Garrafon Reef Park
Today we are going to Garrafon Reef Park Beach Club. This place was right next door to the Garrafon de Castilla, which we had visited already. I had read comments online about "Don't waste your money going here when you can go right next door and snorkel." However, they had a lot more to offer than just the snorkeling and today would be one of our "big" days since we like to rotate our adventures.
About Garrafon Reef Park: They call it a "Beach Club" but there's no beach there. It's a very big park with a lot of walking and very beautiful. They offer paddleboarding, kayaking, ziplining, a pool, snorkeling and the food and drinks come included all in one price.
Now the price can be tricky. You have to shop around to get the best deal. If you are walking up to the park to go in, they charge a lot more. If you look at their website, they always seem to show some type of deal with a discount. It shows their pricing as $109/pp but then apply the discount. There are also different packages you can get. I didn't realize before I came here that they also had a Dolphin Discovery (just like the one in Cozumel). It's such a small island, I didn't think they would have anything like this.
You also have a choice of just booking regular general admission to the park, but for a little more you can book VIP, which includes the ziplining, and that was something we wanted to do.
We ended up paying $228.90 for all 3 of us, which is around $76/pp and it was the VIP package. It included an exclusive area with all the facilities, restaurant, pool and lounge chairs. Plus it included the zipline, which is what we wanted to do.
So we left the house at 9:15 and once we found a parking spot on the road, we headed up to the people at the desk at the top of Garrafon. They told us that it didn't open until 10am. So we decided to just sit around and wait. They had benches under the huge palapa and at least we would be able to sit out of the sun.
It had a spectacular view as well.
We did see people going in around 9:45am so I decided to get up and ask. They said they were waiting on the workers to arrive before opening, which were coming over from Cozumel. We would see them coming by boat. So, I have no idea who the people were that was going in so early. They weren't workers because they had bathing suits on and carrying beach bags. Maybe they bought the VIP Premium package and it included early entry. Who knows.
All the birds were waiting on the workers as well and were perched up on the zipline lines. Then we finally seen the boat coming. We knew it was about time to go in.
At 10am, they let us in. You had to wind your way down to the bottom on the paths. It was so beautiful there. But there was a lot of walking involved.
We came to a building, which was like a gift shop, and we had no idea where to go or who to ask about this "VIP area". So we walked out the doors and into the park.
We were pretty much wandering around trying to figure out where to go or what to do. I stopped at another little shop in the area and ask about the VIP area. They told me to go into the shop that I had just came out of and check in at the desk. There was no one at the desk when we came through. We headed back inside and the desk they had there seemed to be a spot to pick up pictures or something. Maybe from the dolphin swim. But, they were checking in people too and giving them their wrist bands.
When I ask about the VIP area and they told me to go out and across and I would find it there. Still not figuring this out, I stopped at an information booth who point right across from where we were standing. I was super confused because it went into the restaurant. I walked into the restaurant and out the other side. There was a very very small area with a few tables and the VIP pool, which happened to be drained and not working. It was VERY small. I imagine it could get very crowded if there were a lot of people that purchased this package. Why are they offering the package if the area/pool isn't even working? It made no sense. Oh yea, because they make more money.
There were steps that led upstairs to some place, which I was told was a restaurant and special "zone" for the VIP members to sit at. Ok, not at all what I expected. If we sat up there, there would be even more walking, steps just to get out of there and down to the snorkeling and zip lining.
We decided to just sit down closer and ended up at a little section right by the pool.
In order to get any drinks, you would also have to walk quite a distance to the bars, which were located in the middle area of the park. I guess that's their way of limiting you to your drinks. ;)
We went down to check out the infinity pool that was working. It was HUGE and had 2 sides plus 2 grotto areas.
This is where we were sitting
This was our view.
The other side of the pool by the water had a sidewalk you could walk down.
I was getting really comfortable with my new GoPro and was using it for just about everything. I was actually forgetting to take pictures. A lot of these pictures are a snapshot taken from my video's on the GoPro. So that's why you'll see different sized pictures. I can't believe what a photo freak I have always been, especially with all of my reviews, but this vacation was a little different since I had a new toy. Actually by the end of the trip I was wondering if I'd even use my camera anymore. ?? Who am I kidding. I'll always bring it but I'm just not using it as much I guess. The GoPro can do both video's and pictures so it's an all-in-one. You can't go wrong with that.
We were told that the buffet would be open from 12-4pm. So, we decided to go swimming for awhile to cool off.
We had a great view of the ocean. It was so pretty.
After awhile, Sakari decided she was ready to try out the zipline. Her and daddy headed that way and I stayed behind to get some video.
First came Sakari and you could hear her squeal as she zipped from platform to platform.
Sakari arrived, but daddy didn't. I guess they told him he wasn't allowed to zipline when he's wet and didn't allow him to go. Sakari was wet as well, but I guess they didn't know that.
So I really wanted to go snorkeling. However, I noticed they had lines with buoy's out there. Is it possible they keep you away from the coral and you can only go over the sandy part? It sure did look like it but we were trying it out.
We went back and grabbed our snorkeling gear and headed to the entrance. They do make you wear a life jacket to snorkel. Something Sakari doesn't like to do but she made the best of it.
In we went then out to the right.
