After a belly flop filled day aboard the Empress of the Seas, drinking pina colada’s and relaxing in the shade, we arrived in Cozumel before sailing onto Belize. If you’d like to check out our first day of the Yucatan Escape, you can read about it at the bottom of this post.
While everyone else in our party set off to a not so private beach to drink, eat, and play in the water, Anthony and I had planned a day of driving around the island in a dune buggy, eating lunch with some Mayans and snorkeling off the coast of the beach…. however, it didn’t go quite like I thought.
The Cozumel Pre-Game
We booked this private tour through Viator. Anthony and I followed the instructions and walked to the meeting point. When we arrived, we checked with the receptionist to confirm it was the right location. She said yes and that they usually arrive at 10am (we were there at 9:30). We waited around until 10am, no one showed up… continued waiting until 10:15, no one showed up… I said let’s give them until 10:30… and still, no one showed. Finally, Anthony asked if he could use the receptionist’s phone to call the number on our confirmation sheet. She called for us (we don’t speak Spanish, so I’m assuming she thought it would be easier if she called), and the guys said they were on their way.
Another 20 minutes go by and someone finally showed up. He then informs us that they were actually closed for the day and not doing tours. After some debate, the show that I thought was cancelled was back on the road (with a 50% discount to boot). The only other hiccup in our plan was that even though the reviews said if you didn’t know how to drive a stick shift they’d teach you, he didn’t let us drive and probably would have cancelled if Anthony didn’t say that he didn’t mind the guy driving since it was just the three of us. I was disappointed, but determined to not let it ruin the day.
The Cozumel Dune Buggy Tour
The tour ended up being great. The dune buggy was awesome (and windy as hell), and we drove all the way around the island. After about 30 minutes or so of driving, we stopped at this place called El Pescador, which had food, drinks, and, of course, a beach. The view and the water were gorgeous. It was very relaxing to hang out for a while with a delicious margarita, some guacamole and take in the scenery.
After our chill session we hit the road again, taking in the beautiful coast that we drove down (up? around?…. I don’t really know where we were at that point) until we reached a Mayan village. It was adorable! The houses were so colorful and quaint. We learned about some of the Mayan heritage while a local woman made us some tortillas with a bean and tomato topping (yum!). It was definitely a place where they bring tourists, as there were some stands with people trying to sell you things. But I’m ok with it so long as it helps out their local economy.
After walking around the village a bit, we headed back to our starting point, making a full circle, where we could go snorkeling. Like I said in the beginning, I was expecting us go to snorkeling off of the beach, but we went in the same water way where our cruise ship was docked. I found that odd and a little disappointing. But there was still beautiful marine life hanging out down there. We saw lobsters, sting rays, scorpion fish, and a giant star fish! After snorkeling they took us back to the meeting point, which was a hotel, and we enjoyed some tacos for lunch.
Overall, we did have a great day, even if it started out with a few bumps and was a bit different than how I envisioned it. But that’s all part of the travel experience, right?!
The next morning, we woke up in Belize. We had originally scheduled a snorkeling excursion with Royal Caribbean for Belize, however, since we went snorkeling already the day before, I opted to try something different. So I changed our excursion to one that our friends were doing. It was a Lamanai Jungle River Cruise.
It definitely was not what I was thinking (I had more of a safari in my head), yet again. But it was awesome. We went about an hour out of the city to a restaurant, which would later serve us an amazing lunch of chicken, rice and beans, veggies and desert (omg!) named Lamanai Landing. From the restaurant we got on a speed boat. I have never been on a speed boat before so the first time they took that curve around the river bend, I about peed myself. I thought the boat was going to flip for sure. But the captain steered the shit out of that thing and it was really fun once you got used to it. We even got to see a baby crocodile and a bald eagle!
The river took us to a place called Lamanai, which means “submerged crocodile.” Lamanai is home to a number of Mayan temples. You can read about it here if you’re interested.
There were monkeys sleeping up in the trees on our hike towards the temples. The temples were breathtaking (literally when you walk up them and are out of shape). The Mask Temple in particular looked like something from Legends of the Hidden Temple (shout out to the 90’s babies).
Anthony climbed to the tippy top of the High Temple and said the view was to die for. I, unfortunately, chickened out. In my defense, I have bad knees and one part didn’t have anything to hang onto as you’re climbing the steps. Anthony even had to crawl down the last couple of steep steps that take you to the very top.
We then took the speedy journey back to the restaurant to eat. We returned in time to make the last ferry out to our tendered cruise ship. I think we were all tired and ready for our dinner and a fruity cocktail. I know I was.
Again, it was not the excursion that I was anticipating, but I’m thankful for the experience. Belize is gorgeous. I’d love to go back and venture through the waterfalls, caves and “The Great Blue Hole” that our guides talked about. As they so cleverly said, “you have to see it to Belize it!”
So tell me, have you been to Cozumel or Belize? What and where did you explore? Did you have any experiences there that were different than what you were envisioning? Let me know in the comments!
Stayed tuned for Part Three, where I talk about how we got to explore Costa Maya.
And feel free to follow my adventures on instagram.