In 2014 over 3 million tourists flocked to Cancun and the Riviera Maya in search of sun, fun and a beautiful vacation. What you may not know, is that some of these tourists were NOT human.
Over 500 of those visitors were the mind-blowingly impressive whale sharks. Read on to learn about these gentle giants and how you can catch a rare sighting and spend some quality time with these magnificent creatures.
What is a Whale Shark?
Measuring up to 40 feet in length and weighing as much as 11 tons, these sharks are the largest living fish in the oceans, and they have spotted skins that locals call “dominoes.” The creatures typically feed at the surface on calm sunny days, suctioning great volumes of phytoplankton.
Why Do They Come?
The coast of Quintana Roo, where the Gulf of Mexico converges with the Caribbean Sea, reportedly has the world’s highest concentration of whale sharks. They come to feed and to mate, and as many as 600 come here between May and September (RIGHT NOW) —and particularly during the hottest Summer months when currents sweep plankton into the shallow waters around the Yucatán Peninsula.
How Are They Protected?
They are currently listed as a vulnerable species. Tour operators and guides must adhere to strictregulations for approaching the creatures and to prevent crowding at feeding and mating sites.
Is Swimming with Whale Sharks Safe?
Fortunately, whale sharks are known as Filter Feeders, and their diet is mainly plankton and small species of plants and fish they take in through their massive jaws. Humans are currently not on their menu.
As long as you keep your distance so as not to scare them off, your time with them should be nothing short of life-changing.
In this tour, you’ll go out to the area between Isla Contoy and Holbox Island, and in groups of two, get in two or three swims with the whale sharks. Groups are kept very small to protect these animals, so it’s important to reserve early to secure your spot.
My daughter was invited to go out on the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship…
The invitation was for two , and she asked if I’d like to be her plus-one. She didn’t have to ask her old man twice.
I love any time out on the water, but the idea of being on a pirate cruise at first wasn’t the most attractive, as I imagined it would be a corny, watered-down version of Pirates of the Caribbean.
I could not have been more wrong.
What is the Jolly Roger?
The Jolly Roger is a pirate galleon modeled on Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria. A crew of talented pirates provides an ambiance of entertainment and fun for people of all ages.
A very talented and coordinated DJ provided music, which set the stage for dancing and games for kids and adults, as pirates swung from ropes and acted out their stories and mutiny. Our ticket included a full meal, three and a half hours open bar, and a party atmosphere and entertainment.
And a Bottle of Rum…the Drinks
So we set off from the pier at Playa Linda. My daughter and I decided that as honorary pirates, rum would be our poison. I decided to go straight Cuba Libres all night, and my little girl (who is not so little anymore) went with Piña Coladas (which I think are gateway drugs, but that’s another post for another day in another blog).
Our personal pirate Marisa must somehow have some sort of pirate ninja training…it seems I was just setting down my empty cup when it was replaced by another. The same went for Alex’s coladas. And they were good—not watered down, but not quite undrinkable jet fuel either. They were Goldilocks Just Right.
For dining we could choose between a steak or fish option. We each chose a different one, and we were not disappointed.
Buffets can let you down sometimes, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, generous portions, and service from the kitchen staff and our server Marisa.
It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Has to Walk the Plank
Along with singing and dancing from the pirates and all of us guests (get ready, you WILL dance), there were games…games for men, games for women and games for couples.
Yours truly was pulled out of the audience to participate in a highly embarrassing one where I had to sing La Cuacaracha while gargling a mouthful of rum. And I won! College did pay off after all.
At one point or another on the trip, everyone was almost falling off his or her seat from laughter. The talented crew REALLY knows their comedy!
And then things got dark.
Grouch and a band of rogues held a mutiny, and a fierce battle ensued between both sides. It wasn’t a cheap fake sword fight with wood or platinum swords. This was a battle with very real looking swords and sparks definitely flew when they connected. Yikes.
At one point someone yelled Man Overboard! as Rasta took the plunge into the deep blue of the night. The guy really jumped into the waters of the bay from a pretty high perch on the ship. These guys and girls ain’t kiddin’.
Fun for the Little Pirates in the Family, too!
Who didn’t have a fantasy to be a pirate when they were kid? Heck, I do that now. The kids on were well-engaged by all the staff and in particular by Captain Morgan. They ran all over the ship looking for gold coins on a treasure hunt, played games up on stage and had meals fit for little pirate palates.
And the singing and dancing at the end of the voyage was a blast for anyone no mater what age. Well played, Jolly Rogers…you had something for the whole family.
