Ultramar Ferry – Should I buy my Tickets in Advance?

We get asked often about purchasing Ultramar ferry tickets in advance, opposed to purchasing them at the booth upon arrival to the dock. I have always said that it is fast and easy to buy your tickets at the dock so there is really no need to pre-purchase them online, however, I thought we should test this out and see which method of buying tickets is the best.

Ultramar

Thankfully, the Ultramar ferry has a newly redesigned website that launched April 13th. http://www.granpuerto.com.mx/ I browsed through the site and found the info to be helpful and accurate. Their booking engine is a bit complex. It took me about 7 minutes to complete the transaction of booking my round trip ticket on their website.

I was charged $11.97 USD for 1 round trip ticket from Puerto Juarez to Isla Mujeres. Accepted payment method is credit card (MasterCard, Visa or American Express only). It seems like the website is using a booking program that is not specifically designed for the ferry service. You need to select a ferry time and date, although it then says “You can choose the time that best suits you.” With round trip tickets you can depart from either port.

I instantly received an email saying that my reservation was being processed and that I would be notified by email within the next 8 hours. Five minutes later I received my final confirmation email with a link to print my coupon voucher. The voucher is long, prints on 2 pages, and I am instructed to bring this printed voucher and ID to the ferry dock 30 minutes before departure.

Their cancellation policy is vague. A phone number is the US is listed as well as an email address. “Your request will be processed and if it complies with the cancelation policies for the reserved service we will refund the corresponding amount to your credit card.” It does not state what those policies are.

Next is the test…with my voucher I will go to the ferry dock on the day that I have ordered it for, however I will go at a different time. My husband will purchase a ticket by going to the counter and we’ll see which is faster and easier. Stay tuned…

Isla Mujeres Artist Fair

1235418_543542412391407_1478686386_nThe Isla Mujeres Artist Fair is on the first Thursday of every month from 4pm to 7pm in the Zocalo (town square) on Isla Mujeres. Local artists, food vendors, musicians & Isla’s non-profits celebrate the creative arts with locals, tourists, foreign residents & our neighbors from Cancun. All the “art” is handcrafted, designed, made, baked, demonstrated or played by the artists. It is a fun event to share all forms of creativity & come together as a community meeting new friends & connecting with old ones. Every month we have a combination of “regular” participants, new ones & ones visiting from all over the world. We welcome visiting artists. The event is forever evolving with new mediums & new inspirations. We have classic fine art artists, recyclable artists, clothing designers, chefs, authors, jewelers, sea glass artists, massage therapists, sculptors, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, photographers & more. Come celebrate art with us.

For more info, contact Tiffany at barlito@live.com or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IslaMujeresArtistFair

Top Three Casinos in Cancun

Where to Play Poker and Other Casino Games When Traveling to Cancun

dubai palace casinoIf you’re planning a trip to the Mexican Caribbean, try going to different casinos in Cancun, one of the newest additions to the endless things to do while on vacation. For the past years, there were local gambling laws that prevented different casinos from opening up in Cancun. Because of this, there were many propositions made to build a casino in the city, including a gambling ship that can be located off the Cancun coast—far enough to the international waters so local laws will not apply. The city remained free from casino establishments, except Play City casino located at Plaza Kukulcan. It houses a few low value slot machines but doesn’t have a real casino game like Blackjack, Roulette and Poker.

In the year 2010, casinos began appearing in different places in Cancun. As each casino opened, it became grander and bigger than the last. People who have been playing partypoker games online are now grabbing the opportunity to play live in different casinos in the city. With this innovation, the public views it as a positive news that casinos in Cancun will be staying for good to encourage gamblers from all over the world to visit and increase tourism.
Here are three of the most popular casinos in the city where you can go during your vacation:

Playboy Cancun

This is the first hotel casino that was opened under the famous Playboy brand. Playboy Club Cancun is located near Temptation Resort and Spa. It is an upscale and modern casino that attracts not only the locals of the city but also tourists from different places. A membership fee of around 200 pesos or $18 should be paid before you can enter. This can be a bit expensive, especially for casual visitors, but quite okay for frequent gamblers. You can have a real live game interaction with dealers and Playboy bunnies—Latina style. If you get tired playing table games, you can go to the lower area of the vicinity and watch live sports events or play slots.

Casino Palace

Casino Palace is the first casino in the city that was opened in the year 2010. It is located on Tulum Avenue downtown, a little to the north of Plaza Las Americas. This is a two-floor casino: slots and televised sporting events, while video machines for Poker, Blackjack and Roulette are located in the 2nd floor of the building. Chips are purchased as paper credits from the cashier. To receive your electronic chips, you have to input the numbers into the machine.

Dubai Palace Casino

In June 2010, Dubai Palace Casino located on Tulum Ave. occupied the lot where Home Depot was previously located. It is the largest casino in Cancun, housing more than 450 slot machines which features popular brands like Bally, Williams and Nova Star. In the VIP room, you can play different computerized games such as Texas Holdem, Blackjack and Roulette. The style of the game is the same as Casino Palace’s, where you pre purchase credits to the cashier and input the numbers to the machine.

