Saturday, November 15, 2014

Adventures in Akumal!

As the cold creeps in, memories of Akumal are keeping me warm. It's crazy because we almost didn't stop here, we figured we would just go on ahead to Tulum but I insisted I wanted to see the turtles. October is the season for them, in they come, waiting by the shore line & at night lay their eggs on the beach. Good luck finding them in the morning because they are buried under 4 feet of sand, so there is no fear of stepping on them. I spent two days in the water snorkelling around them, I was in awe. They are such beautiful creatures & if you listened carefully, you could hear them munching on the seagrass.

We stayed in another amazing Airbnb in Akumal called the Hellas Room, inside Villa Tajkumal. Our room had a Mediterranean vibe to it, we absolutely loved it & the pool out back was to die for. Our host Myrna was amazing and we would recommend anyone heading here to check out here site and other accommodations.

The beach is perfect. It is the nicest beach I have ever stepped on. The sand was perfect, the beach was clean, the water was turquoise and calm. People signed up for tours to see the turtles all day long but it really isn't necessary to do a tour as they are just waiting to be seen in the water. Rent a lifejacket & a snorkel kit and off you go. You will see plenty of them ranging in size. It is a good idea to respect the turtles & to not dive down & touch them. It is stressful for them & less turtles will return each year if tourists frighten them. They all seem to be tagged, I guess they are watching to see how far they travel each year. You will spend all day watching them gracefully swim about, it's an amazing experience.

What I didn't realise when entering Akumal is that it is a gated community. The long winding road up to Yal Ku Cai Lagoon is all privately owned properties and they all got together to make it a community. It is a little weird in a way, but the advantage is it is well taken care of. Over the highway & across the bridge is Akumal town. There really isn't much there, a small shop, a few restaurants but its pretty tiny, cute but tiny. The weather in Akumal was unreal. Blue skies all day long. It was the only place on our trip that we got to see a sunset. The sun was splitting the stones, it was so hot Farah could barely handle it & she's the tropical one. For me, my lower back & the backs of my legs went all out Irish on me, they got burnt during all the turtle swimming. Aloe, became a good friend of mine. It wasn't a bad burn but I saw people on the beach clearly burnt to a crisp from the day before & not covering up. How they managed the sun hitting their burns a second day in a row, i'll never know? Not only is it dangerous but it really hurts, it feels like you're cooking. This one fella was redder than a cooked lobster. Another couple were oiled up, her skin was like a cheap leather belt but shur, she thought she was the bee's knee's.

Golf carts are one way to get around the strip, bicycles are another. Restaurants are dotted along the coast. Luckily our place was plonked right on the beach, right next to the turtles, the boats, the restaurants & all the action. What a fantastic spot! At the opposite end is Yal Ku Cai Lagoon, a nice area for a quick snorkel, if you are not a great swimmer it's a good idea to have a lifejacket here as well, there is a nice current. If you are heading to Akumal and reading this blog, I am deeply jealous. You will have a ball.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Playa Del Carmen!!

Part two of our trip was a quick stop in Playa Del Carmen. We weren't sure whether to stop here as we had heard that it is too touristy, too noisy & just a smaller version of Cancun. Well, here's what we liked about it. It was low season, that still meant lots of people but not enough to make you go insane. It is a great place for young college students (although you would never find me there during spring break) to go on their first holiday, it has all the luxuries of home mixed with Mexican flare, the beach and plenty of bars. It was the first & only place we visited that had both a Starbucks and an Apple store. There are mini spas everywhere, keep walking and the prices drop to $18 for an hours massage, well worth it I would say. We also liked that shopping there is competitive. When we came back at the end of our trip for another night, we did all our shopping here, because, simply it is way cheaper than Tulum. More tourists mean lower prices and better haggling for cigars, tequila, sombreros, t-shirts, hot sauce, magnets, you name it, they have it.

