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Mexican Riviera snorkeling excursions

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I'll be on the Ruby Princess in January 2019 and Cabo San Lucas is the only port stop where tender boats are required (no pier). I read that this can mean it takes a bit longer to get off the ship. We are at the port from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm.

I believe guests who book excursions via the ship are first in line to get off the boat. Princess Cruise has snorkeling excursions starting at $70 per person, with visits to the Sea of Cortez and Santa Maria Cove.

Would it be much cheaper to just find a private tour from a local company, and if so, it is worth not being first in line to get off the ship?

Thanks for the insights.

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A snorkeling excursion is going to be short enough in duration such that you can easily book private and still have plenty of time. (Figure 2.5 hours for such an excursion.) Even if you stayed on board through lunch, got off the ship at 1:00, you will probably find an excursion that departs at 2:00 or 2:30 that would leave you plenty of time. The private tour guides stay on top of the ship arrival calendar and are sure to have something in the early to mid-afternoon that will meet your needs.

 

As for cost, you may not find anything significantly cheaper. But you will find excursions that limit the number of people and take you to less crowded areas. I find that private tours aren't necessarily a cost savings, but they can remove you from the hoards which in my opinion, is far more important. In fact, I'd pay more to snorkel with a group of 10 instead of a group of 50.

 

You might want to check out the Cabo Board on this site for suggestions or recommendations. Most generic excursion questions are addressed in the port-specific Boards rather than the Cruise Line Boards.

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We used Princess to book our snorkel excursion and totally enjoyed it.....that price seems fine. I can tell you the water temps might be a bit chilly in January, we did in March (spring break) and it was colder than it would be in August.

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Private tours are the better way to go.

 

That being said, we have snorkeled all over the world. Mexico's Pacific coast would be FAR from our top ten. It is usually on the hazy side, limiting visibility. The number of fish is smaller.

 

I would save your snorkeling dollars for the Caribbean or elsewhere. Whale watch instead.

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Even though the snorkeling isn't the greatest in Cabo, I've done it several times. I've done all the different snorkel excursions that Princess offers as well as some private excursions.

 

If you're looking to:

*get off the ship sooner

*have a small group experience

*get to the snorkel spots before all the other snorkel boats (and crowds) show up...

 

your best best is the zodiac raft excursion through Princess. You have priority for a tender (depending on the time of the excursion, of course) and the raft is small and fast. It can get you closer to the snorkel spots faster than the bigger catamarans. And since there aren't as many folks on it you can head to the next snorkel spot quicker - no waiting around for a bunch of people who can't get their fins off or climb up the ladder.

 

That being said, it is a bit of a bumpy ride and you do have to be able to climb an itty bitty ladder to get back into the zodiac.

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We snorkeled through Princess in February and it was miserable. Water was very cold and dark and once in water you had to move away from boat quite a distance to snorkel with group. We lasted only a few minutes. Never again! Hawaii is the place to snorkel, not Mexico. I must say the boat ride was fun.

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Private tours are the better way to go.

 

That being said, we have snorkeled all over the world. Mexico's Pacific coast would be FAR from our top ten. It is usually on the hazy side, limiting visibility. The number of fish is smaller.

. . .

 

I agree. Plus there are jellyfish around--I was bitten by one off Puerto Vallarta. At least I got to see one or more first, which was cool! The bite was very painful until the excursion guide said urine was a good antidote so a fellow in the group obliged. I also have snorkeled off Cabo (ocean side), but don't recall seeing anything interesting there.

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I have snorkeled a few times at the Santa Maria cove when staying in Cabo. It is one of the better snorkel spots you will find with that itinerary. We had a great time whenever we went and it has never been all that crowded ... just enough people to feel safe if something happened and never too crowded that you were running into one another. Cabo, especially on the Ocean side has a well known, particularly dangerous undertow. You won’t experience any of that at Santa Maria.

