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Cozumel Trip Report - Lots of Facts on Things to See and Do, Places to Eat and Shop.

Cozumel Trip Report - Lots of Facts on Things to See and Do, Places to Eat and Shop.

Old May 30th, 2000, 12:12 PM
Posts: n/a
Cozumel Trip Report - Lots of Facts on Things to See and Do, Places to Eat and Shop.

My husband and I spend several weeks in Cozumel every winter. Following is the information I've put together for friends and family over the years. Maybe it will help you. If you have additional questions, just drop me an email.
A word about beaches, snorkeling and all inclusive hotels: Many Internet postings report that Cozumel has no nice beaches. This information is somewhat misleading. The western shore is hard black limestone called "ironshore". Some hotel beaches are man made. While some hotels don't have typical beaches, they do have beautiful white sand terraces that are wonderful for sunning. Seawalls surround these and the sand is trucked in. They are usually equipped with umbrellas for shade, sports facilities and snack bars. Entering the water is achieved by way of a sea ladder or steps. The water at entry will be quite clear and loaded with fish and coral. Many hotel do indeed have pretty beaches. These don't typically have the best coral reefs. There are several very pretty public beaches on the western side of the island; San Francisco, Playa Sol, Playa Corona and the amazing new Nache CoCom, where one can spend an afternoon on the beach or in their pool (not good for snorkeling though). The entire eastern side of the island is made up of gorgeous beaches, but some are dangerous due to undertow and very trashy from cruiseship dumping. So don't get hung up about beaches.

I also disagree that Cozumel is a "divers only" destination. We spend a lot of time there every year and have done so for more than 10 years. I don't dive and do not feel in the least deprived. The snorkeling is easily accessible and a spectacular way to inhabit the water. There are so many activities to do and things to see that even if you don't dive or snorkel you'll enjoy a wonderful vacation.

Another real benefit of Cozumel is its fantastic choice of restaurants at comparatively modest prices. We don't recommend all-inclusive meal plans. They are more suited to islands where multiple food options do not exist or where it is dangerous to leave the premises, like Jamaica. Indeed, one of the great joys of Cozumel is exploring the fine dining establishments and the wide variety of cuisine available. That said, here we go.

A few web sites with Cozumel information:

This & That:
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be required to take a mini-bus to your hotel. Taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport, only drop them off. The bus transportation costs are equal to about $12 per person US and you may have to pay this in pesos. I suggest you exchange a few dollars at your home airport or bank before leaving in order to accommodate the fare. It's not the best exchange rate, but its nice to have a little local currency on hand.

You will need the equivalent of $15 US arrival tax and $12 US departure tax in pesos per person. This is collected at the airport, unless it has already been collected in advance by your airline. Ask your travel agent.

Hotels will do money exchanges for you, but it's not the best rate on the island. However, it is never worthwhile to stand in line on the day the bank is open to exchange money. The wait is tremendous and the rate is only minutely better. The best places are the little "hole-in-the-wall" exchange houses. There are also cash machines all over Cozumel now. They accept most cash cards and disperse money in pesos - think about this carefully when you tell the machine how much money you want - you want pesos not dollars. 200 pesos only equals about $23 US Do the math first. Current exchange rates can be calculated at http://www.xe.net/currency.

There is no need to rent a car for an entire week. Taxicabs are plentiful and cheap. Cabs charge a flat rate, approximately $2 US for two people to go in to town from the North hotel zone. Higher from further destinations. (About $10 US for two from the El Presidente southern zone.) The town is small and once you reach the center everything is within an easy 5-6-block walk. It is very safe to walk around San Miguel.

