Travel Adventures Yucatan - The Riviera Maya 4
Vivien Lougheed Hunter Publishing, Inc. 30 Mayfield Avenue Edison, NJ 08837 tel. 800-255-0343 / Fax 732-417-1744 www.hunterpublishing.com firstname.lastname@example.org IN CANADA Ulysses Travel Publications 4176 Saint-Denis Montreal, Québec H2W 2M5 Canada tel. 514-843-9882, Ext. 2232 / Fax 514-843-9448 IN THE UK & EUROPE Roundhouse Group Loma House, Loma Road Hove BN3 3EL, England tel. 01273-900-540, fax 01273-774-204 email@example.com © 2009 Hunter Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher. This guide focuses on recreational activities. As all such activities contain elements of risk, the publisher, author, affiliated individuals and companies disclaim any responsibility for any injury, harm, or illness that may occur to anyone through, or by use of, the information in this book. Every effort was made to insure the accuracy of information in this book, but the publisher and author do not assume, and hereby disclaim, any liability or any loss or damage caused by errors, omissions, misleading information or potential travel problems caused by this guide, even if such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause.
1. Riviera Maya 1. Getting Here 2. Puerto Morelos 1. What to See & Do 2. On Horseback 3. On Water 4. Snorkeling & Diving 5. Tour Operators 6. Nightlife 7. Shopping
8. Hotels 9. Restaurants Punta Brava Playa del Carmen 1. History 2. Getting Here & Around 3. What to See & Do 4. Nightlife 5. Shopping 6. Hotels 1. Playa del Secret 2. Punta Maroma 3. Tres Rios 4. Punta Bete 5. Xcalacoco 7. Restaurants Cozumel 1. Getting Here & Around 2. History 3. Getting Here & Around 4. Festivals 5. What to See & Do 1. Beaches 2. Dive/Snorkel Sites 3. On the Links 4. On Wheels 6. Tour Operators 7. Nightlife 8. Shopping 9. Hotels 10. Restaurants Puerto Aventuras 1. What to See & Do 1. On Horseback 2. In the Air 3. On Water 4. On Foot 2. Tour Operators 3. Nightlife 4. Shopping 5. Hotels 6. Restaurants Xpu-Há 1. Hotels 2. Restaurant Tulum 1. Getting Here & Around 2. What to See & Do 1. Cenotes 2. Adventures on Water 3. Theme Park
3. 4. 5. 6.
Nightlife Shopping Hotels Restaurants
The 240-mile (380-km) strip of land south of Cancún is called the Riviera Maya. This includes tourist draws such as Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Xcaret, Cozumel, Pureto Aventuras, Akumal, Xel-Há and ﬁnally Tulum. There are numerous hotels, resorts and spas of every class from grass shacks and see-through huts on the beach to six-star, luxury spas that cost over $500 a day. Playa del Carmen is a bustle while Cozumel, when the cruise ships are gone, is calm. Tulum is buzzing in the day and quiet at night. For the visitor, there are beaches, archaeological sites, caves and cenotes to visit. There is great ﬁshing, snorkeling, diving and swimming anywhere along the coast. Eating and drinking yourself into a heart a ack would be easy, given the gourmet restaurants and eateries. The Riviera Maya is enjoyed by every culture in the world.
If arriving at the Cancún International Airport, a er passing customs, you can rent a car, hop on a local bus or take a tour. If arriving by bus from Belize, you will ﬁnd Mexican customs will give most visitors a three-month visa and some a six-month one. Itʹs Belize customs that are o en unpleasant, especially if you are just passing through on your way to Tikal. Belize charges everyone a $30 “Conservation Fee” every time they leave the country. Belize customs oﬃcers have been known to refuse to issue a 30-day visa (to which you are entitled) and the only way to get a full visa is to pay another $25 in Belmopan. There are no Mexican buses running into Belize so your ﬁrst point of access to transportation is at Chetumal, where buses leave every hour for Cancún from 6 am until about 7 pm.
This tiny ﬁshing village, just 18 miles (30 km) south of Cancún, is still a quiet getaway. How it has escaped the hustle of Cancún is a miracle; its main draw is the car ferry to Cozumel that departs daily.
What to See & Do
Crococun Zoo, Km 31 south of Cancún, three km before Puerto Morelos, tel. 850-3719, www.crococunzoo.com, $18 for adults, $12 for children, open 8 am to 5 pm daily, is a sophisticated pe ing zoo where guests can feed monkeys, hold
you can rent a four.85-4122.snakes. Alfredo Barrera Marin. including staﬀ.
La Ruta de los Cenotes
The Yucatán has more than 5. you can visit Maya ruins. with some artifacts. lizards.400 that have been registered and studied.
Dr Alfredo Barrera Marin Botanical Garden. and see bu erﬂies. Snorkeling at the cenotes is generally safe but if trying a cenote not patronized by tourists be certain that. restaurant/bar. That works out to $300 an hour. Central Vallarta is a tiny village beyond the Polo Club but the birding here for serious birders is excellent. entry fee $7.” probably because cenotes represented the gates to the underworld. ant shrikes and three species of humming birds. If the water level is a long way from the rim. trogons. can be reached by taxi from the port. washrooms. The water is pure. you can get out. shrubs. a botanist. Cancún-Chetumal Highway. pat deer and walk near crocodiles.com.
. and sinkholes formed in porous limestone.000 cenotes. www. 874-1385. tel. 1tel. Spanish and Latin. The cenotes collect fresh water from the surrounding land and store it in their caverns. Some dare to go on their own. The club has lockers. dzonot is the word that was bastardized by the Spanish into cenote. $60 for 15 minutes horse rental. south of Puerto Morelos. bromeliad and fern garden. The plant life. I ʹm not going to cover them all! In Maya. The 150 acres have a lookout tower from which you can observe some of the 200 species of birds said to inhabit the area. A game costs $60 for green fees for four to six chukkers. There is a remarkable orchid. once you get in.
El Rey Polo Country Club. believes there are 250 species of animals living in the surrounding vegetation. open 8 am to 4 pm. $40 green fee for stick and ball sessions and $100 for a polo lesson. beach club. Horses for rent to ride for pleasure cost $65 per hour. to name just a few. and polo ﬁeld. stables. spider monkeys. If this is your thing.3 miles (11 km) west of Puerto Morelos along the Ruta de los Cenotes.elreypolocountryclub. caves. but this is not advisable. Dr. In Maya it means “abysmal and deep. squirrels and iguanas.200 per night. Like all caves. What they really are is underground rivers. Wear walking shoes and bring water and insect repellent. 6. with about 1. Polo season is from November to the end of June. snakes.
This is a skilled sport requiring certiﬁcation and the help of a certiﬁed guide. childrenʹs playground. this could be a problem if no steps or ladders are in place. You will see long-billed gnat wrens. some of it labeled in English. clear and usually about 78°F.to seven-bedroom villa for around $7. and ﬂowering and medicinal plants. consists of numerous species of trees. cenotes have formed stalagmites and stalactites that make them visually a ractive. While walking along the two-three miles (three-four km) of trails to the Chiclero camp where chewing gum was once produced. For a game of polo call Eduardo Barena. Km 36.
Club Med tours patronize this watering hole. There is a bed of organic ma er ﬂoating in the saltwater zone making it look like a ﬂoor (but it is not). Siete Bocas is a dive cenote and a guide should be hired here. There are six air holes. Be very careful. on the east side of the cenote. it is $5 to enter the grounds. muscles and eyes.
At Puerto Morelos National Marine Park. such as Tres Rios and El Rey Polo Resort.
Snorkeling & Diving
Snorkeling and diving are popular.
Columns in caves are created when stalactites and stalagmites join together. It is 300 feet (94 m) across and has wooden steps leading 20 feet (six m) down to the greenish-colored water. and the cenote for rappelling. collect shells. There are wooden steps leading to the water. with several stalactites surrounding the clear water. diving and spelunking run for 375-440 miles (600-700 km) from Puerto Morelos to the Sian Kaʹan Biosphere. is a salt water and acid layer (caused from dissolution of calcium carbonate without the buﬀering of salt water). has a bird watching tower.Cenotes vary. Many are accessible for diving and swimming. See Cancún and Playa del Carmen for diving sites and descriptions. chicle village. some with excellent birding opportunities. From there you can descend more than 150 feet (47 m) but the hydrogen sulﬁde will aﬀect your skin. A dripstone is an opening in the ceiling where minerals from dripping water form stalactites or stalagmites. There are those that are partially underground. while others. Some caves/cenotes are just simple holes in the earth. Visibility from here down gets poor. Tres Bocas is about 12 miles (20 km) from Puerto Morelos and is about 130 feet (40 m) across. hooks. The park is part of the second-largest coral reef in the world with the reef being just a kilometer from shore. so once down a few feet the light shining through makes visibility good.
Boca del Puma Selvatica. The wildlife is abundant and the coral worth the trip out. Be aware that currents are strong and no ma er how well you swim a life jacket should always be worn. those that are level with surrounding landscape so they are like a lake and there are the open wells. spears. are developed sites for tourists to enjoy for longer periods. snorkeling and diving. The cenote is 65 feet (20 m) deep. many guides are available and willing to take you for a two-hour snorkel trip for about $25 per person. Once on that road you will see direction signs to each cenote and to private parks/resorts. There is a sign indicating Ruta de los Cenotes and Central Vallarta (they are the same road). zip line. with excellent visibility. There are underground ones that we also call caves. follow the road west. or carry gloves. The underground systems that oﬀer cenote swimming. Otherwise. but nothing exciting for divers. 10 miles (16 km) from Puerto Morelos. At the docks. Verde Lucero is just past Boca del Puma and about half a kilometer oﬀ the highway. ﬁsh for corals. From the main traﬃc light in Puerto Morelos. The cenote is about 100 feet deep and has rock steps leading to the pool. Down about 95 feet (30 m). you will need a life vest. entry ticket ($3) and a buoy with a ﬂag. Visitors are not permi ed to hold or stand on reefs. On the west side of this cenote is a guideline that goes only 40 feet (12 m) down.
knob or mound corals are the bases for the reef structures.com. One species of the hydrocoral is the ﬁre coral. night diving. higher lighthouse. These companies oﬀer anywhere from 25 foot to 120 foot (eight. ﬁnger. The back of the reef is the landward side and the fore reef is the side facing the ocean. Leaf and plate coral looks likes leaves. Av Rojo Gomez.
So corals include the hydro. has one of the best reputations in Puerto Morelos for diving. they resemble mountains. 206-9084.harpoons. It has been replaced by a newer. These corals are tree shaped. El Faro was blown part-way over by Hurricane Beulah in 1957 and has never been torn down or pushed upright. Itʹs probably the one most photographed building in the town. www.divepuertomorelos.com. No waste or oil or grease can be dumped in the park and only biodegradable sun block is permi ed (I would suggest not using any during this excursion). located at the Co-op on the dock. although itʹs no longer functioning. they were taking time oﬀ when I last came around.
Dive Puerto Morelos. staghorn and plate corals. Others are sea fans.almostheavenadventures. www. 848-8819.to 37-m) dives. They can be seen on the reef crests. They recommend Almost Heaven Adventures. or trees. delicate lace-like formations. 871-0633. Some are quite ﬂeshy and the polyps become hidden in the ﬂesh. Staghorn and elkhorn corals look like their namesakes.
Pillar corals form cylinders or spirals up to 10 feet (three m) in length. due to health issues. elkhorn.com. wreck dives and cenote
. and sea whips. on the other side. knives or explosives. the parts of the reef that are occasionally exposed.
El Faro Lighthouse is the townʹs icon. tel. While growing. Motorized vehicles are forbidden. However. Boulder.puertomorelosﬁshing. Octocorals look like plants and are hard to tell from seaweed. tel. for diving trips and Diving Dog Tours. Licensed guides and captains only are permi ed to take visitors into the park and visitors must obey their guidesʹ instructions. www. short and long star. Brain corals look like huge brains and are usually cylindrical in shape with ﬁssures like a brain.
