Cozumel: Mayans, Lighthouses and Racoons, Oh My! - Pt 4
20 minutes of riding on our fancy set of wheels put Mike and I at the front of Punta Sur EcoBeach Park. We paid the entrance fee and started down the dirt/sand road towards the lighthouse, which was half way through the park. The ride was not the smoothest on a scooter as there was tons of pot holes that we had to avoid and some that we just couldn’t.
After stopping briefly to see our first set of Mayan ruins and to climb a watch tower to get a better look at the area (and a surprisingly large alligator), we made it down to the lighthouse. This was the first one in a while that was actually open to climb, which was exciting, so we climbed to the top and had the most gorgeous view of Cozumel. We walked around the beach a bit, found some more Mayan ruins and had our first haggling lessons with a shop owner selling us a statue (we collect the lighthouses we visit in statue form).
We decide to visit the rest of the park after seeing the lighthouse and drive down the pot-holed lined road to the Playa Chunchacab. We parked our scooter and went for a brief walk along the beach. There were lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas to relax in, a bar and a buffet lunch that comes with your visit to the park. As we walked along the beach, we saw a coupe raccoons. One was brave enough to get close to this family that had just set a plate of nachos down on their small lounge table. When they weren’t looking, the raccoon got on two legs and started pulling the plate of chips to him to run away with. The woman yelled and reached for the plate back, but not before half of the chips ended up on the ground on in the rodent’s possession. He just sat there staring at her, with a chip in its two front paws, almost saying “How rude of you not to want to share!” It was like it came out of a cartoon and quite hilarious.
Once we had our fun at Punta Sur, we drove out of the park and headed north on the opposite side of the island towards the Mayan Ruins. This side is not nearly as tourist filled and had a few local food and drink places that, if we had more time (and some stomach medicine) we would have liked to try. It was about a 25 minute ride and was just so relaxing. I am not a huge fan of motorcycles but I can honestly say, I can see the appeal of riding one across country without much traffic around you.
We get to the front of the San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological Site (after turning at the entrance and driving an additional 6 miles…they really like their long driveways in Cozumel), pay our $15 and begin our journey through Mayan history. We had just missed a tour, so we did not get the full experience, but we were able to read the tablets in front of the buildings and get a basic idea of what life was like in this village. Much of their road system is intact and a couple of their temples. Their central plaza had a lot of buildings and the altar. It was really fascinating to see such old structures, some possibly dated as far back as the 1200’s.
Once we got our fill, we left the Mayans and headed back into town. After navigating the maze of roads to find our scooter rental location (the gentleman’s directions were not super clear), we thanked him, paid him the money for the gas and walked back towards the giant mall. We hadn’t eaten yet and still had an hour and a half to get on the ship, so we decided to get some tacos and tequila. Luckily, there was such a place that served such things right in front of us.
Gotta love a sign that gets right to the point.
While yes, this place seems a bit tourist trappy, it was convenient, we knew it was safe and honestly, the food was great!! We got a tequila sampler with lime and a chaser, but honestly, I didn’t even need the chaser outside of a palate cleanse. They were all excellent and quite smooth and I do enjoy a good tasting tequila. For food, we started with a sampler of salsas and great, super thick, tortilla chips followed by a taco sampler of beef and pork tacos.
Our last stop on the way to the ship was a gift shop for an ornament and some Mexican vanilla. I had been told that their vanilla was a must buy, so we got a bottle for us and a couple as Christmas presents. We also bought some chocolate (that I honestly don’t recommend, chalky and super disappointing) and found a fun beaded ornament with Cozumel on it. Once purchased, we headed back to our ship.
My overall impressions of Cozumel: Beautiful island, a few cool places to see, but don’t walk in without some kind of plan. If I had not done the research on where the lighthouse and Mayan ruins were and we walked out into that plaza and saw all the people selling us stuff, we probably would have turned around and got back on the ship. We saved so much money renting the scooter also- the price of the two places we visited and the scooter was the same price as 1 of the taxi rides we almost took. If you are unsure about renting the scooter or wandering around the shops, I would definitely recommend booking an excursion through your ship.