New ideas for Grand Cayman and Cozumel for veteran cruisers
I'm leaving on New Year's Eve for Grand Cayman and Cozumel on the Carnival Paradise. I've already been to these ports of call and I'm interested in new ideas. My husband and I typically do not participate in the ship excursions as we prefer to experience authentic travel as opposed to typical tourist activities. We LOVE snorkeling and we wll be with our parents who scuba (I have a ruptured ear drum). We also enjoy finding quiet, off the beaten path places to visit and beaches. I could enjoy horseback riding. Anything that is truly unique is what we will want to do. We are also adventure seekers - love an excellent hike to a waterfall, we've been swimming with Whale Sharks and Dolphins - so I don't really need to do that again.
When I was there last, we did Sting Ray City and it was amazing. Is it better to snorkel in Cozumel? Should I just make Grand Cayman a relaxing beach day? Is there something else truly unique to do?
We rented a jeep and we drive to Playa Palancar and hired the boat to take us snorkeling. One of the greatest experiences of my life. Could consider going back to Palancar; but is there another beach that I could drive to that is similar to Palancar (not a big beer fest or party scene - just laid back and quiet restaurant on the beach) in which we could hire a boat for snorkeling? Is there something elese we can do in Cozumel?
There really isn't anything unique at Grand Cayman other than the stingrays.
Lots of good snorkeling at Cozumel of course, and lots of beaches. A relaxed environment can be had at the Club Cozumel Caribe. This is north of the town. Great food. It was nice and peaceful when we were there. I think it is still offering day passes. I know they were rebuilding the hotel after it was smashed by a hurricane. When you approach the place it looks like a war zone, but when you reach the beach/bar area it is spotlessly clean.
As much as I don't want to put it out there, we found a great spot in Cozumel called Nachi Cocum. Pretty beach, huge pool and hot tub, swim up bar, chairs and umbrellas, hammocks, four course lunch and the best part...they only take 100 people at a time. The price is $49 pp...everything is included even cocktails....u just have to take a taxi to get there. You book online ahead of time and pay a deposit and pay the rest when you are there. Very nice people too.
We've had posts mention Nachi Cocum before, so no worries! As long as you are among the lucky 100 you are safe.
Another option to consider is Passion Island, which you can go to on either a catamaran or a wild ride aboard a twister jet boat. We went there a few years ago and we had the entire place and just ~60 guests. It was very nice. It is all-inclusive at the time, but now has a cash bar.
Grand Cayman has numerous great snorkeling locations. I know it sounds weird, but head to Cemetery Beach for some very low key snorkeling, where only locals go. You have to walk through an above ground cemetery to get their and it's directly on the beach. have fun.
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I thought I would follow up for those seeking similar information in the future. We had a FANTASTIC time! As soon as we got off the ship, we went to one of the many car rental places to get a car. It was PACKED with people and we got one of the only cars left. There were many vans available for larger parties, but we only needed a car for 4. At any rate, the lines were very long and the stress was high as people went from place to place to get a better price. Ultimately, we got it for I think a little over $100. Well worth it for 4 people. We drove south and went to Playa Palancar. This is a wonderfully quaint place, NOT packed with people, although there were enough to make it festive. It had a restaurant with outdoor tables right on the beach and in front of your table were lounge chairs on the water. They had excellent food. There were even some shops and a little dive shop that would take you out to the reef to snorkel for $30 although, there were people snorkeling right off of the beach. It was a perfect, relaxing day, drinknig coronas, eating good food, soaking up the sun without the hoards of cruise passengers. We then took a drive around the entire island to see just how beautiful it is. I would go back to Cozumel again and again. This was our second time at Palancar and we will return next time as well.
Grand Cayman - again, we rented a car and drove all the way out to Rum point. We had a VERY difficult time renting a car. We walked quite a distance to the left off of the ship and there were supposed to be two car rental places there. The first we went to, wanted to charge us $250 for the day and we said no thank you, the second we went to said no to us after they asked us if we were Cruise passengers. I then looked in the guidebook for rental cars and we found an Avis rental car company inside the Marriott hotel. We walked right in and rented a car from the desk and they were so nice! The price was only $130 compared to the other company. We drove out to Rum Point and I'm so glad we did! It was a bit harrowing as they drive on the left side of the road there, and the signage is not so great, so we got turned around a few times. But that is all part of the adventure! Rum Point is a little village of restaurants and shops on the beach. There was a significant amount of people there, but not overwhelming, some were from cruise ships, but most were locals. You are supposed to eat at the restaurant and pay to sit in the chairs, but we walked a little to the right of the pier and found a nice sandy spot between the rocks and under the trees....completely secluded! There was also snorkeling right from the beach here, but it was not very good. I did see a barracuda underneath the pier.