Yucatan Jay in Puerto Morelos

Yucatan Jay in Puerto Morelos

Until the other day I had never seen a Yucatan Jay before. Now maybe I’m just not very observant, but I usually do notice birds. I have lived in Puerto Morelos since 2002. During these 15 years I have seen thousands of Common Grackles, lots of bright yellow and orange Orioles, a few bright green Parrots and even one very lost Keel-Billed Toucan after Hurricane Wilma. So it was quite a delight to see this young fellow hanging out in the Tejones Park.

You can tell that he is young male, probably about two years old, from his bright yellow bill. It will slowly turn black as he gets older. Younger Yucatan Jays usually have a yellow ring around their eye as well, which turns black as they get older, so this little guy is getting on in years.

Yucatan Jays are part of the crow family. They are native to the Yucatan Peninsula. Their diet consists of seeds, fruits and bugs. They particularly like to dine on ants, which is always a good thing. It was great to have a visit from this feathery friend.

Want to come visit us in Puerto Morelos? You can stay in one of our vacation rentals.




After 15 years we have decided to start a new chapter!

Alma Libre Books and Gifts has been sold. The new owners will take over on April 1, 2017.

We will continue to live in Puerto Morelos and I may have time to update this blog…we will just be living a lifestyle a little more like our customers!

The last 15 years have been great. We have met thousands of people from all over the world and have helped many discover our little town. We grew along with Puerto Morelos, and survived challenges like Hurricane Wilma.

As we head into our final Alma Libre month, we would like to sincerely thank you for your ongoing support and friendship over the past 15 years.

We feel the bookstore is an important part of Puerto Morelos, and we know that we are leaving it in very good hands. The new owners are from Canada and own a bookstore! They love Puerto Morelos and are making it their home.

Here is a link to the press release if you would like more details: Sold Final And if you would like to continue to receive information about the town be sure to follow us at InPuertoMorelos.

In 2002, not long after we bought the shop

The store after Wilma in 2005. The store came through pretty well, we were amazed to see the sign made it through just fine, and not a single pane of glass was broken. The store did have a fair amount of water damage inside, we lost about 1000 books.

Shelving…so much shelving. We have done a lot of it over the last 15 years. After a while, you start to forget the order of letters in the alphabet!

Cat in the shelves

Joanne in front of Alma Libre the day we bought it in 2002. That suitcase is full of books!

Casa de los Viajeros flowers

The flowers are in full bloom at Casa de los Viajeros.

The days are long, the flowers are in full bloom and the weather is beautiful in Puerto Morelos. To add to this, the resturants, beaches and accommodations are empty. As the weather grows warmer up north, people forget how wonderful it is to be here in the off season. You can have the beach all to yourself and you don’t have to make reservations or wait in line to get into your favourite resturants.

Puerto Vallarta Airport

Deserted gates at the Puerto Vallarta Airport.

It is the same throughout all of Mexico. We just came back from 3 fun-filled weeks in Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, where they are experiencing the same low season lull as Puerto Morelos. We never waited to get into a single restaurant and in Tlaquepaque (a hip suburb of Guadalajara) we rented a fully equipped apartment for only $20usd/night.

Puerto Vallarta

Have the pool all to yourself.

In Puerto Vallarta, we had the pool all to ourselves during the week at one condo. And at the other condo we stayed at, there were only two units occupied in the entire complex. Very quiet and very relaxing.

Puerto Morelos Beach

Even better, have Puerto Morelos’ beach all to yourself!

Right now in Puerto Morelos, you will find amazing deals because of the low demand. An apartment that usually rents for $118USD/night at Christmas (with a 7 night minimum rental)  now rents for $57USD/night  (with only a 5 night minimum rental). That is less than half price! And that is not the only place you can save money. To draw more people in, many of the bars and resturants have great low season specials. And there are loads of flights from many destination in the USA or Canada for around $350USD return.

Whale Sharks

Swim with the whale sharks. A must do!