If you do rent, work with one of the car rental companies in town. They are much cheaper than the hotel rental desks. Be careful of the VW Beetles, they're not always in the best mechanical condition (actually most cars aren't, so check them carefully before you leave the rental office). Ask for a newer car. You should be able to get a Jeep or Geo Tracker for about $55 US per day. In 1999, I got a Tracker for $270 per week plus $30 in tax (which must be paid in cash) from Dollar Rental at the airport. If you're willing to listen to one of the many time-share sales pitches, you can get a certificate for a $10 one-day car rental. Be careful however, this can turn into a scam with the rental companies. They'll try very hard to bait & switch by saying that they don't have any of the cars that your certificate is good for or showing you a real junker, then trying to upgrade to a more expensive car. Cozumel is a large cruise ship port. Cars are always cheaper on non-cruise ship days. Sometimes there aren't any cars available on cruise ship days. Reserve ahead from the island, but not from the States (its much more expensive). The best rate in Feb. 2000 was from Smart Car Rental on the main square. New VW beetles were going for $20 per day with a coupon from the Internet site.

If you rent a car, be aware that there are only two gas stations on the island and they have very limited hours of operation. Ask where and when you can get gas and don't let your tank get low. There are no gas stations on the far side of the island.

Traveling to the "other side" of the island: Do not rent a moped to travel to the far side of the island. It is a very long trip by moped and it's very windy-even on good days. The trip can be uncomfortable and dangerous on a moped. Taxi drivers will take you to the other side and wait with you at any stops for about $35 for the day. Better yet, rent a car for just one day. Go to the east side of the island on a day when it's windy or rainy on the west side. Drive south around the island. At the rode to the lighthouse there is a park entrance - new in 2000. Back on the main road continue on for lunch at Chen Rio - good food, lovely safe beach (no undertow) or Coconuts a cliffside tropical oasis, spectacular views (this was up for sale recently and may or may not be open). If you have time, stop at San Gervasio - the most important Mayan ruin on Cozumel but quite small compared to the mainland ruins. A small entry fee ($3) with a nice guided tour. Don't buy silver here, no matter what they tell you, silver is cheaper in town. (see notes in shopping section)

I'm not a driver and my husband is newly certified, so most of this information is geared to snorkeling. There are several good Internet sites containing Cozumel diving information. Suffice to say that the diving is spectacular. Palancar Reef is the second largest reef in the world.

Chancanab National Park is the big tourist attraction for snorkeling. Every cruise ship dumps a million people there to snorkel and for a time the fish and coral were badly abused. In fact, at one time you weren't allowed to snorkel in the actual lagoon even though that's the attraction. The park has been refurbished now and is in much better condition. There are wonderful fish and coral to see as well as botanical gardens and a reproduced Mayan village. (If you go, avoid it mid-week when the most cruise ships are in port - its also good to avoid shopping in town on those days). The park has added a "swim with the dolphins" program. I believe the cost is about $120 per hour. A friend saw spotted rays with 3-4 ft. wing span here. We've seen lots of barracuda here.

Two other good choices for snorkeling:
(1.) Take your gear in a cab to a Northern zone hotel, like the Coral Princess or Puerto del Sol condos. Walk in and snorkel from their "beach". This is a very beautiful stretch of live coral reef. The fish are spectacular! The coral wall is breathtaking. No crowds! Let the current take you on a drift snorkel starting at Puerto del Sol condos and getting out at El Cozumeleno hotel. It's a nice easy ride with lots to see.

(2.) Book one of the full or half day snorkeling tours. (Cost $40 per person) Tours from the central and northern zones travel to Santa Rosa Reef, Tormentos and Yucab Reefs usually providing drinks and lunch. Tours from Diamonds Resort in the southern zone go to three reefs much farther out. One is covered with star fish, one is the Palancar Shallows. These are excellent ways to see some of the reefs that are farther from shore. The large reefs contain more diversity of fish and coral. The brain and fan corals are much larger (but not as colorful) as those closer to shore. The fish are also larger (grouper and triggerfish, sometimes turtles or rays) and dolphins are known to play around the boat wake. It's a fun day.

