Natural Treasures and Preservation of a Secret Paradise.
Guest author Bel Woodhouse sweeps us away to Mexico to spend a day in a unique, responsible and rejuvenating (for both visitors and the ecosystem), secluded tropical island paradise. Tourism dollars invested in a day visit to Cozumel Pearl Farm return ocean and beach experiences, an educational tour and fabulous food. Plus, you are supporting some incredible conservation projects including coral reef regeneration and the reintroduction of the nearly extinct Atlantic Pearl Oyster, as well as the Farm's overall commitment to environmental, social and local economic sustainability. This is a real tourism treasure - a hidden gem of experience - but also home to beautiful and precious Caribbean Pearls.
Digging my toes into the fine white sand while watching a lone iguana saunter past, I couldn't help but be in awe of the beauty surrounding me. Not a footprint in sight, the pristine startling white beach stretched out on either side, it's wide expanse breathtaking.
Gazing out on the huge bay with its crystal clear Caribbean aquamarine and teal waters it became clear how well protected this private sanctuary was. Cozumel Pearl Farm is a paradise.
Paradise is only accessible by boat on a tour with the owners themselves. The forty-minute boat ride - passing shipwrecks, evidence of hurricane Wilma's devastation - is a wonderful introduction to the rhythm of the ocean and a more tranquil pace of life. Reaching the far north of the island where the pearl farm rests in its own secluded private bay, is like stepping back in time before tourism ever touched this island.
This is the only pearl farm in the Caribbean and the realization of one family's dream.
Since Hurricane Wilma tore Cozumel apart in 2005 devastating the first edition of the pearl farm, they rebuilt creating a responsible tourism business showcasing their rare Caribbean jewel. The Cozumel Pearl.
They took the chance before it was popular to rebuild in an eco-friendly way, minimizing the impact on the environment. Only three buildings are on site, all kept as natural as possible. Wildlife wanders in and out unaware they should be afraid of humans. And all the energy consumed on-site is generated by solar, wind or wave.
A large open-sided palapa is the primary building, acting as the main gathering place and where the delicious lunch is served. Next is the open outdoor education centre pictured above. Finally, there is a closed lab where the pearls are processed after harvesting.
During the day, you learn all about this one-of-a-kind Cozumel pearl. Lustre, shape, surface, size and colour - the five essentials needed to create the perfect pearl are all explained before seeing the entire operation from seeding to harvesting.
It takes four years to grow one of these treasures so you can understand why this operation is one of patience and why these pearls are so precious.
The small intimate group tours (max 8 people) educate visitors about all the pearls of the world. Presentations discuss the different species, regions, growing techniques and harvesting and speak to the uniqueness of the Cozumel Pearl Farm operations and this family's dream to do the impossible. Grow a pearl in the Caribbean.
Afterwards, lunch is served along with refreshing beverages and some relaxation time to enjoy the beach in shade or sun while you digest.
I was delighted to have a grandmother, mother and grandaughter - three generations on a multigenerational travel trip as my company that day. Floating in the ocean, wandering the beach or swinging on the swing, we all chilled awhile before heading out for a delightful tour of the aquatic operation. To see the pearls themselves.
For me, snorkelling over the untouched reef and checking out the farm was the most magical part. Being towed gently behind the boat, floating along you look down to see the pearl oysters peacefully growing in customized cages attached to the ocean floor. The cage anchoring is unique and an ingenious invention of the family so the pearls are protected next time a hurricane arrives.
The holy virgin, Guadalupe, stands amongst them, her vibrant sunken statue standing guard over the pearls protecting both them and the entire pearl farm. A silent sentinel in a watery paradise.
Diving down, I gave her a kiss, which is supposed to bring luck and blessings, before drifting away to enjoy some free time exploring the untouched reef. Amongst the swaying sea fans and anemones, boldly coloured turquoise and orange Queen Angelfish swam within a vibrant mix of other smaller species.
The perfect end to the perfect day in a perfect place.
The Cozumel Pearl Farm can't wait to welcome guests once again. To discover more about their tours, including how you can spend the night and sleep under the stars in this paradise - a personal dream for those of us at Re-CreationWORLD - and to book a tour or stay, follow the links to their website and social pages in the Cozumel Pearl Farm Directory. Remember that by booking directly you are ensuring the full value of your tourism investment goes to this enterprise and their research and preservation work. Plus it is quite possible you will be rewarded with a discount.
There is also a link in the 'How They are Creating a Better World' section of their Directory where you can learn more about their sustainability initiatives and/or make a cash donation to help them continue with their important work.