We started our last full day on the island (already?!) with a short walk to the ferry area for a cup of coffee with great views at Bally Hoo ...
We then rented another scooter for the day (about $20 .. what a deal!) and headed to the South shore for snorkeling. When exploring the day before we had taken the first photo in this post from the side of the Southshore road. This is Garrafon Park, where there is snorkeling, zip lining and a pricey admission! At $89 a person or more for the day, we were going to check out the cheaper place just next to the park ...
The following three photos were taken of Garrafon Park ... isn't it beautiful?!
We arrived next door at the Garrafon de Castilla. When we first pulled up just before 10 am, we weren't sure if we were at the right place. The building was tiny, there wasn't a parking lot, nobody spoke English, and we were the only visitors in sight! It turned out that we were at the right place, but they didn't open till 10. The English speaking guy arrived, told us to park on the grassy hill (not easy on a scooter), took our small admission fee of about $6 each, and provided us with snorkeling masks. We knew we were saving over $160 bucks by not going to Garrafon Park, but was this place legit?!
As we walked down the stairs, these were our views ... this would work! There was a locker and bath area, a restaurant & a covered area with lounge chairs overlooking the water, and a beach with chairs & umbrellas.
The beach was small, but for the price we couldn't complain ... it was beautiful and all we needed!
Other folks arrived ... a couple from Florida & another couple from Texas were among the folks that we spoke with.
After relaxing a bit, I was ready to see some fish! As soon as we walked in the water we saw a lotta fish. The place sells fish food, so they're used to people and they swim right up to you. They were harmless, but it took Ken a minute to get used to them.
After snorkeling a bit, Ken waded in the water & was talking with the two American couples while I continued to snorkel. I immediately saw a stingray, and I watched him glide gracefully through the water for a while. The stingray then started swimming right towards Ken & the other folks. I popped my head out the water and hollered to Ken, "There's a stingray headed towards ya'll"! Sure enough, it swam right by their feet ... and ran the couple from Texas outta the water for the rest of the day.
Just to the right of this area near some rocks, I then spotted about five stingray lying on top of each other on the sandy bottom. I'm not exaggerating when I say that one of the stingray was the size of a small car! I had to get Ken to see this, so I got him over there & he then told the Florida guy. While we kept our distance (remember Steve Irwin), the Florida guy swims right over the group of stingray and tries to pet the biggest one! The stingray took off in a cloud of sand, and while I swam further back I watched it glide through the water and then settle back into the sand. It was an amazing sight!
This "discount" park was well worth the visit and I'd recommend it. Heck, it's over $160 savings per couple for just one day! While snorkeling, I also saw a foot-long squid and several other cool looking fish. While the buildings are kinda run down, this place was very relaxing and beautiful. There were also iguana everywhere!
Around 2:00, we headed back towards the downtown area for a late lunch of tacos n beer. It was good timing, as right after we parked the scooter and grabbed a seat it started raining. As we finished up, the rain stopped!
After a quick ride around the island again, we returned the scooter and got cleaned up while it rained once more. We were really lucky with the timing of the few showers! After getting cleaned up, we watched the sunset on Playa Norte with a couple of beers.
This was already our last night on Isla Mujeres, and we were sad to see our visit to this island coming to an end. We soaked up the sights til the sun set, then we headed to a little bar downtown for a couple of margaritas. I'm not a big margarita fan, but these were really good ... lots of tequila and freshly squeezed juice! At only $4 bucks each, we had a few of these until we got the munchies and headed to a restaurant right across the street from our hotel for a cheap steak dinner .. so good. After a few drinks with dinner, we slept well that night!
The next day would take us on another ferry ride to Cancun ...
Hasta luego ... until then. Mid-Life Cruising!