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Costa Maya Fact Sheet

Geography: Costa Maya begins south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and runs along the Caribbean coast almost to the border with Belize. Located in the state of Quintana Roo, Costa Maya is sparsely populated compared to the rest of Mexico's Caribbean coastline. A large part of Costa Maya has been set aside as a nature preserve.

Population: Costa Maya has few towns. Since the opening of a nearby cruise pier, Mahahual (also written as "Majahual") is emerging as Costa Maya's main population center. Mahahual's "tourist zone" is home to a wide array of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. The tourist area was largely rebuilt after Hurricane Dean struck in 2007 and a seaside promenade was added to Mahahual's attractions. The main town, however, offers the charms of a quiet fishing village. On the southern tip, Xcalak has also become increasingly popular with tourists while retaining its traditional Mayan roots.

Getting to Costa Maya: Most visitors to Costa Maya arrive by cruise ship at the port near Mahahual. The cruise ship port was largely rebuilt after Hurricane Dean in 2007 and can now accommodate the next generation of superliners. The area also receives visitors driving south from the resort areas of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Getting around in Costa Maya: Although there are few roads in Costa Maya, taxis and tourist buses are widely available and relatively inexpensive near the cruise ship terminal in Mahahual. Golf carts may also be rented by the hour.

Visa Requirements: Cruise ship passengers do not need to be concerned about visa requirements. Other vacationers, however, will be issued a Mexican visa when they arrive. A valid passport is the quickest means of securing a visa. Another option is available to U.S. citizens. They can bring a birth certificate (with a raised seal) and a driver's license. Due to recent changes in U.S. regulations, Americans are required to present their passport in order to re-enter the United States.

Money Matters: U.S. dollars are accepted in Costa Maya. (In fact, most businesses catering to cruise ship passengers prefer payment in U.S. dollars.) It's often wise to carry a few U.S. dollars in small denominations for tips and quick snacks. Be aware, though, that U.S. coins are not accepted. Credit cards (especially Visa and Mastercard) and travelers checks are generally accepted by larger businesses. However, smaller operations often require purchases in cash.

Food and Drink: A modern water sanitation system was built in conjunction with the cruise ship terminal. As a result, the water is safe to drink in the areas frequented by cruise ship passengers. If you venture beyond the tourist areas, tap water should be avoided, especially since bottled water (and beer) is widely available.

Electricity: 110 volts AC (the same as the United States and Canada) is the standard in Costa Maya, as well as other parts of Mexico.

Time Zone: Costa Maya is in the Central time zone (like Chicago, Houston, and Mexico City) and observes daylight saving time. Daylight saving time starts the first Sunday of April and ends the last Sunday of October.

Climate: Costa Maya enjoys a gentle tropical climate throughout the year. High temperatures during the "winter" months (December-May) average in the low 80s. August and September are usually the warmest months of the year, with high temperatures averaging in the mid to upper 80s. Low temperature seldom drop below the upper 60s. Trade winds blow off the Caribbean most of the year, typically keeping temperatures pleasant even in the hottest months. The dry season generally lasts from December through May, while the rainy season runs from June to November. Hurricanes occasionally occur, most often in August and September. Water temperature averages between 79 and 83 degrees F.

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