Category Archives: Snorkeling

Whale Shark Excursion #2

So today was Don’s birthday and we decided to do whale sharks again! Because how many times are you in Isla Mujeres during Whale Shark Season?? I was definitely hesitant to do this excursion again because it was costly and I thought it couldn’t get much better, but I am so happy we did! First off, it was a deal where we only had to pay for one person (so it was $120). Secondly, it was a really great experience in comparison to the first time.

So we got to the shop where Ocean Adventures Mexico operates out of around 7:20. We waited here for awhile, finally another person showed up his name was Ron and and he was from Israel. Then a couple from New Jersey came, Aoife and Sean. A family of three and another couple were also with us on this excursion. Right from the beginning this group of people was much more fun than the first group we went with. Our guide was awesome, her name was Gretchen. The captain was also very nice but I can’t remember his name.

Even though Gretchen and the captain both spoke limited English they explained how the excursion would go better than the guides we went with on Monday. The ride to the whale sharks was great; the water looked so calm; it was like glass.

When we got to the shark area we could immediately see sharks swimming in the water. It was so cool.

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We were the first couple that got to go with Gretchen. It was so much easier to jump off the side of this boat than the one on Monday. The captain also knew exactly when to tell us to jump. It was awesome. Immediately when we jumped in a I saw a whale shark and I swam with it for a good bit. This time was much more relaxing than on Monday also because it didn’t seem there were as many people in the water. Last time we were getting kicked in the face as everyone swam towards the shark, but this time it was really just me, Don, and Gretchen with the shark. We both took great video and here is a still shot of me and the shark from Don’s video.

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On our second jump with the shark I got turned around and started swimming the wrong way then by the time I realized the shark was going on the other way I was so tired. I got a small glimpse of the shark but I was too tired to keep going. My adrenaline was up so high, at first I felt like I could do anything to get to a shark but the minute I realized I lost it I was done and really glad I had a life jacket on. Don swam with this shark for a good few minutes though and he got some really great video, here a few screenshots from the video.

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The third dive was by far the best for me and Don had a good view too. When I jumped in I was heading straight for the shark. Gretchen was even giving me a little pull to get there faster. I must have got too much force going though because all of the sudden I was almost on top of the shark! Gretchen pulled me back a bit and I got the best video! Hopefully I can get it a link to it here. It was absolutely an incredible experience.

Here are a couple of videos from the day…

On the way back we had sandwiches and some coke. The water and the sky looked amazing.

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Once we got back within view of Isla we stopped at Mia Reef for a snorkel. This is along the same beach as ours and we had been wanting to snorkel here so we were happy. While we snorkeled the captain and Gretchen were busy making ceviche. The snorkeling was pretty good here. We saw a good variety of fish and a couple of sting rays. Once we were done we had some beer and ceviche. Now the ceviche is the only part of this excursion I can say was not as good as Monday’s experience, but it was still pretty good. We were all having fun and when we got back to the port Ron had invited Sean, Aoife and us to a party later at the hostel. The party was not until 11 pm. So we decided to meet up with Sean and Aoife at Bobo’s around 5.

From Bobo’s things got kind of crazy. We started with margaritas. Then I think I went to beer. The guys from the other night at Bobo’s showed up also, along with a girl from California, a girl from Australia, and a few others. We all decided to play Cards Against Humanity. The bartender, Julia, made up a bottle of a shot we would have to take if our card was chosen as the best one in each round. I think I had two of these shots and was thinking “why if I am winning at this game am I having to do shots?!” Needless to say we had a lot of fun and before we knew it, it was about time for the party at the hostel. So we all walked over there. The hostel was so weird from what I remember. It was huge! There were people playing different games like ping pong and I don’t even know. There was this weird bar where we got our beers. There was also a band and a dance floor where no one was dancing. So we went to the dance floor to listen to the band…I think one of the band members was Julia’s boyfriend (bartender from Bobo’s). So a group of maybe 4 of us are on the dance floor not really dancing but talking when all of the sudden I see a cat laying on the dance floor. I thought this was hilarious and of course I wanted to pet the cat and I was so intrigued as to why a cat would be on a dance floor. So I started to bend down to get closer to the cat when all of the sudden I dropped by beer and the bottle broke all over. The cat ran away.

