Traveling to Mexico was one of my biggest wishes for a long time. I have also my laptop with ˝Mexican˝ background. Sandy beaches, adventurous road trips, food, and people… just wow ♥ Like I imagined, everything I got in this country.
We flew from Miami International airport to Cancun with Southwest Airlines (cheap but not so good airline). After two missed flights I think it was time. Yes, do not ask how we missed it. Story to tell 😉 The view from the plane was just amazing. We flew above Key West in the USA and then above the endless blue turquoise sea.
Cancun is known for its sandy beaches and luxury resorts. First I saw Cancun in novellas. Yes, I am novellas fan and I actually learned Spanish from soap operas. When we arrived in Cancun, first we went a little around and had lunch in the Mercado (market).
Cancun is really “Americanized”, so many people around. When we arrived here, it was the end of October. On the 2nd of November Mexican people celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Death). They remember friends and family members who have died with praying. At the same time, they celebrate with dancing and organizing concerts around the country.
What I experienced for the first time is that for exchanging the money, I needed to have a passport with me. The exchange rate was: 1 USD = 18 MXP; at the airport 1 USD = 14 MXP (Mexican pesos).
Cancun looks the same as in the photos. It is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico. A lot of famous people choose Quintana Roo for their vacation and go out of Ciudad de Mexico and central Mexico. At that time of the year, they are not so many tourists, so we enjoyed the beach and walks around the city. We stayed here for three days. We visited one of the shopping centers where we had lunch. We love Mexican food, even for vegetarians is brilliant. In almost every restaurant you first get appetizers which consist of tortilla chips and different strong types of salsa. For the first time, this is the really feeling that can not describe. Like small kids trying to taste everything.
For the next day, we choose a day trip to Isla Mujeres (Woman´s Island) with a boat. One agency offered a trip for 37 $. It takes around 20 minutes to get there. The first stop was the center of the island. The impression you get there is that the golf carts are the most popular transportation used. We walked around the center and we also ordered homemade food: homemade tortillas and fresh vegetables. We ate at a sandy white beach called Playa Norte (north beach).
Next Stop was Playa Tiburron (Shark beach) where you can go and swim with a baby shark. We relaxed a little and had Mexican lunch. The music was loud and tourists were having fun.
Snorkeling was the best part of the day for me. It was NOT the best snorkeling in my life, but I love the sea that’s why I was really enjoying it. We did some good shots of fish and the underwater world.
FROM CANCUN TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN
From Cancun to Playa del Carmen we traveled by bus. It took us a little more than 1 hour. Playa del Carmen was our starting point to Cozumel. First, in the morning, we went for breakfast. In a lot of restaurants eggs are the most popular dish to eat in the morning. They prepare eggs in many different ways.
You can order:
Huevos rancheros – fried eggs.
Huevos Benedict – two half of English muffin, poached egg, Hollandaise sauce, and bacon or avocado.
Huevos con Chorizo – eggs with sausage.
Huevos revueltos – scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions.
I know this Island from one Mexican telenovela. We went from Playa del Carmen with the ferry to the island. It was cloudy but at least we did not have rain. I guess it was time for some adventure time. Why?
Firstly, when you get to the island, there will be always a long line for rental companies. So we started to bargain. After a couple of days in Mexico, we knew how to do it and it was like “muss” if you want to travel CHEAP! It was funny, we were just asking: “For how much is a car, jeep, scooter ?” “Cuanto es?” Let me explain to you, we wanted to rent a scooter! 🙂
Secondly, in the end we rented a JEEP from the company that offered the best price. Off course. It was 40 $ for a day. Funny. Well, we got a shitty but a cheap Jeep. We were just hoping around the island. We stopped at some points, taking pictures and just having fun with our travel buddy.
We stopped in Playa Palancar where we took time, we swam a relaxed under the sun. We saw also these cute animals.
We took a break also on the beach San Martin and at one more point called El Mirador. When you are driving around you can see a lot of ranches, called Haciendas in Mexico.
“HACIENDA is an estate, similar in form to a Roman villa. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or factories. Many haciendas combined these activities”.
In the end we had Mexican lunch/dinner at the center of Cozumel. We waited for the last ferry to go back because of the sunset. The evening sky was more clear than in the morning. Sunsets are just stunning.
ROADTRIP TO TULUM AND BACALAR
In Playa del Carmen we rented a car from an American agency for 5 days. We made a plan: Tulum – Cenotes – Bacalar – Merida – Chitzen Itza – Cancun airport.
Tulum is known for its Mayan ruins. Ruins are perched on 12 meters high cliffs facing the Caribbean Sea. Parking costs 50 MXP ( 2,30 €). There is a mile-long road that leads you to the ruins. The walk is on level ground and passes quickly as you admire the jungle and abandoned shops along the way. As you approach a stone wall, to the left will be a brown wooden building where you can purchase your ticket into the ruins (70 MXP).
Tulum Ruins have the biggest ancient building that is standing on the Riviera Maya shore. If you want to avoid the big tourist crowds, go before 9:30. Park is open from 8 am to 5 pm. We spent one evening on Tulum’s beach and the next morning we visited the park with the ruins.
From Tulum, we continued to first Cenote. I was the most excited just because of these natural beauties.
“Cenote is an open natural sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. While the best-known cenotes are large open water pools such as those at Chichén Itza in Mexico, the greatest number of cenotes are smaller sheltered sites and do not necessarily have any surface exposed water. There are over 6000 different cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula”.
