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Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

Vancouver, Canada
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253 posts
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Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

Hello,

My friends and I are planning a trip to Cancun from September 1-8 and some of the things we'd like to do are snorkelling, caves, ruins, etc.) I am slightly confused about how to best organize our activities, where or who to book with, etc. We are staying in the hotel zone for 7 nights. Our hotel isn't confirmed yet, but we're thinking it is going to be the Hyatt Regency Cancun. Also, should we book in advance or wait until we arrive and book thru our hotel? Since we are new to visiting Mexico and will be unfamiliar with the language and local area, we will likely need to be picked up and dropped off at our hotel. We will probably need a guide, as well, for some of these activities.

Here's a little bit more detail about what we're interested in:

1) snorkelling

- we are new to it, but i think I'd personally find a life jacket somewhat restrictive. is it required and are their companies that are more lenient? I'm an excellent swimmer. it would be great to be able to have a lot of movement in the water without having to wear a life jacket. we'd like to see fish, coral, etc. we really want to see something when we go snorkelling and for it to be a very memorable experience.

- snorkelling in Puerto Morelos vs Cozumel? or somewhere else entirely? i really don't know which location would be best..

2) Akumal Bay

- we'd love to see the sea turtles and swim with them. i've read that this is the best spot?

- how is the snorkelling here?

- anywhere else we can see sea turtles and their babies?

3) Cave Crossing Expedition at ecopark Kantun Chi

- After looking into the reviews more, this place looks amazing!

4) XEL-HA, CHICHEN ITZA, TULUM RUINS

- we want to see the ruins of an ancient mayan city while we're in mexico and these places seem to be the more popular ones? we are completely open to your suggestions here. ideally, we can afford to maybe see 2 of them while we're on vacation. if you have a suggestion, by all means, please let me know. ideally, we'd love to be able to explore inside the ruins of a temple and not just walk around a roped off exhibit of one. we are looking for the complete package though!

- is xel-ha park really worthwhile for an entire day? it seems like it has received a lot of mixed reviews.

5) SEA-DOO’s

- this is on our list of things to do, as well. can we just go to the beach near our hotel in the hotel zone and do it right there, or should we look for a local company nearby.

Thanks for your input!

Vancouver, Canada
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253 posts
82 reviews
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1. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

6 ) what is the main differences between:

Xcaret vs XEL-HA and which place do you think would be best for us to visit if we could only choose one.

Vancouver
Destination Expert
for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Puerto Morelos
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2. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

Cancun is known more for partying

Further south - PDC or south is closer to the trips you talk about so consider where you stay

Akumal: Visit that forum and see the Top Questions that I have bookmarked there - snorkeling in the sheltered bay is excellent even in windy weather

Puerto Morelos: Great snorkeling but you need to take a boat trip and not great if too windy (Coz is the same but deeper waters)

Xel-Ha - never go to the tourist parks myself

Snorkeling - I have an inflatable snorkel vest - much better that a PFD

Vancouver
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Puerto Morelos
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3. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

I would definitely consider a Whale Shark snorkeling tour

On my bucket list

Read back a few pages and see

Or go over to the Isla Mujeres forum and read their reviews

PS - Another great trip idea to Isla

Vancouver
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for Akumal, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Puerto Morelos
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4. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

what is the main differences between:

Xcaret vs XEL-HA and which place do you think would be best for us to visit if we could only choose one.

Go up one forum (Riviera Maya) and see their Top Questions on these tourist parks - all south of PDC

From the Riviera Maya Destination Experts

Xel-ha, Xplor, Xcaret?

They may sound the same, but these three parks are very different.

What is Xel-ha?

Description and discussion of Xel-ha's attractions. ... (more)

What is Xplor?

All about Xplor's ziplines, water attractions and tips on making the most of your visit. ... (more)

What is Xcaret?

More about this park's attractions and nighttime show. ... (more)

Are these X parks all the same?

A quick breakdown of the main attractions at each park. ... (more)

How to get to Xel-ha

Transportation tips to this popular park. ... (more)

Questions about Xcaret

Many questions about Xcaret are answered here, including info on the "Area Plus" option. ... (more)

Xcaret vs Xel-ha

Discussion on picking just one park to visit. ... (more)

Toronto
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for Cancun
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5. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

Here are some websites for you to visit and help you decide what is best for you. I would suggest to wait and book only when you arrive in Cancun. Write down the internet prices and try to beat the prices through different tour providers. You will find quite a few of them at Plaza Caracol.

www.xelha.com

www.xcaret.com

www.aquaworld.com.mx

www.aquafun.com.mx

www.aquatours.com.mx

What you are [planning seems very interesting but I suggest a day at Isla Mujeres, which is in my opinion, one of the best day trip while in Cancun. Grab the ferry at 9:00 AM from Playa Tortugas (Hotel Zone), grab a golf cart at $40 USD for the day and explore the island. They will give you a map. Stop at Tortugranja (Turtle Farm), Playa Lancheros, El Garrafon (great snorkeling), south tip of the island and come back towards the town from the other side of the island. Drop off the cart and explore the town. Do not try to do too much, it is a vacation after all and it will give you a reason to go back. As for the Sea-Doo, they are pretty much all over at $40 USD for 30 minutes. Have fun!

www.aquafun.com.mx

BSQ
Charlotte, North...
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6. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

In 20 years of annual trips to Cancun (in September) i have booked exactly one tour in advance of arriving. I really wanted to do that particular one. The only thing I book in advance is my airport transportation.