The BEST Snorkeling in Cancun

Well, actually the best snorkeling is not in Cancun at all.  It is just south of Cancun, about a 30 minute drive, to the little town of Puerto Morelos. Here the reef is very close to the shore and very shallow, which makes for perfect snorkeling conditions.

Trina Snorkeling on the reef

Trina Snorkeling on the reef

I’ve snorkeled in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Akumal countless times over the years and I have to say yesterday I had THE BEST snorkel experience. I met with the boat owner who introduced me to our guide, Paz. Paz is very passionate about the ocean, sea life, snorkeling, and he made sure that everyone on the boat had good time. He gave personalized attention to each snorkeler, ensuring that everyone was comfortable in the water and that they could see the amazing underwater world that he so loves.

All of the snorkel boats in Puerto Morelos are the 8-12 passenger panga boats. I like being in smaller groups when snorkeling, so this worked out well for me. They have to use the smaller boats because the large boats cannot get close to the coral reef. Once in the boat, Paz fitted each person with snorkel gear and gave us instructions about the coral, safety, and general snorkeling etiquette.

Coral Reef in Puerto Morelos

Coral Reef in Puerto Morelos

The boat ride from the dock to the reef only took us less than 10 minutes. When we reached the reef there were 5-6 other boats there with snorkelers in the water. Paz said that we would avoid the others by swimming against the current for a few minutes then drifting back along the reef. This worked out very well for all of us.

I was amazed at the sea life we saw and the condition of the coral reef. It is so vibrant and alive! The schools of fish are brilliantly painted by mother nature and I felt thankful to be in her presence. We saw fish of every size and shape and color, one fish in particular caught Paz’s attention because it literally sparkled! I don’t think the photos do it justice, you have to see it for yourself.

Fish on sandy area by the reef

Fish on sandy area by the reef

We snorkeled for almost 2 hours on the reef in Puerto Morelos. I was so impressed with this snorkel trip that I am adding it to my list of featured tours.While taking underwater photos we came upon an angel ray. This was the highlight of the trip. I was able to follow it at a pretty slow pace for several minutes. Just amazing.

So the video quality is terrible, but about half way through is where I started following the ray. I’m sorry about that, I will try to get better quality underwater video soon.

 

 

If you have your own transportation to Puerto Morelos, the snorkeling is only $49 per person. If you are staying in Cancun it is just $50 for round trip transportation (1-10 people). Book your Snorkel Trip today!

 

 

Tips for First-timers from Seasoned Cancun Travelers

Travel TipsAfter my mom’s first trip to Cancun to visit me here in Cancun, she told me there were many things that she would do differently on her next trip. I thought, WOW, I should really have these things on my website as tips for first-time travelers!

So what are the things everyone should remember when packing, planning and traveling to Cancun or the Riviera Maya? Well, I’ve lived here too long and I am not really “on vacation” here, so I wondered who would know best about these things? Former vacationers to Cancun of course! So to my customers that have been to Cancun AND bought the t-shirt, I asked for their advice on these topics and any other things they thought first-timers might find helpful:
• Things to bring on the plane with you
• What to pack
• Do I need pesos?
• Getting around Cancun and the Riviera Maya
• Whether to go All Inclusive or not
• Is Cancun safe?
• Can you drink the water?

These are some of the responses I received.

  • Plan at least one day-trip out of the hotel to see a historical site.
  • Try one of the downtown Cancun restaurants one evening.
  • Try scuba diving or snorkeling. The underwater world is amazing.
  • Bring less than you think as far as clothing.
  • The public buses are safe and an affordable mode of transportation.
  • If you are drinking, take a taxi (barter taxi price before you get in).
  • Don’t buy souvenirs at the airport (they are over-priced).
  • It’s always good to have some pesos just in case, but make sure you spend them before you leave. You can use pesos for tips.
  • Use sunscreen even if you think you don’t need any.
  • If you buy liquor at the duty free shop at the airport be prepared to transfer it into your luggage if you do not have a direct flight.
  • Be patient at the customs area..don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Pack cotton clothing, its cooler.
  • Sunglasses are a must. If you forget yours there are lots of people selling them cheap.
  • If traveling with kids, bring them something to snack on and toys to play with on the plane.
  • Bring a book, cross-word puzzle or ear buds to plug into the planes TV system.
  • Bring chewing gum to help with ear pressure during take-off & landing.
  • USD are fine to spend in Cancun, you don’t need a lot of pesos.
  • Don’t bring anything larger than $50 dollar bills as they are harder to spend / break.
  • Pack one nice outfit because some restaurants have a dress code.
  • Ride the bus anywhere in the Hotel Zone for less than $1 USD.
  • Cancun is safer than most cities in the United States.
  • Drink bottled water, it is available everywhere. Almost all restaurants serve bottle water.
  • Turn off your data roaming! If you forget the charges you incur will be astronomical. Even if you don’t use it, your phone will still retrieve data and charge you for it.

