Patty and I celebrated former birthdays at three all adult, all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, the Playa del Carmen, and the Riviera Maya.  Two resorts were very good, the third, Secrets Maroma, was special.  See www.arnoldheller.org/home-page/arnie-heller-turns-seventy-at-Secrets

Patty and travel agent Shannon teamed to plan a fun cruise to interesting and varied western Caribbean destinations, including the island of Cozumel that I wanted to visit but not via an all-inclusive.  Cozumel, I would discover, should be fully explored and enjoyed and not experienced by staying exclusively in the resort complex.   

NCL deposited us at the smaller of the two cruise ship ports located in San Miguel Cozumel, and we quickly made our way through the terminal. At the exit, a dozen or more tour guides opportunistically hawked their services at us.  My instincts told me to refuse them all and we bravely began walking northward on the beach road.      

The cruise ship pier provides a nice southern view of the waterfront as one leaves the vessel and makes their way to the beach road. A sweet quest begins – capture the essence of what makes the place special in six hours.

We strolled for a mile admiring the scenery and cute shops and beach bars.  The hot Caribbean sun began to wear us down a bit and we stopped in the 2019 Carnival staging ground for a short shady rest.  Suddenly, our decision at the terminal exit was rewarded.

The best tour guide on the island, David Ake, appeared and offered a full tour at a fair price that was quickly agreed upon.  David would make our short visit to Cozumel fun, educational, and memorable.

David pointed out a few important locations along the way to our first stop, the Punta Sur ecological park and beach. 

David explained the unusual Jamaican-style Rasta bar and museum of sorts across from the beach.  “It’s owned by my good friend, a man dedicated to the memory, beliefs and principals of Bob Marley.” 

Directly across the sandy road was his friend’s Jamaican - Rasta themed beach grill and bar with breezy ocean front patio and a pretty beach.  

The island’s coast-line is dotted with beach-side bar and grills that appear similar because of the thatched roofs and palm trees.  Inside, though, each has its own unique vibe and aesthetic.  Our next stop furnished its individual ambience.

Step inside into the following beach-side bar and grill and you’ll see what I mean about ‘individual ambience’.

Turtles and their health are important to the people of Cozumel.  The Playa de San Martin (beach) offers both a pretty expanse of sand and a reserve for the preservation and nurturing of local turtles.

The stone marker illustrates the importance of turtles in the islander’s life and mythology.

The Naked Café beach is the location of the wild surf whose actions I tried to capture at that moment.

We said goodbye to David at the main cruise ship terminal and headed back to our terminal, a distance of about two miles.  Halfway there we decided to celebrate our time in port at the Sunset Restaurant & Bar. 

A nice big welcoming bar encouraged us to walk up and order two cold beers. 

We sat at a table overlooking the narrow beach and blue water. 

Given the beautiful water behind me and the sweet scene around me, it doesn’t take rocket science to understand the happy smile on my face.  I call it the ‘Cozumel smile’. 

Next stop: Belize City, Belize – from carefree attitude back to street smarts.