A Love Story With Travel - Unique experiences in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula !!

Tripoto
16th Sep 2016
Photo of A Love Story With Travel - Unique experiences in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula !! by Indigirlious.Travel

This article has been originally published on https://indigirlioustravel.wordpress.com

When I stumbled upon Mexico in my research for countries to backpack, I would say it's almost a love at first read. A few things that intrigued me when I was looking up at Mexico are the tropical weather, pristine white sand beaches of Caribbean, coral reefs, underwater museums that we can snorkel to, quite an interesting culture, ruins of Mayan civilization and the world wonder "Chichen Itza". Not to forget Spanish, their language I can't communicate in. All these things amped up my hunger for travel. The thought of visiting a country I have known very little about at that point where people speak a language I literally don't know a single word in, gave me an adrenaline rush already. I started dreaming the blue beaches, some spanish songs, images of me soaking in the beach and snorkeling (I don't even know how to swim lol) and Mexico was all I could think about day and night. All these feelings seemed like those that are described in movies as being in love. Is it too cheesy to call Mexico, my first love of travel !

And Mexico was beyond my expectations and imagination even after a ton of research reading everything out there about this country. So I want to share a slice of my travel love story with Mexico with all of you reading this blog right now. I have divided my itinerary into 2 parts to make it easier for you to read. Week 1 in Yucatan Peninsula and Week 2 traveling through Guadalajara and the Pueblo Magico towns of Mexico.

Week 1 - Yucatan Peninsula (Beaches !)

Cancun – Isla Mujeres - Playa Del Carmen – Tulum – Coba – Valladolid – Chichen Itza – Rio Lagortos – Cancun.

Photo of Yucatán Peninsula by Indigirlious.Travel
Day 1

I flew to the most popular beach destination of Mexico, Cancun. Cancun is one of the metropolitan cities of Mexico, situated on the coastline. It is known for a strip of luxurious all inclusive resorts with infinity pools facing the gorgeous white sand beaches of Caribbean.

I have seen a lot of beaches in India and USA, but never been to a white sand beach that shines in various shades of blue during varied times of the day. And I was awed by the cleanliness of the beaches and how well the natural coral reefs of the sea are preserved.

I spent day one in a local hostel in the city center to get acquainted with the local atmosphere and food. It was the independence day of Mexico when I visited and it was quite a festive environment in the local streets with fairs, celebrations, music and dance performances. I enjoyed the festivities in the evening at nearby town square and tried the local tacos and churros from the food stalls for dinner.

Hostel Kabeh Cancun

Photo of Hostel Ka'beh Cancun, Alcatraces, 22, Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Local restaurant near Hostel Kabeh Cancun

Photo of Hostel Ka'beh Cancun, Alcatraces, 22, Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Local town square near Hostel Kabeh Cancun

Photo of Hostel Ka'beh Cancun, Alcatraces, 22, Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel
Day 2

Then I moved to a beach front hotel for my second day. I still remember the first view of the beach from the balcony of my room. The beach was shining in gorgeous shades of turquoise, reflecting the glorious blue skies, lined by coconut trees and a cool breeze in the humid weather. I spent the day soaking in the mesmerizing views of the Caribbean sea, playing in the beach, relaxing in the infinity pool, learning to float/swim a bit comfortably so that I can try snorkeling. It was a day of rejuvenation in the salty waters of the caribbean with ice-cold tangy tropical drinks and warm food by the beach.

I stayed in a decent budget hotel ($50 per day) with an infinity pool but did not splurge on one of the luxurious all inclusive resorts as I was traveling on budget. But my hotel was really good for the money and I was totally happy with my choice.

View from my hotel's restaurant

Photo of Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Cancun, Boulevard Kukulcan, Hotel Zone, Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Infinity pool at the hotel

Photo of Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Cancun, Boulevard Kukulcan, Hotel Zone, Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel
Day 3

I boarded on a day long Yacht trip ($80) which took me from Cancun to snorkeling above the underwater museum (MUSA) and to the island of Mujeres (Isla means Island) and back to Cancun. I was fascinated by the underwater museum(no pics unfortunately) that is been created after the Tsunami which destroyed the natural coral reefs in the region. This underwater museum is created as a new attraction for tourists, visioning that new coral reefs will grow on top of the museum making it one of its kind.

Even as a beginner swimmer, I could snorkel with the help of my guide. I was given snorkel gear and a rope to glide that's attached to our sail boat. I was scared at first and it took sometime for me to accustom to the sea waters. But the beauty of looking into those waters eased me up. The water was crystal clear even from 10-15 feet above. I saw coral reefs for the first time, colorful aquatic life and few sculptures depicting human life of the underwater museum. When I was done with snorkeling and got back to the boat, I loved it so much that I wanted to go back again into these waters. But I had a pre-set itinerary for the day and trip and could not snorkel again there. But I would love to go back anytime.