Also, check out my Packing Checklist for more info.

Do you have a travel tip to add to our list? Email me!

Liquids and Gels Not Allowed in Boarding Areas of Cancun Airport

My friend took this photo today at the Cancun airport. I just love it.
airport-liquids
My Spanish is not great, but basically it says “Remember that it is not permitted to bring in Liquids and Gels to Boarding Areas”

Orphanage in Cancun Finds Support from Expat living in Cancun

I was first introduced to the orphanage in Cancun, called Casa Hogar Para Niños Esperanza, which means “House of Hope for Children” by my friend TJ Carter. TJ is an expat living in Cancun. He has become increasingly involved with the orphanage and raising funds for their needs. He helps with organizing events for the kids, day-to-day medical and educational needs along with finding sponsors for weekly grocery shopping trips.

casa-hogarTJ has started a group of like-minded people eager to help the less-fortunate kids, which he is calling FOCH for Friends of Casa Hogar. On the website and facebook group, TJ has inspired many other to become involved. His ongoing mission is to provide food, clothing, education, love & cultural entertainment to these kids. His work is much needed since the orphanage receives ZERO government funding.

Sponsors and the kids from Casa Hogar recently went on a field trip to Crococun Zoo and as you can imagine the kids LOVED it. Check out the photos here.

Friends of Casa Hogar are looking for sponsors for the weekly grocery trips and for monetary pledges. To find out more about Casa Hogar and how you can help, please visit http://www.friendsofcasahogar.org/ or on Facebook here.

Shopping in Cancun: Guide to Cancun’s Shopping Malls & Markets

In addition to the crazy nightlife, pristine beaches and turquoise Caribbean water, Cancun also offers some great shopping too. Shopping in CancunWhether you want to shop in Cancun’s Hotel Zone or if you prefer the downtown markets, this guide will help you in your shopping journey.

In the hotel zone be prepared for higher prices and high-end stores. There are a few places to buy souvenirs in the hotel zone, however the prices are about double for the same items in the downtown markets.

Cancun Hotel Zone Shopping

  • Plaza KukulcanKukulcan Plaza at KM 13 This shopping plaza holds stores such as Hugo Boss, Harley Davidson, Señor Frogs Store, ENVY, & Oakley. On one end of the mall is ‘Luxury Avenue’, an ultra-high-end shopping plaza and contains Ultrafemme, Burberry, Coach, Fendi, Cartier & Louis Vuitton just to name a few. There are also several restaurants including Ruth´s Chris Steak House and Tequila Grill.
  • Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5. This is one of my favorites because the stores are a little more trendy and there is more to see and do here. Plaza La Isla Shopping CenterStores include Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, Bvlgari, Nine West, Ultrafemme, Deportes Martí, Sunglass Island, Guess, Diesel, Envy, Máximo Dutti, Liverpool, SOHO, United Colors of Benetton and Sr. Frog’s Boutique. Plaza La Isla also has some of the best restaurants in Cancun including The Elefanta, Thai Lounge, La Madonna, Italianni’s, Chili’s, Johnny Rockets, Hooters, & Planet Hollywood. Here you can also take in a movie or go through the Interactive Aquarium.
  • Forum by the Sea at KM 9 Plaza Forum by the Seais a large multilevel plaza with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment which transforms into the Party Center hub at night featuring CocoBongo and many other famous clubs. This plaza is more for restaurants than for shopping, featuring Cambalache, Carlos n’ Charlie’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Chili’s and more. Here you may see locals with animals like monkeys and bobcats. Please do not pay to have your picture taken with these wild animals. There is an ongoing campaign to stop the abuse of these animals and you can help by refusing to give the handlers your money.
  • Coral Negro Flea Market at KM 9.5. Coral Negro Flea MarketThere is store after store after store, mostly selling the same souvenir t-shirts, shot glasses, sunglasses, sand-in-a-bottle, starfish lamps and many other trinkets to take home with you. Be prepared to barter for the best price or buy two and save money. Some folks really enjoy this little dance to get a discount…try walking away from a salesperson and the price usually drops in half.

Cancun Downtown Shopping

We offer a Shopping tour to take you to any of the above plazas or any of the malls are markets in Downtown Cancun. Price is by the hour and it is very flexible.