There is coral everywhere in the ocean but the main hard corals you are likely to see are the brain. which look like whips. for snorkeling or ﬁshing. One of these is the feather that can grow up to six feet in length. tel. Staghorn coral usually grow behind the reef while the elkhorn. are strong enough to take some of the wave action from the pounding ocean. domes or knobs.and octocorals. It has a poison in its cells that causes a burning on your skin when touched.
tel. Maya Echo. and a two-tank cenote dive is $125. on the plaza. Ojo de Agua. it will cost about $70 per person. There is air conditioning.
Other than joining a local party on the beach where you will usually be more than welcome. Good deal. has pizza and drinks. friendly. one block from the Plaza on Rojo Gomez.
Shopping in Puerto Morelos
Posada Amor. #16. has cabañas with an eco-environment theme. Be aware when snorkeling in this area that the currents are strong. They take snorkelers ($25/four hours) and anglers ($250/four hours) with up to four people. $. 871-0026. and a swim in a cenote ($70 per person). A two-tank dive is $75. with two hours oﬀ in the a ernoon. They can take you for a dayʹs ﬁshing. The store carries lots of English-language books plus maps and postcards. They also promote purchasing cra s from local cra makers. They oﬀer special dive package deals and discounts for longer
. 871-0027. 871-0136. Gioconda. for $300. is located in the Amor Inn and oﬀers a splendid tour to the botanical garden. maximum six people. courses are $80 and up. half a block from the plaza.
Alma Libre Bookstore. Av Javier Rojo Gomex. Av Rojo Gomez. 9-6.diving. wear a life jacket. Av Rojo Gomez. is open Tuesday to Saturday. tel. family-run. clean. No ma er how good a swimmer you are.wetsetdivetravel. with a bilingual guide. Snorkel trips are $35 including gear. beer and so drinks. fully equipped kitchens in the apartments and breakfast is included. nightlife tends to be a quiet wait for day life. Internet. 871-0159. 871-0264. birding in Central Vallarta. However. beer and so drinks included. tel.asp. Wet suit rentals are $10/day. www. is a charming li le place with just six rooms around a garden. If youʹd like a guided tour to the zip line and a couple of cenote dips with lunch and beer/so drinks included. has a tour desk in hotel Ojo de Agua. lunch. Av Rojo Gomez. Posada el Moro.com/peminfo. Gioconda is closed Sunday but opens every other day at 7 pm. tel. $$.
It is all-inclusive.ojo-de-aqua. tel. El Caﬁ de la Plaza. Good service and reasonable prices. Self-serve breakfast is included and you can use the communal kitchen. main highway. Rafael Melgar. Ceiba del Mar Spa & Resort. Av Javier Rojo Gomex. 206-9005. 872-8061. this is not your classic hacienda. www. Pool and parking are available. 871-0448. Av Rafael Melgar. They serve
. snorkeling and diving are not. Hacienda Morelos. #16. $$$$$. on the plaza. $$$$$/$$$$$$. Closed Tuesdays.com.com. Closed Mondays. $$/$$$. is open at noon till 9 pm daily except Wednesday. Hola Asia. with two pools. www. There is also private butler service.com.
There is a Farmerʹs Market one block up from the plaza on Wednesdays. 871-0463. They have studio rooms with kitchene es for families. are very comfortable. has 24 rooms just a block from the plaza. is on the beach but also with a pool and close to the townʹs restaurants. is on the beach. tel.ranchosakol. $$. Their lunch special is about $5. is a great place to get snacks for the beach or for breakfast and lunch. Km 307.haciendamorelos. Av Costero Norte. tel. They oﬀer “hanging” beds that. Although comfortable.secretsresorts. I am told. 871-0027. The penthouse is $1. has 440 rooms and is for adults only. www. $$.com. Snorkel equipment and bicycles are available without charge. tel.ceibadelmar. has a pool and restaurant.stays (over a week). This is a very high-end resort. Rancho Sak Ol.com.50 and their specialties are ﬁsh and German foods. www. Check rooms before paying. Av Javier Rojo Gomez #2-8. tel. you will need to make a deposit. tel. is an 88-room luxury resort on the beach at the edge of town. The owners are friendly and helpful. It is operated by Madre Tierra Magazine (Mother Earth). $$$. Clean. Food is generally good but not superb. Deep sea ﬁshing. www. 871-0118. Secrets Excellence Riviera Cancún. Av Niños Heroes. Mamaʹs Bakery. on the beach. Bodoʹs. tel. The décor reminds me of British India. on the plaza. 845-1597 is a popular café and health food store. tel. 845-6810. Villas Latinas. and daily yoga and aqua-ﬁt programs. is a beachside B&B with 16 rooms. as is wireless Internet. Ojo de Agua. is open at 1 pm for lunch and stays open for dinner until 9 pm. with most non-motorized water activities gratis.
Rancho Sak Ol Hacienda Morelos. private parking and a dive shop that oﬀers lessons and trips. If reserving.050 a night for two and the least expensive room during low season is $370.
The only thing at Punta Brava is the luxury. It is still easy to get around and not so big that you need a taxi to get from end to end. one block up
. 850-3400. Thai and Japanese dishes. Playa del Carmen is o en preferred to big.Chinese. $$$$$.
Built on 450 acres of tropical jungle. busy Cancún as a destination. It is on Playa Tortuga. Check carefully before booking so you know what you are ge ing and what you will have to pay for. adults-only. this resort/time-share is reasonably priced. but it seems that everything is extra. www. all-inclusive beachfront resort. tel. between $200 and $550 per person per night. south of the plaza. El Dorado Royale. The bus station is in the center. serves Mexican seafood for about $8 per plate. a long white stretch with strong currents and good snorkeling. El Viejo Pescador. tel.
Playa del Carmen
A bustling international city. They open at 5 pm for dinner.
to four-minute canopy ride to the ground. In Playa the tourist infastructure has grown but not to the point where you canʹt walk from one end to the other within an hour.skydive. Coming from Chetumal. Shortly a er this. Although they claim to oﬀer freefall jumps. the patron saint of Cancún who died in 1263. You can
.from the beach and the upscale “La Nueva Quinta” tourist area has now spread north. AAD and a valid logbook. Playa was a popular port for Maya trading with cities as far south as Honduras. In 1518. disease and the Catholic religion. buses head south every hour. Playa del Carmen
What to See & Do
In the Air
Skydive Playa. Playa was also a religious center that served to some capacity those living in Tulum and Cobá. tel. with destruction. The fall. members of the US Parachute Association will give you the thrill of your life – jump out of a Cessna and land on the sand a er ﬂoating to earth. The dock oﬀered boat service to Cozumel for vehicles but it wasnʹt very busy. another 45 minutes to cross the water. the town grew. Then came Cortéz. if going to Cozumel. reports indicate that the company is interested only in tandem. two eateries. enthusiastic entrepreneurs started building. Many of the Maya temples were destroyed. Plaza Marina #32. Here. buses follow the main highway to Cancún every hour from 6 am to 6 pm daily. was replaced by the upscale resort seeker and Playa became international. while a ached to a jumpmaster who has an extra large parachute. their own rig (gear). Jumpers must have a D license. the town had a couple of basic hippie hotels. For the one-time jumper.
Named a er Our Lady of Mount Carmel. tandem is the only option. It is two hours to Playa and. people died and others hid in surrounding jungles. the popular skinny-dipping crowd who worshipped the full moon.mx. music from the beach bars will help keep your rhythm up. but Playa remained a small ﬁshing village. Cancún became a tourist destination. Walking on the beach is splendid. www.
Fi h Avenue. lasts 45-60 seconds.com.
Getting Here & Around
From the downtown Cancún bus station. The ﬁrst time I visited in the early 1980s. The cost is a mere $200-$300. 873-0192. Juan de Grĳ lva stopped at Playa and Cozumel on the way to Cuba. Playa is also the ferry center for those going to the quieter island of Cozumel. followed by a three. Playa went comatose until 1962 when Jacques Cousteau ﬁlmed the reefs. a bus station and a nice beach. depending on the type of jump.
Water levels are 10 feet below the lip and unless the ladder is secured (test it!) you may not be able to get out. Aktun Chen.com.
Once you pay your entry fee (snorkeling $25/diving $100/zip line $10). The temperature is usually 77°F and the water seldom reaches more than 40 feet (12 m) in depth.
On Water Cave & Cenote Diving
Although many experienced. located at the main intersection on the north side of town. 2. Maps of the caves are for sale at the oﬃces of some tour operators. turn right and drive for a mile. They have guided tours for snorkeling at 9 and 11 am and 1. numerous birds.hiddenworlds. follow signs or take a taxi from Tulum (about $8 one way). Some of the above-mentioned cenotes and caves are in this park. Wear good walking shoes.8 km) along the Cobá Road. Fly an ultralight plane over the Caribbean with Yucatán Explorer. There are plenty of signs. There are four rooms and a number of hallways or side-rooms. The is a major problem.Yucatánexplorer. is open 9 am to 5 pm daily. tel. certiﬁed divers go to the caves on their own. There is a sign but no a endant at the site so your car will be le unguarded. It has three exits so fresh air circulates. Flight times are variable and transportation can be arranged for an additional fee. Diving tours are at 9 and 11 am and 1 pm. With the introductory brieﬁng.” At the end of the cave is a cenote that is used for swimming. The biggest diﬀerence is that Sac Aktun is easier to reach. www. turn right. Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park. thus making the half-kilometer trail through the cave refreshing when walked.aktunchen. www. If taking a bus going either north or south. Maximum depth is 60 feet (20 m). tel.com. $99 for 25 minutes. 2½ miles (four km) on the Cobá Road. with the last tour leaving at 4:30 pm (guided tours only). is open 9 am-5 pm daily. it is best to have a guide for the complicated caves/cenotes. www. 884-0444. and the cave is open 8 am to 5 pm daily. Besides snorkel and dive tours. depending on where you go and for how long. $13/children age three to 10. 877-8535. To get here. with almost 1. and 3 pm. This is a park on grounds that were once a chicle plantation. ask the driver to let you oﬀ. The visit takes about an hour. its over an hour from the time you arrive to when you land back at the airport.000 acres of rainforest and a three-cave underground system formed about ﬁve million years ago. 20 miles (32 km) south of Playa (north of Tulum). where they continue to
. There is a snack bar for refreshments. Make reservations in case the tour is full. wild boar and deer. Temple of Doom is a mile (1.mx. The Cobá Road is at the main intersection on the north side of town. Once at the intersection. There is a $5 entry fee. transportation to the caves on ATVs is included. This is considered second only to Nohoch Nai Chich for underground beauty. The cost is $24/adults. The mineral formations that look like hanging tobacco plants are worth seeing and the gardens surrounding the cave are home to spider monkeys. If you are inexperienced. Sac Aktun. A snake pit here holds all 15 species that inhabit the region.purchase videos to show your friends what a nut you really are. 873-1626. 2½ miles (four km) south of Akumal going toward Xel-Há. Once at the intersection.com. To see and photograph the coral reef and most of its surrounding life from 500 feet above the water is a thrill. you can cycle through the jungle harnessed to overhead cables (see below). The cost of a guided two-tank tour is around $100. The name means a “cave with a cenote (or river) inside. a guide is essential. tel. At the end of the tunnel is the Gran Cenote where cave divers spend hours following the tunnels beyond and swimmers spend minutes enjoying the cool fresh water. Divers follow the main line to the Ho Tul Cenote and cavern.
The reef. turtle protection and plant nurseries. Dos Ojos lies parallel to Nohoch Nai Chich and is promoted as a great ﬁrst-dive cave that goes about 1.org. There are numerous rooms both up. From there itʹs a long one-hour hike to the cenote. This cave was featured in an IMAX ﬁlm in 2002 called Journey into Amazing Caves.ceslak.and downstream. This is considered. be aware that the currents and waves can be strong. open 9 am to 5 pm. a hidden inlet. Divers must descend a bit before they can see. Coco Beach in Playa. 873-1626. Vaca Há is just a mile (two km) beyond Sac Aktun on the Cabá Road. Paamul. tel. ﬁve miles (eight km) along the Cobá Road. Located on the same property. The water at the top is brackish so swimming isnʹt appealing.Paso Lagarto and all its oﬀshoots. and they could be right. small and in marginal health. Open from 9 am to 5 pm. This one is famous for its straw-like formations in the Room of Tears. the longest in the Western world. to see a Maya temple. The cost is $140 per person and $68 for children seven-12. the most beautifully decorated cave in the world. The Sustainable Sea Project. one km south of Xcaret on the main highway. Most dive shops in town rent snorkel gear. on the le .” It is better not to purchase black coral jewelry. entry $98.ʺ The cave is Mexicoʹs second-longest underwater cave system. Sustainable development is their mo o. Most divers take the upstream trip rather than the downstream one.org or www. snorkel in a cave. It is located south of Dos Ojos and the parking is a 300 feet (100 m) west. The cost is high because you need a burro to carry your gear into the site. My favorite is Satanʹs Shithole (although some call it Satanʹs Silthole). Divers (with guides) will see large and very white caves and delicate formations throughout.mx. one going down to about 85 feet (25 m). by Mexicans. is a 1. divers must hold on to the guidelines at all times because visibility is nonexistent at the entrance.
Sian Kaʹan Biosphere. Temperatures are about 77°F and visibility with natural light is good. with the largest communities being Punta Allen and Punta Herrero. You can also join the tour operators for a trip farther out. The word means ʺgiant birdcage. which sits 35 feet (10 m) below ground level. at the end of the road. is just a short distance from shore. Xpu Ha and Akumal are other popular spots where the reef can be enjoyed without the use of a boat. a ground-level hole about 20 feet (seven m) wide. which helps create a market for this rare coral. Adjacent to Sian Kaʹan is the Uaymil protected area. Depth is 70 feet (22 m) or less. This costs about $25-$50 for half a day. www.com. The cave has few side-rooms. with some cenotes accessible from ground level. Yucatán Adventures. the site sees about 100 visitors a day.siankaan. will take you at breakneck speed in a 500 HP boat through the Caribbean to Chacalal.yucatánexplorer. Nohoch Nai Chich is open daily 9 am to 5 pm. This cave is next to the parking area. children under 12 $89. is a popular cave system but should be done only with a guide. There are two tunnels to follow. It is a nesting ground for thousands of wetland birds and sea turtles. partially funded by National Geographic. Tours leave at 9:45 am and last about 4½ hours. Divers are never more than 30 feet (10 m) down nor 150 feet (50 m) from air. along with some life jackets. To descend. The name means cow water. At present there are about 2. Aktun Há.3-million acre UNESCO World Heritage Site established in 1986. oﬀ the highway. it takes about 100 years for a piece of black coral to grow one inch. Most divers donʹt go more than a km in any direction. with a complimentary drink included. www.500 feet (500 m) in the light zone.
. A guide is recommended. found that deep in the waters of the Caribbean black coral was “sparsely distributed. Downstream is on your le when at the entrance. These operators also take divers to caves/cenotes where snorkelers can share the cost of the boat. and it includes 23 archaeological sites and Laguna Bacalar. It is almost all underwater. and have lunch. is the Tortuga sinkhole. entry fee is $5. running about 41½ miles (67 km). Boats have freshwater showers a working hi-ﬁ system. The economy is mainly dependent on ﬁshing supplemented by employment through tourism. but black once it's dried. Being popular for diving and snorkeling. This cave is connected to Bat Cave. $5 entry fee. another popular diving and snorkeling cenote.000 people living within the area.
Black coral is not something you will see very often. However. Going upstream you must navigate for quite a distance through some columns before you ﬁnd the guideline.
Power Boat Adrenaline Rush. White underwater.
923-2722. including the Jabiru stork. Robert Von Haggedesigned course. Amigos de Sian Kaʹan.amigosdesiankaan. 18-hole. 873-0318.Tourists visit the mangroves for birding. 6. Guides are recommended. locker rooms. and the jungle for plant identiﬁcation. They provide environmental training and look for environmental sustainability. Dye-designed.8 miles (36. is a B. Photography is easy as the subjects arenʹt shy. open 9 am to 5 pm daily. Playa Paraiso Golf Club. The reserve claims to have 345 species of birds. There is a pro shop. narrow fairways and
. is a group of scientists and conservationists whose main mandate is to conserve and educate. The shared showers use lagoon water. Any balls lost in the jungle can be played from within two club lengths of where the ball entered. as ge ing lost in this mosquito-infested jungle would be unpleasant. Donations can be made through their website.200 varieties of plants. $130 a er 2 pm and $90 for those under 16. If the above wildlife doesnʹt satisfy your curiosity. has a $15 entry fee (way overpriced). Accommodations are tents on wooden platforms set upon sand dunes.
On Foot Golf
Playacar Golf Club. 22. There are some small hotels at Majahual and two at Laguna Bacalar that may be a bit more comfortable than tenting. par-72. Paseo Xaman-Há. While here you can learn how to identify medicinal plants or visit unexcavated Maya ruins. It is a natural (almost) environment with some food put out to a ract birds.144-yard. which they administer. There are ﬁve entrances to the park. staying here should be carefully considered. with a one-stroke penalty. 230 types of trees with many endemic. you can rent a kayak ($50 for half a day with guide. Paseo Xaman-Há. P. tel. The best time to see a large variety of birds is January and February when they are migrating. The lagoon is great for birding and kayaking. This ﬂy-through bird park has hundreds of exotic birds indigenous to the Yucatán nesting in the botanical gardens and surrounding jungle. There are undulating greens. $30 without a guide) and visit the lagoons and mangroves to search for more birds and bu erﬂies. 7. If you go between April and September. all manned by government employees. Part of the appeal is that solar and wind energy are used for power. plus 1. is an 18-hole.org.641-yard course that incorporates cenotes and sand traps. Next to Calakmul. tel. They lobby ecological and environmental organizations that can help and they try to follow all the latest theories in environmental conservation. and 318 species of bu erﬂy. the Chinchorro reef for wildlife viewing and snorkeling. Playacar (Hotel Zone). this is the best preserve in the Yucatán. Clubs and carts equipped with GPS are available. you may have luck watching turtles lay and/or hatch their eggs. some still with frescos and well-preserved sanctums. Although the reserve is worth visiting and highly recommended. clubhouse. This is considered one of the more challenging courses on the Maya Riviera. par-72. www. residual water is treated and composting toilets are used. for $75-$120 (depending on size) a day. Xaman-Há Aviary.7 km) north of Puerto Aventuras. There are also cenotes. showers and special rates with some hotels. At present they have 20 programs. Costs are $190 for 18 holes.
You must be at least 17 years of age to a end. bar seats are swings and the dance area is oﬀ to the side and closer to the beach. rather than Mexican. stops for a drink and hopes to see friends – already made or to be made. 5th Av and 12th St. To do this. www. A standard course.yucatánexplorer. The Bali. tel. 873-0195. A er the swim you will race along the trail to a ruin and dry cave full of bats.languagesabroad. The ﬂoor is sand. Canada. Children under 16 pay $85. The ubiquitous Señor Frogʹs is here. is an adults-only roo op bar where you order very expensive drinks to consume on one of the beds draped in curtains and discretely arranged around a small pool and Jacuzzi. conﬁrming it with a $300 deposit.
Playa del Carmen. 386 Ontario St. mostly pop.deep bunkers that oﬀer a challenge to the best of players.200 people who want to rave all night in an Indonesian. www. The trip is about 2½ hours and costs $75 per adult or $50 for children. is a people watcherʹs bar that specializes in tequila cocktails. window shops. Deseo Lounge. Home stay programs include some extracurricular activities. prices start at $440 per week and decrease the longer you stay. Tours leave every hour.com. could invalidate your medical insurance. www. Hidden Worlds. M5A 2V7. tel.com. tel. although it is not very environmentally sensitive. If staying at the Iberostar Hotel. some packages include a golf ticket and drinks. but things are much tamer here. 5th Av between 6th & 8th (second ﬂoor). open 9 am to 3 pm. can hold up to 1. El Pica Pica. Helmets and safety goggles are available. Sky Cycling. Children must be 48 inches or higher to participate.hiddenworlds. 20 miles (32 km) south of Playa.mx.mx. of which there are hundreds. tel. which includes four one-hour lessons a day for ﬁve days. The most popular step in the free-form rave dancing is the wheelchair. a racting up to 30. live with a family that will supply a semi-private or private room with breakfast included or live in a semi-private apartment making your own meals. Occasionally there are old movies shown without sound on one of the walls. 877-8535. 803-5687. open 9 am-2 am. tel. open 10 pm-4 am. open 11 am-4 am daily. There are two options. Minimum stay is one week and you must book two weeks in advance. Fi h Avenue in Playa is the Prada where everyone wanders around. atmosphere. although there is dance music. 5th Av between 6th and 8th St. advertising extreme entertainment. all night long. Blue Parrot. Yucatán Explorer. Service is slow but prices are good (under $5).
ATV. The cost is $60 for a one-person vehicle and $50 per person for a double.baliclub. walk onto the ﬂoor. The old Spanish custom is to walk along the Prada with the hope of seeing friends that you can chat with.. This is a tapas bar that during happy hour oﬀers coronas for a buck a bo le (minimum two bo les). These caves/cenotes are worth visiting. tel. If accommodations and lessons are included. open 10:30 am-2 am (no phone). www. 803-2864. oﬀers home-stay language classes. and 1 and 3 pm daily. you can stop at a cold-water cenote for a refreshing dip. The school will test you to see what level you are at and place you appropriately.com. Once you hit the bars. The cost if not staying at the hotel is $190 per person every day except Saturday when it is not open to the public or $125 for twilight games (a er 2 pm). Driving an ATV for two hours through the jungle. let your hands hang loosely at hip level while holding your glowstick.blueparrot. All-night rave parties became trendy in the late 1980s. Calle 12 North and 5th Av. This sport is the newest thing. In the event of injury. Toronto. costs $170 per week (you ﬁnd your own accommodations). being without a helmet or goggles.com. The incline of the cable is not so steep that you have to work hard to move. li one leg. Fire dancing is the most popular show. The last half is through a cave and over two more cenotes.
Language School. This is also a hotel. The se ing is very romantic.000 people for the all-night dance-athons. is the most popular place to go a er 11 pm. Salsa music is played on Wednesdays starting
. There are both hand and foot brakes and the possibility of the bike falling oﬀ the cable is low. 879-3620. tel. Tours leave at 9 and 11 am. one km south of Xcaret on the main highway. follow the crowd that appeals to you. Intensive study oﬀers six one-hour lessons a day for ﬁve days and costs $270 per week (without accommodations). bend it at the knee and then pretend to wheel yourself around in your imaginary chair. is nightlife. Ont. A contraption with a seat and peddles is a ached to a cable a km long and you peddle your way over the jungle canopy. Transportation from Playa is included. Part-way through the trip. like Cancún. 12th St North and 1st Av. 873-1626. stopping to feed monkeys and swim in a cenote could be fun.com. www. 800-219-9924. Tequila Barrel.
hotelallriviera. 873-0144. 873-1335. The rooms are very good for this price range and the bar downstairs is popular.labnah. Calle 12 and Av 1. $. is across from the bus station. tel. kitchen and laundry service. The hotel is a block from the 5th Av action and two blocks from the beach. El Palomar Hostel. is right on the beach. 873-0389.com. When shopping. spices and salsas. tel. has 20 tastefully decorated rooms. a hammock in Playa should be $25-$40. $$.com.com. tel. a hand-crocheted tablecloth. and book exchange. Av Juárez #147 and 10th Av. and two pools. $$. a t-shirt $10-$25. There are dorms and private rooms.pensionajuan. www. Purchase them at the Mega. Av Juárez (Calle 1 South) or any other large Mexican grocery store. Av Juárez & Calle 2 North. is two blocks from the beach and bus station.elpalomarhostel. $$. www. There is a community kitchen and common area. Av 5. Calle 2 North and Av 5. www. tel. $$/$$$. $$$.blueparrot.com.com. The prices are cheaper and the quality just as good. depending on how many you purchase and the quality. 10th Av between 4th & 6th. It has both dorms and private rooms.com. #165 between 6 and 8th St North. Hotel All Riviera. Calle 6 and Av 5. If buying vanilla. www. the third for private rooms and the roof is the communal area. Hotel Posada Cow Boyʹs.mosquitoblue.at 8 pm. $. is a great li le place that sparkles with cleanliness and hums with friendliness.com. Calle 10 #132. 803-3378. San Juan Pension. Located just two blocks from the 5th Av action and close to the bus station. Av 5 between 12th and 14th St. tel. $. 879-3838. be sure to barter. tel.
La Rana Cansada. $$$. www. $10-$15. Mexico is known for vanilla. tel. has 15 rooms just 300 feet from the beach. lockers. is a lovely li le place with just 15 rooms and a pool. is the most basic accommodation in town.
Fi h Avenue is full of souvenir shops with everything from shell products to carved mahogany. lockers. All rooms have balconies and face the ocean. The spacious front rooms over the street arenʹt noisy on most nights. Hotel Labnáh. tel. a terrace. 879-3444. It is also in a good location. The second story is for dorms. www. www. Mosquito Blue. Urban Hostel.ranacansada. Good deal. For example. Av Juárez #10 and Calle 2 North. Sparse but comfortable. 873-2099. Posada Marinelly. Be aware that items in Playa are usually priced 25% less than in Cancún. is one of the oldest hotels in town and is still oﬀering the same quality it did in 1984. be certain it says “pura” in the description. I ʹd recommend booking ahead. A vendor will never sell anything at a loss. Blue Parrot Inn. 873-0647. is fairly basic but clean. Breakfast is included. tel. This is a good choice for this price range and location. $. full kitchen. The only big problem is that the rooms facing the street can be a bit noisy at night. clean and friendly. tel. 873-3444. 873-0140.
www. interspersed with benches. 803-1585. dot the white sand and go for $75 per night. This is a luxury spa for families. cable TV.hotellatortuga. $$$$. But the rooms need some face-li ing to justify the cost. $$$$/$$$$$. Playacar. tel. $10 for tenting.riu. wood. Riu Palace. They do this because they are a li le distance from the beach and from town. There is a pool. Riu Playacar and Club Hotel Riu Tequila. is an intimate place with just 51 rooms and is a block from 5th Av. www. $$$$$.com. tel.rvinmexico. tel. and granite are their specialty. Thereʹs a calm beach and good snorkeling. The name means “destroyed ruin. Av 10 between 12th and 14th. La Tortuga Hotel and Spa. 971-222-3512 (in the US only). This is a turtle egg-laying beach and itʹs a pity itʹs do ed with garbage. Food. $$$$$. tel. 879-3620. The grounds are mostly lush jungle. You encounter Paamul heading south from Cozumel on the Cancún-Chetumal Highway. The restaurant is open from 8 am to 10 pm daily and serves almost anything Mexican. 873-1484. phone service and laundry. www. Views and décor with marble. It costs $25 to park an RV. www. has 434 rooms equipped with Riuʹs renowned mini-bar and liquor dispenser. This is a huge all-inclusive complex with adjoining Riu Yucatán. Xaman Há Retorno. crystal water fountains.hvr. equal to any ﬁve-star anywhere in the world. There are also sun shelters by the pool. service and ambiance are all OK. shaded by palapas. Hacienda Vista Real. There is wind surﬁng. The place is beautiful.” The beach is nicer at the south end of the bay.
La Tortuga Reef Club.” The center of town is a 30-minute. without air conditioning. gazebos and iron benches throughout the tropical gardens. 877-4200. 873-4120. but it is a great idea for environmentally safe fun.Mosquito Blue El Deseo. Av 5 & Calle 12. but not ﬁve-star. are for sale. Km 85 Cancún-Tulum Highway and 11 miles (18 km) south of Playa. The service is exceptional.mx. two-mile (three-km) walk. tennis. $$$/$$$$. has the ʺbed barʺ outside and 15 available rooms for adults only.com. has 78 rooms and a huge ﬂeet of bikes for guests to explore Playa. and snorkeling available. is for long. This is a small area with private vacation rentals that can sleep up to 10 and a long
. The fully supplied dive shop oﬀers dive tours but no snorkeling. Av Xaman Há #18. lounge chairs and a pool. but because of exposed rocks you should wear water shoes of some type. They advertise “objects of desire” along with air conditioning and Internet.and short-term RV visitors.com. is an all-inclusive family hotel with 362 rooms. Paamul RV Site. Some trailers. with hand-painted murals. Highly recommended. Playacar. two pools and a swim-up bar. Ten small bungalows. water polo. Beware of the timeshare “tour. Playacar.
Playa del Secret
The name means secret beach. tel.com. tel.
sauna and steam room. ecologically sensitive vacation. $$$$$. Bird watching in the jungle above the beach is excellent.
. mangrove and water habitats housing hundreds of species of birds and animals. tel. biking or horse riding through jungle. this is a good deal. www. will be oﬀered. meditation. There is nightly entertainment and lots during the day too. The grounds are a labyrinth of trails bordered by hedges and po ed plants.
Catalonia Playa Maroma
The new Tres Rios Hacienda. pool and restaurants. The hacienda will have two pools and three outdoor Jacuzzis. billiards. The Sensorama senso-perceptual journey is a popular a raction here. The spa oﬀers massages and aromatherapy.700-room resort. radios.haciendatresrios. Romantic weddings. dune. Guides will show you the way to a few of the 10 hidden cenotes where you are permi ed to swim and snorkel. For available condos or luxury homes. is an all-inclusive family resort with six two-story buildings set in lush gardens.cataloniaplayamaroma. catered by the best. $$$$$. The cost is $450 per night with three-night minimum stay. tennis or gym workouts. tel.com. ﬁre and earth. convention center. Paddling upstream in a kayak is popular. should be open by the time you read this. has a ﬁtness center. the sea is a swimming and snorkeling area. This li le resort is for adults only. 872-8200. They oﬀer bar service on the beach and a weekly lobster BBQ in season. kayaking.com. see www. equestrian center and yacht club. it is 370 acres of parkland featuring nature trails for walking. Catalonia Playa Maroma. water. At the conﬂuence where three rivers meet. 875-1020. Some of the rooms are in need of a touch-up. www. The trail borders a river that joins two others and ﬂows into the ocean. Do not bring non-biodegradable sun lotions. Restaurants and snack bars are open daily from 7 am to 11 pm and there is one ﬁne-dining place.stretch of beach that sees leatherback and white turtles nesting and hatching between April and October. such as diving. Their long-term plan is to have a 1. recorders. ﬁve miles (nine km) north of Playa del Carmen and 36 miles (58 km) south of the Cancún Hotel Zone. Tres Rios Tropical Reserve is open only to guests at the Hacienda. pets or cigare es. It will oﬀer 275 luxury accommodations for those wanting to enjoy a family-owned and -operated. 884-5444. Otherwise. It will oﬀer yoga. You are blindfolded and introduced to diﬀerent sensations equivalent to the Maya experience of traveling through wind. $$$$$. tel. You can also get an authentic Maya massage with natural extracts and oils. for the price. Tai Chi.
Punta Maroma Resort and Spa.com.playasecreto. Located on the hacienda property.
tel. A few hundred feet along the beach is the lunch restaurant Los Piños. There are some rustic accommodations and a couple of small seafood restaurants. tel. 5. They oﬀer tours.4 miles (nine km) north of Playa del Carmen. $$. all was invisible.Punta Bete
Cocos Cabañas. (From the Popol Vuh. One of the draws to the old hotel was the friendly staﬀ and good service. there are three other high-end resorts at Punta Bete that seem to always be booked solid. There is a pool. has ﬁve small palapa-roof bungalows run by an ex-pat and her Mexican mate. www. the ocean quiet.
The new one is just a kilometer from the old one. troop of entertaining waiters.)
In addition to your usual Burger King (Calle 1 & 5th). Petite Laﬁ e. There is a two-story dining facility. Birding is top-notch along here. Then came the word. I donʹt think I ʹve listed 10% of the options below. the nights silent. Pizza House (30 Av & 24th) and Señor Frogʹs (at the Commercial Center).com. Playa throbs with restaurants.petitlaﬁ e. There is a restaurant on site but for nightlife youʹd be er bring a good book to read. Dominoʹs Pizza (Av Juárez between 40th & 45th). The sky was motionless. Continental breakfast is included and the restaurant is open from 11 am to 10 pm daily. The rooms start at $275 per night (high season) with a minimum of four nights stay and bookings must be done two weeks in advance. 884-9005. is a new addition to Captain Laﬁ eʹs old hotel. In the beginning. 873-0214. It is a nice 3½-mile (six-km) walk to Playa del Carmen from Cocos.
Xcalacoco means twin coconuts.
. fun place. Besides this funky. an ocean-side pool. Many of the staﬀ from the old hotel have moved to the new one. and nightly entertainment around the pool. garden. $$$$/$$$$$. This se lement is three miles (four km) north of Playa del Carmen and runs about two miles (three km) farther north. and a huge games room. Be brave and try a wide variety of them (and send me a note on both the good and the bad!). sacred Maya text.
mx. www. Their wine list covers 140 choices from 12 countries. La Quinta Pasion. Av 5 between Calle 4 & 2.
Java Joeʹs.com. Calle 10. Tropical is highly recommended. Av 5 & Constituyentes. Their specialty is seafoo. Café Tropical. Not only is this a good spot for an a ernoon break but itʹs a great place to ﬁnd gi s such as cacao beans. www. for the obligatory taco lunch/dinner at less than $10 per person. open 6:30 am to 11 pm daily.el-asador. Limones. known as the island of swallows. smoothies and more. If you canʹt decide what to eat.
Getting Here & Around
. 873-2111. www. Av 5 between 20 & 22nd.mx.com. They have a super open-faced grilled mushroom sandwich with sun-dried tomato pesto and roasted garlic for $10. huge sandwiches. 803-4482.com. down a path through groomed vegetation. 803-2421. 803-2603. Casa del Agua.javajoes. tel. tel. I had lemon chicken the ﬁrst time and traditional chicken in green sauce the second. The bill was under $20 for two and the service was excellent. Steak with trimmings is about $30 per person. ask the waiter to recommend something. Once they leave. tel.mx. You might get through all the ﬂavors before you leave town. Have breakfast while waiting for your take-out lunch to eat on the beach or at some remote ruins. 803-5748. 873-2242. Av 5 and Constituyentes. Really good. ﬁnished oﬀ with a dish of ﬂan ($3) or a crêpe ($3. the best Italian ice cream café. 100% Natural.com. It buzzes with tourists when the cruise ships arrive. www.net. lunch or dinner. If Casa del Agua is recommended. 873-1216.
Cozumel. However. tel. www. eat while walking to the second and continue back and forth all day. or vanilla (if not buying some from the local grocery store) for those back home. is open from 8 to 11 am for a great breakfast buﬀet costing about $6 per person. open 7 am to midnight daily. between 5th & 10th. 2nd ﬂoor. Sol Food Restaurant. www. tel. It has a wide variety of chocolate goodies from drinks to sweets. is for those seeking some of the best steak in the world for less than $20. tel. the pasta isnʹt anything to skip over either. is by far the best restaurant I have found in my research. oﬀers free cocktails with every dinner. Recommended. soy burgers. The locals love visitors who stay and seek out the hidden treasures. Aca Los Tacos. Av 26 between 5th & 10th. Everything is done up Mexican style. It is also nice to sit on the balcony here and watch the traﬃc on the streets. El Asador de Manolo. You could buy at one location. whether its breakfast. has freshly made pastas. Av 5 between 8th and 10th. Recommended. Av 5 and 6. the island returns to a Mexican lifestyle. Av 10 between 26th & 28th. you should be well away.com. has two locations: On Ave 5 between 2nd & 4th and between 26th & 28th. tel. Itʹs really worth stopping here. It is oﬀ the street. Ciao Gelato. tel.50-$4). is just 30 miles (48 km) long and 16 miles (25 km) wide. open 7:15 am to 11:45 pm daily. 803-0632. open 7 am to midnight. Nice atmosphere.ahcacao. tel. 876-2694. % 873-0848.lacasadelagua.limones-restaurant. is an upscale seafood place. popular with the international crowd. exploring the farthest ends of the island. It will be the best ﬁsh dish of that day for about $12.
Chocolate was named after the Maya ruler of Tikal who built the main temple and restored the city to glory.Ah Cacao Chocolate Café.100natural. When the cruise crowd is around. Av 5 between 10 & 12.
869-3223. The more she longed for him. When they arrived. They take an hour to get to the island. The ﬁrst three
. Ixchel wove a beautiful cloth.
About 2. goddess of moon. there were about 40. tel. Beyond that are local homes. tel. The population again took a dip and by 1970 was at 10. tel. Circling the plaza in a radius of about one or two blocks are souvenir shops. with the square being the dividing line.000 years ago the Maya se led on the islandʹs south end and built sacred temples dedicated to Ixchel. Ferries leave Cozumel for Playa every hour from 5 am to 10 pm. There are three companies servicing the island for walk-on passengers – Water Jetʹs Mexico. Avenues run north and south. were in love with her. Charles Lindbergh in 1929 started using Cozumel as a stopover spot on his trips between Florida and Panama. except at 6 am and 9 pm. There are good grocery stores and shoe shops (Mexico long ago built a reputation for selling good-quality leather shoes). road transportation made shipping uneconomical. To gain Kinich Ahau's attention. much of it tied to the tourist trade. sending these products from one end of Mexico to the other. In the old days Maya living on the island and around Playa del Carmen were obligated to make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime to worship Ixchel.000. to keep busy.000 Maya but within 50 years the population had dropped due to disease. water and fertility. The cross streets (calles) go east and west. restaurants and rental companies. UltraMar. There were floods and high tides and crops died. After she bore him numerous Jaguar children. she helped women with childbirth. Trans del Caribe. A year later Cortéz waited for the arrival of Geronimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero so he could use them as intermediaries between him and the Maya. her grandfather struck her dead with lightning (he didn't like the marriage). and businesses. the worse the weather became.
Ixchel was so beautiful that all the gods except Kinich Ahau. But by now Kinich Ahau had become jealous and suspicious. to 30. She lay for 183 days before returning to the palace. accusing her often of an incestuous affair with her brother. except at 7 am and 10 pm. This tactic worked and they soon married. A er the war.
Getting Here & Around
Ferries leave for Cozumel from Playa del Carmen on the mainland every hour from 6 am to 11 pm. However during that period. 872-7688.Ferry from Playa del Carmen You will arrive at the dock in front of San Miguelʹs main plaza and will have to work your way through the crowd of tour operators to the Malecón.000. Today the population is about 75. A er the Second World War. Juan de Grĳ alba arrived and gave the ﬁrst catholic mass at Las Casitas beach north of the plaza. 879-3112. tel. Cozumel became a deep-sea port and exported everything from coconuts to chicle. is the ferry service for cars. hotels. mostly smallpox. During the Caste War the island was used as a sanctuary by the Maya. By 1600 there wasnʹt a soul le . The site is now called San Gervasio. But Ixchel loved Kinich Ahau obsessively and constantly followed him across the sky. Those north of the plaza are even-numbered and those south are odd. the Sun God.
In 1518. Jacques Cousteau let the world know about the exceptional diving opportunities and the tourists ﬂocked in like migrating birds. She went into hiding on the island of Cozumel and. 872-1578. and Soﬁsticado.
He vowed to have a special celebration every year on the anniversary of the a ack and of his survival. Cozumel has one of the more exuberant celebrations in Mexico. During the Caste War. You should be at the dock at least an hour before your scheduled departure time. 1. Many died and Cardenas was seriously wounded but he held a cross in his hand and prayed. carried on the tradition. Today. During peak seasons you should arrive at least an hour before sailing time. The car ferries leave Cozumel Monday to Saturday at 2. games. you might plan on sleeping during the day and enjoying the celebrations at night because you wonʹt be able to sleep at night even if you want to. He survived and took shelter on Cozumel. He is remembered as the “Father of the Long and Painful Process of Crossbreeding. with parades. Once on the island you can walk to anywhere in town or rent a car. tel. www. The cost is $80 per vehicle including driver. Sunday at 4:30. then built a village over the old ruins of Oycib. 9 am and 3. 872-0236. Car ferries leave from Punta Venado (the old dock was at Puerto Morelsos but that has closed). and 3.” Now thereʹs humor! Museum of the Island. a shipwrecked Spaniard who lived among the Maya. The cost is $8 per person for the 50-minute trip and tickets are purchased at the dock in either port. 11 am. is open 9 am
. 5. If you have a hotel near the plaza or park.org. 7 pm and midnight. 872-1434. Trans del Caribe leaves from Puerto Morelos on the mainland and sails to Punta Venado on the island.
Cozumel Carnival or Mardi Gras is celebrated every February/March for the week before Lent. Father Casimiro Cardenas took shelter in a church on the mainland when the Spanish a acked. Taxis are abundant and can be called at tel.cozumelparks. He kept his vow and his wife. 5. the festival of the Holy Cross. the celebration is still respected. Monday to Saturday at 4:30 am. There is a sign. The cost should be $10 to the tip of the island but o en tourists pay up to $20. The parade costumes are spectacular. 9 am. and 7 pm. about 10 miles (16 km) south of San Miguel and a bit east. The passenger service is on fast boats with air conditioning and sun decks. 3. 1. married a Maya princess and learned the language. Sunday at 7 am. is celebrated in April/May at the village of Cedral. reminiscent of Montezumaʹs famous bird-feather cape.travel between Playa del Carmen and San Miguel on the island. 9 pm.
El Cedral.mx. a er his death. about seven km south of Playa. between Calle 4 & 6. scooter or bicycle to explore the island. 7. Av Rafael Melgar. and 9 pm. competitions and concerts that go all night long. and $3 extra for each passenger.
What to See & Do
The monument in San Miguelʹs plaza is to Gonzalo Guerrero.
Nachi-Cocom Beach Club/Water Sports. The historical section includes displays from pirates. The all-inclusive ticket gives you use of the pool. There is a minimum of $12 that you must spend at the site on drinks. Touted as the best beach on the island. open 7 am to 2 pm daily.cozumelnachicocom. a restaurant and bar and a dive operator. Waiters will serve drinks and food from the restaurant. It was rescued by the town and made into a museum. There is no charge to enter the site but they oﬀer an all-inclusive ticket that is just $16 for cruise passengers and $32 for independent travelers. This beach. A cocktail is about $8. is at the south end of the west beach and patronized mostly by the cruise crowd. it has lounge chairs and umbrellas free of charge on a ﬁrst-come. the museum features both natural and historical information about the island. Food will cost about $12 for a lunch serving of ﬁsh or $8 for a sandwich.to 6 pm daily. You also get watered-down drinks and lounge chairs. no ma er how strong a swimmer you are. dives and snorkel trips. The building was once a luxurious hotel that fell into disarray. Paradise Beach is 10 miles (17 km) south of the plaza and eight km (ﬁve miles) south of the cruise ship pier and was once part of San Francisco Beach. is beautiful. ﬁrst-get basis. like most along this shore. Maya and the Spanish. washroom facilities. Beach toys. www. with a fee of $3 to enter. 872-0838. There are palapas. Occupying two stories.net. you should have a life jacket. showers. Most interesting are the historical photographs showing the transformation of the island from 100 years ago to the present.
. hot tub and beach. I ʹd call this slightly overpriced! The site is wheelchair-accessible. The people you will see there are not partiers. shops and tour operators oﬀering jet skis. Palancar Beach is the southernmost beach on the island and is sparsely populated. There are changing rooms. tel. if you are going in more than waist deep from shore. gear and tips (over the entry fee). The natural sections include evolutionary information on reefs as well as wildlife migration and management. Beach chairs and snorkel or ﬁshing supplies are for rent. There is a restaurant on site. Gear and food is extra.
Cozumel from space
The currents oﬀ Cozumel are strong and.
The service. Paradise Reef is a shallow dive for the beginner. you will get 30 minutes of swim time. tel. There is also a dive site by this name. A 15-minute massage is $20 and a deep tissue massage is $25. horseback riding and snorkeling. Of course. is falling oﬀ at this beach.water trampolines. The reef is 60-90 feet (20-30 m) wide and one mile (1½ km) long with coral heads about 10
. tables. Playa San Francisco is a three-miles (ﬁve-km) beach just north of Paradise. 872-094. a restaurant and bar. An ascent line is necessary and rough conditions are common. ﬂowering plants and trees housing numerous birds and reptiles. avoided by even experienced. open 8 am to 6 pm daily. the cost to rent ﬂippers and a mask is about $15 an hour. no ma er how good a swimmer you are. strong swimmers. Barracuda Reef goes down 70 feet (20 m) and has strong currents running up to three knots. Chankanaab Park is Mexicoʹs oldest marine park and a “must see” while on Cozumel. Due to ecological sensitivity. The current is moderate. It serves as the party beach for this area. The currents are strong and really scary. www. Playa Mia (Playa del Sol) is the booze cruise stopping point. www. tel.mx. If you are snorkeling oﬀ a dive boat.
Costs for using equipment at the above beaches may vary by a few dollars but generally the following applies. never go into these waters without a life jacket. windsurﬁng. and is also owned by Mr Sanchos. There is a recompression chamber on the island. Thereʹs also the ATV jungle ride. especially near the north end. Established in 1980. kayaking. There are shopping stalls. It also has some modern Maya temples. This site is seldom visited and then only by experienced divers. There are chairs. The botanical gardens include mangroves. if at a table. Talk to other divers and go only with a reputable dive master. The beach just north of Mr Sanchos is a private one for the cruise crowd. chairs and umbrellas are free. Diving One tank $50. some water sports such as kayaks and pedal boats. which can hold up to 500 people. The reef sits about 200 yards from shore and the waters have underwater statues of Chaak Mool. the lagoon is no longer a swimming hole but diving and snorkeling are good oﬀ the beach. bar. There is a restaurant. along with washrooms and change rooms. There is an all-inclusive $10 ticket for the use of beach toys. and a swim/beach toy area that is roped oﬀ. If you snorkel oﬀshore. Palapas. Swim with Dolphins will give you some educational time (to learn about dolphins) and about 15 minutes to kiss the dolphin and rub his belly – all for $100. From here you can take a glass bo om boat trip or a banana boat ride. Your actual time with the dolphin wonʹt be more than 60 seconds. palapas and full restaurant services at the park.cozumelpaks.com. Although there is a small zoo. It drops to 50 feet (15 m) and is about 600 feet (200 m) from shore. and the Virgin Mary. Photos cost another $15-$20. The entry fee is $10 if traveling independently.
There are many sites and o en the names are changed to a ract divers.sssnetwork. you are expected to eat and drink. There is no charge to enter this complex. however. If you want a “Royal” swim for an extra $25. itʹs about a half-km to Playa Mia. this is really a party beach. If this is too tame for you. a botanical garden and Los Uvas sandy beach. It has a salt-water lagoon. Jacuzzi. where the real partying occurs. kayaks and sun mats can also be rented. shopping mall and some beach gear that can be rented. located across the road. and go parasailing. available 24 hours a day. The current runs about three knots at all times and down currents are also common. 872-2387 or 872-1430. Waverunners $55 for 30 minutes Banana boats $10 for 20 minutes Parasail $45 for 10 minutes Climbing wall $10 for adults/$7 for children Glass bo om boat $55 for three hours Snorkel $35-$65 Be aware that some sail and snorkel trips will cost up to $300.com. Mr Sanchos Beach Club/Restaurant is for the cruise crowd. San Juan Reef is 110 feet (35 m) deep and is for the experienced diver only. two tanks $75 Jeep/dune buggy tours $95 for ﬁve-seven hours Deep-sea ﬁshing About $525 for four hours Submarine ﬂoat $60-$90 for two hours Chankanaab Park is just 6½ miles (12 km) south of the plaza and three miles (ﬁve km) south of the Cruise Ship Pier.
Follow signs. it doesnʹt oﬀer much for wildlife. Rent a car or bike. the current and surf are both a huge danger.com. One club rule prohibits retrieving balls from water hazards as there are occasionally crocs in them. There are huge coral pinnacles. is at the northeastern end of the island and a few diﬃcult miles oﬀ the main road. Punta Tunich is an intermediate-to-advanced dive site. Santa Maria Reef is at the end of San Francisco Beach and although it goes down about 60 feet (18 m) along a wall with tube sponges and coral.mx. always a treat to see. This is the most famous dive oﬀ Cozumel. Punta Sur Lighthouse. There are about 130 steps leading to the tower and observation walkway at the top. do ed with caves and tunnels. Ge ing stuck is a popular sport. the reefʹs most famous guest. www. www. 872-9570. Strong currents make this a diﬃcult spot. It goes down to where green moray eels. There are huge brain corals here. can manage the trip. tel.mex.countryclub. As the name suggests. one at each end. Cedral Wall is intermediate level because of the strong currents. where the views are spectacular. It ʹs a wall dive that gets be er the farther down you go – to about 160 feet (50 m)! Because of its exposed location. This is also a good snorkel area. Colombia Shallow is for the novice. The cost includes entrance to the marine museum. par-72. Tormentos Reef is a shallow dive for intermediate skill levels.800-yard course. Paso el Cedral is an intermediate dive that drops 60 feet (20 m) to reefs with caverns hiding large ﬁsh and the green morays. It drops to about 35 feet (10 m) into a sea garden that seems to go all the way to Cancún.com. It is rich in marine life. groupers. drink carts. The club has a pu ing/chipping green. Although the current is strong. replacing the original which was built in the 1800s. it seems a ractive to barracudas. Yucab is an excellent novice dive that goes down to 60 feet (20 m). This lighthouse was built in 1934. Devilʹs Throat is for experienced divers and goes down 140 feet (45 m). with a few ruins near its base. Palancar Horseshoe is an intermediate dive that goes from 20 to 125 feet (seven to 40 m). The wildlife is good and with luck youʹll not only see ﬂamingos but sea turtles too. the track leading to the lighthouse is really a challenge. This dive is highly recommended for those of this skill level.
There are two lighthouses on the island. Punta Molas Faro. Itʹs an excellent choice for beginners. There are cliﬀs and walls at the 100-foot (30-m) level. Ruins of San Gervasio. Maracaibo or Lighthouse Reef is for expert divers only. The depth is 35-60 feet (10-20 m) on average. The lighthouse. club rentals. Taking a taxi out here would be expensive ($30). and angelﬁsh. 872-0972. tel. is open 8 am to 5 pm daily.
On the Links
Cozumel Golf and Country Club. including a shared cart. Small caves and tunnels form the reef. Li le Caves is a good dive for intermediates that goes down about 70 feet (20 m) to canyons. located in what was once the lighthouse keeperʹs home. Km 6. is a Nicklaus-designed. This dive is a favorite with locals. Fourteen holes have water. the second lighthouse. is especially interesting to birders. $10 entry fee. Be certain to go only with a very skilled dive master on this one.cozumelparks. is $169 for starts before 1:30 pm and $105 for those later. There are strong and fast currents here. The cost. during dry season. Follow Boulevard Juárez east for 10½ miles (17 km) to San Gervasio access road and follow it
. The brain corals are huge.5 north. The wildlife is just as spectacular. although it does go down to 90 feet (30 m). overnight bag storage. a long tunnel (the Throat) takes you to a cavern and more passages. Its colorful wildlife and more than 500 coral formations will addict the newest divers. and a pro shop. From the abandoned lighthouse you can see ro ing ships sunk by pirates in the 1700s. ravines and narrow tunnels. The lighthouse is at the southern tip of the island on a road that branches oﬀ from the main one. Columbia Reef is for intermediate divers and goes 80-90 feet (25-30 m) down. 6. Once you leave the main road. grunts and snappers can be seen. Only a four-wheel drive. A long coral ridge rises from about 70 feet (23 m) where green morays and groupers play.feet (three m).
opens 11 am to 2 am daily. Av 30 between Calle 2 & 4. has the best reputation for diving safety and ecological sensitivity. They can also arrange hotel/dive packages. There is no bartering here. $5 cover charge. has both cars and scooters for rent. Cozumel doesnʹt have that much nightlife. and a two-tank twilight dive is $85 with a minimum of three people. tel. Their website says if you print out the page they will guarantee those prices. you will become pregnant! Wear good walking shoes (so you can make a wide detour around the arch) and bring water. which are $3 per person. Insurance adds a bit more. It features the best sound equipment on the island and it has huge screens where you can watch sports or old videos. CP Rentals. and the wide variety of bars around the plaza. There is a light and laser show every night and live entertainment is sometimes oﬀered.to the end. tel. contrary to what the cruise ship directors tell passengers. Rafael Melgar & Calle 11. Black coral is still sold on the island but remember that it is endangered. Av Juárez between Calle 10 & 15. tel.
Any dives that go into the Chankanaab park do not include park fees. The cheapest I could get was $50 a day for a Volkswagen and $25 a day for a scooter. can hold up to 600 people. Sea Scuba runs ﬁshing tours as well and they have some rental gear. Av Juárez #2 and Av 10 North. Even though their prices are good. Lady Rainbow. Snorkel tours for 2½ hours are $35 and for 4½ hours are $45. 872-0093. You can sip cool tequila cocktails and snack on appetizers while meeting other international travelers. There is a loudspeaker blasting out Latin music most nights. is a great art store where you can get
. Viva Mexico. visit one of the inland operators. www. open 8 am to 5 pm daily. The Temple of Hands has a number of childrenʹs handprints on the walls.com.islacozumel. The temples were dedicated to Ixchel. open 5 pm until dawn. A three-tank all-day dive is $90 with a minimum of four people. 872-0799. Studio Blue. Rafael Melgar and Calle 3. The general atmosphere a er the cruise crowd leaves is tranquilo. Dropping the demand (not buying) will help preserve this slow-growing creature. Snorkel trips are $35 for 2½ hours. Los Cinco Soles.cozumel-diving. A two-tank morning dive is $60 and includes equipment.
In addition to Señor Frogs at 65th & Hidalgo. you shouldnʹt pay more than $15. www. with a maximum of six divers. tel.net/studio-blue. their tours are questionable. If you are not part of the cruise crowd. www.net/seascuba. Many stores near the Punta Langosta Pier where the cruise crowd arrives are duty-free. www. They are friendly and this is a family-run business. Sea Scuba. A two-tank tour is $60-$90 depending on where you go and when.cozumel-diving. 236-1860. if you want one. Be aware that the diamond market on Cozumel. has furniture and most notably pure vanilla ($6/half-liter). the goddess of the moon. A guide isnʹt really necessary but.net/services/2000. The Arte Factory. high-priced and designed for those not having time to search for a bargain. This was once a pilgrimage site for Maya. Adolfo Salas #200 and Calle 6. a ernoon dives leave at 1 pm and evening dives leave at 6 pm. This is the best late night bar. oﬀers diving and snorkeling tours. They are o en booked solid so make reservations early. Shops generally open 9 am-2 pm and 5-10 pm daily. tel. tel.
There are dozens of tour operators at the dock waiting for customers. Morning dives leave at 9 am. She is the topnotch goddess and ruler of life and death. 878-4055 or 872-5387. is not a source of good deals. 872-5744. They carry a large range of equipment for rent or sale and can arrange hotel/dive packages. In fact itʹs like walking the gauntlet ge ing past them.
Shops all around the plaza sell almost everything you will ﬁnd anywhere else in Mexico. Beware ladies – if you stand under the arch at the entrance to the ruins. Av Rafael Melgar and Calle 8. 872-4414. itʹs $90.balamarte. Neptuno Cozumel. water and fertility. For two-cave dives. The entry fee is $5 per person and you need about an hour to see the site properly.
872-1986. tel. www.feather art for reasonable prices. well maintained and comfortable. 869-1869. This is a family-run business and hospitality is their specialty. tel. between 25th & 30th North. The lush vegetation in the grounds is superb. It is a skill that has been practiced for hundreds of years.com. and friendly and has great air conditioning. $. I didnʹt check it out but maybe I should have!
Cozumel has well over 50 hotels. quiet. Clean and comfortable. Hotel Pepita. between Calles 5 & 7 South. The hotel is clean. corner of Av 5. Av 11 #101.net/el_marques. is a three-story building on the plaza. There is a comfortable courtyard with a pool. 872-5471. is another quaint boutique hotel that is family-owned and -operated. Each front room has a balcony overlooking the action. Recommended. $$.
Hotel Pepita La Casona Real. www. 10 am-10 pm. is three blocks from the main plaza. Calle 10 North #1500 between Av 5 and Rafael Melgar. 872-0677. Continental breakfast is included. Av 15 South #120. Clean. tel.hotelvistadelmar. Hacienda San Miguel. 872-0098. $$. from no star to ﬁve. There is a bar and laundry service.haciendasanmiguel. Woodyʹs Love Stop. has 16 large rooms decorated in a traditional Mexican motif.cozumel-hotels. $$/$$$. as the island caters more to the cruise crowd. Av Juárez #501. 872-0545. Rafael Melgar #45. has studios and suites in a lovely colonial building. Vista Del Mar.com. Itʹs the ﬁrst sex shop in Cozumel. Av 5 South #180. But they are seldom full. Hotel El Marques. tel. Most of the family-run ones in the center of town are wonderful li le places that specialize in courtesy and cleanliness. This art is unique and not found everywhere. www. open Monday to Saturday. tel. The service is exceptional. $$$.
$$$.com. location. Itʹs close to the plaza. Donʹt book ahead. scuba diving. sauna. pool. tennis court. a gym. $$$/$$$$. pool. tel. tennis court. Casa del Mar. beach area.casadelmarcozumel. Calle 2 North #3.
.ichotelsgroup. Km 4.villablanca. The service is friendly and the hotel is safe. has a pool. $$$$.Vista del Mar bedroom Hotel Plaza Cozumel. poolside bar. Jacuzzi. $$$. snack bar and three dive shops. They have a pool. restaurant.5 on the Coastal Highway.net/. www. some rooms are not up to snuﬀ. Km 3. 872-1922. architecture and décor. tel. air conditioning and cable. The restaurant is open from 7 am to 11 pm daily. www. game room. with lounges overlooking the ocean. Villa Blanca. There is a Jacuzzi.
Casa del Mar Hotel Presidente Intercontinental. Like Hotel Presidentes anywhere in the world. and sundeck. tel. tennis. www. and wheelchair access. tel. 872-0322. For these you must pay an extra $50. 872-2700. spa.com. www. is a beachfront hotel with 50 rooms. pets are permi ed only if they are under 35 pounds.hotelplazacozumel. childrenʹs babysi ing and business center. However. Km 6. Coastal Highway. Coastal Highway. restaurant. plus Internet. whirlpool.com. and services. These include (to name a few) gym. gi shop. Although service animals are permi ed to enter at no extra cost. 872-0314. Other rooms look onto the Caribbean. they are excellent in price. live entertainment. has 98 Mexican-styled rooms with huge picture windows looking onto a lush garden complete with fountain. water sports.
tel. according to Wyndham specs. The 400+ rooms have access to three pools. The hotel is on Playa San Francisco. four bars and a nightclub serving guests from the 250 rooms. This is an all-inclusive resort.occidentalhotels.
. Km 17.Hotel Presidente Wyndham Cozumel Resort (previously the Reef Club). tennis courts. kayaks. snorkel equipment and windsurﬁng boards. ﬁtness center.
Wyndham Cozumel Occidental Grand Cozumel. tel. 872-9730. $$$$$.com. although some of the service is not at North American speed. www. There are spots just for kids (and teens). There are six restaurants.5 Coastal Highway. $$$$$. is the most expensive all-inclusive hotel I found on Cozumel. The architecture is very Mexican with bright colors and heavy wood furniture. ideal for families but also with an adults-only section. a long stretch of white sand.9 on the Coastal Highway. Motorized sports are extra. 872-9311. nightly entertainment and excellent food served in four restaurants. Km 12. has had a face-li .
I ʹve also heard of people drinking directly from the kegs. People came. 872-1041. The community has three white-sand bays that allow jet skiing. More came. open 5 pm-11 pm daily. His specialty is prime rib and lobster ($30) with a ﬁne red wine (not included). The marina waterfront has souvenir shops selling a wide variety of goods. The owner spoke numerous languages and had a charismatic personality. Av Rafeal Melgar and Calle 6 North. oﬀers a four-hour jungle horseback ride that includes snorkeling in a cenote and a picnic lunch. private condominiums and a few upscale B&Bs. He expanded again. 872-0213. There is an inside patio but the preferred tables are on the deck overlooking the street and the water. But sadly.
Puerto Aventuras is a gated community with luxury resorts. Also along the water are numerous ﬁne-dining restaurants. The food is very good – chicken is the best. Av Melgar & A. tel. Fishing. Señor Frogs and the Pizza Hut. located just past the Omni Hotel.
In the Air
Parasailing. Panchos Backyard. for $12. 872-2477. tel. This is one of the best Italian restaurants on the Riviera Maya. started at this location with four tables. open 4-11 pm daily. The horses are healthy and happy. including Burger King. Dominos. tel. tel. open 7 am-11 pm daily. at the marina. Salas. Plaza Leza. 873-5035.R. This company has a 31-foot (10-meter) boat to pull you
. 873-5108. and wind surﬁng. oﬀering Northern Italian cooking done in a brick oven. owned by Eduardo Ruiz. diving and snorkeling can be arranged in the town. tel. Av Rosado Salas #109. Yucatán food is the specialty and a good meal of ﬁsh will cost no more than $10. Prima. not to mention good food. Reservations are recommended.Occidental Grand Cozumel
There are over 90 restaurants and cafés on the island. has a relaxed Mexican atmosphere with an indoor and outdoor patio area. Capt.
What to See & Do
Captain Rickʹs Sport Fishing Oﬃce. He expanded. water skiing. The deepest marina along the coast is here and the village has a full-service dock. Pepeʹs Steak and Seafood. He is very popular with the cruise crowd. Calle 1 South #58 or Rafael Melgar and 5th. tel. Hard Rock Café. costs $45 per person. 869-6126. Rick also oﬀers sport-ﬁshing tours. The pasta is home-made and the wine cellar is huge. Pepe needs to move from charm and return to quality again. McDonalds. Pepeʹs.
grouper and sharks are around all the time. Thomas Leman course that opens at 7:30 am daily all year round. Almost anywhere there is reef. You can also go to Tortugas Reef.
. touching and dancing close) is just $99 per person and can be done at the same time as the Royal Swim. par-32. Dolphin Discovery. oﬀers numerous interactive programs with playful dolphins. marlin and tuna is best from March to the end of June. Children under eight are not permi ed to participate and those between eight and 12 must be accompanied by a paying adult. The cost depends on what you do. King mackerel. Carts are not mandatory and reservations are not necessary. snorkeling is good. A Sunset Sailing Cruise is oﬀered every evening on a 46-foot (15-m) catamaran. is a nine-hole. shirts. 873-5109. at the marina. tel. clubs and accessories. Cenotes can be reached from here with a tour company or in your own car. hats. one at 60 feet (20 m) and the other at 120 feet (40 m). This is an exciting dive where turtles and barracudas are o en encountered. golf balls. Barracuda. celebrity manatees and comical stingrays. just 15 minutes oﬀshore where the reef is about 70 feet (22 m) deep. tel.
Puerto Aventuras Golf Course. 849-4748. The Swim Adventure (kisses. The Dolphin Royal Swim is $149 per person and can be done at 9 and 11 am or 1 and 3 pm daily. Green fees are $80 for 18 holes and include an electric cart. you can spend up to three hours playing in the tanks with all the animals. Km 90 Chetumal-Cancún Highway. snapper. Reservations recommended. Fishing for sailﬁsh. These cruises are available at the marina. open 9 am-6 pm daily.into the air for a thrilling ride over the bay. But for $200 per person. just waiting for your lure. There is a clubhouse where you can purchase drinks.
The coral reef is just 300 feet (100 m) from shore and divers can go down to two platforms. dorado and barracuda are best caught from July to the end of September.
www. Riviera Maya Parasail. Main Marina (across from the Omni Hotel). They have an Ideal Nourishment Program and Get Fit Rooms where you can sweat out your physical ailments in private. www. The diﬀerence between them is negligible but you must check the latest reports before booking. where you can ﬁnd souvenirs. a gym. is a high-end. a mini-golf course.to 15-minute parasailing trips. are two upper-end all-inclusive resorts set on a few miles of white sand beach. originated in Istanbul in 1974. www. Besides being a very good company to deal with. at the marina near the Oasis Hotel. Together. a game room and a ﬂeet of non-motorized watercra . It sat in the marina for years before the present owners decided to make it into an interesting bar. 875-5000/875-1500. all-inclusive luxury resort.
There are 12 luxury resorts. The restaurants in the all-inclusives will take outsiders. leaving at 9:30 and 11:30 am or 2:30 pm daily. $$$$/$$$$$.jewelry-lapis. www. 803-2078. across the highway from Puerto Aventura in the sand-colored Turkish-styled building. Contact them (from their website) with any questions. A continental breakfast is delivered to your room each morning. They do this by combining their tours so all boats/vehicles are full or as close to full as possible. www. They also oﬀer handmade oriental carpets (by far my preference). tel. Their catamaran day-trips run from $600 for 10 people for four hours up to $1.com. tel. tel. Be sure to stop in for a drink. scuba diving. You can design your own jewelry.
. has four boats. 873-5683. The cost is $375 for half a day and $650 for a full eight hours of excitement on the smaller boats (four people) or $450 for half a day and $800 for a full day on the larger boat (six people). There are a few bars along the beach for a quiet sipping session. cenote diving. but occasionally. Omni Aventuras. oﬀers tandem ($55 per person) or solo ($65 per person) 12. a spa and ﬁtness center. tel.akumaldivecenter. Akumal Dive Center. Residents have access to 14 restaurants.com. Mi Barco.000 rooms with all luxury amenities included. Rooms have balconies with private Jacuzzis and hammocks.barcelo. two pools plus a kidsʹ pool. clothing and food stores. oﬀers snorkeling. There is the ﬁtness center.com. This is ﬁne for a night or two. ﬁshing trips and diving instructions. tel.
Most all-inclusives oﬀer nightly entertainment. The pools are huge and a ractive. dive shop and on-site parking. the beach delightful. www. 873-5513. they are very prompt to answer any questions. They have a night dive and twice a week they go to the park at Cozumel. north end of beach. Captain Glen Fishing Charters. individual climate controls. $$$$$. 875-1958. Lapis oﬀers a combination of quality-designed jewelry embedded with precious and semi-precious stones. There is a minimum of four persons per dive. Barcelo Maya Beach/Garden. they oﬀer almost 1. 24-hour medical service.
Lapis Jewelry Factory. two theaters. Small shops are located near the marina.200 for 50 guests. three tennis courts. Word is the previous owner will not be back to reclaim his boat.omnihotels. tel.com.com. including blue and yellow diamonds.snubamexico.Tour Operators
Most hotels have tour operators who also work with the private companies. 875-9025.com. plus a few smaller places in Puerta Aventura (this gated community). and lots of space – 395 square feet for the oversized rooms. They have three dives per day. They became so well known that they spread to other countries. you should get away and ﬁnd something new. is a large boat that was conﬁscated from a drug dealer.chartermexico.
The best rooms are in the newer section. $$$$$. $$$$$. regardless of how badly misrepresented your resort of choice has been. El Dorado Seaside Suites.com.There are two restaurants and two bars.
Be aware that if you pay for everything before you leave your home.
Sunscape Puerto Aventuras. tel. some extraordinary. www. tel. tel.
Beaches have been destroyed throughout the Yucatán by Hurricane Wilma and the hotels are doing their best to rectify this but it can't be done overnight. The food and service is upscale but not exceptional. $$$$$. plus you have the option of dining in your room – for a charge of course. Km 95.sunscaperesorts. claims clients need not wear the
. has 280 adults-only. but the hotel has concentrated most of its eﬀorts around activities designed to keep youngsters. This resort has the #1 reputation in Aventuras. great massages and free tennis lessons. has 524 spacious guest rooms and a spa/ﬁtness center. Bring water shoes. I hear over and over about unexpected problems like a non-existent but paid-for room or a five-star price being paid for a no-star accommodation. all with four-poster canopy beds to add to the romance. 848-7510. The ﬁve pools are large and the safe deposit boxes cost extra if you use them. sullen teens.
Cameleon Marival. considering that this is one of the most expensive places in PA. There are some great extras like a swimsuit spinner in the locker room. free hydrotherapy.
The six international restaurants serve well-prepared meals. 875-3000. 875-1910. luxury rooms. honeymooners and retirees happy. you will not be able to change hotels.
The place is exquisite. kayaks and snorkeling gear are also part of the package. Tennis. www. including one butler. However.com.
Most hotels here are all-inclusive so a restaurant section will be irrelevant to many visitors. Check their website for this. Casa del Agua. 873-5184. a 30-person Jacuzzi and two pools. tel. golf equipment. if you want
. play tennis or join in aerobics.
There is a ﬁtness center. The maximum number of people they take are 10 at any one time for a minimum of three dayʹs stay. but kids are allowed. one adults-only. There is also a saltwater lagoon to play in. and a staﬀ of ﬁve at your beck and call. There are no pets or smoking allowed. not to mention a private beach. Mexican tile and hardwood decor. The hotel oﬀers some good “deals” during oﬀ-season. Thereʹs turndown service (I ʹd expect the bed to be warmed for this price!) and security.000 per night for a room. with handcra ed furniture.
The price includes breakfast.casadelagua. kayak.irritating wristbands nor make reservations at the specialty restaurants. For activities you can bicycle. is beyond my scale at almost $1.
www. volleyball. ice cream and the best pizza in town. Itʹs on the beach next to the Catalonia Royal Tulum. cafeteria. doesnʹt open until 11 am. This was the Copacabana before it fell under new management. Night-time entertainment is not compulsory. non-paying visitors are discouraged from enjoying the area. open 8 am. tel. The beaches are maintained by the resorts so private. for around $10 a plate. Italian Bakery. 873-5029.
You can play billiards. If you can wait till then. 875-1800. opens from 8 am to 8 pm daily. $$$. $$$$$. Internet. mini-mart. such as archery.
. on the plaza. a few small restaurants and one dive shop in the center. The ambiance is casual. ping pong. plus a kidsʹ pool. mini-golf. is a family-styled all-inclusive with 288 rooms and one large pool.
Catalonia Royal Tulum. but closed for siesta between 2 and 5 pm. and darts or you can take dance lessons. Papaya Republic. I love the name. Grand Flamenco Xcaret. and four Jacuzzis. oﬀers some extras other resorts donʹt. the food is fresh and the quantity is good. tel.
Xpu-Há is a quiet li le se lement just three miles (ﬁve km) south of Puerto Aventuras with ﬁve all-inclusive resorts on the beach.some variety. Paco is so well known that locals drive long distances just to get his food. It oﬀers good coﬀee (o en hard to come by in coﬀee-growing countries) and the best desserts on the coast to go with it.cafecafe-pa. tel. tel. Golﬁto Duck Pu is a mini-golf. there are many places to choose from. open daily at 11 am. They also have high-speed Internet. is popular for its French toast. is a seafood eatery on the beach. kiddie club. Paco Taco. 871-5400. next to the Premex Gas Station (no phone available). which has greatly improved the facilities. There are boogie boards. A total of 10 restaurants and bars are available for you. Café Café at the marina. Open 8:30 am to 7 pm. pedal boats and water polo. kayaks. and whirlpool. itʹs well worth it to taste the best shrimp tacos in the Yucatán.com. There is also mini-golf and a gas station. steam room. 873-5728.
What to See & Do
. The breeze is noticeable.Although the 770 rooms are fairly large and comfortable. There are small hotels. Friday and Saturday a ernoons from 3-7 pm. most are quite inexpensive and all are romantic. they oﬀer nothing exceptional. once Robinsonʹs Club. Two km south of the ruins. on a cliﬀ overlooking the Caribbean. Visiting one of each per day would take most of your vacation. The Maya built here because of the areaʹs aesthetic beauty and strategic importance. there are numerous huts along the beach.
Tulum is where the third-most popular ruins in the Yucatán are located. They have white sand for a lawn. there is live music. A bus will drop you oﬀ on the highway and you will have to walk or take a taxi to the ruins themselves. is now being renovated. thus making the heat bearable. The ruins are 1. Some are very basic. tel.2 miles (two km) toward the ocean from the highway and you can drive and park there. Club Tulum.
Al Cielo. If you do nothing else in Tulum. there was no start-up date available. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner only and is especially known for the good wine selection that complements the fresh seafood dinners ($20).
Getting Here & Around
The Tulum/Cancún Highway passes the road leading to the ruins and then continues a bit farther south to the village of Tulum. restaurants and jungle along the road. The cabañas that overlook the Caribbean are decorated with sheer mosquito ne ing over the beds. bamboo stick walls (some have plaster halfway up) and thatch roofs. 840-9012. visiting the ruins is a must. is located between the two gates of Xpu-Há. Al Cielo also has four rooms for rent ($200+ per night) made with local hardwood and palapa roofs. As of writing time. There are 11 restaurants and 10 bars. Reservations are a must. Buses pass by along the Tulum/Cancún Highway every hour going north or south until 5 pm.
snorkeling and skinny-dipping are recommended. is a rocky inlet reached by boat or road. Bring everything you need. entry fee is $5 per person. Picture ID and $20 deposit are required for towels. 883-0524 (Cancún) or 803-1298 (Playa). one midway and one at the far end. The park opens daily at 9 am and closes between 5 and 6 pm. There are three entrances – one at the beginning. is a popular water park where you can explore creeks. Bird watching. The worst possible danger is being charged by damselﬁsh. that do this when threatened. Cave maps are available at most oﬃces of tour operators. There are no services. follow the main highway north to Akumal Caribe road. the connection was still a rumor. If you do not have a car to reach Yalku. Meals can be taken at any of the six restaurants.com.xel-ha. The most popular trip is to the saltwater layer about 80 feet (25 m) down. locker and snorkel gear. It is an all-inclusive entertainment center starting at $75 per adult per day and $50 for children. The sign says Cenote Cristal. take a bus to Akumal just north of Xel-Há and hire a boat. directly across the road from Naharon. If driving. Coming here without snorkel gear would be a great travesty because the wildlife is so abundant. The saltwater layer. Open from 8 am to 5 pm daily. There are rumors that this downstream cave system connects with Ox Bel Há but at time of writing. Follow the dirt road to the ocean. cenotes and underground rivers. Mayan Blue. there are events and activities that are not included in this basic entry fee such as the dolphin swim. you would pay less than $10 to get to Xel-Há. Turn right and follow this for ﬁve miles (eight km) to the ﬁrst dirt road heading north.
Adventures on Water
Yalku. If staying in Tulum. is down about 80 feet (25 m). tel. even though the cave is dark due to the black walls. Public buses running between Cancún and Tulum/Chetumal stop at the gates. lagoons.See cave descriptions under Playa del Carmen for those along the Cobá Road. depending on the time of year. www. However. The saltwater layer is oﬀ the Desconocido Dome line. is a complex system of tunnels and rooms that would take a week to explore.
Xel-Há. white in color. Cenote Naharon is two miles (three km) south of Tulum along the Tulum/Cancún highway (#307) and on the west side of the road. entry fee $3.
has eight rooms in the village center. coming early is crucial. In 2007 they distributed 242 new toys for children between the ages of six months and 18 years. They can arrange tours and they oﬀer bicycles so you can visit the ruins. There are hammocks. There is a small generator at the restaurant and bar. Asia. a plant nursery. In fact. Go in and party. The specialists have traveled and studied in Europe.
For the most part.com.The park is designed around an inlet so it appears quite jungle-like. an apiary. and clothing to be distributed to families with children suﬀering from HIV or mental. During the week a quiet drink outside your closest bar with a gecko for company is about as exciting as it gets. Eco-Tulum brings in specialists throughout the year who oﬀer sessions and workshops on subjects such as Shiatsu. walk along the south beach. terrace and hammocks around the terrace. You may want to include a gi in your luggage when you leave home. South America and India. www. It is just two miles (three km) from the ruins.” where you get the chance to jump into the water from a very high elevation. There are interpretive paths through the jungle and to the “cliﬀ of courage. and you will hear music intended to a ract visitors. $$. Cabañas Copal Hotel. you must come early and book immediately. they wonʹt stay open just so you have time to see it all.EcoTro ers. However.com. www. which is brought in by trucks and stored in ground-level tanks. viewpoints. For those interested in holistic life styles. Nahuatl herbal medicine and sexology. The website. The three Eco-Tulum hotels listed below are ecologically conscious so if your comfort level needs ﬁve-star. All meals and drinks are included in the basic price.com. You can use bicycles. clothes-optional resort on the beach. is a liberal. Barter a li le and smile a lot. 871-2674. this is not the place for you. tel. As part of Eco-Tulum group (see above). lounge.cabanascopal. day packs. a childrenʹs playground.hotel-latino. as well as to orphans and those living in extreme isolation. kayaks or shu le buses to and from main points. this hotel should be considered. www. There is a pool. Calle Andromeda #2013.
There are cra s and cra stores along the access road to the ruins and in town. Guests from around the world have donated new toys. a ﬂoating bridge and a Maya cave. has interesting tips and suggestions for a greener life. 877-8447. especially on weekends. However. Snorkel gear and inner tubes are available.
Hotel Latino. aromatherapy. if you come late. Mexican tourists love this place so if youʹre intent on doing something like swimming with dolphins. the nightlife here is pre y laid-back – you need Cancún or Playa for action. Propane heats the water. solar power is replacing the gas-generated electricity or candles here. what they are doing is promoting the “Give a Toy. physical or emotional problems. You can always leave early if youʹve had enough but. a massage center. Get a Smile” program. tarot readings. $$. tel.
facials. thereʹs the ruin just a few steps away. tel.Neighbors are iguanas. And. although there is wireless Internet. I love the place! Azulik Villas.6 miles (six km) south of the ruins. 880-5629/880-6022. The spa oﬀers massage therapy including clay massage. The tiny private pools outside each cabin overlooking the ocean are a big draw.
Once youʹve been pounded and kneaded into so dough from your massage. There is a concierge who checks the 15 cabins every hour between 8 am and 10 pm to see if your ﬂag is up outside your cabin. Zahra Hotel. 3. There are nets around the beds to impede other freeloaders from enjoying your blood. If so. kayak (gear is provided) or hike through the jungle looking for the scary howler monkeys. $$/$$$. You can also order a quiet dinner on your balcony. body scrubs and hair therapy (that ʹs a new one!). www. Occasional guests are raccoons and tejons (li le badgers). You can have Reiki treatments or a copal sweat lodge treatment or you can nestle in the dry ﬂotation tank.azulik. If you have an aversion to wildlife or insects.zahra. of course. is a bit upscale and specializes in spa services. is the third of the three Eco-Tulum resorts and it too is rustic.com/. he stops to see how he can help. The cabins are thatch and hardwood with no electricity or telephone.
. though the food is not included in the basic price of your cabin and is a bit pricey: $2 for a coﬀee and $17 for fajitas. www.com. hermit crabs and geckos. They do not oﬀer refunds because you freaked out at geckos. you can snorkel. this may not be the place for you. Feeding wildlife is discouraged. $$$$$.mx.
Grilled ﬁsh and frajitas are also recommended. some on stilts. 871-2195. They have nachos covered in refried beans. tel. with the most aﬀordable meals. Don Cafeto. open 7 am to 11 pm daily. tel. A er dark. $$. Maya-styled buildings. such as their beef stew. They canʹt be beat. which you can eat along with a cold beer ($8). salsa. The restaurant overlooks the ocean. serviced by friendly staﬀ and guarded by the friendliest dog in the country. The upstairs is open-air while downstairs is a bit more elegant.com/about/index. El Tacoqueto.dosceibas. Dos Ceibas. you may be asked to go into the kitchen and see what they have cooking. 505-1713. $$/$$$/$$$$. The bungalows are clean and comfortable.
. There is a good restaurant and bar here and an air-conditioned Internet café. tel.
Because of the heat and humidity most people donʹt even think of eating before sunset. about a third of a mile (half a km) from the ruins. 64 Tulum Road. 876-2810. This is a very laid-back place so donʹt expect fast service. has numerous stone and thatch bungalows just 30 feet (10 m) from the beach and tucked into lush jungle vegetation. small but comfortable rooms close to the ruins. They o en have live music. www. Cross Roads to the ruins. itʹs the brightest place in town. guacamole and cheese. El Mirador is on the Coastal Road.com. They also serve the best mango smoothies (liquidos) in town for $3. If you donʹt know what you want to eat. www. 877-6024. open from 8 am to 9 pm daily. Great for lunch or supper. This is a very popular place.html. on your le . end of Tulum Av. This has been in town for years and has remained a popular spot for locals and tourists. tel. the mole dishes are recommended and cost about $10. the streets in town come alive with visitors looking for some action and food. Always remember that an empty restaurant (unless itʹs closed) means a sore stomach. has six basic. There is a restaurant and bar on site. Good Mexican food. Hotel Acuario.hotelacuariotulum. should be eaten with them. is open 8 am to 10 pm daily (no phone available).This complex has 22 cabins with electricity until 11 pm. The cabins are thatch-roofed. Km 10 Tulum-Boca Paila Road.