If you feel like traditional Mexican food made by locals, just stay off 5th avenue and head back a few blocks. We ate breakfast at a roadside shack just off of Benito Juarez & it was delicious. Taco's, salbutes & an agua fresca, the breakfast of champions, all for $5. If you have little one's in tow then I'm sure they would love a trek to La Cueva Del Chango (Monkey's Cave). It has a great jungle setting that any kid would love.

While it doesn't have the nicest beach on the coast, it does have the nicest church. Even if you are not religious, you can walk in to the beautiful white church and stare at its beauty. Massive windows behind the altar showcase palm trees and blue skies. Inside, plants grow along the walls, it's a little tropical heaven.

Let's get back to the beach. It is a very nice beach, it's clean and the water is perfect. I guess what put me off is the amount of buoys in the water. Not the prettiest thing to look at but safety does comes first. Walking along the beach, everyone is trying to get you to come to their restaurant or rent their chairs and once you sit down, you have people trying to sing songs to you, get you to buy fruit, necklaces, coconuts or try a massage on the beach. This is all part of being in Playa Del Carmen, it really didn't bother me but I may feel different about it in the higher season.

We stayed in another great Airbnb while in Playa. It was about 5 mins walk from 5th avenue, the main tourist stretch. We would absolutely recommend it & Melinda our host was awesome. We had priced some hotels in the area and they were way out of our budget. We passed one on the beach called El Taj, it looked pretty amazing but unfortunately at $400 a night, it would have to be out of this world.

Playa has all your shopping needs but if you are like us & not sure about it, just stay for a night & move on down the coast, I'm sure you will get some great stories if nothing else.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Puerto Morelos, Mexico!

The first stop on our trip was Puerto Morelos, a small quaint fishing village, 20mins from Cancun airport. There are two parts to Puerto Morelos, the town (pueblo) and the beach (playa). We found an amazing casita on Airbnb and dropping off our suitcases & changing from jeans was perogative since it was 37deg celsius outside. Casitas Kinsol Room 4 is a win, it is cheap, colourful, clean & the owners couldn't be nicer. That night we took a stroll around the pueblo and ate some delicious tacos, fish, beer & the most epic churros I have ever tasted in my life. The town is small, you will have walked the entire thing in minutes. It is quiet during the day but once those buses pull up at 6pm, dropping off all the hard construction workers, the town comes alive. Taco stalls open everywhere, internet houses, tortillerias, kids playing video games, even people gather to sit and chat in the town square(zócalo). It stays like this well until the wee hours of the morning.

I slept well even though every stray dog in Mexico spent the night barking. I noticed that the town got going the second daylight broke. The cars were zooming by and people were busy to get to work. I am guessing with the heat of the sun, everything starts early in the day then a midday siesta and once the heat dies a little, it all picks up again. Our first day was spent on the beach which is about a 5min drive away. The area looks more touristy than the town. It was just the perfect start to our holiday. Beautiful weather, sipping on margaritas & ague fresco at 11am & eating guacamole for breakfast, yes, it was my ideal start. Guacamole is single handedly my favourite food. It was low season, the beach was quiet, ideally what you want. The Caribbean turquoise waters were warm and saltier than any other ocean I have been in, which was brilliant in a way because I could just float.

It is a beautiful village by the sea, even better if you love to do a spot of fishing. They literally just fish off the pier in the morning catching plenty of fish with their nets. We watched one guy catch about 20 in one go, they were a fine size and all. I asked him if he was going to sell them to the restaurants but he said he was cooking up some tacos later for his family. I bet they were delicious.

This is a perfect peaceful little town, it should not be overlooked for the bigger spots like Cancun & Playa Del Carmen. We ended up coming back here to spend the last night of our trip. Did I mention that there are plenty of Cenotes nearby? Yup there is an entire route (ruta de los cenotes), our favourite being Siete Bocas (seven mouths), it has very few visitors, a little steep when it comes to price but it is a hidden gem in the jungle.