February 2nd-5th 2015
Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico was an actual need for a break from our day to day activities. The day we left, there was approximately one inch of ice and two inches of snow covering everything. We picked a wonderful time to escape the ambiance of a nasty winter in Kansas. Surprisingly it was also one of the scariest plane take offs Laura had ever experienced. John was passed out for having to wake up so early. After watching the plane get hosed in de-icer for about twenty minutes, they decided it was safe for the plane to take off. While the plane was gaining full speed down the runway the entire thing slid about 2 feet (approximately) to the right, right before the wheels lifted. For the first few minutes it was like a roller coaster where you just aren’t sure if you are free falling or taking off like normal. What a start to the trip!
We arrived in Atlanta about 2 minutes late. Since we had the ice storm and the plane had to be de-iced, we missed our connecting flight to Cancun! Tips for international travelers: they will actually require you to be there 10 minutes before the plane takes off at a minimum. 1o minutes is the cut off for when they close the doors and will absolutely not let you on the plane, no matter the reason. They rebooked us on the next flight and we only had to wait about an hour. We had not heard these rules before, but you also have to have your baggage on the before you leave for an international flight. This might have been Delta, not sure, but they mildly panicked when they thought our bags were on the previous plane. Either way, we arrived in Cancun just fine, booked a new shuttle to our resort and enjoyed the travel from Cancun to the beautiful Riviera Maya!
We stayed at Paradisus La Perla in Playa Del Carmen. It was our first time in Mexico, and we felt safer staying in a larger resort. We also wanted some truly relaxing vacation time instead of feeling rushed the whole trip. John had always dreamed of hiking around some of the Mayan Ruins so this was also on the itinerary. Upon arrival our room had been booked for someone else so they told us they would upgrade us to a “swim up suite.” At first we were hesitant because we wanted a nice quite room, we were worried that a room next to the pool would be too loud. However, when we saw the room we were pretty impressed. We actually had a private pool that was only shared by 6 rooms. It was walled off and had a bar connected. It was great to spend some time getting sun on the porch and cooling off in the water! The resort had 14 restaurants of all different kinds. We ate two time at a Japanese Steak House which seems odd for a trip to Mexico, but the food was incredible. The swim up suites also had a butler and a mobile phone, we could call and they would bring food, drinks, make reservations for us and more. This idea somewhat worked, but I think we probably could have handled what we waned ourselves, our butler seemed very busy. Also, by staying on the high end side of the resort it was adults only, the rooms had bottle service, and there were two restaurants that could only be used by people staying on that side. So if we wanted a meal without screaming kids, we could have one. The resort was all-inclusive, even so we went through a stack of 1’s giving out tips. Our wonderful neighbors from Canada educated us on how all inclusive resorts work. Yes, almost everything is free, but you won’t get it in under an hour if you don’t tip first. Once I started tipping when I ordered food was being delivered from the pool-side café to our front door instead of having to go pick it up. Drinks were coming before the previous one was half empty. When we would walk out onto our back porch a waitress at the pool-side café would just watch and wait for us to order, and walk over to us when we waved. Too bad we didn’t know all of this on day one.
COBA and Sea Turtles!
For our first full day, we decided to take a tour with Riviera Adventours to Akumal and Coba. We traveled with one other couple to Akumal. Akumal is best known for its white sandy beaches, smaller resorts, and sea turtles! Originally, most of these villages were fishing villages. Since the advent of the tourist boom resorts have sprung up along the beach, and they are really beautiful places to visit. Sea turtles graze in the mornings, so we woke up pretty early to go watch them as they came in to eat breakfast. Our guide took us to a section of ocean that had a grassy bottom, it made a perfect viewing experience to just snorkel around them for a while. Our guide was very insistent that no one try to touch the turtles. We’d already read up about them and knew this, but it was nice to see that they we telling tourists. Some American tourists can do really dumb stuff while they’re traveling. We try to not be like them.
After snorkeling for a few hours we took a break in the van on the way to the ruins in Coba. They have bicycles at Coba, and you get to ride around the ruins because they are fairly spread out. We learned that most of the time, when you see small hills in Mexico, likely they are ruins that are not archeologically reassembled. Where we were on the Yucatan peninsula, it was extremely flat. We made sure to pay attention to the landscape more closely and there were lots of small rock piles all over the place. Coba was approximately 80% reassembled and seemed more culturally accurate then the ruins of Tulum (not that we are experts). John was thrilled to be able to still climb Nohoch Muul, lately they have been limiting climbing to the top of the ruins because of injuries to the tourists. I.E. people falling off of the pyramid while climbing it. When John climbed it he found that the steps were very narrow, not uniform at all, and very smooth and worn. Probably due to treacherous steps a large rope had been attached at the top for people to hold onto while climbing. John had no issues climbing it, but he was younger and in fairly decent shape. Many of the other tourists were quite old or young.
After exploring Coba we ventured to a closed Cenote. Cenotes are actually sink holes that have opened up and been found. For thousands of years these were great resources for water, cooling, bathing, etc. for the local people. Now tourists get to enjoy them as well, they were really interesting.
The next day we went on a Tulum Extreme Expedition with Riviera Adventours again. The group we were with this time was a little bigger. Since the group was going to snorkel at Akumal they decided to let us tag along as well! We did not see as many Sea Turtles this time but we did go over to a shallow reef and saw many bright tropical fish. We did get to witness a very fast tropical storm come in, we hurried out of the water and started to walk up the beach when it began to down pour. It happened to rinse the salt water off but the rain actually hurt a little it was coming down so fast! We hopped in the van and traveled to a cave system at Sac Actun! This system is frequently traveled by Scuba Divers and snorkelers. Neither of us had ever snorkeled in a cave system and the water was crystal clear.
Afterwards we traveled to a local adventure park with a large open cenote. We were able to zipline across a lake, then canoe across the lake, and jump in the cenote at the end. Some storms were moving in again but the group rallied and decided we were still going to try to go to see Tulum. The view from the higher vantage point were breathtaking, and the reconstruction of the ruins were incredible as well.
We spent a lot of the rest of the time relaxing. We traveled a couple times to 5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen to shop and look around. The night life was pretty dazzling! Check out the pictures and feel free to leave comments 🙂