As a last minute decision we decided to go to Playa Del Carmen, we’d stayed there for only 1 night on the way to Cozumel 5 years ago and it seemed a good place to go back to, to make up for the partying that never happened in Manado and a couple of cheeky dives of course!
We took advantage of Thomson's £350 return tickets not realising that there was also $55 each departure tax to be paid on return. We also decided to give Isla Mujeres a 4 day visit for a long shot that there may be some sailfish action; it was $50 from the airport to get here by taxi, then we took a 20 minute ferry from Puerto Juarez, bit of a trek to get there but worth it I feel. The town was small and great for restaurants and small bars, but expensive with meals starting around £10 for basic local meals. Our hotel, the Media Luna, was excellent value, it had a pool right next to the beach and the balcony sea view rooms were more than adequate for only £70 a night, they even had balcony rooftop rooms with a Jacuzzi for a little extra. The island did have something I was after, a comparison to the Maldives, lovely small white sandy beaches, but no “all inclusive” resorts, and plenty of places to choose from to eat and drink.
Unfortunately 2 days diving were blown out here, so I only managed 4 dives; the diving was done from a small powerboat. They do 2 dives, one trip, and bottom time was limited to a max of 45 minutes due to the small surface interval they wanted you to have before your next dive, I was asked to surface after only 37 minutes on my second dive (both dives were only 10m max), pretty annoying seeing as this was one of the most expensive places I have dived. It was about $80 for 2 dives and no discount for my own equipment. For one of the days’ dives we went to a purposely sunk car ferry which attracted some large life, we saw barracuda, eagle rays, and some large silver triggerfish which were the target for a spear fisherman who came along, it was good to see that in action, but no matter how it appealed to me, I couldn’t get in front of him for a wide angle shot! On the other dives, 2 turtles and a nurse shark were seen. I cant wait to go back to this island, probably Summer for the Whale sharks or Winter for the sailfish.
Once we were done here we got the ferry back to Puerto Juarez to start our trek to Playa del Carmen, we expected taxis to be around $100 but were shocked to find they were advertised at $60 and I soon got them down to $40 as I was contemplating a short $5 ride to the ADO bus station instead, this journey was about 3 times as far as it was from the airport, shocking with how much they get away with charging you at the airport.
The Aventura Mexicana hotel in Playa del Carmen was only £50 a night and 5 minutes from the beach, it had its own pool and was more than adequate with a very nice room. When we last visited here the party street, 5th Avenue, was only about a couple of blocks long, now it was about a dozen blocks long. Much too big for us, with lots of shops nestled between the bars and restaurants.
Unfortunately wind was now with us here too, and I only managed to get one days diving in the sea, and one in the Cenote caves, value for money was really low with similar price here for sea dives and a whopping $120 for 2 Cenote dives, I realised when I got to El Eden Cenote that entry fee here is only 60 Pesos, a fraction of what we paid for the transport, air and guide, the caves were a tad disappointing and the last dive of which was only 30 minutes, a lot of the time was spent in the lake that enters the caves, light penetration wasn’t as good as I hoped and very little stalactites were seen here, but it was all good experience nevertheless. One of the days we couldn’t dive we went inland to Coba Mayan ruins; home of the largest Mexican pyramid. There was also a swamp/lagoon close by of which I was lucky enough to see a crocodile at the end of a small pier.
Next time I see flights for £350 and a room for £50 I will think again, as it worked out a pretty uneventful expensive 11 days. Having said that, we got a lot of sunshine, drank a lot of mojitos and met some very friendly Americans! As I said it wasn’t meant to be a full blown dive holiday after all, just a bit of payback to the missus :)