Please read this information before you arrive at Abbey del Sol.
For those of you who have not visited Mexico before, or have only been across the border into Tijuana or some of the other border towns, please note Cancun and the Riviera Maya is now the wealthiest part of Mexico and much nicer than any of the border towns. Our area is safe and our town, in particular, is tranquil and secure.
General Information to Review
BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
YOU MUST HAVE A VALID PASSPORT TO ENTER MEXICO. It is important that the expiration date be more than 6 months from the date of your travel.
WEATHER AND CLOTHING
The weather from December through February is warm during the day (average 80F) and cool at night (60F). The temperature can be very changeable. When a cold front goes through you will want a sweatshirt, sweater, jacket, and socks. There is always a chance of rain but it never seems to last for long. Think “layers” for clothing. You will only need casual clothes, most people do fine with a very limited wardrobe. Sandals or “flip flops” are the norm. It’s nice to have a pair of sneakers or walking shoes to climb the ruins or to put on when the temperature drops. PACK LIGHT! Life is very casual here.
March and April are warmer, especially at night, and May and June are usually hot and humid although tempered by our closeness to the Caribbean. By July and August, the summer heat is on full throttle: highs in the high 80’s to low 90’s and lows in the high 70’s and humid. Bring suntan lotion and Aloe for sunburn; buying it in Mexico is expensive. The sun gets very hot here during the day and you will burn VERY quickly. Some form of hat is also recommended.
The state of Quintana Roo where Cancun and Puerto Morelos are located does not observe daylight savings. They stay on Eastern time all year. This means that in the summer, when the US, Canada and the rest of Mexico are on daylight savings time, our town lines up with Central Time. In the winter our town is on Eastern time.
ATM’S AND BANKING
We now have two actual banks in Puerto Morelos, Bancomer and CI. It is possible to exchange dollars there but you will get a better exchange rate if you use an ATM. We have a number in town, ask our office for details. Do NOT use the Cambio (exchange window) by the town square. They often cheat you and their exchange rate is terrible. Use official Bank ATM’s not the free-standing ones that charge huge fees.
WHAT YOU CAN BRING INTO THE COUNTRY – COMPUTERS, ETC
The rule is one each of any electronic equipment (camera, video camera, computer, I Pod, etc.) per person for personal use only. Do not bring anything still in its retail box, they will assume it is new and for re-sale and charge you duty.
The electrical service is the same as the US & Canada so you can use all of your electrical items here.
We work with a number of transport companies. For our preferred company, Ride-Mexico, you’ll find a link on our home page. For 1 to 3 people Ride-Mexico is $80 USD round-trip, taxis are $85 one-way. There is also a bus/taxi combo that is less expensive but takes more time to get to where you want to go.
Cancun airport is a large, modern airport with three terminals; Terminal #3 and #4 for the major airlines’ international flights; Terminal #2 for domestic carriers and international charter airlines.
Once you are off the plane you will go through immigration first and customs second. The immigration agent will look at your papers and ask you how long you will be here and where you will be staying. General answers are fine. They speak English. Then you collect your luggage from the luggage carousels. If you have a lot of luggage free handcarts are available.
You will see everyone moving toward the same exit where the customs officials are. They will randomly pick people to check but most people just walk right on through. Once you are through customs you can get a porter to help you with your luggage if needed. You tip them what you would at home (one to five dollars depending on the number of pieces you have brought). The porters take dollars or pesos. In the winter season if you arrive on Saturday or Sunday there will be long lines and larger crowds so expect that clearing Immigration and Customs will take longer – up to an hour or more. Processing on weekdays usually goes a little faster; From the US Wednesday is often the best day to fly, both for price and crowds.
AVOID THE INDIVIDUALS SELLING INFORMATION IN THE EXIT CORRIDOR
As you leave the customs area you will see many booths along each side of the exit corridor with men and women in official-looking shirts trying to get your attention. The best course of action is to ignore these people completely and continue to leave the building. All they want is to sell you a timeshare or hook you into some fabulous “free” tour in exchange for a “short’ visit to a resort or condo timeshare complex. IT IS NOT WORTH IT! The “short” visit can be hours and they trap you in a room and won’t let you out until you say yes and buy a timeshare.