Right now the water is calm, clear and warm. It’s a great time for snorkeling, fishing or diving. And whale shark season is about to begin. Something you must check off on your bucket list. So if you are looking to slip away and decompress, now is the time to do it and Mexico is the place.

I’m off to check out a margarita special. Hope to see you soon!

Beachfront condo for sale at $1,200,000.00 USD.

Beachfront condo for sale at $1,200,000.00 USD.

Location, location, location. The closer you get to the Caribbean and to the centre of town, the higher the price tag. As part of our continuing series, “What It Costs to Live in Mexico” we talked about the cost of real estate on the colonia side of Puerto Morelos. This time we will explore beach house prices.

Prices on the port side of the town, near the beach, generally start at over $200,000 USD. Due to the fluctuating Mexican Peso, prices are regularly quoted in US dollars. When we bought our home, the price was quoted in USD, but when the deal was signed the price was converted to Mexican pesos at the current exchange rate.

Here are a few examples of what you can expect to pay on the port side of Puerto Morelos. These prices would be similar for Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Puerto Aventuras.


Two bedroom condo off the beach.

Two bedroom condo off the beach.

The best deal in town right now is a 2 bedroom/2 bath, 123 m2 (1323 sq. feet), fully furnished condo with a common pool. This property is 1 block from the beach and about 4 blocks to the town square. The asking price is $210,000 USD. Because this is a condo, there are monthly fees.

Beachfront condo.

Beachfront condo.

The price jumps quite a bit when you go to a beachfront condo in the central part of town. There are cheaper ones, but they are much further from town square or on a less attractive part of the beach (near the port). This luxury condo is a slightly larger, more upscale 2 bedroom/2 bath condo at 150 m2 (1657 sq. feet), with a shared pool, monthly condo fees apply. The asking price is $579,000 USD.

Condo with a beach view.

Condo with a beach view.

A way to combat the price of the beachfront condo is to go with one that has an ocean view, like this  2 bedroom/2 bath, 149 m2 (1598 sq. feet) that is fully furnished, with a pool, steps from the ocean. It is listed at $349,000 USD plus monthly condo fees.

As you can see there is a big price difference depending on how close you are to the water.

Single Family Homes

Single family home on the port side.

Single family home on the port side.

Unlike some communities down the coast, there are several single family homes in Puerto Morelos. Again, location is the key factor in buying a house. People generally want to be close to or on the beach, plus close to the square. Single family homes off the beach usually starts at around $400,000 USD. A full lot (there are half lots in town) are about 11 m x 22 m. To give you an idea of houses on the market, this home is 4 bedrooms/5+ bath, 24.86 m2 (2677 sq. feet) with a pool. It’s asking price is $520,000 USD.

Beach front villa

On the beach, but out of town.

Currently there are no single family homes for sale, on the beach, in the most popular part of town. To give you an idea of what a home on the beach would cost, here is a home that is located in the north part of Puerto Morelos. This would require you to have a bike or car to get to restaurants and shops. It is a 5 bedroom/7 bath (I am not sure there are any small homes on the beach 🙂 ) 325 m2 (3500 sq. ft) on a large lot (900 m2) with a pool. The asking price is $949,000 USD. This is on the low end of the price scale for single family beach front homes.

Between rental apartments, homes in the colonia and the homes on the port, there is something for every budget. To learn more about the nuts and bolts of buying a home in Mexico, we suggest you take Mayan Riviera Properties weekly “Ask A Realtor” workshop. It is free and offered every Wednesday at 5 p.m. during high season. If you are not in town, you can take their online tutorial. It will answer many of your questions about buying real estate, living, working and retiring in Mexico.

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Traditional Mayan housing vs a beach mansion.

There are many different ways to live in Mexico, with homes to meet every budget. Above is an example of the extremes. In the Yucatan Peninsula many Mayan families live in traditional stick houses with palapa or tar paper roofs. While on the beach, you can find mega mansions.

