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Cozumel authentic adventure for children

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Hi,
We are taking a disney cruise. I am sure it will be nice but I do not want our families port activities to be contrived adventures. No swimming with animals or air conditioned mini-buses.

I have two boys ages 10 and 6 who love adventure and nature. Any suggestions? I would like to do something with a guide or a tour company. We are up for anything as long as it is safe, entertaining and educational.

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    When are you visiting? Some times of year you won't find tour vans without ac - it gets hot hot hot.

    Here are 2 companies that do mainland tours that get great reviews; you can pick a tour or have them design one just for you:
    http://www.edventuretours.com.mx/
    http://www.alltournative.com/

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    There is not much to do in Cozumel that doesn't involve a beach club, snorkeling and shopping in town. You might can hire a guide to drive you to the other side of the Island. There are a few small Mayan ruins to look at.

    The web-sites that were mentioned above are for tours located in Playa del Carmen. It's a 45 minute ferry ride to get to that area. Being on a cruise ship I would not recommend going there unless it's on a cruise excursion in the event you have trouble getting back to the ship on time.

    It seems you chose cruise ports that are not conducive to what you are wanting. You might consider Costa Rica, Jamaica, Hawaii or Alaksa next time.

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    Cozumel is a fabulous place for having fun with your kids. It is one of the safest vacation destinations in the world. Violent crime is almost unheard on the island. Cozumel offers a variety of activities; fun in the sun, explorations of the ocean, the jungle and the culture.

    Learn a little Spanish before going. It’s so easy for kids and the hotel and restaurant staffs will really help and encourage them. A fun book on vacation Spanish is "Spanish for Gringos" by Wm. Harvey. It is part of the Barron's Educational Series book. The thin soft back edition cost $8.95 in the US ISBN# 0-8120-4434-7. One of the best parts of this book reminds us of how many Spanish words we already know, like taco, rodeo, loco, padre, plaza, fiesta, burrito, chile, salsa - just to name a few. And then there's what they call "Spanglish" - words like blocaquear = to block, cachar = to catch, parquear = to park, la troca = truck, la yarda = yard, and so on. And many many things are just the same, like la pizza, el record, el golf, la microwave, la movie, el teenager. It’s really not so hard. If nothing else, learn the three most important words in Spanish; hello - ola, please - por favor, and thank you - gracias.

    Eat local Go into town in the evenings to eat at some of the little local places. Different tastes in local foods as well as seeing these foods prepared, is a great way to experience the culture. Because the Yucatan Peninsula was surrounded on 3 sides by water and by an impenetrable forest on the fourth southern side, the Yucatan was influenced more by the Caribbean islands than by Mexico. As a result, Yucateca food is distinct and separate from what is commonly called Mexican food.

    Shop for groceries Its so much fun to see how shopping is done in Mexico - eggs are not refrigerated, milk is in cartons on the shelf not in the refrigeration section as it is irradiated, you can help yourself to one stalk of celery if its all you need, the bakery is self-serve using a big tin tray and tongs, its fun to learn Spanish by reading labels on "American" items found in the stores, Mexican candy and cookies taste different - not so sweet, but its fun to discover new tastes. I think Mega and Chedrui grocery stores (the south end of main street) are some of the most interesting places on the island. See how children on the island work in the after school programs bagging groceries.

    Go to the Central Market some morning. Again, a very interesting slice of life. This is not a tourist attraction, but the market for locals to shop. It’s also a great place to purchase some tourist items much cheaper than downtown. This can be combined with a cooking class or a language class.

    Go into the main square on Sunday night - for the traditional Mexican "paseo" where locals gather around 7PM to visit, have a bake sale or dance to a local band-- and show off their adored children.

    Visit the island museum Have breakfast upstairs and tour the museum downstairs. The history of Cozumel is represented by its museum, which is located in the building that was originally the first luxury hotel opened on the island in 1936. Four large exhibition rooms take residents and visitors into daily life on the island and in the waters around it, from the past to the present. The Museum is located on the corner of Melgar & 8 Norte

    Visit the Mayan ruins on the island - they aren't huge but it does give you a sense of history.

    Hire a taxi for a day to take you on a drive around the island. Negotiate with one who speaks very good English and he will give you a great tour. Ask to go into the "local" neighborhoods for a look at housing.