  • Plaza Las Americas & Malecon Mall – Tulum Ave. Downtown Cancun. maleconThe original mall is Plaza Las Americas. In the past couple of years the Malecon was built on, making this new merged mall the BEST shopping in downtown Cancun. Plaza Las Americas has stores such as Liverpool, Sears, Sanborn’s, VIPS, YAK & Sports Book, Dorian’s, Chedraui Grocery Store, Zara, Bershka, Lob, Martí, Mixup, Mundo deportivo, Shasa, C&A, Versalles, Ultrafemme, Zingara, Sunglass Island, Furor, Hang Ten and more. Malecon is partially indoors and partially open air and contains clothing stores, jewelry shops, and shoe stores. There are also book stores, furniture stores, home furnishings stores, a music store, and large Mexican department stores. The open air section has a Starbucks, food kiosks, a carousel and other activities for children. Restaurants include California Pizza Kitchen, Chili’s, McDonalds (with a McCafe) and Hooters. On Sundays the mall is packed with locals.
  • Market 28. In my opinion this is the best place to do your souvenir shopping in Cancun. The prices are cheaper than the hotel zone for the EXACT same items. Handmade jewelry, t-shirts, beach bags, hammocks can all be bought at bargain prices.
    You can also find local vanilla and hot sauces at Market 28. The restaurants have a much more local flair and feature seafood and cold beer. On most days you’ll hear the xylophone players in the center of the market.
  • Market 23. Market 23This is much more for locals than for tourists visiting Cancun. Very little English is spoken at Market 23 and some days it smells quite funky. You’ll find vegetables, spices, trinkets, counterfeit or copied DVDs, and chicharon (deep fried pig skin). Market 23 is truly a Mexican market with incense & flowers, candles and religious dolls. The souvenirs at Market 23 are much more traditional than the mass-produced items at the tourist markets. Tip: It would be helpful to have a Spanish speaker with you to get the most out of the experience.

Flea Markets

If you REALLY want to get into downtown Cancun, check out the flea markets, called tiangues (pronounced tee-ON-gays). I know of two tiangues located on the street called Lopez Portillo, but I have heard of several others as well. At the flea markets you will find everything that is left in hotel rooms after tourists leave: suntan lotions, vanilla, hot sauce, cell phones & chargers, clothes & toiletries. Everything at the tiangues is VERY CHEAP. Look a little further into the markets and you’ll find girls painting flowers on customer’s toes, handmade curtains, clothes and so much more. You’ll need to be quite adventurous to visit one of the tiangues. It is one of my favorite things in Cancun.

Rainy Day Guide: 6 Great Activities to do in Cancun when it Rains

The most common concern that travelers have when planning their vacation to Cancun is regarding the weather. Will it rain? What is there to do on rainy days in Cancun?

If your vacation dates are between December and April, you won’t have much to worry about. This is not hurricane season and these are the driest months of the year. When it does rain, it is usually at night or for a brief afternoon shower. Rain will rarely interrupt plans during this time of year.

We start seeing more rainfall in May and more full days of rain instead of just a quick shower. Hurricane season (June to November) sees the highest amount of rainfall and tropical depressions can increase these amounts.

rainfall-cancunmap
Rainfall data courtesy of CancunMap.com

So…what is there to do in this sunshine-dependent vacation spot when it is raining? Here are some of my favorite things.

1. Visit a cenote.

cenote
Cenotes are unique to the Yucatan peninsula and there are many in the Mayan Riviera to see. They are similar to sink holes or caverns with fresh, cold water and stalactite and stalagmite formations. the weather really doesn’t affect you while you are swimming or exploring in a cenote, but when you exit you’ll be cold so be prepared with towels and dry clothes.

2. Snorkeling.

SNORKELING

Yes, snorkeling in the ocean. You are already wet, why not jump in the warm ocean? The visibility will be less then when the sun is shining, however on the plus side, there will be far fewer people. Of course this is not recommended if it is storming with lightning.

3. SubSee Submarines.

Subsee Cancun and CozumelThere is one in Cancun and one in Cozumel. These are great for the whole family to be able to see the ocean floor from the safety of the submarine. Again, visibility may be slightly diminished. Discounts on SubSee Cancun and SubSee Cozumel.

4. Museum.

Mayan-Museum30Cancun now has a Mayan Museum in the hotel zone. It is only about $5 per person and a great way to learn about the culture. Read more about the “Museo Maya” here.

5. Aquarium. Inside of Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5 in the hotel zone is the Interactive Aquarium. For only $10 USD you can tour the 13 aquarium tanks and see rays, pirahnas, moray eels, jellyfish, seahorses, scorpion fish and coral. It’s not a large aquarium but it is fun to see.

6. Shopping.  Cancun has several malls for you to get your shopping fix. In the hotel zone be prepared for higher prices and high-end stores. See more info about each mall here.

  • Kukulcan Plaza at KM 13 Higher-end stores like Hugo Boss, Harley Davidson & Oakley. On one end of the mall is Luxury Avenue and containsBurberry, Coach, Fendi, Cartier & Louis Vuitton.
  • Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5. This is one of my favorites because the stores are more trendy and there is more to see and do here. Stores include Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West, Guess, Diesel, Envy. Here you can also take in a movie or go through the Interactive Aquarium (see #5 above).
  • Forum by the Sea at KM 9 is a large multilevel plaza with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment which transforms into the Party Center hub at night.
  • Plaza Las Americas & Malecon Americas Mall in downtown Cancun. This is a large mall filled with trendy and affordable stores. It is quite close to the hotel zone and very modern.

