Ironman Cozumel November 28, 2010

Ironman is back in Cozumel this November 28, 2010.  Pre-race activities will start that Thursday and the awards ceremony is Monday the 29th.

The final race course for this year has been approved by the local  authorities, which will be more spectator friendly and spectacular as well.  AND Casa Cascada is 3 blocks away from one of the race hot spots (City Hall or Palacio Municipal) that is promoted on the Ironman website

So what is the Ironman anyway?  It’s 2.4 miles of swimming (3.8 km), 112 miles of biking (180 km) and a 26.2 miles run (42.2 km).  The race is limited to 2,300 triathletes and the prize money is $50K!

Here are the details…

SWIM:2.4miles (3.8 km), (1 lap) :

It will be an ocean swim, 1 lap, 1 massive in water start.   

During the first part of the course participants will be swimming against the current and at the end participants will swim with the current.  

The water visibility is 100% and big buoys will be placed every 200mfor your reference with smaller ones along the course. Water temperature will be around 84 F, wetsuits will not be permitted.

Cozumel Ironman provides a brightly colored swim cap for each athlete. This cap is provided for safety and must be worn throughout the swim.

Cut off time: 2:20 hours after the start.

BIKE: 112 miles(180 km), (3 laps) :

The bike course starts at the CHANKANAAB parking lot (T1), and finishes atT2 next to Cozumel’s City Hall in the heart of downtown.   Participants will complete 3 laps along the Highway around the Island in a counter clockwise direction.  Every lap will go by the City Hall,between T2 and the finish line.  The City Hall is 3 blocks from the house and you can see the huge Mexican flag that flies outside daily.

Here’s the complete bike course:  Upon leaving T1 at Chankanaab park, turn right on the Cozumel highway for about 12 miles towards the south side of the Island (Punta Sur).  At this point you will continue towards the north for about 9 miles right next to the ocean, with strong cross winds,  until the junction with Juarez Ave. (a place called Mezcalitos), where you will turn left and go straight until 30thAve. where you´ll turn left and go straight to 11thstreet,turn right until City Hall to complete lap 1.Two more and you will have finished this beautiful bike ride. The entire course is flat and the pavement is in perfect conditions.     

* Bike’s cut off time: 10:30 hours after the start.

RUN: 26.2 miles (42.195km), (3 laps):

After finishing the bike portion of the race, participants will hand in their bike to the T2volunteers who will rack the bike.  Participants will then proceed to the changing tents.

The run will start towards the North along the main street(Rafael Melgar Ave.) until reaching the turnaround point near the Cozumel Golf Course.   It will be an out and back course to which you will run 3 laps and finish right in front the City Hall inside the main plaza.     

Car access will be totally restricted in this course.

Cut off time: 17 hours from the start of the event.

There will be race officials at every turnaround and along the course,as well as timing mats and video cameras.  

If you need additional information such as registration information, a detailed schedule and more…This is the official website of Ironman:

**This post is getting quite a few hits so please feel free to submit any information below to help out fellow Triathletes.  I will post comments within 24 hours.

Beaches to see in Cozumel

Since Cozumel is an island…with so many beaches? Where should you go? What should you really see?

If you love wildlife and beautiful beaches, rent a car and definitely go to Punta Sur on the other side of the island.  This day trip is one of my favorite things to do and I always come back with literally hundreds of incredible photos. 

Here is a video that I took of a saltwater crocodile at the lookout tower town the Punta Sur Lighthouse road.  You walk down this long boardwalk and come to a platform that overlooks the mangroves. The photo below was taken from the viewing tower that you can climb up.  To the right of the walkway towards the ocean, you can just barely see a Mayan ruin that you can stop at as well.  And oh yeah…if it’s windy, you can feel the lookout tower move.  Beautiful view from the top though!

Down that same road, past the lookout tower, my sister in law Cindy, filmed this awesome video of something swimming in the surf.  We later found out that they may be trigger fish or even young swordfish.  It is still a great mystery and if anyone knows what these guys are, please let me know!

Along the way, you’ll come to the lighthouse.  If you’re comfortable in small spaces and walking up steps, go for it!  Climb to the top of the lighthouse and don’t forget your camera.  Honestly, the best view on the island (Prima’s Trattoria and parasailing rank up there too).   I love this picture I took from the top of the lighthouse.  The colors were AMAZING!