I highly recommend that you consider buying your own snorkel gear. Many reefs are very accessible from shore. You can snorkel every day (we snorkel three times a day). The cost of renting gear is about $7 - $10 per day for mask & tube only and the equipment is not very well sterilized. The quality of rented gear isn't the greatest either. It's very important to get a proper fit and seal on the snorkel mask otherwise you'll have salt water in your eyes all the time and will hate the whole experience. The current is somewhat strong along the coast, so fins are a good idea. SportMart (or other equal quality sporting goods store) has adequate sets of snorkel equipment (mask, tube, and fins) in the $25-$35 range. I've even seen them at Target at times. Quality equipment is a good investment. Buying equipment on the island is somewhat expensive, but excellent quality. Most is dive quality equipment, masks will start in the $50 range, tubes are $20+. We like Michelle's Dive Shop on 5 Av. S. & Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas. Make sure you look for silicone masks. This is the softest rubber with the best seal. You want it to fit snug but not tight. The mask should never leave deep marks on your face after you wear it. Test the seal by placing the mask on your face (without the strap around your head) inhale through your nose. If you run out of air, you have a good seal - not air is coming in around the edges. If you can continue to inhale, air is coming in from some source and you should try a different size or shaped mask. Make sure that the snorkel tube mouthpiece is also made of soft silicone rubber. It will be in your mouth and rubbing on your gums, you want it to be as soft as possible. I don't recommend a tube with an air expel unless you get a good one. On less expensive tubes these tend to leak - its not necessary, so just get a very simple design. We like the fins that fit over your entire foot, instead of the ones with a strap around your heel. The shoe style won't rub on your foot and make blisters. This sounds like a lot, but all are available inexpensively in the US.

Another source for snorkeling equipment before your go is West Marine. This is a catalogue from California. I have ordered from them before and find their merchandise to be good quality. They offer PVC masks for as little as $7.99 each, PVC tubes for as little as $7.99, PVC masks & snorkel sets for $14.99 and fins for $19.99. They offer silicone mask & snorkel sets in the $30 neighborhood, silicone masks for $20+ and silicone snorkels for about $20. They have also offered some very nice looking silicone "five piece dive combo" for about $50. You might want to give them a call at 800-538-0775 for a catalogue.

If you're not a great swimmer or are a bit nervous about getting into the water to snorkel, consider using a water skier's belt. It is a simple floatation device that fits around the waist. It adds just enough buoyancy to let you feel really secure, yet doesn't hold your head up at the exaggerated angle of a collar style life vest. I'm not a good swimmer and this works well for me. Most belts are inexpensive and are easy to pack. I just can't say enough about the beauty underwater in Cozumel. Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel secure enough to enjoy the spectacular sights.

Do you wear vision correction? (glasses) Can you see without them? If you can't see, consider having your corrective lenses bonded to the inside of a dive mask. Its easy to do and costs about $100 at most optical departments. Otherwise, ask about vision corrected masks. Most dive shops offer standard masks with standard corrections - much like the "cheaters" glasses you can buy in a drug store. Some people have good luck wearing contacts with their masks. Just remember you'll have to take your glasses off to snorkel.

There is now a new sport on the island called "Snuba". It is a combination of scuba and snorkeling. One uses standard snorkel gear but breathes from a tank that floats on the water's surface. The tank has a long hose, thus allowing the snuba participant to descend about 20 ft. underwater. This is done under the supervision of an instructor. Contact Sea Sports for more information once you reach the island.

I suggest that you purchase an underwater guidebook for the trip. A good, inexpensive one is "Guide to Corals & Fishes of Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean" by Idaz Greenberg. It is a small (65 pg.) paperback book that costs about $8 in the US or $10 in the local dive shops. This book has good color illustrations for most of the fish, coral and sea creatures that you will encounter. Being able to identify the underwater inhabitants really increases the fun. ISBN # 0-913008-08-7 published by Seahawk Press, Miami, Florida.

If you want to take underwater pictures, those one-use cameras work pretty well with these caveats: only use them on very sunny days, don't try to take pictures of things more than 10 feet down. Light is lost underwater very quickly and the further down the object the darker your picture will be. More than 10 feet and its just not worth the effort. The cameras are much cheaper at K-Mart in the states, than at souvenir shops on the island.

