Carpe diem: to take advantage of every opportunity that life presents and seize the day.
In this case, living in Mexico, so close to ocean, I plan to seas the day. 😛
I headed down to the Yucatan peninsula along the gorgeous Riviera Maya to partake in some beachy fun and underwater adventures. 😛
OK, I’ll stop with the bad puns and begin.
The journey began with a Primera Plus bus ride from Querétaro.
From there, I had quick appointment in Mexico City.
My options to get to this pit stop were bus, metro or taxi. With all my luggage, metro and bus were out of the question. Plus, I’d rather not be shoved in there like a sardine. Not cool. Luckily, taxis in Mexico are cheap.
From the bus terminal, they have prefixed prices based on destination. My ride was only $10 and included a complimentary tour of the city. 😉Mexico City has notoriously bad traffic, 365 days a year. Sick!As such, I made sure to grab a coffee before the ride, while my driver settled on the reading the newspaper. 🙂Our 20 minute ride, took almost 3-hours with the traffic delays.
After getting there, my driver was even nice enough to wait for me during my appointment, so I didn’t have to hail another tax and haggle a price. 🙂
From there, we were off to the airport. 😀I flew Mexico City to Cancun for only $90. Not too shabby.
I used skyscanner to find a local flight with Vivaaerobus.
Things to Know:
They airline has open seating and strict categories for baggage weight limit.
I assumed checked baggage would be 25 kg, but the standard is actually 15 kg.
They make you put everything, including your purse, in the overhead compartment.
This made me nervous, so I took out my money belt and shoved it down my shirt. Hah.
Sadly, no complimentary beverages or pretzels. 😦
On the bright side, if you don’t feel like exerting much effort on vacation, you can book your excursions right with the airline. 🙂
After arrival in Cancun, I planned to take the bus to all other destinations.
Just like Primera Plus reigns over central Mexico, ADO pretty much rules the south of Mexico in terms of local transportation.Luckily, their website is user friendly and the prices are affordable. Each bus trip will cost between 4-10 dollars.
What to Do
After a short 48 hours in Cancun, I was off to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.In the past 50 years these once small fishing villages have blossomed to become two of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Playa del Carmen and Cozumel sit along the second largest barrier reef in the world.
The underwater world is filled with dazzling coral reefs, tropical fish and crystal clear blue water.
For this reason, Jacques Cousteau named Cozumel one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas in the world. 😀As Jacques Cousteau once said,
The best way to observe a fish, is to become a fish.
Well I did just that, and chose to admire these underwater beauties from below. 😀
I chose a dive package with the company Phantom Divers, which included two dives in Playa del Carmen, two in Cozumel, and lastly two dives in a Tulum cenote.
Diving Playa del Carmen
Diving price for 6 dives was $290, which is a bargain compared to most other places. 🙂
On Saturday morning, I met up at the dive shop to meet my crew. Our dive master Andres was incredible. He had a very relaxed demeanor and did a great job managing our group. I dove with two girls from Mexico and a guy from Ireland, who had recently moved to Jamaica for business. Our plan for today was to dive the Sabalos Reef and Barracuda Reef.
Ballooonfish.Blue tang. The most impressive part was the variety of coral. Squirrelfish. Holy moley! The current was strong! In fact, we actually ended our second dive early, since we lost the Irish guy. He had drifted far from the group, so we had to ascend. We waited for a bit until a small speedboat came by with him. They had picked him up a few miles down. Honestly, he was quite embarrassed, but it was a good learning experience for everyone. Lesson for the day: always stay with the group. 😉
On Sunday I took the ferry to Cozumel Island. The ferry takes 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen, and costs $10 each way.
On the plus side, with your ticket, you can redeem a free margarita at a variety of restaurants on Cozumel Island. 😀
Cozumel Island is quaint village, full of chic shops and restaurants. If you’re here more than a day, it’s apparently easier to explore by scooter. 😀
It’s also the perfect starting point to dive these magnificent reefs. At the dock I met up with my dive master Jose, his son, and the other diver, Zion from Israel.
From there, we took a short ride to our pier.
I was actually in disbelief at the size of the boat for only two divers.We were going to ride in style! 😀
Lifestyles of the rich and famous. Hah. 😉
Near Cozumel we dove Punta Tuniche and Paradise Reef, both world famous dive spots.
These dive were the most incredible experience I have had diving. The variety of colorful coral, gigantic fish and surprises around every corner. I felt like I was floating in a fish tank! Absolutely amazing! 😀
Foureye Butterflyfish. Yellow Goafish.
French angelfish. Spiny lobster. King crab.
Cenote Diving in Tulum
A cenote, is a cavern or natural sinkhole, and Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the most famous, being featured on Discovery Channel and in the IMAX film, “Journey into Amazing Caves.”
Monday morning, after a delicious coffee, I met up with my dive master Mario for my last two dives in the cenote.
We drove 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen, and then down a rocky dirt road to get to Dos Ojos.
From there, we geared up and walked down to the cavern.
The jungle surroundings were incredible and plenty of bats were flying in and out of the cave.
Before the dive, Mario gave us a briefing about the plan for the day. Cenote Dos Ojos means two eyes, which refer to the two cenotes, which are connected by a large cavern. We were planning to dive both cenotes, named Barbie Line and Bat Cave Line. For this dive, we would be using flashlights and following a guide line through the cavern. Additionally the dive master went over flashlight signals for problems or issues that may arise during the dive, such as low air and difficulty maintaining buoyancy.The dive is very shallow, at around 15 feet, and hitting the cave bottom could loosen up sediment and reduce visibility.
After our briefing, we hopped in and began our descent. You definitely can’t be afraid of the dark… …or small spaces. That being said, the cavern formations were simply stunning. 😀 Being in an underwater cave is the surely one of the creepiest and coolest experiences I’ve had thus far. Definitely once in a life time. Absolutely worth it! 😀
The “Playa” of Playa del Carmen
Playa means beach, and when not your not in the water, the best place to be is soaking up the sun in the sand. 😀
My favorite beaches were Mamitas Beach and Playa Fundadores.
The perfect spot to enjoy breakfast and watch the sunrise. 🙂 Playa Fundadores
Great place to enjoy an iced coffee. 🙂Or enjoy some local music and cocktails. 🙂Or even partake in local events, like the Feria de Quintana Roo. (shown below) 🙂And lastly, the perfect spot to watch the sunset in tropical paradise. 🙂Overall, Playa del Carmen is a small strip of shops and restaurants, similar to the vibe of Key West. It is incredibly walkable and tourist friendly.
Where to Stay
For the past 3 nights, I stayed at Tres Mundos Hostel. To be honest, this place is not worth bragging about, but it was full of some pretty cool people, mostly from France and Argentina. My afternoons were spent chatting with them in the hammocks. Absolute paradise! 🙂
Now I’m off to Valladolid to enjoy some of the more rustic attractions of southern Mexico.
Until next time, take care and enjoy your week! 😀