After returning from our two week trip to Cozumel, Mexico, we thought we would fill you in on the local scene, daily plan and other ins and outs that will help you maximize your stay.
Early Rise : It gets light in Cozumel around 6am (7am EST). There is wind early if the “El Norte” is blowing hard, otherwise it may be calm. Don’t despair ! It blew every day we were down there, even on the glassy morning days. Take the morning time to fuel up for the day. The coffee is good, the food is even better. Walk the beach, go for a swim, get ready for an insane day on the water.
Breakfast at Raul's : We hit Raul's restaurant every day for an amazing breakfast. Raul De Lille is our local REAL rep in Cozumel and his restaurant is off the hook ! Right on the water in downtown Cozumel, he serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. A favorite attraction while waiting for you’re your meal is feeding the fish right out the back door. Ask your server for some bread and walk to the water right out the back door of the restaurant. Start casting the bread into the water and instantly you'll cause a tropical fish feeding frenzy. The water boils with activity as the fish break the surface to score a meal. You can also swim off the back deck here, as the water is deep and there is a diving board and stairs back up to the restaurant. The water is ROYAL BLUE and you will want to dive staight in the second you see it. Go ahead, you won’t be the first. Raul also has box lunches that are very popular with the campers as there are no facilities or restaurants where we ride. If you are ordering a box lunch, place your order at the same time as your eat in breakfast for fastest service.
Meet and Greet @ 9am : Our scheduled REAL Kite Camps for the winter season run every Monday-Wednesday. We meet and greet all the campers at Raul’s every Monday at 9am. Here we go over the day’s plan of where we will be riding and what conditions to expect. We also break the camp into smaller groups by ability and pair them up with their respective coaches. This session allows us to give all the campers answers to most of their questions before they even ask them. It also allows us to meet all the campers, find out about their riding background, etc. Lastly, it gives a common meeting point of which we can depart from on our trip to the boat launch.
Off to The Lagoon : We leave Raul’s at 9:30am and head towards The Lagoon. The Lagoon is about a 10 minute drive north of The Country Club along a dirt road. This is where the local fishermen launch and store their skiffs. We have three large skiffs for the season plus one Yamaha PWC. The last stop for supplies on the way to the lagoon is at a small grocery store on the corner as you first see the water again after leaving Raul’s. Pull in for ice, water, snacks, beer, whatever you need. It is important to remember that where we are going there is nothing. Only wind, water, and perfect riding.
Loading the Boats : We arrive at the boats and load the camper’s kiteboarding gear. Two coaches are already on site, having loaded the school gear, fueled the boats and ski, and loaded the coolers. We have two community coolers packed with ice and water that are also open for campers personal drinks and food. After all the gear and riders are ready to go, we push off the beach and head towards one of our riding spots.
Trip to the riding spot : The trip to the riding spot can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on where we choose to ride for the day. While this may seem like a small inconvenience, you must know that when we arrive, you will be the only riders visible to the horizon in every direction. You have the entire beach all to yourselves. The boats that help get us and our gear to these secluded launches double duty as coaching boats once we hit the water with kites. We coach from all three boats and also one PWC. On the water, we break up into ability groups and follow the groups with boats and ski, providing coaching, on water support, and alternate riders when you run out of steam. Pull into the boat, take a drink of water, or a bite of sandwich. Watch the other riders take sessions and hear their coaches advice. You are learning both on and off the water and the conditions are unbelievable !
Perfect Conditions : While we were in Cozumel, we rode 7 different riding locations, all with excellent conditions. Where you ride depends on the wind direction and strength. We normally go to Raul for the day’s weather and location pick. Why not, he has over 40 years of local knowledge ! For our REAL Kite Camps, we take riders north from the Lagoon, into the National Reserve Area where there is no development, only water,sand, trees and wind. This keeps crowds to a minimum and rider enjoyment to a maximum. The trip to and from these launches is fun as well. Take in the sights, enjoy the sun, water and wind. There is plenty of time for riding as every day campers were completely exhausted from riding by the end of the day. Pace yourself....
Lunch on the Beach : We normally break for lunch between 1-2pm depending on when we hit the water and how the day’s riding is going. Lunch is a great time to socialize with coaches and campers. We normally pull out of the wind behind the shelter of a series of trees. Campers lay out their lunch spread, relax on the beach, talk story and enjoy their meal. Raul tells the group stories about the local land and people. Coaches talk about sessions they’ve had in Mexico and Cape Hatteras. Campers take it all in while adding more about their local riding scene and the next rtrip they have planned to Cape Hatteras this spring. The scene is super relaxed, so much so that some campers take a nap in the warm sun before their next session. It doesn’t get much better…..
