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REVIEW: ATV and Cenote Adventure in Playa Del Carmen (4-hour tour)

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For this visit to Playa Del Carmen, we had time to book us on an excursion. While the goal was to get out of the hotel, we didn’t really want to be gone the whole day. We worked directly with the Grand Hyatt’s activities desk, and we worked with Atrevete Tours. Our contact was Juan. We talked about our possible options:

  • ATV and Cenote Tour in Riviera Maya for $89 per person – 4+ hours (including transportation time)
  • Ziplining, Cenote, Snorkeling for $119 per person – 6 hours + transportation time
  • Chichen Itza (one of the 7 wonders of the world) for around 8+ hours, pricing and packages vary from $139-$179 per person

Which tour did we choose

Juan understood our needs for this excursion. After giving us the 3 possible options, we opted for the shorter tour – ATV/Cenote Tour for $89 per person. We wanted to leave the hotel, go on a tour, and be back in time for a late lunch. This gives us more time for the pool and beach later in the afternoon. Plus, we’ve never gone on an ATV adventure, and never visited a cenote. This was the right fit for us.

According to Juan, anyone could book with Atrevete, not just the guests of the Grand Hyatt. To reach Atrevete:

  • +011-52 171-0713 – direct line
  • or, from the Grand Hyatt, extension 6497
  • Hours are 7am-8pm  – ask for Juan, and tell him that you heard of Atrevete from Jason at Daddy Travels and he will take care of you

We paid directly with Atrevete. While they were located onsite at Grand Hyatt, they work independently. We were able to use our credit card to pay for this excursion.

What to expect on the day of the tour

Pick-up time – we were advised to be at the front desk waiting area by 7:15pm (meeting time). We grabbed a quick bite to eat the La Cocina (onsite restaurant at the Grand Hyatt). The tour only provides water, and perhaps, some cookies, so we didn’t really want to go hungry during the tour. Our driver from Aventuras Mayas was Alejandro, and he arrived at 7:30am. Another couple was already in the van.

Meeting point with our group – from the Grand Hyatt, we drove for 10 minutes and were taken to what looks like a meeting point for Aventuras Mayas. There was a place to sit, grab coffee, use the restroom. We only waited for another 10 minutes when the rest of our group arrived. Altogether, there were 8 of us who were in the van who booked this adventure tour. We met a family from New Jersey, Illinois, and from Europe. It was a great way of chatting with them as we all were about to embark on this tour.

Drive to ATV/Cenote in Riviera Maya – from the Aventuras Mayas meeting point, we went for another drive of no more 20-30 minutes. It’s located halfway in between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It was all driving through the main road or highway. There was no traffic. Once we took an exit, we entered an area with quite a few private properties, and then the roads started to become rocky, unpaved. We drove through many trees, just like driving through the forest until we got to Aventuras Mayas.

The ATV Tour

ATV Orientation

This part took some time. We prepared for our ATV tour first. We headed to the main part, think of it as a huge gift shop with cash registers and lockers. Before riding the ATV, we went to our locker, we were given a key and an assigned locker number. We met up with Moises, our ATV tour guide. He gave us a rundown on how to operate/drive/ride the ATV. He covered in details the safety precautions. He also advised us of the possible damages that are NOT covered by our booking. It was worth another $15 for one driver, and another $10 for a 2nd driver. Since I planned to drive our ATV the entire time (a two-seater ATV), we opted to pay the extra $15 for coverage, so we had nothing to worry. You could pay in cash, credit card, or Paypal.

From the gift shop, we all headed to the ATV garage. It was where we were each given a hairnet (due to COVID), we had to use this before wearing our helmets. Once we’ve got our helmets on, a local photographer took our pictures using their camera, and we could view or purchase those pictures before we leave (optional). After taking our pictures, we all got on our ATVs.

The ATV Adventure

Let the fun begin. We’ve never ever gone on an ATV tour. Many of us in our group rode in two-seater ATVs. We had an option to switch drivers during our course, but we all opted to just have one driver the entire time. Why was this important? The first part of the trail was the easier trail, therefore it’s best to give the second half of the trail to the better driver.

This was so fun, it’s so hard to describe in words other than, it was driving through rocky, bumpy, some parts muddy trail. We had to keep our distance. I looked at my speedometer, and it looked like the fastest I’ve driven was 26 km/h. That was exhilirating. The trail was so fun. Operating the ATV was very easy. Once we moved the gear to drive, there was a lever on my right hand to press on the gas, and the rear brake lever was on my my left, and the front brake was on my right foot.

Our guide, Moises, took good care of us. He signaled whenever we were about to turn right or left, or if we needed to stop, slow down, or proceed. There were a couple of times when “another” group had to pass us by, thus, we had to give way so as not to collide with them. I thought the tour was only going to be a half hour long. But it sure felt longer. It was close to 45-minutes to an hour. No one was harmed. We all made it back to ATV garage safely.

The Cenote Tour

Cenote (seh-no-teh), are natural sinkholes filled with freshwater that have opened up below the earth’s surface. For this tour, you would need to wear snorkeling mask, and life jacket for those who are inexperienced swimmers. Back at the gift shop/locker area, Alejandro gave us an overview of what to expect. He showed us how to best use the snorkeling equipment and life jackets. This overview was much quicker compared to the ATV orientation. To go to the cenote, you could bring your towel, flip flops or shoes, waterproof phones or camera.

Cenote Estrella was right onsite. We did not have to drive to get to it. It was just a couple of minutes walk from the gift shop. It’s definitely a cenote that’s meant for tours. There were stairs, bins, and lights at this cenote. We took pictures with our cell phones right before we swam in the cenote, and after that point, we decided to leave our phones back in the bin, and did not want to deal with possibility of losing the phone.

I was surprised to see what I saw. It looked so much better than I had imagined. The water wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t extremely ice-cold either. While this cenote was not man-made, Aventuras Mayas made it easily visible by adding lights to different parts of the cenote that helped you see the life beneath. I only saw a few water creatures, looked like little catfish. But it was clear to see how deep this sinkhole was due to the lighting. We found a place halfway in between to take a break, and those of us who could swim were given a chance to swim around on our own. The entire cenote tour was 30 minutes long, I thought it was long enough for us.

Ready to head back

After the cenote tour, we all had an opportunity to look at optional pictures taken by Aventuras Mayas. We changed our clothing, emptied our locker, and boarded the shuttle. We headed back to Playa Del Carmen, and this time, each of the guests were dropped off directly at their individual hotel. It was a true door-to-door service.

Our Cenote guide and driver, Alejandro

The takeaways

There was no doubt that we made the right decision of going with this abbreviated tour. We had so much fun riding the ATV, and riding around the bumpy trails. The cenote was another definite highlight. It made me yearn to visit another cenote, perhaps an open-hole cenote adventure tour that would allow us to jump in from the outside into the sinkhole.

I do highly recommend Aventuras Mayas. They were efficient, thorough, helpful, and made everyone feel so much at ease during the entire visit.

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