Spinnaker on the Yacht

Tropical cocktails served on the Yacht

Photo of Cancún Underwater Museum, Alfredo V. Bonfil, Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Hammock at the lunch pitstop

Photo of Cancún Underwater Museum, Alfredo V. Bonfil, Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

After Snorkeling, I relaxed on the yacht sipping a tropical margarita with a good breeze and tip toey music until I reached Isla Mujeres. There are activities like Spinnaker (pic above) on the yacht. Lunch is provided at a stop and a shark re-habitat visit is included in the package as well.

After lunch, I got dropped at Isla Mujeres and got few hours to explore by myself. I fell in love with this cute quirky island. The streets are bustling with tourists, souvenirs, artsy displays with coconuts and fancy cocktails to draw crowds into these shops, street arts and golf carts, which are the primary mode of transport for tourists. And most of all, the beaches here are shallow with designated swimming areas making it friendly for beginner swimmers. I had a great time playing and swimming in the clear waters comfortably for a couple of hours. And there are lounging areas with canopy beds and beach chairs we can rent to relax after a tiring swim in the beach.

Golf carts are used on the island for easier transit of tourists

Photo of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Street arts of Isla Mujeres

Photo of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Lounging area at beach, Isla Mujeres

Photo of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Quirky displays at street stores

Photo of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Tropical cocktails & coconuts

Photo of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Souvenirs, Isla Mujeres

Photo of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel
Day 4

Tulum is coastal town, 3 hours away from Cancun and its hustle bustle. I rented a car and drove to Tulum from Cancun. Unlike the strip of city resorts in Cancun, Tulum is village-y with its own rustic charm and less touristy than Cancun.

Mayan Ruins By the Beach, Tulum

Photo of Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Tulum Beach

Photo of Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

I stayed at Hotel Poc Na Tulum, in their beautiful Cabanas (huts) by a private beach. With an eco friendly built, secluded clean beaches, complimentary continental breakfast buffet, beds by the beach for lounging, It is charming and seemed out of this world. It was a truly memorable experience lying on these beds during the night, listening to the sound of the waves and some melancholy music, gazing at the moon and numerous stars in the clear night sky.

I chose to splurge for the day in Tulum and spent around $150 per night (off peak season) for this stay, but I would say those bucks got me way more than what I would have got in Cancun given its prime demand.

Beach at Hotel Poc Na Tulum

Photo of Pocna Tulum Hotel, Beach Club & Restaurant, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Zona Hotelera, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Beach Cabanas and Beds by the Beach, Hotel Poc Na Tulum

Photo of Pocna Tulum Hotel, Beach Club & Restaurant, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Zona Hotelera, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Sunset, Hote Poc Na Tulum

Photo of Pocna Tulum Hotel, Beach Club & Restaurant, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Zona Hotelera, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

View from the Cabanas, Hotel Poc Na Tulum

Photo of Pocna Tulum Hotel, Beach Club & Restaurant, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Zona Hotelera, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Complimentary Continental Breakfast by the Beach, Hotel Poc Na Tulum

Photo of Pocna Tulum Hotel, Beach Club & Restaurant, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Zona Hotelera, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Beach Views, Hotel Poc Na Tulum

Photo of Pocna Tulum Hotel, Beach Club & Restaurant, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Zona Hotelera, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Earthy designs at the reception of Hotel Poc Na Tulum

Photo of Pocna Tulum Hotel, Beach Club & Restaurant, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Zona Hotelera, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

After relaxing a bit during the hot humid afternoon, I left to visit the Mayan ruins by the beach in the evening. During the mayan civilization, Tulum was their strategic port with mountains from which soldiers used to watch and safeguard their sea. Now we can see ruins of that civilization, that stood the test of the time. It was a bit of scenic beauty and culture together which made me feel like I traveled in time.

Day 5

I spent the second day in Tulum in a unique eco-friendly hostel named Tubo Tulum, where the stay is literally in a tube made of concrete surrounded by a tropical garden. As said, the room itself is a tube, but it has all the basic amenities of a bed, air conditioner, power outlet for charging, light etc. It was a low key stay and but quite functional and creative in the way it designed and nothing like any of my stays so far.

