Go Back   Cruise Critic Message Board Forums > Cruise Discussion Topics > Scuba and Snorkeling
 
Register here!
Forgot Your Password?


Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old May 1st, 2011, 06:07 PM
mikeerdas mikeerdas is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,034
Default Costa Maya, Cozumel, Belize, or Mahogany Bay, Roatan for snorkeling close to port?

Which of the following ports offers the most impressive snorkeling?

* Costa Maya
* Cozumel
* Belize
* Roatan, Honduras

Although my #1 in-port goal is to see impressive ruins, I want to be sure I get in some snorkeling. My wife and I own our own snorkel gear and tend to DIY in port. Do any of these ports have good snorkeling we can get to near the ship? We'd rather pay more on ruins excursions than to snorkel.

Heard it's possible to snorkel "off the pier" in port at Costa Maya, but I'm not so sure.

But if we were going to pay for one spectacular snorkeling experience, which and where would it be? Hopefully something that won't conflict with "most impressive / extensive" ruins excursion. Impressive to me would be a large, tall temple whose steps I can climb to the top. And preferably many other buildings on site to explore.

Last edited by mikeerdas; May 1st, 2011 at 06:14 PM.
Reply With Quote

Ad Sponsored By
  #2  
Old May 2nd, 2011, 12:49 PM
Sailfish's Avatar
Sailfish Sailfish is offline
5,000+ Club
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Northern California
Posts: 6,426
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeerdas View Post
Which of the following ports offers the most impressive snorkeling?

* Costa Maya
* Cozumel
* Belize
* Roatan, Honduras

Although my #1 in-port goal is to see impressive ruins, I want to be sure I get in some snorkeling. My wife and I own our own snorkel gear and tend to DIY in port. Do any of these ports have good snorkeling we can get to near the ship? We'd rather pay more on ruins excursions than to snorkel.

Heard it's possible to snorkel "off the pier" in port at Costa Maya, but I'm not so sure.

But if we were going to pay for one spectacular snorkeling experience, which and where would it be? Hopefully something that won't conflict with "most impressive / extensive" ruins excursion. Impressive to me would be a large, tall temple whose steps I can climb to the top. And preferably many other buildings on site to explore.
Although all the ports you are going to are excellent choices for certified scuba divers, about the only one I can recommend for easy high quality snorkeling is Cozumel. You'll have a few choices, but Chankanaab is one good place to go, though you'll have to go early if you plan to do so on your own. All the others require a boat to get to the better snorkel sites. Roatan will most likely be the best, but the best snorkel reefs there are all off-shore. In Cozumel, yu can take a cab to Chankanaab or to many other beaches near by for easy shore access. Nothing even comes close in Costa Maya or in Belize.

Good luck.
__________________



Suzi (aka Sailfish), 2015 Scuba Cruise Dive Group Leader
Click to send me an email!

Reply With Quote

  #3  
Old May 2nd, 2011, 03:14 PM
mikeerdas mikeerdas is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,034
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailfish View Post
Although all the ports you are going to are excellent choices for certified scuba divers, about the only one I can recommend for easy high quality snorkeling is Cozumel. You'll have a few choices, but Chankanaab is one good place to go, though you'll have to go early if you plan to do so on your own. All the others require a boat to get to the better snorkel sites. Roatan will most likely be the best, but the best snorkel reefs there are all off-shore. In Cozumel, yu can take a cab to Chankanaab or to many other beaches near by for easy shore access. Nothing even comes close in Costa Maya or in Belize.
Good luck.
Thanks Sailfish! The ruins in Cozumel sound ho-hum, so snorkeling would be great. What is the "scene" like at Chankanaab and other Cozumel snorkel beaches. Are there any places with lockers where I can stow my stuff?

And Costa Maya / Belize are supposed to have worthwhile ruins. So Roatan sounds like it will be my second snorkel port. May be worth paying for an excursion. How far away are the reefs from where the Carnival Dream docks? (Mahogany Bay)? And are there any reliable independent operators I should consider over what Carnival offers? I typically find that I prefer independent operators over cruise ship offered excursions unless there is a large risk of missing set sail.

For some of the long ruins excursions, I will probably be stuck taking the ship's excursions.
Reply With Quote

  #4  
Old May 2nd, 2011, 03:37 PM
Sailfish's Avatar
Sailfish Sailfish is offline
5,000+ Club
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Northern California
Posts: 6,426
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeerdas View Post
Thanks Sailfish! The ruins in Cozumel sound ho-hum, so snorkeling would be great. What is the "scene" like at Chankanaab and other Cozumel snorkel beaches. Are there any places with lockers where I can stow my stuff?