CARM offers a shopping trip you can buy by the hour here. You can see the full list of by tours offered by CARM Tours & Transfers here.

Tip: Avoid going further into downtown Cancun if it is a full day of rain. The flooding in downtown is extreme and the driving techniques are terrible.

Shared vs. Private Airport Transfers: Which option is right for you?

If you are traveling to Cancun or the Mayan Riviera, you’ll need to get yourself from the Cancun International Airport to your Resort, Hotel, villa, or rental casa. There are several modes of transportation to choose from and I’ll outline the pros and cons of each one here.

Transportation included in your vacation package. Check with your Travel Agent or, if you booked it yourself, check your travel documents. Many vacation packages are sold with shared transportation to the hotel included. This is handy, but be prepared for possibly longer wait times at the airport. Also, you’ll have no say-so in the pickup time at the resort so you may end up at the airport 3+ hours before flight time.

ADO busBuses. The bus company is called ADO. Plan on extended wait times for the bus to arrive and then to fill to maximum capacity. This option is better suited for more seasoned travelers. The bus will take you to the Downtown Bus depot. From there, you’ll need a taxi to your hotel. The Bus costs about $4 to the depot, then a taxi will cost you about $10 to the Cancun Hotel Zone for $3 to Downtown Cancun hotels. This is a great option if you are staying in a downtown Cancun hotel.

Shared Transportation. This is a great option if you are traveling by yourself or if you are looking to save some money. The vehicles are 10 passenger vans with luggage space. Rates are per person in US Dollars.

Prices per person in US Dollars

Transfer Location One Way Round Trip Click to Book
Cancun Hotel Zone or Downtown $9 $17 Book Here
Gran Puerto Juarez Ferry Dock $9 $17 Book Here
Playa Mujeres $9 $17 Book Here
Bahia Petempich $23 $45 Book Here
Puerto Morelos $23 $45 Book Here
Playa Paraiso $23 $45 Book Here
Playa del Carmen $23 $45 Book Here
Puerto Aventuras $28 $55 Book Here
Akumal $35 $70 Book Here
Gran Bahia Principe $35 $70 Book Here
Tulum $35 $70 Book Here

Keep in mind the total cost for your airport transfers and make sure to compare the total cost for shared vs. private transportation, especially if you have more than 2 people in your group.

Taxis at the Cancun Airport.  There are taxis at the Cancun Airport available for you, but this is our least recommended transportation. First, the cost is usually the same for ONE WAY as private transfer is for ROUND TRIP. Plan on spending $60 USD for one way to Cancun hotels. Second, these drivers are not as secure and trustworthy as private drivers. For instance, you forget your cell phone, purse, backpack or other item in the taxi (happens ALL THE TIME), well, you are just out of luck.

Renting a car. This can be handy if you are staying in the Riviera Maya and you are a good driver. Be prepared for extremely aggressive driving in Cancun. This is not an option I recommend at all. Traffic is a mess, police purposely pull over rental cars for bribes, parking (especially in Cancun and Playa del Carmen) is a real bugger, and if you are in an accident the process here is MUCH DIFFERENT than back home and will surely eat up a lot of your vacation time.

If you do decide to rent a car, be sure to get the full-coverage insurance.  There are many car rental agencies at the airport. It’s best to book online in advance and go with an internationally known company. You can read more about car rentals here.

Private Airport Transfers.  I have saved the best for last. Of course, this is the transportation that I recommend not just because it’s what I do, but also because it is the best and I firmly believe that. CARM Tours & Transfers offers safe and reliable transportation from the airport to all hotels, villas, and rental properties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.  Our door-to-door service is fast and hassle-free. I love selling a service I can stand behind 100%.

Prices per VEHICLE in US Dollars (one way / round trip)

Transfer Location 1-2 ppl 3-5 ppl 6-10 ppl Click to Book
Cancun Hotel Zone or Downtown $35 / $55 $40 / $65  $45 / $75 Book Here
Gran Puerto Juarez Ferry Dock $35 / $60 $40 / $65  $45 / $75  Book Here
Playa Mujeres $45 / $70 $55 / $80  $65 / $95  Book Here
Bahia Petempich $40 / $65 $45 / $70  $50 / $80 Book Here
Puerto Morelos $40 / $65 $50 / $80  $55 / $85 Book Here
Playa Paraiso $50 / $80 $55 / $95  $65 / $105 Book Here
Playa del Carmen & Playacar $60 / $105 $65 / $115  $70 / $120 Book Here
Puerto Aventuras & Xpu Ha $65 / $120 $70 / $125  $75 / $135 Book Here
Akumal $75 / $135 $85 / $155  $90 / $165 Book Here
Bahia Principe, Soliman Bay, Tankah $80 / $140 $90 / $165  $95 / $170 Book Here
Tulum $85 / $150 $90 / $170  $100 / $180 Book Here

Not sure which location your hotel is in? Just start typing in your hotel name here, click the hotel name and it will take you to the right  location to book your airport transfers.

arrival-terminal-2

CARM Tours & Transfers also offers transportation to areas further out. We can take you to MeridaChichen Itza or Valladolid, Chiquila ferry dock (the ferry that takes you to Isla Holbox), Mahahual or Bacalar, Sian Ka’an Biosphere or Punta Allen.

