THE MONEY BAR
We told the putteminthetaxiworkers that we needed a taxi for 7 people to The Money Bar. They looked at us and looked at the kids and looked at us again. "um, senorita dis not place for kids". I know this. We are going to the Money Bar. "um senorita...." I know!!! "um, senorita, you been before?" I know what it looks like, I know what type of water it is, I know about the "beach". Yes! Take us there.
So off we went. I researched ahead of time and knew that a taxi would cost "us" around $11. Once we added 4 more people, the price was $22.
We left the taxi stand at 10:04am and arrived at the Money Bar at 10:07am. Super quick and easy ride.
For those wanting to know the location to the cruise ports...You can see the furthest cruise port is Punta Langosta. This is where NCL usually docks (unless they have too many NCL ships there that day and then they will either dock out a bit and tender, which I've done before, or they will come down to the International Pier, which I've done before).
So, looking at this map, if you are on Carnival, you are docking at the closer pier to the beaches in that direction and The Money Bar is the closest on my map I made.
I have seen many pictures of what the Money Bar looked like. I knew that it was fairly small and no actual "walk-in" beach. I knew that it was very similar to Chankanaab, which we had been to before and loved it, but on a very small scale in comparison.
Let's be honest, the ONLY reason why I came here is that I wanted to snorkel. I had heard that it was a pretty awesome place to snorkel and was comparable to Chank, which I enjoyed the snorkeling there.
Our plan was to spend the morning there snorkeling and having a few drinks and then catch a cab to Paradise Beach for the rest of the day so that the kids could have a little fun too. (Although when I say "kids" I'm pretty much talking about Kam because Sakari and B love snorkeling just as much as me, so they would have been fine staying at The Money Bar). However, I have been wanting to check out Paradise for such a long time. As a matter of fact, every time we come to Cozumel I have wanted to go there but ended up somewhere else instead. I don't know why. So, what better way than to go to two different places, get to experience both, AND write reviews on both. Right?
We arrived and immediately came down to the man-made beach area, which is above the ocean area. It was bright and sunny out and I was excited to see that.
There were a lot of clouds in the sky and CHECK OUT THIS WEIRD CLOUD in the picture below. Looks how close it is and crazy looking.
There is a huge bar there under the HUGE palapa.
I have to admit, this place was a lot bigger than what I had pictured or seen pictures of. It looks so much bigger in person.
There was a huge deck with plenty of seating.
Off to the side of the huge deck, you walk down some steps and onto their man-made beach area. It also had plenty of tables and chairs and lounge chairs behind that.
The kids found some tree swings and had a blast.
There was a place to rent equipment
There was plenty of seating everywhere in the restaurant/bar area.
There was a dock and I assume they would take you out snorkeling or whatever you wanted to do. (They offered massages as well, as you can see on the sign in the picture, but I have no idea the pricing and for how long because I don't do massages).
There was a thread, on the Costa Maya forum on the cruise forums, that someone came back from an AI that I had been to (and others also suggested) that they gave negative feedback because of the "nasty" bathrooms with signs that did not allow you to throw toilet paper in the toilets and made you put them in trash cans. They were disgusted. I told them this is the norm every where you go in the Caribbean and their sanitation would not handle things like toilet paper and they are not in the US with these types of luxuries. They were just not having it. They swore that they had never seen these signs before or experienced having to put toilet paper in trash cans instead of the toilet and claimed they were an experienced cruiser. Well, most Caribbean beach clubs are not the Hilton Hotel and I don't know what type of places they go to when in port...but every place I went this time (and other times) had those signs!
Here's the bathrooms:
I assume the little place with the curtains to the left is the massage place.
The water was a little furious today.
Sakari was on a mission to save the stranded fish from the angry ocean throwing the water up on the rocks and beach area.
In the picture below, you can see even more area's on down of lounge chairs.
And I'm not sure just how far their property went, but there were also areas on down with chairs and trees.
There's also a "map" of the snorkeling area.
Shortly after we arrived, it started to sprinkle. The lounge chairs we were in were sitting under the trees, which blocked the rain. But it didn't last but maybe 10 minutes if that and we didn't get wet. Either way, I was planning on being wet in a few minutes anyhow when I went snorkeling.
