Snorkeling Wonders of the Barrier Reef tour.
It was wonderful! The tender to the small island was about 40 minutes. They handed out snorkeling gear on the boat ride. We had great weather which made it even more enjoyable. The island looks like it was once a sandbar and they built little retaining walls to keep it from washing away. The whole island was only 3 acres. There were mature palm trees and huts with picnic tables underneath so there was plenty of shade. They split the group into beginning, intermediate and advanced. The snorkeling portion was about 45 minutes. Just as the snorkeling was ending, the wind shifted and made it quite a bit wavier so I was glad to get my kids (7 & 8) out of the water and back to shore. We then had about an hour and a half to lay on the beach and play in the surf. There was a food hut with hot dogs, burgers, chips, soda & beer. Several bathrooms on the pier, were clean and well tended. They even offered clear bottomed kayaks to those people who did not want to snorkel. The staff that worked this excursion was exceptional. I would highly recommended this tour. Bring water shoes, the sand was pretty coarse due to chunks of broken coral and conch.
I loved this excursion! It was so well done: air conditioned motor coach, bag lunch, knowledgeable guide, great archeological site, plenty of time to explore and take pictures. Our guide Lisbeth was fantastic! She kept us laughing during the hour long bus ride to the ruins. All the while teaching us about Mayan history and culture. The ruins were really well cared for and the grounds surrounding them were well manicured.
My kids liked the tour, it kept their attention. We even got to experience some of the natural wildlife. They saw leaf-cutter ants cutting a path through the grass and spider monkeys swinging from the trees above our heads. It was amazing!
We docked at the Puerta Maya dock which is further from the downtown area where I had previously docked on past cruises. The duty free shops had some GREAT deals! The best we saw the whole vacation. They had a nice, covered area to get a taxi and the line moved quickly. We asked a driver to take us on a tour of the island and to the grocery store. He took us to the Mega Mart (like as super walmart) , which was very clean and had all the aisle signs in English & Spanish. We made a few stops at some good places for photos. He was very knowledgeable about a monument we went to and its history. Then he took us to an organic tequila factory. Cute little place with different huts to teach about different Mexican food making and traditions. The cost for the factory was free and there were samples at the end. The driver/tour was $15 per person and lasted about 3 hours.
We booked the beach cabana and private beach for the day. When we booked, we were so focused on the cabana that we did not notice the "private beach" part. We assumed it would be like Half Moon Key, where the other people in our group could just pull their chair in front of our cabana. Not so much! There was a security guard on the beach who kept telling passers by (who were walking from the public beach to the snorkeling pier) that they had to stay in the water to pass by. They could not step foot on the "Private Beach" The cabana members got wrist bands so the workers would know who was supposed to be there and who was not. It was a big let down since we had 5 adults and 4 children and there were only 4 wrist bands available.
As far as the cabana and the amenities of the site, it was very nice. An air conditioned room and padded deck chairs, a hammock and beach floaters. There was a menu that you could purchase food from. It was good and came very quickly, but still a disappointment from our cabana experience at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. That cabana came with a fruit platter, veggie tray, chips, salsa, gauc and a cooler full of soda and water.
For a price of $225 (for only 4 people), this excursion was disappointing.