Cancun, Mexico March, 2006
I just returned from a long weekend in Cancun with a couple of certified divers and three students who were doing their open water checkout dives. We had a great time and enjoyed welcome respite from the cold.
We flew out of O’Hare airport and made one stop in Houston, then arrived in Cancun. The seven of us took the Green line taxi to the resort. It cost $63.00, versus the $85.00 it would cost to take a private taxi. We had to make a couple of stops on the way to the hotel, but it wasn’t bad. We stayed at Dos Playas, just outside of downtown Cancun, and north of the hotel zone. It was inexpensive and because of its location, I was hoping that we would not be subjected to drunken teens and rap music. Unfortunately, we were not spared. It was not as bad, however, as a previous experience at the Flamingo in town. Some of the rooms were still in the process of being repaired post hurricane and this fact did not stop the hotel staff from trying to lodge us in these rooms. We rejected two rooms before finally finding one with the requisite number of beds and a full compliment of floor tiles. In the end, our room was comfortable and clean and that is all I require from a short diving trip. We did not opt for the all inclusive deal because we wanted to enjoy some of Cancun’s local restaurants and authentic cuisine. We did, however, have breakfast at the resort each morning. Saturday and Sunday the price of the breakfast buffet was $9.50 and then on Monday it inexplicably increased to $12.00.
At 8:45 am on Saturday, Gonneke, the manager of Nautilus Divers, picked us (and our gear) up and took us to their new location in the Club Marina Cancun, across the street from the giant Mexican flag and Casa Maya. They had just moved in two days previous and things were understandably in a bit of disarray, but the boat, tanks and crew were ready for us when we got there. They were nice enough to accommodate us by taking us to dive sites that were shallow for my student’s first two checkout dives. Usually, they do deep dives in the morning and the shallow new diver dive in the afternoon, but since we had only two days, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance and risk missing dive because of bad weather. We went to “Machones” first. This reef is a little farther out than we usually go on the first dive for students, but the hurricane damaged some of the closer sites. The visibility was about 60ft. and there was no current. After the students completed their exercises, we explored small coral formations and saw the usual grunts, queen angels, snappers, lobsters and drums. The next site we visited was at the other end of machones. Again, the students completed their skills and enjoyed a very relaxing float around the small coral formations. We found a green moray, and a brown eel, played with tube worms, and check the nooks and crannies for lobster, file clams and other little critters. After the dives, we rinsed our gear at the dive shop and were able to leave it all there to dry. (cuts down on the “funk” in our room!)
The next day, we went to a couple of deeper sites, Ariste and Punta Negro. The three certified divers went with their own divemaster so they were not held back by the students. There was a little current and we had to employ the down line to keep the students with us in the beginning. After the exercises, we drifted slowly along the corals, the students practicing their hovering and neutral buoyancy. We noticed a huge boat a little off shore and ask what they were doing. We were old they were rebuilding the beaches. The boat was equipped with a vacuum and it sucked sand from off shore and then redeposited it on the site of the former beach. (cool!)
We had a great time partaking of the night life in Cancun. The first night we dined at La Parilla, a Mexican grill restaurant. I like this place especially for the authentic mariachi band that plays there. The next night we hit Pericos, another place with more traditional music and food and a “day of the dead” décor. This is a fun place where the waiters, bartenders and other staff do tricks, play jokes on customers and most amazing, can carry large trays of drinks or bottles of beer on their heads. We saw one waiter balance about 30 margarita glasses on his head! They also have a live band which plays Mexican music. Meals and drinks at both of these restaurants cost about $30 per person. The last night we tried La Farola, an Argentinean grill. The atmosphere was more sedate than Pericos, and my husband, a dedicated carnivore, reported that the ribeye he had was about the best he’s ever eaten. It was fairly inexpensive, too at about $22.50 per person.
Our long weekend in Cancun was too short for me, but I’m glad we got away for some warmth and sun, a few dives. We also now have three new certified divers! Congratulations the Pete and Jacob Klein and Amber Neimi!