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Three Great Cozumel Hotels

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As guests of Cozumel’s tourism board, we weren’t just exposed to a wide variety of sights and restaurants, but were also introduced to a few wonderful places to stay. Whether your budget is small, medium or large, one of these options should fit the bill.

Hostelito

Hostelito, or Little Hostel, welcomed us for three nights at the beginning of our stay. For budget travelers, this is a perfect option. Clean, affordable, and with a perfect location right in the middle of the city, Hostelito offers both dorm-style accommodation and private suites with bathrooms. There’s a community kitchen, where you will likely meet other travelers, and fast internet throughout the premises.

Hostelito Cozumel – Website
Location on our Map

Villas El Encanto

Farther away from downtown, Villas El Encanto is exactly as enchanting as its name suggests. When we came through the gate, the scene was like something out of a fairy tale. Hammocks, a pool, flowers and trees, and even a pair of peacocks strutting about. The hotel’s eight rooms are lovely, with wifi and access to a kitchen. I almost think it would be a bad idea to stay here… the garden is so pleasant that you might end up lounging around all day, and miss out on everything Cozumel has to offer!

Villas El Encanto – Website
Location on our Map

Hotel B

B stands for boutique, blue, beautiful, bewitching and breathtaking. And while the “B” in Hotel B could stand for any of these, it’s probably an abbreviation for Beatrice, the hotel’s young owner and operator. This recently renovated hotel has an incredible position right atop the Caribbean Sea, with an infinity pool, hammocks and a great beach bar. Hoping to capture a different, more involved kind of tourist, they offer workshops in areas like yoga or cooking, and diving excursions.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Hotel B, though, is the fact that every room is individually designed with decorative elements from around Mexico. And every piece inside each room, from the rugs to the paintings to the soap dishes, is available for purchase.

Location on our Map
Hotel B – Website

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More Pics from Hostelito
More Pics from Villas El Encanto
More Pics from Hotel B
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December 18, 2013 at 1:00 am Comments (0)

The Volkswagen Beetles Of Cozumel

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The Volkswagen Beetle was discontinued in its native Germany in 1978, but production continued in Mexico for an additional 25 years. And so one of Germany’s most famous automotive designs has become a Mexican icon. The low-cost Beetles were a smash hit here for decades, and you still see a fair share puttering down the roads. Especially, it seems, in Cozumel.

Secret Hotwire Cozumel Hotel Deals

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December 17, 2013 at 12:59 am Comments (3)

Cozumel’s Punta Sur

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The Faro Cerlain Eco Park is the official name of the reserve which extends across the southern point of Cozumel, but most refer to it as the Punta Sur. Here, you’ll find one of the island’s best beaches, a lighthouse offering a tremendous view over the Caribbean, and a natural mangrove lagoon in which crocodiles dwell. We visited toward the end of our week in Cozumel.

The first (and last) thing you’re going to notice about the park is the horrifically pot-holed road which leads in and out. After fifteen minutes of neck-breaking bumps, you’ll find yourself at the Cerlain Lighthouse. Be careful if you decide to climb it… or at least more careful than me. I was jogging up, trying to beat Jürgen to the top, and smashed my head against the ceiling. So despite the bright daylight, the view I enjoyed from the top was full of stars.

After shaking off my concussion, we took a quick look into the small maritime museum on the bottom floor of the lighthouse, and then embarked on a boat ride around the lagoon. Just inland from the coast, a thick mangrove forest is home to a number of interesting birds, including kingfishers and pink spoonbills. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, but I was more concerned about watching the water, because the lagoon is filled with crocodiles. Just a few minutes after our tour began, we saw one… a huge beast, moving with terrifying agility.

The best part of Punta Sur is the beach found at the very end of the park, with great snorkeling at the nearby reef. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for this, and the water was too rough for swimming anyway. But we still had a great day out. It’s not the easiest place to get to, and that potholed road is no joke, but it’s worth the effort, particularly if you have an entire day to spend there.

