Most people who asked about our Mexico trip were surprised to learn that we didn’t stay at an all-inclusive resort. I was just surprised that that was the prevailing conception.
In fact, all-inclusive resorts don’t particularly appeal to me. We’re not fans of crowds, nor do we find it relaxing to lounge on a beach all day. I did, however, look into a lower-end resort that catered just to scuba divers, but in the end thought that we would have liked to go into town for meals. That, and the fact that we’d been strongly encouraged by friends to dive with Aldora Divers.
So while on Cozumel, we stayed at Coral Reef Inn, a cozy 5-room inn run by two lovely Canadians who decided to buy the inn 6-7 years ago just because. It’s located on a residential street, just across from a church (on Sundays, you can hear the services all day long). Although it’s about a 20 minute walk to get to town, there’s a supermarket just a couple blocks down the street where we could buy groceries. This was really convenient, since the inn boasted a breezy third floor patio/kitchen where we made breakfasts every morning before our dives. The third floor had a wash and dry area for scuba equipment too, which was nice so we didn’t have to drip dry everything in our rooms.
I think the best part about staying in a small inn though, apart from the serenity, is the friendliness of the hosts. Jerry and Leona were wonderful, quick with restaurant recommendations and car rental advice. Although check-out was technically at noon, they let us keep everything in the rooms and even take a quick shower after our dives which ended at 1pm. Afterwards, Jerry even gave us a lift to the ferry terminal, and again to the airport when we returned from Playa del Carmen. This was generosity that we couldn’t have expected to find in a big hotel.
On Playa del Carmen too, we elected to stay at a small inn – Hotel LunaSol, a 16-room hotel just off the bustling touristy Avenue 5. Our rooms were large and airy, and the balcony, shaded with green vegetation and overlooking the pool below, was a perfect spot to lounge and dry our scuba gear. Our two concierge, Roberto and Fernando, were also really friendly and helpful. I’m sure there must be other places that are as great value for money too, but since we’ve already found this one gem, we’ll go back here again when we return next (to swim with those whale sharks!).