A trip to the Caribbean conjures up visions of swaying palms and a watercolor palette of blues, greens and shades in between. Just 10 minutes or so from the port of Costa Maya, Mexico, a fixture on most western Caribbean cruise itineraries, lies an idyllic place that delivers in a big way: the small fishing village of Mahahual (ma-ha-wahl).
For $5 roundtrip ($3 to get there, $2 to return) you’ll be transported a world away.
There are three dropoff locations, but it doesn’t matter much which one you choose. They’re all connected by a wide, paved walkway flanked by shops and restaurants on one side and the beach on the other. You’ll get a variety of offers as you stroll the blocks-long promenade ("$5 here, but it includes a margarita," "massages: $30 for 60 minutes"). Explore your options until you find a spot in the sun, shade or sand that speaks to you. (A friendly server will be by to take your food and drink order. Bring cash, because the credit card machines don’t always work.) Kick back and relax in a hammock or on a reclining chair, where the only heavy lifting you’ll be doing is raising a bottle of local beer and a tortilla chip layered with cheese, chicken and fresh salsa. Take a dip in the water and enjoy that view.