Custom Private Cozumel Jeep Tour
So, what are we doing today? I searched everywhere for something to do. We've been here many many times and hit up a majority of the "cruiser" beach clubs. I've always wanted to do the xrails to the caverns but when we were here 4 months ago, I found that it was just too hard to do it when coming by a NCL ship and docking at Punta Langosta. It would require you to take a cab to one of the other docks and then go from there to the meeting place and then on to ride the buggies. Eh, I'm not sure I want to do it this time either and the thought of being in a walking boot with a broken leg would mean that I probably wouldn't be able to get in the water at the caves. However, docking somewhere else now made me wish that I had went ahead and booked it.
Continuing my search, I was completely lost at this point. Then I remembered the last time we did a tour with Cozumel Cruise Excursions (.net) and had a pretty darn hooting good time! I also remembered after we returned home, I received an email from them saying that if we ever return again, they were willing to give us 30% off our next excursion. Well that sounds about as lovely as birds chirping on a warm summer day! Count me in.
I started searching their site for something interesting to do....then it hit me! We've never been to the other side of Cozumel. The WILD SIDE! The hubby had a friend who once told us years ago "if you get the chance, rent a vehicle and go over to the other untouched beautiful side". Well, we were about to get our opportunity now!
They offered a Jeep tour and the best part about it...you were in your own jeep (not sharing) AND you were not following others on a tour. The tour was completely customizable and you could do whatever or go where ever you wanted. How great does that sound????? Yep, sign me up!
I emailed them and they do provide you with a list of places that others like to go or suggestions they had.
I took notes...lots and lots of notes.
The company website is somewhat confusing about where you can go or where you eat. Some things repeat and some things are listed twice but says different areas. They could really benefit from having someone overlook their website and correct it.
I had a lot of questions. Me being me, anyone who deals with me should expect nothing less from me. I'm very thorough in everything I do. I emailed them with a list of questions, got a generic answer pretty much, so emailed them again asking for answers to my questions in the typical Mitsugirly fashion.
I did get my answers and ended up booking with them. I would plan my "route of execution" prior to leaving and present my idea to the driver when we arrived.
I was SUPER excited about this trip. I was doing a dance...well, more like with just my arms and not my legs. I thought it would be the best port day ever (aside from scuba diving because nothing trumps that of course) and was really looking forward to it.
The only issue now is...where are we and how do we get to the meeting place? At Punta Langosta, the meeting place is right down stairs at the pier. This place...I wasn't sure.
We eventually made it out of the port and thank goodness all I can say is that I printed off all of the instructions they sent me with all of the ports and meeting points because otherwise, we would have been lost!
Our instructions said if you are docking at Puerta Maya pier, the meeting place is located at Martis. So, where the heck is that? We are already out of the port.
Once you exit the cruise pier, you will see a large building that says I-95 on top. Please do not cross the street, as people trying to sell you anything and everything will bother you. You’ll just need to walk left on the main Avenue of Ave Rafael Melgar, which is the avenue you walk onto when you exit the cruise port and pass the Palapa (Hut)/parking lot of Puerta Maya Pier. During your walk you will see a Gas station across the street and 7/11 next to that. This means that your in the right direction and will come to a stop light where you will see a large outside mall across/adjacent to you. You will see a large Hard Rock Guitar Statue, which will be hard to miss. You will need to cross the street and continue in the same direction you were going just on the opposite side of the avenue. You will pass a couple stores, including Diamonds International and a convenience store called OXXO. You will momentarily come to MARTIS SPORTING GOODS, which will be to your right. It is very easy to find and is only a 5-10 minute walk.
Alrighty then...let's do this. I'm already tired and trying to sloth along. We turned left and DID NOT CROSS THE STREET as per the instructions. We walked and walked and whew...how far is this place? Where is this gas station they mentioned? Did we pass it? Please tell me we didn't pass it. I mean how can you miss a gas station? I need a drink. We stopped at a little side street hut and purchased pop for the walk. Something cold never tasted so good at this point.
