Another low season has come and gone, and finally, another fun-filled Costa Maya high season is upon us again! Finally, I say, because low season is the time of year when our little “paradise” ain’t so much like paradise really. Our ship traffic drops by 75%, which means our income does so as well, and for those of us here who work for a living, it means we have 75% less fun for 5 months! If that is not bad enough, it’s rainy season, which means the mosquitos take over the entire area. Well, at least until a hurricane blows through to run them, and everything else, away. Oh yea, hurricane season is the same as rainy season. How’s that for paradise! So if you want to know why the ship volume drops 75% for 5 months of the year, it because they are the smart ones. They leave and go to Alaska!
All in all though, this was a good low season for us. Our ship load was again higher than the previous year, and we managed to get by with no hurricanes. (The season is not quite over, so I hope I did not speak too soon!) The damage to the eastern Caribbean islands in late season added many diverted ships to us for late summer, giving the area a much-needed economic boost during the “no season”, or the last months of low season, when the cruise lines are re-positioning and remodeling, and the time of year our ship volume is usually at its lowest.
But high season is almost here, and with it this year, comes lots more cruise ships, full hotels, and a small uptick in the number of returning snow birds, down to hang out at their beach homes for the winter. Our cruise ship schedule will be the highest we’ve had since Hurricane Dean took us out in 07, forcing us to go back to the starting line almost 2 years later. This year, we have most months receiving between 50 and 60 ships per month, with March already having 68 ships scheduled.
This schedule was set before the Eastern Caribbean’s closures too, so our existing number might grow slightly as ships determine what eastern ports will be open and how fast those fill. Most are doing Western Caribbean runs now, and will be for a couple more months no matter, so our November and December will certainly be higher than scheduled, and a few will be forced to keep their western routes into next high season.
So why more ships? One reason is the cruise lines are hearing their guests say how much they enjoy our little town. That is nice for us to hear of course, but even more important, cruise lines are beginning to make money in Costa Maya. The port’s management changed a few years ago, with a large company that manages amusement and water parks in other parts of Mexico, taking over the operation and management 0f the port. Since the port opened in 01, it had been managed by the owners, a commercial development company from Cancun. The new management made both physical changes, as well as contractual changes with the cruise lines, creating more favorable arrangements for the lines, and encouraging more to contract with our port.
The largest physical change was the new water park, but they have also remodeled the port’s commercial areas, as well as upgraded the shuttle service into town. At the end of the equation, ships can now make more money in Costa Maya and they are contracting more than ever to come here because of it.
Hotel traffic looks to be at the highest levels ever. Why? More than anything is just the number of new places. New hotels and condos have opened up the last couple years and all are building clientele that “can’t wait to come back”. The cumulative process of building return clients has kicked in and our small little boutique hotels, are filling fast this year.
The same for ADO’s 3 buses a day service they began last year. People are getting familiar with how to bus to us and those buses are now always full. So much so, I now tell people to try to buy their tickets as early as possible, so they do not fill up on them. I’ve found Mahahual buses filled several times this summer, causing me to take the Mayab service to Limones and taxi the last leg into Mahahaul.
Our real estate market has slowly been picking up the last couple years, mainly people buying in the pueblo area of Nuevo Mahahual, or the “Casitas”, as it is referred to locally. This developed area of streets and utilities, just a couple easy blocks from the ocean, and its inventory of little houses under $100,000 USD, has attracted quite a few new part-time residents to town. Many winter here to get away from the cold up north, and others at least pop in and out all winter. The result is a much higher volume of people in town.
So yes, we are alive and well here in the Costa Maya/Mahahual and just about ready for a record breaking year for tourism in the area. If you are planning a stay in Costa Maya/Mahahual this high season, you might want to get your spot set early, because the word is out. The Costa Maya, its beautiful beaches, glorious jungles and its little “Mayberry” town of Mahahual, are a great place to vacation. Come on a cruise ship for the day, or a bus for a week, come on a burro if you have to, but do come. We’re worth the trip!!