A Great New Spa in Costa Maya Mahahual

When you go on vacation to remote destinations like Costa Maya there are a few things that come to mind as pillars of a good vacation: tasty tropical drinks, swimming lazily in crystal clear salty waters, and relaxing spa treatments. Mahahual to this point has been able to offer the former two in abundance but if you arrived here before recently looking for a real spa environment and variety of services you will have been sorely disappointed.

Sure, there are the local “unta aceites”, or oil rubbers, who work down along the malecon: local ladies with a weekend’s worth of massage training, yet plenty of ambition, who would be happy to rub you down for a $20 spot. Not bad for what you are paying. And there is day spa or two that offer waxing and great nail work. But if you were looking for seasoned professionals with experience and a real menu of spa services you might as well have been looking for a Brazilian Steak House.

Well as we all know (and lord knows we have our doctorate in the philosophy here), all good things come in time, and now we have a real spa. Costa Maya Wellness and Natural Skincare is the place for all of your pampering needs while you visit us here in Mahahual. They have an extensive spa menu leaning towards a natural and holistic approach to wellness with services such as massage, facials, acupuncture, therapeutic stretching and even vitamin and mineral injections that they have dubbed “Vitality Shots”. (See list of services here)

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The spa was born out of a young couple who moved here recently and wanted to bring their professional touch to our small Caribbean town. In their treatments they use organic products, either bought or made in house, and really take their time, taking care not to rush you in and out. You really can soak in the experience and let the stress peal away.

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The spa is small, with one treatment room for now, and services are done one at a time. But they offer free WIFI and complimentary tea, a mineral foot bath, and oxygen therapy while you wait so you can begin to feel rejuvenated from the minute you walk through the door. As business grows they plan to open a second room.

It is a part of the small inn (Casa Sueno Caribeno) that the owners run as a sort of boutique wellness retreat, which they think is just the sort of thing that the new generation of travelers is looking for as the seek to de-stress from the burden of their hectic home schedules. The trip advisor reviews are excellent but you really should come and experience it for yourself the next time you are in our little corner of the world.

The spa drought in Costa Maya is over and we couldn’t be happier about it. Even locals need a little pampering every now and then!

A Great Yoga Class in Mahahual

One of the most popular activities for health-minded travelers these days seems to be yoga. Whether you are a life-long yoga enthusiast or trying it for the first time on vacation it can be great way to unwind, get some light exercise, and replenish your anxiety-ridden spirit.

If you are looking, there are a few places to get your yoga fix here in Costa Maya. There are offerings from formal private classes from established inhabitants, beach front informal classes from wandering travelers, community, expensive, cheap, hatha, kundalini and everything in-between. But in this article I wanted to shine a spotlight on what I see as the best all-around yoga class in town for those who are doing their homework.

My wife has been a yoga lover for years and years and she has dragged me to classes all over the world. I am a bit of an all-around fitness fanatic and I love to mix it up and to me there is nothing worse than a yoga class that consists the same basic moves every class. It doesn’t challenge me or hold my attention and nothing puts me to sleep faster than moving through the same old sequence time and time again . My wife feels the same way, and we have had a number of disappointing experiences.

That is why when we heard tale of a great yoga class taking place every Tuesday and Thursday morning for a reasonable price that our friends were really enjoying we had to go check it out. I walked into the class for the first time skeptical due to my history with boring classes but I was soon moving through some poses I had never done, mixed with the more familiar sun salutations, warrior this and that and others. I thought to myself “what’s this?? Have I discovered the yoga needle in a hay stack?”. I left the class thoroughly pleased with my experience and Carolina, the instructor.

The next class was again a pleasant surprise as we moved through yet more poses and positions that I had never done and it was not just a carbon copy of the previous class. We were both super satisfied. From that class on we have both been totally hooked, barely missing a class, and are brought to life every Tuesday and Thursday morning by the big bright smile of Carolina as and she greets us at the door and gets our bodies moving.

The class is held at the Wayak Community Center in the neighborhood “Casitas” in a room that is built in the traditional Maya thatched-roof style. The morning air feels cool as the breeze blows through and the sweet smell of Nag Champa incense fills the room. Carolina’s soft and knowledgeable voice leads you through an hour of challenging yet relaxing poses and sets you up to have the perfect day afterward.

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If you are one of those yoga travelers or are just in town and looking for a new active experience at a reasonable price, I highly recommend you join us on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8am for your wake up yoga. You will leave will a big flexible smile on your face!

Cleaning Crew Making Big Strides in Casitas

In as little as 3 months our cleaning crew has started to make a major difference in the neighborhood “Casitas” here in Mahahual. Not only does it look cleaner due to our weekly efforts, but it is now staying cleaner and the group is growing every week.

Recently the port owners pitched in, thanks to a popular petition organized by members of the group and signed by many locals, and finally installed some trash receptacles along the main walkway down the middle of the neighborhood that used to be riddled with trash. Credit is due to the port because there was no fight and they gladly acquiesced. Naysayers and negative nancies said it wouldn’t help, claiming the bags would blow away or no one would ever empty them, but they have been in place for about 2 weeks and the area is pretty much free of trash and the receptacles are regularly emptied!

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The port even recently donated wheel barrows, shovels and rakes to the group…

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We have also had an increase in volunteers from local organizations like the tour company Aviomar and its employees joining in, and volunteers from Takata Experience lending a hand.

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And most recently funds were raised to buy some trash cans for locals that don’t have them and distribute them at no cost…

 

We are making big strides and Mahahual is even more beautiful today than ever for it! If you are a visitor and lover of our little town you can help by joining us, any given Sunday around 10am, and pitching in a hand. Or by donating so more trash cans can be bought and distributed.

Donate here!

Thank you for any support and we hope to see you soon!

Hayhu Beach Club in Mahahual

Incase you’ve had your head in the sand for the past year and haven’t heard of one of the best new establishments in Mahahual, I want to tell you about Hayhu Beach Club. The pronunciation can be tricky so the first thing I need to do is clear that up so that we can be on the same page. Phonetically in English it would be pronounced “high-who” but being that we all have different linguistic skill sets I have heard “hey-who”, “hey-ho”, “he-hu” and everything in-between.

The meaning, despite the confusion, is really quite beautiful.  It means “to know how to love” in Guarani, the tongue of the natives in Paraguay, where the dynamic trio of owners originate from. And know how to love they clearly do.

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Hayhu was a labor of love for years before finally opening its doors to international beach-goers on December 17th of 2017. The owners searched Caribbean coasts far and wide looking for the perfect home for their future endeavor before finally finding Mahahual. Once they hit the Costa Maya for the first time they, like many of us, knew they had found the perfect place.

Hayhu boasts the perfect mix of beautiful Caribbean sea, soft white sand, delicious cocktails, quality foods and relaxed vibes to make your visit here exactly how you had pictured it in your mind. Far from the hustle and bustle of the malecon, with its friendly yet ambitious vendors, over-saturation of tables and loungers from restaurants, and over-priced meals, Hayhu is a place where you can truly relax and take a deep breath of the salty-sweet sea air.

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Hayhu represents a departure from the antiquated vision of vacation from generations past, who preferred all-inclusive giant Vegas-style resorts that don’t blend at all with the local environment and culture. We all know what Cancun looks like don’t we? Hayhu represents a newer idea and blends seamlessly with the surrounding jungle environment, seemingly born naturally from it rather than built.

They are also big on being eco-friendly, using solar panels to power the operation for the most part and naturally filtering and processing the waste water generated instead of sending it down the tube. As nice as that sounds there is no quality being sacrificed for the environment. The music is good, the drinks are cold, and the food is delicious.

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The menu boasts everything from lobster to a delicious South American cut of beef called “picana” that will leave even Texans impressed. The cuisine is a step above what you can find in most places in town and makes for a great afternoon out. There is something for everybody. Take a look at the menu on their website here.

Hayhu is located about 20 minutes south of town by car or taxi but the drive is totally worth it. That’s how you get all of the peace and tranquility that can be absent from the cruise-shippy part of the malecon. And there are no shortages of things to do while you are there. Take your snorkel gear for a great diving experience on vibrant reefs just out front, grab one of their paddle boards or kayaks and explore further, try your hand at kite boarding with on-site instructions, or relax into a nice book and chill.

Hayhu is the type of place that we locals like to see spring up in our community. A quality place by quality people trying to give a quality experience. They certainly do know how to love and it is evident from the minute you set foot in Hayhu. But don’t just take my word for it. Read some of the many glowing reviews of the place in trip advisor here.

So the next time you are in Mahahual, don’t miss one of the new gems of our coastline. Check them out on facebook for more pics and info!