And Costa Maya / Belize are supposed to have worthwhile ruins. So Roatan sounds like it will be my second snorkel port. May be worth paying for an excursion. How far away are the reefs from where the Carnival Dream docks? (Mahogany Bay)? And are there any reliable independent operators I should consider over what Carnival offers? I typically find that I prefer independent operators over cruise ship offered excursions unless there is a large risk of missing set sail.

For some of the long ruins excursions, I will probably be stuck taking the ship's excursions.

Chankanaab - go do a google search - has become very commercialized, but there are lockers and facilities there. There's also a fee to get in. When we would stay on the island, we would hike on the beach and get in for free through an open gate by the dolphin experience - I have a hunch they fixed the gate by now, but we did this 3 years in a row! We would rent tanks and dive from shore for almost nothing on our own - not sure you can do this either. None the less, if you go really early - around 8:30 - you'll get a palapa and miss the cruise ship tours that arrive after 9am.

Another option are the beaches south of there - look on a map. Most beaches north and immediately south of Chankanaab have amazing snorkeling, but few have facilities.

We dive in Roatan every time we take a cruise there - and we have vacationed there several times. But we never snorkel - we are divers so I don't know of any particular place to go to organize a snorkel trip - though I am sure most dive shops offer this. Barefoot Cay is the last resort we vacationed at, and their dive shop is close to town, but I have no idea where Carnival docks. They have snorkel tours, and I vaguely recall seeing something for cruise ship passengers.

Good luck.
__________________



Suzi (aka Sailfish), 2015 Scuba Cruise Dive Group Leader
Click to send me an email!


Last edited by Sailfish; May 2nd, 2011 at 03:39 PM.
Reply With Quote

  #5  
Old May 3rd, 2011, 02:34 PM
Islandbear's Avatar
Islandbear Islandbear is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Downeast
Posts: 809
Default

You can grab a taxi in Roatan to West Shore (walk out of the port area to the public taxi stand and book a taxi for about $60 round trip to Banannarama) and there is some great snorkeling from the beach.

Belize has a nice Mayan Ruin.
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #6  
Old May 7th, 2011, 10:50 PM
mitsugirly's Avatar
mitsugirly mitsugirly is offline
10,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 12,475
Default

I was told in Roatan, a place to snorkel right off the beach is at West Bay in front of Infinity Bay resort.

In Cozumel, everyone is saying the Money Bar is the place to go (although you have to go down these steps to get into the water of iron shore and not much of a "beach") but they say that people are booking excursions with snorkeling companies and they actually bring them to this spot...when you can do it yourself.

Belize-there is a nice coral reef, I'm told, that you have to catch a boat out to that place to snorkel and it's a "long" ride there.

It's probably easier to go to the boards of the different islands that you are visiting and read up on it. Do a search for snorkeling. That's how I decided where we would be snorkeling at on our cruise at the same ports.
Reply With Quote

  #7  
Old May 8th, 2011, 06:51 AM
mikeerdas mikeerdas is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,034
Default

Thanks Sailfish, IslandBear, and Mitsugirly. I've decided to do my snorkeling in Cozumel and Roatan, leaving Belize and Costa Maya for ruins excursions.

Anyone know if the beach on Roatan in front of Infinity Bay resort is public and/or how to get there? Presuming there must be public access, but thought I should ask to be sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitsugirly View Post
I was told in Roatan, a place to snorkel right off the beach is at West Bay in front of Infinity Bay resort.

In Cozumel, everyone is saying the Money Bar is the place to go (although you have to go down these steps to get into the water of iron shore and not much of a "beach") but they say that people are booking excursions with snorkeling companies and they actually bring them to this spot...when you can do it yourself.

Belize-there is a nice coral reef, I'm told, that you have to catch a boat out to that place to snorkel and it's a "long" ride there.

It's probably easier to go to the boards of the different islands that you are visiting and read up on it. Do a search for snorkeling. That's how I decided where we would be snorkeling at on our cruise at the same ports.

Last edited by mikeerdas; May 8th, 2011 at 06:52 AM.
Reply With Quote

  #8  
Old May 8th, 2011, 08:38 AM
mitsugirly's Avatar
mitsugirly mitsugirly is offline
10,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 12,475
Default

Yes, there is public access. The beach is only about 1 mile long and there are resorts up and down there.

Just hail a cab there.

Here is a map of Roatan (you can see where the port is and west bay is just west of there)




Here is a map of the beach itself with all of the resorts up and down there:

Reply With Quote

  #9  
Old May 9th, 2011, 03:05 PM
Islandbear's Avatar
Islandbear Islandbear is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Downeast
Posts: 809
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeerdas View Post
Thanks Sailfish, IslandBear, and Mitsugirly. I've decided to do my snorkeling in Cozumel and Roatan, leaving Belize and Costa Maya for ruins excursions.

Anyone know if the beach on Roatan in front of Infinity Bay resort is public and/or how to get there? Presuming there must be public access, but thought I should ask to be sure.
Good plan, have a great trip and say hello to the little fishies for me!
__________________
Reply With Quote

  #10  
Old May 13th, 2011, 09:44 PM
Snorkel Dawg's Avatar
Snorkel Dawg Snorkel Dawg is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Illinois
Posts: 4,321
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeerdas View Post
Which of the following ports offers the most impressive snorkeling?

* Costa Maya
* Cozumel
* Belize
* Roatan, Honduras

Although my #1 in-port goal is to see impressive ruins, I want to be sure I get in some snorkeling. My wife and I own our own snorkel gear and tend to DIY in port. Do any of these ports have good snorkeling we can get to near the ship? We'd rather pay more on ruins excursions than to snorkel.

Heard it's possible to snorkel "off the pier" in port at Costa Maya, but I'm not so sure.

But if we were going to pay for one spectacular snorkeling experience, which and where would it be? Hopefully something that won't conflict with "most impressive / extensive" ruins excursion. Impressive to me would be a large, tall temple whose steps I can climb to the top. And preferably many other buildings on site to explore.

We just recently visited Costa Maya (for 2nd time) Did an most impressive ruins tour with Ivan of Native Way. He was so informative & passionate about the Chachoben Ruins, a place his father found in 1942 & he grew up there. His tour was a highlight of our cruise & we are absolutly hooked on snorkeling the islands. I enjoyed it more that I could have imagined

As for my choice, I'd snorkel Palancar Reef. Take a cab to Palancar Beach, then hop a boat to the reef ($25) Was an awesome day & afterwards enjoyed great guac & $2 Mex beers!
__________________

3-99 Celebrity Century-Key West, Jamaica, Cozumel
4-03 Celebrity Century-San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Bahamas
1-04 RCL Serenade Of The Seas-San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
2-05 RCI Vision Of The Seas-Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta
4-06 RCI Explorer Of The Seas-Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Grand Cayman
3-08 RCI Legend Of The Seas-Dominican Republic, St. Kitts, Guadloupe, Martinique, Barbados, St. Lucia
3-09 Celebrity Solstice-San Juan, St. kitts, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
3-10 Ruby Princess-10 Nt Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Dominica, Grenada, Curacao, Aruba
4-11 Celebrity Eclipse-Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan, Honduras
4-12 RCI Allure Of The Seas-Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
4-13 Celebrity Summit-San Juan, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St.Thomas
4-14 Celebrity Summit-*Repo 8 Nt. San Juan PR-St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Tortola BVI, Bermuda, Bayonne,NJ




Trifecta Cruisers Charter Member
Reply With Quote

  #11  
Old May 13th, 2011, 09:49 PM
Snorkel Dawg's Avatar
Snorkel Dawg Snorkel Dawg is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Illinois
Posts: 4,321
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeerdas View Post
Although my #1 in-port goal is to see impressive ruins,



Chacchoben Myan Ruins 1 by snokeldawgs, on Flickr

Chachoben Ruins in Costa Maya = impressive!
__________________

3-99 Celebrity Century-Key West, Jamaica, Cozumel
4-03 Celebrity Century-San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Bahamas
1-04 RCL Serenade Of The Seas-San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
2-05 RCI Vision Of The Seas-Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta
4-06 RCI Explorer Of The Seas-Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Grand Cayman
3-08 RCI Legend Of The Seas-Dominican Republic, St. Kitts, Guadloupe, Martinique, Barbados, St. Lucia
3-09 Celebrity Solstice-San Juan, St. kitts, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
3-10 Ruby Princess-10 Nt Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Dominica, Grenada, Curacao, Aruba
4-11 Celebrity Eclipse-Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan, Honduras
4-12 RCI Allure Of The Seas-Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
4-13 Celebrity Summit-San Juan, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St.Thomas
4-14 Celebrity Summit-*Repo 8 Nt. San Juan PR-St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Tortola BVI, Bermuda, Bayonne,NJ




Trifecta Cruisers Charter Member
Reply With Quote

  #12  
Old September 3rd, 2011, 11:10 AM
mikeerdas mikeerdas is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,034
Default

Any more thoughts? We cruise in early October so I'm following-up / checking in on my various posts.
Reply With Quote

  #13  
Old September 3rd, 2011, 05:09 PM
CRUISERTN's Avatar
CRUISERTN CRUISERTN is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 1,582
Default Snorkeling and Ruins

We have been to all of these ports many times. My suggestion for snorkeling is anywhere near Tabyana Beach (Infinity, Bananarama, etc.) in Roatan for the BEST shorkeling right from the beach....you will LOVE it.