Let's see..

1&2 you can actually combine by going to akumal bay. Swimable from shore us a reef with lots to see. We were dumped out at the reef by a little boat then swan back to shore .... Swimming back with the turtles :).

We had an excellent guide, who pointed out more than we would have ever noticed on our own.

September is toward the end of hatching season, you might not see mommas coming ashore, but babies will still be hatching.

3. I'm not familiar with, you may also want to look st Xplore.

4. Xel-ha/Tulum are often combined as a tour, I've done both on my own as the feedback I've always gotten on the tour is it feels very rushed. Personally I prefer Xcaret to Xel-ha, but both are nice, tour guide not needed.

Chichen iitza us a full day into itself. Just about every hotel and mall kiosk offers a tour to here all priced around the same. It will be extremely hot and humid in the jungle, but well worth the trip

5 no input on this one except read up on it here carefully.

The tour operator I used for our day if snorkeling that I rave about is edventuretours. I've only heard rave reviews about them.

As for the life vests, Ed left it up to us, though after a long day of swimming when we moved to open water he told us to wear them. They are not restrictive. Very lightweight, you inflate it as little or as much as you like. I can't speak for all your operators but that's the only type if vest I've used for snorkeling, whether in Cancun or other Caribbean destinations.

Savannah,GA
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for Savannah
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7. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

1st of all you will not find the water or the beach as nice in Playa. Book all tours when you get there. With 7 days you will need decide on which is most important to you. Ruins #1 Chichen Itza all day. Tour, private tour is more expensive but you get to do & see more like Ek Balam & Valladolid. Akumal & Tulum ruins can be down by ADO bus & taxi rather cheaply. Xcaret is a must do, Xel Ha is almost all water activities as apposed to Excaret that has much more like a underground river,zoo, aquarium, butterfly area etc. Puerto Morelos over Cozumel, much easier to get to & a lot less expensive. Take the ADO bus for about $3.50 US. Last day trip to Isla Mujeres. Must say that I have felt a pretty good current at times when snorkeling & I have lived on or near the ocean all my life so be careful.

Trail, Canada
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8. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

A lot of the activities that you mention are more than an hour south of the Cancun hotel zone . Two to three hours return driving time , Cozumel with ferry time would be similar , Chichen Itza is much farther .

You might consider staying further to the south since your lodgings aren't finalized , maybe a few days in Cancun and a few down south a ways in PDC or lodgings or a resort like Barcelo , just south of Puerto Aventuras and walking distance to Kantun Chi and many other smaller but much cheaper cenotes and decent snorkelling at the resort , I'm told .

The ruins at Coba are a large site with some shade and are a good compomise ruin site between the full day trip to Chichen Itza and the fun but compact ruin at Tulum . Tulum has the ocean breeze and blue water and both attached and nearby beaches to explore that add to that experience but it's still shadeless and busy mid day .

Isla Mujeres is a wonderful day trip and most of the boat snorkel customers we talked to saw a turtle or two at one of their two snorkel stops , not like Akumal but some .

I also only hear good things about Edventure tours and they can no doubt combine the ruins at Tulum with some Akumal Bay snorkelling and a trip to Dos Ojos cenote which is also a great cavern/cave experience .

Simple transport is often the biggest part of many of these experiences like Akumal Bay , Tulum ruins , the X parks , Rio Secreto , Dos Ojos , Kantun Chi , Chichen Itza etc . There are simple transfer companies to hire for the day to chaufuer you to these different places and possibly a restaurant the driver knows for lunch and to stop for a beer on the spectacular Tulum or Xpu Ha beaches .

Other options are air conditioned ADO buses for city to city travel and the Tulum ruins , colectivos from PDC to Tulum and all points in between , on demand for very little money . There are colectivos from downtown Cancun , past Puerto Morelos to PDC as well and all points in between . I've read that the city bus service in Cancun is also first rate .

Edit Bruce's suggestion of city bus to centro then ado and colectivo to Tulum is indeed the cheapest route and the PDC downtown by the ADO station is fun for a while day or night as a bonus if you choose .

Edited: 02 July 2013, 15:28
BSQ
Charlotte, North...
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9. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

Also wanted to add, the language barrier won't be as bad as you think.

Philadelphia, PA
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10. Re: Trip planning activity advice needed (snorkeling, ruins etc)

My #1 recommendation is to not do the ruins tours (or the eco-park tours for that matter) as an excursion. You tend to arrive later and get bogged down in crowds of people. I've done several of the ruins tours and have either taken a taxi or colectivo. I would recommend Tulum as the all-around best. We panned are arrival for 15 minutes before the site opens (it's a 5-10 minute) walk to the entrance). Admission is $7-8 US and for the 60-90 minutes you will be virtually the only people there. The views of the water from Tulum are spectacular and there is beach access for swimming, so bring swimsuits/towels. There's a great village at the drop off with shops and restaurants.

Coba is probably the most authentic. It's a large jungle site, but requires more physical activity. You can rent bikes to get around quicker. It's also probably the longest trip to get to, but also worth it.

We've done Xplor - haven't done Xel-ha or Xcaret. Again, took a taxi there and arrived minutes before opening. The benefit was being able to do the entire park in a day and have no wait times for the zip line courses. We've talked to people who did the tour groups and arrived 2 hours after opening and had 30-45 minute wait times.