The Staff…the Difference
Each couple or group had a lady or gentleman pirate to serve them all night. Besides serving drinks and food, they were also part of the show up on stage and all over the ship. So let me get this right—they dance, sing, act, serve, and take care of their guests…in both English and Spanish (some even in Portuguese).
Singers, dancers, stuntmen (and women), servers, bartenders…what didn’t they do? It can’t be easy to find performers like these.
If you’re looking for something REALLY fun to do for the whole family on your vacation to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, put the Jolly Roger on your vacation bucket list.
To find out more about the Jolly Roger, the primo Cancun Pirate Ship, check out this link here. To see a whole site full of amazing vacation options, check out ecotourism cancun.com. You’ll save time, money and effort and make these the vacation you’ll remember forever.
So you’ve booked your vacation to the Mexican Caribbean. You’ve scoured the Internet for information on the places you might be visiting while here, and that’s a great start. Here are a few tips to help make your holiday even better by saving you time, money and effort.
1. Bring biodegradable sunscreen to protect your skin and to protect the water.
Fish, plants, people and other living creatures DEPEND on clean water. Using Biodegradable sunblock helps protect those water supplies.
Note: in some ares, like cenotes, sunblock is not permitted at all, as that water is a direct supply of drinking water for local Mayan communities.
2. Bring a hat, swimsuit, comfortable walking shoes, and extra water for trips to Mayan archaeological sites.
Most archaeological sites are pretty far inland, very far from the sea breezes that keep us cool in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The humidity can get pretty high in some places, so dress accordingly.
You’ll be doing a good amount of walking at many sites, so bring sneakers or hiking shoes if you have them. Bring a swimsuit and maybe even a change of light clothing in case you can take a dip in a pool, cenote or stream to relieve yourself of the heat.
An extra bottle of water in a backpack can help protect against dehydration if you don’t have an adequate supply nearby. And remember, we can get sudden downpours, so one of those plastic rain ponchos in your backpack could be a lifesaver.
3. Bring a camera, or charge your phone to 100%, or bring an extra charger, as you’ll want to record this place forever!
A little preparation can go a long way on the day of your tour. You’ll be seeing and doing things you may never see or do again, so record them for posterity!
Some tours sell photos of your experience, but they can get pricey, so snap away. Cameras, especially flash, are not admitted in some areas and in some places, taking photos is prohibited altogether. Always ask permission first.
Buying a waterproof camera or buying one of those plastic containers for your camera or phone might be a great idea to get stunning underwater shots and to protect your equipment!
4. Bring mosquito repellant in case the bugs are biting.
If you’re visiting an archaeological site or cenote or anywhere near the jungle or even the lagoon, a little container of insect repellant (biodegradable if you can find it) could save you some heartache.
The local brand to look for is called Autan, in case you can’t find Off! Also, don’t wear colognes or perfumes or heavily-scented lotions or creams so as to not attract unwanted critters.
5. Bring CASH for tips, photos and shopping.
A lot of the places you’ll be visiting on your vacation are set up to receive credit and debit cards. That being said, there are remote places on your tours where cash is the only acceptable currency. Bring pesos (like 100 U.S. worth or more if you need it) just in case.
Also, make sure to let your issuing banks back home know you’ll be on vacation in Mexico to avoid credit/debit card authorization issues.
As for shopping, if you’re out in a remote community, buy your travel souvenirs from local vendors. You’ll get good prices, and it provides a sustainable income for outlying communities that would otherwise affect local environments negatively.
6. Check with your tour provider or rep to be clear on ALL costs and services included and not included in your trip.
Again, a little preparation goes a long way on vacation in a foreign country. Don’t assume things will be just like back home. You aren’t back home.
As about optional or extra costs, services or charges. For example, on boat trips, sometimes you may need to pay a dock or pier charge or tax, or a fee to local environmental authorities when visiting natural protected areas.
These travel tips are brought to you by ecotourism-cancun.comyour online home for tours, excursions and the best and most affordable vacation experiences during your holiday in the Mexican Caribbean. Contact ecotourism-cancun.com directly with any question or doubts, and see how you can save time, money and effort and ENJOY!
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At 25 miles (40 km) away from the busy vacation capital of Cancun, Isla Contoy is a pristine and protected island, where you can observe and enjoy thousands of birds, fish, and other wildlife in a virgin island setting.
Established as a protected natural reserve by the Mexican government, access is restricted to a maximum of 200 visitors per day so as to minimize the impact of tourism on the island’s natural resources.