I really hated we were so far away from the coral and fish. The coral was really close to the surface and I totally understand why they don't want people over in the area. It just sucks for pictures. :(
I turned around at one point and didn't see Sakari anywhere. This is a big open area. It's hard to miss anyone around you and I couldn't find her. I look down and find her on the bottom of the ocean floor pointing at something. She had seen a lizard fish and actually climbed down the rope. These life jackets aren't stopping her from going under. LOL
I spotted a starfish. Woo Hoo!
Sakari really struggled trying to get down there by it. She tried several times but would float back up quickly. She did get really close. I should have given her the camera.
We were getting toward the end of snorkeling and heading toward the pier. It is quite a swim from the beginning to the end.
Right before we got to the steps to go up to the pier, I spotted something move in the sandy area. I kept trying to focus to see where it went. Then when I seen it move again, it was a spotted stingray. I motion for Sakari to look. Can you spot it?
Then we noticed there was a second one except darker. They started following each other around.
When we got to the dock, I looked down to take my fins off and noticed a sea cucumber by the leg of the dock.
The dock was pretty high up and involved some climbing. I had to give Sakari my fins in order to climb up. But man the view from up there was awesome. We seen some barracuda on the other side of the dock and fishies. Probably more than we seen during snorkeling. Funny we seen more interesting things on the sand under us instead of around the coral. Maybe that's another reason it is roped off...so you look down under you for all the fabulous critters you would otherwise miss.
It was a little bit after noon and we dried off and decided to go to the restaurant for some food. The area inside, which is where we decided to eat since it was so hot outside, was very pretty with the blown glass on the ceiling and cold a/c! Whew! It felt good in there.
The buffet really wasn't too big. Maybe I was just used to the one at Amazona the day before. I guess for VIP I thought there would be more or be at least bigger. We thought about going upstairs, but they said it was the same up there. So, we were staying in the a/c then.
The food was good. Not as good as yesterday, but good. Just not enough choices.
The best dish there was the Cochinita. Oh my goodness. It was good enough for us both to go back up for seconds! The noodles (above) was excellent as well...enough for seconds).
Ok, we wanted to try to zipline again but this time I was going. They make you sign a book and keep track of how many people go. I thought that was a little strange and not sure what it was for.
Once we signed, it was time to "suit up" only I had a bit of a problem. They all seemed to be the same size just tightened and I'm a fluffy girl since my accident and I had a very hard time getting the harness on over my booty. Hey, baby got back now! ;)
So up we went and the hubby was going to video us. However, he got half way up the steps and they told him he couldn't go up there. So, it looks like he's going to get a few shots of us from far away.
We took our time going up to give him enough time to get down below and a good shot. Then we were ready to go. Sakari insisted that I go first and off I went and then Sakari behind me.
There were 3 different platforms going over the Caribbean water. It was so pretty and something we had always wanted to do. I mean we've ziplined before and Sakari did her first in the jungle in Roatan when she was 3 years old. But flying over the water was an entirely different experience. So cool.
It was hot. We were hot. The Island was hot. Mexico was hot. Whew! Did I mention it was hot this vacation? We headed to the pool to cool down.
I got out to go check on our things and I found that if you walked directly below us there was a place to get hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos. So, I asked for an order of nachos and cheese to take back to the chair...only they said you couldn't leave the little dining area there. I went to go get the family out of the pool to see if they wanted anything and they came and had some nachos as well.
Then it was back to the pool to cool down again. This time we decided to head to the romantic grotto. Only when we got in there, it was full of little kids. It was very shallow so I guess that's why. It was more like a babysitting area that the parents stuck their kids in to watch. I mean it was completely enclosed except for the entrance. What better place right?
Since we were being bombarded by so many splashing kids, we decided the grotto wasn't the best idea and headed back out to the pool. Now I swear the pool was not so green and cloudy when we first got there. Sakari swore that it was but looking at my pictures, it was not. Well, by almost the end of the day...it was definitely really cloudy (which you'll see in the video when Sakari has the GoPro under the water).
Sakari was really interested in trying to figure out how swimmers (like on a swim team) get to the end of the pool and flip under, rotate and push off going back to the other side. She would practice and practice and she was going from side to side (the short side) and you couldn't even see her that's how cloudy the water was now. But oh so refreshing.
It was around 4:45pm and Sakari ask "When are we leaving here?" and I knew...it was time to go. They closed at 5pm anyhow so might as well pack up and head out. About that time they turned off the waterfall over the grotto so I guess that was everyone's sign to get out.
On the way out, we noticed this building. I guess that was the buffet for everyone that didn't get the VIP tickets. Sakari went up there to look around and came back down and said "It's really really big up there and it's a restaurant". It made me wish that I would have explored a little more and checked things out. I would have loved to see if they actually had the same food as us.
A video of the grounds and our day spent swimming, snorkeling and ziplining.
Recap of Garrafon Reef Beach Club: It was a very pretty place. The zipline was fun and the food was good. The snorkeling was meh. I think Garrafon de Castilla next door is better and cheaper. But, we did see some interesting things: starfish, stingrays, lizard fish and a sea cucumber. The pool was huge, but unsure about the cloudiness that occurred during the day. I also think that they should let you know if you are booking VIP that the VIP pool is shut down or that the VIP area isn't anywhere near the water, pool, snorkeling, kayaking or ziplining. There's a lot of walking involved. But, beautiful place. I'm not sure I would pay to go there again. I really did it to see the snorkeling because there's not really a lot of places to do this on the island that I was aware of and everyone knows how much I love my snorkeling. :D