Punta Sur lighthouse view Aug. 2009

At the end of the road is the finale.  There is a beach unlike no other in Cozumel and the name says it all.  “The Most Beautiful Beach” in Cozumel lies here.  With rows of hammocks, powdery white sand and beautiful water inset in a cove, it’s heavenly.  I highly recommend stopping here, having a refreshment or two and enjoying this little slice of heaven.  If you like crowds, come on Sunday (the locals head to the other side of the island on this day).  I took this picture in August 2009 and I still use this as a screensaver on my computer.  If you notice, there’s very little wave activity because of where the beach is located in the inlet.  The water is so warm, the sand so soft….

Here’s another great photo of The Most Beautiful Beach. (taken by my sis-in-law Cindy)

FAQ’s about Cozumel Island

Here’s some basic information about Cozumel. Where is the island? How many people live there?

  • Where is Cozumel?
    Cozumel, Mexico’s largest Caribbean island is located off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula on the eastern side of Mexico, 41 miles (71 km)south of Cancun. The island is 26 miles (41 km) long from north to south and 9 miles (14 km) wide.
    With a population of a little over 75,000, Cozumel now welcomes more than 2,500,000 visitors every year and is considered one of the most important tourist destinations in Mexico.
  • How do I get there?
    Cozumel has an international airport with many direct scheduled flights from cities in the USA, Mexico City,Cancun and Cuba. Many charter airlines also fly to Cozumel. 
    Alternatively, it is possible to fly to Cancun airport and make the connection to Cozumel by bus and ferry. The journey takes 1.5 to 2.5hours depending on waiting times (45 min by bus to Playa del Carmen and another 45 min by ferry to Cozumel).   The cheapest bus operator from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen is Riviera, tickets can be purchased in the main airport terminal and the buses are clean and efficient. There are two ferry operators but there is little difference in service or prices between the two, it’s best to simply take whichever one is leaving next. Cruise ship tourism is also big in Cozumel. Many ships stop over for a day in Cozumel on Caribbean cruises to or from Florida.
  • What is there to do in Cozumel?   Cozumel is perfect for simply relaxing on the beach in one of the many beach resorts on the west side of the island or the more deserted beaches on the east side (but beware of dangerous currents when swimming on the east side). The strong tourist industry means you have your choice of shops, bars and restaurants where you can find many bargains and avoid paying tax on luxury items.   Water sports are very popular in Cozumel, with scuba diving on the island’s beautiful coral reefs being the most practiced. It is also possible to sports fish, sail, snorkel, surf, cycle or hike on and around the island and many other excursions in Cozumel The island is also host to a Nicklaus designed golf course.  Check out other things to do here.
  • Can I bring the kids?
    Absolutely. Cozumel is a great holiday destination for the whole family. Most hotels offer children’s activities and the majority of restaurants and bars are happy to admit children too.
  • What is the history of Cozumel?
    The first Mayans settled in Cozumel from 300 AD and the name Cozumel  comes from the Mayan cuzamil which means land of the swallows. The Mayans believe Cozumel to be home of Ixchel, the goddess of fertility and the moon. For this reason many Mayans sailed to Cozumel on pilgrimages.
    In the 16th century the Spanish to Cozumel but by the end of th ecentury the island’s population dwindled to only a few hundred due to fighting and diseases brought by the Spanish.
    The island remained mostly deserted until the 17th. Century when it became a popular base for pirates, including the famous Henry Morgan.
    In the late 19th century the island became settled again and grew into an important hub for distributing chicle (natural chewing gum) from the mainland. With road transportation improving this business slowed in the first half of the 20th century and tourism became to develop later,mainly driven by an increased awareness of beauty of the island and its reefs which was caused by a Jacques Cousteau television documentary in the 1960s. Since then tourism has grown and grown and is now the prevalent industry on Cozumel.
  • Where can I stay?
    Cozumel has many hundreds of hotels, ranging from luxurious all-inclusive beach resorts to rustic hotels, rental homes of all types and even B & B’s.
  • How can I get around?
    Public transport on Cozumel is almost non-existent, so you will need to hire a moped – or perhaps safer, a car – to get around the island.Alternatively you can rent taxis or cycle. There are many vehicle rental agencies on the island including some big international names,if you shop around you can get a good deal.
  • Do I need a visa?
    Not usually. Most North Americans and Europeans can enter Mexico with a tourist card – valid for up to 6 months – which you get by simply filling out a form on the airplane or at the arrival airport. However,rules can change, so check with your local Mexican embassy or consulate if you are not sure or if you are visiting for more than six months or for a purpose other than vacation.
  • What currency is used?
    Mexican pesos and US dollars (bills, not usually coins) are accepted in Cozumel. You may get a better deal paying in pesos since you won’t lose on the exchange rate. Major credit cards and travelers’ checks are also  widely accepted and most cards will also work in Mexican ATMs. Tipping in either currency is common practice in Cozumel.
  • How is the climate?
    With a subtropical climate the average temperature is about 27°C -80°F, and because Cozumel is surrounded by water the climate is always humid often around 90%, but often breezy too. All year round you will be able to find sunny days with the usually warm waters. Rainfall is rare apart from during the rainy season (September- November) when showers can be frequent but not disruptive.
  • What language is spoken?
    Spanish is the official language of Mexico and is spoken everywhere in Cozumel. However, due to tourism English is also very widely spoken in Cozumel and non-Spanish speakers should have no problem getting by. You may also here some locals speaking Mayan, the ancient native language of the region.
  • What time zone is Cozumel in?
    Standard time in Cozumel is the same as Cancun: GMT minus 6 hours or minus 5 with daylight saving. This means it usually has the same time as Chicago, Dallas and Winnipeg.
  • Are there any dangers?
    Crime is low in Cozumel due to it being an island community dependent on tourism. As with anywhere with large groups of tourists it is always  wise to k
    eep money and valuables safe from pickpockets and petty thieves, but violent crime is extremely rare. Some biting insects such as mosquitoes and sand flies can be an annoyance, but do not carry diseases such as malaria. They can easily be avoided by using repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk and using air conditioning, fans or insect nets to sleep.

