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Greenburger Jan 23rd, 2011 11:02 AM

Cozumel Trip March 2011, please help
Hi, I am new to these forums, but I am looking to travel Cozumel this March for 8 nights with my girlfriend. I'm 20 and she is 18. We've never left the country, and she's never been out of Missouri aside from a couple vacations, so I would like to show her a really good time. As college students, we are on a pretty tight budget.

I'm interested in doing a little bit of everything: An ATV tour, horseback riding, snorkeling reefs, scuba diving (possibly getting certified if I really enjoy it), parasailing, one or more Mayan ruin visits (Is a tour really necessary? And is Chichen Itza really necessary if we aren't history buffs by any means?), visiting cenotes, maybe a horseback ride, swim with dolphins and maybe manatees/sea lions, etc...

Also, what is parking like there? I was considering renting a scooter for us, but am concerned about parking for scooters and the safety of leaving it somewhere.

I was looking to stay at Hostelito, Beachhouse Cozumel, and La Casona Real, which seem to be the top-rated, budget friendly places.

I found a tour company, Cozumel Tours by Johann and Sandra. I was wondering if anyone knew how nice these tours are. Also, I'm looking for the cheapest way to get certified, without compromising safety and still doing at least 6 dives. I'm willing to do the PADI-eCourse.

Basically, I'd like to know which excursions are necessary to see on the island and mainland, the best method of travel, parking availability, info on tour companies, and estimated expenditures from March 12th-20th. Keep in mind a tight budget. I'l be taking a flight to Cancun, bussing to Playa del Carmen, and ferrying to Cozumel, all which will cost about $665 round trip.
I'm not too much into relaxation, but I know my girlfriend will like to relax some. I'm not your typical spring breaker, I'll be doing some drinking, but that is NOT why I'm going to Cozumel.
Please help me by posting or e-mailing me with info, tips, cautions, etc...
[email protected]

SiteC_er Jan 23rd, 2011 02:47 PM

Not sure what your definition of tight budget means, but your list of things to do would be pretty expensive. Did you consider staying in PDC (all inclusive)? Also, your bus to PDC and catch the ferry will cost you a day each way (not too mention the hassle).

Sorry, not trying to be Debbie Downer but I've been in your shoes (many yrs ago) and just trying to help.

mykidsmom99 Jan 23rd, 2011 03:19 PM

I 2nd the suggestion of staying in Playa De Carmen or even Cozumel at an all-inclusive. This would be the best route if on a tight budget. You could take the ferry to Cozumel for a day trip. Actually, I prefer the mainland to Cozumel as Cozumel is PACKED with cruise ships most days.

You could spend a day at an ecopark such as XPLOR that has ATVs, zip lining, cave swimming, etc. They have an all inclusive option that includes lunch and non-alcoholic beverages.

I would not advise renting scooters. Rent a car instead and you can travel the entire island of Cozumel. It is a beautiful little island. Stop at Mr. Sancho's for an awesome lunch, beach break & horseback riding.

As for scuba diving ... if you are a college student on a tight budget, you might want to wait until you are at a point in your life where you can really benefit from being certified to scuba dive. It is a very expensive hobby.

You can do the snuba or something so you can get a taste of the experience. I suggest doing a couple snorkel excursions and save the diving for later.

ambray8 Jan 23rd, 2011 07:00 PM

A couple of notes.

Try not to shop until all cruise ships leave, the prices will go down. Same goes for eating, eat your breakfast before they come and eat dinner after they leave, same for booking excusions - etc.

As far as scuba, which I agree, is a very expensive past time - especially if you live in the midwest...a couple things to consider. Diving is something you need to keep up with - doing it atleast every six months. Where you live means probably trying to book a vacation...For a certification you should take a weekend class (like PADI). Here in the US and the do your open water dives with a shop in Cozumel, I recommend Scuba Du, out of the Presidente Hotel - they are a top notch shop and Antonio, the owner, is great at hooking up new divers with great instructors. When you get an open water certification you can expect to spend a good amount of money, you need your own scuba grade fins, snorkel and mask, and you will pay for the class - as well as the refferal to do the open water dives in cozumel. In all, I'd say minimum certification with the dives paid, $750.

Howevever, there is something called Discover Scuba for people who are not certified to try scuba. Obviously this is a taste, with a video instruction, pool instruction and a single tank open water dive to a minimal depth - but you will get a definite feel for scuba. Then when you are more financial stable (as someone else said) you can get certified, if you end up liking it as much as you think. I suggest this to snorkeling only because I hate to snorkel at the surface and I would hate someone to think this is similar to diving. It makes me terribly seasick and is just a very different activity all together and snuba is sometimes hard to find.

