Puerto Morelos Practical information
This is our list of practical information and advice for the visitor to Puerto Morelos.
The Reef: In short, the Reef rocks. It’s our pride and joy and we protect it like our child. Therefore, you can’t go out to the Reef without a guide. You must also wear a life vest. These precautions protect you and the Reef. Our over protectiveness means the Reef is very healthy and you will see a good variety of sea life. We can’t recommend a trip out to the Reef enough (picture jumping into an aquarium.) You can go with one of the dive shops in town, or to go in a hurry, go out with the next boat going out from the dock. The price will be around $25 USD or equivilent pesos. Make sure you get a park bracelet. (The bracelet fee goes directly to reef protection) They will take you to two different locations for about two hours. The guides are trained and certified.
The Beach: The beaches belong to the people of Mexico and they don’t mind if you use it, so go ahead. There are no private beaches in Mexico. The only stopping point in our area is the Federal Dock (where the big ships are). You can’t walk across it, but you can go around it. The big hotels can’t and won’t stop you from walking on the beach. Our sand is clean and white and stretches forever. We do get seagrass on our beach, it’s a by-product of a healthy reef. The good news is that the reef calms the big waves so our beach is easy to swim.
Groceries: We now have a major grocery store just south of the square in Puerto Morelos. It is a Chedraui store and has pretty much everything you would expect to find in a supermarket including a bakery, meat counter, produce and liquor. There is a good fruit and vegetable market every Wednesday morning beside the Church. There is a very good, small produce and juice store on Ninos Heroes, the road just west of the main road, see our Puerto Morelos map for exact location. Alma Libre Books and Gifts on the square sells high-quality Mexican coffee and some specialty gourmet items.
In town there are dozens of “mini-supers” that offer everything you would expect to find in a convenience store.
In the Colonia, on the other side of the highway, you will find a larger and better-equipped Chedraui. There you will find everything you would expect to find in a supermarket. There is also another big store a little further north called Super Aki. Aki has some excellent beer sales, but is not as equipped as the highway Chedraui, so if you only go one place, go to Chedraiu.
The Colonia has some other smaller grocery stores and a couple of good produce stores.
For a wider selection, Playa del Carmen has a couple of large supermarkets on the highway (Chedraui & Soriana) and a Sam’s Club. They also have a Mega and a Wal-Mart. Cancun has everything including Costco, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Soriana, Chedraui and Commercial Mexicana. You should not have to go to Cancun or Playa for groceries though. Chedraui and the local places should cover you.
Fish: This is a fishing town, so if fish is your wish, you cannot….mish. Fishermen go out every day except Sunday. Their catches will show up at the fish co-operative (the building with the big gates between the supermarket and the corner.) Prices are good and the fish are as fresh as they can be. You can also go fishing. Trips are usually half-day and can be arranged on the dock, at one of the dive shops, or ask us and we’ll hook you up.
Drinking Water & Ice: All the restaurants in town use purified drinking water and ice. They wash the veggies in purified water. There is no reason to worry. Bottled water is inexpensive and available everywhere. You can brush your teeth with the tap water. If you open your mouth in the shower you will not die. You are far more likely to get sick from too much sun or tequila than the water, salad or ice.
Staying Healthy: While we’re on the topic, to stay healthy be sure to pace yourself and keep your hands clean, especially before you eat. Hand gel is a great thing to carry. Be careful of taking too much sun. It is very powerful! Bottled water is cheap and plentiful in Mexico.
Doctors: We a few medical options in Puerto Morelos. Dr. Veronica speaks English and will make housecalls! Her office is on the main square at the back of the mall on the north side of the square. We have not used the doctor; but we have only heard good things about her. There is also a clinic in the Pescadores neighbourhood just east of the highway. We’ve heard good things.
|Dr. Veronica Serrato Quezada
||998-253-4118 Cel: 998-147-7034
|Medical Clinic (Office in Pescadores just east of the highway)
||998-251-1478 / 998-201-2456
|Dr. Benjamin De la Vega
||998-285-9186 / Cel: 998-165-9955
There is a municipal clinic in the Colonia, their hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30am to 10:00 pm and Weekends 8:30 to 8:00.
