The reserve is part of the world’s second-largest barrier reef and is considered something of a submerged cemetery, since the seabed is home to more than 60 sunken ships, including Spanish and English galleons dating back to the 16th and 17th century.
The shallow water is prime for swimming, and the reef offers wonderful snorkeling thanks to colorful coral walls and marine life like rays, turtles, eels, nurse sharks, and angelfish. From the surface, snorkelers can even spot some of the more shallow sunken wooden ships. Explore the calm turquoise water by kayak, or bike from the pier to the old lighthouse, which is a photo favorite at sunrise. If you’re looking for action, make your way to the waterfront promenade, or malecón, where you’ll find the majority of the beach clubs, restaurants, and coffee shops in Mahahual.
Families can head for a day of adventure at Mayá, Lost Mayan Kingdom, a theme water park inspired by 1940s expeditions that features water slides with drops up to 78 feet; 12 zip lines through the jungle; a zip coaster; and a kids’ play area with mini pools and slides.
There are plenty of restaurants in Mahahual to choose from, many of which are by the beach and al fresco, allowing visitors to enjoy the fantastic views of the sea. Given the town’s waterfront location, seafood is the star, but visitors will also find plenty of great Mexican fare, as well as beach clubs and tequila bars. Keep in mind that Mahahual is slower in the summer months, so while there are fewer tourists, restaurants, and shops may be closed. When you’re ready to rest your head, choose from a variety of hotels in Mahahual, from charming little eco-lodges along the boardwalk to budget-friendly hotels with balconies looking out to the Caribbean Sea.