Even if you tan easily, but especially if you are fair, wear sunscreen! And wear it on exposed areas that you might not think will burn, such as the part in your hair, or the backs of your knees. When we went snorkeling, we either didn't apply enough, or it wore off more quickly than we thought. Luckily, we burned on the last day there, not the first. But a bad sunburn will keep you miserable enough that your vacation will be affected. The only thing worse is turista, or Montezuma's Revenge. Which leads to the next point:
Drink a lot of water, but make sure it's purified
In a climate as hot as Mexico's, dehydration will knock you out. Our suggestion is to buy a couple of gallons of purified water at the grocery, and carry around a couple of small bottles that you can refill from the jugs.
Stay in San Miguel
Unless you don't plan on spending much time in town, it is cheaper to stay in or near town and avoid the cab fares (26 Pesos one way, as of May 1998). We easily spent over 400 pesos ($50) in the week we were there, just on taxis. That may not seem like much, but it would buy a couple of nice meals for two people. There are plenty of nice little hotels in town, and we were told they vary in quality and price to suit almost every budget.
Make sure you check out your vehicles before you take them, and drive carefully. Mexican law regarding vehicles and insurance are fairly strict, and you should be able to cover the damages for any accidents in which you are involved. Usually, this involves having supplemental insurance. When Christi rented the Volkswagen, the insurance covered her only, and likewise when Dave rented the moped.
Cruise Ships & Tour Guides
If you are visiting via cruise ship, be aware that the tour guides get money from the shops they push. They also have been known to pass along bad information regarding places that are not lining their pockets. We were told by someone one the island about a situation regarding someone who was a potential customer where the tour guide said all sorts of disturbing things, specifically regarding the areas of San Miguel to shop - and that it was dangerous if they ventured out of this area. And they were told that they shouldn't patronize any dive shops except those recommended by the cruis line becaused the couldn't guarantee the passenger would be back to the ship on time. We wandered around late at night and never felt unsafe; a trip to the reef and two tanks of air last the same amount of time no matter who you dive with. I would be more concerned about the crap these people on the cruise lines spread around in pursuit of kickbacks. As always, it is a good idea to trust your instincts.
Mexicans are nicer than Gringos
Okay, we know that's a broad generalization, so let's narrow it down to "Mexicans living in a resort town are nicer than the Gringo tourists that visit there". I guess it may be because the tourists from the States are trying to maximize their time and enjoyment, but some of the people we saw on Cozumel were just plain rude. We can't qualify this for other nationalities, but we are sure it's true of the Europeans, too.
The timeshare people do not count. While they don't mean to be rude, they are trying to make a living and therefore have to be pushy.
Copyright © 1998-2002 Dave Newton. All Rights Reserved