Showing posts with label shore excursions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shore excursions. Show all posts

Friday, November 8, 2013

USS Kittiwake Shore Excursion in Grand Cayman

There are so many great shore excursions in Grand Cayman - it's really difficult to choose which one to do!  There is a great Sting Ray encounter at Sting Ray City.  Or you could go to Hell.  Or a Turtle farm.  There are also some amazing beaches where you could laze in a lounger and wade into the beautiful crystal blue waters of the Caribbean.

My favorite excursions are ones that get me in the water - and especially when I can snorkel.  I love looking at the coral formations and all the gorgeous fish. But when I heard about this snorkel trip where I'd get to see the USS Kittiwake - it just sounded too cool to pass up.

The USS Kittiwake was a US submarine rescue vehicle that was in commission from 1946 - 1994.  In 2008 it was sold to the Cayman Islands.  The government of the Caymans wanted to use it to start an artificial reef near 7 Mile Beach.  It was sunk there in January of 2011 and rests in about 60 feet of water - resting on the sandy bottom.

Our excursion begins with boarding a catamaran right from 7 Mile Beach (in front of the governor's house).  We had a short ride to our snorkel spot.  We could even see our ship!

The day was cloudy and had rained earlier so the water was really choppy.  We had a couple of novice snorkelers onboard who were not able to handle the water.  One thing I do want to point out though is how easy it is to get on and off of a catamaran.  Being a larger person, a straight up and down ladder is really difficult for me to use - but the ladder on a catamaran makes it really easy to get in and out of the water if you have size or mobility issues.

Again, with the water so choppy, the visibility wasn't perfect - but I still got some wonderful shots of the USS Kittiwake.

We spent about 20 minutes here before we all got back on board and we moved a few hundred feet over to a coral reef.  The reef here was really cool in that it had rows of coral next to a sandy patch followed by another row of coral - probably about 20 rows in all.  Made for some fantastic scenery!

So - how about you? Are you a snorkeler?  Is this an excursion that you would try?


Friday, October 4, 2013

Tulum Shore Excursion

There are a lot of options for shore excursions in Cozumel, Mexico - from great beaches, island tours, or even swimming with the dolphins.  But on this cruise, we decided to venture over to mainland Mexico to see the Mayan ruins at Tulum.

We gathered in the theatre along with everyone else doing mainland excursions - with the idea being that it's easiest to walk all of us off the ship first and directly to the waiting ferry.  Do note - if you get seasick, going to mainland Mexico may not be such a good choice!  The waters you go through from the island of Cozumel to the mainland is pretty rough.  I will admit even walking across the "bridge" from the dock into the ferry was a bit challenging - and then once on the ferry until you could advance forward enough to grab the back of a seat - it was dicey.  

Once we found some seats by a window, we got settled and the ferry took off on our 45 minute cruise.  And I was immediately worried.  I don't get seasick - but watching out the window and our up and down and up and down - I just knew someone was going to lose their cookies. And then - when I saw the staff of the ferry wearing what could only be described as holsters - and they were armed with paper towels, Lysol, and "baggies" - well, it was not a good sign.  For people that do have issues - just remember - you have to take the ferry back to Cozumel after your excursion!

The ferry docks in Playa del Carmen - in a very nice square with shops and restaurants - and gorgeous beaches.  From there, the different excursions will split up and head to their respective buses.

After getting settled, we headed off with our guide telling us a bit about what we would see today.  But first we had to make a restroom stop at a place selling Mayan handcrafts.

And after checking out all the offerings, we headed back to the bus - finally we'd get to Tulum!
While getting off the bus, our guide handed us each a set of earbuds so that we could hear him as he talked to us.  It was great because I could still look around and hear the history of what I was seeing.  It was also a little disconcerting because I could hear him - but because I am slow - I often couldn't see him!  

Your first stop is the ticket gates - and if you are on a ship sponsored excursion, you should be able to just walk on past the line.  Do note that if you have a video camera, there is a $4 fee assessed by the government (but I understand that cell phone cameras that take videos are exempt).  Through the gates, you'll have a 3/4 mile walk to the entrance of the ruins.  It's completely flat and paved - so not a difficult walk - or there is an option to pay for a trolley ride.  Our guide discouraged us from using this so that we would stay together.  

After our trek, we were rewarded with this amazing view.

Then you walk through the "God of Winds Temple" to reach the main site spread out before you.  And as you walk around, you'll find lots and lots of iguanas.

The main buildings are the The Castle.

Do note, for quite a while now, you are no longer able to climb any of the pyramid ruins in Mexico.  The only ones you can climb are those at Coba (also a possible excursion from Cozumel) - and that may not be the case for much longer.

The Great Palace.

And the Temple of the Frescoes.

We couldn't see any frescoes - but we could see red hand prints in several spots on the facade.

After getting the group together for a short history lesson, we were given some time to explore on our own - and then we made our way back to the bus and to the ferry back to Cozumel.  It was a wonderful day - and I highly recommend an exploration of Tulum!

Have you been to any Mayan ruins?  Were you able to climb to the top of the pyramids?