(We have a full condo and stay for 3-4 weeks each year, so some of the following information is related to stocking and using a kitchen.)

Sodas and soft drinks are somewhat expensive on the island. We always take powdered lemonade mix - you can also buy this in the local grocery. (Lemonade packages look like LIMEADE - lemons are green in Mexico) If you're a beer drinker or want a case of Coke, you might want to ask the hotel about getting cases delivered from the beverage wholesaler - much cheaper.

It's difficult to get really good coffee on the island. If this is important to you, bring your own. Decafe is usually Sanka, except at Pizza Rolandi (now Guido's Pizza). A limited selection of coffee beans are now available at The Coffee Bean shop (Calle 3 Sur between Avenida Melgar and 5 Ave. Sur) and some pre-packaged coffee can be found at San Francisco grocery store.

The BEST stores for everything (supermarket, liquor, butcher, bakery, deli, hardware, Wal-Mart all rolled into one) is San Francisco at 30 Ave. Norte and Avenida Benito Juarez or Ched Roi at the south end of main street. They are the cheapest places for liquor in town and have a good selection of wine too.

I don't recommend placing long distance calls from the "Calling Stations" in town. It's a real racket. One call cost me $75 when I got back home. The hotels also tack on a big service charge if you call from your room even if it says that you are connected to AT&T. Some hotels now have pay phones in their lobbies that will accept AT&T or any other calling card service thus bypassing the hotel surcharges. You can also buy pre-paid phone cards to use in these pay phones at a rate of $1.00 per minute.....no strings. Just ask at the front desk. Or check with your own long distance company before leaving the states. Some have decent one-rate International plans for calls from Mexico.

If you're interested in tours to the mainland: Tulum, a walled Mayan city facing the ocean + Xel Ha, a natural lagoon for snorkeling - about $80 per person. Xcaret, (like Disneyland in Mexico) - drift in underground rivers, swim with dolphins (not included in price and difficult to book), orchid farm, wild birds, butterfly pavilion, food & more about $60 per person. Fly to Chichen Itza - 5-hour pkg. includes flight over the jungle, tour & lunch. About $100 per person. (It's a very long, very difficult drive to Chichen Itza.)All can be booked through most hotels.

If you like fishing, try a day of deep sea or tag along with some locals for the day. My husband and friends went fishing with locals last year. They just went to the town dock (across the main street from the Kentucky Fried Chicken) and negotiated with the fishermen. Our three guys went out in one of those boats that look like an overgrown rowboat with an outboard motor with three local fishermen. They used hand lines (no rods or reels), old sparkplugs as sinkers, big old handmade hooks and junk fish for bait, but caught more fish than ever before. They loved the local adventure. Very barebones. Bring your own food and drinks, take lots of sunscreen (no canopy) and bring a sturdy pair of old gloves for handling the lines. If you want a little local flavor in your vacation, this is it.

In case of a medical emergency, life is much easier if you have Xerox copies of:
* your health care provider's insurance cards
(There is an American doctor on the island and a very good hospital)
* your drivers licenses
(Leave the real one in your hotel safe. If stopped for a driving offense, they'll want your license. Better not to have it available to surrender.)
* your airline tickets (keep copies separate from the actual tickets)
* your traveler's checks receipts (keep copies separate from traveler's checks)
* a contact list of family or friends in the U.S

Other items to think about bringing:
Tee shirts to snorkel in (the sun will blister your back very quickly)
Rain jackets, maybe even a small umbrella
Good sunglasses
Carmex or other lip protection
Sun tan lotion (it's expensive on the island) I personally love the "No-Ad" brand
Skin care lotion is good after a long day in salt water & sun
Lots of shampoo for getting the salt water out
We wash our swimsuits in soap at the end of every day; otherwise they get stiff from saltwater.
Lots of zip lock bags, pinch style clothes pins, rubber bands, twist ties, super glue and string. You can fix darned near anything with these in hand.
If you stay in a condo, bring a sharp paring knife. The ones provided are always dull as a spoon.

