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Old 01-05-2005   #1 (permalink)
very sparkly
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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specific questions about Xel-Ha

We plan to do a day trip from PDC to Xel-Ha in February. I saw in a previous thread that we should expect to pay $30 each way for a taxi, is this correct?

About how long a drive is it?

Does anyone know the hours of Xel-Ha in February? (I tried to check their web site but did not see any hours....I probably missed it but.....)

Is it easy to find a taxi from Xel-Ha to PDC?

Any suggestions/tips/advice on planning our day would be much appreciated!

Many Thanks,
Joellen
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Old 01-06-2005   #2 (permalink)
jx2
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Take a collectivo from PDC to Xel-Ha as it is cheaper. We did the Taxi to Xel-Ha and learned later about the collectivo deals . I cant remember the price of the taxi , but i dont believe it was 30usd each way, allthough we split it up amongst several people. It is easy to get a taxi to and from Xel-Ha
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Old 01-06-2005   #3 (permalink)
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the drive from PDC to xel-ha is about 40 minutes. we were just there on saturday and took the collectivo to and from the park. I think the posted fare is 25 pesos per person, but on the way down, we were only charged 20 pesos per.

bear in mind, the collectivo stops on highway 307 and you will have to walk 5-7 minutes to get to the park entrance, or take a taxi (maybe another 20-25 pesos) . they have a separate, lighted pathway to the park and it is a pleasant walk.

although the conventional wisdom is take the collectivo down and a taxi back, because sometimes it can be difficult to get a seat, or if you have several people travelling together, enough seats, we had no trouble with 4 people getting seats back. patience is a virtue here as we had to wait about 15 minutes and had to let one collectivo (with only 2 available seats) pass. but this is truly an efficient, cost-effective public transportation system.

the park opens at 9 AM and closes at around 5 PM. it may stay open a little later in February, but how many hours can you snorkel in one lagoon? however, if you are taking the collectivo and are squeamish about waiting by the side of a jungle highway in the dark with cars blazing by at 70+ mph, you will want to leave well before sunset. darkness tends to come suddenly after sunset, so note when this happens and plan to head for the exit at least a hour before sunset. you should be ok in February, but at this time of year the sun sets just after 5 and it is pitch black by 5:30.

if you like to snorkel with lots of fish, the bridges are the place to be. there is a floating bridge where the lagoon empties into the sea. that is a good place to locate. there is also a fixed bridge at the far end near the river entrance where people can feed the fish - no mystery why the fish congregate there. the river rafting is fun, but crossing the lagoon at then end can be a slog. best advice I can give is to get there early when the park opens because when it gets crowded, the visability suffers as more people make waves and stir up the bottom.

have fun!
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Old 01-06-2005   #4 (permalink)
TnJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joellen
We plan to do a day trip from PDC to Xel-Ha in February. I saw in a previous thread that we should expect to pay $30 each way for a taxi, is this correct?

About how long a drive is it?

Does anyone know the hours of Xel-Ha in February? (I tried to check their web site but did not see any hours....I probably missed it but.....)

Is it easy to find a taxi from Xel-Ha to PDC?

Any suggestions/tips/advice on planning our day would be much appreciated!

Many Thanks,
Joellen
helps 2 get there just as they're opening ( think that was 8.30 or so last yr ) , or you'll have to wrestle your way thru the locker area changing n putting your stuff away. take something like a driver licence or room key as collateral for a lock to use on the lockers. the water was stirred up quite a bit under that floating bridge thing, but there were plenty of fish around 2 keep us company. take an underwater camera - if you haven't snorkeled much, you'll find plenty of interesting things 2 photogragh. have fun!
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Old 01-06-2005   #5 (permalink)
MWC
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How many people will be in your party of "we"? If you're three or less, definitely take the collectivo down from PDC, and you shouldn't have too much trouble catching a collectivo back (tho' you will be squished in there for at least part of the return trip, but it's very culturally enriching).
If you are anything over three people, I would advise you to take the collectivo down from PDC, but then either take a taxi back or look into the bus service. (Check out Mave's recent posts; she has a bus schedule on one of them. I have never used the bus and don't know if you can buy a one-way ticket -- but someone here should be able to help you.)

