A short bus ride saw us from Tulum back up to Playa Del Carmen. Playa has a definite more ‘Cancun’ feeling to it. The walk through the town towards the port was interesting, with people selling souvenirs on the street and a man dressed as Spiderman inviting tourists to bars. We bought our return ferry tickets ( 300 pesos pp) and got to San Miguel de Cozumel some 40 min later, just before the rain and night. Cozumel is famous worldwide for its diving and also a very popular Caribbean spot for the cruise liners. Hence, we came to visit in the slow season ( September to November ) before the crowds flock here. Hungry – as always – we left our stuff at the guesthouse Tamarindo, and walked to the nearest supermarket. We were taken aback by the amount of unhealthy food options and the supersized groceries ( see ham vs head picture ). Just across from the aptly named “Super Aki xtra” supermarket was a taqueria El Pique where we had our dinner. Open to the street, plastic tables and chairs and Karate Kid playing on TV, it was a perfect setting for our dinner of tacos and Sol beers.
The next morning we were up with the birds and out by 7:00. We had to meet our diving team in Marina Fontur some 7 km away. We got a taxi for 90$ and drove through the still sleepy city. We were surprised with the lovely weather and were optimistic about the dive. The reef off the Yucatan peninsula, stretching down to the Bay Islands of Honduras is the second largest barrier reef in the world. Joined by an American couple, our dm Kevin and captain Javier we did two dives of 1h 40 min alltogether. Each dive was extraordinary! I had dived in Cozumel two years earlier and in four dives I hadn’t seen anything more than some colourful fish and lobsters. This time we hit a jackpot in diving terms – we were lucky enough to see several turtles (on each dive), lobsters, nurse sharks, giant eel, lion fish, barracudas, parrot fish and bunch of other colourful tropical fish to name a few. Both Thane and I agreed this was our best dive ever. I wasted my oxygen the fastest due to my excitement in the water, chasing after big fish and swimming around the turtles. A really special thank to Liquid Blue Divers, I will happily give them the credit for organising all the sea life that day.
By the time we finished the weather had changed so much and the boat drive back to the marina was wet and bumpy. We were soaked from head to toe and finally put our so called ponchos (plastic bags) on. We took a taxi back to our place, dried off and warmed up. We were recommended a few Mexican restaurants so we walked some blocks up into town and got to Casa Mission restaurant. It was surprisingly pleasant with an old hacienda feeling. We had a delicious lunch for 138 pesos altogether and after a break in the rain we visited their tequila shop next door. We got a full-on tequila tour, from the process from the making the drink to the ritual of drinking it. All together we tried seven different types of tequila, from Grand Anejo ( 5 years aged tequila ) to Reposado ( 11 months in the barrel ) to chocolate and guava mixes. Now we were nicely warmed up.
After the tour we walked around the central part of Cozumel admiring the graffiti and colourful streets. The town has quite a collection of large graffitied walls and they all seem to fit in with the small town. We ended at the main square checking some souvenir shops and learning about the traditional colours and customs for the Day of the Dead. We were going to be in Merida over Dia de los Muertos. We learned that the 31st October has no meaning in Mexican tradition, it is an americanized holiday. For dinner we went around the corner to a restaurant called Kinta, Mexican food with a bit of a twist. To end the day, we popped by La Rumba bar/restaurant for a drink and some live music salsa.
In the morning we packed up early and had breakfast at a place called Corazon Content0. We jumped on the ferry and headed back to Playa del Carmen where we struggled to find a cash machine. Eventually we found one in Cancun ( we recommend Santanader ATM because it works and charges about 30 pesos fee). After a useless money chase we got on the bus to (68 pesos pp). Cancun here we come!
Cozumel island: 100,000 people (2011)
San Miguel de Cozumel: 77,236 people (2010)
Thanks to Steve and Kami from Liquid Blue Divers for organising our amazing dives – firstname.lastname@example.org