With that being said, you might save a few dollars by going on a private tour but there is good reason to go with the princess tour ... provided it doesn’t leave at the crack of dawn. Sometimes, their tours are just too early for me. But, without status to catch a tender on Princess, you literally might miss the boat if you book something ahead of time. Also, with a princess tour, you won’t have to brush up on your bargaining skills. You may encounter some land sharks on your own so maybe more than you e bargained for. ??? The water / food in Cabo is pretty much all safe to drink and eat so that shouldn’t be a worry either way. But, we’ve gone down to Cabo many times in the past and have experienced some (not always) some unscrupulous behavior geared towards milking the tourists. We’ve always felt that most tours offered through Princess are a decent value.

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We snorkeled through Princess in February and it was miserable. Water was very cold and dark and once in water you had to move away from boat quite a distance to snorkel with group. We lasted only a few minutes. Never again! Hawaii is the place to snorkel, not Mexico. I must say the boat ride was fun.

We've done Hanauma Bay, the water was OK, but all the coral looked dead, not a lot of fish.

The most fun we've had was snorkeling in the Caribbean and Bora Bora (woo hoo !!!, bathtub warm, lots of fish & live coral).

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It's gonna be cold in Jan.

 

Exactly! Even though we're having record warm temps right now in the Pacific (82 degrees?! Crazy!) by January, the water should be back down to it's usual 60-65 degrees. Cold enough to take your breath away when you get in. We did a snorkel tour there in March and I was one of the only women to get off the boat and into the cold water. Some men in our group saw an eel and a small octopus I believe by the rocks but there really isn't much to see compared to the Caribbean.

Edited to add: Just remember the culture in Mexico is on "manana" time. If they say they'll have you back at 2pm, don't count on it. It'll most likely be much later.

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If you have your own snorkel gear, a shared taxi(or even public transit -- which we've done) would be the most cost effective.

 

Both Santa Maria(and Chileno-the next bay closer) actually have decent snorkeling. Not a lot of vibrant corals, however, there are plenty of interesting aquatic creatures of various types and sizes.

 

As already stated ITT, the water is definitely cooler than one will find at latitudes closer to the equator. It's not freezing, but it's also not a mild 82 degrees either -- what is typically found in more tropical locales during the winter months. A rash guard may help to insulate a person here.

 

It deserves noting that the somewhat protected coves(s) there are usually much less crowded on the beach than Playa Medano, or the beaches at El Arco ----where depending on conditions & boat traffic, neither side is that safe for snorkeling/swimming.

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We've done Hanauma Bay, the water was OK, but all the coral looked dead, not a lot of fish.

The most fun we've had was snorkeling in the Caribbean and Bora Bora (woo hoo !!!, bathtub warm, lots of fish & live coral).

 

 

Hanauma Bay is one of the most over snorkeled places in Hawaii, perhaps in the world.

 

The are literally hundreds of better places to snorkel in the Hawaiian islands.

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I have snorkeled a few times at the Santa Maria cove when staying in Cabo. It is one of the better snorkel spots you will find with that itinerary. We had a great time whenever we went and it has never been all that crowded ... just enough people to feel safe if something happened and never too crowded that you were running into one another. Cabo, especially on the Ocean side has a well known, particularly dangerous undertow. You won’t experience any of that at Santa Maria. . . .

 

Ah yes, that undertow. On our first visit to Cabo in 2003, I had a problem with that undertow. I was a new, but enthusiastic snorkeler on that cruise and had to have help in getting back to the snorkel boat as I kept drifting further away. I'm not much of a swimmer either so some would say I shouldn't be snorkeling, but I've snorkeled throughout the Caribbean and Hawaii with no problems.

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Ah yes, that undertow. On our first visit to Cabo in 2003, I had a problem with that undertow. I was a new, but enthusiastic snorkeler on that cruise and had to have help in getting back to the snorkel boat as I kept drifting further away. I'm not much of a swimmer either so some would say I shouldn't be snorkeling, but I've snorkeled throughout the Caribbean and Hawaii with no problems.

A good tour operator should know the currents and drop snorkelers off up current and then move the boat down current so that the snorkelers naturally drift with the current and back toward the boat. It is very dangerous to have fatigued snorkelers (who the tour operators know to include novices) trying to fight a current back to the boat.

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