PDA

View Full Version : "Coz on a budget" Trip Report - Feb. 2009



rainmaker
03-02-2009, 21:14
I arrived in Cancun, Mexico via a direct US Airways flight on February 10. My plane was on-time, and none of my baggage was lost, damaged or destroyed. I cleared Customs & Immigration at the airport with no problems (as usual for Cancun), and then purchased my bus ticket on Ado Bus Lines to Playa del Carmen for $9. After the 1 hour bus ride to Playa, I purchased a $14 ticket for the ferry ride to Cozumel.

After the ferry arrived in Cozumel, I walked several blocks with my 2 wheeled suitcases and small backpack from the pier to the Safari Inn (next to McDonald's), as usual underestimating the distance and the effort involved. I checked in at the small, friendly hotel about 6:00 p.m. and began unpacking. It had been a long day of travel that had started at 5:00 a.m. when I began driving from my home in northeast Georgia to the airport in Charlotte. However, everything had gone well, and it was great being back in Cozumel with 2 weeks of diving and warm weather to look forward to.

The next morning, I transported all by dive gear 1.5 miles to the Blue Angel Dive Shop located next door to the Caribe Blu Hotel. However, the new Canadian owners are renaming the entire operation Blue Angel Resort. I completed my paperwork, paid my balance and was assigned a locker that I'd use for the next 2 weeks. Then I went diving, making 4 dives on the little reef that lies just south of the hotel. The water felt a little cooler than I expected. But it was great to be back in the relatively warm Caribbean, and to witness the continuing recovery that the reef is experiencing after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. During the next 2 weeks, I made over 40 dives. Ten were boat dives, and the others were a result of the free, unlimited shore diving I received from Blue Angel with the purchase of the boat diving package.

After rinsing and stowing my gear, I did some food shopping on the walk back to my hotel. I brought a small percolator in my checked baggage and bought coffee, fruit, chips and breakfast bars that I'd use for snacks, breakfasts and lunches in my room. I planned to eat out only once per day (for supper).

Additional information concerning lodging, meals, diving and overall expenses for this trip are shown below.

My 9 minute "Shore Diving In Cozumel" video at YouTube is located here: YouTube - Shore Diving In Cozumel, Mexico (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqWt3ec6Dzo)

The slideshow of my dive photos at Photobucket is located here: Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket (http://s243.photobucket.com/albums/ff214/rainmakerat92/Cozumel%20Feb09/?albumview=slideshow)

My 5 minute "Carnival Parades In Cozumel" video at YouTube is located here: YouTube - 2009 Cozumel Carnival Parades (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqMlw0VfQ1o)

Lodging:

This was my second stay at the Safari Inn. I'd been there for 2 weeks in January 2008 and had been impressed with the friendliness of the staff and the cleanliness of the room. The rooms are large and spacious, and provide basic accommodations. There is no TV or phone (and most likely the only view you'll have is a wall across a side-street), but there is cold air-conditioning, a private bathroom and plenty of hot water. The hotel also provides bottled water for guests and free, in-room broadband service, though if your PC has Windows Vista getting connected can be a challenge. They'll also provide guests with a plastic armchair, but you'll need to ask for it.

As noted above, the hotel is a few blocks south of the ferry pier, next door to McDonald's (or look for the Aqua Safari pier out front). It is on the premises of the Aqua Safari Dive Shop and is run by an American man and his Mexican wife. With all fees and taxes, the room rate (for 1 or 2 people) is just under $45 per night. The website for the hotel is located here:
Accommodations in Cozumel - Safari Inn (http://www.aquasafari.com/safariinn.html)

Diving:

I bought a 10-boat dive package from Blue Angel Dive Shop at the special Internet rate of $300, and the package included free, unlimited shore diving on the reef directly in front of the shop. I was assigned a locker and given the use of a lock (or bring your own), and was also provided weights, all free of charge.

This was the third time I've used Blue Angel, and as usual their service was excellent. They have boats leaving at 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and occasionally at 10:00 a.m. Usually the first dive of the day is made at one of the walls on the southern end of the island and the depth is 75 - 110 feet. The second dive is usually made on one of the shallower reefs (30 to 70 feet). The length of the first dive is 35 - 45 minutes, and the second dive is 50 - 60 minutes. It is not necessary that all divers end their dive at the same time. Fruit, bread snacks and bottled water are served on the boat, but towels are not provided. Their website is located here: http://www.blueangel-scuba.com/

Meals:

This trip was done on a budget, and one of the best ways I've found to save money on dive trips is to get out of the "tourist mindset" concerning food, and eat like a local.

I brought a small percolator in my checked bag and made fresh-brewed coffee each morning (and night) in my room. I thought about this each time I saw folks paying $1.25 at McDonald's or $3.50 or more at Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

I also went to the supermarket each day and bought fruit (usually apples and bananas), breakfast bars and chips. I used these items for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. In addition, both the Chedruai and Mega Stores have excellent bakeries, and I'd usually purchase a pastry to have with my coffee each evening.

I dined out only once per day, having supper each night at the little cafe at the back of the Chedruai store. On most days I'd have some combination of pasta, potatoes, gravy, vegetables, rice and beans. Before ordering at the cafe, I'd go over to the bakery and select a dinner roll and have my selection bagged and priced. Then, I'd select my evening meal and beverage, and pay for everything at the cafe. The price for supper each night varied from about $2 to $3.50 (one night I really got carried away with the pasta). The trick is to exchange dollars for pesos where the exchange rate is good (like Chedruai), then pay for the meal with pesos. At the cafe, no tipping is expected, but you are expected to bus your own table (like an American fast-food place).

I estimate I spent $5 - $6 per day for food on this trip. Since I have to eat at home (and my food costs are probably higher there), I'm not even listing food as an expense on this trip.

Overall Expenses:

My round-trip ticket from Charlotte, NC was $479. My diving cost $300, and this included 10 boat dives and about 30 shore dives. The hotel cost a total of $627 for 14 nights of lodging. In addition, the bus and ferry rides amounted to about $40, and it cost $60 to leave my car at the Charlotte airport for 15 days. Except when transporting dive gear, I didn't use any taxis at all, prefering to walk everywhere I went.

The total cost of the trip, which provided me with diving everyday for 14 days, was about $1,530. It was a lot of bang for the diving-buck, and includes $10 for a spiffy "Blue Angel Dive Resort" t-shirt that I just couldn't pass up.

hooligan
03-02-2009, 22:08
Good write up. $1500 is pretty impressive for a two week trip with 40 dives.

mrm777
03-03-2009, 00:27
Good tip on the small percolator....I usually take a small electric coil heater for tea, coffee and cocoa since they pack well.

TRACI
03-03-2009, 07:29
Very good trip report.

DevilDiver
03-03-2009, 07:40
Great report!!
Thanks for taking the time and the effort to put together...

3rdEye
03-03-2009, 08:27
that is awesome for 2 weeks...hell that would be awesome for one week...

calwolf
03-03-2009, 08:52
Thanks for the report... diving on the cheap (if $1500 can be called that) is definitely the way to go for us impoverished student-type folks, so it's nice to hear your suggestions for Coz.

mwhities
03-03-2009, 09:54
Great post! I'm going to see about my best (friend) dive buddy might want to do something like that. I'd love to see Cancun and sounds a LOT cheaper for flights than going straight to Cozumel.

If 1500-+ for two weeks, we should be able to pul it off for a week at 800 to 100 each for us.

Thanks again for an awesome report.

Michael

1Kwik_69
03-23-2009, 04:20
Great report! Every time I go I start thinking about making a cheap as I can make it trip but I end up living like a tourist and renting cars and going to all the great restaurants and before you know it, it's not a cheap trip anymore. Lol

heydn62
03-23-2009, 05:27
Thanks for the report. I've only been diving in Cozumel on cruise stops and would love to go and stay there for a bit. This report would be very helpful in making a plan.

1Kwik_69
03-23-2009, 19:55
Thanks for the report. I've only been diving in Cozumel on cruise stops and would love to go and stay there for a bit. This report would be very helpful in making a plan.

You definitely need to do a full Cozumel vacation. It has way too much to offer for just a one day stop! :smiley20:

heydn62
03-24-2009, 10:29
Thanks for the report. I've only been diving in Cozumel on cruise stops and would love to go and stay there for a bit. This report would be very helpful in making a plan.

You definitely need to do a full Cozumel vacation. It has way too much to offer for just a one day stop! :smiley20:

I'll back there in 2 weeks - 7 hr cruiseship stop again. I cruise with my kids because they love it, but I really need a week long, one locale vacation sometime soon and Cozumel is at the top of my list.

cutter77
04-25-2009, 14:09
Excellent report on how to do Coz on limited funds.....should be a sticky in the Coz forum!

Sansho
04-25-2009, 16:38
Great report!

kat
04-25-2009, 23:12
Informative report!

lucidblue
05-22-2009, 08:55
I have an email in to Blue Angel Resort to see if they have rooms at the end of June. I booked my flight a couple of days ago because the rates were so good. Trying to decide on hotel somewhat based on rates, but I would give Blue Angel preference... definitely our type of hotel.

drako
05-22-2009, 13:14
Informative! Thank you, I may be going to Coz soon and this is eye opening

BubblesMcCoy
05-22-2009, 13:28
Great report, really enjoyed your photos.

andyrent
05-23-2009, 19:32
I Agree, good report and nice photos.