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xyz99 Oct 31st, 2013 04:59 PM

Cheap(er) snorkeling destination
I just started my research for a chep(er) snorkeling destination for the 2014-15 winter. We'll be in between some other expensive trips, so I'm trying to keep the price of this one low. I know "low" and "cheap" are relative, so let' s say 1500 max for a week accommodation for 2.
We prefer stand-alone villas, but we would be fine this time with maybe a bungalow in a small resort or similar, maybe a condo. A kitchen would be great, but would also love the option to be close to some restaurants.

I know, Jan-Feb is high season, and we also want beach front if possible. Am I crazy?

We loved St.John, Anguilla, Bonaire, Virgin Gorda. I have no idea where to start looking this time...Cozumel? Jost van Dyke? The Grenadines? Please don't suggest Nicaragua or Honduras, we plan longer trips there in the future. Thanks a lot.

blamona Oct 31st, 2013 05:42 PM

Maybe either
Roatan Hondoras, or Belize

Having said that, really at peak season you're stretching it. Redistribute your more expensive vacations so that you can go slower season.

Your budget doesn't give you many options for Carbbean.

blamona Oct 31st, 2013 05:43 PM

sorry, you said no Honduras

You might try Isla Mujeres, Mexico too.

Other than that, your options of that budget are extremely slim

Bassguy66 Nov 1st, 2013 04:06 AM

Riviera Maya or Cozumel....both great snorkeling....both cheap.

doug_stallings Nov 1st, 2013 05:11 AM

There are a lot of beachfront condos in Aruba, but that budget is extremely low for high season. Mexico is probably a better option.

RoamsAround Nov 1st, 2013 05:59 AM

I won't say you "are crazy" but rather that you are unrealistic in thinking you can find a either a stand alone villa, a bungalow, condo or even a simple beachfront room anywhere in the Caribbean in January or February for $1,500/week. You might find a room in a hostel or local guest house for that price in Mexico, Belize, Roatan, Isle Mujeres but you probably won't be on the beach.

Forget Jost Van Dyke it's out of your price range. Also, the Grenadines probably won't work as you'll end up spending much more than your budget just on the airfare and ferry transportation - the Grenadines are difficult to get too.

xyz99 Nov 1st, 2013 07:08 AM

Thanks, that's what I thought, too...but I had to try :)

I think we'll look into Cozumel or maybe Isla Mujeres, or up the budget. We went to Belize last year and loved that, too.

Any idea if either Cozumel or Isla Mujeres is less crowded? Can you compare snorkeling there with other places we've been to and liked? Thanks

Odin Nov 1st, 2013 07:18 AM

I didn't think there was much snorkelling on Isla Mujeres. Cozumel snorkelling is pretty good though, it was not crowded when we were there but we did mostly scuba.

Christina Nov 1st, 2013 12:51 PM

Families go to Isla Mujeres as they have good beaches. I didn't snorkel there but I know they have it. Don't know the quality. It's pretty crowded IMO (the town in general), and you are isolated there as you need the ferry to get to the mainland.

Same for Cozumel, it's not convenient for you to go other places. Cozumel is a lot bigger. It's full of cruise ship tourists. I've snorkeled there and didn't think it was that great, I think the reef has been degraded a lot from what it used to be, and the fish there. But I don't know, I'm not an expert.

If you really wanted cheap,Puerto Morelos (in-between Cancun and Playa del Carmen) would probably be cheaper and it is on the coast. They have good snorkeling around there. And if you had a car, you could then go to other places for a change.

I don't know of any villas for two people, they tend to be bigger.

JeanH Nov 2nd, 2013 05:16 AM

Isla Mujeres has ok snorkeling, not great. I haven't spent much time on Cozumel, snorkeling is supposed to be excellent.

I've been reading good things about Puerto Morales. Last time I was there it was a very sleepy little town. Sounds as if there is a lot more going on there these days.

Although you don't want to go back to Belize, for other posters, you can find very nice condos, on the beach, in high season for $1500.00 a week there. I know this, because I own one.

mistyschwab Nov 2nd, 2013 07:57 AM

What about Puerto Rico?

