We booked the Lamanai Mayan ruins tour with Island Marketing. We booked it on the Belize Shore Excursions website. At first I was a little worried about booking this tour, but when I found out other people from our Cruise Critic group were doing the same tour, I decided to go for it. It is a looooong tour, at least 6 hours. It takes 2 hours to get to the ruins and 2 hours to get back, plus you have to factor in the tender process! It was somewhat risky to book a tour like this outside the cruise line, but these companies make a living off getting you back to your ship on time and guarantee it. We had a lengthy stay in port, so I felt we would make it back with a little time to spare.
After everyone checked in, we loaded into a bus and took an hour long ride to a boat dock on the river. It then started raining! It was cold hard rain, too. We piled into 2 speed boats and started our hour long ride down the river. Thankfully, we sped out of the rain within 5 minutes and it stayed clear the rest of the day. This was the only 'bad' weather we had all week! Pretty good for the tropics in hurricane season!! Along the way they slowed down and pointed some things out.
After the boat ride we had a DELICIOUS meal with a bottle of sugar cane sweetened Fanta. I got pineapple flavor. It was a little too sweet for me, but tasted good! It was like drinking a Popsicle. The lunch was a well seasoned and slow cooked chicken, beans and rice, sweet plantains, a potato salad type dish, and a spicy salsa. After lunch we started the tour of the ruins. The bugs are crazy bad here. The ruins site isn't fully excavated, so it is surrounded by jungle. We sprayed ourselves up and down with OFF Deep Woods (25% deet) before we started the tour and it worked well. I got a few bites, but they did not itch at all. The tour was good but it was a little rushed. Due to our time limits, it was understandable. We did get to climb one ruin, the tallest temple on the grounds. Our guide, Eeeze, was great and told us all about the Mayan culture in this area and the plants in the area that they used for various things.
The ruins themselves were really cool! Most of the jungle is still intact and that adds an Indiana Jones kind of feel to the experience. I highly recommend this tour, but the 4 hours of transportation time is a PAIN!!! At least this tour breaks it up by doing half bus, half boat. As stated, they got us back to the pier in time, and I mean IN TIME. We ended up being on the second to the last tender boat and we stepped back on our ship a little after our 'sail away' time of 6PM. But, we made it back, that's what counts the most!
I did some research before we left and got in contact with Undertoe Mexico and arranged to meet them in the morning and rent 2 Stand Up Paddle boards. We took a taxi to the beach for $2 each. We had never done this before so we opted to get a quick lesson. It was a lot easier than I thought, to get started. Helps that the water is incredibly calm at the shores of Mahahual. We had a lot of fun and after an hour we were ready to turn the boards in and go eat!
We walked down the beach and found the place with the best prices of good beer and ordered some guacamole to go with it. Delicious! A fantastic day for 2 in paradise for $100.
We booked the Cozumel Bar Hop, before we left home. This is a tour of the island of Cozumel that also stops at 4 beach bars on the uninhabited, beautiful, quiet side of the island. Each stop included a small welcome drink that they are known for locally. The only bad planning on my part is that this tour departs from the Punta Langosta pier, over 2 miles from Puerta Maya, where we were docked. A 5 minute or less cab ride is $8! We decided to save the cash for drinks and walk it. It wasn't bad.
We met up with Tom, whom I had corresponded with online, and our guide Colleen @ Starbucks. Tom and Coleen were incredibly welcoming and nice people. The ride from town over to the 'other side' was quick and included a short history lesson of Cozumel that was interesting and informative. You also get a free shirt! I almost forgot about that. Built in souvenir in the $57 pp price. The 4 stops are all fantastic in their own unique way. Great food and drinks at all the stops. Warning: Stop 3 has a crazy size drink that will do you in! I will recommend this to friends as well as clients in the future. I may even do the hop again myself, in the future.
We used shore trips to book the zip and dip tour with South Shore Zipline. The South Shore people were easy to find when we exited the port area. There is a small hill we had to climb up and over @ Mahogany Bay port. The good news is they drive you back over the hill when they drop you off. The ride over to the zip line was nothing compared to the day before... maybe 30 minutes? The people were all safe, friendly, and professional. Their gear looked to be in good shape. There were lockers to rent for $1 each which is incredibly reasonable.
This zip line was fun and safe. The guides do all the hook ups for you and even take your photo on one of the longer lines. It was nice and speedy to not have to worry "am I hooking myself up right?!" The zip line we did at the Brevard Zoo, you had to hook yourself up and use your hand as a brake. At South Shore you also have to hand break, but their gloves are in nice condition and felt safer than we did at the local Zoo! Since we had done this style of zip line before, it was easy for us to get used to braking the proper amount.
After the zip, they drove us over to FOSTER'S @ West Bay. We got lunch right away, the food and drink were good and plentiful. First, we got a free drink upon arrival! $3 value. Then we ordered tacos with beans and rice and they were so so so good! After lunch we asked our driver to lock our bags in the car while we snorkeled. The only downside to this tour was we only had 2 hours at the beach after we got dropped off. In the end we snorkeled about as much as I could physically handle w/o fins, so it worked out. It was the best shore snorkeling we've ever done and it was from a free beach, can't beat that, for sure.