We will track your flight and we’ll be waiting outside the airport terminal with your name on the sign. Here I am after arriving to terminal 2 from JFK last year.

You can watch the video of getting through the Cancun Airport, however I have to apologize for the screaming child in the background. Life Happens ♥.

If you have any questions about which option is right for you, just give me a call, shoot me an email or hop on live chat. I’m happy to answer all of your questions.

Pet-Friendly Transportation in Cancun

My dog Bailey at the beach

My dog Bailey at the beach

 

Here at CARM Tours & Transfers, we offer a pet-friendly transportation service. It is recommended that you keep your pet in it’s carrier or crate while in the vehicle for everyone’s safety.

We can handle any size or number of pets in our private transportation vehicles. Book your Cancun Airport Transfers with pets here.

 

Mexico Dept. of Agriculture Requirements

  • If the pet is under 3 months of age, it requires a Health Certificate
  • If the pet is older than 3 months of age, it requires a Health Certificate and Vaccination card, specifying the application of rabies vaccine with a validity no longer than 1 year. These documents must be presented in original and copy.
  • It is very important to assure that the documents match with your pet data (age, breed, color, sec., etc.) and in this way avoid problems in the procedure of entering Mexico.
  • The HEALTH CERTIFICATE must be showed in headed paper with the printed Professional License or Photocopy of the medical Veterinary License who issues the certificate. WITH THE DATE no older than 5 DAYS, including the health status of the pet and that it HAS BEEN TREATED AGAINST ENDOPARASITES and ECTOPARASITES within 6 months prior to your trip and that it is free from any internal and external parasite.
  • Your pet will be physically reviewed by Official Personnal from Agriculture and Livestock Production Health from SAGARPA, and if coming from a country with presence of foot and mouth disease or from zones in risk, a prophylactic treatment will be given to your pet, free of charge.
  • The import of one or two pets is free. No animal bedding or similar products is allowed.

Note from former traveler to Cancun:

Now, we had had my dog’s health and vaccination records with us which stated that the vet had supplied external parasite medication. The Health certificate, however, did not specifically state that she was “free from parasites”. And, the inspector wanted not only that on the certificate, but also the specific medication given – eg, Frontline. It was a real hangup and we spent an hour in customs before we were able to move on, with a finger wagging from them and a warning for ‘next time’.

Information courtesy of www.DogFriendly.com

Tips for bringing your pet to the hotel

  • In the Lobby: Make sure to ask if pets are allowed in the lobby as even some pet-friendly hotels still do now allow them to be in the lobby.
  • In the Room: Never leave your dog alone in the hotel room. The #1 reason that a hotel chooses to not allow dogs is because people leave them alone in the room. Even well-trained dogs can cause damage inside the room or they bark or scare the housekeepers.
  • Use the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and use the deadbolt to guard against frightening the housekeeping staff.
  • Take your dog as far away as possible from the hotel and landscaped areas around the hotel. Some hotels even have a designated pet walk area.

Book your Cancun Airport Transfers with pets here.

Isla Mujeres day trip on the Lupita Catamaran

One of our goals is to actually GO on all of the tours we sell at CARM Tours & Transfers. This week we joined the catamaran “La Lupita” on their day trip from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. We had a wonderful time. You can book the catamaran Lupita for only $53 USD here.

Turquoise waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres We checked in at Cancun Bay Resort & Marina, located at KM 3.5 in the Cancun Hotel Zone. Check in was fast so we had about 30 minutes at the palapa before the start of the tour. This worked out well since we had skipped breakfast and the palapa sold croissants and bottled water. We split one of each which cost us $36 pesos (~about $3 USD).Lupita Catamaran

At 10:00 AM we boarded the Lupita catamaran and headed to Isla Mujeres. With the sail raised it took us about an hour to get to the island. We were all given snorkel gear and jumped in the ocean at “El Farito” reef, which means “little lighthouse”. We saw tons of fish including the biggest barracuda I have EVER seen. Amazing. The snorkel guide had a sandwich baggie filled with something the fish really liked so we were surrounded by a school of brightly colored fishes. Large parrot fish, small trigger fish and lots that I could not identify.

snorkeling Isla Mujeres CatamaranBy 11:00 AM we were back on the boat, heading over to the island. Our first stop was at Isla Contoy dock. We had 1 hour free time on the island to shop, rent a golf cart, or hang out at the bars/restaurants. We skipped the golf carts and just walked around a bit, then ended up at the Isla Contoy dock bar where we watched an English fellow eat a scorpion pickled in Tequila. Good times!

