From laid-back beach towns to Maya sites, travelers are discovering all that the Grand Costa Maya offers
While Cancun, with its white-sand beach lined with resorts and restaurants, and the towns strung along the Riviera Maya are well-known among travelers around the world, there’s another side of the country’s Caribbean—the Grand Costa Maya. Travelers who have been there tend to want to keep this region a closely guarded secret among themselves, and if you venture there too, you will likely understand why.
For many travelers to the Yucatan Peninsula, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, to the south of Tulum, marks the end of the road. Its crystal-clear lagoons and dense rain forest appear to mark an unpassable bookend to the region. Keep on driving, however, and you’ll find the Grand Costa Maya extending down to the Belize border. Those who persevere are rewarded with an opportunity to see and experience a little-visited corner of the country. Here’s our quick overview of this surprising region:
If your ideal vacation town is the sort of place where you can spend all day in your bathing suit and flip-flops, and if an ideal evening for you consists of a stroll by the sea, alongside local families and other travelers, followed by a dinner of fish caught that day, then Mahahual fits the bill. You won’t find any resort complexes with multiple pools, instead you’ll have your choice from around three dozen small inns offering warm intimate welcomes to this little bit of paradise.
The main reason to travel to Bacalar, however, is its amazing natural wonder—known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors. While there are seven colors, those are all blue, with hues from turquoise to azure to sky blue. Its calm waters make it ideal for swimming and snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding. There is also one of the region’s famous sinkholes, or cenotes, nearby. The Blue Cenote sits on the outskirts of Bacalar and is almost as colorful as the lagoon. On dry land, the Fort of San Felipe has a Piracy Museum that covers the history of the area.
A little farther inland, Dzibanché is home to three noteworthy temples—the Temple of the Cormorants, the Temple of the Captives, and the Temple of the Dintels. Immediately to the north of Dzibanché, Kinichná includes a remarkable three-tiered acropolis.
Whichever ancient city you choose to explore, you’ll find that the crowds are smaller here than at some Mesoamerican archaeological sites, making it much easier to live out your Indiana Jones fantasy for a day.
Learn more about the Grand Costa Maya here.