Enjoying a bird’s-eye view in Costa Maya’s Aviarius
The little boy ahead of me at the Aviarius wasn’t too sure about this. Hold out his hand with bird seed and let a bird alight to eat it from his hand?
“What if it bites me?” 5-year-old Aaron of Florida asked his mother. After watching other people do it, Aaron bravely stuck out his hand and was immediately visited by a small bird.
By the time our Aviarus trek had ended, Aaron was ready to keep going. I handed him my cup of seed so he could enjoy some extra bird time while I took photos.
On my cruise aboard the Celebrity Equinox, I was looking forward to visiting Costa Maya, Mexico. Shore excursion choices were abundant – scuba diving, Mayan ruins, fly fishing, catamaran sailing, river tubing, paddle boarding, dolphin swim, off-road jeep ride, river rafting and many more.
But I didn’t want to spend my short time in Costa Maya on an expensive all-day shore excursion. Instead, I chose to walk from the ship dock into the cruise port. A very easy stroll. Once a sleepy fishing village, the region was transformed in 2002 into a popular cruise destination.
“It was the first manufactured cruise port in the Caribbean,” said tour guide Perla. “Then Hurricane Dean hit in 2007 and devastated the area. It took a year to rebuild and we’ve been growing ever since.”
Unlike some cruise ports, Costa Maya is still laid-back and friendly. Sales people don’t hassle visitors, nor do they stand outside their shops and follow visitors trying to sell something as they do in Cozumel and other hustling tourist sites.
Aboard the ship, I purchased a Port Pass for about $40. It entitled me to an overall tour by Perla plus tours of the Aviarius, a chocolate museum (with samples), a tequila museum (with samples), and a lounge in a reserved section of the Costa Maya’s lovely swimming pool. The Port Pass also included three complimentary drinks at the island’s pool bar – cocktails, beer, wine or soft drinks. Quite a deal.
After Perla walked us around the port and pointed out the various attractions, we were on our own. We could visit the three included attractions whenever we wanted or we could just sit in the comfortable recliner lounge by the pool and enjoy three cold drinks.
I did the Aviarius first because it was right overhead. That’s right. The aviary is made up of a series of hanging bridges. First, we climbed steps to gain entrance to the Aviarus where we were handed a free plastic cup filled with bird seeds. Then we were given quick instructions about the birds inside and which birds liked which seeds.
Signs identified the birds in the different habitats – parrots, parakeets, lorikeets, cockatiels, cardinals, macaws and bunches of others. Some beautiful flamingos greeted us in a watery area before we climbed the stairs for our airy tour.
Almost as much fun as seeing and feeding the birds was enjoying the panoramic views of the port and the sea from the hanging bridges. The birds seemed well tended and happy in their homes. They also seemed to know quite well what people with plastic cups meant but the little critters were not aggressive at all about wanting seeds.
By the end, I agreed with Aaron. It was a fun visit and I would certainly do it again the next time I cruise to Costa Maya.
Story and photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch