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Cruise Critic Chris

Beach Club Breakdown - Includes Prices (September 2013)

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I spent some time in Costa Maya exploring the various beach clubs that cater to cruise line passengers, both all-inclusive and non. Bottom line: It seems like there is a beach club for every type of passenger, and every price range. Almost all of the club owners I met were gregarious and outgoing, and are doing their best to create repeat customers. The shoreline along Mahahual itself has a fair amount of seagrass, but most beach club owners do their best to keep the sand raked and presentable.

 

Note: Prices are valid as of September 2013. The smaller the resort, the more likely you should make an advance reservation.

 

Almaplena

Where: Located about 19 km outside of Mahahual, Almaplena has the distinction of being away from Costa Maya’s main beach. The sand is a little whiter and finer out here, and the vibe is a little quieter. No vendors. Owner Andrea and his wife Monica are Italian, and run a small eco-friendly hotel on the premises.

Cost: $59 per person; 3 and under free.

Size: 20 people

What’s included: Transportation, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, volleyball, sand toys for kids, all-you-can-eat full Mexican buffet.

What’s not: Massages ($25/30 minutes; $45/60 minutes, reservation required).

 

Jungle Beach Club (Uvero)

Where: The largest beach club in Costa Maya, the Jungle Beach Club is owned by the port and is the base of operations for cruise line excursions, including regular and power snorkeling, SNUBA, boat blast, ATVs and mini-Jeeps (because these tours sell out, you need to buy them before you arrive; it’s very difficult to walk up and get a spot). Excursions include transportation to the beach, which is about a 20 minute drive north from the main port and Mahahual. The port is planning major investment at the club, with ambitious additions – including private cabanas, an underwater snorkeling museum and a water bouncy castle – planned in the next few years. There is vendor shopping on the premises and they are allowed to walk around the club.

Cost: Depends on the cruise line, but the range is $39-$49/adults on regular lines, $95 on luxury lines.

Size: Up to 900, although a more typical day draws 300.

What’s included: Transportation, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, kayaks, beach volleyball, sand toys.

What’s not: Massages ($35/30 minutes; $60/60 minutes), snorkeling equipment if you aren’t on an excursion ($10), food, unless specified in your excursion (an order of nachos costs $8). Wave runners coming later this year.

 

Maya Chan

Where: While still technically on the Mahahual beach, Maya Chan is a little further removed from the Malecon action. The vibe is homey and friendly, and the American owner Mark Ostrow and his son David have engendered a loyal following, both on Cruise Critic and TripAdvisor. Vendors are not allowed.

Cost: $59/adult (discounted rate for groups); $49/children 8-17; $30/children 4-7; $19/children 3 and under.

Size: 50 people

What’s included: Transportation, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, a range of beach chair types, all-you-can eat Mexican buffet (try the guacamole), kayak use and tours, snorkeling use and tours, varying activities such as sand castle competition or tequila tasting, inflatable floats, bikes, Wi-fi.

What’s not: Massages ($25/30 minutes; $45/1 hour), scuba diving

 

Nacionale

Where: In the heart of the Malecon, Nacionale is more of a pay-as-you-go experience.

Cost: $10 for a chair

Size: 18 chairs

What’s included: Use of mini-pool, showers, restroom and Wifi

What’s not: Food and drink, although extensive menu is available. Local beer costs $3. Chips and salsa cost $4. No water toys.

 

Nohoch Kay

Where: At the end of the main part of the Malecon, Nohoch Kay is another club that has a loyal following on Cruise Critic and TripAdvisor. Owner Jaime Cueto Strimpopulos stresses personal service and says he greets every visitor personally. Vendors are not allowed.

Cost: $50/adults; $30/ages 11-17; $20/children 5-10; Free/children 4 and under.