Dentist: Dr. Carlos Escalante has an office just west of the square. 998-206-9157 NEXTEL 185-2583 Website Here. We’ve used him ourselves and would recommend him. He speaks excellent English. Dr. Gena Reys Herrera speaks some English. Her office is in the Colonia. Call 998-251-7595. You can save hundreds of dollars having dental work done here. Many people take “dental vacations”. They save big bucks, get all their dental work done, and recover on the beach. Nice!
Dress Code: In Puerto Morelos? Uh…no. We’re a very casual town. Shirts and shoes in restaurants of course and proper attire is expected if you are entering the church, but you won’t need your jacket and tie here, (though wandering about town in your Speedo will not make you too popular.)
Weather: This will be the least of your worries. Days tend to be hot & sunny. If we do get rain, it will likely come down with attitude and then move on. Evenings in December and January can be “coolish”, you may wish to carry a light jacket. Beware of regular weather sites, they often show us with rain when there is none. WindGuru is the only site we believe.
Dining Out: Long, lingering, lazy meals will be one of the highlights of your visit to Puerto Morelos. We have some great restaurants here, ranging from cheap local places to world-class cuisine. Please note that your waiter will not bring you your bill until you ask for it. Bringing the bill before you request it is considered rude, and simply not done here. Your bill will will include tax (IVA) but will not include service (propina). The exception is Playa del Carmen, where a 10% tip will often be included on the tab. Watch for it in Playa, so you are not tipping twice.
Tipping: Wages are low in Mexico, so your tips do make a big difference. Standard is about 10-15% at restaurants. You may encounter more tipping opportunities. The person who bags your groceries for example is a volunteer and only gets paid in tips. Also anyone offering to help you with your bags or helping you back your car out of your space. We tip the Pemex guys if they clean the windshield.
Be careful crossing the street. In a crosswalk, in theory you have the right away, but don’t bet on it.
Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way here. Do not wander out into the street or you are likely to become part of it.
Bus: Forget the “chicken bus” imagery in Mexico. Buses are great here, much better than in the US or Canada. Always buy the best class ticket you possibly can to get the most direct and best service. To take a bus to Playa or Cancun, you must get up to the highway using a cab or collectivo or your feet (2kms). There is a bus station on the east side of the highway. Buses to Cancun or Playa depart every 15-20 minutes and cost a mere 22 pesos. From Cancun or Playa’s bus stations, you can literally go anywhere in Mexico. Check the ADO website for prices and schedules. At the time we wrote this, a new daily service to Merida from our town had started, with a stop in Valladolid.
Collectivos: Mexico could simply not run without collectivos. These are white vans that run a set route, in town or between towns. Prices are similar to a bus, but much less than a taxi. The in-town collectivo (5 pesos) runs a route around the town, then goes to the highway and runs a route around the Colonia. Tell the driver where you want to go and he will work with you. You can use the collectivo to get to the bus station on the highway.
There are other collectivos that run to Playa and Cancun. You can catch them on the highway. If you are going to Cancun or Playa, take the bus over the collectivo. Less crowded and direct.
Taxi: Puerto Morelos may be a small town but we have more than 100 taxis. Rates are set, not metered. Agree on a price before you get in. There should be a rate card in the taxi, you can ask to see it, or look at the big rate sign on the square. You are not expected to tip, but we always do if he gets us to our destination safely…without running anyone over. You may be able to work out a deal on long distance destinations or have the taxi wait for you while you visit or shop along the Mayan Riviera.
There is a taxi rate sign at the taxi stand on the square. Click Here for current taxi_rates
Driving Yourself: Yes you can drive in Mexico! Renting a car is not necessary as the bus system is excellent here, but it does give you the most flexibility and freedom. Rates tend to be best if you rent for a week or more and book a week or more in advance and pick up at the airport. To rent for a short period of time, you can get a car in town.
Your credit card car rental insurance may not cover you in Mexico, check with your company. Whatever insurance route you choose, make sure there is a toll-free number you can call if you have problems. In case of an accident, police can throw all parties in jail until they determine who is at fault. You will want to be able to call someone to help you.
When you get your rental car, go over it with a fine-tooth comb and point out any scratch, dent, defect, chip or blemish to the rental guy. They will charge you for any new dings. Check your tires and spare for air and tread. Check your windshield too, look AT it not through it and point out any chips or cracks.
