Travel Colorfully – Costa Maya Travel Guide

costa maya travel guide


EMBROIDERED DRESS: Free People  //  SANDALS: Steve Madden  //  TASSEL EARRINGS: Lisi Lerch  //  CROSSBODY BAG: From St. Xavier

After suffering more than just a few weeks of the bitter cold and the sadness of the holiday season being over, January is the perfect time to escape to somewhere warm and tropical (or at least starting planning an escape!) That’s why  I thought this week would be the perfect time to switch gears and share photos and stories from the amazing girl’s trip I took with my sister Tiffany a couple months back in November, our gorgeous Western Caribbean cruise with Princess Cruises. One of the things I love about Caribbean cruises are that they offer up such a wide variety of timing options. Whether you want to go all in on a two-week vacay or simply want to get away for the weekend, Princess has Caribbean cruise options for every timeframe. Tiffany and I got to experience a 5 day Western Caribbean cruise with two stops. Today I’m going to share photos and stories from our first stop on our cruise: our day in beautiful Costa Maya.

Click on the read more button below to read my entire Costa Maya travel guide get the full scoop on our day taking in the turquoise waters and palm-covered beaches of Costa Maya and Mahaual.

costa maya beach

Our ship landed at the stunning shores of Costa Maya early in the morning. As we got off the ship, we were greeted by the most gorgeous, crystal clear turquoise water. You could see hundreds of colorful tropical fish as you walked down the dock to enter Costa Maya, but we didn’t have time to dilly dally…we had a very important excursion to get to.

costa maya swim with dolphins

Swimming with dolphins is something that many people do as children, but Tiffany and I had never experienced this magic before, so when we saw it as an option for an excursion, we couldn’t write our names down any faster. We choose to take the earliest possible time to swim with our dolphin friends, so we rushed off to our excursion as soon as we got off the boat.


costa maya excursions

What’s so nice about the dolphin swimming and encounter experience in Costa Maya is that it’s literally right off the ship. It took us less than 10 minutes to walk to Dolphin Park from the ship, a natural ocean pool with a sand bottom that overlooks the gorgeous beaches of Costa Maya.


costa maya swim with dolphins costa maya swim with dolphins

As you can see, Tiffany and I had an absolute blast swimming with the dolphins and doing all kinds of tricks. From kissing to dancing to giving belly rubs, we absolutely loved every minute of interacting with these magical creatures (they’re SO smart…like puppies of the sea, and this girl was smitten). I also personally really enjoyed getting to learn about how the dolphins are cared for and the kind of environments they live in. None of the dolphins at any Dolphin Park locations are captured – they are all born in captivity and enjoy a life even longer than what they would in the wild.


costa maya swim with dolphins

Here’s my take on the Dolphin Encounter excursion in Costa Maya…if you have never gotten the opportunity to interact or swim with dolphins before, it is an absolute must-do, no matter the age you are, and this facility was top-notch as far as the care of the dolphins are, the staff and the overall facility is. The instructors are also incredibly kind and do a great job of explaining everything before the encounter and during the entire experience.

TIP: book the EARLIEST time possible. Tiffany and I did this just because we wanted to enjoy the rest of our day at the beach, but we were so happy we did. When we arrived at the facility, we had the entire place to ourselves during the whole extent of our excursion. Flash forward to that afternoon, and the place was crawling with hundreds of people. Definitely a more magical experience when it’s just you, the dolphins and the serene backdrop of the ocean.


costa maya travel guide

Since we only booked one excursion for our Costa Maya stop, Tiffany and I were excited to spend the remainder of the day exploring Costa Maya and relaxing on the beach. But first, it was time for some authentic Mexican food and cerveza. We decided to stop at the restaurant in the main part of Costa Maya, just behind Dolphin Park.


costa maya travel guide

When you walk off the ship and enter Costa Maya, you’ll go into sensory overload thanks to the gorgeous colorful buildings, signs and sounds of the local music being played. It’s kind of like an adult island-themed Disney world. As beautiful as it is, Tiffany and I wanted to get a taste of the authentic culture of the area. We’d heard talk amongst our group of fellow influencers of Mahaual, a village just beyond the colorful attractions of Costa Maya and just a 3 minute taxi ride away. Thankfully, my sister and I found a kind older gentleman who was on our cruise ship to accompany us in our cab ride so we didn’t have to go alone.


costa maya travel guideMahaul did not disappoint. with miles of white sandy beaches and palm-lined shores, complete with tons of local restaurants, shops and more, the village was absolutely stunning, and the perfect way to spend the remainder of our day.


mahaual beachcosta maya travel guide

I couldn’t get over how beautiful this area was and was so happy we decided to venture beyond the colorful attractions of Costa Maya. The other thing I immediately noticed was that the prices were much better in this area. Whether we wanted to grab another beer, a natural coconut drink or a gorgeous seashell (which I bought to take home), the prices were all amazing.


costa maya travel guidemahaual beach

After a few hours of hanging out on the beach and walking the shoreline (and you know…changing 10 times so I could snap as many instagram photos as possible in the gorgeous scenery), it was time to head back to our ship! We absolutely loved our day in Costa Maya and Mahaual; and couldn’t wait top see what our next stop had in store.

Stay tuned for more from our Western Caribbean adventures with Princess Cruises.

Fair-well xx,

**Thanks so much to Princess Cruises for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    January 25, 2018 at 8:35 am

    I love how bright and colorful your photos are! Would you mind sharing how you edit your pics to look like that?


    1. Reply
      Lauren Vandiver
      January 25, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Well thank you so much that’s the sweetest!! I promise I do have ablog post line dup that will share how I edit my photos – stay tuned!! Thanks so much for the love!!


  2. Reply
    Karina H.
    January 25, 2018 at 10:00 am

    I love the dolphins photos. I haven’t ever done that before either and it’s been on my list. Looks like this is a great place to do it.

    <3 Karina H.

    1. Reply
      Lauren Vandiver
      January 25, 2018 at 11:24 am

      It was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!! They are SO smart it’s insane! Costa Maya is a great place to experience it!! Thanks so much for the love!!


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