Written by kiminhalifax on 23 Dec, 2007
Saturday, February 24thTime to pack up and hit the road. Steph grabs a cab out to the dive shop to pick up the video of yesterday’s dives while I load all the luggage into a cab and go to the ferry terminal. The…Read More
Saturday, February 24thTime to pack up and hit the road. Steph grabs a cab out to the dive shop to pick up the video of yesterday’s dives while I load all the luggage into a cab and go to the ferry terminal. The taxi driver hails a porter who loads all the luggage onto his cart and takes it to the luggage check for the ferry. This is much smoother than our trip to Cozumel– figures that we are just beginning to understand the system when it’s time to leave!!!We travel into Cancun for Saturday afternoon and evening and decide to hit the beach again. The public beaches are not very nice compared to those at the resorts as they are not raked or cleaned on a regular basis and are covered with seaweed and screaming children. After 20 minutes a child has landed on top of me. Luckily (?) I feel my skin burning already and decide to make a run for it. Back to the hotel to shower and web-check-in for tomorrow’s flight. Ooops…. Cancun is not one of the “selected international cities” which can use web-check-in.Off to a local market for some last minute shopping. Stephanie and I both agree that we spent very little money for the first 5 days of the trip and now feel it flowing away from us quite quickly. Souvenirs of the trip for ourselves, friends, and family are ringing up – but still at much lower prices that what we expected.We had decided to have supper at a restaurant recommended to us by someone from the hotel. However, the menu doesn’t look too great, so we wander into a little place just down the road for $3 margaritas, shrimp tacos, chiles rellenos, and fish fingers – YUM!!! I also had a salad with an excellent citrus dressing on it – all for the incredible price of $8!!!Sunday, February 25thThe time has come to head to the airport – luckily we’re flying Executive class so we don’t have to wait in the HUGE lineup to check in. We are able to spend our time in the Executive lounge for Star Alliance airlines and wander through Duty Free for that last minute tequila to take home.The flight is uneventful – 20 minutes early in fact!! The weather in Halifax is -1°C – desperately chilly to our tropically-acclimated bodies, but still much warmer than what we left only one week earlier. After we pick up luggage and make our way through customs, I go to pick up the Jeep, which has a dead battery!! I flag down a Fly Jazz employee who is willing to be a few minutes late for work in order to give me a boost.I dropped Stephanie off at her house and continued on to Moncton, arriving at 8:45pm. Close
Wednesday, February 21st Today we are to dive in the morning, and finally have the afternoon free to explore the island. When we arrive at the dive shop, they inform us that we are going to dive on the mainland (Playa del Carmen) today.…Read More
Wednesday, February 21st Today we are to dive in the morning, and finally have the afternoon free to explore the island. When we arrive at the dive shop, they inform us that we are going to dive on the mainland (Playa del Carmen) today. I inform them that I wish to dive Cozumel and Playa is not an option. They reshuffle everything and put us on a boat with 3 absolute newbie divers and a diver that was certified 25 years ago. They are all over 60 years of age.Despite this setback, we do get to dive one of the “must do” locations – Santa Rosa Wall, which is a let-down in my eyes. Hurricanes must have ripped through there as there is a lot of damage and dead coral. The 2nd dive is La Francesca Reef, which is shallow but has lots to see, including grouper and a southern sting ray. Yippee!!!Steph and I decide we will rent a car for a couple of days and head out to a local business to do so. We ride away in a VW bug convertible, which is very cute but does not drive too smoothly. Stephanie is driving as the car is a standard transmission so I get to see the sites.We circle the island, first heading south and then coming back into the main town of St. Miguel. We have a free lunch at Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club, so we take advantage of that as well as the free horseback riding at the same place. Stephanie is on Yuri and I am given Sandoonie to ride. We ride for about 30 minutes – not long enough to hurt, but long enough that we were ready to get off the horses. On our ride, our guide points out a papaya tree and agave – the plant tequila is made from.We continue our drive around the coast of Cozumel and see signs for a Turtle Egg Laying beach (not in season). A little further along the coast is a great stretch of beach that was obviously coral reef at one point. There are pieces of almost-fossilized brain coral laying on the ground, as the surf beats against the shore.We finish off the drive finding where