Mexico was an absolute dream... If you’re not already planning a trip there, you will be by the end of this post!
A whirlwind of sunshine and smiles from start to finish, with limited phone service and little connection to the outside world, we managed to bag ourselves an upgrade at the hotel and escape to a luxury hideaway in the middle of the Mayan Jungle! Surrounded by 360 degree views of treetops and ocean it offered the perfect blend of culture and cuisine.
Switching between lazing by the waves to paddling in the pool, I enjoyed the indulgence of taking time out to simply just be. Settling into a slower pace of life is definitely the way to make your soul happy!
However it wasn't all fun and games when Mr Token Hunter took a nasty fall... A friendly reminder to always travel with insurance!
Yet it was the sun kissed shores of Isla Holbox (pronounced HOLE-bosh) that stole my heart when exploring this slice of paradise, a world away from the notorious party scenes of Cancun.
Once a secret amongst Mexicans, this relatively untouched fishing town is home to flamingos and pelicans, which flock in full force to the warm shallow waters that surround the 26 mile long and 1 mile wide reserve.
Imagine a tiny island filled with unpaved sandy streets. The only way to explore is by foot, bike or golf buggy. Buildings are covered in murals. Street vendors serve up every kind of taco you can imagine. The downtown is lined with ramshackle restaurants. The Mayan’s rich use of colour reflects their indigenous culture and history. With each corner you turn, you never know what you may find!
Simple structures made from bamboo and logs topped with palm roofs line the shores which are so clear, so turquoise and so shallow! In Holbox you can walk fifty feet out and the water won’t even reach your knees.
This rustic, less developed experience was the highlight of my holiday!
In contrast Tulum (90 minutes south of Cancun) is busy, commercialised, hot and hectic. However, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this coastal town on the Yucatán Peninsula.
Tulum's New Age vibe, eco friendly resorts and white sand beaches have made it Quintana Roo’s renowned tropical playground.
Tulum is blessed not only with great food, cobalt coastline and nightlife, but also historic sites that have spectacular backdrops and stories to share. The most iconic of all the Mayan ruins you can find in and around the region are the Tulum Ruins, perched precariously on the craggy rock above the beach. Get there early before the hordes of visitors arrive and ruin your picture-perfect views. Alternatively, Cobá is just an hour from Tulum and boasts a spectacular 138-foot pyramid that you are free to climb!
The Yucatán Peninsula is known to have the world’s largest number of underwater sinkholes. Formed by the collapse of limestone, cents are the perfect place to swim, snorkel, or dive with their rugged walls and azure waters. No trip to Tulum is complete without experiencing these hidden treasures (considered a passage to the underworld) that predate even the Mayans, by thousands and thousands of years!
Cenote (pronounced say-no-tay) means sacred well and I am totally obsessed with these magical lagoons. On a hot day in the Yucatan, there's nothing better than taking a refreshing dip in a cenote. If you don’t mind deep water, they’re so much fun to swim in and escape the heat of the midday sun. Cool and refreshing without any salt.
While cenotes are certainly beautiful, they can sometimes be a little overcrowded with tourists, which obviously spoils the atmosphere. However, if you are prepared to head off the beaten track you can soon locate some of the less commercialised spots and experience the peace and quiet of these natural wonders in solidarity.
Cenote Calavera may be my favourite cenote in Tulum! In Spanish, Calavera means skull, suggesting the sinkhole resembles the eye sockets and mouth of an enormous skull. It’s deeper than many of the other cenotes, which makes it the perfect place to try the legendary Yucatan sport of cenote-diving if you’re feeling brave enough. If you’re not, then don’t worry, there’s a ladder you can climb down instead!
We were lucky to have the Cenote Calavera to ourselves and I could have spent forever there, floating in paradise, that is until three divers emerged from this vast subterranean world, filled with tunnels and lagoons. I’m still wondering where they had been exploring!
Plenty of fish can be found in the crystal clear waters, and if you’re lucky and brave enough to look up, you are likely to spot hundreds of sleeping bats in the caves. From the water, sunlight streams into the sinkhole through the opening above and is a sight you won’t forget for a very long time!
Please note: Tulum remains a relatively safe travel destination, yet you should exercise common sense when exploring the popular downtown area. The entire community is pretty much cash only so, don’t forget your Pesos and avoid walking alone at night. Also be certain not to drink the tap water!