While you're on the island, carry something in your wallet or purse with your hotel's name on it.

You do not need to speak Spanish. However, if you attempt any Spanish at all, you will get the most helpful replies and grateful attitude. We have never found a place where our very limited Spanish and a few hand gestures couldn't get our message across. Learn to say please (por favor) and thank you (gracias). These words will take you far. 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 softback edition cost $8.95 in the US ISBN# 0-8120-4434-7

Favorite Restaurants:
I mention here a mix of upscale, mid-range, and low-end places that we like. We discover new places every year. The island offers everything from vegetarian to Asian, Kentucky Fried Chicken to waffle houses, even Cajun. If you are adventuresome or speak a little more than "shopping" Spanish I recommend you explore as many local eateries as possible. The food is wonderful and really cheap. For instance, we like to buy grilled chicken from the street vendors on Ave. 30. For $3 US you get a half chicken, a quart of cole slaw made with jicima, and a platter full of spaghetti. It's a great cheap meal. Stars (*) equal especially romantic restaurants on a scale of one (lesser) to three (most).

**Poncho's Backyard (Ave. Rafael Melgar between Calles 8 & 10N) Very beautiful and romantic, Excellent, "healthy" Mexican food (cooked with less fat) good Mexican wines. ($15 per person)

El Moro (75 Bis Norte No. 124 entre 2 y 4) A must. Funky family owned and operated. Out in the suburbs - take a cab because it's tricky to find. Wonderful grilled seafood. Open kitchen so you can watch the cooks. Christmas decorations up all year long. ($20 for two people) Order the Zacharias Special for two. It's a lot of great seafood.

La Mission (Ave. Juarez 23) Lovely old mission restored to a restaurant. Good grilled meat and seafood. Open, tiled kitchen to watch cooks prepare food. Somewhat touristy, they tend to rush people through. They have now opened a second restaurant at Ave. Rosado Salas y 5. It is very touristy. I like the original on Ave Juarez Sur better.

***LaCoCay (the Firefly) Restaurant: (Calle 17 20 y 20 Ave. Bis) Phone 52-987-2.55.33 This is probably the only restaurant on Cozumel where you would need a reservation. It is the most romantic place. An old restored house (very small, 10-12 table) with open air windows looking out on a lighted park and Spanish cathedral (Corpus Christi). Specializing in seafood, beef, and pasta it is owned by a highly regarded restaurateur from Montreal. Fabulous food. Order the chocolate souffle for dessert. It's worth the wait. This is one of the most expensive restaurants on the island. ($25 each with wine desert & tip)

*Pizza Rolandi (now Guido's Pizza) (Ave. Rafael Melgar between Calles 6 & 8 N) One of the prettiest indoor courtyards (you have to go all the way to the back). Specials are wood burning oven-baked pizzas (they're great) and pastas. Excellent sangria. They have the best coffee (actual brewed decaf espresso, not Sanka which is what you get most places when you order decaf) and great homemade coconut ice cream topped with cassis or dark chocolate sauce. Go here for dessert, even if you eat elsewhere. (dinner $12 each)

Museo de la Isla De Cozumel (the Island Museum) (Av. Rafael Melgar between Calles 4 & 6N) Make sure you have breakfast here. The restaurant is on a balcony on top of the museum. All-you-can-eat breakfast is $4 US. The view of the bay is spectacular. There are always pelicans skim-fishing along this stretch. It's a great breakfast show. Do not go here on cruise ship days the place is packed.

El Turix (the Dragonfly) (Next door to LaCoCay @ Calle 17 20 y 20 Ave. Bis) phone 987 2 52 34 Authentic Yuatecan Cuisine. The dearest couple, Rafael and Maruca run this small very casual restaurant. They are very friendly and willing to help with selections. I suggest you order one of everything on the menu. It's just the right amount of food for two people and cost only a few pesos. We loved the quesadillas with pumpkin blossoms inside. The fruit drinks are a bit sweet. They prepare excellent seafood paella on special nights (cost of paella is $30 for two, which is actually enough food for 4-6 people). Call for schedule.

