This is one of my favorites places on earth. The weather is hot, humid, and beautiful. I have visited six or seven times, about once per year. I try to book my cruise with Cozumel as one of the ports.
The reason for this devotion is a tour called the "4x4" Tropical Safari. This is geared towards all you NASCAR fans, stressed out employees, people who find yoga takes too long to relax, or anyone who likes to live life on the somewhat wild side.
Once you meet your guides on the dock, they lead you to a caravan of approximately 15 jeeps. The tour then breaks up into groups of four to a jeep. My first suggestion is that you pick someone who can drive a stick, as most of the vehicles are manual transmission. If you can’t drive a stick (like myself) I always make a special request to one of the guides that you need a Jeep with automatic transmission. There are usually one or two, but be quick, because they go fast.
Here is where your guides then take you on a drive through the various neighborhoods to get to the east side of the island. The further east you go, the more remote it gets. You start to think to yourself, "Is this as good as it gets?" All I have to say is patience, grasshopper, patience. Great things come to those who wait.
After about 30-40 minutes of driving, you will be directed to your first pit stop at the "PeePee Station". I kid you not. As I said before, I have been on this tour many times, and I have seen it grow from a little shack to the grandiose building it is today. (See photos.) Here is where you stop for souvenir shopping, changing into swimsuits, and you guessed it--a peepee stop. Here is where my second recommendation comes in. Instead of waiting to change into your suits at the PeePee station, put them on before you leave the cruise ship. Again it is hot and extremely humid. My first time, it took me the entire time we were here to put on my bathing suit. It was like sliding leather pants onto legs of glue. Not fun!!
You stay maybe 10-15 minutes then get back into the Jeep and follow your guide all the way to the other side of the island. The road ends, and you will make a left-hand turn onto the ride of your life. Make sure your seatbelt is fastened and you are not chewing gum, you just may choke. Here is where you will drive through sand traps, over rocks bigger than watermelons, and get whipped by the vegetation. If you are pregnant or have back trouble, this is not the tour for you. Let me just say that I have seen more than my share of flat tires and bent rims.
I don’t know if it’s the hot Mexican sun or just knowing that if you break the jeep, you are not responsible for it getting fixed, but the Evil Knievel in us all comes out at this point. You will drive for about another 30 minutes on this, and I use this term loosely, "rocky path" where you end up at an area covered with lava rock with the waves beating at the shore. Here you will stop to view some Mayan ruins called "LaPalma". It is the remains of a fertility temple. There will be the customary history lesson, and then you are back into the jeeps for your return trip. Before you reach the main road, you will be guided off the path for a stop at the wonderful Xpalbarco Beach, where the tour guides have set up beach umbrellas and a light Mexican lunch and fruit buffet. The food is good--nothing to write home about, but by the time you get there, you will be famished. You will have about an hour to spend on the beach; eating, resting, swimming in the ocean, or playing volleyball. Then it is back to the Jeeps for more 4x4 fun and the trip back to your original starting point.
My final words of advice are to bring lots of sunscreen and a hat. Wear flip-flops or sandals as they are the easiest shoes to wear on this trip, and bring a drivers license if you want to drive. Have fun and let yourself go; remember, it’s not your car!