A New Crew is Cleaning Up Mahahual

Maybe you have seen us on Sunday mornings passing by with bulging black plastic bags, sun screen slathered on thick, scavenging the trash that lines the residential streets of “Casitas” here in Mahahual, ironically smiling and laughing while we do the dirtiest of dirty work. Maybe you have seen the posts that pop up in the two facebook groups that serve as the local newspaper here in Costa Maya, “Amigos Unidos Por Mahahual” and “Todos Somos Mahahual”, where we proudly pose by the week’s harvest of litter. Or maybe you have even participated, as our group welcomes all comers who want to throw in a little Sunday sweat to make our town more beautiful.

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We have no group name or official affiliation with any political party, environmental or activist group. And we have no motivation other than doing our part to try and make Mahahual as beautiful as it should be, for ourselves just as much as anybody else. We aren’t paid or rewarded other than the strangely fulfilling feeling that you get from doing something nice for your community. It really is addictive. And the only thing we are looking to get out of it is more participation from the community and a better image of our town for ourselves and those that travel here from afar.

 

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We want a clean and beautiful home and one of our main goals to help reduce trash in the streets and keep us from perpetually repeating this weekly ritual is to find ways to provide curbside trash cans for each house in Mahahual. A majority of the homes here in town simply bundle their trash in plastic bags and place them on the sidewalk for the trash truck to pick up. The problem is that this rings the dinner bell for dogs, cats, raccoons, monkeys, hippopotami…you name it, to come in and let the feast begin. They easily open the bags looking for food and the rest of the trash spills out into the street to scatter with the warm tropical wind.

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Now some would say, “Isn’t it the responsibility of each homeowner to get their own trashcan? How much hassle could it be?” And if you don’t know the answer to that question then you haven’t spent enough time here. Things don’t always come down to reason on the Mayan coast. But, we want a clean Mahahual and if the homeowners without bins haven’t gotten one by now, they aren’t going to get one any time soon. So, we prefer to provide one for them just to make it easier on ourselves and achieve our goals of a clean green Mahahual.

This week, some members of our group scored a huge victory and were able to put together a letter to present to the Costa Maya Port, signed by members of the community, to ask for a donation of trash cans and they said they would be happy to help! So a big thank you goes out to them and they stand to benefit as much as any of us from clean streets if cruise ship tourists aren’t presented with a littered paradise.

In addition to that, other members started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to buy trash cans to distribute. If you love Mahahual, and chances are if you are reading this blog you do, and you feel the urge to constribute to its well-being but don’t know how, you can click the link here and kick in a few dollars, pesos, pounds, euros, whatever! We would be happy to have it. https://www.gofundme.com/cqm4j4-for-a-clean-mahahual?fbclid=IwAR1ZdC2_YhmrtdM2V9VgP3BQAliHP-T27gNmGQ8bABk6E7C3m67L9giLLUk

We are going to continue to do our part to keep this natural gem sparkling and hopefully inspire others to join us. With time, the efforts of ours as well as other groups in Mahahual dedicated to education and conservation will hopefully pay off and we won’t need to get together every week to clean up. Our Sunday reunions will be but a fond memory. But for now we will keep putting on the gloves, boots, and mosquito repellent and hitting the streets because we ARE making a difference.

When you are in town visiting be sure to check for our posts on the facebook groups and join us if you can! It is a very rewarding feeling and we don’t turn anybody away!

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Locals Spotlight #4

This month we have a very special edition of locals spotlight that focuses less on the person and shines the light on their very special efforts to make a difference here in Costa Maya. We have a lot of people that move here from all over to make a life and end up addressing a problem that helps make our community better and stronger. This is definitely the case with Heather and Gil Johnson.

Heather and Gill moved to Costa Maya around 2&1/2 years ago and, after seeing all of the street dogs that are sick, homeless, or undernourished around the area, started Costa Maya Beach Dog Rescuea non-profit that provides shelter, food and medicine for sick dogs and helps find them foster homes locally and abroad. Their efforts are purely out of the kindness of their hearts and they are making an impact locally. Let’s see what they had to say…

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CML: How did you get started with CMBDR?

Heather: Our first visit to Mahahaul was in 2004. There were a ton of street dogs and cats. It was incredibly sad.  Most of my vacations were spent feeding as many strays as I could (which is nice but isn’t a solution).  We always knew we wanted to help once we moved here but weren’t sure how to start or what to do.  While our house was being built, I saw the saddest, skinniest homeless dog I’d ever seen wandering around our construction site looking for food.  The sight of him really solidified my resolve to help.  We spent our vacation taking him to the vet and trying to help him, but he was too far gone to save.  His suffering and his death could have been prevented.  I named him Pinto and vowed in that moment that my time here in this beautiful place would be spent helping all those like him.  He broke my heart, but also inspired me to do something about it.