We kept going. After awhile, we saw a gas station and the 7/11. Ok, that meant we were going in the right direction still. Geesh, I was like a child in the back seat of a car "how much longer" "Are we there yet?" "I'm thirsty" Then the hubby started with the "I gotta pee". Poor Sakari was just staying quiet. There was enough chatter coming from us that no words were needed from her. Poor child. LOL
Still walking and I'm in some pain at this point. My leg is not meant to hold up this long I'm sure of it. Finally we see a mall...I think. We need to get closer...yep, that's a mall. Not the kind of mall we have back home, but it had to be the mall because we spotted a guitar statue and that meant the Hard Rock Cafe was near. They were right, it wasn't hard to miss that...but it was still a little ways up. R U SERIOUS?
We crossed the street as per the instructions. Ok...on to the next set of instructions. Continue in the same direction on the OPPOSITE side of the "avenue". We now needed to pass a "couple" of stores...shhheeessshhh. We located the Diamonds International and the OXXO store. I needed another drink at this point. I was worn out already. I wasn't sure about this whole thing. They said a 5-10 minute walk that how now been over 30 minutes for us. I didn't want to go on. The pain was just too much. I seriously considered hailing a cab and getting a ride back to the port. Like seriously! The hubby told me to just slow down and have a drink. Sakari was holding my hand at this point. The hubby was carrying all the bags himself. Anything to lighten the load for me. He could see it in my eyes. I was giving up.
Then I seen a sign that said "Martis". I was never so relieved! We had made it. We had been walking for almost 45 minutes!!! I was highly upset. Pain increases my crankiness and I was a 11/10 at this point. These people were very aware of my "condition" and not being able to walk. If we changed ports, they should have had someone picking us up. This was ridiculous.
I immediately sat down on the ground on the sidewalk. There was no one around. I just thought to myself "we are extremely late, they probably left without us". The hubby tried to get into Martis to use the restroom. They were closed. He went down the street, when he seen a jeep parked down there, to see if it was ours. He disappeared...for quite some time. I was getting worried honestly.
Then a lady came over, from across the street at the hotel, and ask if I was waiting on her. She confirmed she was with the company. WHEW!! I was moaning and complaining about the walk, my condition, how is this a 5-10 minute walk even without a bum leg? She ask why we were across the street because the meeting place is at the hotel ACROSS THE STREET! Um, because that's what the instructions said!!!! It sounds like they need to revamp their instructions as well. The hubby came back and I told him she was across the street.
The lady from the company came back...only without a jeep. Ok, so I'm going to have to walk across the street apparently. I had been sitting for awhile...I can do this! Only that's not why she was walking back across the street. She came back to tell me that the jeep is actually NOT across the street. They park them down the street and pointed in the direction we had just came from. Wait, what?!? OH NO...you are going to go get that jeep and you are going to bring it here and pick me up. I'm not walking back. Wait, how far is it anyhow? (I mean I wasn't trying to be too difficult). She said "Oh, maybe 4 blocks that way" NOPE! Not happening!
She got on the phone with the company and said she was trying to figure out who our guide was going to be and explained the situation about my leg to them. When she got off the phone she said they had decided she was going to be my driver (she said with a look of doom in her eyes at this point) and she was going to go to the parking lot where they had the jeep, pick it up, then come back and get me. Great! I'll be here waiting...and off she went.
She was gone quite some time... Hmmmm. Every jeep that went by our eyes lit up, but it wasn't her. "Here comes one" "Nope". Finally here she came...and then there she went. "Wait....here we are! Come back, come back" I whispered in my Rose Titanic voice. She turned around and parked across the street. Time to play frogger with the traffic as I slothed across the street, closing my eyes because we all know that eases the pain when you get hit by a speeding car.
In the jeep we went and down the "4 blocks"....are you ready for this???? BACK TO THE PORT! I thought she had had enough of us and was taking us back. Nope, that's where the parking lot of jeeps and tours are. R U FRICKEN SERIOUS??? Now at this point I'm even more agitated. Everyone knows I'm a "roll with the punches" kinda girl but at this point, nope! My pain was speaking for me. The ridiculousness of this entire thing is speaking for me. I'm not holding back at this point.
And so the story goes... "So you mean to tell me that you have people exit the port, walk all the way here, then spring it on them that they must turn around and walk right back to where they just came from and down that street to get to their jeep??????" I would continue with "even if I wasn't handicapped at this point, I would have been highly pissed to find this out". Her excuse was "It's just easier to tell people to meet us here instead of giving them directions to where we keep the jeeps. It would just be too confusing and people wouldn't be able to find it". Now, the street that you turn on...was right there at the pier. If you think we can follow these ridiculous directions that state "stay on this side, look for this landmark, look for this gas station, cross the street here, look for this mall, look for this store"...only to find out that the directions are wrong, then how do you think it would be difficult to tell people to take the street across from the cruise pier and it's down there on the right hand side? I mean it's a big open parking lot full of brightly colored dune buggies, cars, and jeeps...like how could you miss it?