    Visit the local cemetery. San Miguel's old cemetery is at the south end of Avenida 10. Here you'll find brightly decorated and carefully adorned family mausoleums with shrines decorated in flowers. Similar to the famous New Orleans cemeteries.

    Spend a day at the ecology park - Punta Sur National Park. Here you will find white sand beach, reefs, a turtle breeding program, lagoons, bird sanctuary, crocodiles and more.

    Do what the locals do. Ask at the hotel if there is anything going on in town for locals. We've often attended a small traveling tent circus that passes through Cozumel.

    Brings gifts for the sea turtle program and learn all about helping to protect the turtles. http://www.cozumelinsider.com/acs/turtles/

    Beachcomb Explore beaches, many have beautiful sea shells and drift wood.

    Snorkel Older children can try snorkeling to see the underwater beauty. Good places are Chankanaab Park (substantial entrance fee), Money Bar (no fee) or take them on one of the snorkel boat trips from Playa Palancar. They go to some fairly shallow reefs. Here is a review by family with children from Trip Advisors.

    “Awesome snorkeling trip, nice beach!!!”

    We were in port on Carnival Triumph on 10/11/12. We took cab to Playa Palancar. We paid $35 per person to take boat out to reef. Our 8 year old son was free, since he did not snorkel. He went along for the ride and had fun regardless. The snorkeling was simply awesome. The reef was great. The staff was very nice and helpful. The water was very calm that day, which was good for our 13 year daughter, who has little snorkeling experience. We saw a shark, a few stingrays, and a sea turtle. M wife, daughter, and I absolutely loved it. When we returned, we spent the rest of our day on the beach. Beach is nice with plenty of beach chairs and chaises to relax. They have a bar and restaurant, but we did not use either. This place was not crowded at all, which made it especially nice. We will definitely be back

    Another good family snorkel tour, (rather than the rum and tequila parties on some tours), is run by veteran dive instructor and 20-year resident of the island Rosi Flury. Swiss-born Rosi takes you to three different sites - each of them very beautiful in their own special way with unique formations and bottom composition. You'll stay at each site for at least 35-40 minutes or longer if you are particularly enjoying one spot - she can be flexible. She can charter a boat that's just the right size for your family or group. She also has a boat that can accommodate handicapped snorkelers. She provides life jackets and snorkeling equipment if you don't already have your own. And also takes along a buoy. Cold, purified water, soft drinks and freshly-cut fruit.
    email: snorkeltour@cozumel-vacation-rental-homes.com for more information on this tour which is particularly appropriate for families with children age 6 and up.

    Give your children an understanding and appreciation for protecting the coral reefs.

    "We do not inherit the earth from our parents. It is lent to us by our children,"so goes an old Chinese proverb.

    This is especially true of the underwater world and coral reefs. The world's reefs are being destroyed at such a rapid rate that by the time our children inherit this world, there may be nothing under the sea worth viewing.

    What Can One Person Do?

    Keep hands, fins and equipment off of coral reefs and marine animals when diving, snorkeling, or fishing. Even minimal human contact can break or destroy coral polyps and injure fish and animals.

    Don't stir up sediment - it cuts off sunlight needed for photosynthesis. The coral reef begins with algae that use sunlight to make food. The algae nourish the tiny coral animals known as polyps. Coral polyps secrete a hard, stony shell of calcium carbonate that builds up over time becoming the actual coral reef.

    Keep coral and marine creatures alive and underwater for your next visit - don't bring home collected souvenirs. Buy an underwater photograph instead. The shells you see on the ocean floor have living creatures inside.

    Don't throw trash into the water. Plastic bags wrap around branching corals, causing them to suffocate and die. Bags, six-pack rings and cigarette butts kill great numbers of marine animals through entanglement and ingestion.

    Protect your skin from the sun with a shirt whenever possible. Oily sunscreen can contaminate and suffocate corals.

    Don't urinate in the water near coral reefs. Coral polyps, reef fish and other sea creatures are susceptible to disease-carrying bacteria and viruses from human contamination.

    Don't anchor on the reefs. A thoughtless toss of an anchor can easily destroy years of coral growth. A dragging anchor rope from a boat swinging in the current can chafe through or snap off fragile coral branches in a few minutes.

    Dive with responsible operators that are committed to keeping coral reefs alive.

    Please help preserve the coral for future generations.

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