Recommended Activities for Trip to Playa del Carmen

Old Apr 18th, 2008, 08:37 AM
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Recommended Activities for Trip to Playa del Carmen

Hi all!
My friend and I have booked a 7-day trip to Playa del Carmen for the end of July (hot!). We're interested in doing the following activities:
1.) Renting a scooter to tour Cozumel
2.) Snorkeling in Cozumel (does anyone know of any non-coral reef areas where we can snorkel?)
3.) Kayak tour of Sian Ka'an Biosphere
4.) Canal tour of Sian Ka'an Biosphere
5.) Tour of Tulum Ruins
6.) Tour of Chichen Itza Ruins
7.) Snorkeling in a cenote

Which of the above would you recommend? Are there any other "must-see/do" activities we have not captured above? For each activity, should we use a formal tour operator or just go on our own and hire a guide once we get there? Can you recommend specific vendors for any of the activities?

Thank you so much for your help!
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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Scooters can be found everywhere. Why would you want to snorkel a "non coral reef" area?
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 10:07 AM
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My friend's sister had a serious incident with coral reef while snorkeling in Australia. As a result, she's not particularly eager to snorkel around coral reef.
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 10:39 AM
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We usually rent a car to sightsee, but in PDC you'll see dozens of tour vendors, many handing you brochures as you walk down the street (5th Avenue). Same is true when you get off the ferry in cozumel.

There are probably tours available that may do a combo of some of the things you listed. Many people also take public transportation to places like Tulum. You can always sign up for a tour of the ruins once you get there. Chichen Itza is a bit further, so a longer day, but something like tulum easily could be paired with a Cenote.

If you do a tour, inquire if they will be making many pickups (which can sometimes take up a lot of time), and if they make an extra stops (they usually stop at a touristy shopping area and things like that). If you go own your own, you can beat the tourist rush at places like Tulum, the buses general arrive after lunch, but if you get there in the morning it's less crowded (and cooler).
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 12:11 PM
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Its been a few years since I was in Cozumel but there was a place called ________ shallows - maybe Columbia Shallows that wasnt a reef, but there were patches of sea grass with a few coral heads, and lots of little yellow grunts around... Really, your sister or cousin should go back to a reef and learn to keep her distance - control is key to snorkeling anywhere. And, snorkeling not on a reef is sort of a waste.

Tulum, Chichen Itza and the cenote are dont miss things!
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 05:41 AM
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We have a few suggestions:

1. Please do NOT rent a scooter to tour Cozumel! The number one medical problem down here is not bad food or water but are Scooter accidents! The scooters are not well maintained, the traffic is crazy and help is often difficult to find on the far side of the island. We know from experience that falling from a scooter on a dirt road far from town in Cozumel is a nightmare...Tony fell once many years ago and still has the scars from where his skin was torn away on his leg. Rent a jeep or other car instead.

2.There is some snorkeling off the shore (i.e. away from the coral reef) in Cozumel, but the cruise ship traffic has somewhat reduced the number of fish. Instead go to Yal-ku Lagoon in Akumal (about 20 minutes south of Playa). The natural lagoon is a national snorkeling park and comes inland off the ocean creating a calm, safe place to snorkel with plenty of sealife to observe.

3.When you go to Tulum, you really don't need a tour guide. The archeological area is small (you can see everything in an hour or so) and the buildings in the park all have signs in english to take a self guided tour. And when you are done touring the ruins, walk south for about a mile on the beach front road that ends directly in front of the ruins. This will take you to our favorite beach, El Paraiso.

4. For cenote snorkeling it is hard to beat Hidden Worlds tour. We have lived here for three years and still take that tour from time to time. It's one of out favorite things to do. http://www.hiddenworlds.com.mx/

For some other suggestions check out the activities page of our personal blog to see some of the things we like to do down here.http://playazone.wordpress.com/category/activities/

Have a great time.

Tony and Cheri
Luna Blue Hotel and Garden
Playa Del Carmen
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 05:29 PM
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Wow! Thanks for all of the helpful information! We're starting to change our activities based upon your input.

1) Rent bicycles (or possibly a car) to tour Cozumel
2) Snorkeling (Cenote, coral reef area AND Yal Kul Lagoon)
3) Tour of Tulum Ruins (on our own via bus)
4) Tour of Chichen Itza (may rent a car for the day)

Can anyone recommend any snorkeling outfitters for the cenote, coral reef area and Yal Kul Lagoon? I noticed that no one noted that the Sian Ka'an Biosphere is a "must see/do" activity-- is that an activity we should think about scratching off our list?

