Happy one year anniversary to our beloved covid-19, thanks to you I’m here in Playa Del Carmen sipping Margaritas and soaking up that warm Mexican sun. I’ve spent the past 3 weeks here, truly living my best life #sorrynotsorry It’s hard to believe that some parts of the world are still living in lockdown while here in Mexico there’s a sense of normality pre corona. I am feeling super optimistic about this year, with the roll out of the vaccine which I am scheduled to get in the next week, I believe things will get back to normal before we know it.
This month I was supposed to be travelling back to Melbourne for my best friend’s wedding. Unfortunately even though I had the leave and the money for the 2 week hotel quarantine I was not able to get on a flight to Australia. With a heavy heart knowing I was going to miss another friend’s wedding due to Covid and the fact that I haven’t seen my family and friends in a year and a half, I made the executive decision to travel to Mexico instead. Reason number 1 being that Emirates forced me to take all of my accumulated leave and I wanted to put it to good use and reason number 2 being that Mexico is one of the only countries open and welcoming to tourists.
Travelling alone I decided to split my time here in Mexico between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. I spent the first part of the trip in Tulum where I ate a lot of good food, did a lot of sight seeing and had many amazing adventures. I spent the second part of the trip in Playa Del Carmen at an amazing resort on the beach where I did nothing but relax, hence why I have time to write this blog post while here. I enjoyed my time thoroughly in both places, although this is my second time to Mexico it was my first time to visit Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. The first time I travelled to Mexico I only visited Cancun which I didn’t love nearly as much as I love Tulum and Playa, the vibes here are completely different so I’m so glad that I took the time to come here again and venture out of Cancun because I’ve truly had the best time.
Let’s start with Tulum, the energy here is something I’ve never experienced. I noticed from the moment I arrived at Selina, my beachfront hotel that there was something special about this place. The sound of the waves crashing, the warmth of the sun penetrating my skin, the birds, the trees, the moon, the jungle, the water, you can’t help but feel connected to nature in this area. It’s not a surprise that the Mayans picked this area to build their city. It’s a place where I felt anything and everyone is accepted – you see a mix of people, certain places have a hipster feel while others have more of an upmarket boujee kind of feel. I loved exploring all the different facets of Tulum, there is something for everyone.
I’m so glad I decided to stay in the Hotel Zone for the first portion of my trip. The Hotel Zone is the beachfront strip made up of all the major hotels charging an arm and a leg for guests to stay at. There are a lot of famous restaurants along here and many spots to take photos for your Instagram feeds. The best part for me was waking up every morning, walking along the beach and seeing the sun rise up into the sky from the crystal blue ocean below. There was something so calming and beautiful about that moment every day. I felt an instant dose of happiness and gratitude as soon as I saw that sun in the morning, the energy was really powerful and that pastel coloured sky wasn’t so bad to look at either! I ate a lot of overpriced food during my time there but in all honesty I don’t recall having one bad meal. The hotel itself was really nice, I loved having direct beach access a few steps from my room, I also loved the yoga classes and the delicious breakfast every morning.
While staying here I basically just explored the Hotel Zone and enjoyed the beach every day. I rented a bike from the hotel and rode up and down the strip, this was one of my favourite parts about Tulum… the best way to get around there is by bicycle in particular a beach cruiser with a little basket! It was definitely my thing and I will most definitely be buying a beach cruiser when I’m back in Dubai because I need regular bike rides in my life, I feel so happy and free when I’m riding, it takes me back to my childhood!
I took a lot of photos at the instagram hot spots, I also visited a really cool museum Sfer Ik at Azulik hotel which showcases the founders vision to create a hotel combining nature and architecture. As a nature lover I’d be thrilled to live in a home like this!
After five days spent on the beach, I took a 20 minute cab ride to Downtown Tulum where I would spend the next week. I loved Downtown a lot more than I thought I would, it definitely wasn’t as glamorous as the beachfront hotel zone but it had its own charm that I found really captivating. The vibe was a lot different here, it was a lot more authentic in terms of the fact that you had locals living in this area, therefore the food was a lot more authentic Mexican and affordable if you stayed out of the tourist spots. I ate the best pork tacos of my life at Taqueria Honorio, which is claimed the best tacos in Tulum (for good reason). I also ate amazing seafood ceviche and the most delicious freshly made guacamole at the cost of a couple US dollars. Did I mention I love Mexico?
One of the perks of the hotel that I stayed at was that they had bikes you could rent for free so I borrowed one almost daily to ride around town and visit the many cenotes located around Tulum. Cenotes for those wondering are natural sink holes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater, basically large holes in the ground containing the most clear blue waters which you can swim in. I also spent one day visiting the Tulum ruins which are located on the clifftops overlooking the ocean – it’s no wonder the Mayans set up shop here, it’s absolutely stunning!
Whilst staying in Tulum, I visited 4 cenotes – the Gran Cenote, Cenote Cavallero, Cenote Ik Kil and Cenote Aktun-Ha. My favourite was the Gran Cenote, it was the first cenote that I visited. I rode my bike there early in the morning arriving at 8am to avoid the crowds. I was one of 3 people swimming in the cenote so basically I had the place to myself. It was such a serene experience, I even swam next to a turtle in its natural habitat – I love turtles!!! The water is so crystal clear you can see right through to the bottom, it was a little scary swimming underneath the caves as there were bats hanging from the ceiling!