Location on our Map

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December 17, 2013 at 12:14 am Comment (1)

Eating in Cozumel, Part 2

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During our stay in Cozumel, we adhered to a strict regimen of breakfast, lunch and dinner, every single day, always at a new place. By the end of the week, our bellies were beginning to squeeze through the buttons of our shirts, and we were happy to be done with all the eating. But the meals we enjoyed in Cozumel were among the highlights of our trip.

Eating in Cozumel, Part 1

El Muellecito

Loud music, rock-n-roll decor, and a young crowd hungry for both food and fun are the highlights of El Muellecito (Little Dock). Even though it was a Monday evening when we showed up, we almost couldn’t find a table. There are frequent drink specials which help bring in the crowds, and great retro-rock blasting from the speakers. Perhaps most importantly, the tuna tacos I ordered were incredible.

“What’s that?!” shouts Jürgen.
“The tuna tacos are really good.”
“The music! I can’t hear you! What?”
“I said that I like my tuna tacos! You know… never mind.”
“Okay!”

“How are your tuna tacos?”

La Cocay

La Cocay serves up the best modern cuisine in Cozumel. Actually, it’s the best modern cuisine I’d had anywhere, in a very long time. The creative dishes are tinged with a Mediterranean influence, and we had difficulty deciding which delicious-sounding meal to try. It was so much fun to read the menu that I called the waiter over to ask if there was a sequel.

In the end, we went with the sesame sashimi tuna and the roasted duck breast. The plates were little works of art which I (almost) felt bad about destroying. La Cocay, which is Mayan for “firefly”, is run by an American expat who’s lived on the island for years.

Rolandi’s

Found just below El Muellecito and actually run by the same family, Rolandi’s is much different in terms of style. No loud rock here, just wonderfully prepared Italian cooking. We weren’t that hungry when we sat down, and politely passed on an appetizer. But our waiter wasn’t having any of that nonsense. He first suggested and then insisted we try the octopus carpaccio. “Well, you can bring it out,” we suggested, “but we might not eat it all.” Minutes later, the carpaccio was gone and we were literally licking the plate clean.

The rest of the food was just as good. I had a colorful and rich pasta dish, and Jürgen went for pizza. Having forgotten all that crap about “not being so hungry”, we ordered dessert: Bananas Flambé. Fun to watch, and even more fun to eat.

Kinta

Since it’s owned by the same people who run Kondesa, the super-cool garden restaurant we had patronized on our first night in the city, we had high hopes for Kinta. The two restaurants are similar, both with excellent food and chic decoration, but Kinta is more subdued. While Kondesa might be better with a group of friends, this was perfect for a quiet date.

Kinta bills itself as a Mexican bistro, and its menu is largely based on regional ingredients. There’s grilled shrimp marinated in achiote, scallops served with tomato-corn salsa and cilantro sauce, roasted pork with chiles, mushrooms, almonds, fig marmalade and potatoes… and now my keyboard is covered in drool. Great.

El Mercado

We did a lot of fine dining during our week in Cozumel, at places which cater to foreigners and the island’s well-off locals. It was excellent and interesting food, but not our normal style. So it was almost a relief to have our final meal at San Miguel’s market. Quick and easy snacks like panuchos and empanadas served by no-nonsense women who aren’t the slightest bit concerned about charming us with their breezy style. Nope. Plop your butt down on a stool in this chaotic market where people are buying yucca root and papayas, and munch down delicious tacos as fast as you can.

One thing we realized here, and have noticed in other street joints as well, is that water isn’t always on the menu. I ordered a water, and the guy asked me what kind. Cola? Lemonade? Hibiscus tea? Orange juice? And when I insisted on normal water, he gave me a “weirdo” look, and then had to go to a different stand to fetch it. We would read later that the Maya, both in the past and their ancestors today, are unaccustomed to drinking straight water, always preferring to flavor it.