Don and the girl from Cali tried to get help to clean up the bottle but no one seemed concern and I think they ended up doing it themselves. After this we had to go outside to a beach bar because the bar inside closed. We sat outside and there was sand but I don’t really remember water. Out here Aoife and I made plans for the four of us to hang out tomorrow. We wanted to rent a golf cart to go to the Southern Point again to check out the secluded beaches there. The guys agreed and so we have plans for tomorrow!

Golf Carting on Isla.

So today we woke up and we really didn’t have a plan, but we ultimately decided to rent a golf cart to tour the island. If you are visiting Isla Mujeres getting a golf cart is the thing to do. It was easy for us to rent because we just went through the front desk at our hotel. It was $45 for the day. The only downside was no one from the hotel showed us how to use the golf cart and neither of us have ever drove a golf cart. Luckily we could figure it out. We found this cool whale shark replica on the drive.

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On our way to the southern point of the island we stopped at a restaurant called GreenVerde. I found it on tripadvisor and it was highly recommended. The place is very cute and interesting because it is made entirely of recycled materials. I had a good steak burrito and Don had a breakfast dish. It was probably one of the better meals we have had here.

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Next we stopped at Tortugranja which is a turtle sanctuary. Basically it is a place where turtle’s eggs are protected to hatch. There were a lot of turtles. It was a little weird because there wasn’t a lot of information about the place so it just looked like a bunch of tanks with turtles in them. There was also a pen in the water that contained a few nurse sharks, turtles, and rays. It was a pretty big pen but it was kind of weird to have this with no explanation. I did hear from someone that this place helps rehabilitate sea animals. It was a little disappointing that there was no information about anything.
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Next we went to Punta Sur which is the Southern-most point of Isla Mujeres. It was so hot! We made our way down the path with a bunch of sculptures and it was beautiful.

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I think Punta Sur in Isla Mujeres was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I loved this…

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The water was so blue and clear. It was amazing. At the very southern point there were stairs to go down to the water. Here you could read about the Cliff of the Dawn which is the Eastern-most point of Mexico. It was absolutely beautiful. There were lots of crazy rock formations also. We saw some people snorkeling and we were really disappointed that we didn’t bring our snorkeling stuff. We found out later these guys were hunting lobster. We saw a few more people snorkeling so we think we might come back on Friday to try it out.

We saw two dolphins swimming out in the water. It was one of the coolest things to see dolphins swimming out in the wild. We really liked walking around here.

Once we were done at Punta Sur we drove up the Caribbean side of Isla. Once we got back we went to our beach at Playa Norte and did some snorkeling. The snorkeling was pretty good here considering it was a sandy beach. There were things put in the water to break waves and this allowed plant life to grow and attract fish. We swam out pretty far. We saw a little spotted sting ray. I felt like I was getting stung by something but I never saw anything in the water.

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Once we were done snorkeling it was of course time to go eat dinner. We tried a place called Qubano which was Cuban food. It was recommended on trip advisor I think…but neither of us were very impressed. I got a Cuban sandwich, one of my favorite things, and it was not even close to the best one I’ve had. I don’t remember what Don had but it also wasn’t that great. Also, they only had drink specials on mojitos, which I don’t like, but I drank anyway.

During dinner we discussed if we wanted to do the whale shark excursion again because we noticed Juan had a sign up at Ocean Adventures for a 2 for 1 whale shark special. This meant we would only have to pay $120 for 2 of us to go rather than each of us. I was a little hesitant because I don’t think anything can top the first time. We saw sharks already…do we really want to go out again? What if we don’t see any? But then after talking about it more I was kind of feeling like I could go either way, so I told Don I wanted him to decide because tomorrow is his birthday. Don chose to book whale sharks again for his birthday. So now I am getting pumped for whale shark excursion #2!