Would you miss all these vehicles???? There was every color in a pack of skittles here. You would have to be blind.
Payment in full discussion.
The tour guide runs into this building and comes back out a little while later with the money taker. He said he was there to collect the rest of the payment. Only the payment was way more than what we had agreed to. "Where's my 30% off discount?" Some civil arguing went back and forth at this point. They told me that the 30% off was "applied to your down payment". Um...NO! I get 30% any additional tour I was to book with you guys and that's 30% off the ENTIRE excursion...not no (said in my I mean business double negative voice) down payment!! (Mind you the down payment was only $18 pp totaling $54 and $54 is what I PAID ALREADY! Then more arguing back and forth took place only I was starting to escalate at this point. I just went through all this walking, in pain, and I'm going to stand my ground on this one! I pretty much had had enough and was ready to just hoof it back to port.
She called the "office" and then put me on the phone with a guy. I explained to him not once, not twice, but three times that I get a discount of 30% off the entire excursion, not the deposit, which I had already paid the full amount of without a discount, and my balance should only be $90. Then the story changed to it was 30% off the remaining balance. Last time I checked, "30% off your next tour with us" constitutes as the ENTIRE TOUR amount. He ask if I had proof. Of course I do!!
Now notice their discount looks like they fill this in with whatever amount they feel like because the first time they had emailed me after I returned, that amount said 20%. Then after talking to them again, posting a TA review and thanking them for such a wonderful day with them, the amount changed to 30%.
Finally the guy on the phone ask "So what are you willing to pay for this tour?" I told him I'm willing to pay what my balance should be and that's $90. He said ok and to give that to the person collecting the money and he hung up. When I told the money-taker what we said and handed him the money, he got on the phone and called the office back, said some words and looked at me and said "What amount are you willing to pay?" Really?!? We've already had this discussion and I'm sure he just told you what I said and I'm being asked again? Here's my money, take it or leave it, I'm done with this back and forth thing.
They took it.
Our tour guide asked if we wanted to drive or if we wanted her to drive. Obviously I couldn't and neither could Sakari so we all looked at daddy. Nope, he wanted no part of that so our guide was going to be our chauffeur today.
Off we finally went....
I would take screen shots on my phone of the map/route we were on so that if we ever return and decide to do this ourselves, we'd know which way she went. It was a very simple drive. Anyone could do this drive and not get lost.
Everyone sat in silence. I felt the need to break the ice. I'm not normally a negative Nelly and I knew this lady had some preconceptions of the type of person I was at this point...which really doesn't portray who I really am on your day to day basis or even when cruising and things don't go right. I was ready to change the mood and thought I would start this conversation and said "So, tell me about yourself? Where you born here? Moved here? Where do you live?" That broke the ice and we were off to a fresh new start now. She started talking and telling us about her life, her home, her animals, any hurricanes that hit Cozumel, rules in Cozumel, how the people are living there and so on. It was great now. We were starting to enjoy our tour.
We told her what we were interested in seeing and not seeing. We made it to the end of the "main strip", Carretera Transversal, which means cross road and it took you from one side of the island to the other. The road dead ends and the road continues to the right, which is also considered Quintana Roo C-1, which makes a circle around this side of Cozumel, from side to side with the exception of the connecting road we just came off of.
I guess we were officially on the "Wild Side" of Cozumel now.
It was somewhat of a gloomy day out. We wasn't sure if it was going to rain or not. After all, it had been raining the night before from Costa Maya to Cozumel. We weren't given the option to have the top off the jeep and at this point, I didn't care (although that was part of the excitement in getting a jeep when I booked).
We made it to our first stop.
This place was right past a place called "Naked Beach"...or it could have actually been the naked beach...only we didn't see anyone naked and wouldn't it have been the perfect payback for the driver to have taken us there to pay us back for all the commotion from this morning (only she wouldn't have known that a "naked beach" wouldn't have bothered us one way or another, we've seen plenty of naked bodies in St Maarten on vacation).
