Mexico, Riviera Maya:
top 10 things to do
Our first dive into the Caribbean Sea, the emotion of being in a 3.000 year-old Maya city ruins, the experience of a mangrove forest safari looking for crocodiles: this was our first trip to Mexico & Yucatan Peninsula where we made a bunch of unforgettable memories with a taste of guacamole & margarita and the colours of traditional clothes & sombrero hats.
Here are the top 10 things you can’t miss, the ones that will let you come back home with your mind full of wonderful images and a big smile on your face, right after buying a considerable quantity of Tequila & colourful souvenirs.
1. Chichén Itzá | One of the Seven Wonders of the world, a complex archeological site full of temples and monuments, the ancient city of Mayan people talented mathematicians and astronomers.
The Kukulkan Temple with its 365 steps creates a peculiar optical illusion: as the sun rises head carvings create the illusion of a massive feathered serpent descending the pyramid, just like the legend of Kukulkan says.
We were lucky enough to visit this site with an expert guide and archaeologist named Hiparco Melendez, who told us the story of Mayan people with great passion and expertise.
2. Valladolid | Before getting to Chichén Itzá site, have a stopover in this little town with colonial buildings and women wearing traditional clothes: quite and peaceful atmosphere, there is always a siesta mood. From the main square with Francisco Canton Rosado park to San Servacio church, you’ll never forget the bright colours of this town.
3. Ek Balam | An ancient powerful and rich Mayan city completely surrounded by the jungle: reach the main Acropolis 32 meters high, its most striking temple is one with a huge ¨monster mouth¨. To the Maya this represents a portal to the ¨other world¨.
4. Rio Lagartos | Declared "Biosphere Reserve", with 60,000 hectares Río Lagartos hosts 500 animal species and the largest colony of pink flamingos of all Mexico. You can have a safari in the mangrove forest looking for crocodiles in their natural habitat, get close to the flamingos in a turquoise sea, sunbathe on a dream beach and have lunch in a small fishing village looking at the Caribbean Sea. Don’t miss Las Coloradas salt flats, a pink lagoon that will leave you speechless.
5. Cancún | 22 km of white sand beaches, lots of water & extreme sports to practice, exciting vibrant nightlife & the starting point for many interesting excursions to the nearby islands.
6. Isla Mujeres | Probably the most astonishing and transparent waters of Mexico, colourful buildings and nice places where you can taste the local cuisine but most of all one of the best spots for diving & snorkeling of the western Caribbean Sea.
Near Parque Garrafón, you can find an amazing barrier reef with lots of tropical fish, underwater caves, old shipwrecks and an interesting underwater museum 8 meters deep with over 500 life-size sculptures used to promote coral life & tell Mayan people history evolution.
7. Isla Contoy | Used as the set for some scenes of “Pirates of the Caribbean” it’s quite easy to understand why they have chosen this little island: it’s something really close to the definition of Paradise. A long white sand beach, crystal clear water, the perfect postcard setting: there are many rare protected animals and plants & iguanas will have lunch with you at the only restaurant on the island. Relax, sunbathe & take billions of beautiful pics.
8. Tulum | Visit the only Mayan ruins overlooking the sea, this is an interesting archeological park with its Castillo built to protect the ancient city and serve as lighthouse for those who wanted to land on it, once called Zama (meaning City of Dawn).
9. Cenotes | The Mayan “sacred water holes”, used as wells for drinking water but also holy landmarks to hold ceremonies, central in Maya cosmology as the liminal spaces that served as vital portals between the earthly realm and the watery underworld. They are amazing natural caves where you can swim, more than 6.000 ones only in Yucatán; we recommend to visit the following ones: Zacil-Ha, Ik Kill, Dzinup and Samula.
10. Playa del Carmen | One of the most visited tourist destination of Riviera Maya, especially for its amazing beaches like the cool Paradise Beach, the charming Xpu-Ha Beach, the heavenly Puerto Morelos and the pristine Playa de Xcacel.
Where to stay | Catalonia Royal Tulum @ Km. 264,5 Chetumal, Carr. Cancún - Tulum, 77790 Xpu Ha, Q.R.
Guys this is THE resort, the perfect place to spend a dreamy holiday: one of the most beautiful beaches of the Caribbean Sea, completely surrounded by the Mexican forest, with 7 all-inclusive different restaurants to try & the best breakfast of our life. The place to be in Mexico, definitely.