Jürgen and I were invited guests at most of these restaurants, but of course are sharing our honest opinions. We can wholeheartedly recommend the places listed above, without qualm. For such a small city, San Miguel has an abundance of excellent restaurants… just another reason to stay for an extended visit!

Great Hotels On Cozumel

More Pics from El Muellecito
More Pics from La Cocay
More Pics from Rolandi’s
Another Pic from Kinta
More Pics from the Cozumel Market
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December 16, 2013 at 12:54 am Comment (1)

Cozumel’s Museo de la Isla

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When preparing to explore Cozumel, a logical place to begin is the Museum of the Island, found near the ferry pier. I know, I know… the weather is great, the water is crystal blue, and the amount of things to do outdoors is overwhelming. Who wants to spend time in a museum? But the overview of Cozumel’s history, geography and ecology is brief and well-presented, and afterwards you can reward yourself with an excellent breakfast in the museum’s restaurant.

Cozumel Museum

The Museo de la Isla is separated into four sections, dedicated to the island, the ocean, Cozumel’s history and contemporary life. Hey, snap snap, stop staring out the window at the shimmering Caribbean Sea, I’m explaining important stuff here. About learning and history and stuff. I promise it’s worth your time.

Within minutes of stepping into the museum, your attention should be wholly absorbed by the fascinating history of Cozumel and its unique ecology. The island has never been a place of heavy settlement; when the Spanish first arrived, only a smattering of Maya farmers remained. And for most of Mexico’s history, it was almost entirely neglected. This was great from an ecological point of view as, today, Cozumel is still home a lot of endemic animal life.

In the museum, you’ll learn about pivotal moments in Cozumel’s history, see pictures from before and after the devastating 2005 Hurricane Wilma, and admire some underwater dioramas introducing the island’s unique sea life and corals. And there are usually a couple temporary exhibitions featuring local artists.

After you’ve met your culture quota for the day, head over to the restaurant on the top floor. The breakfasts here are good, as are the ocean views and the reasonable prices. Really, there’s no excuse not to check this museum out. Even if you’d rather spend your time on Cozumel in the great outdoors, you’ll have a better appreciation for the island after having learned about it.

Location on our Map

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December 15, 2013 at 12:20 am Comment (1)

San Gervasio – Cozumel’s Maya Ruins

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The lack of awe-inspiring temples on Cozumel belies its true importance to the Maya civilization. Home to the goddess Ix’Chel, the island was a sacred place of pilgrimage and a major center of commerce. We took a tour of Cozumel’s main cluster of ruins at San Gervasio, in the center of the island, and learned more about the beliefs of this fascinating people.

San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel

Though disappointing to modern tourists, the absence of towering Maya pyramids on Cozumel is actually proof of their practical wisdom. The Maya knew that Cozumel was a regular victim of hurricanes, and thus constructed their buildings low to the ground. During our horseback tour through Cozumel’s jungle, we had even seen an ingenious Maya hurricane detection system: a round hut with conch shells molded into the ceiling. When strong winds would sweep in, the air circulating within the hut would be forced through the shells, emitting a noise loud enough to be heard across the island.

Accompanying us on our tour of San Gervasio was Elizabeth Palm, an anthropologist based in San Miguel. As we walked between the site’s various structures, she filled us in on colorful details about life during the era. Cozumel was known to the Maya as “Tantún” and was believed to be the sacred realm of Ix’Chel, the goddess of fertility. Couples who were having trouble conceiving, or women who hoped to birth great warriors, would travel hundreds of kilometers and cross the channel to pray at the sacred temples.