If you would rather take a taxi be prepared for the regulated fare from the airport between $50 and $70 USD one-way (plus a tip) depending on the taxi. There is an airport surcharge when the taxis leave the airport, that is why it is more expensive to leave than to return. There is an official taxi service now at the airport and you go to the taxi window to hire a taxi. Also, taxis don't know how to find our office, Ride-Mexico knows all of our town.
The road to Puerto Morelos is straight out to Highway 307 and South 10 miles (15km). There aren’t any other routes. As long as the taxi bears right (south) toward Chetumal, Playa del Carmen and Tulum you are fine. Cancun is to the north (left) and the Hotel Zone is straight ahead.
Within Puerto Morelos you will find many taxis if you don’t feel like walking for $2US or $35 pesos around town.
Our recommendation is that you get to PM some other way than renting a car, get to the property, get settled in and get a feel for the town, then rent a car in town. Check at the office for the latest information about renting a car in town. If you rent your car at Cancun airport you can choose from Alamo, National, Dollar, Budget, Executive, and Thrifty and inexpensive off-site rental companies you’ll find on the internet. If you make your reservations before you arrive be sure to call the 800 line in the U.S. to confirm your reservation. Reservations made online tend to not get registered at the Cancun offices of the rental companies. Bring a copy of your reservation. Be patient when you pick up your car, it can take quite a while. If you land late at night don’t rent a car. So often the company is out of cars by that time so even if you have a reservation you won’t get a car.
Liability car insurance is required by Mexican law to be included with every rental. Many of the rental agents in Cancun will tell you it isn’t and try to push you to get more insurance. It is up to you how covered you want to be. Puerto Morelos is a pretty safe town and, during the day, Cancun and Playa del Carmen are too. We have been told that none of your American insurance will apply down here, so please check on this carefully.
If you are driving anywhere in Mexico you will notice a high police presence. Unfortunately, some of the police see tourists as a good source of extra cash. Our best advice to you is to be a VERY respectful driver: NO speeding, ALWAYS wear seat belts (everyone in the car) and NO phone use for the driver.
If you are pulled over, ask them why. If you were in the wrong (speeding, not wearing seat belts, or talking on your phone) be respectful, you will have to pay a fine (you can’t negotiate.) Ask in the office for current fines. They will ask for your Driver’s License (do not give it to them) and tell you they will impound the car and take you to the police station (they won’t.) This is all part of an act that leads to asking you for money.
If they are accusing you of something other than the “3 Don’ts” you can negotiate. If they ask for $5000 pesos ($250 US) just tell them you don’t have that kind of money, would $10 US do? If you are Canadian tell them, you only have a few Canadian dollars and haven’t gotten any pesos yet. You can say “Is there anything I can do to work this out?” Mostly, just play dumb and pretend you do not understand what they are saying. There is a chance they will get bored and let you go without having to pay. Speaking Spanish doesn’t seem to help. Whatever you do DON’T GET ANGRY. If you are a woman tears seem to work pretty well. You can also “call their bluff” and ask for an official ticket and an opportunity to go to the police station and talk to the police chief because you are sure you didn’t do anything wrong. Bring one of our business cards with you so you have Jin’s cell phone number with you at all times.
It is also a good idea not to carry a lot of cash in your wallet. Put it in another pocket or bag. When you open your wallet to pay you don’t want them to see a lot of cash. This is also a good recommendation when you are shopping. If you are held up for an unreasonable length of time, give Jin a call on his cell and see if he can talk to them for you. +52-998-115-2244.
ARRIVING AT ABBEY DEL SOL
The office at Abbey del Sol is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. For any of our properties, you can check-in at the office first. IF YOU ARE ARRIVING AFTER 5:00 PLEASE BE SURE TO RECEIVE ARRIVAL INSTRUCTIONS AHEAD OF TIME!!
WHAT IS PROVIDED
Sheets, beach towels, bath and hand towels and washcloths are provided. Each unit has a hairdryer and bar soap. There are cooking utensils and dishes in your kitchen, and a blender, toaster and coffee maker. Most of our units have microwaves. If you need anything else please ask us and we’ll do our best to accommodate you. Our kitchens are the best equipped in town.
BABY CRIB AND BEDS
The mattresses on our beds are firm. If you need a foam mattress cover to make it a bit softer, ask at the office. We also have a port-a-crib available for use. We do not have crib bedding so you will have to bring your own.
