Port and Shore Excursions
This was my first time in Cabo since the late 1970s, and boy have things changed! While Los Arcos is spectacular, quickly spotting a Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco, and Home Depot from the ship quickly erases any notion that we're in a foreign country.
Our excursion was a harbor cruise followed by a bus tour of the area. We tendered to shore and then boarded a large catamaran tour boat and headed back out into the Sea of Cortez. We motored along the peninsula and got great views of the bay, our ship, and Los Arcos, the arch at the end of the Baja peninsula.
Shortly after rounding the corner, we came upon a pod of three California Gray Whales. We followed the whales for about a mile, and they greeted us with spouts and by displaying their flukes as they dove. After encountering the whales, we slowly returned to the dock in the harbor in Cabo. Be sure to watch for the sea lions that attempt to swim up the backs of boats returning to the harbor, hoping for a free snack from those aboard!
We left the tour boat and boarded tour buses for a drive through town and then out to the "Mona Lisa Sunset Bar & Grill" for refreshments and photos of Los Arcos, the bay, our ship, and Cabo from a spectacular vantage point. After approximately 30 minutes, we re-boarded the buses for the trip back to the harbor, where we boarded a tender and returned to the 'Disney Wonder'.
Excursion began with a bus ride through the old city to the "Las Americas" hotel and resort complex adjacent to the airport. Behind the loading dock for the hotel's convention and banquet facility is a giant mangrove swamp. From here, we left the buses and boarded dugout canoes, each seating four or five passengers. The "boatman" uses a pole to push the canoe through channels between the mangrove trees that are barely wider than the canoe itself. The environment is spectacularly weird and enchanting.
At one point, returning canoes encountered our out-bound canoes, and it took a little while to squeeze the boats past each other.
Upon returning to the put-in location, we were provided ice cold coconuts where the top had just been cut off, allowing us to drink the slightly sweet water inside.
It was at this point that my family asked to use a restroom. One of the tour operators and a Columbian National Police officer escorted us to the conference center's facilities. Upon returning to the parking lot, we discovered our bus had left without us. There were a few anxious minutes while our escorts called the bus to find out where they'd gone. It turns out they'd simply pulled around to the entrance to the conference facility so everyone else could use the restroom, but for five minutes, we were stranded in a foreign country! I'm glad I insisted that we never leave the ship without our passports, as they would have come in handy had we indeed needed to find our own way back to the ship.
Got up early to leave the boat at 7:30 AM for our exploration of the Chacchoben Mayan ruins on December 21, 2012 - the supposed last day of the Mayan calendar!
We walked down the long pier at Costa Maya, through the cruise ship tourist strip mall, and boarded our bus for the one hour drive to Chacchoben. 'Lisbeth', our tour guide, provided lots of useful information on the history, culture, geography and climate of the area. We were well-informed before we arrived at the ruins.
Lisbeth's expert descriptions and volumes of information regarding what we were seeing on the tour was invaluable. The ruins are fascinating, and it was extra-special to be climbing the temples on 12-21-12.
After an uneventful bus ride back to Costa Maya, we walked around the tourist strip mall for a few minutes before re-boarding the ship.
Our swim with dolphins with Vallarta Adventures was one of the highlights of our trip! The only negative aspect was the painfully long drive from the ship to Nuevo Vallarta, the location of the dolphin swim. There is a military checkpoint between Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta at the Nayarit/Jalisco state border, and it took us an hour to go what should have taken 15 minutes. Luckily, our time with the dolphins wasn't cut short.
I had my concerns that I'd be displeased with the health of the dolphins, or with the way they were treated by their handlers. I could not have been more impressed with the apparent quality of the facility, and with the level of love shared between the dolphins and their handlers. The dolphins seem truly happy to play with and perform for people!
We had our seven year old son and two 70-something grandmas in our party, and they all had an amazing time! Highly recommended for anyone of any age.