We will be in Cozumel on 06/05/02. We have 2 children 9ages 9 & 6) and we were thinking of touring the Ruins. Any advice? Book through Princess or not? I see where one of the tours is $89 adult and $72 per child. I believe that is too expensive.
I also read a small bit about the town of Chankanaab where one can swin with dolphins.
In Cozumel it's very easy to rent your own vehicle (car or jeep) and tour the island on your own. There's one main road around the island (oddly called Main Road<g>). Without stops it's only about an hour and a half around the entire island.
So you can do a liesurely tour, with stops for some rather minor ruins, and some nice beaches, and still have plenty of time.
If you wanted to see larger ruins you'd have to get a ferry to the mainland, or book a ship's tour to the mainland. Coz. is an island, just off the coast.
Chankanaab is not a town, but a National Park with full beach facilites and decent snorkeling. They do have dolphin swims available there, and Snuba (helmet) diving. If you rented a vehicle its easy to stop there. By taxi from the pier I believe is $7/cab (not person), and there is a charge to get into the park (think its $10/person now)
i have been to chankanab twice, and loved each time. here's what it is: there is a section of sandy area set aside with palm trees,chairs and umbrellas and such, and it is very nice.there is a stone seawall,and a few sets of stone stairs to get into the water. once your in the water you are surrounded, and i mean that, by tropical fish. there is also a section of protected beach, where beginners or kids can snorkel.if the water is not to rough, this is an ideal place to snorkel, and the scenery is beautifull. the swim with the dolphins section of the park is seperate from the snorkeling area, but looked like great fun, and it seemed the people got a lot of time in the water with the dolphins. you do not have to take an orginized shore excursion to chankanab. it is a 10 minute taxi ride from the ship, every driver knows where it is, and there are taxi's qued up to bring you back to town.you pay when you enter like any theme park.here's a small tip: go to the lido buffet, make a couple of small sandwiches with whatever is on the carving board, ask the waiters to wrap them in foil, and bring them to the beach with a couple of cans of soda.last time i was there, i remember sitting under one of the blue shade unmbrellas, munching on a roast beef sandwich(safe food) and drinking a coke(safe drink) watching the waves roll in and feeling very relaxed.there are wild iguanas walking around, looking at the tourists.this is a neat place.
Cruisin'DJ, great tips! Thanks. I would have never thought about the sandwich idea. On the same line, could I order a sandwich from room service early in the morning and ask them to wrap it? <smile>, I'm sure they will know my plans if I ask them to wrap it<grin>.
Also take some rolls or cereal from the buffet to feed the fish---you'll never have to swim to where they are if you have food! It is a great experience to have fish all over you, even nibbling on your fingers because that is where the food is! If you plan ahead, taking real fish food (pellets) in small ziploc bags is even better.
I very strongly recommend booking tours through Princess if you want to do anything on the mainland when the ship docks in San Miguel de Cozumel, including either the archeo-ecological park at Ex Caret or the Mayan ruins at Tulum. These attractions are a considerable distance from the ferry landing at Playa del Carmen, so you would have to take the ferry and a taxi or whatever. It would not be cheap, and you would be on your own if you miss the return ferry due to traffic on the mainland. If you are on a Princess tour, the ship will arrange to get you aboard in one way or another -- possibly by adding a service stop at Playa del Carmen -- in such situations.
The tours to Tulum and Ex Caret are not cheap because these tours include
>> Tickets for the ferry from San Miguel de Cozumel to Playa del Carmen,
>> Motorcoach and driver from Playa del Carmen to Tulum or Ex Caret,
>> Admission to the respective facility,
>> Lunch (provided in souvenir insulated cooler pack that's yours to keep),
>> Motorcoach transportation back to Playa del Carmen,
>> Tickets for the ferry back to San Miguel de Cozumel, and
>> Guide services throughout the whole tour, which is a pretty full day.
Based upon what's included, the prices of these tours do seem reasonable.
The ruins at Tulum are fascinating for all ages, so I have no doubt that your children would enjoy them. There will be opportunities to snorkel, to go to the beach, etc., at your other ports of call, so it might not be important to do so at San Miguel de Cozumel. OTOH, Ex Caret apparently combines some ruins with opporutinites for swimming and snorkeling so it might be a better choice if that's your interest.
If you decide to go to either Tulum or Ex Caret, I also strongly recommend bringing a liter (large bottle) of water from the ship for each person in your party and drinking from it frequently to prevent dehydration.
There is another option if you want to see some ruins without spending the whole day. There are some Mayan ruins at San Gervasio on the island of Cozumel, and Princess does offer a couple tours that go there. One of these tours also includes a Mexican cultural show right in San Miguel de Cozumel that is very, very good. The ruins at San Gervasio are not as extensive as those at Tulum, but they are more significant because the island of Cozumel is a holy place in the Mayan religion. Anyway, you could opt for one of these tours -- which are quite inexpensive -- and have part of the day to spend at the beach or snorkeling or whatever.