Contoy Island

Today we booked a tour of Contoy Island with Island Adventures Mexico, so we had to be at their place by 8:20 am. This tour company was a really good find because they are 5 minutes from our hotel. A woman met us at the shop and we walked to the port. Once we got to the port we were told that we were the only ones from Isla going on the tour and the rest of the group was in Cancun and we were going there to pick them up. That was fine with us. While we were waiting we had some iced coffee.

Once the boat got there it was us and another couple on this big boat. The guide told us we were heading over to Cancun to pick up more people. So we get to the other side near Cancun and we are told that we should get off the boat because they are not sure which boat we will be on for the tour. They also tell us we should get something to eat because we will have like 20 minutes. There were breakfast snacks but it was more like a 10 minute wait so we really didn’t eat.

This excursion felt more like excursions we had done in the past in the Caribbean–very party-like. It was nice. Before we arrived at Contoy Island we stopped to snorkel. The snorkeling was pretty cool but it was very rushed. We felt like the guides were just rushing through and only letting us stay in a very narrow path. Everything that looked cool was obviously not on this path either. Once we got back to the boat it was Corona after Corona.

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Then we got to Contoy Island. It was beautiful. We were offered a walking tour at first but then the guide said we were going to do it after we ate. So we decided to swim. The beach and the water were great. It was so relaxing. For lunch we had fish, chicken, chips, guac, and salad. It was all really good.

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After lunch we were so hot and full we decided to bypass the walking tour and just go back to the water. We swam for about an hour then we got back on the boat. On the boat the tour guide took a bottle of tequila out of the cooler. This bottle was passed around and people were seeing how many seconds they could chug the tequila. I think the record was around 22 seconds and it was a girl! At first I didn’t want to do it so the guide filled the cap with tequila and I did a mini shot. Don did it though and I think he got like 8 seconds. On the second round I did decide to do it and I got 5 seconds. The boat went through 2 bottles of tequila!

The ride back to the port was fun. Once we got back to the hotel we got ready to go out for dinner. We were in the mood for a dive and we found Miguel’s Moonlight, a divey looking Mexican place. It was delicious! We each had rum punch and I had enchiladas. It was probably one of the better meals we have had in Isla.

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After dinner we did some walking around and took some pictures. We walked along the Caribbean side of Isla. Then we went back to the room because we were so tired. We tried to watch Big Brother (haha) but we could not access it from Mexico. Instead we watched Sinister on Netflix.

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Whale Shark Excursion

So today we woke up super early around 6:15 so we could be at the Eco Divers shop by 7:45. I ate some leftover pizza from last night and took some Dramamine. I really didn’t want to get seasick! So we got to the shop and eventually 4 other couples joined us. One couple from London was very nice. Mostly though people kept to themselves and didn’t seem like they wanted to be friendly. Then we got on the boat and left the island to journey out on the water for about an hour and a half. It was storming all around us on the boat ride. It was pretty cool. I should mention that although we booked with Eco Divers the tour was ran by Ceviche Tours.

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After a long time the boat suddenly stopped and the captain was pointing in the water so we thought maybe this is it! But some guy just lost his hat and they retrieved and we moved on. Also on the ride out we saw a couple of dolphins and a ton of flying fish. Flying fish were really cool.

When we finally got to the area with whale sharks there were a ton of other boats. The captain and the guide briefly explained to us how it would work. We were supposed to get all of our snorkeling gear on and sit on the side of the boat and 4 of us would go at once and swim with the shark. Don and I were in the first group so we got all ready and sat on the side of the boat. It was kind of hard to get up on the side. So we jumped and at first I didn’t see a shark. Then one of the guys said “right behind you!” so I looked down and there it was! So close!! So I got my first pictures and video! (Will post the video soon)

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It was gone so quickly so then we all just sort of waited in the water for the boat to pick us up. It was so weird being in the open water like that. I would look down into the water and it was so blue and clear, but I couldn’t see the bottom. A couple of times I thought I saw big fish swimming far below us.

Once we got back on the boat we got ready to jump in again. The second swim wasn’t as good for me. I couldn’t find the shark at first, but then I did eventually and I swam behind it for awhile. I think Don had better luck this time. He swam pretty far with it and even managed to get a selfie.

