An honest review of Carnival Cruise Line's Beach Buggy & Snorkel Excursion in Cozumel, Mexico from an expert Platinum level cruiser.
Hey, y'all! I have to admit, Cozumel has really grown on me. When I first visited the island eleven years ago, I wasn't very impressed but the more and more I visit, the more appealing it is. This could be because the first few times I visited, I simply drank like a fish while I was in port...
I originally intended on taking the ferry to mainland Mexico and spending the day at a park called Xcaret. However, the ferry service is temporarily out of serves for tourists (due to a recent terrorist attack on the ferry system) so I was forced to make other plans.
My family ended up booking a beach buggy and snorkel excursion through Carnival. The beach buggy had a manual transmission with no 2nd or 3rd gears- which meant there was zero chance that I would be driving. I ended up hopping in the backseat with my niece, Frankenstein where we enjoyed the breezy drive around the island. The buggy itself was a bit rough around the edges. It was a pain in the butt to drive and several of the people on our excursion had issues. We may have been better off just renting a Jeep. Our first stop was a beach about a 10 minute drive away from the port.
Our first stop was a beach about a 10-minute drive away from the port. The beach had a restaurant and bar area as well as changing rooms for those who needed to switch into their bathing suit. The sand was covered with lounge chairs, and palm trees laced with hammocks. The beach itself was rather pretty. After a safety briefing, we were led out on a guided snorkel tour. In my honest opinion, they should probably pick a different beach to snorkel. There isn't much of anything to see and chances are you'll see more people than fish. I lasted about 10 minutes in the water before I went to hang out in a lounge chair. I attempted to order a drink but had a hard time getting a bar waiter to come over to my chair.
Next, we took a 45 minute down the coast to our next stop, Punta Morena, on the Atlantic side of the island. Many people don't realize that much of Cozumel is actually undeveloped. Cruisers tend to hit the downtown area or take a ferry to the mainland and very few actually venture out to check out the island, as a whole. The island is so undeveloped that much of the Atlantic-side doesn't even have electricity.
The ride from the beach to Punta Morena was alright. Although we drove along the coast, much of it was covered with heavy vegetation so we had brief glances at the turquoise blue water. Since we had to stick with our guide, we weren't able to pull over and take advantage of some of the more scenic beaches.
We arrived at Punta Morena where we had a lovely lunch. The food was much like everything else I've had in the Yucatan, so I knew what to expect. Lunch was chicken, fish or beef tacos or nachos served buffet style with rice and beans.
After eating, we had plenty of time to check out the beach area. Since we were on the Atlantic side, it was much too choppy and the current was too strong for us to be able to get into the water. The waves crashing against the rocky surface made for great photos, however.
Punta Morena also had a pool, bar and several lounge chairs and hammocks for us to enjoy. Overall, the restaurant itself was nice.
Lastly, we hopped back into the beach buggies and drove through downtown Cozumel so we could "see how the locals lived". The drive back was rather lackluster.
The tour itself was alright, however, I don't know that I would do it again. I have done some pretty great things in and around Cozumel and this was by far my least favorite. I would definitely recommend visiting Tulum or checking out Rio Secreto over this tour. One thing that I think could have made it better was somehow fitting in a trip to the San Gervasio Mayan ruins. When we were at Punta Morena we were seriously within miles of the ruins. I think a short visit there would have made an excellent addition to the excursion. I'd suggest cutting a little time off of snorkeling and a little time off of Punta Morena to make it happen.
That being said, I did have fun on the tour. It would have been nice if the snorkeling was all it was made out to be, and if the buggies themselves were in better working order. However, it was a nice way to see the island of Cozumel. Had we not rented the buggies, I don't know that I would have ever been able to see the Atlantic side of Cozumel.
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