We often get asked in the bookstore how much it costs to buy a house in Puerto Morelos. This is a bit of a loaded question. In our town you can buy an apartment for as little as $329,000 pesos (about $18,135 USD) or a beachfront villas in the millions of dollars. These prices are similar in other towns along the coast of Quintana Roo, such as Playa del Carmen, Puerto Adventures and Akumal. Here is an idea of what your money will get you.

Villas Morelos Dos

The owners have added their own touch of colour to these homes in Villas Morelos Dos.

The first thing you should know about our town, is that it is divided into two areas, the port side and the colonia. The port side is next to the ocean, we are then divided by 2.5 kms of protected mangrove and the main highway. To give you a better idea take a look at our map. The closer you are to the beach, the more expensive the homes.

Typical low cost Mexican kitchen

Appliances, tile, shelves and paint added by the owners.

Housing Prices in the Colonia

When you are buying “new construction”, you are basically buying a cement box. That means that there is no tile on the floors, no paint on the walls, no appliances, no kitchen cupboards, no window coverings, no light fixtures, etc. It is just a cement box with a toilet, plus utility sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. It is up to you to finish it the way you like. The cost of this is up to you and in addition to the prices listed.

Villas Morelos Dos Vet

This home has been turned into a business.

When you buy into an existing community, people have adapted their houses to meet their needs. This often means that a home is not just a house for a family to live in, but also a business. So you may have a great little taco stand or a convenience store or in this case, a vet, just a few doors down.

Villas la Playa apartments

New apartments, waiting to be purchased in Villas la Playa.

The least expensive places available are in Villas la Playa, about 3 to 4km from the beach. They are 2 bedroom/1 bath apartments, 57m2 (meters squared) with a brochure price of $329,000 pesos (about $18,135 USD). Not sure why, but the web price is higher at $25,000USD.  Please note the pictures on the website are of finished apartments, which would be an additional cost.

Villas la Playa: Coral Plus

Newly completed townhouses in Villas la Playa.

Next up is townhouse style homes in Villas la Playa called Coral Plus. The smallest and cheapest are advertised beginning at $390,000 pesos ( $21,500usd) and are new construction, 2 bedroom/1bath, 51m2. These two developments have an added bonus of having their own beach club on the main beach in Puerto Morelos.

Villas Morelos 1

Living room in Villas Morelos painted and tiled by the owner.

Villas Morelos and Villas Morelos Dos are older more established neighborhoods, so most of the homes have been lived in before. The advantage (or disadvantage) of this is that they are no longer new construction, so the floors are tiled, the kitchen completed and the walls painted.

Villas Morelos 1 dining room

Eating area in Villas Morelos home.

Some people have even added second levels to these houses or bought two side by side and combined them into one larger home.

Villas Morelos 1 backyard with pool

Villas Morelos backyard with pool.

Some people have even put in pools. The price of these homes starts at about $750,000 pesos ($41,000USD) and go up from there. Most are 2 bedroom/1 bath town homes starting at 74m2.

Palma Real

Two homes in Palma Real.

Palma Real is new construction town homes that are two stories with 4 bedrooms/2 baths, 127m2 beginning at $1,199,000 pesos ($66,000 USD). This community has larger homes and is designed to be a little more upscale.

This is just a sampling of what is available. There are other communities in the colonia, as well as new developments along the highway, like Residencial Regatta or Puntavista, plus homes the Pescadores (fisherman’s village), but this will give you a good idea of some of the less expensive options for living in Mexico.

In Part Two of “Housing Prices in Mexico” will we explore what it costs to live closer to the beach.



Wedding vows

Puerto Morelos celebrated its first Valentine’s Day as its own municipality with a valentine for the residents. On February 14th, 2016 the town married 30 couples on the malecon in front of the town square. Hundreds of people turned out to take part in the celebration.

Final Prep WS with ocean

Advertised ahead of time, the ceremony was for Mexican citizens and allowed both opposite or same-sex couples. Participants were asked to gather all of their official documents, register and get their blood work done ahead of time. The fee for the wedding for $250 pesos ($13.21USD/$18.30CAD), which was great value.