You will be provided with a large 5-gallon bottle of filtered water when you arrive. Most of our properties provide additional drinking water for free. Do not drink out of the tap. Brushing your teeth with the water is fine.
Concerns about the safety of the water: The Cancun area is the most prosperous part of Mexico and their livelihood depends on keeping the tourists healthy. All the restaurants use filtered water for the ice cubes and drinking water. Do not drink any water out of any tap anywhere in Mexico.
MAID AND LAUNDRY SERVICE
If you are staying with us for a week or less there is no maid service. You can ask for clean towels whenever you want. If you stay with us for 8 nights or more your apartment will be cleaned during each week at no cost. If you would like additional cleaning that can be arranged for a modest charge. Laundry service is available for $10usd/load with a same day turn around in most cases.
There are a surprising number of good restaurants in Puerto Morelos. There is a reference list in your Guest information book in your unit. Also on this website under Puerto Morelos you will find a list of our favorite restaurants.
There is a nice grocery/liquor store in Puerto Morelos by the town square and many convenience stores around town that will offer basic items. There are two large grocery stores on the highway that will offer pretty much anything you need. One is like a small Walmart with household items as well as food.
MARKETS AND OTHER THINGS OF INTEREST
There is a local produce market in Puerto Morales every Wednesday morning where you can purchase excellent fruits and vegetables. The market sets up on the south side of the Church in the town square at 7:30am is there till around noontime.
You will also hear a vendor on a loudspeaker in the neighborhood most days who sells oranges, mangoes, and pineapples from the back of his truck. His produce is usually good and inexpensive.
SIGHTSEEING AND TOURS
We work with a number of reliable tour operators and we can help arrange the nicest and most cost-effective tour or sightseeing trip for you. We recommend small, private to semi-private tours so you can be flexible with your time. Some options are snorkeling on the reef or in a calm lagoon; swimming in a crystal clear spring-fed cenote; seeing the ruins at Tulum or Ek Balam; visiting Playa del Carmen to wander the pedestrian-only boulevard with great shops and restaurants, or taking a trip into the market in Cancun. Once you get settled check-in at the office to explore your options. You can check some of them out on our website under Puerto Morelos / Activities.
Our sleepy little town gets quite lively on Thursday through Sunday nights. There are 3 or 4 nice bars that are open until 1 a.m. In the winter season, you will find a lot of street musicians by the most popular restaurants and interesting things going on at the Town Square. We don’t have much of the “spring break” type crowd, most of the visitors are retired or have young families. The younger set usually goes into Cancun or Playa del Carmen if they want to get wild.
For more night life Playa del Carmen is the first recommendation. You can stroll up and down the cobblestone “pedestrian only” boulevard and stop at any restaurant, bar, or shop that grabs your fancy. It’s about 12 blocks long and fun. Playa del Carmen is about 45 minutes south of us. You can take a taxi. Arrange a pickup with the office. Cancun’s hotel zone is also a possibility for nightlife if you like more noise and glitz although it is seldom the first choice.
BATHROOMS AND SEPTIC SYSTEMS
Be prepared for challenging bathroom situations in many places throughout Mexico. It is getting better but it often is not what you may be used to. For the women: occasionally there are no toilet seats or toilet paper unless you buy it from the person taking care of the toilets. This usually costs $2 to $5 pesos (20 to 50 cents.) Always have small change with you in Mexico as it seems everyone needs to be tipped. Bathrooms can usually be found at gas stations and at any of the big stores such as Wal-Mart, Costco, etc. Restaurants will have bathrooms and the larger the restaurant the nicer the bathroom (usually.)
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE AND GETTING TO KNOW THE LOCALS
We work with an excellent Spanish language school in town if you would like classes. Private lesson in your unit or you can go to their school and join group classes. In the winter there are also other private instructors available.
If you can attempt to speak Spanish, it is always appreciated by the locals. About 25% of the locals you meet will speak English. For many Mayan is their first language, Spanish their second and English their third. The most important thing to remember is to be friendly and respectful and people will respond in kind.
Mexico is still mostly a poor country and the Mexicans have tremendous pride. They very much want what the tourists have (money and a good lifestyle) and are hoping to build friendships so that more of that lifestyle can be theirs. However, at the same time they want to retain their heritage and customs. Being sensitive to this dilemma will help you make friends and be treated well. However, be aware that for some poor people tourists are seen only as a source of money and they are being friendly to get your money. This is true in any country in the world.