Cenote’s water is very clear, so you can just jump and swim 😉 Cenotes allow close-up access to fauna such as fish, turtles, and in some cases, bats. Yeees, we saw bats too, flying above our heads.
First, we stopped in CENOTE AZUL on our way from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. We swam in the crystal clear water, jumping from cliffs… While we were sitting in low water and we had a fish pedicure for free, we met two travelers from the USA. We drove them to Tulum. For all cenotes, you need to pay an entrance fee. Not for all is the same price.
The next cenote was GRAND CENOTE. This is one of the most popular cenote (and therefore the most crowded) in Tulum. A good combination of a deep, cavernous portion, a couple of shallow open-air portions, and sample wooden decking with stairs down to the water at several entrance points. Here you can also see bats. Water is so clear that a lot of the underwater life can be seen without going in a deep dive.
And the last one on our trip was CENOTE IK KIL. Probably the most Instagramable cenote on Yucatan Peninsula. The entrance fee is 70 MXP (5,00 €). When you enter you have changing rooms, lockers, and showers. You have also a restaurant on the side. In order to reach the water, you have to go down 26 meters. The water is 40 meters deep, while the diameter is 60 meters. This is just speechless. We have been here probably two hours, jumping from stairs and swimming in this beauty.
Heaven in Mexico or pure Paradise, where you can relax and be calm. Bacalar Lagoon is known as the lagoon of 7 colors and those colors are all shades of blue. Impressive nature, quiet mornings, and eco villas; and it is not full of tourists. Still hidden paradise which a lot of people do not know yet.
We slept in Villas Ecotucan. What a nice place to stay. Later I regret we did not stay one more night. We had also free breakfast (first time I ate scrambled eggs with cactus; yummy!) and we rented kayaks for the morning.
HOW ECO VILLAS WORK?
When you come to the villas and if you have a lot of baggage, you can borrow a wheelbarrow from the parking. This helps you to bring the luggage to your villa. Villas are natural with no wi-fi, no plug-ins, and 100% solar-powered electricity. We did not have hot water. I can say water in the lagoon was warmer than in the bathroom. Each cabin is bright, spacious, comfortable, beautifully decorated in traditional Mexican colors, and surrounded by its own private plantings and flowers.
WHERE TO EAT?
We had lunch in two good restaurants that I want to suggest:
–> LA PLAYITA (Google rate: 4,6) – we went for dinner. We ate veggie pizza and stew with seafood.
–> KAI PEZ (Google rate: 4,4 ) – For appetizers, we ordered a veggie spread called SA KAAP with pumpkin seeds and for main dish salad and Ceviche.
Food is not expensive. For example, we spent for one dinner 300 MXP (17 – 18 €).
“Ceviche also seviche, is a seafood dish typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with chili peppers or other seasonings including chopped onions, salt, and cilantro”.
Merida is the capital and the largest city in Yucatan state. Like most colonial cities, Merida features broad central plazas and beautiful cathedrals. Narrow streets are safe and squeaky clean with picturesque facades. We walked around in the evening and the next morning.
WHAT TO SEE:
- Plaza Grande – Surrounded by architectural marvels, like the Cathedral and Government Palace. The only place where you can find WiFi.
- San Ildefonso Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in Latin America.
- Plaza Santa Lucia, a neighborly hub where locals come to socialize and
- Pasejo Montejo, a wide tree-lined avenue.
On Sundays, city plazas come to life with locals enjoying cultural events, folkloric dancing, and tented markets. We experienced also these events, FIESTA!
We slept in one beautiful place. We slept in the hacienda. I was dreaming about this all my trip.
Touristic. Hot. Seven wonders of the world. Breathtaking.
Chichén Itza is the largest archaeological city of the pre-Colombian Maya civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is also one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. It was granted World Heritage Site status in 1988 by UNESCO World Heritage Site and was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:
- The Pyramid of Kukulcan or El Castillo – the most famous landmark of Chichen Itza. This was a temple-pyramid dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God, Kukulcan. It is nicknamed “The Castle”.
- Interior Temple – You are no longer able to climb the steps to the top of most of the monuments. These areas have been roped off due to erosion and the destruction of some of the sacred monuments.
- Temple of the Warriors (As of January 2006, you can no longer climb the Temple of the Warriors).
- The Great Market
- Great Ballcourt – there are 7 courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame at Chichen Itza. This one is by far the largest and most impressive.
- Temple of the Jaguars – Attached to the ballcourt complex, with the stone jaguar, feathered serpent columns, and murals inside.
- Sweat baths.
- The platform of the Skulls.
- Cenote of Sacrifice.
- El Caracol – a circular temple on a rectangular platform, also sacred to Kukulcan, served as an astronomical observatory.
- And so much MORE …
The entrance fee in 2017 was 242 MXN + 50 MXP for parking (together 14 € per person). Bring cash, as paying by credit card costs 10% extra.
NATURAL PARK RIO LAGARTOS
We also went on a trip to Rio Lagartos (Alligator River). It is a fishing village that also boasts the densest concentration of flamingos in Mexico, supposedly two or three flamingos per Mexican. This mangrove-lined estuary shelters bird species, including snowy egrets, red egrets, tiger herons, and snowy white ibis, as well as the crocodiles that gave the town its name.
Road tripping around the Yucatan Peninsula was the same as I imagined. Fiestas, stunning nature, snorkeling, nice simple people, and speaking my favorite language.
P.S. Do not forget about a small but photogenic town called IZAMAL (it is a known town because all houses are colored in yellow).