More Riding : After lunch, it’s back to the water for more riding. Most days see an early morning blast, followed by a mid day lull, and then an afternoon blast or “evening cool down”. For example, one day we rode 9m in the morning, 13m mid day and then 9m the last session of the day. This is a common occurrence in Cozumel, no matter where you are riding on the island. The campers and coaches get back on the water and the riding is good. They work on their hit list of goals and many riders have breakthrough sessions in the afternoon after mentally and physically digesting their lunch and coaches advice. We ride until 4pm and then pack the boat for the trip home. If the wind is the right direction, and if you still have an ounce of steam left in you, the downwinder back to the boat launch can be very good. Going back to the point about pacing yourself, I’d have to say that of the 60 or so people that I saw go to these different riding locations during our two week stay, I only saw 2 people take the downwinder back at the end of the day. The rest were more than happy to take a seat in the boat, pop a beer and watch the sun set as we motored back downwind.
The Trip Back : The trip back to the boat launch takes a leisurely pace as we ride with the wind and waves. The campers and coaches hang out in the boat and review the days riding and goals for the next day. Evening plans are exchanged both for dinner and after hours parties. We hit the beach just before dark, unload the boats and send the campers home for the evening. It’s been a long day on the water and everyone is totally stoked,….and exhausted. If you wore your sunscreen and replenished it three times during the day you are brown. If not you are red like a real t-shirt and wishing you did. The ride back to town lulls you into a semi coma, that the warm shower and evening cocktail only add to. What a day !
Food : Food in Cozumel is great ! Great breakfast, great lunch, great dinner. Depending on where you eat, you can score enough food to split you in half from $5/pp all the way up to $50/pp at the most expensive restaurants. Keep in mind that these figures include beer, wine or sodas as well. Tops among the cheap and VERY GOOD are “Otates” and “Johnny Bravos”. These two taco joints are simple, but unbelievably good. Otates is open late to quench your drunken food lust after a night at Vive Mexico. Mid priced hot spots included Especias, La Choza, Casa Mission and Guidos. Upper end meals include Mesa 17 and La Veranda. Check out all of these restaurants depending on your mood, budget and crowd.
Nightlife : The nightlife in Cozumel is world class. There are tons of fun bars and night clubs to hit at night. Every Wednesday is “Ladies Night” at Vive Mexico. The campers and coaches all meet there after dinner Wednesday night for a camp party to wind up each week. It normally ends up pretty crazy as the night goes on. (Thanks Steve Sax for sporting that massive bar bill !) When the action gets going, so do Slezy and Sammy, as they unveil the “Little Wizzer”, a shot dispensing machine that takes out all innocent, curious partakers. Late nights normally end up at Senior Frogs, where the action only gets better…
Missing It : We are back at home and missing Cozumel already. We’ve been home for three days and so far it has snowed two days and my pipes froze the third day. While we had a ton of fun there, I think the real fun factor doesn’t set in until you reach home and the temps are 50 degrees less and the colors are all but gone. Blue and green transform to black and brown. Warm water transforms to ice. There is no more Mexican food, no more Mexican beer, no more Wave Ranch or Country Club. The only thing you think about is how you can make one more trip back to Cozumel before Spring…..
MAXIMIZE YOUR TRIP
Rent a Car
Without a doubt, renting a car is the way to go. Much like Cape Hatteras, the action is spread out and having a car makes you the master of your own destiny. We found several inexpensive car rentals that had cars for well under $50/day. Our VW Safari was $38/day. No doors, no roof. Legalized Mexican go cart racing if you ask me ! The sessions at the Wave Ranch and trips to the boat for camp are reason enough to rent the car. Both have extended off road rallying that is fun in a car you don’t own…..
Bring a Weatherproof Shell Jacket
Our days on the water and at the beach are long. The trip from the boat launch to our riding locations can be up to 20 minutes. There is some spray and with the wind chill, bringing a weatherproof shell jacket will keep you dry and warm until you hit the water. These are also nice on the way home in the boat, or in between sessions in the afternoon during a cold front.
Bring a Wetsuit
While the conditions are tropical in Cozumel, cold fronts and boat rides can give you a chill. After spending 2.5 weeks riding and coaching there, I’d recommend bringing a shorty wetsuit and a 1mm top. This way you are covered for all conditions and always have a dry suit to put on after lunch.
Bring All Sizes of Kites
We rode every size kite during the photoshoot, 7m all the way to 22.5m. At the very least, bring a 9m, 13m and 17m to give you a wide range.
We hope you enjoy your Winter trip to Windy Cozumel, Mexico !