I also loved visiting Cenote Cavallero because you could jump into this cenote from up top. There are a total of 3 entrances to this cenote; two of them being small holes that are quite scary to jump through because if you are not careful you might hit the edges of the rock when jumping through. This cenote had a cool vibe, there was music playing and it even had a bar so you could spend your day there.
The last cenote I visited in Tulum was Cenote Aktun-Ha. This was a little different as it was an open water cenote so it appeared to be more like a lake than a cenote, however the water was crystal clear and a great place to dive if you had your licence. I like the little fish that swam in the water eating dead skin cells off your feet, they give you a nice little pedicure although its very ticklish.
As I mentioned earlier, I adore turtles and it’s been a dream of mine to swim with them for a long time. I booked a tour to Akumal Beach (about a 30 minute drive from Tulum) where I was able to walk out into the clear blue sea and snorkel with the sea turtles! this was such an amazing experience, the water is not so deep so I was able to get nice and close to these amazing animals, the turtles here are protected by the town government and there is a lot of money invested in protecting the turtles in their natural habitat. There is even a limit as to how many people can snorkel each day and you must go with an official guide.
After an action packed week in Tulum, it then came time for me to relax at the most beautiful resort Sandos in Playacar. I took the bus from Tulum to Playa Del Carmen which took approximately 1 hour. The resort is located right on the beach and it’s HUGE! I decided to spend some time here because I wanted to treat myself to some relaxation after a busy week in Tulum and if you wish to stay in an amazing beachfront hotel in Tulum you are going to pay a lotttttt of money!! Playa Del Carmen is situated between Cancun and Tulum, it’s a lot more quiet and affordable than its neighbours but it’s just as beautiful. I’m so glad I made the choice to stay here for a portion of my trip.
The hotel had a lot of activities happening each day which I enjoyed; these included morning yoga on the beach, aqua aerobics in the pool, and sometimes the occasional Zumba class. I even went for my first sail out at sea on a Catamaran. The resort also had bikes you could rent for free so I went for a ride into town most days, it felt so wonderful to be active every day in ways that differed from my normal everyday workouts.
I decided to book two tours during my stay in Playa Del Carmen. The first tour was to Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the world. It took approximately 2.5 hours to arrive there by mini-van but it was completely worth it. It was a proud moment when I finally made it to my fifth world wonder and I can’t believe I only have 2 more left to go until I have completed all 7. For those that don’t know, Chichén Itzá is a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The main pyramid El Castillo is very impressive in terms of how it was built. The Mayan’s must have been very smart people when you learn all about the ruins and the calculations they would have made in order to build their structures and tell time. For example, once a year the shadow cast by the angle of the sun combined with the shape of the pyramid create the illusion of a massive snake descending the pyramid, very cool!
After visiting Chichen Itza, the tour stopped at Cenote Ik Kil for an afternoon swim. I hated having to wear a life jacket in this Cenote but it was mandatory. It was fun jumping off the ledge but it was a little too busy for my liking, especially comparing it to the Gran Cenote. It definitely didn’t have that majestic feel like the others.
The second tour I went on was a catamaran trip to Isla Mujeres, a small island off Cancun famous for its crystal blue waters for snorkelling and its cool island vibes. I was a little unlucky this day as the sky was full of dark clouds and it rained a lot on the way to the island. This made it difficult to snorkel as the ocean was very rocky and the sea wasn’t as clear as it would have been on a nice sunny day. I was actually feeling so cold on the boat!
However, once arriving at the island the sun came out from behind the clouds and I was able to enjoy my time exploring the island and swimming in that clear blue sea. It’s an interesting island, for one the main mode of transportation here is via golf carts – in all of my travels that was a first for me! I’m not sure if it was the island’s close proximity to Cancun but Isla Mujeres definitely had a party vibe, it would have been a lot of fun to stay here I think.
I can’t believe how quickly the three weeks went in Mexico, although I was sad at first to not travel home, in hindsight I’m super glad I got to explore Mexico for such an extensive period of time. I really had one of the best trips of my life, I loved the country, the people, the food, the nature, the animals, just everything I experienced there felt so wonderful. Perhaps it’s just being stuck in Dubai for so long and not travelling as much as normal, but I really felt connected to nature there.
I feel so AMAZING being able to travel more regularly and from a covid perspective I really encourage people (that do have the ability) to continue to travel even if you feel a bit uneasy about the situation. We only have one life and we are put on this earth to live it, one of the greatest preventers of covid is a little thing you can get from the sun called VITAMIN-D! So go outside, get some sunshine, eat well, exercise and all will be well – this I truly believe.
We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us….
Let’s get the airline industry back into business, better days are here. STAY POSITIVE, TEST NEGATIVE xxxx
P.s. the Mexico VLOG is coming shortly to my Youtube channel but in the meantime check out my latest vlog on SOLO TRAVEL. Mexico was my 14th country to travel to solo which inspired me to make this vlog xxxx
UPDATE: TULUM VLOG