Stopping in Grand Cayman, Belize, Cozumel and Costa Maya in June. Have a couple questions if anyone has the answers.
GRAND CAYMAN: what part of 7mile beach is best and why? Costs and what do they have and distance. BELIZE: anyone taken the zoo tour and can comment? also was it the ships tour or private? Heard that most recommend taking a ships tour in this port. COSTA MAYA: Is the new area next to pier really that good and worth not going anywhere else? Sounded nice. COZUMEL: Is the Chankan... park open and is it better and worth it rather than just spending the day at the beach? Also, if that park is not open yet, which it might not be due to hurricane, prob will spend day at the beach, but which one is the question....heard a little about Pariadise, Playa Mia, SanFrancisco..But would like to know more (what they have, how far, costs?).
Grand Cayman: we booked a shore excursion thru Carnival to The Beach Club on 7 Mile Beach, it was awful...the chairs were jammed so closely together it was difficult getting to the water for a swim. Later, someone told us to just grab a taxi in town and ask them to take you to a general public beach access area on 7 Mile Beach, the only drawback is there might not be restrooms or snack stands available. You can also check the Marriott to see if they sell day passes.
Belize: if you're interested in the Zoo, I would suggest booking thru the cruise line. We booked a snorkeling tour and the boat picked us up at the ship...I understand it is a long ride to the mainland.
Cozumel: we have booked the shore excursion to Chankanaab Park and it was nice, the only problem there is that the access to the water is blocked by huge boulders, there are stairs into the water made from smooth rocks which are a little hazardous and once you're in the water, it's deep...there is no shallow beach access. We have also booked an excursion to Paradise Beach which was awful...the water was so filthy we were afraid to swim in it. They have a restaurant, bar and restrooms and you can rent non-motorized water craft but the access to the water is full of big stones and disgustingly dirty and smelly water. Maybe it was the time of year we went (May) that caused the black tide which made the water look and smell like feces. Whatever the reason, we will never go back there.
In Grand Cayman I think Rum Point Beach is much less crowded then 7 Mile and if you walk in the water to the left of the main beach you will discover an incredible sandbar, we spend a lot of time there as the sand is like powered and the water is only inches deep. We did the Cayman Jeep Safari To RUm Point and we had about 2 hours there and the tour of the island was amazing.
I have done the zoo in Belize and it was truly unique. I agree that ship's tours are the thing to do, as Belize City is a high crime area. Most people are very nice, but tourists stand out as potential targets.
Re. the zoo, please remember that "natural habitat" means one thing here in the states and something else entirely in a 3rd world country! There, they carved out a hunk of jungle, put up fencing (electrified for dangerous critters) and threw gravel down for paths. The cool thing was that you get a lot closer to the animals and there were some I had never seen before and I love all zoos. I was 3-4 feet away from a black jaguar, saw a stork big enough to deliver a baby hippo, watched otters in hyperactive play, etc. I thought it was a lot of fun. But, do take insect repellant. You're in a jungle with lots of animals around, so skeeters can be voracious!
I love Belize, hope you have fun whatever you decide to do.
Belize is a crime riddled country. I use a private guide who is wonderful! E-mail me and I will send you his website.
Take a cab in Cozumel and go to paradise beach. The entry is free and it is well maintained.