ExtraHyperActive: Mexico
Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts

Why You Should Bring Your Own Snorkeling Gear On Your Next Tropical Vacation

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best snorkeling gear near me


Love traveling, and watersports ? Don't forget to bring your snorkeling gear to your next vacation !

Here is why :

My trip to Mexico was the second time I regretted not bringing my own snorkel gear with me. My fins are old, heavy, all-rubber ones, not really comfortable for tropical diving/snorkeling ( since tropical divers do not always need wetsuit booties, many use long, full-foot light pocket fins while diving in tropical water ). Also, I wanted to travel light, and knew that most dive schools provided all the gear for their trips.

But even if you're not a diver, in places like Mexico ( Hawaii or Florida's Keys ) there are many great places where you can go snorkeling.

Of course, you can always rent a snorkeling set ( mask, snorkel and fins ), or even buy a brand new one at a local WallMart. But having you own snorkel gear means you’ll have one less thing to do when you get to your destination. In other words, you’ll be at the beach sooner instead of searching for the rental shop.

I think that if you're a frequent visitor/lover of sunny tropical places ( and love snorkeling/diving/swimming ), investing in a quality snorkel gear set is a must.

As I've mentioned above, full-foot pocket fins are lighter, and sometimes the whole snorkel set will weight about 4 lbs. A set usually comes in a convenient carrying and storage bag, that will easily fit in any suit case.

Also, before I heard people recommend bringing your own snorkel gear because of the hygiene aspect ( Mexico doesn't have the same health & safety rules that you're likely used to at home ). I don't know about you, but for me, there is just something about having your own snorkel in your mouth :) When it comes to masks, aside from the hygiene thing, pink eye can be very nasty.

And finally, the price of the snorkeling set is ( almost ) the same as the price of one (!) "snorkeling tour". So, buying and bringing your own gear will pay off even during a short tropical vacation !!

So, what is the best snorkeling gear out there ?

best snorkeling gear amazon


Should you buy your snorkeling gear from Amazon, Walmart, Costco, or eBay ?

Personally, I always recommend to buy your outdoor gear from Amazon.
Why?

Not only will you have a larger selection of choices, prices, brands, and read the snorkel gear reviews before you buy, but, the most important, after your purchase, and use, you can recommend that gear to your friends, family, and anybody else looking to buy their own snorkeling gear, and MAKE MONEY !

Below, see some of our recommendations, and choose from amongst the choices that we have tried out or from amongst the best sellers from Amazon :




Looking for a way to support your healthy, and adventurous lifestyle ?
Learn how you can make money online promoting fitness, travel, and outdoor gear !

Scuba Diving, Swimming And Rappelling Into Mexico's Cenotes

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Mexico's cenotes forever stole my heart ! Scuba diving into Chac Mool cenote last year has become one of my greatest lifetime experiences !

 A diver explores a cenote near the Maya ruins of Tulum.


There is something magical and mystic about  cenotes. Mexican cenotes are one of the most spectacular attractions and without a doubt, one of the most interesting natural phenomenons that you can find in the Riviera Maya. 

It is estimated that more than 3000 cenotes are distributed over the Yucatan peninsula. Of those, 1400 have been discovered and mapped, the most popular being the ones found in Chichen Itzá, Valladolid, X’keken and Xcaret.

If you ever visit Mexico, visiting a cenote must be on your Bucket List ! Doesn't matter if you're a certified diver or not, there is a way to explore this one of many Nature's Wonders !

Archaeologist Guillermo de Anda descends into the Holtún cenote in Mexico’s Yucatán minutes before the moment on July 19 when the sun is directly overhead. When that occurs, twice a year, light falls vertically into the water.



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Not Your Usual Dream Job: Sewer Diver

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When was the last time you said, "I love my job! " ?
Many scuba diving professionals, especially those that work on some exotic island or beautiful beachfront location, get to say it all the time. There is nothing better than being a scuba diver, a career that affords you beautiful weather around the year, adventures of a lifetime, and a chance to share the excitement with others.

Unless, you are a sewer diver...


