Mexico Villa/Condo /rentals
Spring/Summer 1998 Newsletter

Latest news and other tidbits from Cozumel
On our last trip to the island we made a few notes on new additions in Cozumel.
We discovered a new bar/restaurant during an excursion to the east side of the island with friends. Coconuts is perched along a cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Tables and hammocks are strategically placed amidst a natural setting taking advantage of the spectacular vista. Mounted on the walls inside the bar is the usual collection of t-shirts left by visitors to the bar. We noted that one shirt made this announcement in magic marker: “Engaged at this spot 3-20-98 at the table on the point.” A very romantic spot indeed! Coconuts, currently open until dark, is owned and operated by American Sam Black. You can’t spot it from the road, but look for the abandoned hotel; Coconuts is next door (to the south).

There’s a new San Francisco Market located on 30th and Juarez. If you take a taxi, tell them mercado San Francisco or you might end up at Playa San Francisco (a beach about 5 miles south of town). There’s another San Francisco market on 65th. At both you’ll find groceries, bakery, deli (sort of), household goods and clothing. This is almost like the states!

Crab Shack, a new eat-in/take-out restaurant-deli, is located on 10th Avenue (near La Choza). Tasty fresh salads featured on our visit were crab pasta salad, grilled vegetable salad, carrot salad, potato pie and others. Specialty items such as sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and imported cheeses and deli meats were offered as well. On the menu were coconut shrimp, deli sandwiches, fresh fish and other specials.

For a massage in your villa/condo, we would recommend Laura (cell phone: 91-987-4-84-49). Laura has been on the island for a year but we just discovered her on this last trip. She’ll bring her table and lotions and treat you to a half hour ($25) or hour ($50) of bliss. Make sure you take her phone number with you, though; Laura doesn’t have an office.

It appears that the El Solar restaurant is no longer open; in its place is a new Japanese restaurant.

Check airfares in your area for summer/fall travel dates
From some cities you need to fly to Cancun and then take the ferry across. We’ve found that there are flights this summer and fall directly in to Cozumel from our area (Mpls.)

Our suggestions for making the
most of your vacation in Cozumel

We want you to go home with great memories from your stay in Cozumel so we’ve put together a list of suggestions that should enhance your visit. Make a list–before you leave home–of the activities, places or events you want to enjoy on your trip . . . it’s surprising how fast time slips away. You don’t want to get back and wish you had made time to visit the fiesta or gone fishing or . . .
• Do not miss out on the spectacular underwater world that Cozumel offers. You can snorkel, scuba dive or take a tour on a glass bottom boat. We think you’ll be impressed with the incredible beauty of the reefs and the abundance of the fish life.

• Visit Chankanaab Lagoon National Park. This is a natural aquarium in Cozumel that features tropical fish and unique coral formations. The botanical garden surrounding the lagoon has over 350 species of tropical plants and a replica of a Mayan village. Snorkeling is excellent at Chankanaab (but avoid days when cruise ships are in if you can). I hear you can now swim with the dolphins at Chankanaab (you need to make reservations in advance).

• Don’t miss the fiesta in the plaza on Sunday evening. Festivities include live Mexican music, dancing and food (sold by local church groups or members of Lions or Rotary clubs). This is a traditional social event of the Cozumel residents (but gringos are welcome!); you’ll see young and old, singles and families, all dressed in their finest for this event.

• Explore the east coast of the island. Rent a car or scooter and head for the other side of the island which is pretty much undeveloped except for a few bars/restaurants. If you take the southern route your first stop would be Paradise Cafe where they usually have reggae music. Settle into one of their hammocks out back and make yourself at home. When you leave you can take the light house road south (by car or rent a horse across the road from the cafe). Climb to the top of the lighthouse for some marvelous views. Then hit the road again and make your way up the coast. Other stops could be Chen Rio, Punta Morena, Coconuts, Playa Bonita, Mescalitos. It’ll be a good day!

• Go shopping at the central market that the locals frequent. Located on 20th and A.R. Salas, You’ll find fresh fish, shrimp, veggies and fruits. Make sure you get there early for best selection (before 1 p.m. for sure). Buy some goodies and eat in one night.

• Now try beach hopping on the west side of the island. Playa Palancar is one of our favorites. The beach is sugary and the water turquoise. This is one of the quieter beach areas (no jet skis or parasailing). San Francisco is a popular beach with lots of diversions (jet skis, etc.). Another favorite is Playa Sol with water sports plus a menagerie of animals (alligators, monkeys, iguanas, parrots, bunnies, etc.).

