Welcome to sunny Mexico! Where the beaches covered with white sand and turquoise blue waves washing the shore.
After a long eleven hours flight, we finally made it to Cancun. Was late afternoon and still head an hour journey ahead to get to “home away from home” for the next two weeks. A small beach town located right between Cancun and Tulum called Playa del Carmen.
I quickly had to realize that the image I had in my mind from Mexico is not getting even close to reality. Those stunning empty white-sanded beaches that make you feel like you just walked into a dream is not that easily accessible. But do exist!
As you can imagine, hotels are trying to offer the best seaside views. So most of the beaches that are in tow full of tourists. You can find groups coming down with a cooler bag and just getting wasted under the Caribbean sun from the tent shot of tequilas. Or the girls who don’t even step into the warm ocean just working on that perfect selfy all day long.
The most beautiful beaches are usually located outside of town. To be able to get there you will need a car. We find a small dusty road that you can turn on from the highway that leads us to a private gated community. The guar didn’t ask anything, just opened the gate and let us in. Turned out after a few minute’s drives and passing by some of the most beautiful villas. I have ever seen, we arrived at a campong side. A.K.A the paradise I have been looking for.
Island hopping to Cozumel
Cozumel, a mostly undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, is a popular cruise ship port of call famed for its scuba diving. At Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, there are diving spots around a section of the Mesoamerican Reef and the Museo Subacuático de Arte’s submerged sculptures. Chankanaab is an eco-park surrounding a lagoon with underwater caverns, home to dolphins, manatees and sea turtles.
We had signed up for a day tour that included the ferry tickets as all the entrance fees and a tour guide. The day was pretty much visiting different beached and eco-parks. I went scuba diving and have to say the corals are not as healthy and colorful as it probably was five years ago. Climate change and the cruise ships are seriously damaging marine life.
Las Coloradas Pink Lake
Las Coloradas means “the red” in Spanish. It’s the name of a tiny Mexican fishing village with a population of 1000. Nearby, a series of brightly colored pink lakes cover the landscape on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico
I was heard about the Pink lake in Mexico, and as we were checking the organized tours, I kept seeing the pictures from it. So the first day we rented a car after Chichén Itzá, we decided to drive 2 hours to see the unique pink lake.
Unfortunately, this was one of those experiences when you really can’t believe the pictures. When we arrived, the weather was a bit overcast, so the water wasn’t cotton candy pink, more like a dusty dark color. As we get out of the car, a local tour guide approaches us and letting us know that the water is part of the salt factory. So without entry fees, we will not be allowed on the factory premisses. As the weather wasn’t the best, and when I try to take a picture of the water, the color wasn’t showing at all. We decided to get back to the car and try to make a better look at it with a drone. ( the entry fees is really cheap so we were visited on a sunny day I probably would spend some time in )
But what are the must doos in Mexico other than the beaches?
Rio Secreto – National Park
Río Secreto is the new ecological inspiration. It has recently been designated as one of Mexico’s most distinct and alluring nature reserves. This unique destination is quickly becoming the pride of all Mexicans.
Visitors often feel transformed by their journey deep inside Río Secreto. It’s a rare and exotic opportunity to admire the unequaled beauty of our beloved Mexico and Mother Earth.
They are a 100% Mexican-owned organization dedicated to conserving most cherished natural assets. The region’s biodiversity, natural resources, and people depend on the commitment to nourish and protect the land that sustains them.
Río Secreto’s sustainability is based on Mexican environmental regulations and the use of good environmental practices. That safeguard the conservation of the region’s water, flora and fauna. As a nature reserve, the value and promote eco-tourism in Mexico. Ultimately, Río Secreto represents a successful example of sustainable ecological tourism. Sending the nation and the world a message of hope, faith and love.
RÍO SECRETO ENGENDERS PASSION, RESPECT AND COMMITMENT.
Everyone who is involved in Río Secreto passionately supports and promotes sustainability and social responsibility. Although the company is still very young. They are working to create a culture of environmental awareness and socio-economic responsibility. That goes beyond the borders of Río Secreto.
What Can You Expect
Keep in mind you will only be able to visit this park by joining a guided tour. To make sure irresponsible tourists are not damaging the natural formations. You also won’t be able to take any camera with you. A personal photographer follows every group. By the end of your day, it’s possible to purchase the images. (We paid $99 for 125 images. I have to say it’s an excellent family memory! But I would love to had a chance and take some photos with my vision. Maybe next time)
We have booked the more extended tour that started at 11 am and finished around 3:30 pm. We started the day with a walking tour in one of the dry cave. That feeling when I first saw the entrance was just unreal. Everything was so raw I can imagine it was like this 100 years ago as well. It made me feel so small and yet so lucky to be able to experience this beautiful creation by nature.
After we had a bike ride in the jungle to another cave where we had a chance to rappel into another stunning cave. During the tour, our guide told a lot about the ancient Maya beliefs and history. Also shared some of the exciting facts of the land and the caves is hides.
We had to jump into a wet suit and put on life jackets. I then headed to a Maya ceremony where we attended a ceremony for Xibalba. (roughly translated as “place of fear”. Is the name of the underworld in Maya mythology, ruled by the Maya death gods and their helpers. … Cave systems in nearby Belize have also been referred to as the entrance to Xibalba.)
I do want to strongly encourage all if you ever planning to visit this part of Mexico make sure you plan Rio Secreto in for a day. This water cave system is so magnificent! That the image can’t possibly translate that beauty and feelings you have while swimming in this crystal clear water.
Chichén Itzá is a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. A massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan, dominates the ancient city, which thrived from around 600 A.D. to the 1200s. Graphic stone carvings survive at structures like the ball court, Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls. Nightly sound-and-light shows illuminate the buildings’ sophisticated geometry.
World Heritage Site — National Geographic
The stepped pyramids, temples, columned arcades, and other stone structures of Chichén Itzá were sacred to the Maya and a sophisticated urban center of their empire from A.D. 750 to 1200.
Viewed as a whole, the incredible complex reveals much about the Maya and Toltec vision of the universe—which was intimately tied to what was visible in the dark night skies of the Yucatán Peninsula.
The most recognizable structure here is the Temple of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo. This glorious step pyramid demonstrates the accuracy and importance of Maya astronomy—and the heavy influence of the Toltecs, who invaded around 1000 and precipitated a merger of the two cultural traditions.
The temple has 365 steps—one for each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides has 91 steps, and the top platform makes the 365th.
Devising a 365-day calendar was just one feat of Maya science. Incredibly, twice a year on the spring and autumn equinoxes, a shadow falls on the pyramid in the shape of a serpent. As the sun sets, this shadowy snake descends the steps to eventually join a stone serpent head at the base of the great staircase up the pyramid’s side.
The Maya’s astronomical skills were so advanced they could even predict solar eclipses, and an impressive and sophisticated observatory structure remains on the site today.
This great city’s only permanent water source was a series of sinkhole wells. Spanish records report that young female victims were thrown into the largest of these, live, as sacrifices to the Maya rain god thought to live in its depths. Archaeologists have since found their bones, as well as the jewelry and other precious objects they wore in their final hours.
What Can You Expect
Other than a high amount of visitors all year round, you won’t be able to go near to the ruins. This because of an unfortunate accident a few years ago. Maybe my expectation was pretty high after Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I guess this is understandable.
What I just can’t understand or possibly imagine why they allowed other than money… Is letting to transform an ancient land into a cheap market. Where you can buy factory-made souvenirs. For “almost free” as the sellers shouting after you as you trying to get lost in history. On top of it, those marketers are throwing their rubbish into the jungle.
I have translated a few signs that placed near to the ruins explaining what it cud be. I have to say not much information out there. (Honestly, this is the nices way I can explain) One thing for sure I can cross off the Maya pyramids on my list.
We all left the side with a bit of sadness and disappointment. This experience wasn’t as magical as it cud be. It felt like they have no respect for their own history other than making money on it. The ruins are still breathtaking and for sure if you have a chance to visit once in your life. I’m just sharing my most honest review of my experience.
Xplor offers a wide variety of options, cenotes, underground rivers, caverns, and jungle tours in exotic vehicles… all of which can be done in a single adventure park!
ZIP-LINES – Zip-lining over Riviera Maya in two seven-zip-line circuits, both ending with a splash. The highest zip-lines in the destination display the landscape of an endless and evergreen jungle with a Caribbean Sea background.
AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLES – After you can grab the wheel and make your way into the jungle. Flooded caverns, narrow roads, and hanging bridges make the path for an exciting adventure in the heart of the Riviera Maya.
UNDERGROUND RAFTS – Grab a single or a double raft and paddle through the beautiful scenery with your own hands. You’ll be given two glove-like paddles that’ll be your only tool to discover the way. Coordinate your arms and try not to crash with everybody! Caution: it’s harder than it seems!
UNDERGROUND RIVERS – Did you know that the meteorite that caused the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago happened here, in the Yucatan Peninsula? Did you know it caused a mass system of underground rivers and caverns that are interconnected in the area? At Xplor, you’ll be exploring a prehistoric river as you swim along with the stalactite scenery in an underground adventure with freshwater flowing along with you.
Overall probably after the Rio Secreto Xplor park was the highlight of our trip. Here are some tips that I wish I know before!
-If you like to take your own pictures, make sure you have a waterproof case for your phone or GoPro. You can purchase it in the perk as well, but it’s much more expensive. (waterproof case $48) Or you can buy the park photo package but make sure you decide in the beginning, so you don’t lose any opportunity. We only decided to buy the package by the second half of the day, and we ended up with such a few images that didn’t worth the $85.
-Get there as early as you can! The park opens at 9 am. So you can get some adventure before lunch. The restaurant opens from 11 am to 17:30 pm, and it has everything you can imagine. You can have breakfast and lunch in the park and have a full day of fun activity.
-Keep your camera with you! The park has some wildlife as well, so if you don’t want to miss an opportunity to capture the local monkeys, be ready!
Best smoothie bar in Tulum/Mexico
It was a funny story about how I find this smoothie bar. I was following this account for quite some time. A few weeks before I had to pack and leave to the airport, I saw a post and (don’t ask me why I have never read before the name of the account), but I realized it has Tulum in it! So I had to check the location and add it to my favorites so when we there I can find it.
We are a Matcha bar with a fun and tropical personality.We serve goodness in Tulum, Mexico since 2017!All of our products are plant based and gluten free. The products we serve are fresh, healthy and made with love.
I’m so grateful that I’m able to travel around the world. I do have a few final tips to share with you to make sure your ‘r holiday in Mexico can be as fantastic as possible.
Make sure you check the receive in all restaurants and souvenir shops. We only noticed on the last day, but a restaurant we going back for than four days in a row charged us $190 for drinks instead of $90. And after in the souvenir shop, they add to our list an extra items for $54. People are generally really friendly and helpful whatever you need, but make sure you not paying any extra if you don’t want to!