We made a quick stop at Costa Maya. This is another is a small tourist region in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, the only state bounded by the Caribbean Sea to its east. This municipality is close to Chetumal (capital of the state) on the border with Belize. The area was generally undeveloped but has been growing rapidly since construction of a large pier to accommodate cruise ships. Costa Maya is also the name of a subdivision near the village of Mahahual. Mahahual has soft sand beaches, grass thatched palapas, and a coral reef a short distance off-shore called Banco Chinchorro, as well as several bars, restaurants, and shops. When ships are in port, the village is busy with cruise passengers. Costa Maya's port has a modern tourist shopping mall which Julieann spent most of the afternoon exploring. The center has a central plaza with saltwater pools and 'swim-up' style bars. There are several jewelry stores and many small shops selling ubiquitous souvenir items and is generally open only to cruise ship passengers. Costa Maya is the closest port of access to many of the lesser-known Mayan ruins in the Yucatan including Chacchoben and Kohunlich. These sites are substantially less excavated than the better-known pyramids of Tulum and Coba to the north; Chichen Itza and Uxmal in Yucatan.
There are approximately 300 native inhabitants of Xcalak. Most rely on fishing for their livelihood, however, many are now working in tourism and recently the Tourism Cooperative was formed. The Mexican government is trying to improve the standard of living for the indigenous population in the Costa Maya area by developing small scale ecologically-based tourism. Mahahual is to be a larger tourist center with an airport and a large dock for cruise ships.
Are you beginning to see a pattern forming? It sure seems to me that the majority of stops these cruise ships are making are about the ONLY income these small ports and towns have. It makes sense for the Mexican government to put as much money into port improvements so the towns can become self sufficient, but I hope that they consider the environment along the way.