I'm not sure if this should go in the Caribbean or Latin America board, so I'm putting it in both. Just a warning, it's long...
My friends and I went to Cozumel for a long weekend over Memorial Day. Overall it was a wonderful trip, and I really wish we could have stayed longer (we were only there for 3 nights).
We flew from DC to Cozumel on US Airways, with a short layover in Charlotte. Luckily the flight arrived in Coz at about 11 am, so we had most of the day to spend at the beach. We took a taxi van to our hotel from the airport—and were overcharged (and we knew it, but we didn’t know of any other options at the time). It only took about five minutes to get to our hotel. We stayed at Sol Cabanas Del Caribe. We found a great deal online for the three of us (a girls weekend). Our room wasn’t ready yet, so they held our luggage, we changed and headed straight for the beach. The beach wasn’t crowded at all, and we found the perfect spot under a palapa. The hotel is on a sandy beach (I’m pretty sure it’s manmade), but there are lots of rocks around the beach and in the water. There is a small water access area. After lounging for a while, we decided to have margaritas and lunch at the hotel restaurant. The food wasn’t great, but not awful either. But the margarita was a welcomed refreshment! We relaxed on the beach a while longer and went for a long swim and snorkel. The water was a little bit rough, and we saw some fish, but the snorkeling was nothing spectacular. After reading reviews I expected better snorkeling (but I changed my mind about that later, see Day 4.) At about 5 pm, we finally left the beach and checked into our room. The room was very basic and clean. There was no tv and only a window unit air conditioner in the room. It was very hot in Cozumel—in the 90’s with the heat index in the hundreds, so good air conditioning was a must for me! It was a bit difficult for us to figure out how to make the air conditioner actually cool the room. The windows were permanently open in the bathroom, so we had to keep that door shut-the bathroom was very uncomfortable to be in even for a few minutes because of the heat and humidity. We took showers-I actually tried to take a cold water shower to cool down, but the water was just tepid, and there wasn’t a whole lot of water pressure. After getting ready we went to the hotel bar and had more strawberry margaritas—they were great! We then took a taxi into town. We did lots of window shopping and had dinner at Pancho’s Backyard in town. The restaurant had been recommended when I was in Cozumel on a cruise with my fiancé last year, but we didn’t make it there. My friends both really enjoyed their meals, but mine was just ok—I just ordered the wrong thing I think! But, I asked a question about the quesadillas, but decided not to order them. Then the waiter gave them to us for free! The restaurant had a really nice ambiance too. We went back to the hotel after dinner. We had to get up early the next morning for our snorkel/dive trip. When we got back to the hotel, it was still hot in our room. The beds were also very hard, but I still fell asleep quickly because we had been traveling and in the sun all day.
We woke up about 7, and the room was freezing. At least we got the air conditioning to work! We had pretty good breakfasts at the hotel restaurant. I had scheduled a trip with Eagle Ray Divers, which I found on the internet and was recommended on message boards. One friend took two dives and one snorkel, and my other friend and I went snorkeling 3 times. The trip was a lot of fun, and there were only about 10 passengers. We ended up being on the boat with another group of girls, so that was kind of fun. We snorkeled at Columbia Shallows. And my other friend dove there. I saw my first turtle ever, so that really made the trip for me. We also saw a huge eagle ray, and lots of tropical fish. This was a good site for snorkeling, but it was a little deep for me. I like to snorkel in a little more shallow water, so I can be closer to the sea life. We all snorkeled at the second site, Palancar reef. It really wasn’t very interesting. Finally we went to the Santa Rosa Wall where some people dove and I snorkeled. Again, I wasn’t impressed. After the last stop, we had lunch on the southwest side of the island at a beach club. It was good, but again, nothing special. I had a great time on the trip, and seeing the turtle made it worth it to me, but I was really disappointed with the snorkeling sites in general. The water was just too deep where we were to really see much well. It may have been better if it was only a snorkel trip, maybe we were in the deeper water because of the divers—but we still snorkeled in slightly different areas than the divers. I just feel like they could have taken us to better places—we saw much more interesting sea life later (see day 3) from the beach for free! When we got back to the hotel, we got ready for dinner, and to celebrate a birthday. We had dinner (great fajitas at a local restaurant, but I can’t remember the name!) and margaritas in town, did some more window shopping, and then went to Senor Frogs. Wow, did I feel like I was in college again. But it was still fun. We had some yummy frozen drinks and did some dancing. Took a taxi back to the hotel and crashed.
This was by far my favorite day of the trip. We got up kind of late and had breakfast at Playa Azul hotel next. We decided to rent a car. We just rented through the hotel, and a guy from Avis came and picked us up, took us to town, where we rented a jeep. We decided to drive around the island. Our first stop was Dzul Ha, which has amazing snorkeling. We had to walk over a lot of rocks, and walk as far north as we could, since the current would drift us back to where we locked up our belongings. We made the bad decision of walking over all the rocks before getting in the water barefoot, and I cut my foot badly—but I still think it was worth for the snorkeling. I had never seen so many fish and so much variety. We saw starfish, rays, a needle looking fish, lots of colorful tropical fish, and I’m sure more that I can’t remember. It actually started raining while we were snorkeling here—that was a neat experience, and it only lasted for about 5 minutes—and that was the only time it rained during our trip. Unfortunately, my underwater camera ran out of film here, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked. After snorkeling (I could have stayed in there for hours!!) we had lunch there, and again, it was just ok. We then headed to Paradise Beach. I had been there once before on a cruise, and I wanted to find the huge piece of brain coral where I had spotted starfish and a porcupine fish nearby. Unfortunately the water was really rough this time, but I did make it out there. It was a long swim, and I only stayed a few minutes because my snorkel was having issues--so the swim back was even longer. And I didn’t get to see another porcupine fish! We just relaxed on the beach for a while and had some more strawberry margaritas. We then got back to the jeep and drove to the other side of the island. If there is one thing I’d recommend doing besides snorkeling at Dzul Ha, it would be to get to the other side of the island. It was breathtaking. The waves were gorgeous, and the beaches were so pristine, with soft white sand (much softer than the other side of the island). We went to the ecological reserve near the lighthouse on the south side. There was a baby deer and peacock walking around the grounds! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take the tour to see the lighthouse and turtle nesting sites, but we did see some great views from their look out tower. We got back in the jeep and continued our drive, but we just had to stop every few minutes to take photos. We then stopped at Chen Rio for drinks and a snack. They had a small swimming area which was protected by rock formations. I could have sat there for hours watching the waves crashing against the rocks. And Carlos was such a gracious host! After an hour or two of relaxing here, we got back in the jeep. We wanted to go to the ruins, but they had already closed, so we went back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. We went to town, did last minute souveniour shopping and had dinner at Palmera (I would not recommend) and then had some drinks at Carlos and Charlie’s. Then back to the hotel.
Our flight wasn’t until 2 pm, so we had some more beach time today. We decided to get up early and enjoy the time we had left. We went snorkeling at the hotel first thing in the morning, and it was just so much better than it had been the other afternoon. The water was very calm, and the fish were colorful and abundant. We also saw some small stingrays. We relaxed on the beach a while longer, had lunch at the hotel, and went to get ready for the sad trip home.
This was a great trip and I’m looking forward to going back one day! We were very lucky not to have to deal with any crowds. There were very few cruise ships in town during our stay, and even when they were there, we somehow dodged them! Hope the review will be helpful to someone!