Taco Diaz (Ave 30 Norte at Calle 2 Norte) Great little local taco stand. Order the "gringas" and "frijoles" (bean soup - not refried) its great. No English spoken here, but very friendly. The fruitas "hymiaca" drink is made from an island flower and is very good.....no alcohol in it. (Very, very cheap)

**La Verandah (Calle 4 Norte between 5a Ave. Norte and 10a Ave. Norte) Caribbean-style island house with a front porch and garden. Dining inside or out (the candlelit garden is gorgeous at night). International menu includes fish & chips, barbecue chicken, roast-beef, fajitas, stir-fried vegetable, rack of lamb and grilled seafood. (Moderate prices)

Casa Denis - Our personal favorite! ( 1 Sur 16 on the backside of the main square, across from the open-air flea market) This is a fun place. Only about 10 tables outside, more inside. Cheap, good Mexican food - tacos, enchiladas, chicken mole. Fun to sit and people watch outside. It looks a little tacky, but don't be shy. It's good and clean. (Lunch or dinner about $6 per person) The salsa is killer hot.

Pepe's Grill (Ave. Rafael Melgar - that's main street - at Ave. Rosado Salas ) Another good upscale choice. Eat in the upstairs window tables. This is the place to go when you crave beef or a very good salad bar. (Dinner for two $33 with wine, desert & tip) The bottled water on the tables cost extra.

La Choza (Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas @ 10 Ave. Sur): Some of the best seafood anywhere and good traditional dishes too. (Moderate prices)

La Cucina Italiana Ristorante (Calle 2 Norte at 10 Ave. Norte) Wonderful homemade pastas and fresh seafood. Beautiful outdoor setting. Very romantic. Upscale service. VERY slow service.

Los Gavilanes Grill (upstairs at Benito Juarex Ave. between 10 & 15): Caribbean seafood and Mexican plates. Lobster and king crab (ask what the price is for each specific display out front). This is just as good as La Mission (across the street), cheaper and they don't rush you.

Rock & Java (Ave. Rafael E. Melgar {main street} in the southern hotel zone near Plazas Los Glorias): "To-die-for" desserts and coffee. The very best carrot cake I've ever eaten.

Coral Princess Hotel Poolside Bar The best burgers and fries on the island.

Lobster There are all kinds of places to eat lobster. Some for as little as $10. Try Lobster House across the street from hotels Playa Azul & Cabanas del Caribe in the northern hotel zone they serve lobster exclusively. Or try Joe's Lobster (Ave. 10 at Ave. Rosado Salas) Excellent raggae music and good lobster.

Many of the island hotels have wonderful restaurants also. You might want to try the El Presidente or the Sol Cabanas del Caribe.

Etc: There is also a Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, Subway, Planet Hollywood, HardRock Cafe, Hooters, Natural (vegetarian), Wok N. Roll (Asian), and the Western Grill (meat).

Don't be afraid to eat or drink in Cozumel. The water in all the hotels and restaurants is bottled and purified. We've never had a problem with water, ice or food and we eat in some pretty funky places.

Keep in mind that things change on the island, so there might be new places and some of these could be gone since we were there last. I try to keep the list pretty up-to-date.

Let's go shopping. - Vamos de copras!

The Farmers Market (Calle Adolofo Rosado Salas between 20 and 25, inside the white building on the left) A true local market. Great produce, herbs, meat, fish, and "to go" food from the shop owners stalls at the back. Wander all through, many tourist items can be bought for a fraction of the cost of downtown. Wonderful photo opportunities here - look for the whole pig's heads. Go before noon.

Los Cinco Soles (Av. Rafael Melgar 27 between Calles 8 & 10 N) the best craft shopping. Notice their guaranty, if you find an item cheaper, they'll match the price. Be sure to take in their art and furniture galleries, they are only open a few days a week - usually when the ships are in town. This place also has an extraordinary tequila shop and shot bar. There are 100+ different kinds of tequila from $2 to $700 per bottle. You can purchase tastes at the bar before you buy. I think they have the best prices on silver jewelry here. No haggling - just a straight discount for cash that makes them cheaper than anyone else. Much better quality work.