Enjoy Cozumel, it is my favorite!

TC Jan 24th, 2011 05:17 AM

You will see that I have responded to the same question that you posted on "TCs Cozumel List" thread with many of the same answers as others here. I, too, hate to be a downer, but maybe on your limited budget and your girlfriend being just 18, you might want to consider Florida this year and save Mexico for a more flush year.

midwayusa Jan 24th, 2011 06:32 PM

Go for the All Inclusive (AI). The ones in Cozumel are more expensive and really not as nice. Try the mainland on Riviera Maya and use the ferry. Do snorkel and do it in Cozumel or you will regret it. There is also a party boat that takes you to Isle of Majures from Cancun and there you may use the ATV's, snorkel, dive and play all day for practically nothing. Food and drink are good and included. You may be able to get a diving package through your AI resort, but to certify you will need serious $$$. See how you like it first and enjoy snokeling. It is amazing and so much easier and less exensive than diving. I think you can actually see better while snorkeling if you have a cloudy day and good water. The AI is the only way to go on a budget. The areas we are looking at are safe and beautiful Close to Cenotes, eco parks, ruins, atv, dolphins, manatees, horseback riding is over is swimming with the dolphins, but to each his own. I'd spend the money on the ruins and snorkeling.
Good luck!

fishee Jan 24th, 2011 08:55 PM

Activities are always the most expensive part of a vacation for me too.

For certification, you don't want to go cheapest - skimp somewhere else on the trip. Cheap operators will take you to a reef right off the beach as they save money by not taking a boat out and you don't see nearly as much. Aldora has one of the best reputations of dive operations -- certification takes alot of time if you do it all there -- 8 am-12noon for 4 days, $425. I got certified with a bf at Aldora and it was pretty tiring.

If you do the book exams and pool work at home and bring a referral letter, it's 4 open water dives and costs $275. Both prices include all equipment (BCD/regulator) including snorkel, mask, fins, and prob a wetsuit if you don't have one. I wouldn't do this unless your gf wants to get certified too (it's not something you want to do alone and then come back amazed, trying to describe it to someone else... also bonding to do it together) but as others say, it's an expensive hobby... If neither of you have alot of experience in the ocean, I'd start off with snorkeling, you can do it right off the iron shore and it's inexpensive.

You can eat in Coz on the cheap -- get off the cruise port grid and there's some great food if you cab or walk far into town -- tacos el pastor, garlic fish at the markets, etc. Good luck!

fishee Jan 24th, 2011 09:00 PM

Also in terms of location, Beachouse Cozumel is really far north and you'll be paying alot in cabs to go back and forth -- it adds up when you do this at least twice a day roundtrip. The other two are more centrally located and you'll be withing walking distance to most everything.

rick7iron Mar 31st, 2016 05:20 PM

Cozumel Tours by Johann and Sandra is the most unprofessional and poorest run company that we have dealt with over the 12 cruises that we have taken. We booked a private jeep tour for 3/23/16. It was supposed to start at 8:00 a.m. but we were stood up. After 30 minutes a driver from another company called them for us. The driver finally arrived 40 minutes late. The jeep was a dirty piece of junk. We were supposed to drive what was pictured as a nice jeep and follow our guide who would be driving another jeep in front of us. That didn't happen. I had to sit in the back and keep doing gymnastics to get in and out of the backseat while my wife sat up front.We had given specific instructions of what we wanted to see and we were told that we would need to pay for two additional hours. Three hours wasn't enough we needed 5 hours minimum. We told them in advance that we didn't want to go shopping. We can do that anytime. The driver took us to two tequila factory tours the first at 845 in the morning. He kept taking us to shopping areas and telling us we would be there for 30 minutes. We saw two beaches but when we insisted that we didn't want to go to any of the drivers friends and families shops he took us back to the ship and told us the tour was over. We paid for a 5 hour tour from 8:00 to 1:00 and had a very disappointing tour from 8:40 to 11:30. I notified the company of our dissatisfaction on 3/26/15. They never responded back. There are lots of other tour companies to choose from. We will never use them again. If you don't want a bad experience you should choose someone else or be prepared for a horrible day. THIS COMPANY SUCKS!!!! - Rick Hyatt Sugar Land, Texas

TC Mar 31st, 2016 06:38 PM

Sorry you had such a bad experience. You should post this on Trip Advisor. More effective than here.

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