Battling against the fog of mosquitoes which had descended upon San Gervasio, we encountered vestiges of these temples and some of the roads, or sacbeob, along which the pilgrims would arrive. We saw the Arch, which the faithful would pass under on their way to worship. And farther away, we found the Ka’na Na Pyramid, where oracles would deliver their prophecies. Elizabeth explained that, just like modern-day politicians, Maya rulers weren’t above manipulation to keep their people under control. Thanks to their advanced understanding of astronomical cycles, Maya scientists were able to predict celestial events such as eclipses. To the normal Maya farmer, such revelations must have seemed like magic.

To be sure, San Gervasio isn’t the most memorable collection of ruins on the peninsula, but its history as a center of pilgrimage is fascinating. The site takes around an hour to see, and makes for a great cultural excursion on the island.

Location on our Map

If you’d like to learn more about the Maya, and can read Spanish, check out Elizabeth’s blog: Portal Maya, where she clarifies some of the most common misconceptions about this ancient people.

Budget Accommodation On Cozumel

San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
San Gervasio Maya Ruins Cozumel
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December 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm Comments (3)

Eating in Cozumel, Part 1

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During our week in Cozumel, we were invited to a number of restaurants. From chic to rustic, modern to traditional, we sampled a little of everything the island has to offer. It was an intense culinary program and there were times when, regardless of how delicious the shrimp ceviche or grilled snapper was, I almost couldn’t take another bite. Here are some of our favorite finds.

The Intercontinental
Intercontinental Cozumel

Immediately upon arriving, we drove to the island’s only five-star hotel for a taste of The Good Life. We relaxed on the beach, did a bit of snorkeling, and then sat down to a delicious meal. Turns out, The Good Life tastes a lot like fresh ceviche.

Ceviche is something I’ve always been too nervous to order. It’s marinated raw fish, so you want to be pretty sure about the quality of the place before you order. But we were at a five-star resort, so I figured, “now or never”. It was incredible. I’d say that it was my favorite new food, but quite honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel confident enough to order it again.

Kondesa

Modern food in a smart garden restaurant, it was almost a given that Kondesa would become one of Cozumel’s trendiest spots when it opened in 2011. Everything about this place is cool, from the music to the decor, and the food isn’t bad either. We sampled a few great dishes, and I’d say my favorite was the guacamole sampler: traditional, fruit and nut varieties.

Or maybe I best liked the cheese fondue. Or was it the lion fish crabcakes? I don’t know, I was in the mood to enjoy everything. It was Friday night and there was a DJ spinning music in the corner. A light rain fell, forcing everyone into the interior patio, and it was a conspicuously good-looking bunch to be crowded in with. For a casual yet classy night out, Condesa is probably Cozumel’s best bet.

Casa Denis

It took us awhile to realize that, in Mexico, torta means “sandwich”. In Spain, the same word means “cake”. So when I was told that the most famous dish at Casa Denis was Torta de Camarones, I almost got up and walked out. What kind of sick freaks…

But luckily I realized my error, and was soon devouring the most delicious shrimp sandwich I’d ever encountered. They’ve had a lot of time to perfect the art. With a history stretching back 90 years, Casa Denis is a Cozumel institution.

Palmeras

Found directly between the ocean and the main square of San Miguel, Palmeras has the most enviable location in Cozumel, so it doesn’t even need to try. Customers are going to flock here regardless. So, it was a happy surprise to discover that they do indeed try. Tourists and locals alike come for breakfast to order chilaquiles and enchiladas. Yes, you read that right: in Mexico, enchiladas are for breakfast. Chilaquiles, I don’t even want to get into.

Okay fine. Chilaquiles are basically nachos: tortilla chips covered with a rich red or green sauce, smothered in shredded chicken, cream and cheese. And served for breakfast! I’m guessing that they’re called chilaquiles because, nachos for breakfast? That would be crazy. But these are chilaquiles, so dig right in, breakfast is served.

La Cozumeleña
La Cozumeleña

A hip, downtown diner serving delicious food at unbelievable prices, dependably crowded with locals… You’d have to be miserable not to immediately love a joint like La Coumeleña. We had heard that it has the best huevos motuleños in the entire peninsula. That’s quite a claim, but after devouring my entire plate in about three minutes, I’d be happy to hand them the title.