You can easily spend a full day at Xel-ha. It opens at 9 and closes at 5, 365 days a year. Get there early (the collectivo will be no impediment) and do your snorkeling when you first get there. The two bridges are the best, most reliable places to see a good variety of fish. When the crowds come, you will want to explore the park. The jungle paths and cenotes are interesting; the river ride should be done once in one's life, I suppose, but getting across the lagoon can be tiring on windy days; there are some interesting "stops" along the way -- a cliff jump and rope course. Navigating the floating bridge is an exhilarating experience that truly must be experienced.
We discovered the beach area this trip, and that was pretty neat. There is a "natural pool", constantly replenished by the wave action of the sea. There is a deck overlooking it, with hammocks under a palapa. There is a long path to the beach itself, with dead coral heads as pavers. The beach happened to have a VERY rough surf when we were there, but it was a nice stretch of sand for sunning one's self, and offered good beachcombing/shelling. There is also a shuttle stop at the beach, if you don't feel like walking. Everything is clearly marked on the pathways, and the park map is good.

Depending on what return transportation you choose, don't dally at the end of the day. When the sun goes down, it not only gets dark fast, but the mosquitos come out in force. We were there on a slow day, so there weren't a lot of taxis hanging around, but I think typically there would be more.

Another tip: there are a lot of "floating" photographers around the park. Avoid the temptation to blow them off as just another obnoxious peddler; Take advantage of their services! (It is truly no obligation) Especially if one certain person is the family photographer, this is a wonderful chance for that person to actually be included in group photos, and the like. Plus, the photo quality is excellent. Photos are displayed at the exit, and you can either purchase them ($9) or not. There is aboslutely no pressure to buy. I have no idea how they make money on this, but who cares?

We love Xel-ha, and learn more about what it offers each time we go. Have fun!
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Old 01-06-2005   #6 (permalink)
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Leave any expensive jewelry locked up where ever you are staying. I refused to let my wife leave her engagement ring in the wooden lockers they provide.
She never got bitten, but a large barracuda just got to close for comfort.
Underwater screams are strange sounding.
Being the big strong man I am I jumped up on my tube and paddled my tube like something from Guilligan's Island across the lagoon in record time. I even let her follow me. haha
Xel-Ha is great. Drink heavy at the only bar. By the time I got to the cliff dive I was to sober to jump.
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Old 01-06-2005   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
I have never used the bus and don't know if you can buy a one-way ticket -- but someone here should be able to help you.
Yes that is no problem at all! I don't even think you can buy 'return' tickets at the bus station. We took the bus everywhere when we were there (never took a taxi once), since we stayed right in Playa, it was a short walk to the station and the buses are more roomy than the colectivos. (We usually caught a colectivo back to PDC though.) It is SO easy - just go out to the highway, wait, and guaranteed either a bus or a van will stop for you. And it IS culturally enriching to use the colectivos!

One more tip- be sure to go out to those bridge mentioned and don't let the huge fish freak you out! They won't hurt you. The guy feeding them was actually throwing the food on the backs of the snorkelers...it was funny. But they (shouldn't) bite ya.
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Old 01-06-2005   #8 (permalink)
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When there on Saturday, I did not come upon any of the big barracudas I have previously encountered at Xel-ha, however, avoid wearing jewelry at all costs, particularly if the water is not crystal clear or you may have a close call.

One solution for rings my wife has used is to tape over them with a more-or-less water-proof tape or band-aids. Medical supply stores sell a "pink" tape that will stay on when wet. Buy it before you go as I cannot promise you will find it in Playa.
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