Rooms at Hostel Tubo Tulum

Photo of TuboTulum Hostel, Avenida Coba, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Rooms in a tropical garden setting, Hostel Tubo Tulum

Photo of TuboTulum Hostel, Avenida Coba, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Room/Tube at Hostel Tubo Tulum

Photo of TuboTulum Hostel, Avenida Coba, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Restaurant in tube theme at Hostel Tubo Tulum

Photo of TuboTulum Hostel, Avenida Coba, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

I spent the second day in Tulum visiting unique local food spots and soaking in the culture of the town. One of my favorite experiences was visiting Charly's Vegan Tacos, a Vegan food truck, run by a famous chef who came back to his hometown to start this place. It was a small place out of the blue and I was taken by surprise with the authentic vegan tacos, chef's special mango guacamole and flavorful Mexican mock-tails in a lush tropical setting. And they are by far the best tacos in my life and unbelievable to be vegan :-)

Passion fruit and tamarind mocktails

Photo of Charly's Vegan Tacos "CVT", Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Chef's truck where the food is cooked

Photo of Charly's Vegan Tacos "CVT", Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Ambience at Charly's Vegan Tacos

Photo of Charly's Vegan Tacos "CVT", Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

A local cafe in Tulum

Photo of Charly's Vegan Tacos "CVT", Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera Tulum, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel
Day 6

I drove to Coba from Tulum (Around 45 mins drive) to visit Cenotes and Mayan ruins that can be hiked to the top.

Coba is an archeological site with remains/ruins of an ancient Mayan City. Coba is not as popular as the other Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza (a new world wonder) or ruins of Tulum by the beach. But I chose to visit these as we can climb a ruin (looks like a pyramid) here to the top and it's quite special as we can't even touch other ruins like Chichen Itza. There is a small temple on the top of the ruin and you see a green canopy of the tropical greenery around.

Recommendations for climbing ruins of Coba:

I did not wear hiking shoes, but I suggest anyone visiting to dress up for hiking. There are around ~120 steps to reach the top of the pyramid and the steps are quite rugged and steeper than they look.

Suggest to carry and liberally apply sunscreen, use any hat/sunglasses for additional protection from the sun and bring your own water bottle to stay hydrated.

Pyramid that can be hiked, Coba Ruins

Photo of Coba archaeological site, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Other ruins of Mayan Civilization, Coba Ruins

Photo of Coba archaeological site, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Other ruins of Mayan Civilization, Coba Ruins

Photo of Coba archaeological site, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Green canopy as viewed from the top of Coba Ruins

Photo of Coba archaeological site, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

After hiking the ruins in the morning, I went to cool off in one of the Cenotes during the afternoon. Cenotes are natural sinkholes with underground water formed due to collapse of limestone bedrocks (I would call them natural swimming pools in a limestone cave) that are ubiquitous in the Yucatan Peninsula region of Mexico. There are a lot of cenotes near Cancun and Tulum as well but I chose the one near Coba, that's suitable for beginner swimmers.

Some of them are free and some of them have an entry fee of few dollars and they provide life jacket rentals. I choose one such Cenote and rented a life jacket. The waters of the cenote are super fresh, crystal clear with some fishes. These are a perfect escape to the humid tropical afternoons of Mexico.

Inside the Cenote

Photo of Cenote Choo-Ha, Coba, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

From Coba, I drove to Valladolid (~1hr drive), Which is a town near Chichen Itza. I stayed there for the night and headed to Chichen Itza the next day.

Day 7

Chichen Itza is one of largest ancient Mayan cities and the second most visited archeological site of Mexico which draws millions of visitors round the year. I would recommend to visit this place early in the day before the crowds and sun hit the place in the noon. Es Castillo (temple of Kukulkan), which looks like a huge pyramid is named one of the new wonders of the world in 2007. After visiting Coba and Tulum, Chichen Itza did not excite as much, but I was glad to check-off another world wonder off my bucket list.

Photo of Chichén-Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel
Photo of Chichén-Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel
Photo of Chichén-Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

After Chichen Itza, I visited the pink lakes of Rio Lagortos (yes, you read it right.. PINK Lakes) which is 2 hours away on drive. The vibrant pink color of these lakes is due to red-colored algae that glimmers in pink in the bright Mexican sunlight. There is a biosphere reserve at Rio Lagortos where we can see the Flamingos (pink colored) which look gorgeous in the backdrop of these pink lakes. Unfortunately I could not make it to the biosphere reserve as that's closed in the evening by the time I reached there. For anyone visiting, I recommend to visit this place around afternoon when the sun is bright so you can see the pink hue of the lakes and flamingos as well.

Pink salt lakes of Rio Lagartos

Photo of Biosphere Reserve, Calle 10, Río Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel

Pink salt lakes of Rio Lagartos

Photo of Biosphere Reserve, Calle 10, Río Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico by Indigirlious.Travel
Day 8

I drove back to Cancun from Rio Lagortos to take a flight to Mexico City. You can read my travel journey in the second week in Mexico here, The Cultural Quintessence of Mexico- Guadalajara and the Pueblo Magico towns.

That's my travel journey in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico with many unique experiences I will remember for a lifetime.

Hope you enjoyed reading through my travel tale.

- Sowmya Podila

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