• Go for the big one; charter a fishing boat and maybe you’ll bring home dinner. Paula H. reeled in a sailfish that was almost as big as she is during a honeymoon trip in March. Kevin and Paula rented the Paloma for a half day of fishing and brought in a sailfish (released) and some others that they had cleaned and cooked for dinner. Yum! The Paloma can be chartered for half days ($350) or full day ($450). Pop, beer, snacks are included. We can make arrangements for you if you’d like.

• Early during your stay plan to go to the island museum (located on the oceanfront road north of the passenger ferry pier). This is a excellent way to become familiar with the island and its points of interest, history and a replica of a typical Mayan casa. There’s a restaurant on the second story that is perfect for breakfast or lunch with a view.

• Learn more about the history of the island by visiting the ruins at San Gervasio. Located in the center of the island, remnants of the past Mayan culture remain in the jungle. When you get there, have a guide accompany you to get the most out of your tour.

Other ideas: Go horseback riding, take a horse and buggy ride, go for a long walk along the oceanfront (schedule it right and you can take in a glorious sunset!), take Spanish lessons at the museum, go parasailing, jet skiing, check out the night life, shop-shop-shop, choose a different restaurant every time you go out or have a cook for a week in your villa.

Day outings to the mainland: Mayan ruins at Tulum, Xcaret eco-archaeological park, Dos Ojos cenote, Xel-ha for snorkeling, the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza . . .

Our trek to Xcalak
When a story about Xcalak appeared in “The Angling Report,” a national newsletter subscribed to by avid fishermen, we thought we should make a trip to the area. The front page story was written and submitted by a professional fishing guide from Alaska who had booked the Xcalak property through us. Our name, phone and e-mail address were included in the article and we started getting phone calls inquiring about bonefishing in the area. We decided it was time to take a familiarization trip to Xcalak.

Thus in March we found ourselves on the road for a quick trip to check out the property and the surrounding area. We rented a car in Playa del Carmen ($40/day for a VW). We loaded up on some basic groceries at the market in Playa and began our journey south . . . way south. It was about a five-six hour drive (we made several stops, however; we filled up with gas, stopped for a cold drink, a couple of bathroom stops and there were several military checkpoints).

Part of the drive was boring, but some quite interesting with a multitude of butterflies and colorful birds, countless road runners and a few parrots. A portion of the route takes you through a major citrus center of Mexico (stop and buy a big bag of oranges and enjoy freshly squeezed orange juice).

After bouncing along on a rough gravel road the final leg of the trip, we arrived at Cielos Azules (blue heaven), our home for our stay. The 4 B.R., 3 bath two-story villa is located right on the beach with lots of sand and plenty of palm trees. The second story was recently added and those two bedrooms and baths are wonderful. Another two bedrooms and one bath are on the main floor along with kitchen, dining room, living room. The owner has taken much time and trouble to make the property comfortable for guests (with a generator for electricity, hot water heater, frig, stove, TV/VCR). We were quite comfy during our stay.

Our visit was brief so we didn’t get a chance to do much but poke around town and lounge in the sun a bit. Otherwise activities in the area include snorkeling, diving, fishing and doing absolutely nothing at all. There’s a ferry to Chetamal three times a week, too if you want to check out that area. If you’re interested in getting away from it all, Xcalak is the spot! Call us if you have questions about Xcalak.

Report from Akumal
by Marty Klein

Just got back from Akumal on March 27th & thought I’d inform all my past guests about what is new in the area & what I discovered on this trip.

Akumal is a developing area (we are hoping it doesn’t develop too much). Everytime I visit there is always something new. Usually it is a new home or condo that has been built. This time, yes there was a new condo being built way at the southern part of Half Moon Bay & the front part of Iguana’s & La Sirena’s lot is being developed. We are pretty excited about the addition. There will be 6 bungalows on the front, along with two pools connected by a canal. The developer says the canal can be used for lap swimming. The whole Iguana/Sirena lot will be surrounded by a wall making our area more private, secure & defined.

There are two new restaurants in Akumal. One is called Turtle Bay. It is on Akumal Bay & is open for breakfast & lunch. The restaurant makes excellent baked goods fresh daily. We made it a habit of going down there about 7:30am each morning to buy fresh muffins etc. to have with our morning coffee. The muffins just get out of the oven at about that hour. MMM...GOOD!! The breakfast menu is very good & imaginative. This restaurant is run by Sydney Brewer & her husband Thomas. Sydney is my manager Tussy’s daughter. Tussy Brewer & Linda Pongratz own Costa Turquesa, the company that manages my condo. The other restaurant is right next door to Turtle Bay & is called La Cueva Del Pescador. It is a dinner restaurant specializing in local cuisine & fresh fish. I didn’t have a chance to eat there but it was very busy each time I went by. I thought that was a good sign. These two welcome restaurants gives Akumal 6 restaurants plus the small eatery next to our grocery, Super Chomak. We also have the taco bar next to Lol Ha Restaurant. All of these eateries are clean & serve very good fresh food. Remember when people were afraid to visit Mexico because of “Montezuma’s Revenge” (the runs)? Well, I’ve been to Akumal at least 25 times & have brought guest and have never gotten sick nor have I had a report of sickness from any of my renters.....thank God!!

