Review of my trip with kids- Non-AI Hotel via Costco, Tour
My trip (air + private transportation from/to airport + hotel) was booked through Costco Travel/Vacation package.
Flight - United, other than the 2 hr delay after boarding at SFO, everything else was okay.
Transportation - We paid $14 extra to Costco and booked a private transfer. I don't think it was really needed. Costco uses BestDay for transportation: Review:
We headed over to Playa Caracol to catch the first ferry to Isla Mujeres, The ferry came very close to the bridge and left because the waves/current was strong :(. They suggested us to catch a bus to the Playa Tortuga Ferry Terminal. I guess they covered the bus charge because none of the ones who were waiting for the ferry had to pay in the bus. There was a ferry about to leave at Playa Tortuga and we were able to get into that one. It was a 20-30 minutes ferry trip. Most of the people opted to sit upstairs on the ferry but it must have been really hot there. There was no ferry back to Playa Caracol, so we took one to Playa Tortuga (with the same ticket) and caught a cab for 200 pesos (incld. tip) back to the hotel.
When you get out of the ferry terminal, there are many asking whether you want a cart. We got out and then crossed the street, found a guy who offered a cart for $40. We went with him. They held on to my husband's drivers license until we returned the cart. I don't know whether it is a common practice. Our cart was slower than some of the other carts that we noticed on the way but you can't know that until you are on your way.
Tortugranja (Turtle Farm)
Kids liked it. They make you buy turtle food for $3 or $5, I don't remember correctly. Most of the turtles are well fed and are not interested in eating when you drop food into their pools. If I didn't have kids with me, I would have skipped this place.
Parque de Los Sueños (lunch with a view)
We did not plan to go there but stopped because we saw a glimpse of the view through their front door. My husband insisted that we should go and check out the place. I'm so glad we did. Their food is just okay but as long as you were eating and drinking there, the amenities are free to use. We did not use the amenities since the kids were tired but the pools/slides looked very nice. If we go there again, I will take my kids straight to this place and skip the turtle farm. We spend a good 2+ hours there.
We took the cart back to Playa Norte. There are multiple spots to capture great pictures on the way back. One of my kids started napping in the cart so we did not stop anywhere. The sun was really hot.
Playa Norte is very crowded no matter where you go. We rented 2 chairs and an umbrella and spend time till it was time for us to return the carts.
Tulum Express (Plus) via mycancuntours
Paid $135 for the 4 of us.
I will talk about what it was supposed to include and what actually happened:
Round trip transfer in an air-conditioned van or bus
- It took 2 hrs + to arrive.
- It also included pick up and drop off at my hotel. The bus that picks you up is not the actual bus that will take you to Tulum. If you are staying at the hotel that I stayed at, skip the "pick from the hotel" and walk over to the plaza. The buses depart from Plaza La Fiesta.
Box lunch (light breakfast)
- It included a 3 layer 1/2 cold sandwich and a juice box
Unlimited beverages onboard (soft drinks, beer, and bottled water)
- This was only offered on the trip to Tulum. Other than a dude who got a beer, everyone else asked for a bottle of water.
Waiter on board *
- The tour guide who dropped the lunchbox at every seat
Transportation on a "tractor train" from the parking lot of Tulum to the ruins (0.62 miles) **
- Nop, did not happen. I did not carry my kid's stroller believing them. It is a short walk if you are not carrying a 32 lbs kid.
Bilingual tour guide
- He spoke more Spanish than English
Entrance fee to Tulum
Guided tour at the archaeological site
- Everything is kind of messed up from the minute you deboard the bus. The tour guide will ask everyone (30+ people) from the bus to meet outside a restaurant. We all got there and the tour guide took off. It was hard for us to catch up and were well behind 30+ people. Once you get to the entrance, there is a huge crowd. Always keep an eye on your tour guide. Someone came through and gave us a band to tie on our hands. We stood in line and when we got to the entrance couple of us realized we did not get a stamp/ticket. We had to stand away from the line so others could get through. There was no sight of the tour guide at this time. Luckily a couple of us saw someone from our bus and told them to call the tour guide once they get inside. He came back and got us through the side gates. Then it was a rush to get to the small tunnel to get inside the ruins. It was super hot inside (end of December) and like I said few of us with kids were stuck in the back and couldn't even hear what the guide was talking about the ruins. After 10 - 15 minutes, we gave up and took off by ourselves. We walked around and saw the ruins and left. The bus was scheduled to take off at 12:45 pm. We hurried and ordered some food to take on the bus since we will not get back to the hotel until 2:45 and kids won't be able to stay without food until then.
An exclusive photomontage with a picture of you with the archaeological site of Tulum in the background ***
- Yes. The picture was taken at the Plaza before boarding the bus. The picture came out well and the finished pictures were given out when boarded the bus for departure. For the non-plus travelers, they were charging $15 for a picture.
Final Verdict - Don't take the plus option for sure! If you really want to go with kids to the ruins, go by yourself instead of with a tour group. Find a tour guide for yourself and then tour the place. On the way back spend some time at Playa Del Carmen too.
But other than the tour, everything else was really good on our Cancun Trip. We never felt unsafe there during our stay.