We all balk at the thought of being dropped into water containing raw sewage, because the mere idea of it disgusts us. How could anybody be expected to freely enter such a world of filth and contamination?  This is a job that simply has to be done,  and a few brave souls are willing to do it.

Meet a man with perhaps the world's most disgusting job ... and he loves it.



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Scuba Diving: Dos Ojos Cenote The Yucatan Peninsula

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... Chac-Mool cenote diving during my trip to Cancun, Mexico was THE MOST EXCITING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE !

Though before that, I had done 2 more tropical dives ( Underwater Museum and a one tank reef dive near Playa del Carmen ), cenote diving was the experience to remember for the rest of my life !
It's one of those things when "you've got to be there" :)

 If you're a certified diver, definitely put Cenote Diving on your Bucket List !

Meanwhile, here is a short video to give you a general idea of what to expect...( but trust me, even the best edited video will not substitute the real life experience )

Photo/Video credit Expert Vagbond


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Tulum Mayan Ruins On Less Than $ 10

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Tulum, considered by many as the most beautiful of the Mayan Ruins sites around Cancun, is small but exquisitely poised on the fifteen-meter-high cliffs above the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.
When I was planning my trip to Mexico, one of the things to do/see was "Visit Mayan Ruins".

I used to be a huge history buff. When I was a kid, my family traveled a lot, and every time we would visit a new town, my mom would make sure we see as many local museums and landmarks as possible. She was the one who taught me that travel wasn't just about snapping a picture in front of a monument or a landmark. For her, travel was a form of learning that exposes a person to cultures other than one's own and to places that have historical or cultural significance.

Since then, I always try to learn as much as possible about the place I'm about to visit. While I'm a big fan of guided adventure trips, I ( personally ) don't see value in popular "walking city tour".

That's why when I was researching trips to Tulum Mayan Ruins of the Yucatan Peninsula, I was a bit disappointed to see the prices for many tours ( though with transportation from Cancun ) to be as much $ 75-100.

Tulum is only 2 hour ( less if you drive like a real Mexican :)) from Cancun, and the Tulum Mayan Ruins are very easy to find just off the main 307 HWY

I paid just 55 pesos for parking and another 65 ( pesos ) for the access fee !

Was it worth it ? Yes and No

The ruins themselves are not much to look at. There are about 60 well preserved buildings on the site. The most significant of them have plaques with information in English, Spanish and Mayan.

These ruins' greatest attraction is its location. Mayan Ruins of Tulum are a spectacular site to behold. It stands on a bluff facing the rising sun looking out on views of the Caribbean that are nothing less than spectacular.



There are a few places to take a great pic, but the best one would be from the beach below with the ruins in the back. The beach is the attraction of its own. It's the most visited area of the archaeological site. Judging by the number of people it's even more popular than the ruins themselves.

NOTE: At the entrance you'll be offered "a guided tour with snorkeling". While they say that tour guides are well worth the price, make sure you'll ask if the snorkeling tour is at the beach or at nearby Akumal Bay ( beautiful reefs, lagoons and caves ! ). The ruins beach is quite small, with lot's of tourists, hence water visibility is bad which makes "snorkeling" pointless. Or you can just bring your own snorkeling gear.

But I won't deny, the place is a photographer's delight. But, honestly, I spent more time at the beach, than "exploring" the ruins. Yet, it's a nice day trip that can be combined with other attractions in the area.


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Cenote Diving In The Yucatan Peninsula

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A cenote is a natural phenomenon, a sinkhole in the Earth’s surface. Nearly everyone who visits the Yucatan Peninsula soon learns of this rather unique feature of the local landscape.

National Geographic listed "Dive Caves in the Yucatan" a must-do trip of their Ultimate Adventure Bucket List 2012


After my Cancun's Underwater Museum dive, cavern/cenote diving was next on my Bucket List.

NOTE:

Cave diving and cavern ( cenote ) diving are two different things. In short, you need the proper training and equipment for cave diving.
But for cenote diving all you need is an open water certificate.

