Our next stop was the port of Costa Maya. Costa Maya is a small tourist region in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is somewhat remote and undeveloped (the nearest hospital is 200 miles away). The port sustained heavy damage in a hurricane in 2007, but has since been rebuilt. When you get off the ship, the pier looks like a modern local mall, but as soon as you get out of pier it changes dramatically. Our excursion in Costa Maya was an all day dune buggy safari and beach experience. We drove the dune buggies through the local “city” and then headed out of town. The signs of poverty were very evident everywhere. I think it is good for our children to realize how fortunate they are to live in the United States. As we were driving out in the boonies you would see “farms” on an acre or two. The land was well tended and taken care of, but the house located on it would literally be a tin shack at times. The land contained fruit trees and gardens which provided much of their food.
We rode to a secluded beach where we were able to lounge the day away. This was one of our other destinations that I could see myself coming back to and spending a week. It was very low key and relaxing. The beach in front of the secluded restaurant/hotel that we were at was pretty well taken care of, but if you walked down the beach a bit, there was quite a lot of garbage and debris.
Lunch was local fruits and vegetables and homemade chips and salsa. They had these little mini bananas that were incredible. I never tasted anything like them. The mangos, watermelon and papayas all came from neighboring farmers. All of the food on our excursions was local and fresh.
Our last stop was Cozumel. The port at Cozumel and the surrounding city was by far the most commercialized that we had seen on our cruise. There was a Starbucks right after we got off the ship. We didn’t do a formal excursion on this island, but instead hired a taxi for the day and had him drive us around the whole island. We stopped at the San Gervasio Mayan ruins. The area is huge and we walked around for over an hour and a half. The ruins themselves aren’t as large and detailed as those we saw in Belize. A lot of the ruins at this site are missing their roofs and portions of their walls.
The highlight of Cozumel was the beaches. Although filled with tourists and beach bars, these beaches are the deep blue that the caribbean is known for. There weren’t really any places to lounge and sit (unless you were at a beach bar). We found a little restaurant with a rock and roll theme and had lunch. It was actually quite expensive. The taxi drivers seem to have their favorite places to take tourists and I am sure that they are compensated for the number of people they bring in. This was one place I could not see bringing the family back to and staying. I am sure there is quite the party scene in the evening and it seemed too much like being here at home.
This cruise was one of our favorite family vacations. Cruises can make you feel rushed at times, but it allows you to see a lot in a short amount of time. It gives you a feel for an area and you get an idea if you would ever want to come back and stay awhile.