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Isla Mujeres’ Garrafón Castilla

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When you’re on Isla Mujeres, there’s really only one decision with which you’ll need to trouble yourself: of all the tantalizing options, where should you plop down your butt for the entire day? We chose Garrafón de Castilla, a small beach club on the southern end of the island.

Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling

Garrafón de Castilla is named for the reef just offshore, and is not to be confused with nearby Parque Garrafón. The latter is an expensive theme-park type experience, featuring attractions like zip lines and swimming with dolphins. Garrafón de Castilla, on the other hand, is a small beach with snorkeling and a 50 peso ($4 USD) cover charge. Sand, water and sun is all we wanted.

Our day at the beach went like this: lay on a chair, snorkel a bit, lay on the chair some more, eat, snorkel, and chair (this time falling asleep). Perfect. The snorkeling was a lot of fun; despite its proximity to shore, the reef is in decent condition. We saw lobsters, a manta ray and too many colorful fish.

No really, there were way too many colorful fish. The club sells fish food along with its snorkel gear and so, even though we weren’t feeding the fish, they’ve come to recognize snorkeling humans as floating feed machines. It was initially cute, but quickly got weird, and then kind of scary. I could not escape this swarm of little yellow fish, and they were starting to look impatient.

Still, too many fish is hardly a real complaint, and overall Garrafón de Castilla offers a wonderful day out, especially considering the price. If you’re looking for a relaxing spot to chill out in the sun, you can’t do better than this.

Location on our Map

I took the underwater video with this camera!

Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
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January 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm Comments (0)

Learning How to Scuba Dive

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One reason Jürgen and I chose the Yucatán Peninsula as our home for 91 days was our desire to learn how to scuba dive. This is one of the best places in the world to do so. After some research, we decided on the four-day certification course offered by Wet Set, a scuba-diving shop found in Puerto Morelos.

We were introduced to scuba diving almost ten years ago, when we participated in a two-hour beginners-level course offered on a cruise ship. Being able to breathe underwater was an exhilarating experience; the course gave us a tantalizing sample of scuba diving, and we immediately wanted more. But the years passed by, and we never found ourselves in a position to properly learn.

Until now. Puerto Morelos was the perfect spot to complete our certification. Just offshore is the world’s second-longest reef, and the town itself is peaceful and quiet, ideal for studying. Most importantly, the pros at Wet Set couldn’t have been more helpful. This small shop near the Ojo de Agua Hotel, run by an American/Scottish husband and wife team, boasts a tremendously friendly and qualified staff.

Under the watchful, critical supervision of our instructor, Lisa, we went from clueless scuba newbies to certified divers in four days. Scuba is a lot more knowledge-based than I realized. There are a lot of facts and skills with which to become familiar. Now that I’m certified, I can tell you what nitrogen narcosis is and, without any problems, could calculate your post-dive pressure group. I can confidently assemble your diving equipment and communicate potentially important phrases like “I’m out of air, give me yours”, using my hands.

Of course, the classroom was just part of it. A huge chunk of our time was spent in the water, practicing and demonstrating necessary skills. Things like taking our masks off underwater, recovering our regulators, providing air to our buddies, ascending to the surface in one breath, and hovering mid-water without moving a limb. These skill checks were not just important, but kind of fun. Upon completing each, I felt a little less anxious about diving. It’s a relief when you know that you can now deal with a situation as serious as running out of air.

We made four dives as part of our course, visiting various spots along the reef. These initial underwater forays were split between fun and work; we had to practice specific tasks, but also had time to sight-see. We swam past a giant sea turtle, trumpet fish, and even found a moray eel staring at us from his cave. And with each dive, our confidence grew.

After four exhausting days, we received our Open Water Certifications with a feeling of accomplishment. If you’re looking for a great place to learn how to scuba dive, make your way to Puerto Morelos and find Wet Set. If you’re already certified, they offer good-value dives in various spots along the reef and, for those not into scuba, they do snorkeling, as well as something called “snuba” diving: a hybrid between scuba and snorkel.

Location of Wet Set on our Map
Wet Set – Website

Great Place To Stay In Puerto Morelos

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December 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm Comments (7)
Isla Mujeres' Garrafn Castilla When you're on Isla Mujeres, there's really only one decision with which you'll need to trouble yourself: of all the tantalizing options, where should you plop down your butt for the entire day? We chose Garrafón de Castilla, a small beach club on the southern end of the island.
For 91 Days