The other news I have from this trip is Hilario Hiller. Who is Hilario Hiller? I think he is a treasure. I was thrilled to meet him & disappointed that I hadn’t met him earlier. Hilario is an American who has lived in the Yucatan for 25 years. He is an expert on the Mayans & the Yucatan. We were at the CEA (Centro Ecologico De Akumal) and saw a signup sheet for a tour of Akumal. This tour was to include information about the geology & botany of the area plus a jungle tour to Laguna Lagartos. I said to myself...where in Akumal is Laguna Lagartos??? We signed up for the tour ($5) & had an adventure. First Hilario took us along the coast & showed us some of the local plant life & explained how the Mayans used these native plants. He also told us that the whole Yucatan is covered with limestone. That is why the cenotes are so clean. the water is filtered through the limestone. Then we walked across the road at the southern part of Half Moon Bay & through an opening in the jungle that I had never noticed. Led by Hilario with his machete cutting out encroaching fronds & branches, we made our way through the dense jungle. We traveled for about 10-15 minutes & amazingly came upon a pristine lake hidden in the jungle. This lake is a feeder for Yal Ku Lagoon. It was beautiful!! Ducks & turtles swim around in the lake along with schools of small fish. We never knew this area existed!!

Hilario is a wealth of knowledge about the Yucatan. He conducts tours to all the ruins & he lives right in Akumal. He can take you to cenotes or wherever your interests call. He told me he does a lot of private tours of Coba & has a very interesting tour to southern Quintana Roo to ruins near Lake Bacalar. I can’t wait to return to do another tour with him. He can take you in his car or you can use yours.

On this trip we finally got a chance to visit Isla Holbox. I highly recommend this as a side trip from Akumal. It can be combined with a trip to Valladolid, a lovely colonial city located less than 2 hours from Akumal via the Coba road. To get to Holbox you take the Coba road to the Nuevo Xcan turn off. This fork is just before you arrive at Coba. You proceed to Nuevo Xcan and turn right (east) upon arriving there. Continue for a few miles until you come to the turnoff for Chiquila. The turn is to the left. Upon arriving in Chiquila, you will see the dock. We hired a boat driver to take us on a tour. He charged us $400 pesos for the tour. We were a party of 6 people. That translated to about $8 per person. A very cheap price for a private tour. First we went to Bird Island. We found a great variety of sea birds many sitting on nests occupied by their new born chicks. We got off the boat on the island. Bring binoculars. There is a viewing tower on the island so you can see all the birds. It was a great experience. We saw the reddish egret in full breeding plumage. What a gorgeous bird!! Next we proceeded to Isla Holbox. We walked around the island for a while & then had a great fresh sea food lunch at a restaurant recommended by our boat driver. Prices are very reasonable here. Although the island is rather rustic in nature (don’t go if you expect luxury), there are some OK hotels on the island if you want to stay over. Our boat driver recommended El Faro Viejo as a nice hotel to stay at on the island. Cost is about $50/night. The best viewing of the birds on Bird Island is either early in the morning or at dusk when they return from feeding. We thought this was a great excursion & highly recommend it to our renters.

We also have another restaurant to add to our recommended list. It is Que Fresca Restaurant located at Zamas on the beach at Tulum. We had the fresh fish. It was wonderful. Our only problems here was the slow service & the prices were a bit high. The restaurant is on the beach with great views.

One other note I had. Although this time of year, March, is high season in Akumal, we never saw more than 6 people swimming in Half Moon Bay. This amazed me. Half Moon Bay is a super snorkeling place yet so few of the visitors were using it. I don’t understand it but I love to snorkel alone.

Carol & I get great pleasure in making additions to the condo. We have had a ball looking for local art to hang on our walls. Hasta luego.

Book early!

We have summer and fall dates available. Winter dates are quickly filling; we do still have some holiday openings. Lots of interest in New Years for 2000 but we aren't taking reservations until September (if you're interested, we'd suggest you let us know NOW so we can put you on the list. Plan now for your getaway!

We fill up every winter, so don't get wait too long . . .

Sherrie & Ron

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