Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morales | Snorkeling & Sambutes
So the big draw in Puerto Morales are the beaches and the amazing reef that is just offshore for beginner level snorkeling. It is much cooler than I imagined. You are inches from the coral and tropical fish and although you aren't allowed to touch them, there is no rule about them touching YOU. The reef is shallow at most parts, and once in awhile in it fairly deep, but you are still able to see perfectly clearly all the way to the bottom. When you arrive in Puerto Morales, simply find THIS DOCK.
There will be fishermen around that you can hire to take a boat out to the reef. Make sure you arrive a good 2 hours before sunset. You can't see anything after dark and it is probably not the best idea to be in the middle of the ocean in the dark anyhow, right? We came in just in time, but we would have missed out had we waited any longer. The reef is within sight, but probably too far to swim yourself. The fisherman will be your guide and literally swim with you and guide you through the water.
At first our guide kept checking on us to make sure we were ok, then after 4 or 5 checks with us fine, he kind of went super fast. ...like I had to work as hard as I could to make sure my little snorkly thingy didn't fill up with water. I think he would have slowed down had we asked, but it was just Alex and I out there with this guy and the workout felt kind of good after the gluttony we had engaged in back in Cancun. Anyway, we spent 45 minutes snorkeling at one reef, took a couple minute boat ride to another area and snorkeled for another 45. The most amazing thing was this GIANT ray (like the teacher on nemo....INSANE) I started yelling when I saw it (and of course my mouth filled with saltwater) because I thought it might eat us, but our guide looked at us like I was crazy and we moved on ;) Apparently they don't bite, or we didn't look tasty that evening.
So anyway...FIND THIS DOCK - hire a guide (it is about 300 pesos a person) and go snorkeling. If you don't go in Puerto Morales, please find snorkeling or scuba diving somewhere. It is worth the money to check it out.
After Puerto Morales, you might want to check out Playa del Carmen. This is another touristy town, but you can find "real" Mexico if you look hard enough. If you are there, ask where the Hertz rental place is. You don't want to rent a car, but you do want to check out a souvenir shop located right next to it. The place is called Casa Ines and has truly Mexican hand crafted, beautiful items. (Many of the souvenirs being sold at all the other place around the Yucatan tourist areas are actually made in China...weird I know...). The goods at Casa Ines are quite expensive, but they were all completely original and interesting items. If you are rich, you could drop a lot of money here.
After you check out the souvenirs, there is a little hole in the wall salon across the street. They have excellent massages and haircuts for a fraction of the tourist price at the hotels down the street. Sadly, I don't remember the name, but it is run by a mama and a bunch of her girls and it is wonderful. I spent a good 2-3 hours there one afternoon :)
We found one of our absolute favorite authentic Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Sadly, it was towards the beginning of our adventures and we didn't realize that finding an excellent taco would be a harder feat elsewhere in Mexico, so I didn't get the name of this place. I thought these little stand/stores/restaurants would be a dime a dozen, but they weren't. The best I can tell you is that it is a few blocks from the Hertz place on a busy street. Simply pull the few stools up and order. Watch the tacos and such made right in front of you and enjoy with an ice cold coke. This is the only photo I got of the place...sorry it ain't more helpful :(
...the real draw of all these little coastal towns though is truly the beaches...they are just stunningly beautiful all up and down the coast, and there is no getting enough of them...especially at sunset...