the ruins are so that we can head there tomorrow.Thursday, February 22nd Diving in the morning again and this time it’s the dive of the entire trip – Punta Sur!!! A challenging dive as it is deep and the currents can sometimes be very strong. We lucked out and there was very little current at this location. The coral formations were beautiful and we ran into a sea turtle who was under the impression that a photo shoot was going on – good thing, because there were 3 photographers on the dive!!!The second dive of the day took us back to Paradise Reef for the THIRD time!! Good god, enough is enough!!! Two seahorses were seen this time (the main reason for diving this reef) as well as grouper, a moray eel and a school of Horse-Eyed Jacks.After diving was over, we got in the VW convertible and headed off to the ruins. After the gate attendant explained that it was a $10 entry fee, a 15 minute drive to the parking lot and then a 1 hour hike into the ruins, I wimped out. It was 30°C, very humid, and I just wasn’t going to be walking 2 hours in the burning sun. So then we sidetracked to the Tequila Museum – good choice!!!For the same $10 we each got 2 margaritas and a sample of each type of tequila the company made, as well as a talk on the history of tequila, how it is made and what actually makes tequila “legal” as not all tequila-type drinks are legally tequila!!After that tasty trip, we spent a couple of hours at Playa Morenas, a beach on the eastern shore – where there is a lot of surf. There were people with boogie boards trying to surf the waves with not much success, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves anyway.Friday, February 23rdOne last day of diving – and this time it’s with others who are also leaving tomorrow. The divemaster is playing videographeras well and we do two great dives on Colombia Deep and Colombia Shallow. We realize at the end of these dives that we have been blessed with seeing at least one turtle each day, 2 nurse sharks, 3 sea horses, and general excellent reefs.Steph decides to head to the beach for a little while after diving, and I take a taxi back to the hotel to clean up, catch up on email, and do some shopping. Steph and I meet in time for supper and head to a well-mentioned seafood restaurant outside of the downtown area. We order the seafood platter for two. The food is OK, but I find that one of the two shrimp items is a bit rubbery and I’m not crazy about the tomato sauces on 2 of the 3 fish filet options. But the pina colada was AWESOME!!! Close
Sunday, February 18thI don’t have to get up until 4am, but I wake at 3am – GREAT, even less sleep!!!Off to the airport. The -10C temps feel almost balmy compared to the -30C we’ve been experiencing all week.Land in Cancun just before 10am local time…Read More
Sunday, February 18thI don’t have to get up until 4am, but I wake at 3am – GREAT, even less sleep!!!Off to the airport. The -10C temps feel almost balmy compared to the -30C we’ve been experiencing all week.Land in Cancun just before 10am local time – there are 2 hours difference between Moncton and eastern Mexico, not the 1 hour I had thought. We make our way to the bus/shuttle counter and Stephanie decides we should take the bus to save $10 in transportation costs. The bus won’t be leaving for another hour and the shuttle leaves in 15 minutes, but hey, it’s a whole $10!!So we walk across the airport property to the bus depot and wait. The bus also drives at 50km, not the 100km limit, so it is a one hour trip to Playa del Carmen. We arrive with little time to spare to catch the 1pm ferry to Cozumel. In taking the bus (and saving a whopping $10) I have spent $9 for locals to carry pieces of my luggage, whereas the shuttle would have picked us up at the airport door and dropped us at the Cozumel ferry – GREAT!!!! Needless to say, I will not be willingly choosing the bus for transportation on the return into Cancun.On the ferry, I meet two women from Los Angeles. It is their first time out of the US and they are quite inexperienced travelers in general. They don’t realize that they are heading into Cozumel during Carnaval, the busiest tourist season for the island. They don’t have hotel reservations and they don’t have diving booked. We see them later in the day standing at the side of the road, looking puzzled, with their luggage in tow. Another man with a cart attached to a bike transports out dive gear and luggage to the hotel, a few short blocks from the ferry terminal in Cozumel. He even brings it upstairs in the hotel, which has no elevator. When we arrive at the hotel, our room is not ready, so we dump our luggage into the housekeeping suite and we’re off to the dive shop to confirm dive times for the week.The weather has been bad on Cozumel since Friday, so the dive shop is booked up with divers who have to get their dives in before leaving the island, so we are delegated to afternoon dives for most of the week. The weather is windy and cold (sweatshirt weather) and very overcast. We hope that it clears up quickly.Sunday evening we watch the Carnaval parade from our hotel balcony. We have a great view of the parade, cruise ships, and seafront in general – an A+ view!!! The hotel is fine – not a 5-star location, but for the price we paid, we’re quite happy with the accommodations.We decide to have supper at a restaurant listed in the guide book that I had picked up – Los Tres Gattos (The 3 Cats) which advertises that you can fill your tummy for under $3US. 75pesos later, we are full and have had our first authentic Mexican dinner, complete with Sandwich Especiale!!!Monday, February 19th We decide to take in the local shopping and visit a market so that we can stock the fridge in our room. Fresh fruit and fish are aplenty, as are extremely fresh chickens – we watch the butcher make the kill!!! We head back to the hotel with pineapple, mango, papaya and a few other tasty treats.Diving is at noon, so we take a cab to the pier. We are on a boat with a friendly couple from Illinois, Tom from Toronto and a guy from San Francisco, who doesn’t speak to anyone. Two dives later we are all happy with the day having seen a seahorse, a turtle and a splendid toadfish.Back to the hotel for showers and a view of the Carnaval parade once again. However, exhaustion takes over and we decide to “take a quick nap” before heading out for dinner. At 11pm, I wake and change into pyjamas before calling it a night. Oooops!!!Tuesday, February 20th Breakfast on Fat Tuesday – we walk to another restaurant listed in the guidebook to learn that it is closed mornings this week, so we choose another one and walk there. Thankfully it is open and has a free table.I choose something that translates to “divorced eggs” that consists of 2 fried eggs and ham, each with its own sauce on it, with beans on the side. Tasty, and a bit spicy as well. The fresh-squeezed orange juice is just as tasty.In the restaurant, I am able to pick up a wireless internet signal and start uploading photos and checking email – the hotel website clearly states that there is internet access in the hotel, yet mysteriously no one knows anything about it at the hotel. Later in the day, I go to an internet café that has laptop stations and finish the job.Diving is at noon again today. The same couple from Illinois and the same silent guy from San Francisco. Add 2 cruise ship employees – a girl from Scotland and a guy from Romania – and another American from Missouri. The dives are great again, although the currents are extremely strong in points – we are unable to stop or swim against them if necessary. Another turtle is seen, a porcupine fish calmly swims by, and a school of ocean triggerfish say hello. It’s a great place to dive. We visit the spot that I dove 7 years ago when I first visited Cozumel and I see what damage the hurricanes have done – the color that was once there is muted – covered in white sand and dead coral to turn a lot of the vista to grey.A quick trip to Ernesto’s Fajita Factory for supper after the first 2 dives of the day and then we’re back in the water for a night dive with 2 couples from British Columbia. It’s nice to dive with others who usually don drysuitsfor local dives as all other divers we have encountered are the “only warm water” variety. The night dive is back to a spot visited yesterday, but now we get to see the night critters come out. Too many crabs to count, a few lobster and an octopus were seen by me, and there were reports of a second lobster and a splendid toadfish (damn!!!) seen by others.Back to the hotel to once again view the Carnaval parade – this is Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) so the parade is the largest yet and actually laps itself as it winds down one side of the main thoroughfare and back in the other direction. The music is very loud and the participants are very drunk, but tomorrow is the start of Lent, so they need to get it all out today. Close
Written by Tim Thornton on 01 Feb, 2007
For anyone who was ever looking for a quick and inexpensive scuba diving trip from Texas has been to Cozumel. And anyone who has ever been to Cozumel once, has been back time and time again. Better than drugs, it is addictive. The people are…Read More
For anyone who was ever looking for a quick and inexpensive scuba diving trip from Texas has been to Cozumel. And anyone who has ever been to Cozumel once, has been back time and time again. Better than drugs, it is addictive. The people are wonderful. The dive locations are diverse, and the dive operators can accommodate everyone from the first time diver to the most advanced divers. I don’t know of any scuba diver who has ever been disappointed by spending 3-4 days in Cozumel, Mexico (and few who don’t dive have been disappointed either). But Cozumel is not just about scuba diving. There are many wonderful things to see, taste, small and experience in this wonderful little jewel off of the coast of Cancun.
Scuba. Yes, the French man himself, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, put this island on the map in the 1960s. Since the time of his first expose’ of this barrier reef the scuba divers, tourists, and now the cruise ships all have found a dock in this Mexican oasis. I have scuba dived in Australia, Hawaii, Jamaica, Belize, Gulf of Mexico, Grand Cayman Islands, and Bali, and my favorite place in the world to scuba is still Cozumel. The reefs are protected and have a great deal to offer to the drift diver. You can dive the honey-combs, and you can get your fill of night diving here as well. There are sheer underwater cliffs that sink deep into the deep blue abyss, where you will not find a deeper, darker, more beautiful color under heaven or earth. You can find shallow (60’ deep) reefs teaming with the color of tropical life, or you can dive the depths with the largest Jewfish (grouper family) that you may ever see in the open water. I don’t know what else I can say, except—if you have not been diving in Cozumel, you are missing out on one of the top dive locations in the world.
Diving in Cozumel.
The basics of diving in Cozumel are pretty simple. The first rule is, if you are not certified, get certified before you go. Don’t settle for a "Resort Certification". These are dangerous, and have very little to do with real scuba training. Once you get certified and get to the island, you have some choices to make. Fast Boats or Slow Boats. Fast boats are good if you want to get to the back of the island or the southern tip, and get back in before noon. The slow boats are good if you like to talk to other divers and enjoy a slow, peaceful ride back to the dock. Everyone is different in this respect, but if you get sea-sick on the water, choose the slow boat route. It is much easier on the stomach. The next question is—do I take my own gear? Most divers will say yes here, but I can tell you that I have been to Cozumel many times, taken my own gear, and rented gear, and the difference is minimal. I do recommend that you take your own mouth piece, mask (of course), snorkel, weight belt, fins, booties, and shorty. No need for a knife, because you probably won’t be able to take it with you. And don’t forget your computer, though this will be more for your own enjoyment, as the dives are carefully monitored by the local dive master for maximum safety and enjoyment. I don’t take my own regulators any longer when I go to Cozumel. I use the local gear, but I do take a "fix it kit" filled with "O" rings, fasteners, mask fog, and such. Many of the tanks have old "O" rings, and the air leaks out when you dive. Dive Shops. There are a number of dive shops on the island, and each have something different to offer, but I like diving with the big shops. They have more resources, more money, and are very experienced. My favorite dive shop is Dive Paradise. DP is owned by a little dried up lady named "Apple" who has lived on Cozumel for many years. She is a fixture, as is her company. DP is mostly large (slow) boats, but the experience is memorable (unlike flying, this is a good thing with scuba diving—you want more to remember about your trip—not less). Dive Paradise has a dive shop very close to town (maybe two), and will pick you up at your hotel dock close to 8am in the morning. I highly recommend using Apple’s crew. Don’t just visit the square. The town on Cozumel island is called San Miguel. You will drive through the edge of town if you drive down the coast south from the airport. There are many wonderful restaurants, shops, and general tourist stuff to do. There is a very nice museum just north of down town on the coastal road that is worth a visit to learn of the island history, and how the Wrigley gum company put this place on the commercial shipping destination map before the scuba divers arrived. Start you journey near the square and you will find Carlos and Charlie’s bar (a must see if you like evening excitement), and a host of great restaurants. But don’t stop with the establishments near the square, or you will miss the local color and the real excitement. On the square you will find a beautiful old Catholic church—typically filled with children in white dresses or Sunday’s best. If you take a scooter ride beyond the immediate area, you will find additional places of worship. You will also begin to see how the locals live. Don’t be surprised to find that many of the residents of Cozumel actually live in very small huts, made from fresh cut trees and bound together with rope. Sounds like a 1970s TV episode of Gilligan’s Island? Yep. That is exactly what you will find. Dirt floors and all. There are many nice houses on the island as well, but when you are eating at the restaurants, negotiating on the street, or considering leaving a tip for the cleaning staff, you have more in your pocket than many people in Cozumel have to their name. If you got a good service, don’t assume that these individuals get paid good money to service your account (without your generous subsidy). In spite of the poverty that can be found in parts of Cozumel, I encourage you to get a scooter or open air rental car, and scoot around the island one day. Drive all over, but one piece of advice here—get directions to the two gas stations before you set out. You don’t want to run out of gas on the wrong side of the island. Scooters. As I alluded to earlier, scooters are available to rent on the island, and are a source of great fun. Buy the insurance. You don’t want to be liable for a scooter in Mexico. Hit the road, and have a good time.
The lizard park. Chankanaab National Park is another mainstay fixture in Cozumel. This is also one of the big islands attractions for cruise ships, so don’t expect small crowds when you see cruise ships hitting the docks. Whether you are a strong swimmer or not, this beach side park is a wonderful place to wade into the water and snorkel. You can see some of the "re-created" Mayan ruins here (not the real thing), and get an up-close look at a dolphin show—just like SeaWorld. But the real attraction of this great park is an area where huge iguanas live. With winding trails, trees, sand, and fresh underground water, these medieval dragons are quite at home. The iguanas are typically pretty easy to find. Follow the trails on the ground, and don’t forget to look up in the trees—these guys like to climb. This is a very cool experience, but don’t leave your small children unattended… just kidding.
The back side of the island. One last thing to note about Cozumel. The east side of the island is covered with beach front property that has not been developed. If you want some private time away from people, this is an OK journey. The beaches are not real clean, and the waves are high. It is like a different place, but interesting nonetheless. This is a good place to ride your scooter after you have been all the way down the island to the southern tip. Return via the east side and you will get to see the areas of Cozumel covered with vegetation to collect fresh drinking water (it doesn’t come from the ocean—you know).
Say hello to Cozumel for me. I have not been there in a few years, and I miss it sorely.
Written by zabelle on 10 Nov, 2006
This is a 3 and 1/2 hour tour leaving at 1pm. This allowed us time to do a little shopping, yes I actually bought Al a Panama hat and yes I went back and forth with the shop owner. No I won’t pay $20 I…Read More
This is a 3 and 1/2 hour tour leaving at 1pm. This allowed us time to do a little shopping, yes I actually bought Al a Panama hat and yes I went back and forth with the shop owner. No I won’t pay $20 I could have bought it cheaper in Key West, I finally settled on $15 and actually that is a lot cheaper than Key west but I’m also sure I should have only paid $10 but I am a pretty pathetic bargainer. On the other hand my friend Richard got his sombrero’s at a very discounted price and they even through in an ankle bracelet for Jackie. Originally we hadn’t wanted to take the catamaran tour because there was all you could drink beer and Margaritas and we figured it was going to be a bunch of rowdy kids. Well we were half right. There were a lot of rowdy woman and men but most of them were closer to being senior citizens than twenty somethings. It was pretty funny in a pathetic sort of way.This is the one excursion that I have mixed feelings about. I am very glad we did it because now I know I can snorkel but I would never, and I do mean never do it this way again. The crew was very friendly but since we were not the first ones on the boat we ended up sitting on the cooler all the way out to the reef, there were not enough seats. Then it was chaos, everyone on the deck at one time trying to put flippers on their feet. My masks didn’t fit right and the snorkel was in backwards. Even this I could have gotten around but you can’t drop 100 people into a little tiny area all at once when none of them know what they are doing. My eyes started to burn because my mask was leaking and I couldn’t see anything. My friend Jackie kept getting kicked in the face by the people around her, it was claustrophobia to say the least. Finally, the reef was destroyed by the hurricanes last year and there really wasn’t anything to see. One or two fish swam by until we said yes we wanted our photo taken and then whoosh a bunch flew by us makes for an impressive picture but it is a complete fabrication. Getting back into the boat with flippers was quite a feat for everyone but now the fun was about to start. We headed out to a private beach where we lay in hammocks and watched the men folk play volleyball. You could horseback ride, kayak, swim or just chill out and the Margaritas and beers were still flowing. The ride back was more Margaritas and beers, lots of good music and frankly in spite of the awful snorkel experience we considered it a day well spent. People watching after all is a sport of its own. Close
Written by christiand on 27 Oct, 2006
We've just returned from Cozumel Mexico with Carnival. The diving was great! And thanks to a great dive master, George, we saw wonderful reefs and wild life including some lobsters close to two feet long, a moray eel that was over 1.5 meters with a…Read More
We've just returned from Cozumel Mexico with Carnival. The diving was great! And thanks to a great dive master, George, we saw wonderful reefs and wild life including some lobsters close to two feet long, a moray eel that was over 1.5 meters with a radius of about 12 inches, and an octopus coiled up in a small hole in the reef. Water clarity was wonderful with visibility well over 100 feet. I had never dived at Cozumel before the hurricane, but we saw no remnants of the hurricane. Maybe there it was better before, but I can only judge based on what I saw this trip and it was spectacular.We were diving with the Carnival contracted dive company AguaWorld. They were a large operation with at least 3 dive boat but only took divers from the cruise line. They have no office, so no website or phone number. I would have gone with another company due to price, US$85 for two tanks, but I did not have time to arrange with another provider. Their boats were in good shape but no bathrooms and the diesel exhaust was overwhelming as you reentered the boat. Some of the divers were disappointed that no wet suits or lunches were provided. I am not sure wet suits were needed, (I had my own) as the water was reported to be 83 degree at 30 meters down. I did notice that most of the divers were cold after returning to the boat including one lady that came back so cold her lips were blue. I would have liked to have had a sandwich between the dives as I eat a very small breakfast prior to diving.On shore we asked around and found quite a few companies that were offering two tanks between US$65 and US$75, but I don’t know when they would have been leaving and if they would be back in time for our departure.Our dive master was great, but due to no food, no wet suits, and the boats exhaust, if going on Carnival, I recommend that you contract with a local dive operator prior to arriving at the site. Close
Written by Samlawali on 04 Apr, 2005
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…Read More
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!
Written by beach_lvr on 17 Sep, 2004
After a few days of 24/7, noisy, whistle-blowing directors at our hotel pool in Cancun, we were looking for a change of scenery. A day trip to Cozumel was just what we needed. Our hotel staff advised us about the water ferry that runs to…Read More
After a few days of 24/7, noisy, whistle-blowing directors at our hotel pool in Cancun, we were looking for a change of scenery. A day trip to Cozumel was just what we needed. Our hotel staff advised us about the water ferry that runs to Cozumel a few times a day from Cancun. The water ferry was quite a lot cheaper than taking a flight from Cancun to Cozumel! The water ferry cost was about $12 per person.
The next morning, we took a taxi over to the ferry and left on schedule with virtually no waiting. This boat was a lot larger than I expected, air conditioned, and very comfortable. It easily accommodated a few hundred people. It was a much shorter, comfortable ferry ride than I expected - only taking about 45 minutes to get to Cozumel from Cancun.
Upon arrival in Cozumel, we exited the vessel and headed immediately for the cluster of retail shops and restaurants so that we could find someone to ask about moped rentals. We had heard that the best way to enjoy a Cozumel day trip was by moped. We had heard right. After approaching the third local, and asking "Donde esta la moped?" We were pointed in the right direction and given brief verbal directions. Just a few blocks away from the port where we entered, we saw red mopeds parked in front of one of the shops and now knew where to go to rent them.
I asked the moped shop attendant "Cuanto es esta?" (How much is it?). He replied "viente cinco" ($25). I surmised that the $25 was a per hour rate, but soon realized upon looking at the release form and contract I had to sign that it was $25 for the whole day and included insurance!
By the time we got onto the mopeds, we were hot and feeling suffocated by the 110° F heat that day. I couldn't wait to fire it up and hit the gas just so that I could get some wind on my face to cool off. There was NO breeze the day we were there. It's a smallish island and you would expect some trade winds, but not that day!
Prior to finding the moped rental shop, we had walked in and out of many of the UN-AIRCONDITIONED shops lining the port area. So yes, I was thankful that I was wearing only a bathing suit, a thin cotton tank shirt and shorts. Bring lots of sunscreen and wear thin, comfortable cotton clothing. The sun here was as intense as I have ever felt it.
Navigating our way out of the port area was tricky. This was the hardest part of our day. Traffic in this small port area is surprisingly nasty - drivers here drive wildly and often pay no attention to stop signs. Hence, be VERY careful getting out of the port area on a moped! Upside: we really only had about 1/4 mile of the driver craziness and traffic. Once past that, we were home free!
After that first 1/4 mile or so of driving down the main road, which winds all the way around the edge of the island, I was pleasantly surprised to see shockingly beautiful beaches and ocean; naturally postcard perfect, not man made.
Once I had a chance to cool off, I pulled over, stopped, put the kickstand down, grabbed my bike key and walked toward this awe-inspiring ocean and beach. It was beckoning me. The water, crystal clear with light azure and turquoise blended in as the ocean deepens...You can see the reefs just below the surface of the clear, turquoise ocean. Natural, tropical plants, shrubs, and trees set off the striking appearance of the ocean (see pictures below).
Once past the port area, there is a fairly long stretch where there is nothing but ocean, white sand beaches (with few or no people on them), white coral, and a few small restaurants sporadically dotting the landscape here and there.
I had wanted to drive around the entire perimeter of the island, but my husband insisted on stopping when we saw the signs for CHANKANAAB NATIONAL PARK (yes, he wanted a beer). We decide to pay the $10 or so to gain entry into the park since they offered a beach area, snorkeling, and other activities.
I pulled my tank shirt and shorts off and parked my swimsuit clad, thrity-something bod underneath one of the lovely Palapas providing shade. I chose a good spot since this Palapa was surrounded by lovely ivy-looking tropical shrubs, which are obviously indigenous to this island (they grow wild all over the island). As I enjoy cooling off under the Palapa hut, I notice a sign that says, "No Sunscreen allowed if swimming in the lagoon." Well, I guess that means I'm not swimming unless I shower off first since I had covered myself in sunscreen twice in the previous three hours.
The beach here is lovely and it’s easy to see that it is a great place for families to enjoy. There were a lot of people at the park on the beach but it wasn’t so crowded that you couldn’t find a spot. Personally, I would have preferred to have stopped, at least for a short while, on one of the incredible beaches we passed on the way here. Those beaches were not crowded at all and, in many cases, abandoned. Not to mention that the natural beauty of these beaches en route to Chankanaab were as beautiful, or more so, as the gorgeous beach at Chankanaab. We spent a few hours lounging at this park and had lunch at at the beach/ocean view Chankanaab Park restaurant (see pics below). The cool drinks at the park restaurant were a Godsend! After a satisfying snack and cool drinks at the restaurant, we were back on the mopeds with the wind in our faces, absorbing and memorizing the beauty of this island.
Once back in port, we had a few hours to wait before our ferry arrived to pick us up, so we headed into one of the few air conditioned places within the cluster of port shops - The Hard Rock Cafe. It was late afternoon, about 4:45pm, but we had a about a 45-minute wait before we were seated. I expected more in the way of rock memorabilia here. There wasn't much to see really. However, I cared more about having air conditioning at that point than anything else. The food was along the same lines of what you would find at Hard Rock Cafes here in the US - it was mediocre at best and overpriced. But again, the AC was worth it!
Most people expect to find bargains at shops in Mexico and, in some places, you will, but don't expect to find very many good bargains in the port area of Cozumel. I looked in several apparel and jewelry shops and even after haggling, prices were too high in my opinion. I decided that if I wanted a bargain, it would be best to look in downtown Cancun.
There is no air-conditioned waiting area in the port area where the ferry picks you up. However, there is a small, nice-looking covered area providing shade while you wait. Also, if you take the ferry back in the early evening, it will be much cooler and more likely that you will get a little shady breeze while you wait.
Overall, the natural beauty of this island is well worth a day/half-day away from Playa Del Carmen or Cancun.
Note: It is my understanding that the water ferry from Cancun is no longer available. The fastest way to get to Cozumel from Cancun is now to take a taxi to Playa Del Carmen (45 minutes) and then board the water ferry at Playa Del Carmen (approximately $17 per person). The most economical way to get to the water ferry at Playa Del Carmen is by bus or van. Inquire at the activities desk of your hotel. Be aware that if you take a bus or van to Playa Del Carmen, you can expect more delays than you would with a taxi ride there. If staying in Playa Del Carmen, obviously you can take your ferry directly from there over to Cozumel.
Written by Cantin2 on 16 Sep, 2004
Cozumel is well-known for its great reefs for diving -- many are shallow enough to make snorkeling enjoyable (if the reef is deep, you can't see the fish and vegetation as well). The best snorkeling experience is to take a boating excursion to a reef,…Read More
Cozumel is well-known for its great reefs for diving -- many are shallow enough to make snorkeling enjoyable (if the reef is deep, you can't see the fish and vegetation as well). The best snorkeling experience is to take a boating excursion to a reef, but there are plenty of snorkeling spots easily accessed from shore.
Sandy beaches do not attract fish - they need the reef pilings or rocks for food. The best area is south of town from the new cruise pier to the Intercontinental hotel. El Cid La Ceiba is a timeshare hotel very close to the pier that has a pool, jacuzzi, restaurant, bar, dive shop, and palapas. At times, there is a $6 fee to use the facilities, but many times you can just walk onto the property, have lunch or a drink, and stay for the afternoon. You can enter the water near the dive shop -- there are steps with a rope to help you, as they do get slippery. You don't need to propel yourself; the drift takes you along the rocky shoreline that is home to schools of fish -- even a baracuda or two -- and about 100 feet off shore is a sunken plane that is very interesting, sunken in about 25 feet of water.
Chankanaab - an ecological park that charges a $12 fee. It has full facilities, a somewhat sandy beach, and a snorkeling trail. Just be aware that when the cruise ships are in port, it gets very busy. Bring bug repellent -- the swampy area can attract mosquitoes and flies.
Fiesta Americana - We always like to spend a few hours here. It's just before Chankanaab (take the first exit when you see the Chankanaab sign -- you miss the resort if you stay on the main highway). They have a good-size waterfront restaurant, a swimming pool with stone deck, a dive shop, and a long pier. Snorkeling equipment is available, and you can lounge in the sun or under palapas or sea grape trees – they even have beach bar service. Enter the water at the beach end and drift to steps or to the pier, where you can climb a ladder to exit. Non-snorkelers attract fish with stale bread given to them by the restaurant , so you're guaranteed to see lots of fish by the pier.
Intercontinental - This is Cozumel's five-star property. They now charge a $20 per person to enter (they must have been inundated with cruise ship passengers). Again, enter by the rocks and drift past the restaurant, where you can come up on the beach. This is a natural beach and is quite nice. If you enter from the beach, you'll tire too easily, because you'll be swimming against the drift. Many times, there is music midday at the restaurant. You'll enjoy your day here.
Wherever you choose to go, there'll be warm, calm, clear water, an abundance of fish, and an experience that you'll never forget
Written by rickhowe on 20 Mar, 2006
During our 1-week stay at El Presidente (see review of El Presidente), we explored the island a bit. (See separate short review of Chankanaab.) We rented a jeep on our first day, and drove around the island. The various ruins are nothing spectacular compared to…Read More
During our 1-week stay at El Presidente (see review of El Presidente), we explored the island a bit. (See separate short review of Chankanaab.) We rented a jeep on our first day, and drove around the island. The various ruins are nothing spectacular compared to what you'll find on the mainland, but are interesting nonetheless. San Gervase (sp?), on the road that bisects the island, is the best of the bunch.The island road goes along the shore on the south end of the island. The north end is inaccessable by anything other than heavy-duty four-wheel-drive vehicles or ATVs. DON'T try it in a rental jeep.The beaches on the east side (the "wild side") are beautiful, and for the most part unspoiled. But, the surf coming directly in is dangerous and not suitable for any kind of water sports. Three divers lost their lives there in 2004. There are a couple of protected coves, marked by restaurants and more tamed beaches, that ARE safe, and have lots of families and childen swimming.Give "Coconuts" a try on the northern end of the road. Great location, great view (on a small rise over the beach), and great food. Just be wary of the traditional rural Mexico toilet arrangements (you are supposed to put your used toilet paper in the waste basket instead of flushing it—Yuck!).The main town on Cozumel is San Miguel. It's a funny little place, and smaller than the maps would suggest. The north-south streets (Avenidas) are numbered in increments of 5, so that Avenida 10 is only two blocks from the waterfront. I guess somebody thought that system would make Cozumel look more developed. And the east-west streets have their own system. Odd-numbered streets (Calle 1, 3, 5, etc.,) are on the SOUTH side of town. Even-numbered streets (Calle 2, 4, 6, etc.,) are on the NORTH side of town And please don't hesitate to drop me a line with your own observations about this journal/review. I like to see if my advice has value. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Close