It bears noting that we were invited to dine at all of these restaurants. We were under no obligation to write positively about them, and only chose our favorites to include in this list. Luckily, almost every place we visited was great. In fact, there were more than enough for a second full list of recommendations.

Cozumel Hotels

More Pics of the Intercontinental
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
Intercontinental Cozumel
More Pics from Kondesa
Kondesa Cozumel
More Pics from Casa Denis
Casa Denis Cozumel
More Pics from Palmeras
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December 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm Comments (3)

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Eastern Coast

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The eastern coast of Cozumel is completely different to the west. It has none of the calm, crystal blue water, nor anywhere near the tourism. After stopping in at Cozumel’s original town, El Cedral, we took a short drive up the coast and ended at a rollicking bar named Coconuts.

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast

To most visitors, Cozumel feels small. Its true size is obscured by the fact that almost all the sights and services are concentrated around San Miguel. But once you take the time to venture out of the city, the island reveals itself to be surprisingly large. The vast majority is uninhabited, and much of it is protected from further development by law.

Although ocean-front San Miguel has become the island’s biggest town, it’s not the only one, nor was it the first. We drove inland to visit El Cedral, where Cozumel’s original inhabitants settled down. Save a beautiful old church and a statue of a traditional dance which somehow involves a pig’s head on a platter, there’s not much there today, but it provides a nice reminder that Cozumel isn’t all cruise ships and scuba divers.

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast

Past El Cedral, we came to the island’s eastern edge. The waters are rougher here, with craggy rocks lining the coast, and it’s not as favorable for snorkeling or swimming. We stopped at a few of the beaches, including one packed full of families sitting around coolers. This, it seems, is where Cozumeleños come to escape the crowds.

We ended our day on the eastern coast at Coconuts. Set atop a cliff overlooking the sea, this is the kind of place where the music is loud, the customers are foreign, and the atmosphere is drunk. Or the music is foreign, the atmosphere is loud and the customers are drunk. Idont’membrph. We had a blast here. Maybe after all the sight-seeing, we were ready for some fun. Maybe it was the crocodile they keep in a cage. Maybe it was the games.

When we entered, I saw a guy trying to swing a ring dangling from a string onto a bull’s horn. “I’ve been playing this game all night,” he said. “It’s impossible.” I took the ring from him and said, “Watch, I’ll hit it on my first try”. And I actually did! (Amazing in itself, since I’m terrible at games like this.) The bartender applauded and gave me a free tequila shot, and when I turned to celebrate with my new friend… he was gone. I scoured the restaurant, but the guy had vanished without a trace.

Within five minutes of entering the bar, I’d won a game of skill, drank tequila, made a friend and just as quickly lost him; it was an accurate preview of what would evolve into very boisterous night. By the time we took our leave, I’d done a couple more shots, drank more than a handful of beers, eaten a plate of delicious tacos, and had a long conversation with a death metal singer in perfect Spanish (at least, it sounded perfect to my inebriated ears). A fun evening out on a side of the island most people don’t get to see.

Location of El Cedral | Coconuts Beach Bar

-Best Way To Get Around Cozumel: Rent a Jeep!

El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
El Cedral and Cozumel’s Atlantic Coast
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December 13, 2013 at 1:19 am Comment (1)

Rancho Buenavista – On Horseback Through Cozumel

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Cozumel is most famous for its crystalline waters and amazing coral formations, but after about an hour of bouncing on horseback through a thick, humid forest and exploring forgotten Maya ruins, I began to take seriously the island’s true diversity.

Horse Back Riding Cozumel

We were guests at Rancho Buenavista, a horse ranch on the eastern side of the island. The ranch occupies a significant portion of Cozumel’s entire area, and has been in the same family for generations. Among archaeology buffs, Buenavista is appreciated for its Maya ruins, the most important on the island after those at nearby San Gervasio.

