We drove 3 or so hours north on the Yucatan Peninsula to a small coastal town where one takes a ferry over to Holbox. The drive is very interesting through small towns and farms: children in uniforms marching off to school; small stores selling anything from rugs to towels to figurines proudly display their merchandise for all the world to see; brightly painted houses dot the roadside. Our journey was made even more interesting as we accidentally took the toll road from Cancun, which has no exit till Valladoid, over an hour past our destination. After traveling for 1/2 hour on the toll road we had to turn around and head back to Cancun and pick up the free road, adding another hour onto the trip. Apparently there is a shorter way out of Puerto Morelos which would have cut our journey by a third. Oh, well - next time.
After a short ferry ride we finally arrived on the small island town of Holbox. Roughly 7 miles long and 1 mile wide, it's home to approximately 5,000 inhabitants. There are almost no cars on the island and most people get around by golf cart. We hired one from the ferry dock to take us to the Hotel La Palapa, a quaint beachfront bungalow establishment (http://www.hotellapalapa.com). All four of us shared one room with 2 queen beds, which was actually very comfortable and had a great view of the ocean. The beach was right outside our door. Fresh sea breezes wafted in through the windows. A hammock on our outdoor terrace was the perfect place to relax and watch the ships sail by.
For the whale shark adventure we took a friend's recommendation and hired a boat from Willy's Tours. Being prone to sea sickness, I took 2 Dramamine which prevented me from becoming ill. We sailed about an hour out into the open ocean on rather calm seas, which to me felt like 30 foot swells. In many spots the plankton was so thick it turned the water brown. Large manta rays swam and feasted on the plankton.
We did manage to see one whale shark, which was about 3 meters long, or 10 feet (just a baby). Whale sharks are part of the shark species and are known as the largest fish in the sea, and can grow up to 12.2 meters (or 40 feet). They feed on plankton (the smallest creature in the sea) and are completely harmless. Between July and August they visit the Yucatan coast to feed and then disappear only to return next year.
Sporting a wet suit with snorkel and mask, I prepared to jump in the water along with Allan, who chose to wear a life vest accompanied by the same snorkeling equipment. The boat positioned itself next to the shark, and the captain instructed us to "jump". Once in the water it was a challenge to keep up with the shark while snorkeling, and trying to take pictures with our underwater camera.
There were 9 other people on the boat not including the captain who took turns jumping in and swimming. I spent the most time in the water as I frequently asked for bathroom breaks (the bathroom is the sea). The cold water helped to calm my sea sickness.
I think jumping in the deep ocean was the most fun part; I've never been in water that deep. Although it was scary at first, after a while it became enjoyable and refreshing. It's actually a relief knowing one can dive in head first and not worry about hitting their head. Allan is already talking about swimming with the whale sharks this year. I think we'll go off Cozumel this time instead of Holbox as there are apparently lots more whale sharks. Hopefully the sea will be calm so I won't get sick!
Playa del Carmen Condo and Villa Vacation Rentals
Allan's turn to smile.