I’d never been on a beach vacation and at Marcus’ request we booked a week at an all-inclusive in Cozumel, Mexico for early February. We figured it would be the perfect time to get out of the cold and soak up some much needed vitamin D. I booked this trip through a local travel agent and ended up with a package through Apple Vacations. It included the resort for a week, a room upgrade, flights and transportation. Overall it cost us close to the amount we spent for two weeks in Italy, but we didn’t have to think about anything.
Our flight out of Milwaukee was unfortunately delayed 5 hours and we then sat on the Tarmac for another hour, getting us to our ocean front room at 4:00am. Beyond that we had a great time and nothing else went awry for the week.
Sunscape Sabor Cozumel
We chose this resort because of the price, and it had overall good reviews. I spend too much time reading other people’s comments which can either be good or bad depending on which way those reviews lean. We expected so-so food and a spectacular beach. Both things were as I figured. Our room, which I owe our travel agent a hug for, was literally overlooking the ocean. It was a minute walk down to the beach and right next to the large dinner buffet. I think I would stay here again , although that may never actually happen as I’d rather go somewhere new altogether, but it’s a recommended place.
On to the fun stuff- the excursions!
Chichen Itza was one of the main reasons for choosing Cozumel to begin with. I wanted to get in a World Heritage Site on this visit and checking out an ancient Mayan city seemed like a great one to add to my list. We booked this trip through the Apple Vacations rep at the hotel. The only real negative to this excursion is that it was on the mainland so we had to get up at 5:30 and be on a 6:45 ferry to Playa del Carmen to meet our tour at 7:30. The site is also located in the center of the peninsula which made for a pretty long bus ride. I felt we had very good tour guides and they spent a lot of our bus ride talking about Mayan culture both past and present and told us a lot about the local economy and region. Archaeological sites are often very interesting to me. I love the feeling of awe when you realize how long a place has been around and imagine what it must have been like in it’s prime. I will say that unfortunately, there are so many vendors on the premises that it really detracts from the site itself. All things considered though, Chichen Itza was really fascinating and I’m glad we had a tour guide to give us all the history.
The second big part of this trip was a stop at Ik Kil cenote. A cenote is a sink hole that is connected to an underground riverway. This particular cenote is about 40 meters deep…and I got to swim in it! A lot of people on our tour weren’t swimming but I really think they missed out. You climb down stone steps about 25 meters underground and from there you can dive into the water. Being down in the cenote was a very cool perspective. There are roots and vines coming out of the sides, small plants growing all around and little black catfish swimming lazily around in the water. It was almost like being in Ferngully. I spent about 15 minutes swimming around in the dark water before my lungs just couldn’t handle any more treading water. I was surprised by how warm the water was, and wish I could have hung out longer, but we were on a timed tour. This was one of my favorite bits of the entire vacation, something I’d love to do again some day.
Cozumel Island itself is a really remarkable place. About 3/4 of the island is preserve land so most of it is unspolied. We decided to take a driving tour because we wanted to get out and see the island. This tour started with a drive down to Punta Sur Eco Park where we were able to climb the Faro Celarain, a lighthouse on the southern most point. Its a really unique area with the sea on one side and the wetlands on the other. Views here were spectacular, if you’re willing to climb the narrow spiral stairs to the top! The next stop was the beach inside the Eco Park. Lunch was served and you could go snorkeling with our tour guides if you wanted. I hadn’t worn my swim suit (darn!) so Marcus and I went for a very long walk along the beach instead. The sand was so clean and the beach was absolutely gorgeous. It was nice to just chat for awhile too. After lunch we took to the highway in our dune buggy and got amazing coastal views. A lot of people had driven out and were parked all along the road, taking up residence on their own secluded areas of beach. I wish we could have joined them! We had our next stop at San Gervasio, a pre-Colombian Mayan city. I really do wish we had gotten more time to spend here as there were a lot of places we could have explored. Our final stop on this trip was to a tequila tasting. No tequila is made in Cozumel but we had a short tour and tasting of Regalo de Dios (Gift of God??) tequila. We didn’t buy any but it was informative.
Diana’s Snorkel Tour
The resort had it’s own little water sports area where you could rent out paddleboards, snorkel gear or little sail boats. They also had snorkel tours going out twice a day that visit the Planacar Reef, Sky Reef and another I can’t remember. I had done some snorkeling right off the resort’s beach and saw some neat fish and Marcus prodded me to go on one of the 2.5 hr tours through the resort and I’m very glad I did. It was absolutely amazing. Our first stop was full of huge starfish and lots of little little colorfull fish. The second stop, my favorite, was tons of coral formations, dozens of fish, a shark and even a sea turtle! I was elated to be swimming so close to a sea turtle! They are one of my most favorite animals and it’s something I’m never going to forget. Our third stop was also really cool, but it was also a little scary. We were right on the edge of the reef so on one side was reef and fish and sand and the other was a massive drop off where the water was dark and the current much stronger. I got to see more amazing fish and lots of scuba divers checking out all the caves down below. This was a great way to spend an afternoon and I wish marcus would have been able to join me (darn LASIK!). Next time for sure!
I’d love to visit this area again, though maybe on the mainland so we could see more things over there. Cozumel was beautiful, the people were friendly, and the weather unbeatable for us Wisconsinites in mid winter. I’m really hoping we’re able to take a winter break every year, it really did make a difference for me!