Dzul-Ha Reef...Dzul-Ha is what The Money Bar used to be called. So, if you are ever trying to look it up either online or on these boards, you can also search that name and it will come up.
Here is a short video of right outside the restaurant area with the outside dining and lounge chairs.
Ok, it's time to get ready to snorkel.
I told Kendra "come on" and grabbed my snorkeling equipment and waited and waited and waited. I finally gave up and started heading to the entrance to snorkeling. Kendra has to slip away from Kam when she's not looking or she'll throw a fit. I don't have anyone to slip away from therefore I no waity on anyoney!
Getting down into the water was a task. It was treacherous! The ocean was mad today. The waves were crashing...it was terrible. People were coming in as I was going out and they warned me about the slippery rocks. I already figured that because that's how Chankanaab was...but Chank had steps to go down in. This was some type of busted up concrete and it looked a little different than some of the pictures I had seen online. I'm not sure what happened and why it looked different, but I would look it up when I got home. I'll show you that later.
It took quite some time to make it out to the water where I didn't have to worry about slipping and falling. I hung on to the rail for dear life as I eased myself one step closer to the water only to get pushed back 2 steps by the raging water. I really wasn't sure if I should be carrying my flippers or wearing them. I had no idea how deep it was going to get and if I'd be able to put them on easily once I got out of this area. It was really hard to hold on to them and try to hold onto the railing. So, I did an about face and eased myself back up and put them on.
Ok, time to start over with one step forward, pushed back, two steps forward, pushed back. Whew! I was getting a work out.
I finally got to a small drop and decided I would just go for it and I made it out.
So...let's see what it looks like under here.
There were some surgeon fish, blue head wrasse, and various "normal" fish that you see just about everywhere you go when snorkeling.
I looked up and here come Sakari! I don't know how she made it out so quick because she was no where in site when I started this journey.
It looks like she's nemo today.
I have to admit, the ocean floor here is not quite what I expected.
I finally did see some coral, not much, but hey it's something.
I ran across 2 bicolor Angelfish. I was super excited. This is the first time I had ever seen these before. I love when I get a new experience snorkeling and see something new. They were pretty big in size too!
As you can see, the coral in the pictures are just pieces of coral in various areas and limited to a rock of different sizes. The ocean floor was not covered in rocks and coral. They were just little islands here and there sitting on a sandy bed floor.
Then we seen the biggest snail I have ever seen in my life!
We came across some of the coral reef balls that had been placed out there. In my experience, usually only some damsels claim these as their habitat. I have never seen anything interesting in them in the past.
As noted before...a bunch of sergeant major fish, which is a type of damsel. They are usually what you will find in these reef balls. They are over protective and usually have eggs somewhere. Even though the damsel fish as small in size, they won't think twice at nipping at you if you get too close.
You will usually see some blue striped or yellow striped grunts hanging out in areas like this too.
All of a sudden I turn around and see this huge fish coming at me. Brayden had made it out there and started following us.
Would you look at the face of this sergeant major fish!!! It looked mad that I was in his territory.
This was a very interesting piece of coral. I really liked it and haven't seen anything like it in the past. This brain coral was definitely invaded.
Sakari spotted this spotted trunk fish. I went right past it and didn't even see it until I felt a tug on my fin and she pointed.
Her pointing it out to me because even after telling me, I couldn't see it.
We had completely circled around the area. We started out by going to the right (like the picture on the map had shown), circling around, then heading to the left. We had now made it all the way over by the dock at the restaurant area.
There, you would find tons of fish. They were mostly sergeant majors, parrot fish and bermuda chubs.
Here's where we were in relation to the shore.
There are steps here in this area. I ask the kids if they wanted to get out here. Brayden was totally against it. He did not want to try to climb those slippery steps with the water crashing on to them. So we headed back to the entrance we came in at.
Now you think that getting in the water was hard? Wait until you try to get back out! Yikes.
Sakari didn't have a problem for some reason and she was out pretty quick. However B and I....whew! He was ahead of me. We had taken our fins off. We tried and tried to get out but the water was just pushing us back out and pushing us down. He was really struggling. Even after making it to the railing to hold on.
It was really hard to keep your feet on the ocean floor, try to balance yourself enough to take a step, try to hold on to our fins, then pull ourselves out.
Finally I decided I was going to throw my fins up as far as I could in hopes that Sakari could grab them before the water got them. My plan worked. Then I threw B's fins up.