The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has an estimated 7,000 cenotes, but only a dozen of them are open to recreational divers. There are a few companies and several dive stores that offer exciting excursions to some of the most beautiful cenotes close to Cancun and Playa del Carmen. My choice was The Reef Marina Dive Shop


One of the more popular in the area (due to proximity to Playa del Carmen), Chac Mool cenote has something for everyone from speolotherms galore and airdomes on the cavern tour to long penetration cave dives in both directions. But most important, it's a perfect beginner dive site !

I'm not even going to try to describe all the beauty and excitement of cenote diving ! You have to experience it for yourself. So far, this has been my ultimate diving experience ! Such a novelty can only be experienced; pictures and descriptions don't do it justice. Cenote diving is a mind blowing adventure, and I guarantee you, you'll come up to the surface speechless !



NOTE:

CENOTE DIVING IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR DIVERS WITH CLAUSTROPHOBIA

Though, in a cavern, you are always within sight of natural daylight, there are certain areas where you feel your mind playing tricks on you. Sometimes the closed in cave-like atmosphere can give those with claustrophobia real problems and the overhead restrictions of cavern diving demand good buoyancy control.

Also,Chac-Mool is one of the caverns which has a Halocline - his is where salt and fresh water come together creating "fascinating" visual effects. It gets blurry, so don't freak out, you're not loosing your mind :)

But all in all, diving in a cenote is very different from ocean diving and must truly be experienced to be fully appreciated. Divers who have floated through this amazing world will remember it forever !


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Driving And Car Rental In Mexico

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If I have to summarize everything in just one sentence, it would be this:

DON'T RENT A CAR IN MEXICO

You've probably read the same about driving in Mexico in every travel guide:

“They’re all crazy!”
“It’s dangerous!”
“Don’t drive at night!”
“Watch out for armed bandidos and highway robbers!”

I grew up driving in Russia, I drove in the world's largest megalopolises like Moscow, New York and L.A. Driving in Seattle ( one of America's most traffic congested cities ) is no piece of cake either. But I've never seen that many retards behind the wheel as I saw in Mexico !

At first look, it may appear that there are no traffic rules at all. As it turned out later, there are some traffic rules, but all of them are "flexible based on circumstances".

In Mexico, it’s always Make Your Own Lane Day! Your lane is wherever you can fit. The speed limits in Mexico are largely ignored, with people driving at only one of two speeds: eye-clawingly slow or terrifyingly fast, a choice seemingly independent of the number of people crammed into their car or truck.

Another unique difference in Mexico is the proliferation of speed bumps, or topes. These aren’t your average "American speed bumps". They are usually gigantic and made of steel discs, not gently sloping concrete. If you hit one unaware at a high speed, you will damage your car.

Before leaving for Mexico, I read somewhere : " Police corruption used to be a major problem in Mexico, and as a result the government has cracked down big time. They routinely test officers by having undercover agents offer them bribes. That means that you shouldn’t go around expecting to offer cops money to get out of trouble. "

I got pulled over twice in Zona Hotelera in Cancun ( where, apparently, special "Tourist Police" is suppose to take extra care of visitors ). First they take your driver license, then they start "extorting" money from you. First time I paid 500 pesos, and the next time I gave the officer my car rental papers and told him to call the office about the ticket he was about to give me. He let me go.

As for renting a car in Mexico, Id' suggest to book online...but even that won't guarantee you won't be ripped off.

I rented a car through kayak.com from American Car Rental, the name that ( at least for me ) basically screams "trust us". Not only did it turn out to be a Mexican company where nobody could speak decent English, they took "cash deposit" ( $1750 ) from my debit card ( unlike in America where they take a slip of your credit card, and usually charge just $200-250 ) leaving me with no money for the next two days.

Driving in Mexico is definitely not an experience that you will soon forget. I'm sure they have traffic laws. Whether or not they are enforced seems completely arbitrary, so drive at your own risk. But remember, the number one cause of death for American tourists is traffic-related fatalities.

Also keep in mind :

The Mexican judicial system operates under Napoleonic law: offenders are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

What does it have to do with driving in Mexico ?