Costa Maya - I would go to Chacchoben and we have used Native Way also....nice trip, and nice ruin site.

Cozumel - We always get a taxi to Money Bar (also known as Dzul-ha) and the entry there will remind you of Eden Rock in Grand Cayman if you have been there....just walk down a few steps and the snorkeling is right there, but there is not a beach.

Belize - no beaches there....snorkeling is about 10 miles away by boat...we have gone to Goff's Caye and it is pretty nice....can have some strong currents over shallow coral so easy to get caught up in the coral if you are not careful....if you want to see great ruins, would recommend seeing them in Belize....would highly recommend Lamanai, Xuantunich or Altun-ha....Lamanai was our favorite because part of the fun was getting there....traveling by bus and then speed boat....Altun-ha involves a shorter boat ride and Xuantunich is mostly a bus ride along a major highway where you go more into the jungle on the other two....

My recommendation is to snorkel in Cozumel and Roatan (DEFINITELY Roatan....Tabyana is our favorite in the Western Caribbean), and see ruins in Costa Maya and Belize.
Reply With Quote

  #14  
Old September 4th, 2011, 12:57 AM
sparkinator sparkinator is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 39
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRUISERTN View Post
We have been to all of these ports many times. My suggestion for snorkeling is anywhere near Tabyana Beach (Infinity, Bananarama, etc.) in Roatan for the BEST shorkeling right from the beach....you will LOVE it.

Costa Maya - I would go to Chacchoben and we have used Native Way also....nice trip, and nice ruin site.

Cozumel - We always get a taxi to Money Bar (also known as Dzul-ha) and the entry there will remind you of Eden Rock in Grand Cayman if you have been there....just walk down a few steps and the snorkeling is right there, but there is not a beach.

Belize - no beaches there....snorkeling is about 10 miles away by boat...we have gone to Goff's Caye and it is pretty nice....can have some strong currents over shallow coral so easy to get caught up in the coral if you are not careful....if you want to see great ruins, would recommend seeing them in Belize....would highly recommend Lamanai, Xuantunich or Altun-ha....Lamanai was our favorite because part of the fun was getting there....traveling by bus and then speed boat....Altun-ha involves a shorter boat ride and Xuantunich is mostly a bus ride along a major highway where you go more into the jungle on the other two....

My recommendation is to snorkel in Cozumel and Roatan (DEFINITELY Roatan....Tabyana is our favorite in the Western Caribbean), and see ruins in Costa Maya and Belize.
Before taking up scuba diving, I snorkeled Tabyana beach twice and it was great. Actually it's what really threw a craving on me to take up scuba. You can actually see a lot of sea life from right in front of the beach.

I'm not sure if the same Mayan ruin tour is available from Costa Maya, but we toured Dzibanche and Kohunlich a couple of years ago. It was a great tour and excellent guide. The free samples of Tequilia on the way back were especially appreciated.
__________________
NCL Norway May 2001
RCCL Voyager of the Seas 2009
NCL Spirit 2011
NCL Spirit 2012

Reply With Quote

  #15  
Old September 4th, 2011, 07:13 AM
mikeerdas mikeerdas is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,034
Default

Thanks cruisetn! From what else I've read, I completely agree with your island recommendations (cozumel and roatan for snorkeling; belize and costa maya for ruins).

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRUISERTN View Post
We have been to all of these ports many times. My suggestion for snorkeling is anywhere near Tabyana Beach (Infinity, Bananarama, etc.) in Roatan for the BEST shorkeling right from the beach....you will LOVE it.
How safe does it feel? Had a lousy on-my-own experience once snorkeling at a place called Coki beach on St. Thomas. Vendors quarreling with each other and felt like a den of thieves. Should have paid for a private beach excursion with a locker area for my stuff. If I go back to St Thomas I'd pay for a snorkeling excursion to St John's or DIY there. Would likely have been More My Style. I know some people love and swear by Coki. Great snorkeling but I never relaxed. My favorite snorkeling experience so far was on a beach not too far from port in Kona on the Big Island (took a bus to it as a DIY trip). Lots of sea turtles. No lockers. But felt very safe. Of course it's the US. So being a US citizen I naturally felt safer. Haven't seen anything yet as visually stunning in the Caribbean as what I saw in Kona.

