Costa Maya is one of the most popular Western Caribbean ports of call for cruise ships. This port is also beneficial for wheelchair users because all cruise ships dock here, so no tenders are required. However, there are considerable limitations for activities beyond the port area, as you will read below.
Costa Maya is the first Western Caribbean port designed exclusively for the cruise ship industry, and is located just hours south from Cancun on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Resembling an ancient Mayan city, Costa Maya is able to accommodate three ships at once and entertain visitors at a destination that showcases the ancient and colonial heritage of the Mexican Caribbean, along with all of today’s modern conveniences. The pier-side village features a number of free-to-use pools (one of which is huge with a swim up bar), restaurants, bars, and shops. There is even a small rocky beach with hammocks. This village is located at the end of the cruise dock, and is only a short roll away from your ship.
The actual town where the Costa Maya village is located is called Mahahual, and its population is only 600 inhabitants. For wheelchair users, there is literally nothing to do or see here. The shore excursions that are provided by the cruise lines take visitors roughly an hour away to see Mayan ruins and archaeological sites. There are also some snorkeling and scuba diving excursions, but none of these are wheelchair accessible. Because I can transfer to a regular taxi, my friend and I did a very short vehicle tour of the beach side area in Mahahual with the awesome Costa Maya Adventours, but there were no good opportunities for me to get out and explore anything of interest.
If for some reason you do want to hire a taxi to take you somewhere outside of the port area, you will have to exit the village and go through a gated area into town in order to find the taxi stand. The Costa Maya village is quite large, and it took us at least 10 to 15 minutes to go from the entrance by the cruise ship dock to the exits in order to find our taxi. You will go along the sidewalk on the left, roll through a fence to gate, then keep rolling for another 200 yards or so. Then you have to cross the streets and pass the security shack. Beyond that and yet another gate, you will see taxis queued up on the left.
The good news about Costa Maya is that it is quite wheelchair accessible. There are some rough spots in the pavement to make it look more authentic, but can be a rough ride for wheelchair users. All of the restaurants and bars have flat entry, and so do the stores. The smaller shops in the center of the village at first look like they only have a step to enter, but most of them have a small ramp on the backside for wheelchair users to enter. There are also two public restrooms in the village with wheelchair accessible stalls, and brightly colored blue ramps with the wheelchair symbol on the ground.
Depending on the number of cruise ships in port, Costa Maya can get extremely crowded. My ship arrived first, and given that it was a small ship, the village wasn’t that crowded so it was easy to move around. However, by the time we were on our way back to the ship, a second ship had arrived and it was tough to navigate between the sweaty crowds in some of the narrower passageways. If you are looking to buy some souvenirs from Mexico — and admittedly some of them are much nicer than I’ve seen in other Mexican destinations — or just really want to get off the ship for a couple of hours, then this is an accessible option for you. However, if you are looking for an authentic Mexican experience with accessible transportation, then you may want to skip Costa Maya.