, a slightly larger dog would come out to back them up!
Bottom – meet Tigre! A stray guy who was clearly well-loved by the locals. I might have fed him a few chips and he was always good for an afternoon visit on the beach & of course doggy kisses. If we move to Mahahual and he’s still around I might just have to adopt him!
We’ve been to a lot of places and have never been greeted by such a friendly group of local dogs.
Want to help them out while you’re there? Stop by the Tropicante and donate to their collection jar which pays for the spaying and neutering of stray dogs, a much needed service! Thanks to the Tropicante & local vet for making this possible!
Until we meet again…
Warm thoughts to all!
The above articles about Mahahual were written by a blogger http://gowhereitswarm.net/. I like to share other people’s thoughts and opinions from time to time on this blog to give readers here a different perspective and view of life here in Mahahual, besides just mine. These articles give a good description and some details of Mahahual that I find interesting.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina