Coba archaeological site @ Quintana Roo
Our first encounter with Mexico was in 2009, when we booked a vacation to Playa del Carmen, within the Riviera Maya, in Cancun (which is located at the right side of the country). This is a typical beach vacation scene, where also several cruise ships take a stop. At that time we weren’t too active during our trips, so mainly enjoyed the good weather and being as lazy as possible throughout the day. The hotel that we stayed at – Viva Wyndham Maya – was the ideal place to do this. Great food, great cocktails – a real recommendation.
The most action we got was when we booked a tour to the ancient Mayan city of Coba on the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Another option was to visit Chichen Itza, which was actually the largest Maya city (and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico), but was a long drive from where we stayed (about 3,5 hour one way). Also, Coba is accessible (you can climb the stairs of the construction), while Chichen Itza isn’t.
What appears to be unique about the ruins of Coba is that only a few of its estimated 6.500 structures have been uncovered. Historians and archaeologists still haven’t found the answers to all questions surrounding the Mayan culture and constructions. It’s a great place to walk around in, cycle a bit and of course – take pictures.
Cenote diving @ Playa del Carmen
About 2 years later, we went to the exact same hotel. No, this isn’t something we typically do? How come, this time? Well – lucky bastards as we were – we actually won a 7 day vacation to this hotel with Kruidvat. Kruidvat is actually a Dutch store, but has stores in Belgium as well, that – amongst others – offers a photo service. With an online tool you can not only make photo’s but also photo books. For the one we made on our road trip through the West Coast of the US, we entered into a competition launched at that time and – surprise, surprise – we were one of the winners. So we got the chance to enjoy this place again and took it even easier this time around.
The only thing worth mentioning that we did during that vacation was go diving in one of the many cenotes Mexico has to offer. We just got our diving license, so this diving trip was actually the first one we took.
A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole – a result from the collapse of limestone bedrock. They are said to be used by the Maya for sacrificial offerings. Nowadays they are popular with tourists as well as locals for a refreshing plunge, snorkelling or diving. There are large open water pools with tens of meters in diameter, while others are smaller and more sheltered. Often they reveal an underlying cave system. The water itself is very clear, as it comes from rain water filtered slowly through the ground. There would be around 6.000 different cenotes in the Yucatan region in Mexico alone – so absolutely something we needed to try.
We went to the Cristalino cenote, very close to Playa Del Carmen. It’s one of three cenotes in a row – the others are El Jardin Del Eden and Cenote Azul. Cristalino is a U-shape and is open, which was our preference given the very limited (as in no) experience we had. Still, it isn’t safe – we entered the cave and certainly could not easily go back up if something went wrong or if we would have panicked. Luckily that didn’t happen, but still – we don’t recommend it to people with little diving experience. It was a great experience, though – that’s for sure.
Boat tour @ Cabo San Lucas
The next time we went to Mexico was in 2014. First to Cabo San Lucas, which was the first stop on our cruise to the Panama Canal. Cabo San Lucas is located at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula (at the very left side of the country)
This time we took a boat trip (one of the shore excursions offered by Celebrity Cruises). Nothing spectacular. Also, the boat was pretty crowdie, compared to the catamaran trip we took in Saint Lucia, for example.
Stingray encounter @ Cozumel
The last time we paid Mexico a visit was in 2015, on another cruise, this time with Princess Cruises – leaving from Houston, Texas.
Cozumel is located beneath Cancun, so also on the right side of the country at Yucatan Peninsula, in the Caribbean Sea. Again, very touristic venue.
As we really enjoyed the snorkelling with manta rays in Hawaii and we saw an excursion with stingrays was one of the options, we didn’t hesitate. A stingray is also related to the shark family. They have barbed stingers on the tail, which are poisonous (but of course, these have been removed for this kind of activity). Their length reaches about 35 cm.
We went to Stingray Beach, where we were able to first touch and even feed stingrays and afterwards went swimming amongst them. After the swim, we relaxed a little at the beach club on the shore.
Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures or videos of this trip as the batteries of our go pro were down… Visit this website to get further insight in what to do at Stingray Beach.