Puerto Morelos, MX - September 2010

When it comes to travel, everyone has a comfort zone and it takes some effort to change existing habits. By writing about our trips, we hope that our reports inspire families to try something new. That being said, we decided to follow our own advice so we went outside of our comfort zone and went to .... an all inclusive beach resort in Mexico.

Of course we had our own preconceived ideas and fully expected our trip to be devoid of culture, mediocre food and lackluster service. Even if that turned out to be true, the airfare and hotel were so reasonable that we couldn't resist giving it a try.

With each trip Elliot gets a little more independent and now he can fill out a few boxes of the immigration form. We are anxiously awaiting the day he begins writing this blog from his perspective.
One of the best things about Mexico is the food! Keith always tries to find taco stands for a quick bite. This time he made sure to enhance his taco stand "lingo" so he could communicate better with the locals. Since we didn't know how isolated the resort would be, he asked our airport van driver, Armando, if there was a taco stand en route to the resort. Armando knew exactly where to go and we started off our trip with a few tacos made from poblano chiles rellenos. They were great! Yes, the people in the picture are laughing at Keith. (FYI - he gets that reaction a lot when taking pictures of food.)
We stayed at the Dreams Rivera Maya resort in Puerto Morelos, which is about a 20 minute ride south of Cancun Airport. We were officially on vacation after a round of fruity drinks. They taste even better when they are included!
The swim up bar was a very popular hangout during our stay.
The resort is located two miles from the small fishing village of Puerto Morelos. One of the daily activities at the resort was a bicycle tour of Puerto Morelos, and Keith thought it would be a good opportunity to find some local food. It actually worked out better than expected because not only did he find a couple of small restaurants, but he convinced a few of the others on the tour to join him for a mid morning snack. They found a great place and repeated the journey 3 days in a row.
The one activity we had planned in advance was a snorkeling trip with the whale sharks. It had been a few months since Elliot's went snorkeling, so we wanted to make sure he was comfortable with his gear. We warmed up just off of the beach and then signed up for a boat snorkel trip. The reef was about one mile away and it was teaming with fish.
We made it back just in time to get our share of the giant paella before they ran out. Overall the food at the resort was very good, and we had an opportunitiy to try most of the restaurants.The hotel has an all day kids program called the Explorers Club. At first Elliot was a little intimidated, so he only went for a few hours, but by the last day he spent the entire day there and didn't want to leave. Activities for the kids include swimming, sports, video games a 20ft Mayan Pyramid climb. It was the perfect opportunity for us to have some tequila relaxation time. Without a doubt, the highlight of our trip was snorkeling with the whale sharks. Each year in the late summer whale sharks are attracted to a particular area in the open ocean north of Cancun. We arranged our trip with Jason, the owner of Fantasea Dive in Playa Del Carmen, and arranged for 6:30am pick up time. Jason picked us up in his Toyota Foreunner with California tags, and we headed past the Cancun traffic and the Miami like atmosphere to Punta Sam to meet our boat.
The boat ride was rough (luckily we took some Dramamine) and it took over an hour to make the 20 mile journey. We also encountered a heavy wind/rain storm along the way which made the seas even rougher. Finally we arrived at the site and saw dozens of whale sharks swimming around. We knew it was going to be a great day.

The whale shark is the largest fish in the ocean and an average size is 25 feet and about 4 feet wide. To put it in perspective, that is about half the length of a NYC bus. When it swims by, it actually feels like it is a bus because it is enormous. We took dozens of pictures but nothing really conveys how big these fish really are.
Their diet consists of plankton and any other minute critters that get sucked into its giant mouth. Fortunately snorkelers are not on the menu.
The actual whale shark operator was Eco Travel Mexico and they were great. Only two people are allowed in the water at a time and they must be directly supervised by a guide. Our boat had nine passengers, two guides and a captain who took great care of us. Alejandra literally took Elliot under her arm to bring him right up to the sharks.
There were so many sharks in the water that day that we didn't have to swim much at all. All you had to do was wait a few moments and another shark would come swimming by.

The last part of the tour is a 30 minute stop on the shores of Isla Mujeres for a snack and swim break. While everyone went for a dip in the calm, crystal clear water, the captain made a huge batch of shrimp ceviche.
Sometimes you get a little crazy and you feel like you can take on the world. That usually happens when you are sugared up on frozen drinks.
As the sun set on our final day, we had to admit that we had a really fun time and proved our philosophy to be correct. If you try something new, you may just like it.


Corinne, Keith & Elliot


Anonymous said...

Great to read, especially since we're going with our almost-3-year-old in a month. Whom did you arrange the snorkel trip through, the hotel or a company?

Keith, Corinne and Elliot said...

If you walk on to the beach and turn left there will be a boat and a tent. We went snorkeling with them and found the cost to be half of what the hotel wanted. They also had many more departure times. I think for the three of us it was about $60 USD

Kristy Hall said...

I'm a little late to the party on this one but just wanted to say that I love the spirit of this post. Trying new things (regardless of what they are!) is the foundation of great family travel. Congrats!