Playa Xpu-ha and Cenote Crystalino via collectivo and autobus:
(prices and timetables current as of November 2018)
We decided to head to Playa Xpu-ha (Xpu-ha Beach) (pronounced like Ish-poo-hah) to go snorkeling for the day, but since we wanted to bring some valuables with us we purchased waterproof bag and snorkel gear from Walmart (total for 2 sets of snorkel gear and one waterproof bag cost 946 pesos, or approximately $45 USD / $60 CAD) and then take the collectivo to Playa Xpu-ha. We caught a taxi from our AirBnB to Walmart for 60 pesos, then walked to the collectivo pickup point, and the cost of the collectivo from Playa del Carmen to Playa Xpu-ha was 35 Pesos per person.
The collectivo drops you off on the wrong side of the highway (coming from Playa) to get to Xpu-Ha, so you have to wait for a break in traffic to get across, then walk about 400 meters down a gravel road to get to the beach. Where we came in it looked as though you were supposed to pay 50 Pesos per person (according to the sign this was reimbursable if you spent 200 Pesos per person at the restaurant), however there was no one at the booth when we arrived so we just walked through. We did not see any dressing rooms so we changed in the bathrooms at the restaurant and then found a spot to set up on the beach. Tried our hand at snorkeling there for a bit, the water is crystal clear and the beach has beautiful white sand. There was a tiny bit of seaweed in some spots along the beach that day but not enough to deter us from going in the water.
***apparently the seaweed along the beaches is migratory, you could go one day and see none but the next day it could be covered***
After leaving Playa Xpu-ha we were planning on heading to Cenote Azul, so we wandered back out to the highway and tried to flag down a collectivo, however a bus was the first thing to come along so we hopped on that for the quick not even five minute drive down the road, at a cost of 15 Pesos per person. Coming from Xpu-ha towards Cenote Azul again finds us on the wrong side of the highway when we get dropped off, so again had to run across the highway to get to our destination. It was nearly 4:30 pm when we arrived at Cenote Azul only to discover that it closes at 5, and costs 100 Pesos per person to get in, so we decided against going in. The lady working the entrance told us that Cenote Crystalino is open till 6 pm and is only a few hundred meters down the highway (towards Playa del Carmen), so we headed up that direction.
Entrance to Cenote Crystalino is 150 Pesos per person.
The water was cool and crystal clear, we saw a couple rather large iguanas basking in the sun on the rocks above when we arrived 😀
We put on our snorkel gear and hopped in for a swim. If you take your time getting in off the ladder you will be treated to a mini fish spa lol! All these tiny fish were nibbling at my feet and legs! At first it felt very weird and tickled quite a bit, but after a couple of minutes I just let them go nuts 😂 If you look closely at the picture below you can see the tiny ones swimming above my feet, but the ones doing the nibbling on the left sides of my feet were a bit larger!
Upon leaving Cenote Crystalino we again find ourselves on the wrong side of the road to get back to Playa del Carmen, so we crossed and flagged down a collectivo. The first one didn't have room for two so we waited for the next, but we only had to wait about two minutes. Cost of the collectivo back to Playa del Carmen was 35 Pesos each. We then flagged a taxi down on the road back to our airbnb for 60 Pesos.