There are no permanent inhabitants living on the island. There is, however, a dedicated team of scientists who make Contoy their temporary home as they study its precious animal and plant wildlife. The visitor’s center and research facilities will make you feel like you are producing your own NatGeo show!
Activities to Enjoy on Isla Contoy:
The Contoy Island Tour from Ecotourism-cancun.com will take you to live an amazing adventure on a virgin island, complete with a visit to the ecological museum…a key feature of this Mexican Caribbean ecotourism tour.
Sail through the wonderful waters of the Caribbean until reaching the carefully protected reef at Isla Contoy.
Marine biologists will teach and delight you with a magnificent explanation about the wildlife that inhabits this place, also known as Bird Island.
As you explore the island and swim in its pristine waters, you’ll feel what it would be like to spend time on a deserted island paradise, far from land and where you are a part of nature.
Manta rays will swim right up to you long the beach.
Enjoy a delicious grilled fish for lunch, part of that morning’s catch freshly brought to you by fishermen from the nearest island.
On the way back we will take you to Isla Mujeres to enjoy a little island shopping in their picturesque “downtown” area.
Isla Contoy is truly one of the jewels of the Mexican Caribbean! If you are coming to Cancun or the Riviera Maya for your next vacation, definitely make sure to spend some time on Isla Contoy! Contact ecotourism-cancun.com today and check out our Facebook pageand if you like our information, give us a like!
Cancun and Riviera Maya are multicolored destinations filled with tourist attractions in the Caribbean. Visitors can enjoy all kinds of land and water activities; there are tours for all tastes and ages: diving tours, extreme tours, eco tours, among others, but definitely one of the most famous is the Jungle Tour.
Adventurers looking for high speed excitement and beautiful landscapes, arrive to the Marina at the Hotel Zone in Cancun to ride their own high speed boat through the amazing Nichupte lagoon mangle channels and get to the Caribbean Sea.
It has never been so thrilling to feel the air running throughout your body and separate the waters while riding your boat; the views and liberty of being at open waters and crossing Nizuc bridge, while make you vibrate.
After, Punta Nizuc, the second largest coral reef in the world, inhabited by millions of fishes and other creatures of different colors, sizes and shapes, becomes the underwater hidden treasure that visitors long to discover with their snorkeling mask, swimming through the crystal waters and admiring all the beauty and majesty of this paradise.
On their way back, visitors don’t realize that they have spend 3 hours already enjoying the Jungle Tour, fun moments and beautiful landscapes make every minute count. The Jungle Tour will leave you breathless, without a doubt it is a “must” on your next visit to Cancun and Riviera Maya.
Romance begins from the arrival to the Marina in Cancun Hotel Zone. The couples smile with excited glances that announce the beginning of a love trip towards a memorable romantic night.
The hands of the lovers are intertwined and together they walk towards the frontdesk; they get ready to board the beautiful Spanish galleon “Columbus” in the Nichupte lagoon in Cancun, and thus, experience the romanticism of a boat that seems to have traveled in time from the past, the times of the pirates, to our present time in order to make us live those days where love was an endless adventure.
On board, the romantic tour in Cancun par excellence, Columbus The Lobster Dinner Cruise tour, awaits them to make them remember their best moments dancing to the swaying of the gentle motion of the crystal clear waters of the lagoon on a dance floor that allows them to admire the glittering starry sky and with the moon as witness of their love.
The romance tour continues. Saxophone music delights the ears while the lobster dinner or surf & turf, accompanied by a tasty wine, delight the palate to give lovers a time to share glances and moments full of love you will cherish for all times.
It is time to go back… This night tour ends after about two and a half hours fulfilling the memory of the lovers with a sunset that decorates life, the colors of the night in which the Columbus went deep into to shelter the love, and pictures of the person you love enjoying by your side, marked in the heart.
The Beatles, The Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, Spiderman, The Mask, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Queen, Guns and Roses, Kiss, Beetlejuice and Frank Sinatra, are just some of the performances full of energy and life the audience has enjoyed at Cocobongo Cancun and Coco Bongo Playa del Carmen.
Considered as the best night club in the area, Coco bongo offers a spectacular production, amazing special effects and incredible selection of music of all kinds, from retro to modern music, open bar, VIP seats, a sound system that will rock you from the inside out, a wide dance floor with sets of lights, and a group of dancers and entertainers that will make you live the best night of your life.
in Cancun never gets tired of giving the best parties of the Caribbean. Each night its theater, with capacity for 1,800 people, is full of free spirits seeking for a breath of night life, and after hours of great music, nice people and good drinks, the only thing left is all the young souls wanting more of Cancun’s night life.