Read " Why You Don't Want to Have an Accident When Driving a Rental Car in Mexico "

One thing I wish I had during my travel around the Yucatan Peninsula is a road map. In US you can buy a paper road map ( of the state you travel round ) at ( almost ) every gas station, but in Mexico I had a hard time finding one. So if you don't have a smart phone, tablet or GPS make sure you get one of these maps:


Scuba Diving The Underwater Museum in Cancun

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Since the first time I heard about Cancun's Underwater Museum, I knew I absolutely had to do that ! So, I made "Scuba Diving The Underwater Museum in Cancun" my Bucket List goal. And if you know me, you know that if I set a goal, sooner or later I always achieve it !

That was my very first dive in the Yucatan Peninsula, and though, I heard and read some negative feedback about the museum dive, for me it was an awesome dive.


Unlike in Washington, diving in the crystal-clear Caribbean waters was warm enough even without a wet suit. Visibility was amazing ! The museum is a short boat ride from Cancun and near of Isla Mujeres ( another local landmark and a popular tourist destination ).

The sculptures sit on the seafloor in water that’s only 28-feet deep. Though the museum is ideal for divers and snorkelers alike ( there is a shallow portion just for snorkelers ), I doubt the experience would be the same.

Depending on which operator you go with, prices for certified divers average between $45 and $65 USD for one-tank dives ( all gear and the boat ride included; you might have to ask for a wet suit if you think you might get cold ).

PLEASE NOTE: The sculptures were designed to become artificial reefs and were constructed from special materials which promote marine life and create areas for corals to flourish and marine creatures to breed and take refuge. The appearance of the sculptures have changed over time as the coral had grown and marine life had colonized the structures.

So don't be disappointed if you can't clearly see every single detail of every single structure.




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Mexico Travel Tips : The Yucatan Peninsula

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According to Wiki:
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist countries on earth. Much of the tourist industry is centered around the beach resorts as well as the altiplano in the central part of the country. American tourists tend to predominate on the Baja peninsula and the more modernized beach resorts (Cancún, Puerto Vallarta)...
Visiting Mexico has been on my Bucket List for quite some time, and as soon as I got my new passport, I decided to make this dream come true !

For the last two years, there has been a lot of negative talk about traveling to Mexico. This spring, U.S. issued widest travel warning to Mexico since 2006. The U.S. State Department advised that United States citizens should avoid all "non essential" travel to 14 of 31 Mexican states.

Though the General Consul of Mexico, Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez, called the new U.S. warning an exaggeration, traveling to Mexico ( even it's traditional tourist destinations along the Mayan Riviera ) should not be taken lightly.

Here are a few tips I'd like to share that, hopefully, will make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

1 - Go All Inclusive.

Personally, it's not my style of traveling. I can hardly spend a few hours on the beach doing nothing. But if you're traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula, staying at one of those all inclusive resorts might be one of your best options. Here is why : Though "Mexican law" says that nobody can own a beach in this country, this is just a bunch of BS.

The whole Zona Hotelera in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen is dotted with resorts which closely guard their territory against "intruders". They don't have visitor parking, you can't buy shit at their bars and restaurants, and God forbids if you use one of their lounge chairs ( there are guards every 100 feet which makes you feel like you're in a very luxury prison ).

When you're staying at an all inclusive resort, all ( or most ) drinks, food, activities, rentals are included in the price. Resort staff speaks decent English, can get you a cab, or recommend a restaurant or an activity ( just remember, they DO get paid commission, so it's in THEIR best interest to recommend you that restaurant, club or a company ).

2- Don't even think about renting a car

I'll write another post about my misadventure with renting and driving in Mexico, but in short, renting a car in the Yucatan Peninsula is just a waste of money.

3 - BRIBE THE COPS !

If you do decide to rent a car, you'd better be comfortable with bribing a government official. Believe me, it's quite an experience !

3 - Agree on the price before getting into a taxi

Set taxi fares before getting in. If you have a problem, take his number off the car & report it to your hotel. Have smaller bills ( pesos, of course ! ).