How to Choose a Vacation Rental Home in Cozumel

If you don’t want to stay in a hotel when you Cozumel, how can you find a place to stay and protect your vacation investment too?

Vacation rental homes can provide peace, quiet and privacy that a hotel or resort cannot give.  With so many rental homes on the island now, how do you choose? 

I recommend beginning your search by checking out a few of the larger rental sites by owner.  The sites cost the owner to list a property and owners must also follow a variety of rules to stay listed on the sites.  If a property is listed on one of these sites, then the owners are serious about renting and have not had any serious complaints from consumers.  Here are a few to choose from to get you started:

You’ll notice on my homepage near the top, I have an icon that links back to VRBO.

Narrow your search by deciding on a few key things.  Here are some examples:

  • What is your price range per night or per week?
  • How many bedrooms?
  • How many bathrooms?
  • Does the house have a pool and/or jacuzzi?

Always be specific with your needs from the first point of contact.  If you need a crib for example, be sure to say so.  Some rentals may not be able to accommodate all requests.

Look it up!  If the owner/manager provides you with an address, always check it on a map.  A 2 minute walk is very different than a 10 minute drive.

If the current photos in the listing or on the website look dated or if there simply aren’t enough, ask for more recent photos so you can really see the property.  If there’s a not a picture of something, there may be a reason!

Find out what exactly is included.  Does ‘linens provided’ mean sheets only or does that include bath towels too?  What about beach towels?

Here are some very important things to ask when finalizing on your rental property.

  • Are all taxes and fees included in the price shown? 
    • Many Cozumel rental homes do not include the 12% government tax and this can increase the rate you will pay substantially.
    • Is there a cleaning fee when I vacate the property?
  • Ask if there are any discounts available.
    • Longer term rentals (more than 7 nights)
    • Last minute renting
    • Early bird booking
  • Review the contract
    • What’s the cancellation policy?
    • Is there a security deposit?  
    • What are terms of payment?  How much to reserve the property and when is the balance due?
    • What payments methods do you accept?  (Paypal, check and credit card transactions provide the most security.)

Is the house renting?  Check the availability calendar to see if others are renting the home.  A rental home may not ever break the 50% mark in weekly short term rentals, but if you don’t see ANY rentals, that can be a red flag. 

  • Is the home priced too high? 
  • Are the owners unresponsive when they’re contacted?
  • Are there no repeat renters because of the home’s condition?

What about feedback and testimonials?   If it’s an established rental home, there should be some positive feedback listed on the home’s website, VRBO or similar.   

If you do a little bit of homework, you’ll have a no worries vacation. 

So have fun in your home away from home and enjoy your fun in the sun at Casa Cascada!