We are cruising onboard the Sea Princess in March. One stop is in Cozumel. We are debating between visiting Chankanaab Park on our own or taking to excursion to X-Caret. I understand X-Caret is quite a distance, with over an hour of transportation each way.
I would appreciate comments from any of you who have visited one or the other, or both. Thanks!
Attached here is what Fran Golden wrote about Cozumel, sorry no mention of X-caret, although I hear its a fantastic place to go.
Whether you are into ancient history, shopping, snorkeling, Mexican food or fun bars, you'll find Cozumel, Mexico appealing. I usually head right from the cruise ship pier to Chankanaab Nature Park (a quick cab ride) for snorkeling. The water is so clear you can see the fish from the beach, and the park also offers a history trail with replicas of Mayan ruins, and places to get a snack. If you want to learn more bout the region's history, you can book a shore excursion to visit the real and impressive Mayan ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza. If shopping is more your thing, head downtown, where you'll find great buys on jewelry, especially silver, and Mexican crafts. You can stop for an enchilada at one of the restaurants along the main drag. If you are looking for wilder times, make a bee-line for Carlos N' Charlie's, where there's always a party and the Coronas flow. If you accept the day-glow liquids the waitresses offer as shots, though, make sure you don't get too far gone to miss the ship! Carlos N' Charlie's logo items make great souvenirs
x-caret is a beautiful place--i was very surprised as the excursion did not state so. i would go for a week to it if it wa possible--not too cokmercialized---we ate lunch in an open-air resturaunt while musicians sang---the view and park were splendid also can purchas a swim w/ dolphins or snorkel in underground caverns.
Chankanaab is a nice, relaxed day with a good-sized snorkeling area, a picturesque lagoon, an aviary and even some decent restaurants. It's also inexpensive, if budget is an issue.
Xcaret is like Disney-lite. A little too theme parky for my taste. It's approximately 20 minutes south of the ferry dock at Playa del Carmen, which is probably where the tender would drop you off on the mainland. The return ferry ride to Cozumel is about 40 minutes. If the seas are choppy you might need Dramamine or Bonine.
I really enjoyed Chankanaab, but I was there on a day when we virtually had the place to ourselves. I imagine it could get pretty crowded on days when several ships are in port.
You didn't mention Xel-Ha, but we loved it there. It's about a half hour further south than Xcaret, but well worth it. There's no coral to see, but it's a huge natural aquarium just loaded with fish. We also saw stingrays, and several people spotted a turtle. Lots of iguanas on land, too. The park has several restaurants, shops, a river that you can float or snorkel down, and plenty of lounge chairs. If I had only one day, I'd pick Xel-Ha. Many ships combine a trip here with a tour of the Mayan ruins at Tulum.