4 - Find best deals on tours and activities online

There are so many things to do and to see in the Yucatan Peninsula, that when I was planning me trip I was overwhelmed with the choices. But keep in mind that many of the same trips are "advertised" by many different "local independent travel reps". You'll see a lot of "travel tour booths" everywhere, and some of those "agents" are very annoying. They deliver no value, quite useless, and speak poor English. Usually, the prices are about 10-30% more than what you'd normally pay. One of the sites I found useful is Cancun Discounts.

5 - Using pesos is your best bet

I was advised against exchanging money at banks, yet I found banks that pay the most pesos for your buck. The only disadvantage is that you have to produce your passport ( unlike exchange houses ). Most ATMs at resorts give you American dollars, BUT ! I withdrew $200 , and the "commission' was ...$36 ! Street ATMs give you pesos. Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express being the most popular.

6 - Crossing a street in Mexico is not a privilege, it's a challenge.

YOU DO NOT have the right of way even in a cross walk or at a red light. Be on the defensive. Taxi & bus drivers do not have any education and think that the road holds 3 things; 1) Their vehicle, 2) Their garbage & 3) Their right of way. So RUN when crossing the street.

7- Don't worry, they "speak" English

Honestly, I didn't try to "communicate" with locals, but whenever I needed to buy something, or to be exact, whenever they tried to sell me some crap or to scam a few lousy pesos out of me, they spoke decent English.

8 - DON'T DRINK AND EAT "AUTHENTIC FOODS"

You know the rule of thumbs - not to drink in Mexico, but I'd also avoid eating "authentic/street food". Not because it gives you monster diarrhea, but simply because you're not used to this type of food. Elote ( or Esquites ) at Mexico street stands is one of those things you must eat in Mexico ( I almost gagged the first time I saw it, but it turned out to be quit delicious ! )

9 - No free WI-FI for you, amigo

Seriously McDonald's, WTF is my free WI-FI ? You brought your shitty corporation to this country, but too cheap to give this poor people free internet ? Shame on you !

10 - Use sunscreen even on an overcast day.

I came back from my trip looking like a fried chicken, with my skin peeling from all that Cancun sun tanning. If you plan to spend an extensive period in the sun, ease your way into it over a week, use plenty of sunscreen, and avoid using any lotions or creams that contain alcohol.

The final and the most important tip that I'd like to share - remember, you are going to another country. Don't expect the world to fall at your feet. You can have an amazing cultural experience if you give a little, and in return you'll get a lot! Smile!




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Cave base jumping

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I am not sure how to categorize this post : base jumping or caving ( spelunking ) ?

The Cave of Swallows in San Luis Potosí, Mexico is the largest cave shaft in the world, second deepest pit in Mexico and the 11th deepest in the world ! ( the high point provides a 1220 feet (372 m) freefall drop ).
This cave had been a favorite BASE jumping site from the 70’s until it was officially closed to jumping in 2002. When BASE jumping was still allowed, an enthusiast could expect a jump to last about twelve seconds from his initial leap to reaching the floor of the shaft. But going down was only half the fun. The only way back up was...the reason BASE jumping is not allowed there anymore. Some of the BASE outfitters were using a motorized winch system to lift the jumpers to the surface after their jump which made the authorities ban the sport.

BASE jumping organizers are attempting to work with the local, state, and federal governments to once again be allowed to enjoy the cave. For now it is illegal to jump with a parachute or use a motorized winch near Cave of Swallows.

But rappelling and ascending out is still allowed. Same as with BASE jumping, absailing ( descending ) is fun, but going back up is the real challenge. A caver would have to climb up a single rope, using rope clamps, which is very exhausting. It is at least 40 mins of enormous exertion, even for extremely fit cavers a hard fight. For normal, physically fit people it more or less two hours of ascend.

Also, the floor of the pit is covered with piles of dung from the millions of birds. This dung, the rainwater, and debris from the surface are the food base to numerous animals on the cave floor. There are millipedes and insects, snakes, and scorpions. The air is filled with smells, fungi and bacteria. It is possible to visit the floor without respiration mask, but cavers who want to explore the corners of the cave should bring such equipment. There is always the danger of Histoplasmosis and other diseases.

So, for now enjoy the vidoe !