As you can see, it was bright and sunny out now. We only stayed long enough to get a few pictures and we didn't walk down onto the beach.
Then off we went again. The area is so green and lush with plenty of palms everywhere. "Only these palms serve no purpose and produce no fruit," our driver said. Hey, I'm all about fruit but I could definitely live with the non-fruit-producing palms in my back yard at any time of the year!
We seen a sign the said "Punta Morena".
Then the next sign was "Alberto's" that offered "Ice Cold Drinks"...which I could definitely use at this point. Did I mention that our excursion is supposed to be supplied with a cooler full of drinks? They also ask if you have any requests. I requested diet pop of course. But, they had water: yuck, and beer: yuck! So I'm pretty much left without anything to drink and so is the rest of the family pretty much since we really don't like water too much and the hubby wasn't feeling like a beer.
Alberto's here we come. I can't wait for that ice cold drink!!
Well now...Alberto was definitely missing! Pooey!
Our driver said this was the area that you could see blowholes. We looked around and didn't really see anything that looked like it was "blowing". She said the waves had to be a little more fierce for it to happen. They looked pretty fierce to me and if they were anymore, I would have thought it would go right over top of the rocks instead. Sakari said, "we are learning about blow holes in school...this is not the type of blowhole we are learning about."
But I did see this cute little shape of a heart in the rocks.
Sakari and I had discovered this macro function on my new camera and we are quite fond of it. So, I took this opportunity to take a few shots using the macro and also trying to accomplish a little bokeh.
I believe this place might be called Playa Paradisiaca?
We stayed here for about 15 minutes and then we were ready to move on. Honestly, it felt like a lot longer for some reason. Our driver said "stay as long as you want to anywhere we go. This is your day."
Up next was a place called El Pescador.
This looked like a place that someone had mentioned to me on the boards about a little cove type area that you could safely swim in. Only I can't see swimming here since it only appeared to be knee to waist-deep. But either way, a place to cool off in if it's a hot day out. I imagine it could get pretty crowded here on a hot day too since the beach looked pretty small.
There were red flags out at every stop of course. This side of Cozumel isn't really known for its swim-ability. They did advertise they have a surf school here.
Our driver ask if we wanted to stop and get out or swim. I looked at Sakari and she said she wasn't interested in swimming here and the hubby said "let's keep going" because honestly, we were just out of the car like less than 5 minutes ago.
Now just a little story about the road you keep seeing in the pictures (that isn't the road we are driving on). I guess that used to be the main road to drive on and our driver said some of the road was eroded and torn up during bad weather, hurricanes, flooding and so on. They decided to make a new road (the road we were on) that runs right along side of it and that it would cost more to repair the other than build a new??? They use the other road for bikes and so on now.
San Martin was up next and it looked like the happening place to be. I don't know if these were all rental cars or an excursion came here following each other but the place was packed. I gave the hand motion to keep rolling. It definitely wasn't a place we wanted to stop at this time around.
Playa San Martin was up next. The hubby went across the street to use the restroom and I would be standing at the top of the road doing what I do best...taking pictures.
Sakari was armed with her new found toy...the GoPro, which she had been shooting footage the entire trip.
I took one look at those stairs and thought....well, if I tumble at least I will roll down and land in sand.
I found it interesting that there are lifeguard stations at every beach. You don't always see that.
And of course those prominent red flags along the beach.
The only thing daddy ever notices is if there's an animal anywhere in the area and then off he goes.
We spent about 15 minutes here as well and then it was time to climb those stairs again. So, maybe we spent 1 minute here and 14 minutes getting me back up the stairs. LOL j/k of course. I'm not THAT slow.
Before leaving this spot, I was noticing all these red marks and numbers on the "old road turned bike path" and also some were blacked out. Now when you see this type of thing at home, that means dread....pure dread. That means the road workers are about to turn your life upside down for years with construction.
I was happy to hear the story about how this was a turtle nesting area and they mark the nest with red numbers signifying where the nest are straight ahead on the beach. Then when they hatch, they mark them out in black to know there's no longer a nest there. Well, I did notice several markings of red with no black but she confirmed that all the turtles have hatched and left the nest and they must have been some of the last to hatch and they just didn't mark them out.
It was now 11:15am and we were still hea