Size: 50 chairs, with another 50 seats in the restaurant

What’s included: Food (the restaurant is known for its shrimp tacos), unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, kayaks, floats, beach toys, equipment for off-the-beach snorkeling, Wi-Fi

What’s not: Snorkeling excursions off catamarans ($40/2.5 hour tour to two reefs). Massages ($30/30 minutes, $50/60 minutes).

 

Pez Quadro (40 Canones)

Where: Part of the 40 Cannons hotel, Pez Quadro offers beach club services that include consistent food (including a well-praised breakfast for early cruisers) and access to the nicely appointed lounge. Owners are part of Mahahual’s growing Italian community.

Cost: 3 packages, ranging from $25 to $45. All packages include a beach chair, open bar, and some food.

Size: 120 beach chairs

What’s included: Lockers, showers, WiFi,

What’s not: Kayaks ($10), snorkeling tour ($15), bikes ($10), stand-up paddleboarding ($10), wave runners ($50/30 minutes), Flyboard ($100/30 minutes), fishing ($50/excursion).

 

Ola Beach Club/Quinto Sole

Where: This boutique hotel, part of the Koox hotel group owned by partners from Barcelona, is expanding into the beach break business. The loungers are more upscale than you find elsewhere on the beach - think Miami-style beds, some with shade.

Cost: $35

What’s included: 2 hour open bar, Mexican lunch, Wi-Fi

What’s not: Massages

 

Tequila Beach Club

Where: With all the equipment it has available (for extra fees), this large beach bar and activity operator on the Malecon strip might be a good choice for groups who want to try different water sports. Owner points out that anyone is allowed to walk on the beach under Mexican law, but vendors are not supposed to disturb guests at their tables (the club has an area for handicrafts).

Cost: $26/non-alcoholic drinks; $39/open bar

Size: 250

What’s included: Unlimited drinks (depending on your purchased package), one dish of chips and salsa, kayaks, Wi-Fi

What’s not: Full restaurant, massage ($30/60 minutes), pool table ($5/1 hour), towels ($2), snorkeling equipment and tours ($32/90 minutes), SCUBA (ranges from $78-$120), wave runners ($65/30 minutes; $95/60 minutes), golf cart rental ($80/day), fly fishing ($80), stand-up paddleboarding ($55/1 hour), transportation ($3).

 

Tropicante

Where: In the middle of the Malecon, Tropicante is a restaurant owned by American Steve Uhl that also offers beach chairs and services to its customers. Cruise passengers can reserve shade chairs or sun loungers with umbrellas in advance. He says that he’s promoting an atmosphere somewhere “between Senor Frog’s and Chuck E. Cheese.”

Cost: No cost for the chairs, or minimums. Menu items range from chips and salsa ($3) to a shrimp dinner ($14). Local beers are $3.

Size: 40 loungers, with more seating in the restaurant

What’s included: Wi-Fi, concierge services (the team will bring hair braiders or temporary tattoo artists to your chair, for example, although those services themselves will cost extra).

What’s not: Massages ($20/30 minutes, $30/60 minutes), snorkeling ($25/70 minutes), banana boat ($15/30 minutes), fishing ($50-$75/hr, depending on type), stand-up paddle boarding ($20/30 minutes, $30/60 minutes), discovery SCUBA ($85).

Edited by Cruise Critic Chris

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Thanks so much for taking the time to give us this breakdown. This is awesome.

 

I did want to add that Almaplena also have free wi-fi as well. :)

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This is one of my fav ports! Which one of these is closest to port since we will only be there from 7am to 2pm :( Dont wanna waste a lot of time driving/riding!

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This is one of my fav ports! Which one of these is closest to port since we will only be there from 7am to 2pm :( Dont wanna waste a lot of time driving/riding!

 

The clubs that are in Mahahual, on the Malecon, are the closest.

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Thanks Chris for the helpful information on the beach clubs!

 

We're taking our first cruise in a few years (doing more land vacations nowadays) and before researching CM we were excited to have a new W Carib destination to check out (new to us anyway). But it looks like other than snorkeling beaching is the main attraction, at least on a short day in port. So it's just a matter of whether the taxi time and cost to Almaplena or Maya Chan is worth it or we just head for Nohoch Kay.

