Mexico is fortunate to have countless miles of undeveloped white sand beaches, especially on the Yucatan Peninsula. A few resort cities like Acapulco and Puerta Vallarta developed organically, but when the government built the gold mine that became Cancun, it learned that the empty coast was a raw material as valuable as gold or oil. Over the years every two hundred miles or so, another tourist beach town was started. Costa Maya is one of those and owes its entire existence to cruise ships. Its extra long dock makes it one of the few places that a ship our size can come. This is a down side to a ship our size; it is very limited in where it can dock. Tendering, taking people to shore in life boats, would be so time consuming with this many passengers, it would be an exercise in frustration.
Costa Maya is a new town, surrounded by jungle with lots of room for growth. During high season there are one or two cruise ships here every week day. On the weekend they all return to the US to disembark and embark new passengers. Our guide said that many locals leave for the weekend and return to the towns they originally came from when the cruisers are gone. And in the summer and hurricane season, when only one or two ships come a week, Costa Maya looks more like a Hollywood set than a real town. It even has a fake Mayan pyramid/ruin that had two Mayan Indians standing in front of it dressed in a sparkly, fantasy version of what the Indians probably wore. Very kitschy!! The ship offered tours further inland to some real Mayan ruins. But after a winter spent looking at many, many such ruins, Ken has been there, done that.
We shared the dock with the NCL Pearl, not as big as we are, but big enough. The shops just outside the dock were crammed with enthusiastic shoppers from both ships. We have been to Mexico so many times, whenever I saw something that I really liked, I had to remember that I had already bought it. A beach, swimming pool with swim up bar, and restaurants and bars satisfied the needs of nearly everyone and were within easy walking distance.
This was our day for activity and exercise. After breakfast we played a closely contested game of mini golf and followed it up with a vigorous ping pong battle. Once we docked we took a bike tour down the malecon to the end of the beach where we boarded kayaks and bobbed around in the waves. The nearby mangrove swamp was a ghostly thicket of dead branches, due to a recent hurricane. The guide said he was not sure that it would ever recover. If the hurricanes stay away and the cruise ships keep coming, the next time we return to Costa Maya, I’m guessing we won’t recognize the place.