Sunday, February 8, 2009

Diversion Excursion: The Mexican Caribbean – Costa Maya and Mahahual, in the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico

I’ve been to Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Tulum, but never further south down the coast. So, when my friends asked me to tag along on their adventure to scout out some ocean front property, I accepted before they could finish the sentence. Off we went for 4 days and three nights!

Mahahual is approximately 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Merida. There’s not much to see along the way, but I always enjoyed the Mexican countryside. We were in no hurry to get there as we already had confirmed reservations at a nice hotel so we stopped several times for food, gas, and leg stretching.

The hotel was only 10 months old and was quite comfortable and reasonable, as we managed to talk the desk clerk into giving us some very nice discounts! Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very cooperative during our entire stay. It was quite cool, windy, overcast, windy, even a bit of precipitation one day, and oh, did I mention the wind?

Undoubtedly, the waters of the Caribbean are delightful and a sight to behold. Even though we didn’t get much sunshine, you could surely appreciate the clear blue waters and the breaking waves over the reef. Regretfully, it was just a bit too cool and windy for me to go swimming in the Caribbean or in the hotel pool for that matter! Some dive shop activities, snorkeling, jet skiing, and banana boat rides were also cancelled due to the inclement weather conditions. Even heard rumors some cruise ships couldn’t dock because of the rough seas and high winds.

Our time was spent viewing ocean front lots and playing tourist. The devastation of Hurricane Dean, a category 5 storm that made landfall in August of 2007, was still quite visible. The mangroves were really hit hard and there were still lots of homes and businesses that had been abandoned and not repaired/rebuilt. This was a disturbing sight to me having been through a hurricane and having lost quite a bit myself at one time. I guess you could say bad memories linger longest and fade the slowest.

Huge cruise ships dock at Mahahual and the malecon (boardwalk) is full of restaurants and vendors who cater to the arriving, unsuspecting tourists. While there, two very large cruise ships docked and a torment of tourists flooded the beaches and malecon. One ship had the capacity for 4,500 persons, the other about 3,000. That equates to lots of Gringo dollars for the Mexican economy and the vendors and the restaurateurs are right there with their hands out. The unsuspecting tourist is also right there with wallets wide open and “eyes wide shut”!. For the vendors and restaurateurs, this is a match made in heaven!

Time to talk a bit about discrimination. Not being the “new kid on the malecon”, so to speak, I quickly learned that the vendors have two prices and most restaurants have two menus! And they all readily admit to it!! One price for the locals, while the other is for the unsuspecting Gringo tourists off the boats! The Gringo prices are inflated as much as 400%! I don’t mind a person working for a living and making a buck, but to me, this is equivalent to date rape! I held fast and refused to pay the prices for the few things I wanted from the vendors, and I managed to pay what I consider to be the normal price. If you go on a cruise, anywhere, not just Mexico, it would definitely pay you to do a little homework regarding prices and this sort of thing.

On a much brighter note, we did manage to find a new little place on the malecon that was selling 16 ounce draft beers for only $1.00 US, and shots of tequila from a barrel no less, for the same price. Yes, I partook (is that a good word?), but did not over indulge (too much). So, I was dancing on the malecon to old disco songs – so what! Everyone enjoyed it! My dance partner and I had a great time as her husband doesn’t do much dancing.

The Mexican Caribbean is a beautiful place to spend some time, so if you get a chance, go. But my dear Gringo friends, be forewarned about the discrimination in pricing!

Caveat emptor!

The waters of the Caribbean are quite nice, but when it gets windy and cool, the tourists, and even the locals, disappear!

The hotel was quite comfortable, the pool quite inviting, the weather quite uncooperative!

All said and done though, the Mexican Caribbean is a delightful place to behold. The crystal clear blue waters are quite different than the waters we see on the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula where I live. Our beaches are still exceptionally nice and the waters are also crystal clear, but the waters are green! Not with algae, but that's just how Mother Nature painted it!

You pay dearly for "blue" vs. "green", that's for sure! But, don't miss the opportunity to go if you are fortunate enough to have the chance to do so.


  1. My dad lived in Merida after retiring from the Navy. His wife is still there. He loved it and they cast his ashes off the pier when he died.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    Seeing as how your Dad loved both the Navy and Merida, it would seem to be a fitting and loving gesture to scatter his ashes off the pier (presumably in Progreso) in his memory.

    Hope you can get back to Merida someday. It is really great here.

    Thanx for reading my blog. I hope you enjoyed it.

  3. Great post! I love that picture of the hotel pool. Do you mind sharing the hotel name. I would love to see more of it. Thanks!