 

Question - for someone looking for nice water to stare at and swim in, and a nice vibe but not a party club vibe, does NK work? I've read threads dating back a few years and everyone has a different opinion for sure! :p

 

I'm sure we'll be looking for an easy day at CM and thanks again for the comparisons.. :)

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thank you for the review. Having never been there and we just booked a cruise for May that stops there, it really is helpful.

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Thanks for the comparison. That helps.

 

We spent the day at Maya Chan last March and loved it. I cannot think how they could have improved the experience. The drinks were full bodied and plentiful, the food excellent and hosts quite friendly and accommodating. We were able to increase our group size less than a week before the visit without a problem. They put us in a lovely area with comfy chairs and much shade.

 

We had never been to an all-inclusive before. Earlier in the cruise we did Nachi Cocom in Cozumel. It was a good experience but was eclipsed by Maya Chan. We will definitely go again when stopping in Costa Maya.

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Tropicante

Where: In the middle of the Malecon, Tropicante is a restaurant owned by American Steve Uhl that also offers beach chairs and services to its customers. Cruise passengers can reserve shade chairs or sun loungers with umbrellas in advance. He says that he’s promoting an atmosphere somewhere “between Senor Frog’s and Chuck E. Cheese.”

Cost: No cost for the chairs, or minimums. Menu items range from chips and salsa ($3) to a shrimp dinner ($14). Local beers are $3.

Size: 40 loungers, with more seating in the restaurant

What’s included: Wi-Fi, concierge services (the team will bring hair braiders or temporary tattoo artists to your chair, for example, although those services themselves will cost extra).

What’s not: Massages ($20/30 minutes, $30/60 minutes), snorkeling ($25/70 minutes), banana boat ($15/30 minutes), fishing ($50-$75/hr, depending on type), stand-up paddle boarding ($20/30 minutes, $30/60 minutes), discovery SCUBA ($85).

 

I hate beaches where the swimmable ocean is covered in seaweed & places that try to cheat you, so I'm definitely hitting the Tropicante on our trip. SO EXCITED thanks to you!

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Tropicante

 

 

I hate beaches where the swimmable ocean is covered in seaweed & places that try to cheat you, so I'm definitely hitting the Tropicante on our trip. SO EXCITED thanks to you!

 

Since this is your first post, I'm unsure if you are just new, this is spam, or you are truly interested in this place, but I will respond...

 

Where do you get that there isn't any seaweed (seagrass) there? We went to the malecon several months ago, which is where this is located at, and there were seagrass everywhere. You could walk WAY out in the water and still be standing in ankle deep water on top of seagrass. They had canoes where we were at and they couldn't even be used because the water wasn't deep enough and there were mounds of sand everywhere in the water. (I have to admit, it was amusing watching people try though).

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Tropicante

Where: In the middle of the Malecon, Tropicante is a restaurant owned by American Steve Uhl that also offers beach chairs and services to its customers. Cruise passengers can reserve shade chairs or sun loungers with umbrellas in advance. He says that he’s promoting an atmosphere somewhere “between Senor Frog’s and Chuck E. Cheese.”

Cost: No cost for the chairs, or minimums. Menu items range from chips and salsa ($3) to a shrimp dinner ($14). Local beers are $3.

Size: 40 loungers, with more seating in the restaurant

What’s included: Wi-Fi, concierge services (the team will bring hair braiders or temporary tattoo artists to your chair, for example, although those services themselves will cost extra).

What’s not: Massages ($20/30 minutes, $30/60 minutes), snorkeling ($25/70 minutes), banana boat ($15/30 minutes), fishing ($50-$75/hr, depending on type), stand-up paddle boarding ($20/30 minutes, $30/60 minutes), discovery SCUBA ($85).