"ishkribbl on Jun 12, 12 at 4:20pm
For "off the beaten path", local color, good snorkeling, and reasonable prices, you might consider the island of Culebra in Puerto Rico. It is only about 18 miles or so from St. Thomas so the scenery is something like the USVI but a bit more arid. good info at"

xyz99 Nov 3rd, 2013 07:26 AM

All this was really enlightening, thanks a lot. We will definitely look at our budget, and also at the other places suggested here. There are a few ideas here that I haven’t even thought of, so this will give me some more places to look into. Thanks again.

ishkribbl Nov 4th, 2013 06:34 PM

Thanks for the quote! We did go to Culebra in February one year as it was our Mardi Gras holiday and it was a great time of year, weatherwise, to visit. While we have not been to Anguilla or Bonaire, we have been to St. John and Virgin Gorda (and Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Puerto Moreles). Culebra looks somewhat similar to the other VI's in that it is hilly with gorgeous water but rather than being verdant like SJ it is more arid- beautiful, friendly, easy to traverse with restaurants and markets much, much cheaper than the US or BVI's and, of course, Hispanic in influence- I would highly recommend it as fitting what you are looking for.
We also did this as an "in between trips" trip and stayed at a very modest place but it worked fine for us- Villa Boheme is in "town" on the bay- I think we stayed in # 11 which had a kitchen in a studio and a pretty waterfront view. It was an easy walk to restaurants, grocery, bakery, etc. We rented a jeep for the week to get around but there are "publicos" that you can catch to the beach for about $ 1 or $2- still recommend the jeep.
Check vrbo for other places to stay very reasonably. We snorkeled from the beach in several spots and also took 2 very good day trips on boats with local operations.
Hope you find a great trip- happy travels!

KVR Nov 5th, 2013 01:19 PM

If you can change your dates to the first or second week of either November or December, you will find plenty of options in Mexico for that budget. We tend to go somewhere every year during that time because the prices are so good.

We've been to Cozumel x 4 and Isla Mujeres x 1. We did find better snorkeling in Cozumel, but over the years the reefs have really taken a hit and not a good as they used to be.

We found the best snorkeling at the Sian Ka'an Biosphere outside of the Tulum area. It's a little difficult to get there, but so worth it. There is a reef around Maroma Beach and Puerto Morales. We've been to Playa x 3. We are looking at Puerto Morales for next years trip. We have had issues with the pools being to cold swim in during that time of year if that matters to you. We stopped going during that time. We can find about the same prices the 3rd week of May and much warmer weather. Actually, we went to Cabo San Lucas last December because they heat their pools.

garykas Nov 8th, 2013 11:19 AM

You could also try AKUMAL Mexico

BetsyG Nov 10th, 2013 06:46 PM

Akumal is a good suggestion

xyz99 Nov 11th, 2013 01:28 PM

I think I like the Akumal and Culebra suggestions. So different, I know...thanks.

ishkribbl Nov 15th, 2013 02:56 AM

Check for helpful information. We thought Zoni Beach was our favorite- need a jeep to get the short distance to town but there are several rental homes there I would look at if we returned. So many islands, so little time!
I think Culebra would be a great choice for what you are looking for. Fly into SJU and take Flamenco Air to Culebra (from Isla Grande airport which is maybe 10-15 minutes by cab from SJU). We stayed overnight in SJ both coming and going to Culebra and did some sightseeing- Old Town, the forts, etc.- stayed at an affordable little inn in Ocean Park called Tres Palmas which I would also recommend- short cab ride to either airport.
Whatever you pick, have a great trip and let us hear about it!

xyz99 Nov 15th, 2013 05:19 AM

The more I read about it, Culebra sounds better and better. We might give it a try...and I will definitely let you know about it. Thanks

wendymaci Apr 21st, 2014 01:01 PM

Did you end up going away I'd love to hear your snorkeling reviews.

We're avid snorkelers and all of our holidays are based on snorkeling from shore at AI's that have reefs. We like to snorkel for several hours a day and don't want to have to plan it around excursions.

We were in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico (Akumal) at the Grand Sirenis hotel in February. The snorkeling was great and we loved the resort. We swam with turtles every day.

We stayed at Breezes Jibacoa in Jibacoa Cuba. Best snorkeling ever however, we were unlucky and ended up with rough water and several red flag days.

We've stayed at the Playa Costa Verde in Holguin, Cuba twice in 2012. The snorkeling wasn't the best we've seen, but they have coral and there was enough to keep us happy.

We stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo in Samana Dominican Republic. Resort was nice and the snorkeling was really good, I saw my first puffer fish here. We also did one excursion to bacardi island. Although there wasn't much reef there the snorkeling was a nice change. Cushion starfish as big as my head and tons of trumpet fish!

We're looking at heading to Jamaica in November to the Jewel Runaway Bay Golf resort. They seem to have good snorkeling reviews and they have a reef right there.

We've also looked at Curacao. The Sunscape Curacao resort is supposed to have really good snorkeling as well.

I'd say all of these would deffinitely fit your budget. There are lots of other snorkel places on our bucket list, but for now we tend to do the more economical locations and stay at AI's as we find it easier to plan and budget, this allows us to do vacations more frequently.

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