After a short safety demonstration, we met our horses for the day. I would be atop Máscara (which, for the sake of Máscara’s manly pride, I should clarify is Spanish for “Mask”, not the eyelash-darkening cosmetic). These were full-sized North American horses, nothing like the pint-sized fellows we’d ridden in Iceland, and I felt a little nervous while mounting. But I kept my fears to myself. I had to, since the four-year-old daughter of the proprietors was riding with us, and was the confident master of her own steed.

Soon enough we were bouncing through the jungle. A playful pack of Xoloitzcuintles, Mexican Hairless Dogs, had decided to follow us, jumping at our feet as we dismounted to explore the first set of Maya ruins. Here, deep in the jungle, the Maya had excavated a cave out of the limestone, which they used for rituals to the goddess Ix’Chel. All along the path, we encountered statues which had been discovered around the grounds of the ranch.

Riding through the jungle, swatting away mosquitoes, and following our guide to ancient ruins… at Buenavista, we truly felt the thrill of adventure and discovery. Our tour lasted for around 90 minutes. Afterwards, back at the ranch, we relaxed with sore butts and a couple beers enjoyed “Chelada” style, with lime and pepper. It was a wonderful day out; if you’re looking for an exciting and absolutely non-standard experience in Cozumel, consider an excursion to Rancho Buenavista.

Location on our Map

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Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
Horse Back Riding Cozumel
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December 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm Comments (4)

An Underwater Paradise Off Cozumel

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With iridescent waters and one of Earth’s best reefs just offshore, it was no coincidence that we choose to spend a week on Cozumel immediately after obtaining our scuba certifications. The Caribbean island has long been regarded as one of the world’s premiere diving destinations.

There’s an almost unlimited variety of diving possibilities at Cozumel, with spots along the reef that are suitable for any skill level. Although we had been invited to join an advanced dive, descending to 30 meters with the goal of watching a migrating group of spotted eagle rays, we decided on a much more shallow excursion. This would be our first real dive, and we wanted to take it easy. And besides, this easier dive was to a place called “Paradise Reef”. With a name like that, it’s hard to go wrong.

Stretching from the tip of the Yucatán all the way to Honduras, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the world’s second-longest reef system, behind only the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. And Cozumel is home to a great section of it, protected since 1996 as the “Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park”. The number of possible dives around the island is amazing; just take a look at Reefs of Cozumel, an excellent online resource which describes 38 of the most popular sites.

After a short boat ride, we dropped into the water and sank to the ocean floor. Jürgen and I were the only newbies among a large group of lifelong divers, and I had been worried that they’d be bored at this “beginners” section of the reef. But the minute I saw the coral formations, those fears vanished. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been there; something as beautiful as this reef simply can’t get old.

How many fish did we see? Hard to say… hundreds? Thousands? There were large, colorful fish that seemed content to float along with us, a school of snappers performing a synchronized dance, moray eels and big black groupers. And what’s that whiskered beast hiding under a rock? A splendid toadfish! Totally endemic to Cozumel, I had never even heard of it before. And there… hovering comfortably in the distance with a school of smaller fish swimming around him, a barracuda, at least a couple meters long and terrifying to behold.

We stayed down for about 45 minutes before our tanks ran low. Not bad for our first real dive, though I was shocked to learn how much air the experienced divers still had left in their tanks. We’ve still got some learning to do. But it was a memorable day out; and we didn’t have to wait long before the decision to become certified divers paid off.

Video and pictures taken with this underwater camera!

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December 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm Comments (2)

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Three Great Cozumel Hotels As guests of Cozumel's tourism board, we weren't just exposed to a wide variety of sights and restaurants, but were also introduced to a few wonderful places to stay. Whether your budget is small, medium or large, one of these options should fit the bill.
For 91 Days