On your next trip to Cancun or Playa del Carmen don’t forget to visitCoco bongoin either of these two destinations. Dance and enjoy… for the night never ends here!
A journey into ancient history and nature far from human trace
Begin an adventure to one of the places where nature is everything, where time doesn’t exist, nor the remains of a civilization that has consumed everything that is blue and green, where living beings keep on flying and swimming in harmony while we, humans, stare at them in awe. Discover a magical Caribbean paradise that preserves its natural beauty and resources in which we are only visitors.
Not very far from Cancun (2 hours away) lies the beautiful and picturesque town of Tulum with its cultural, natural and historical soul. Its precious hallmark consists on an archaeological site on a cliff by the sea that used to be an important nautical port for the ancient Mayans.
Another relevant archaeological site stands in the heart of the Mayan jungle in Sian Kaan natural reserveonly 10 miles from Tulum downtown. Muyil will welcome you with its majestic buildings and lush vegetation, home for the ancient Mayan spirits and endemic fauna and flora species.
After hiking among cultural and historical magical remains, Sian Kaan biosphere natural reserve lagoons will refresh your body and mind. Submerge yourself in the beautiful crystal clear channels, take a boat (accessible through locals offering boat rides to visitors) and admire this place of nature, blessed with so much life and colors. Stare at birds and fishes in their natural habitat, feel the oxygen in your lungs, be glad to be alive!
Last but not least, discover a cenote; the whole area is filled with those gorgeous natural wells of blue and fresh water considered sacred for the Mayan civilization. Kayaking, diving and snorkeling are three of the most important activities to enjoy in the cenotes.
Far from the hustle and bustle, far from your responsibilities and worries, give yourself a sip of fresh air and enjoy a date with Mother Nature in Sian Kaan in the Riviera Maya.
If you are looking for strong emotions and adrenaline in the heights, the Xplor Park tour is just what you need. The park is near Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya and not far from Cancun. It takes about an hour to get there and the adventure begins from the moment one arrives at the entrance of Xplor park, for a cavern that will take you to live an unforgettable adventure full of speed in the heights awaits you.
The van leaves relatively early to Xplor, is a journey on road that passes very quickly because here in the Riviera Maya there is no traffic. Arriving at the Park you will not know where to start but the circuits in raft are an excellent choice, and why not? Take the two of them and row with the special oars attached to your hands. Then you can swim in the incredible underground river full of stalactites and other rock formations that simply beautify the scenery along the route.
After admiring that much underground beauty, go for a refreshing shake at “El Oasis” – where other energizing drinks are also served – and then rush into the impressive 2 zip line circuits with 14 zip lines with extremely fun landings on water. In the “Deer” circuit you will feel the excitement at full speed; and the second circuit, “Jaguar”, is not far behind, for the mixture between height and speed is just the perfect combination!
And to take full advantage of this incredible Xplor tour, directly continue to the amphibious vehicles – amazing vehicles that look like small jeeps – and give a dizzying ride through the jungle on winding roads filled with vegetation, hanging bridges and dark underground caves that will give one touch of adrenaline to your Xplor tour in the Riviera Maya.
Last but not least, the lunch hour, mmm… eat deliciously with the buffet of salads, pastas, meats, desserts and many other culinary delights that will make you regain strength. You will spend an amazing day from the beginning to the end in the Xplor Park Cancun tour, that’s for sure!
Rio Secreto (Secret River) provides a magical journey that will bring to life the stories of mystical Mayan underworld, Xibalba … A fun tour on a real underground river, where you can admire the carved wonders over millions of years in the limestone, between clear water, caverns of outstanding beauty. This is an “alive” natural museum, unique in the world. Before opening its doors, Rio Secreto required a year of intense exploration that as for today it only has completed 10 km and 1.5 km so far open to the public. It has three routes: Supreme, Palaces, and Joy, all accept only 144 visitors a day, with the purpose of conserving the area and generate the least impact. The pat is not dangerous or deep, 20 meters is the maximum depth for reaching the fall. To swim down to what appears to be the center of the earth you don’t require almost anything, just a wet suit, swim shoes and a helmet with a lamp, and they provide all of it.
Step into one of the most fascinating places in the world: the basement of the Yucatan Peninsula. While being there, you will discover the importance of preserving nature so that others can enjoy it the same as you. I promise that Rio Secreto will be one of the most beautiful places you’ve known in your life. Rio Secreto is very closed to Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico.