Since this was our very first time visiting the island, we had no idea of what to do to catch the ferry. We didn't go through the free tour to Isla that our hotel offered. That was a mistake. We will go with the tour from now on. When we got to Puerto Jurez we were asking about where to catch the fast ferry. A nice local told me it wouldn't be coming for another 20 minutes. In the meantime he proceeded to tell me that he could get us there and pay for our trip as well as lunch if we would visit the Avalon Resort there. By the time I realized he was a time share guy we caught the ferry alright and it was packed and we had to stand the 15 minute ride over.
Unique Suggestions: Either go with a tour or know how to get where you are going without having to ask the locals. Also, when getting your golf cart, do not pay more than $35 for one. They will try to tell you they are $40. Walk away and don't accept. They will come after you and you will get the price you want. Or walk to the left 1 or 2 blocks and you will find golf carts at reasonable prices. Also, try to get a golf cart with bigger wheels.
Just about anywhere you stay along the coast on the Yucatan, you will probably be approached by someone trying to give you a free ferry trip, jet boat or sailing trip to Cozumel. The only way to get the free trip is to sit through about a 4 hour time share presentation.
My wife and I ended up staying through the whole ordeal and when we said we didn't want to buy into their project, all doors shut. We were told we could still get our free ride, but we had to pick it up back in town and they would pay for the cab ride back. After waiting for the cab for about 2 hours, we decided to just walk back to our hotel.
Try to remember, "nothing is for free when tourism is involved".
Unique Suggestions: Ask to get the free ticket prior to sitting through the presentation. More than likely, that will be the end of it.
Fun Alternatives: If you want to visit Cozumel while in the Cancun area, just pay the ferry fee and enjoy the day.
When we first got to the Cancun Palace, guest services sat us down. In addition to explaining things that we needed to know about the hotel, they tried to hustle us to go to a presentation at the Moon Palace. Another guest warned us that we would waste an entire morning with high pressured sales people.
If you do decide to go to one, make sure you know what you want in return and negotiate accordingly. Otherwise, a vacation is too short for sales pitches, whether it is through people at the airport, on the street, or at the hotel.
In reply to another posting in this group about snorkeling tours, I would say that the ones we took were somewhat disappointing but not a "tourist trap." As with everything, be certain of who you are dealing with and what they are offering.
The guided tours through Aqua World (either off of Punta Nizuc or at the Isla de Mujeres) take you out on a boat. They go in groups of up to 11 or 12, with a guide and lifejackets. We saw plenty of fish, including squid and barracudas. But my wife and I prefer to snorkel on our own, without having to stay next to the group.
It should be noted that there are reasons for their policies -- the reefs have been damaged by people who have not respected them. There are also marvelous snorkeling areas relatively near to Cancun that will not cost anything.
Unique Suggestions: If you do a timeshare presentation, get the best deal you can. Decide what you want to do. You may be able to negotiate for that -- we did a sales tour in Cabo San Lucas, got what we wanted, and felt it was a good trade for our time. Make sure that it is worth a morning of your time -- the sales pitches are never as short as they claim.
We met one person who tells the sales people that she has no interest in buying anything, that she is there simply for the free gift, and she sticks to this. This approach cuts down on the time it takes her to get through the process.
Fun Alternatives: If you are tempted to buy a timeshare, remember that you can get "used" ones at a fraction of the price you will pay through a sales presentation at a resort. And if you can plan your life accordingly, you can trade your week and go wherever you find an open space (the popular places require much more advance planning). We bought a used timeshare a few years ago -- although we are thinking of reselling it, we have used it to go to Bali, Colorado, and now Cancun -- places we probably would not have gone to without it.
Timeshare, timeshare, timeshare. almost all hotels have a timeshare trap. "Just do our one hour ORIENTATION to the hotel" is what they tell you and it's a timeshare trap with high pressure sales tactics. Luckily, the Omni doesn't have that problem.
Unique Suggestions: If you get sucked into a timeshare trap (usually solicited from a street vendor working that hotel's property) take full advantage by getting the free drinks, t-shirts, etc. Just tell them that you are in the process of purchasing a new home and until the approval is through you can't make any other financial decisions.
Fun Alternatives: Just say "NO"!
This is not really a tourist trap but, to many, it may feel like one! As soon as we were through customs at the airport (had not even reached our luggage yet) we were gestured to the side by an official looking lady with a photo ID. She immediately launched into a spiel about the great tour deals that we were going to be given, etc. etc. and this went on for about 15 minutes. Finally, at the end she said that we could receive all the promised goods if we showed up the next morning at the Moon Palace Resort at 8:30 AM and we would need to give her US$20 each to confirm our arrival. We decided to do it (even though we later wondered whether we had been HAD). It turned out to be legitimate, with the taxi arriving for us in the morning and having the $13 fare paid on arrival at the Moon Palace. Basically, it turned out to be a variation of the old 'sell you the time share' setup (been through that many years before in Florida). After enjoying our wonderful breakfast and an interesting tour of the various suites at the Resort, we were sat down to the hard sell portion of the visit - with 3 waves of attack. However, after realizing that we really did mean NO, we got our money back, a T-shirt each, vouchers for two free trips (Mujeres and Tulum/Xpu-Ha) and an all-inclusive day at the Sun Palace Resort. We were able to pick which tours we wanted and when we wanted them - so it turned out to be a good investment of our time.
Unique Suggestions: We spent the rest of the morning at the Moon Palace on the beach and quite enjoyed the experience as a whole. In the course of our trip, we ended up seeing the Moon Palace, Xpu-Ha Palace and Sun Palace resorts. All were top quality with first-class services! The Moon Palace had a very large series of interconnected swimming pools - they said it was the largest in North America.
Don't be victimized by people selling time share condominiums, you pay them $20 for a free breakfast and entrace to one of the nature preserves but they will not let you go easily until you buy a time share. The sales talk is very sweet and they entice you with freebies but unless you really are interested in buying a timeshare then just be stern and say no thanks.
There are many ways that people will try to sell you a time share condominium. At the airport, along the hotel zone, and downtown you will find booths for 'Tourist Information' where they will try to pull you into a conversation and then offer you a free breakfast or tour. If you are not firm with them stating that you are not interested, they will not let you go easily. Regardless of what they may be offering, it is not worth the time or frustration. Many hotels also have time shares, and at ours there were people trying to give us our 'Welcome Package', but we first asked the front desk what it was and they tipped us off. Remember that nothing is free in Cancun...so be suspicious if anything that may seem to be a freebe.
Anyway, we went there and try to enjoy. Here is my gorgeous sister (hehehe) in a 'promotional shot'.