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The second and third swims were definitely not as good as the first one for me. Don had some luck. After the last round we were missing one of the girls from our boat. That was a scary few minutes. No one could find her and when the captain contacted other boats no one had an extra person. Fortunately we found her with a group in the water.

The experience was pretty cool. I was just so happy to see one! I was surprised at how tiring it was to keep up with them. All of the pictures you see make it look so easy and graceful. The shark is graceful but 8 snorkelers around it are not. If you were not first to the shark you were pretty much getting kicked in the face. I was surprised by how many people were in the water at once. I was so happy to do this, it was truly a bucket list day.

On the ride back a lot of people slept and rested. When we got near the port the guides gave us the option to snorkel, go to the port, or have ceviche and go to the best beach on Isla. Everyone but us decided to go to the beach. We were very lucky though because the beach happened to be our beach at our hotel. The ceviche was also amazing. It was very nice to sit on the boat, eat ceviche, and drink beer.

Once we were done we swam up to our beach and decided to check out the pool. The pool was great at Ixchel Beach Hotel. The water was so warm. When we were finished it was disappointing to find out that our keys did not work for our new room! Luckily housekeeping was around and let us in. Once we got cleaned up we relaxed and looked at our pictures and videos. It was pretty amazing to see this giant fish we swam with today! And BTW the hotel easily fixed our key this time so looks like we are good.

Someone had mentioned that a place called Bobo’s had great fried chicken and once we looked at the menu I was pumped to go. It’s a bar owned by Canadians and they have fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and fish and chips. We were pretty much the first customers there and we decided to eat inside at the booth. I got the fish and chips. Don got some wings. The fish and chips were amazing. Don also said his chicken was good. It was the best meal we had so far. After we ate some people had come into the bar and were having conversation so we decided to come up to the bar. We met a guy from Austin, a guy from Chicago, and a guy from Arizona. The bartender was from Wisconsin! She was awesome and made some great drinks. It was a really great night…and we got pretty buzzed.

Once we left for some reason Don wanted to go to a hardware store to look for something. I took a selfie with a cat there.

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Then during our walking around we looked at magnets and I was determined to find a whale shark magnet. No one had one! We were also stopping by Island Adventures Mexico to try to book a trip to Contoy Island tomorrow. We found a bar and went up to the second floor. Then I made sure the Contoy trip was a go. From where we were sitting the shop with the whale shark magnets was directly below us. Don thought it would be a good idea for me to go down there and bargain with them. I had about 70 pesos I believe. I picked out 2 magnets and tried to get them. The guy told me that would only get me one magnet. Of course I caved because my buzzed self really wanted the whale shark magnet and I am a terrible negotiator. We had some great nachos, ok drinks, and some fun at this bar, but I can’t remember the name. We also came up with this saying “If I can’t eat it, drink it, or swim in it I don’t want it.” Because that basically refers to what we do on vacation.

Snorkeling Isla Mujeres

Today we slept in and we didn’t really have a plan for the day. Once we got up and out we decided it would be a good idea to talk with some tour guides to see what kind of snorkeling tours we could get. The first place we stopped at was really near the hotel and it was called Island Adventures Mexico (http://www.islandadventuresmexico.com/). We talked to a guy named Juan who told us they did a snorkeling trip pretty much every day at 10 am and 1 pm. This snorkeling trip went to 3 locations. So it sounded good because I think it was also 60 pesos for the two of us. We told him we would have some breakfast and come back.

We stopped at one other place before eating but something about this place didn’t really appeal to us. We decided to eat breakfast at Rooster. This place was also recommended by our hotel. I got a weird egg thing with chorizo and peppers in it. I don’t know what I was expecting but what I got was definitely not what I was expecting. It was okay though. Don got lobster biscuits and gravy. He liked his. Overall Rooster was okay. Here’s a few pictures…

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After eating we stopped by one other tour guide place and had a long conversation about the island Contoy. I am really interested in going to Contoy but this guy was kind of creepy. So after a little bit of thought we decided well it’s almost noon…might as well go snorkeling with Island Adventures Mexico at 1! So we went back and told Juan. He was so helpful and this place was nice because we could pay in USD or pesos. I was a little apprehensive because I had not heard of this place in any of my research but decided to go ahead.