PECH Artesanias (30 Ave. between Calle 8 & 10 Norte) if you like the Talavera handpainted ceramic dinnerware at Mi Casa and Cinco Soles, try this "outlet" store for better prices.

Bakery Zermatt (Calle 4 N at Av. 5N) the best bakery in town.

Explora (Ave. Benito Juarez at Calle 2 N) great clothes. *this might be closed now.

Mi Casa (Av. Rafael Melgar between Calles Rosado Salas & S 3) hand-painted pottery, tableware, vases, pewter and silver. Beautiful.

Tee shirts are always cheaper in the funky little shops that run along the backside of the square than they are in the tourist shops up front. (Ave.10)

Be careful if you buy silver jewelry. I've found the prices to be no better than the US although there is lots more design to choose. Make sure you know something about the quality if you invest.

Vaya con Dios! Que disfrute!

And now a word of my own about 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, flippers 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. Gracias

Old Jul 16th, 2000, 11:25 AM
Posts: n/a
Very good thoroughy report. I appreciated all the info on cozumel. Do you happen to have any info on Merida, Mexico. If so I would appreciate all and any information. Thanks.
Old Jul 17th, 2000, 05:05 AM
Posts: n/a
Sorry, no information on Merida. I've never been there. Thanks for your kind words.
Old Jul 20th, 2000, 01:34 PM
Posts: n/a
fantastic report. do you know anything about playa del carmen off myan coast? we are looking for a few days at a clean upscale hotel on the beach with my husband and our 6 year old daughter. we like to eat well, cant speak a word of spanish and would like to keep prices in the moderate area. Am a little apprehensive of the all in one package deals. what do you think?
Old Jul 20th, 2000, 05:24 PM
Posts: n/a
We've been to Playa del Carmen a few times (also Cozumel - we usually try to have a few days in both places). Playa has experienced a real growth explosion and there are lots of smaller hotels in the area and they are quite reasonably priced. There are plenty of nice restaurants as well. I definitely wouldn't go all inclusive. If you do a search on Playa del Carmen on the internet, you'll find several good websites.

Playa del Carmen and Cozumel are quite different from one another, despite being so close together. I enjoy both - as I said, we often try to go to both places. It's not really necessary to speak Spanish although I always try to use my limited Spanish as much as possible.

I'm sure you'll enjoy the area.
Old Jul 21st, 2000, 07:39 AM
Parrot Mom
Posts: n/a
Thanks for your report, it makes me want to return fora nother week. I am not thrilled that they have a Kentucky Fried Chicken, trust me..One of the places we "found" was La Cosa Nostra" recommended by a waiter in the middle of a local neighborhood with the most incredible seafood lasagna..is it still here... Yes, I remember El Moro..best seafood outside of Boston..the truth..Le Cinca del Soles, beautiful, beautiful craft shop.. One night against my better judgement we went to the Lobster Cove and was pleasantly surprised with ther coconut shrimp and I remember it fondly..When we went to the Lagoon we took a right..and there is/was a lovely beach there, practically deserted.. The last day we rented a jeep, boy was that an experience..and ended up at Playa Blanco..a lovely unknown and little used area.. You've brought up really pleasant memories, even the bakery...maybe we'll go back again..wonder if it will be the same....
Old Jul 26th, 2000, 08:30 AM
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Hi Parrot Mom; Glad my little report brought you such pleasant memories. I think that you would find Cozumel much the same. Although there are always new places - mostly to attract the cruise trippers - the charming "local" things stay the same. Unfortunately Los Cosa Nostra (one of my all time favorites - loved the fresh fruit margaritas)has been gone for several years now. But those quiet little "undiscovered" beaches can still be found and used any day but Sunday - when they are used by all the locals out for a day with their family. Personally, I can't imagine a winter without being in Cozumel. Thanks for writing..and book a flight now. TC

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