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CML: How many dogs have you rescued thus far and how many adoptions have you done?

Heather: We currently have 16 street dogs in our house.  Most come in sick & skinny, covered in fleas & ticks, patches of hair missing from mange.  They are filled with worms and often anemic from tick diseases.  At one point last year we had 32 street dogs living in our house.  Right now we also have a medical foster puppy who we’re are treating for mange.  He has a home, but his family doesn’t have the money to help him.

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71 dogs have come through our front door.

42 have been adopted into permanent loving homes.

13 sweet souls have left this world – they were too sick to be saved.

141 dogs have been spayed/neutered through our rescue – most from the street – some from families who love them, but simply can’t afford it.  We plan to take 11 more dogs and 5 cats to the upcoming clinic this weekend.

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We also provide dog food and basic care to local dogs here on our coast.  Our rescue is an hour north of the town of Mahahual, so many of the dogs here will never see a vet in their lifetime.  When money permits, we treat fleas & ticks, parasites, mange and tick-borne illnesses.  If a dog needs emergency treatment, we drive to the ER vet 2.5 hours from our house.

 

CML: Where do most of the adoptions go?

We have partnered with rescues in the US and Canada.  Adoptions have been split equally between Mahahual and the US & Canada.  Dogs go where the best homes are.  If it’s here on our coast that’s perfect.  If it’s in Canada or the US, then we fly them there.

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CML: What is the hardest part of what you do? What is the best part?

Heather: It’s difficult for me not to feel overwhelmed by the size of the problem.  Every time I leave the house, I see a dog I want to rescue.  A dog that clearly needs rescuing, but I don’t have the space to help everyone.  Last year we had 32 stray dogs living with us.  That’s pretty much our limit.  We don’t have a facility – just our house.

Another challenge is convincing people to spay and neuter their pets. Many dogs and cats have owners who let their pets roam the streets and refuse to have them sterilized. The cycle of birth and death seems never ending.  A few groups of wonderful people in town organize spay/neuter clinics several times a year and have been doing so for a long time.  That has drastically cut down on the homeless animal population.  But still there are those people who refuse, so the cycle starts again.

By far the best part of rescue is when an adoptive puppy parent sends me an update with a picture of a happy, chubby, spoiled-silly dog.  For a moment all seems right in the World.  Dogs who once were filthy on the street are now curled up on couches.  Puppies who were once covered in ticks are now going to dog parks and romping around with their friends.  It’s incredible!  It gives us hope and reminds us that anything is possible.

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CML: Where do you see it going in the future?

Heather: I hope to rally the community to become more involved in rescue.  Our greatest potential for lasting change is to teach children about animal issues.   There are so many people who care about animal welfare, but maybe, like me a few years ago, don’t know how to help.  I would like us all to work together to convince our friends and neighbors that this cause is worth our time.  That animals deserve our help.  That spaying & neutering is a good thing.  Together we can fix this. We really can.

 

CML: How do you get funding?

Heather: We are very fortunate to have many generous supporters.  I am beyond thankful for them.  We do, however, always spend more than we take in.  This summer we filed with the IRS to get our non-profit 501(c)(3) designation.  My hope is that more people will contribute as a result and we can start to partner with local businesses.  Rescue is expensive.  Rewarding beyond belief, but expensive.

 

CML: Hand here is the BIG question: How can people help?

Well locally I hope to grow a network of fosters. i could save so many more if people would open their homes and let a dog crash at their place until a home is found.

For everybody else, we are always in desperate need of dog food, flea/tick meds, sponsors for spay/neuter surgeries so donate if you can.

To donate via PayPal – beachdogrescue@gmail.com

To donate via Gofund  – https://www.gofundme.com/beach-dog-rescue-fall-fundraiser

Like my Facebook page and follow our journey.

https://www.facebook.com/costamayabeachdogrescue/

 

CML: Thank you for your time and efforts! Changing the lives of these dogs is an amazing thing and the community AND DOGS surely appreciate it!

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We are officially in the holiday season and it really is the season for giving. What you spend on a pumpkin spiced late can make a huge difference down here in the lives of these dogs and this wonderful couple who comes out of their own pocket to help these animals. Any size of donation helps so please contribute if you can. Your heart will swell like the Grinch in Whoville when you do!