So starting from the beginning here, we were a bit frazzled upon getting ready and getting back to Island Adventures by 1. Everything was fine until we forgot something in the room and then tried to use the key and the key would not work. Then both keys did not work. I can’t even remember what we wanted to get, it wasn’t really essential, so we went to the front desk and they reset the key but it would still not work. By now we are cutting it close so we just decide to go and deal with the key issue later. From the get-go our experience with Island Adventures Mexico was a bit weird. We waited around until about 1:20 when finally a guide came and he wasn’t wearing any shoes. He was running because the pavement was so hot. So we quickly followed him to the boat at the beach. It was about a 5-10 minute walk/jog to the boat. We got on the boat with him, the captain, about 5 other adults, and 2 kids. No one really spoke much English. Then we took off and stopped at another hotel to pick up 3 more women. They did speak English, but they also spoke Spanish. So….seriously we really need to learn Spanish better.

First snorkel stop was off the shore a bit and there was a shipwreck half in the water and half in the sand. It was pretty cool around the shipwreck because there were a lot of fish. The current was very strong at this location so it was a bit tiring. I also didn’t feel that we saw anything that great, but it was okay snorkeling. Not the worst, not the best. It was challenging though because the guide did not speak to us hardly at all and he was really occupied helping some really novice snorkelers. Most of the time the guide is pointing out things, but this snorkeling trip I felt like I never knew where we were going or where we could go. This location had a good amount of fish though.

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The second location was the Underwater Museum or known as the Musa Museo Subacuatico de Arte. I was excited to do this, but once again the tour felt very weird. We had no idea why there were statues and sculptures underwater. We were just swimming along and looking at things underwater. Come to find out I read later that they were put there to promote more reef growth. It was cool. I think this location was better than the first because there was not a big current to battle with. It was also cool to see scuba divers exploring the underwater museum.

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Once we got back on the boat we rode along for awhile and stopped near the Dolphin Discovery to watch some people swimming with Dolphins. Then we docked and the guide was like “ok did you guys pay for lunch?” and we were like “um..not sure…I think so..but not sure.” At this point I really didn’t want to go to eat I just wanted to go back and get cleaned up but the guide was like “ok well you probably paid for it so let’s go eat.” Once again we all get off boat and no one knows anything that is going on so we all decide to sit at a table. One of the guys sat near us and tried to make conversation he was very nice. We had fish, rice, and pasta. The food was very good. I believe this place was called Playa Lancheros.

After we ate we noticed there was a pen in the water with a couple guys and people were lined up to get in the pen. Turns out there were two nurse sharks in this pen and you could pay to have your picture with them. I don’t think this was a nice thing to do to these sharks, but the guys seem to take care of them and love them. I really love sharks so of course I wanted to try this. So we got in the pen. The guy had to summon one of the sharks by basically carrying him in the water over to me. Then he instructed me on how to hold him up out of the water a bit to get a picture. The shark felt kind of like sandpaper. I expected it to be softer. It also started thrashing around a bit so I got kind of nervous and let it go. It just swam away an then Don got his turn. It was a weird experience and still not sure how I feel about those sharks being in there. I did ask one of our guides about it and he said they switch the sharks out every couple of months.

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Once we got back to the hotel the key still did not work, but we proceeded to get cleaned up while they tried to figure it out. There was also an incredible sunset that we took pictures of…

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Once we went out we decided to ask Juan at Island Adventures about a trip to Contoy. Even though our snorkeling trip wasn’t great, I still felt good enough to book another tour with them especially since he was going to give us a discount for already doing a trip with them. He put us down tentatively for Tuesday but we have to come back tomorrow night to make sure it’s a go. Afterwards we went to Mamma Rosa’s for some pizza. I read it was the best pizza on the island so we wanted to try it. The pizza was pretty good. After we ate we were pretty tired so we came back the key did not work still so they allowed us to switch rooms. We are still on the 4th floor just a few doors down from where we were. I think the room is a bit of an upgrade.

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