Driving is relatively easy here. Roads are good and the whole peninsula is flat as a tortilla, so you don’t have to deal with hills. The toll road to Chichen Itza/Merida is freakishly expensive, but sometimes worth it. See DAYTRIPS for more information. There is now a shortcut now to the free road which saves a lot of time. The free road to Chichen is narrow, slow and laden with topes (speed bumps) but is perfectly safe. The Cancun/Puerto Morelos/Playa del Carmen/Tulum road is very fast and very good. Cancun has traffic circles and aggressive drivers. Give the taxis (there are a million of them) and the buses a wide berth and you will be fine. Use your turn signal when you turn, and know that you and I are the only ones using them.
Your car rental agreement will likely state that you can’t take the car to Cozumel or Belize.
Don’t speed, wear your seatbelt, stay off the phone and you won’t have to worry about the police. If you do get stopped, be calm, cool and dim. Really dim. If they really want to give you a ticket, ask for the ticket. They will likely let you off. If you decide to settle things by the side of the road, talk the price down like you are bargaining for a blanket in the market. No more than 200 pesos should do it. There are police checkpoints outside Cancun and Playa. They may stop you. They likely just want to know where you are going and where you are coming from. Again, be polite and calm and you will be on your way.
Please note that traffic around the Puerto Morelos square is one-way (clockwise).
Where to Stay
Like all of Mexico, you have a wide variety of choices of where to hang your hat, depending on what you want, need and are willing to spend. We can help fix you up with a cool condo or fully-equipped apartment for your stay of a week or more, CLICK HERE or you can choose from a variety of hotel rooms, from all-inclusive resorts, spa resorts, beachfront hotels, or inexpensive rooms or hostels…all in Puerto Morelos!
As you look for places to stay, you will see there is a wide spectrum of prices you can pay for a night. In general, the closer you are to the beach, the more you will pay. In the main part of Puerto Morelos, you will always be close to the beach, but you may be some distance from the square depending on where you rent. Many new rentals have sprung up in the Colonia. They vary in greatly in quality and they are a lot further from the beach obviously. Be sure to research carefully so you know where to are renting.
Mexico has its own currency with bills and coins called the Mexican Peso. (Currency symbol MXN) Pesos are written with a dollar sign just like Canada and the US, which can lead to some horrifying moments for new visitors when they think that a simple burger is more than one hundred dollars.
There are several bank machines in Puerto Morelos which work with your foreign card and dispense pesos. The only major bank-affiliated ATM machine is in the new Chedraui grocery store just south of the square. There are more in the Colonia, the best being at the Chedraui grocery store or CI Banco. The machines work well with cards from all over the world, but occasionally run out of money, especially on weekends. There is a machine in the OXXO off the square that you can use as well. Do not use the “Cashola” machines in front of the little mall on the north side of the square. High fees! Always check any ATM machine over carefully before using. Pull on the card reader and keyboard to see if it is loose or suspicious. We have had card skimming incidents in Puerto Morelos. Cover your pin as you enter it and monitor your bank account carefully as you travel. Change your PIN when you get home as a precaution.
There are no banks in town the main part of town, there is one called CI Banco at the Chedraui and one called Bancomer in the Super Aki Plaza. There is an exchange booth right on the square to exchange your cash dollars (US or Canadian) or Euros. You need a passport to get pesos for U.S. dollars. If you use the exchange booth, count your money before you leave. Short changing is very common at this location! CI Banco by the Chedraui will also exchange foreign currency for pesos. They usually give a better rate than the booth on the square. Bring your passport.
We recommend changing your money and using Pesos in Mexico. Using the ATM is the best way to get pesos. US dollars are usually accepted, but you will likely not get an attractive exchange rate. Credit cards are NOT accepted at most businesses and restaurants in Puerto Morelos. You can likely get pesos from your bank at home for a pretty decent rate.
Post Office & Stamps: We do not have a post office in Puerto Morelos. You can get stamps at the supermarket. The Mexican postal system is improving, but is still quite undependable and slow. You will likely beat your postcards home, but they are still fun to send. There is no mailbox in town. Mail them at the airport on the way home or in Playa or Cancun if you happen to go there. Alma Libre has the only postcards in town that feature Puerto Morelos. They also have blank all-occasion cards.