Back on the boat for the trip to the beach club for lunch at 1:00 PM. The buffet was good food, as good as most all-inclusive resorts. Drinks here are not included, so be sure to bring some cash. We went back for seconds, then hit the lounge chairs. I loved this part of the day, so relaxing. There were hammocks in the shade and lounge chairs. We cooled off in the ocean, then just relaxed some more.

Isla Mujeres CatamaranWe boarded the boat about 3:00 PM to head back to Cancun. Just before we got there the captain set anchor and put up the spinnaker. The spinnaker is like para sailing, except you are anchored. The video shows it better than I can describe it. It is not very easy, however it looked well worth the effort.

The Lupita catamaran docked back in Cancun at 4:45 PM. I have to say that for only $53 per person, this was a fabulous day on the water, on the island, and it is a great value. This tour is not for the party crowd. The music was current, yet not so loud as to blast your eardrums. The crew was accommodating, yet no one was telling me to put my hands in the air and scream. For us (upper-30-something-couple) it was the perfect day getaway without some 19-year-old throwing up on my shoes.

For more information and to book your day trip to Isla Mujeres on the catamaran Lupita for only $53 USD, CLICK HERE TO BOOK THE TOUR.

New Cancun Maps from MapChick

The famous MapChick has just released the updated version of the Cancun and Isla Mujeres maps.  These maps are really more like travel guides. If you like to do your research before heading off to vacation, these maps are a must.

mapchick cancun mapThe Cancun Map is actually a 4 map set. The large map contains all the hotels in Cancun hotel zone, downtown Cancun and Puerto Juarez. But if you think you are just getting a map, you are dead wrong. There is a whole section on tips for getting around Cancun (bus info, taxis, public transportation, private transfers) which is invaluable for first-time travelers and seasoned vacationers alike. The maps also detail favorite restaurants, popular tours , walking tours and more.  I love reading the tips they include, like Hotel Zone on a Budget, Access to Public Beaches, Should you go All-Inclusive?, and their “off-the-beaten-path” restaurant finds.

The 3 inserts that accompany the large map are: Attractions, Restaurants, & Downtown. These are so handy to have…just the info you need when you need it. They also give you a wonderful overview of the “lay of the land” and where your hotel is located in reference to all the places you want to visit. This makes planning your tours, meals, and sightseeing trips much easier.

Once you order and receive your maps, plan on taking some time to read the tips and familiarize yourself with Cancun. This way when you arrive you’ll already have your bearings and you’ll be ready to start taking in the wonderful sights of Cancun.

The new 2013 / 2014 Cancun Map by MapChick is only $15 USD and they will be shipped to you usually within 24 hours. Click here to  Order yours today!

The map is large, so when folding you new map, just remember top down in half first, then accordion, then in half again. I’m the worst at trying to fold maps.

Whale Shark season officially begins May 15, 2013

Snorkel with Whale SharksIn Cancun we have the unique opportunity to snorkel with Whale Sharks when they migrate through our area from mid-May until mid-September every year. For the 2013 season, tours begin May 15th.

Whale Sharks are not actually “sharks”. They feed on plankton and they have no teeth. The average adult whale shark is 32 feet long and weights 9 tons.

Tours leave from Puerto Juarez, just 10 minutes north of Cancun. The boats are small and usually only hold 8-10 passengers. It takes 45 minutes to 90 minutes to get to where the whale sharks are swimming in the ocean. Once there, we take turns snorkeling beside these giant fish.

The tour costs $179 per person. You should be a good swimmer for this tour since you are out in the ocean. Every time we have gone out to see the Whale Sharks we also see lots of sea turtles and manta rays too. You can book your Whale Shark Snorkel here.

April 2013 Weather in Cancun

April is a beautiful and busy time in Cancun. The Spring Breakers are gone. The pools are not frigid. The weather is warm, but not blazing hot like in the summer. April is Cancun’s driest month with just an average of 2 rain days, however this year has been extraordinarily dry.

High temps average 88.7 F (31.5 C) with low temperatures at 74 F (23.4 C) which is a pleasant temperature for anything you want to do outdoors. The water temp is a perfect 80 F (27 C).

April Weather in Cancun

March 2013 Weather in Cancun

March in Cancun is a crazy, beautiful time. The beaches are full of young bodies on Spring Break. Be prepared for crowded bars and night clubs that party until well after daylight.
The weather is all over the place…warm and sunny 85F one day and cold and rainy the next. We have put away our warm blankets 3 times, only to get them back out a few days later.

It is quite windy also. There were many days with strong winds which causes the ports to close. In Cancun there is a port authority that determines when it is too windy to allow boats on the ocean. On windy days your fishing, snorkeling and diving tours will be cancelled.

March weather in Cancun

Immigration and Customs forms Mexico and United States

When you leave the US or Canada for your vacation in Mexico, be prepared to fill out Customs and Immigration forms. It is helpful to know what these forms look like and what questions you will be asked.

The first two scans are your FMM, or Tourist Visa. You will be given this form to fill out while on the plane before you arrive to Mexico. This is a simple form that just requires the info directly off your passport.