Thanks! My friend and I are really excited for this trip!
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:13 AM
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We did the Sian Ka an Biosphere trip. Wonderful and peaceful. It was combined with a wander around the ruins of Muyil. I recommend a tour company called Eco colors because it was a small van with only 8 of us on the tour. Last year when we went tourists had to be accompanied by a biologist so you could not go on your own. Try to stick to small tours if you can. We went on a large tour bus to a Mayan village and then on to Coba and it was disappointing. We could not hear what the guide was saying because we were so far from him.
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Old Apr 30th, 2008, 10:19 PM
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Thanks diddl_maus for the vendor recommendation. The Washington Post also recommended Eco Colors -- I'll definitely check them out.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 08:22 AM
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Hi, karenwliu -

I second the recommendation for the Hidden Worlds cenote snorkeling tour.

Also, I was glad to spend some time touring Sian Ka'an. I went with Cesiak tours, and was very pleased with the experience: the group was small and led by a knowledgeable guide. For more information, check
http://www.cesiak.org/tours.htm

Hope that helps!
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Old May 20th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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You MUST use biodrgradable sunscreen. And take a waterproof bag for your clothing during the ride across the water. The boats zip across the water and waves come into the boat. The bottom of our boat filled with water which I watched soak my dry clothing. You may want to take a waterproof camera to take pictures once you get to Sian Ka'an.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 02:57 PM
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Don't forget swim with dolphins in Riviera Maya is a great experience you must to live it! They get a big and natural environment besides Xcaret. Donít you think to visit parks Xcaret & Xel-Ha?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2008, 12:28 PM
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We will be taking a Fat Cat tour to do some snorkeling. Will also find some cenotes to swim in.

It has come up so many times on other forums . . do NOT rent a scooter in Cozumel!! Please trust LunaBlue on that one. Lots of horror stories - no matter how experience you may or may not be on scooters already!
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 08:27 AM
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Hi everybody!

Thanks to everyone who has provided input! My friend and I have "refined" our itinerary - let me know if you have any thoughts, concerns or additional recommendations!

Day 1: Early afternoon arrival in PDC. Get settled and recover from long flight on the beach.
Day 2: Beach Day
Day 3: Ferry to Cozumel (don't worry: we will NOT be riding scooters). We're planning on walking around or riding bicycles.
Day 4: Tulum & Beyond Tour
Day 5: Beach Day
Day 6: Cesiak Tour at Sian Ka'an
Day 7: Beach Day
Day 8: Back to CA (home)

We've planned three full beach days. However, we may consider doing the Hidden Worlds Tour and/or snorkel tour (Akumal/Fat Cat). Most of you recommended not going with an official tour for Tulum - I haven't formally booked it yet. We're leaning toward a tour b/c it requires less coordination on our part.
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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Sorry - quick correction: We're leaning toward a tour b/c there is less for us to coordinate.
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 10:11 AM
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karen - if you go to Cozumel, you may want to consider renting a car for the day - you can drive around to the east side of the island where there are no hotels - only uncrowded beaches and a few beach bars along the way - it is beautiful. The surf is rough, so there are only a few spots safe for swimming. There is a great place called Coconuts that is a perfect stop for a great view and a cold one. ISIS Rentadora is a local rental company - Margarite is a wonderful lady - you can get a Volkswagon convertible for $35 for the day.

There is also a place called the Money Bar where you can snorkel from shore. It is not spectacular, but you will see fish and some coral (it is not a reef), and the water is very clear.
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Old Jun 10th, 2008, 02:17 PM
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Hi, karenwliu -

I hope you enjoy the Cesiak tour of Sian Ka'an as much as I did! As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the Hidden Worlds cenote tour as well - it was quite interesting to snorkel through the caves. As for Tulum, I agree with others that it is very easy to visit on your own, but that's up to you.

Enjoy!

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Old Jun 14th, 2008, 04:12 PM
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Old Jun 14th, 2008, 09:50 PM
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Get on the ferry which leaves every hour. Go scuba diving in Cozumel. The diving there is some of the best in the world.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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We recently snorkeled on the Fat Cat tour and in Cozumel. Fat Cat was a shallow reef, which made for great viewing but you had to be careful because parts were close to the surface. We enjoyed this tour. Took a glass bottom boat/snorkel tour in Cozumel. We arranged in advance, but probably paid too much: There are tons of operators on the doc in Cozumel when you arrive by ferry. The reef, what we saw of it, was 15-20 feet deep. Lots of neat fish, but not really a reef experience in my limited experience.
Try to avoid a bus tour to tulum, unless you are doing a package deal to one of the parks. Our tour wasn't much of a tour, and we spent too much time going from resort to resort picking up people.
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