 

I hate beaches where the swimmable ocean is covered in seaweed & places that try to cheat you, so I'm definitely hitting the Tropicante on our trip. SO EXCITED thanks to you!

 

We're sailing a couple weeks after you, look forward to your quick report when you get home, hopefully you'll be able to enjoy your time at Steve's place, be sure to save us some rum!:p

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Since this is your first post, I'm unsure if you are just new, this is spam, or you are truly interested in this place, but I will respond...

 

Where do you get that there isn't any seaweed (seagrass) there? We went to the malecon several months ago, which is where this is located at, and there were seagrass everywhere. You could walk WAY out in the water and still be standing in ankle deep water on top of seagrass. They had canoes where we were at and they couldn't even be used because the water wasn't deep enough and there were mounds of sand everywhere in the water. (I have to admit, it was amusing watching people try though).

 

Yeah I'm just new on the forum. There are lots of pictures on the Tropicante website in front of their beach bar that the shallow is light blue instead of that dark blue spotty kind of water you see where there's lots of seaweed or rocks under the water. One of the other cruises I went on to costa maya we booked a shore excursion site unseen and there was lots of seaweed under the water there and in person and on camera you could clearly see a difference in the water from that vs water like on seven mile in GC or the pics on the restaurant site that is light.

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Yeah I'm just new on the forum. There are lots of pictures on the Tropicante website in front of their beach bar that the shallow is light blue instead of that dark blue spotty kind of water you see where there's lots of seaweed or rocks under the water. One of the other cruises I went on to costa maya we booked a shore excursion site unseen and there was lots of seaweed under the water there and in person and on camera you could clearly see a difference in the water from that vs water like on seven mile in GC or the pics on the restaurant site that is light.

 

This is a picture I took from the web that's right in front of Tropicante:

 

view-from-chair.jpg

 

This was a picture from Nohoch right down from it (same beach of course) that I took the day we were there. As you can see, my hubby is WAY out there and it's still not deep and he's standing on the seagrass.

 

P5160123-L.jpg

 

 

This is what's was under the water:

 

P5160113-L.jpg

 

 

P5160064-L.jpg

 

This is the darker areas:

 

P5160052-L.jpg

 

 

It kinda went in humps all over. You would be able to stand on those areas and then it would drop off in a little "pool" like area here and there. But you could walk out for quite a distance.

 

Just beware, some of the drops offs have surprises waiting in that area hiding.

 

P5160060-L.jpg

 

 

I'm not in ANY way trying to tell you not to go here. I just want you to know what's there and what the water is like. If you're expecting crystal blue clear water, like you usually do in the Caribbean, it's just not really the same and there is a lot of seagrass.

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We haven't been to the Costa Maya area of Mexico yet, but from everything I've read the beaches are nice but not like the Mayan Riviera or even Cancun areas. But those areas are definitely more touristy and $$$ areas, and the beaches are periodically reclaimed after storms, etc. The CM beaches look more natural and although there is seagrass along that shore we're still looking forward to the vibe at Steve's place at our last port. If it doesn't downpour we're happy :)

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Looking at Google Earth, it does look like there's less of the sea grass in the area of Tropicante and a lot more "blue". I'm hoping for the best for you Blue. Please come back with lots of pictures and let me know your thoughts (especially since you know what I like-Sapphire :D).

 

tropicante-L.jpg

Edited by mitsugirly

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I'm not in ANY way trying to tell you not to go here. I just want you to know what's there and what the water is like. If you're expecting crystal blue clear water, like you usually do in the Caribbean, it's just not really the same and there is a lot of seagrass.

 

 

Well I'm def disappointed but I sure appreciate you taking the time to post these and explain. Your pics of the Seagrass is how it was on my other costa maya stop. I think the beach was north of the port. These website pics looked so much better than the other place I went so I guess it's the lesser evil but still. I may have to rethink that stop but it does sound like a nice place to hang out. Decisions decisions.