Laundry: There is a laundromat on the main road just north of the square and one more on the road behind. Prices tend to be around 10 pesos for 1 kilogram of laundry. Drop it off and pick it up later. No need to waste valuable vacation time rinsing out your unmentionables.
Phoning Home: This has improved greatly in the last few years in Mexico, but you still need to be careful. The easiest way to phone home is to use Skype or get a “Telmex/Ladatel” phone card at the pharmacy. They come in three sizes, 30 peso, 50 peso or 100 peso. Calling the US or Canada will cost 5 pesos a minute, so you are getting 6, 10 or 20 minutes depending on which you buy. Local calls (including Cancun) are about 1 peso a minute. Calls to Playa del Carmen and beyond cost more. To call a Mexican mobile phone, you need to dial 044 + area code + number.
Insert your phone card with the computer chip facing up and towards the phone, then hit the “abc” button. This changes all the instructions to English and makes things so much easier…assuming you speak English…which you must if you are reading this. To dial Canada or USA dial 001 + area code + number. The card will count down your time and mercilessly cut you off when your time is up.
If you have time left over, keep your card for your next call or next trip to Mexico, they don’t expire.
We do not recommend using your credit card to call. Charges can be outrageous. Also calling from your resort or hotel room can be an orgy of overcharging, check their rates first. There are other calling cards you can buy locally, but we have never had any luck with them, except to jimmy open doors. Don’t call collect, unless you really don’t care for the person…they will likely get nailed big time. A recent collect call from Puerto Morelos cost us $50 for eight minutes! If you must call collect, dial 090 to get the operator.
Skype, Google Phone or Magic Jack work well here.
Electricity: We have the same power as the rest of North America, it is 120 volts give or take. A good idea is to pack a little surge protector if you are bringing sensitive electronics. The power in Mexico has greatly improved in the last few years, but there are always exceptions. (Power is expensive here so please don’t waste it. We find the fresh ocean breeze is much more pleasant than air conditioning.)
Internet: The cheap and easy way to stay in touch. Available at the internet cafe beside the OXXO or there are several restaurants where you can get WiFi free with a purchase. There is free internet in the square courtesy of the local government. You have to sign up for it.
Bugs: Mosquitoes don’t tend to be a big problem in town, the breeze keeps them down. If they do come out, it will be at dusk. Avoid being out at that time or use a little repellent. You’ll need bug spray if you go to the Botanical Garden. We sell organic repellent at the bookstore.
Bano: There is now a public bathroom on the square open most hours in the morning and evening. One of our sage pieces of advice for travel in Mexico is, never turn down an opportunity to go to the bathroom…so if you are in a restaurant or bar, take advantage of the facilities!
In all banos, you will find a wastepaper basket beside the toilet. You are supposed to throw all your paper in there, not in the toilet. This is true in small hotels, restaurants, bars and people’s homes. It may seem strange, but please don’t mess up their plumbing because it feels weird to you.
Massage: There are a few places in town that can rub your troubles away. The best deal by far is the Jungle Spa, where all treatments are available from professionally trained Mayan women for less pesos. You can contact them to book an appointment for most days except Monday. Call Sandra (998) 208-9148.
Gasoline: A Pemex is located on the highway at the Puerto Morelos turnoff. Pemex is the only gas station in Mexico, though the government will allow competition soon. They usually don’t post their prices on the sign. There are a billion stories of people getting ripped off at the gas station. Get out of your car after you pull up and keep an eye on everything and it won’t happen to you. Make sure they reset the pump to zero and count out the cash when you hand it to the pump guy. Most of our fueling experiences have been positive, including the occasional Pemex that cleans your windows and (gasp) vacuums your interior as you get gas. Tip for good service. Fuel price in December 2016 was 13.98 pesos a litre.
Church: Everyone is welcome at the big Catholic church on the square “Iglesia de San Jose”. Services are at 7:30PM on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Services are in Spanish as you might expect. They have recently posted a sign that they have English services Sunday at noon. I am not sure if it is just for the season, or permanent.
Time Zone: We are in the Eastern Time Zone. We do not go Daylight Savings Time, so we are permanently on Eastern Standard Time (EST). This is our current time and date (in 24 hour format)
Have we missed anything? Write us and let us know if we have left a gap in your knowledge.