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First time to Mexico, a few questions

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First time to Mexico, a few questions

Yay! After exhaustive research, my husband and I decided to celebrate our 10 years of marriage with 6 nights in Feb. at the Riu Palace Mexico.

We are not taking our 3 little boys with us and our main priority is rest and relaxation. However, I would like to plan at least one excursion, if not two. We spent most of our budget on the Palace so we probably only have around $300 for excursions so can anyone recommend what we should do with it? My husband is more adventurous than I am, but I would like to try snorkeling (I never have) and also possibly ziplines and/or cenotes. Can anyone comment on the snorkeling at our resort and what excursions are the best for the money? We've been looking at the Xcaret, Xel-Ha and Alltournative tours but we'll probably only be able to afford one of those.

Also, I'm wondering about the sun in Feb.? We're pretty fair Minnesotans, but we will visit the tanning beds before leaving to get a little "base". Of course, I'd like to return home with a gorgeous tan but don't want to get fried - will I tan if I'm coated with SPF30 all day every day?

Thanks for any and all help!

Eau Claire...
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1. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

The whole of a "base coat" won't stop you from burning if you stay out too long - you'll just have more color than other Midwesterners.

You'll get a nice tan using 30SPF. My advice is (and this is from burning on past trips to Mexico) don't get greedy and try to get a tan in one or two days. You'll just burn. Wear lots of sunscreen, apply it many times throughout the day, and HAVE FUN!

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2. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

Being a very fair Minnesotan myself, I have found that my forehead will ALWAYS burn, even with SPF 30. I now bring a hat.

I usually put 30 on my shoulders and chest also. After a few tries I found that SPF 15 will work for my arms and legs without burning. (this is even after getting a "base coat" at home)

My advice would be to start out with 30 all over and if you don't get burned, then move down to a 15 - 25. Just make sure to reapply frequently.

As for the excursions, we've done Xel-Ha and had a lot of fun, but I prefer to go out on a snorkeling trip because you can see more. We haven't done a snorkel trip out of the mainland, but have had a great time on some from Cozumel.

Wake Forest, North...
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3. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

For a low cost excursion, take the ferry to Cozumel, rent a Rhino and go to the east side of the island. I don't snorkel but I have read on this site about some great places over there where you can snorkel on your own. Then finish the day w/ a nice dinner before taking the ferry back. The best time we had while we were there was on our day trip to Cozumel.

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4. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

You actually get the ame amount of sun through each level of spf of sunscreen the hight the number the longer it should last before you have to reapply. so you should still get a lovely tan!!

Charleston, South...
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5. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions


I tan but still start out with SPF 30 there and spend part of the day (especially early in the trip) in the shade. Also suggest a hat.

For a low cost snorkeling trip you can take a collectivo (public van) or taxi to Akumal Bay. You can rent snorkeling equipment there (Dive Shop) and snorkel for free in the bay. You can also rent a golf cart from the TA there and drive down the street to Yal Ku Lagoon. Cost is about $6 for snorkeling. Here is a map of Akumal.


You might also want to get one or more of Laura's maps. Excellent resource and souvenir.


Kitchener Ont.
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6. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

we tried Xel Ha last year and absolutely loved it. We had a 12 year old boy with us and he had a blast. On top of snorkeling you can walk through the jungle and float down a lazy river. Get the all inclusive and eat there. The ice cream was great. I have never snorkeled before and found it pretty exciting.

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7. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

As far activities, taking the ferry to Cozumel is a fun trip. If you go on a sunday there wont be many cruise ships in.

Also depending on when you are going in Feburary, you might get to catch Carnival! I know that in Cozumel it is running Feb. 13th until the 20th. They have parades and all kinds of music.

But... I wouldnt recommend snorkeling on the east side of the island, that is the side of the island that has bad rip currents and many beaches say swim at your own risk as there are no life guards. There are planty of good snorkeling spots along the west side of the island though.

Have a good trip, and just keep re-applying your sunscreen, that way you wont fry.

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8. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

Wooo Hooo. A carnival in February??? Yes.. I'm so excited.

Also, with all the SPF talk. Use waterproof when you are lounging around the pool or beach and reapply!!!! The chest and shoulders as previously mentioned are very tender locations which are exposed the majority of your vacation. Be careful. Apply liberally, before leaving your room in the morning.

I dress even sillier ~ I always wear a visor, then when it gets even hotter, I put on a bandana too. It keeps my head cooler.

Don't forget your sunglasses, it's like air conditioning for your eyeballs.

Boulder, Colorado
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9. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

Try and find Bullfrog sunscreen, it really works well. It is waterproof, hence the name. We apply in AM and then take the spray version for later in the day if needed. I always get some color before we vacation, then gradually use less and less sunscreen on the trip. But I tan easily, just be careful. Happy anniversary!

Los Angeles
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10. Re: First time to Mexico, a few questions

Great thread.

I have a couple questions:

1) Any advice on getting a "Rhino" in Cozumel? What is a Rhino?

2) What is a TA?


Re: Sunblock, it is my understanding that "Octinoxate" is one of the best active ingredients...