Together with a fellow backpacker I met at Playa del Carmen, we bought a round-trip ferry ticket to Cozumel for 316 Mexican Pesos. The plan was to chill in one of the famed beaches there—and perhaps, go snorkeling at one of the island’s famous diving and snorkeling sites. The ferry ride was about 45 minutes from Puerto Juarez in PlayaCar.
When we arrived at the town of San Miguel, we decided to walk around the plaza near the port to look and inquire at the visitor’s information office on the best way to get to the nearest beach in the island where it has a snorkeling site. To our dismay, we were forwarded by the tourism office back to the port to inquire on “diving and snorkeling tours”. We explained to a middle-aged lady that all we wanted was a direction on where to get on a collectivo bus, what beach they could recommend for us and how much would the bus fare be. We told her further that we were budget travellers and that we would appreciate any information she could give us.
You know what she said? “Oh no, it’s very hard to go to the beaches without going on a tour. Only few buses. It’s not safe.” We were alarmed and taken aback by the last sentence. We gave her a face but she didn’t get it. She then entertained another tourist to be enlightened by her wisdom. So, we strolled for a while and we liked the colorful houses we saw that we decided to aimlessly stroll further around the town. As opposed to foreign-infested Playa del Carmen, San Miguel is very Mexico. We felt and smelled it as we navigated ourselves to narrow streets until we passed by a panaderia, a bakery. We went inside and bought some conchas (Mexican sweet bread) and corn tortillas. We settled ourselves in one of the tables outside.
Later, we went back to the port and was met with lots of tour agents. Our next option was to rent a motorbike but as fate would have it, both of us don’t know how to drive. LOL. We found a bike rental shop but the it was ridiculously priced at $45/day. Fuck that. Since it was almost noon and we were still aimless on what we were going to do, we asked around for the best-priced tour. Frustrated, Fred just decided to go back to Playa del Carmen and chill on the beach there–while I decided to stay and join in the 4.5-hour Cozumel Snorkel and Beach Party Excursion offered by Fury Cozumel Catamarans at 1:00 pm. We parted our ways when Fred’s ferry arrived just before noon.
Fury Catamarans cruise ship arrived on the dot. I was impressed. While everyone got onboard, an assigned photographer was leading the passengers to a space and told them to pose for a picture. When he looked at me, a solo traveler, he quickly ignored my presence and called the couple behind me. Not impressive at all.
How much? For for $59 + $2 tax, it included:
Margaritas, sodas, water and beer
Ok, these ones were given as promised. But, don’t expect the margaritas as bar quality.
Snorkelling equipment (mask, fins, vest, snorkel)
Good. But when you get yours, ask them to clean them for you. Make sure your fins are just the right size for you.
Two snorkeling dive sites:
It’s a guided snorkeling excursion.
The first one we went to was great. We literally swam with a school of fish. I should have brought a piece of bread to feed them so they’d go around me. Just like what I did in Kho Phi Phi, Thailand!
However, the second one was way deeper and bigger than the first one and there were only very few fish. A staff told us that this is one of the best in the world! Hmmmnnn…. really? As far as I know if there are only few sea creatures in a snorkeling/diving site, that means the corals aren’t in good condition. Is that correct? Don’t tell me, they were all hiding down there afraid of my pee? LOL…
A beach party
After the snorkeling, we docked at the company’s own private beach. Not really a paradise but good enough to relax. No, there was no beach party. How could you have a beach part there when you were told to only stay for an hour? Half of the time was consumed for eating the hamburger (it was ok) and a salad (bland for my taste) they offered? Then, another 30 minutes can be spent for any of these activities: taking pictures, go canoeing, climbing on a water trampoline, go paddling and lying on a the beach.
On our way back to PlayaCar, the sunset was breathtakingly mesmerizing. It makes you forget former shitheads in your life — whoever they were. LOL… Seeing old and young couples hugging and holding hands together while gazing at the setting fire ball, reflecting the turquoise water, with admiration–is a testimony that romance is not dead.
On board the ship
The staff was accommodating. Before reaching the first snorkeling site, they briefed everyone in small groups on hand signals and what to do in case we needed help. However, I didn’t like how they treated me. While they were busy asking and serving drinks to families, couples and group of friends on board, they bypassed me. As a solo traveler, I felt left out. How would you feel when two Canadian women sitting next to you were offered a drink and you weren’t? Crap. I just drank water, anyway. And everytime I needed one, I had to go to the bar and served myself.
On our way back to San Miguel pier where we were picked up, the photographer showed photographs from the snorkeling activities to everyone to be sold for $12. As usual, nothing was in store for me. I kinda expected it though. LOL… He didn’t take a photograph of me underwater. I could have bought one. I have always wanted an underwater photo of me. Most photos were unsold though. Seriously, for $12?
Later, when the tour was done, a crew member extended his hands with a bucket for tips. I gave him a dollar bill—for the guy who took a photo of me while canoeing at the beach. Had they treated me well on board, I could have given them the $9 (change from paying $61) I prepared BEFORE they picked us up at the port. Yes, I am a budget traveler but I do appreciate a good service and fair treatment.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. But not the way they treated a solo traveler, like me.
Hostelito is a nice hostel walking distance to the San Miguel’s plaza, old Catholic church, bars and restaurants.