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Well I'm def disappointed but I sure appreciate you taking the time to post these and explain. Your pics of the Seagrass is how it was on my other costa maya stop. I think the beach was north of the port. These website pics looked so much better than the other place I went so I guess it's the lesser evil but still. I may have to rethink that stop but it does sound like a nice place to hang out. Decisions decisions.

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Please, please, please, don't let me or anyone else distract you from booking whatever you want. You may go there and find that you love the place (as many do). Some just like hanging out by the ocean and being served food and relaxing. That makes a wonderful cruise port for them. I'm the total opposite. I love being active and if there's things to do I'm all for it or if I have to relax, I want it to look like paradise. :D If there's snorkeling, even better for me.

 

I just don't want you getting too excited about thinking it's one way and then it's really not what you expected. That's what happened to us when we went there.

 

Maya Chan is another place that comes highly recommended on here. It's an awesome place to go and hang out. They pamper you to no end and there's plenty to do there. However, it's a little ways down from these places and...once again, the water is sea grass and almost murky looking brown. That's the ONLY thing we didn't like about it.

 

We went to Almaplena, even further down and it was HEAVEN. It's the beautiful water you think about when you are in the Caribbean. Simply perfect.

 

PC170052-L.jpg

 

It is a 20 minute drive one way instead of the 5 minute drive to the Malecon. People who cruise with Carnival usually won't consider this place since they don't have as much time in Costa Maya as others.

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And of course the water clarity and color is ever-changing due to sea conditions, and water color is much more vivid on a bright sunny day. So even visiting the same exact location on 2 different cruises can show a big difference.

As Mitsugirly said there are potentially "nicer" spots for those willing to ride further.

We struggled with this port and almost went that way mainly because there are another 10,000 cruisers in this small port with us. But because we'll only actually be on the beach for maybe 3 hours Tropicante became the clear choice for us as 2 couples. And being our last port and so short a visit I think we'll enjoy the vibe there based on reviews. We'll have enjoyed at least 3 beaches prior to this stop, and just relaxing with drink service and a fun vibe here sounds perfect. We'll just have to start drinking a little early!:D

No worries! ;)

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Thanks a lot everyone for these reviews. We've done many cruises, and we finally are taking one that includes Costa Maya, it'll be our first time there. The Tropicante totally looks and sounds like our kind of place! Can't wait!

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I didn't see Maya Luna Hotel and Resort. It is a bit further away but a wonderful alternative to someone looking for a quiet, peaceful resort. We have been there three times and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Great food and drinks. She doesn't charge to visit the resort but asks you to pay $20 up front. Your food and drinks are deducted for the $20. If you have any left, they do keep it. If spend more, you pay the difference (though they do only accept cash). They have very comfy chairs, hammocks, bathroom facilities, great food and a full bar. Hope you add it to your list.

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Thanks a lot everyone for these reviews. We've done many cruises, and we finally are taking one that includes Costa Maya, it'll be our first time there. The Tropicante totally looks and sounds like our kind of place! Can't wait!

 

How does one reserve a spot at ropicante and get there from port?

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The beaches in Mahalual look great in the pics but a lot of people are talking about the seagrass. Will it turn young children off? is there any beaches in the area that dont have seasgrass?

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Hi All, first time poster here, we're leaving on the Disney Fantasy on Sat. It'll be my wife & I, along with our 3 girls, ages 9, 7, 5, I had originally signed up for the Jungle Beach, but after doing some research decided against it. We're in Costa Maya Tue from 1pm-5:45pm. We love the crystal blue waters to snorkel with the kids. Which resort would you recommend? From the posts... Almaplena? Nohoch Kay? Maya Chan? Tropicante?

 

Thanks...

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How does one reserve a spot at ropicante and get there from port?

 

Anyone who went to Tropicante can you answer the above?

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No experience but from what i've read you just have to e-mail Steve at the Tropicante and tell him when you are coming and he will have them reserved for you. I don't have the email.

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