Maybe it’s just the Spanish minor in me, but I have (and probably always will have) a special place in my heart for Mexico. Mind you I’ve been to some of the nicest cities as well as some of the not so nice (Tijuana is certainly not a tourist town) but I still just love the culture and the people and will probably continue to visit Mexico (and other Hispanic countries) as regularly as I can throughout my life. This past week I had the pleasure of staying in Riviera Maya and it was like a dream. We stayed in Mayan Palace courtesy of Quinn’s aunt who has a timeshare of sorts with them. However, I don’t think it’d be possible to choose a bad resort to stay in in Riviera Maya as all the ones we passed seemed just as grand and luxurious as our own.
The room we had was incredibly spacious and the housekeeping staff was beyond helpful with any questions or problems we had. And we had a small balcony as well to look out into some of the tropical jungle that was outside.
Because the resort was so large, we used small shuttles to get to each different part of the resort. Most often we took it to the pool, which happened to be the largest pool in all of Latin America. It consisted of many large pools all connected by overflowing waterfalls and circular stone walkways that allowed you to walk across the water from one place to the next. You could also rent small private cabanas with a large lounge bed if you preferred that over beach chairs. And there were 3 different bars in the pool itself that made an assortment of drinks (with and without alcohol) so everyone had something to enjoy :).
Now nearly ten steps off the pool you run straight into soft, white sand on the beach where there were even more lounge chairs, hammocks, and cabanas for you to enjoy if you prefer an oceanside view to a poolside one. This was probably one of my favorite areas. They had the harness trampolines available to do tricks, a rock wall, a giant chessboard, and a volleyball net for you to enjoy all right next to the ocean. Then there were long, beautiful piers where at the end of them you could see straight down into the clear water at all the fish that were swimming below, in and out of small huts that were built in the water to attract aquatic life. The views were breathtaking. The resort also had three different restaurants (Mexican, Asian, and Italian) plus a large market where you could buy groceries or stop by the indoor shops to grab fresh gelato, pastries, or crepes (which I frequently ate hehe). And when we went off the resort, our experiences were just as wonderful!
The first place we went was an aquatic park/nature conservatory/relaxing spa-type place known as Xcaret. It’s hard to describe the park itself, but I promise that anyone who goes will not be disappointed. They had serene nature trails and river-boat rides where you could see native wildlife (including sea turtles!). There was a long clear river where you could float through the sunshine, or choose the cave exploration route like we did. They had an array of spa services available from massages to that thing where you put your feet in a small pool and let tiny fish nibble them ’til they’re soft. And at the very end at “Dos Playas” there were, as the name suggests, two large private beaches for us to relax and enjoy the ocean views. In the evening they have a very cool cultural show that they perform with all sorts of theatrics and dancing which was a nice way to end the day.
Not far from Xcaret is 5th avenue of Playa Del Carmen, a lovely downtown shopping street with endless shops, bars and restaurants. I highly recommend eating at Mar de las Pampas and ordering the shared platter, which comes with three massive steaks, two additional sides of meat, a plate of french fries, and a huge salad. It’s a meal that makes for a happy belly :).
Tuesday morning we woke up early to go deep sea fishing, which was quite a treat. We ended up catching six massive fish, from 30-70 pounds a piece, which was the best catch of all the fisherman that morning. And mid-morning the captain took us on a small boat ride to a beautiful coral reef where we could to snorkel with and hand feed colorful tropical fish and a wild sea turtle! It was such a cool experience!
On the last night we decided to keep it relaxed and after a day spent lounging by the pool and ocean, we ended the day by seeing Cirque du Soleil’s Joya. If you know me, I am in LOVE with Cirque. I did a 45 minute research presentation on them for my high school diploma and learned so many amazing things about them and I’m now basically obsessed. And Joya definitely lived up to Cirque’s high standard of performance. If you ever get the chance to see any of their shows, go!! You are guaranteed an incredible performance! It was the perfect end to the week.
I can’t say enough how wonderful the trip was. It provided some much needed relaxation with some very cool opportunities and I can now cross a few more things off my bucket list! I hope everyone else’s spring break was just as enjoyable!