When you arrive to Cancun International Airport, the first stop after getting off the plane will be at Immigration. Here the immigration officer will take the FMM form you filled out, keep the blue side and give you back the green side. The blue side is your Entry into Mexico and the green side is your departure visa when you leave Mexico. It is VERY IMPORTANT to keep the green part (with your passport) as you MUST have this to leave Mexico. What happens if you lose your FMM Tourist Visa while in Mexico. Every person must fill this out.

Also during your flight to Mexico you will be given a Customs Declaration form. Each head of household needs to fill this out. Again it asks for your basic passport info, how long you will be in Mexico, and how much luggage you have. Most importantly it asks if you are carrying 10,000 US Dollars or more, any meat, food, plants, chemicals, weapons, or merchandise for which you need to pay duty.

After you land and clear immigration, your next stop will be to pickup your luggage and go to customs. Your luggage will go through x-ray and you will hand the customs agent the form. There is a button that each person must push. If the button light turns green then you proceed to pickup your scanned luggage. If the button light turns red, your luggage will be searched.

When you leave Mexico you will surrender your FMM Tourist Visa and you will fill out the US Customs Declaration form. The US wants to know about your travel, where you’ve been and where you are going. The form asks again if you are bringing cash, meat, plants, merchandise, etc. You will give this form to the Customs agent when you land in the US.

For more information about traveling to Mexico and the paperwork you need to fill out, please visit http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information.

Daylight Saving Time – Mexico changes time 1 month after the US and Canada 2013

Except for the border states, Mexico daylight saving time begins at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday in April. Daylight saving time ends on the last Sunday in October. However those are different dates than in the US and in Canada. There is almost a full month of confusion between the date the US changes time and date Mexico changes time.

2013 Daylight Saving Time Dates
Set Clock ahead Set Clock back
USA & Canada March 10 November 4
Mexico April 7 October 27

Exceptions: State of Sonora and Ten Municipalities along the northern border.

Here in Cancun we are on Central Standard Time, but from March 10th to April 7th we are on a different CST than in the US and Canada. Crazy, right?

Many people are confused during this time, especially when it comes to their [Read more...]

February 2013 Weather in Cancun

February in Cancun is a wonderful. High temps in the mid-80′s, lows in the upper 60′s, usually just before the sun comes up. It is also one of the driest months of the year. Water temp is an average of 78F/26C.

By the end of the month we are seeing warmer temps. The cool winter is left behind and replaced with high humidity. Average daytime humidity is 58%, while the nighttime humidity reaches a whopping 95%! You don’t feel this as much when you on close to the ocean as the breeze helps. The further into the jungle you go the steamier it gets.

February 2013 weather in Cancun

Courtesy of www.AccuWeather.com

New attractions in Cancun: Flyboard & Jetpack

There are 2 new and ultra-adventure activities in Cancun: The Flyboard and the Jetpack. Both use the same idea of water propulsion to lift a person into the air and across the water using Personal Water Craft (PWC) propulsion.

Flyboard
The Flyboard straps your feet onto a board much like a snowboard and your arms are strapped onto hand jets. The hose is connected to a JetSki that provides the water pressure. You maneuver by shifting your weight on the board and using the hand jets.

flyboard cancun

There are 6 locations to try the Flyboarding experience in Cancun or the Riviera Maya:

  1. Temptation Resort- Albatros Marina Blvd. Kukulcan Km 3.5 Hotel Zone
  2. Hotel Presidente Intercontinental- Marina Coco Tours‎ Blvd. Kukulcan Km 7.5 Hotel Zone
  3. Royal Resorts- Thomas More Travel Blvd. Kukulcan Km 16 Hotel Zone
  4. Kool Beach Club- Dani Sailing 28 Norte Mza 10, Lote 8 Centro, Playa del Carmen
  5. Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya- Marina Hotel Valentin Carretera Federal 307 Km 311, North Playa del Carmen (Playa Paraiso)
  6. The Royal Playa del Carmen Beach Hotel Constituyentes 2 Playa del Carmen

Basic Flight 20 minutes flight time for $100 USD, or you can upgrade to the Premium for $150 and get a full HD video of your flight. You will learn the basics of Flyboard flight with your Certified Flight Instructor. Book Now

Requirements: Minimum age 18 years, be a good swimmer and not have fear of heights, obviously.

Jetpack

Much like the Flyboard, the Jetpack attaches a water hose to a jetski with the equipment needed for water propulsion. A flexible water supply hose delivers power to the jetpack with pressurized water.

jetpack cancun

Jetpack is located at Plaza La Isla Mall Blvd Kukulcan, KM 12.5 Cancun Hotel Zone

Price is $149 for the Basic 20 minutes or upgrade to the 30 minute Premium for $199.Book Now

You must be 18 years of age to fly, however 16 or 17 year olds may fly with written consent from a parent or guardian.
Height requirement: between 5 feet and 6 feet 6 inches tall and a maximum waist of 46 inches. You must also be a good swimmer.