Trip report - Puerto Aventuras, Valladolid, Holbox
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Trip report - Puerto Aventuras, Valladolid, Holbox
Stayed at the Omni in Puerto Avenuras and dived with Dive Aventuras who are based in the hotel. Had read some negatives on Tripadvisor about the Omni which do not match our experience. The place was clean and we saw the pools and pool area being thoroughly cleaned every morning.
Dive Aventuras made us welcome. They are helpful. They handle diving for people from the surrounding hotels and condos, but provide a personalised service. They try to keep you teamed with the same dive master and grouped with divers of the same ability/dive requirements. They do 4 dives a day which usually last about 40 - 45 minutes. They are on a tight schedule for getting people back to pick up their transfer home. But if you speak to the staff they will try to organise longer dives according to who is on the boat. The max we saw was 7, but most were less than that. On one dive it was only 2 and we know others also had only 2. If you can be flexible about which of the four dives you do then this helps. We had a 66 minute dive with only 2 of us. Diving is easy - 5 mins out, basic sand chutes and reef, schools of reef fish, turtles etc at only 20 m. If you like small stuff say so and they will help you find some interesting things.
Went onto Valladolid and can recommend Hotel Maria de la Luz, booked over the internet. It is a basic hotel but clean and functional. Best described as top-end back-packers but perfect for a few nights. Right on the central square. Recommend trips to Ek Balam and Chichen Itza but get to them early as possible - they open at 8. If you can only manage one - then Ek Balam.
Holbox - snorkelling with whale sharks. Mind blowing experience. A good whale shark tour will cost 85 - 90 USD and will start 7.30 or earlier and last about 8 hours, with max 6/7 per boat. It will include unlimited time with the whalesharks (obeying rule of 2 persons at a time) and when all swimmers cry "enough" they will go back inshore for snorkelling (nurse sharks), possible a trip up the lighthouse and quietly motoring into the lagoon to look for flamingos, white herons, shoals of barracuda in the shallows. Lunch included, vegetarians and special diets no problem. Snorkel gear included but your own is better. Trips like this from Casa las Tortugas or Mawimbi.
Beware the rip offs - 75 - 80 USD for 4 hours, two swims, 10 people per boat. How are your maths? Sometimes it takes nearly 2 hours to find the creatures, and some of the 10 people may not be competent in the water, and the rule is only 2 people at a time in the water, and the boats "share" the whalesharks so 2 from your boat and then 2 from another boat etc, and 2 hours back. I can't see how everyone could get a swim. These trips operate a 2-swim only rule anyway. Do the maths per hour, the extra 10 USD for 8 hours is a no-brainer.
We came back from our trip absolutely ecstatic - and tired. Some of our boat got 6 swims.
Note - if you do not have a wetsuit (to give buoyancy) then the rules are that you must wear a life jacket. These will inhibit your snorkelling - so take a wetsuit (a shortie is OK), a rash vest is not enough. And when you get in the water be prepared to swim like the blazes - these things hardly move a muscle but power along. Also - no flash photography - so choose your camera gear.
The best way to do it is to take two days out and travel up to Holbox (maybe take in some other sights en route), overnight then do 7.30 am start. Stagger onto the evening ferry and sleep in the taxi all the way back to Cancun/Playa. In truth, you will want to stay another day on Holbox.
Cannot recommend Casa las Tortugas and Mawimbi highly enough. Peaceful, away from it all on the beach. Didn't see Mawimbi's rooms but everyone in their beach garden looked happy. Casa las Tortugas is beautiful. They both offer air con, breakfast, beach snack bar, beach garden with loungers.
Beware hotels who are handling the day trips from Cancun. It may be that all they are interested in is pushing the 4-hour tours through. Hotel guests are incidental. An example is Hotel Faro Viejo. Don't like posting negatives but a factual check would be that FV does not have any sun loungers or a proper beach garden, and they are charging 110 USD per night. Walk along the beach, other hotels that are cheaper can manage loungers for their guests. What a shame about FV - their rooms are delightful and the housekeeping staff are excellent. But we got no hot water (not even warm), food was unspeakable, at 8.30 am fruit at breakfast was finished, coffee was stale and the flies were doing the backstroke in the milk. Even the cheap poussadas in the town advertised hot water and provided it - we talked to back-packers.
Great report and thanks for the detailed info on the whale shark tours.
Ek Balam over CI is a tough one to call. If you can only see one and don't plan a return trip, CI is very impressive and beautifully restored. The acoustics of the site are amazing. EB is much smaller, but packed with so much detail that you need several visits to take it all in. It is incredible that so much of the original plaster is in place at Ek Balam. The next time I visit EB, the camera bag will be full of lens' and a tripod to do each shot full justice.
It must have been a good holiday - I forgot to mention the cenotes!
We did the nearby cenotes of Little Brother, Chac Mool and Kukulcan. We started at LB and swam to CM and back then changed tanks and did the same to K and back. The truck ride was only minutes. It was vital to get there as early as possible from the point of view of numbers (busy at this time of year due to holidays in Mexico) and the heat (moving gear and just gearing up). Hint - take at least two bottles of water, one for inside you and one for inside your suit.
It was well-organised (with Dive Aventuras). Water and towels provided. Torches provided. We were well-briefed and advised about what to take and what to expect. Our guide, Michel, briefed us during the truck ride with all background information and dive matters. When we got there he briefed us some more. When we got in the water he double-checked and reiterated major points. Having planned the dive, we dived the plan. No surprises. Result - enjoyed the experience. But - it was busy down there. Our ratio was two divers to one guide. We saw strings of divers up to 6 long. No way. That puts you too far away from the guide. Warning - I was surprised at how bad the viz was in places. The haloclines can be like swimming through vaseline when it comes to viz. You needed to pay attention to the diver in front and it is an advantage if they have flashy coloured fins. Some people were diving in Tshirts. It is cooler although the sea water bits are warmer. The guides and the photographer wear much more neoprene. Would advise you wear as much as you have with you. What did we think of the cenotes? What an experience! Really one for the log-book but I don't think we caught "the bug". If anyone is doing the cenotes - just like many other posters have said, make sure you dive with the best and don't cut corners. The experience could flip from wondrous to hell if you are under-prepared and poorly led.
Thanks for comments from other posters. We went with Dive Aventuras because they were offering a competitive package inc accommodation. And we are very happy with the service they provided. What it says on their web-site is what we got and that's the point. Actually we got more than that. We were pleased at how personalised they were towards us.
I took advice from the board and tried Aquanauts several times and even phoned them but they did not reply. So if Dennis wants to get the business from us Brits he needs to reply to emails. It may be that he does not want to get involved with accommodation - which is fine but will limit him on customers like us. We heard very nice things about him when we were there.
Moving on now. Just been looking at a friend's pictures of Saba. It's now on the list. And the size of that barracuda!
nice write up, very accurate on isla holbox and the whale shark tour, i was there a couple weeks back for a wedding and a few pals went sharking, they returned after 4hrs and saw only 2 sharks, for me theres just way too many operators out of holbox, 140 boats have the permits to get out with the sharks, thats 100 too many i figure!
Apologies - I hit the Report button when I meant to hit the Reply button. Please blame my reading skills. Can a Mod undo this.
Answer to question - I am delighted to say we went with Casa las Tortugas HOLBOX HOTEL: CASA LAS TORTUGAS. They even pick you up from the beach in front of their place rather than from the jetty. Also I heard equally good things (and saw people coming back of their boat) about Mawimbi who are next door. Mawimbi's boat was full so we didn't go with them but they offer a very similar service. Good English is spoken in both places.