Do any of the places on Tabyana Beach have lockers? Are roving vendors kept at a distance? It's not at all relaxing to me if I'm constantly pestered by vendors or if I have to think about my stuff being stolen. What I don't like is paying a Cruise line big bucks for something I could easily organize on my own, e.g. a short taxi ride or shared road transport to a beach or private resort (and paying the day pass fee myself). Different story if it involves ferries or private boats. Then I'd rather pay for an excursion.

I see at least two private island snorkeling excursions in Roatan offered by Carnival. Anyone been on these / to these places? Is it worth the extra $ vs. going to a public beach (like I'm assuming the ones at Tabyana are).

1) "Shipwreck Snorkel and Beach" - USD $66 pp (the shipwreck is 40 ft down and so impractical for snorkeling?)
2) "Maya Key Private Island Retreat" - USD $68 pp.

Although I'm very much a DIY / price-conscious kind of guy, I'm glad to overspend for tranquility and a more relaxed experience. At least based on the reviews I've read over at Carnival.com, people really seem to love Maya Key. That it's safe, interesting, etc. Again, Coki Beach was a low point in my cruising experience so far. And I've vowed to never again repeat that type of experience. That was a wasted day in port for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRUISERTN View Post
Cozumel - We always get a taxi to Money Bar (also known as Dzul-ha) and the entry there will remind you of Eden Rock in Grand Cayman if you have been there....just walk down a few steps and the snorkeling is right there, but there is not a beach.
Sounds interesting. I love the fact that there's no beach, actually. Hopefully that keeps vendors to a minimum--or possibly non-existent? Can others who've been to Money Bar comment on it as a snorkeling location?

One other option for snorkeling in Cozumel seems to be Chankanaab. What's it like compared to Money Bar on Cozumel and Tabyana on Roatan? Does it have lockers? Are roving vendors an issue? e.g. to the point of being pesky.

I see only one excursion offered by Carnival called "Chankanaab Day Pass and Discover Mexico" for USD $60 pp. The Discover Mexico portion would be a waste. Only want to snorkel. And isn't Chankanaab a national park? How much would it cost me to take a taxi or reliable shared transport to/from Kanaab from wherever the Carnival Dream docks? I think she docks about 2 miles away from the town of San Miguel. I imagine the admission fee to the park is a lot less than USD $60 pp.

I prefer shared transport generally because I hate bargaining with taxi drivers I don't know--and so don't really trust.

Some day my wife and I will get Scuba certified. No time for that this trip. I know some people fly directly to Cozumel and spend a week doing nothing but dives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CRUISERTN View Post
Belize
if you want to see great ruins, would recommend seeing them in Belize....would highly recommend Lamanai, Xuantunich or Altun-ha....Lamanai was our favorite because part of the fun was getting there....traveling by bus and then speed boat....Altun-ha involves a shorter boat ride and Xuantunich is mostly a bus ride along a major highway where you go more into the jungle on the other two....
Don't think I saw Lamanai listed on any Carnival-offered excursions. Will have to take a look. Most people seem to recommend Xunantunich as the most impressive ruins in and of themselves. But I totally understand that the journey can be almost as important as the destination. Xunantunich is a 7 hour excursion. I'd been hoping a good portion of the road portion would go through interesting places, so I could get a better sense of the landscape in Belize.

For anyone who's been to any of following ruins sites, could you recommend any specific site / picture books (title and author) for:

* Xunantunich
* Chaccoben
* Kohunlich
* Lamanai

I always try to grab site books off eBay / Amazon before I embark on the ship. Like to know as much as I can in advance. Enriches the experience and I can ask more specific questions of a great tour guide.

Finally, if anyone has comments on which ruins site I should see in Costa Maya and why: either Chaccoben or Kohunlich, I'd appreciate it. What's more atmospheric / interesting / better eye candy for photos / etc? Would love especially to hear from anyone whose been to both sites. Or better still, both the Costa Maya sites + Xunantunich in Belize.

Guessing I'm going to love whatever I see. And will probably have to book a land/air tour in the future devoted to Mayan ruins to see Coban, Chichen Itza, and others.

Thanks again for the great info and recommendations!

Last edited by mikeerdas; September 4th, 2011 at 07:33 AM.
Reply With Quote

Reply

Bookmarks


Ad Sponsored By
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:27 AM.


© 1995 - 2014, The Independent Traveler, Inc. All rights reserved.
"A Community of People Who Love To Cruise"
All of the information contained within Cruise Critic is protected by copyright. You may, however, download a single copy only for your personal use.