At some point I made it up to the railing, but when the water drug B back out, he would run into me causing me to have one of two choices, let go of the railing and go back out to sea or hang on to the railing and him hitting me would cause it to knock my feet out from under me. I chose door number one.
I was getting frustrated. I decided to go for it and on the next wave coming in, I was going to pass him up, get around him, hang on to the railing for dear life and make it out. My plan worked. It wasn't much longer that a huge wave came and pushed B up the railing and he made it out too! WHEW! The things we do for snorkeling.
So here's a picture I found online. See how the wall comes out, then you have a concrete ramp with a railing to get in the water? Then you have another wall (left hand side).
Well, this is the entrance we went in at and that concrete is all busted up now and the wall on the other side of it is no longer there.
Here is what it looks like now:
Is was nice and sunny out. I was so glad that the weather cleared up and we were having such a nice day.
Also, they have free wifi at the bar.
Kendra now decides she's ready to snorkel. Notice above that Kam was with daddy at the bar and Kendra could sneak off.
Sakari said she would go out with her and show her around.
I had decided that I didn't want to have to endure getting in and out of the water again and would stay behind to explore and take pictures.
Sakari makes it look so easy to get in and she has the right idea. Just lay down and go. Kendra would decide to do that eventually, but the area there with the busted up concrete and uneven surfaces made it harder for an adult to just lay and go. Kendra did end up getting the top of her leg scraped up. I'm not sure if it was going out or coming back in.
Kick Kendra kick! The waves will push you back in.
And off they went...
I would decide to walk on down a little bit to explore and stayed along the shoreline while watching them snorkel.
I think some of the area on down might belong to the hotel directly across the street for their guests.
I returned back to find the kids playing in the sand.
After Kendra and Sakari came back in, it was getting a little cloudy again. We decided it was time to pack up and head out for now. It was almost noon and I knew I wanted to spend a decent amount of time at Paradise.
By the time we got our things together, paid our bill, made it to the restaurant, it was raining again.
We asked the guy at the bar about calling a cab for us and he relayed this information to a guy that stands by the entrance, who called us a cab.
They had a little area out front that you could sit at and by the time we made it there, it was POURING!!! Like hard and a lot!
Look past Sakari and the rain pouring off the restaurant roof. It was like a waterfall.
We pulled out at 12:16pm according to the picture I took of my watch.
I had been wanting to try this place out since I first went to Chankanaab and heard this place had snorkeling that was similar.
The place is a lot bigger than I thought. There's PLENTY of room there for a lot of people...just not a lot of lounge chairs and mostly tables, but they did have umbrellas.
The place was nicely laid out and landscaped.
The restaurant is huge as well. Pop was $2.50 a can and came with a cup of ice. I'm not sure how much alcoholic beverages was because I didn't buy any, but the guys did and I didn't ask.
We did not try the food since we had already ate breakfast just a few hours earlier and planned on eating at Paradise.
This place has a FREE ADMISSION! They just want and expect you to purchase drinks and food while you are there.
Now the snorkeling...the main reason I came here. I honestly didn't think it was great...or even good IMO. I really expected more than what I seen. Most of the sea bed was sandy with just rocks and coral here and there. There wasn't an abundance amount of fish either. There were a lot of fish around the dock area of course.
We did see a few interesting things and I did have a "first" experience with finding the snail (or conch???) that was that huge. Like it was probably the size of my arm from the tips of my fingers tips to my elbow long. It was also the first time I had ever seen any bicolor angelfish. I love first and that would make this trip worth it.
But coming here just for the snorkeling, I wouldn't really suggest it based on what I saw. I also wouldn't compare it to Chankanaab other than it doesn't have a real walk in beach and has steps going into the water like Chankanaab...other than that, it doesn't compare IMO. Chankanaab seemed to have a lot more fish and coral and rocks. But then again, it's been awhile since I was there and maybe I'm just not remembering it as well.
Would I come here again? Probably not. I'm glad I experienced it and can mark it off my bucket list. Would I suggest it? Sure. It makes for a cheap day with no admission and just eating and drinking there. It's pretty with a great view. It's less than 5 minutes from the port and can make for an awesome, cheap, close-by day for cruisers. Just don't expect awesome snorkeling.