30 couples getting married

The price included the brides having their makeup done and a bouquet of flowers. Plus, there was a big cake and snacks afterwards. A real celebration. The couples ranged in age from very young to “more experienced”.

Flowers being handed out

It was a beautiful sight and we hope that this will become an annual event.

couples listen to the vows

Watch for our next post on the cost of housing in one small resort town.

Sol in the afternoon

Nothing like an afternoon filled with Sol.

What It Costs to Live in Mexico

Last week we explored what it costs to eat in Mexico with our grocery price comparison. Now here’s what you really want to know, what does it cost to drink in Mexico? No shock, booze is cheap!

Don Julio

Don Julio White has one of the larges cost spreads.

This is an very informal survey and not necessarily the cheapest prices (which can usually be found at Costco in Mexico). We chose the most common beverages, not the necessarily the ones we drink. For Rob’s favourite beers you can click here. We compared costs in Texas, using HEB and Specs, in Alberta, using Liquor Depot, and here in Puerto Morelos, we used our local Super Aki and Chedraui. Our research was done on February 8/9, 2016 using regular pricing, not sale prices. We used this currency converter.

Beer Comparison

Price comparison of 3 similar beers in their country of origin.

Beer Origin USA Canada Mexico
Budweiser USA $12.28 $17.07 $228.00
Molson Canadian Canada $20.43 $28.41 $378.00
Dos Equis Lager Mexico $4.86 $6.75 $90.00

To give you a quick start comparison, we will use an average case of beer (that’s 12 beer for everyone in the world, except our friends in Ontario who think a case is 24), brewed in its home country, served in bottles, with tax and no deposit. We found that if you were from the USA you would be saving over $7 USD for every 12 beer you drink. And if you were from Canada, you would be saving over $10 CDN a case.

Liquor Price Comparison











Corona Extra

6pk bottles




Bud Light Beer

6pk cans




Dos Equis Amber Beer

6pk bottles









Bacardi Anejo Rum





Smirnoff Classic No. 21 Vodka





Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila





Don Julio Blanco Tequila





Jack Daniel’s Black Label Old No. 7





Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Scotch





Johnnie Walker Red Label





Johnnie Walker Black Label





Baileys Original Irish Cream





Kahlua Coffee Liquor

1 Litre









Concha y Toro Reservado Merlot (Chile)





Barefoot Pinot Noir (USA)





Frontera Chardonnay (Chile)





Las Moras Reserva Malbec 2014 (Argentina)











Taxes (no deposit) 





Total with Tax






Total in USD





Total in Canadian Dollars





Total in Pesos





The individual prices do not include tax or deposit in the USA and Canada. We have added the tax at the end. In Mexico all taxes are included in the prices.

Jack Danial's No. 7 Whiskey

We’re not just all about the tequila.

It doesn’t matter if you are spending dollars or pesos, when it comes to booze, Mexico is a bargain. In our area, it works out to be over a 48% savings in Texas and almost a 53% savings in Alberta.


Californian and French wines tend to be more expensive. For your best deals in Mexico, stick to Argentinean and Chilean wines.

We found that finding liquors and cervezas that were sold in all three countries was easy, but finding wine that is sold in all places proved to be more of a challenge. The wines we ended up using were not based on our taste, but on the fact that we could find pricing for them in all locations.

Montejo on sale

Two caguamas (1.2L each) and 1 can of beer for 54 pesos ($2.91USD/$4.05CDN) What a deal!

Again this is a very unscientific study, but it will give you a general idea. At these prices, we’ll drink to that.


Juice and Fruit from Puerto Morelos

We started our day with 1L of fresh squeezed OJ and fruit. Cost 25 pesos ($1.38USD/$1.93 CDN).

