Day 9: It's a ziplining reef park type of day
I managed to sleep in a little later today...probably because I didn't get much rest. I was up by 7:30am, which meant I missed the sunset but was happy to still be alive. I wasn't in as much pain but I could still feel that something was "off".
We all headed downstairs and Sakari decided to make us breakfast. We discovered the bagels were no longer good (probably from all the heat in the house) so we just had eggs with cheese. Not a big meal, but that was ok since we were going somewhere today that included the food and they opened at 9am per our tickets I purchased yesterday.
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.
We had a visitor this morning. Oscarita was waiting on us and she came right in and was snooping around. Sorry Oscarita, we do not have any fish left.
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. What is with the times at all these places. Nothing opening up when they say they do. 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.
We headed back to the house to shower only Sakari decided to swim in the pool a bit. She took the GoPro (I didn't even know) and set it up in the pool and practiced her Olympic swimming, blowing ring bubbles, twirling in circles that made me dizzy just watching and other goofy things. She has been doing this since she was very young. I'm glad to see this "young" side still in her. ;)
Just a video of her having fun that she made. I only post these as a memory for her (and us) to look back on and have a keepsake.
After she was done and showered, we headed into town to do a little shopping and dinner.
That beautiful church again.
We arrived and found a place to park and headed to Centro.
Here are the numbers I was seeing on everyone's house. They are so pretty.
This place was bursting with color. I love it!
It's the monkey tree. This person came up with such a good marketing idea. You know every kid that passes by that tree and seen all the monkeys hanging want one!
There weren't as many people here tonight. I guess since it's a Sunday most people leave to go home on the weekends. I liked that it wasn't that crowded, but that also meant that many of the shops were closing up early.
No party going on here tonight.
We needed to find a place to eat before we didn't get dinner tonight with everything closing. I would really hate to relive the cinnabon cereal again.
We came across a place that had some live music going on and it was upstairs. We decided to head up and check it out. It was pretty crowded and almost all of the seats were taken. However, we got lucky and managed to get a seat right by the open window area looking down onto the street.
There is one thing I learned on this trip and that is that the GoPro does not take very good pictures in a dark setting where my camera usually does. Since I had decided that I was using the "all-in-one-does-everything" GoPro most of this vacation, I managed to get some crappy pictures with it not knowing they would turn out like this. I guess I will still be carrying my camera around on vacation after all.
This place was popping! So many people in and out and enjoying themselves. The live band was awesome, even though we had no clue what they were singing about. I love Spanish music! It's so upbeat and makes people happy. Everyone would get up and dance in the area they were playing in. The hubby got up to take a video of them as well. It was awesome. No matter how hard mi esposo tried to get shy hija up to dance, it wasn't happening. She gets embarrassed easily these days. Oh how I remember those days where she would get on the ship and dance her little heart out at sail away even after everyone had left. Teenagers...hummph
We all ordered quesadilla pollo and it came with rice. It was very good!
Our check came with a little note. Our check was $425 pesos (which would be around $21 US), so saving $3 on the meal. I didn't think that was a bad price for 3 meals and the amount of food we had. I'm just not use to this. We go to a Mexican restaurant here and we walk out paying over $60 for all 3 of us. I love Mexico...even in the tourist spot in Centro we are paying less for food. Honestly, I had thought (once we arrived in Isla) that I really wished we had maybe stayed at a resort with a pool and not worried about a house with a kitchen to cook in. I knew that the food was going to be cheaper and honestly, it would be nice to just GO on vacation...no cooking or anything. If there was ever a place to do it in, this would be the place.
The band was done playing and we were done with our meals. It was now almost 10:30pm and it was time to head home.
As we walked out of the restaurant, I took a picture of the hubby telling Sakari to stop and wait for mommy to take a picture as he threw his hand up to stop her. LOL They know me so well. Not only did I get a picture, I needed a video as well. HA!
Here's a short video of our night out at the restaurant with singing and dancing.
We headed back to the Jeep and I wanted to stop by the grocery store for more pop. Only the grocery store was closed at this time of night. I was so sad.
On our way home, it would not be without an event...as we headed down the street we could see the policia with their lights on ahead. They motioned us over. They had the road blocked. The officer came up to us and ask where we were going and what we were doing. We ask why he pulled us over and he told us it was an inspection. I was a little confused. I'm thinkin "What do they have to inspect on a golf cart? Are the tires low? Do we have a light out?" I ask what the inspection meant. He said they were searching for alcohol. He ask if we had any. NOPE! Have we had anything to drink tonight? NOPE! Ok, no problemo. Then he released us after looking us over a few times. I had read prior to coming that they don't play ANY games with people that drink and drive and especially the golf carts. It's the worse thing you can do. So off we went.
Notice I haven't mentioned my chest pain today? Well, I did have some episodes where it was hurting and taking a deep breath hurt even more. But, for the most part, it was 97.5% better. However, going over the topes were a different story. It was like it was jarring my insides. I'm now wondering if maybe our, wait...let me correct that, the HUBBY flying over the tope yesterday might have done something. I don't know how it would but we did hit pretty hard.
Sakari was holding onto me as I had an episode on the way back and she wanted to make sure if daddy hit another in the dark, I wouldn't go flying forward. She's so sweet! FYI, they DO have some topes that have no markings on them and there are some that don't have a sign before you get to them. So, in the dark, it can be quite scary at times. When we first got here, we would fly down the streets out of town at night. However, it was totally different now after hitting one. We were going slow enough to see them from a distance. Taking no chances!
We arrived home safely and I was completely ready for bed. My chest hurt off and on throughout the night. But nothing like it was before. Just no deep breaths and I'm fine. Sigh...oops, that was a deep breath wasn't it.
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