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- Karen Brown's Recommendation:
For years the Costa Maya, a pristine stretch of beach and jungle, was little known except for ardent divers and snorkelers seeking the cheapest possible accommodations. Basic hotels are still the norm; but, happily, a few new places are popping up for those who want to enjoy this unspoiled natural paradise now in total comfort. One of the best is the Balamku, built by Carol Tumber and Alan Knight, who moved to Mexico from Canada, discovered the Costa Maya, and built a small hotel. Reception is in the main house where guests enjoy breakfast, relax, or browse through the rich collection of books about the area. The tastefully furnished guestrooms featuring Mayan art are right on the white sand beach in clusters of whimsical, white, round cottages, each topped with a thatched roof. The architecture is appealing and ecologically designed for minimal impact on the environment. In most of Costa Maya there is no electricity. However, there is an abundance of power here due to a large solar system and the clever use of a quiet windmill. In front of the hotel is a shallow beach where sea grass, an important part of the ecosystem of the reef, is cleaned each day. Just offshore is the second largest coral reef in the world. Free kayaks are available for guests to paddle out to explore this wonderland. Breakfast is the only meal served, but this is no problem as Mahahual, with its restaurants and shops, is closeby.