What It Costs to Live in Mexico

Welcome to our new series on “What It Costs to Live in Mexico” beginning with a grocery price comparison. In the bookstore and at our rental suites we often get asked about what it is like to live here and what it the costs. Over the next few posts we will try to give you a snapshot of what the cost of living is like here compared to the US and Canada.

Dairy case used for our grocery price comparison.

This is the dairy case in our local Chedraui.

We thought we would begin with a very informal grocery price comparison. We knew food costs were lower here and that the produce is much fresher, but we were really surprised by just how much cheaper groceries are in Mexico vs Canada or the USA. The other surprise was how close prices are in the USA vs. Canada. We always assumed that the pricing in the USA would be much cheaper. We found that when we did our survey, it is only about 7% cheaper in Texas vs. Alberta.

Produce section.

Apples used to be hard to get. Not anymore.

The following compares grocery prices between Calgary, AB Canada, Texas, USA and our own little grocery store here in Puerto Morelos during the month of January, 2016. It is just a snapshot of what prices are like. The comparisons are between similar grocery outlets (not necessarily the cheapest). We used Calgary Co-op, HEB and Chedraui.

Grocery Price Comparison
Item Size Co-op (CDN) HEB (USD) Chedraui (pesos)
Butter, salted 454 g  $  2.99  $  3.88  $  57.80
Milk, Skim 1L  $  2.33  $   2.15  $  15.00
Eggs, large 1 dozen  $  1.99  $   2.47  $  22.00
Bananas 1 kg  $  1.96  $   1.06  $  12.50
Black Beans, canned 540mL/15oz  $  1.79  $   0.72  $  10.55
Tomatoes, canned 796mL/29oz  $  2.09  $   1.38  $  22.00
Lean Ground Beef 1 kg  $  9.90  $   7.41  $  79.90
Pork Tenderloin 1 kg  $  9.90  $   8.73  $  69.90
Chicken Thighs, bone in w/skin 1 kg  $ 12.10  $   2.02  $  43.50
Apples, Fuji 1 kg  $  5.05  $   2.97  $  49.30
White Mushrooms, bulk 1 kg  $  5.49  $   4.33  $  59.95
Avocado each  $  0.99  $   0.48  $    4.50
Green Leaf Lettuce each  $  1.99  $   1.58  $  12.90

Total in Currency of Country    $ 58.57  $ 39.18  $459.80

Total in Canadian Dollars    $ 58.57  $ 54.74  $  35.46
Total in USD    $ 41.90  $ 39.18  $  25.38
Total in Pesos    $759.00  $709.00   $459.80

The data for Calgary Co-op was found here. The data for HEB comes from their website. And the data for Chedraui comes from our local store here in Puerto Morelos. Again this is a very unscientific study, but should give you some food for thought.


The bakery is getting a jump on Valentine’s Day. Sweet.



The best of the holiday season from Salsa and Sun. We hope that you have a wonderful, warm Christmas filled with family and friends. And if you are lucky enough to be spending the holidays in Puerto Morelos, drop in and see us at Alma Libre Books & Gifts. If you are not, we hope you find a trip to Puerto Morelos in your Christmas stocking. Happy 2016!


Alma Libre Books & Gifts

Alma Libre Books & Gifts

Hola Everyone!

We are back in happy to be back Puerto Morelos. And that means the Alma Libre Books & Gifts is now open for the season. We have just returned from a buying trip in Texas and  through central Mexico where we purchased thousands of new books, the latest maps, fish cards, calendars and lots of wonderful Mexican art.

pillow case

Just a sample of the art, are these beautiful, handmade pillow cases embroidered by the Otomi people from the mountain village of Puebla. We only have a limited number of these.

Christmas ornament vines

We also visited the village of Tzintzuntzan in Michoacán where they hand weave these adorable Christmas ornaments from straw. The town is filled with thousands of them hanging like vines everywhere. We brought them back, just for you.

Christmas ornaments

We are looking forward to this upcoming season at Alma Libre Books & Gifts. Stop by and see us soon. And don’t forget to subscribe to Salsa & Sun so you won’t miss a post.