Last June, Maxime and I went on a road trip in Mexico. We put a lot of hard work into planning our trip but finally didn’t share much about it. Recently, several friends asked us about our itinerary, tips and recommendations so I thought maybe those informations are worth a blog post.
When people ask me what my passion is, chances are my answer will be travelling. And you can bet they will respond something like “Well, who doesn’t like it.” For a long time I thought it was true. At least until more recently. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that, appart from a very few, even the most domestic among us like to go on holiday. Some will like to go far away, to an exotic destination and some just want to take some time off, away from their everyday life. And that’s fair enough. But travel does not equal holiday, and vice versa.
When I say I like – love – to travel, I mean traveling. To go somewhere. To discover something. To meet someone new. We have the chance to be able to travel the world quite often and the process is always the same : we agree on a destination, I read everything about it and build an itinerary around the stops that we would be interested in and Maxime finds hotels, restaurants and flight deals. Here is our itinerary to explore the Yucatán Peninsula:
Playa des Carmen – Akumal – Tulum
Waking up in Playa del Carmen
Our trip truly started on that day. We arrived the night before to Cancun, rented a car from Sixt Mexico and drove down to Playa del Carmen. We spent the night in a hotel on the side of the road so we could leave early in the morning to start exploring the Quintana Roo, one of the three states of the peninsula.
Swimming with turtles in Akumal
The fishermen town of Akumal was our first stop. It is a famous spot to snorkel with turtles. We arrived quite early as we heard that after 10am it was not possible to go in the water anymore in order to leave the turtles alone. We came with our own equipment but you can’t actually snorkel by yourself as it is heavily regulated. We went with the first company that looked professional to us and jumped in the water for 45 minutes. It was only the guide, Maxime and I. We saw turtles, amazing tropical fishes and a barracuda. It is one of the most terrifying thing I have ever seen but that’s exactly what we are after : being suprised ! After the tour, we stayed a bit on the sand, admiring the pretty view. It is a quiet beach in a small town which is very pleasant.
Taking it easy in Tulum
Once dried, we went back in the car and headed down to Tulum, our final destination for the day. All the hotels are located on the coast and we had all the pain in the world to found ours! We decided to book one that was a bit away of the Tulum trending – boho area. Maxime found us a true pearl, a hotel with only a few private cabines on the beach, exactly what we were looking for: nature, silence and an amazing view! We chilled on the beach for the rest of the afternoon as we felt the jet lag kicking in and watched the sunset on the beach. First day on point !
Exploring Muyil and Sian Ka’an
Thanks to the jet lag, I woke up super early this morning and had the chance to see all the pink shades of the sun rising from the sea, just in front of our cabine. Paradise you said ? Our soul and belly fed, we left the hotel for the town center where we met Raúl, our guide from Ecoculture Excursions. He brought us to Muyil, a beautiful archaeological site located inside the Sian Ka’an Natural Reserve, the second largest reserve in Mexico! Truly passionate by the history of his country, he educated us on the mayan civilisation. Then he left us to take an interpretative jungle path until we reached the wonderful lagoon of Muyil. We met again there for a boat ride through the lagoon and channels of fresh turquoise water and finished the experience by floating within mangroves. Back in the car, he had water, fresh fruits and organic snacks for us, best guide ever!
Wondering in Tulum’s zona arqueológica
We went back to the hotel in the middle of the afternoon for a little snooze and then left in the evening for the ruins. We decided to visit the site at sunset as we thought the crowd would have left by then and the light would be amazing. Unfortunately, the weather changed and though the site was empty as we expected, it started to be quite grey and windy. The site has definitely a nice aesthetic, the ruins being so close to the water. It is the reason why it is so popular but surely not the most interesting site!
Tulum – Bacalar
Sailing Bacalar Lagoon
Another day, another breathtaking sunrise. We needed a great start of the day to get through the 220 km that separated us from our destination of the day: Bacalar! The city is bordered to the east by the Bacalar Lagoon, which overlooks the Caribbean Sea and its nickname is The Seven Colors Lagoon. Spoiler alert, there are all shades of blue! We quickly stopped at our AirBnB for the night before going back to the center to meet our sailor. You will find lots of small owned companies that offer sailing trips in catamaran visiting all the hot spots of the lagoon. Depending on the wind, the trip can take 3 to 4 hours and to be honest, we started to get bored towards the end! After that, we stopped at Lulu la Bruja for dinner and that was a great surprise: good healthy food for a really decent price. Bacalar is quiet a boho-hippie place and you will found lots of cool restaurants like that around the lagoon.
Bacalar – Calakmul
Eating and Kayaking by the water
As the property we stayed in had a pier, I went and sat there for few hours watching the sunrise and taking what I think to be my favourite picture of this trip. So many shades of blue and yellow on this standing water… When Maxime finally woke up, we had a great homemade granola for breakfast on the lagoon shore. We then took two kayaks that were hanging there and started to make our way on the lagoon, having a great time really. Within a couple of minutes rain started to pour, making it really hard to come back to the pier, as the visibility was down to zero. We were so wet, we started plunging in the water and laughing for no reason. Maxime told me recently that it was one the his best memories of our 8 year relationship.
Learning about the culture
I told you, one of our aims when travelling is to meet people. In Bacalar, we stayed at a AirBnB owned by José, a Spanish-Mexican who grew up in France. We had an amazing conversation together, discussing about the most random things and mostly about Mexico as it is his country but he also has a foreigner’s view on it. Later, he had to go to a Mennonite community close by and asked us if we wanted to come with him. Not sure at first, we finally decided to follow him and I am glad we did. We learnt a lot about this community which we didn’t know existed a couple of hours before! We had lunch at Mango Y Chile, a vegan burger restaurant that is worth stoping by before hitting the road again.
Feeling spoiled in Calakmul
An hour and a half later, we made it to our home for the night, the stunning Hotel Casa Maya en Calakmul. This was our first stop in the state of Campeche and Maxime definitely spoiled us with this hotel! The staff was amazing and surprised us with a 4 course maya diner served on the deck of our room. What a treat !