Welcome to the Turquoise Travel Diaries, a collection of interviews, stories and excerpts from our fabulous team, as they travel around the world. Here at Turquoise we pride ourselves on unrivalled knowledge of the destinations in which we specialise, so that we can provide honest, expert advice to all our guests and fellow travellers. This week, our interview is with Rachel Havelock, one of our Caribbean Specialists who has returned from magical Mexico and discovered how there is so much more than the sandy white beaches….
- If you could describe Mexico in three words what would they be? I found Mexico to be very cultural, fascinating and upliftingly beautiful. I know I’ve used four words…but to try and describe somewhere so vast and striking like Mexico it’s impossible to sum up with just three words!
- What do you think would make the perfect twin centre for Mexico? Sunny sights of California combined with the tropical Riviera Maya would be a great contrast to your holiday. Or perhaps twin Mexico with a trendy city break with either New York or Miami!
- Where was your favourite place to stay and why? We loved everything about The Fairmont Mayakoba. It’s large but very easy to get around and the resort is blessed with fascinating wildlife. The beach is enormous and pristine, and there’s a great choice of restaurants-the food was out of this world. With the 5-star service to match, who wouldn’t love to stay at the Fairmont!
- How long would you recommend spending in Mexico and what are your absolute ‘must-dos’? Stay for 10-14 nights. Firstly, Chichen Itza it’s a must-see attraction if you’re interested in Mexico’s fascinating culture and you want to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Take a day trip to visit the island of Cozumel, catch a ferry and spend hours snorkelling, shopping and dining like a local.If you’re looking for culture, visit Tulum where you can easily explore the Tulum Ruins and afterwards take a refreshing dip in a cenote. Further south, visit the rugged coastline that’s bursting with trendy bars, shops, and small cafés all on a 3 mile stretch of beach. The coastline here is stunning- soft white sands with crashing turquoise waves, a true surfer’s paradise!Swim with turtles in Akumal on an environmentally friendly guided tour. The turtles are never touched or bothered by snorkelers, you’re simply there to observe and swim amongst them. We also saw a manta ray and squid during our tour!
- Can you tell us about your favourite beach and snorkelling experiences? My favourite beach would have to be in Tulum. The coastline is gorgeous and I loved how silky the sand felt, how the sea shone turquoise and there’s always a breeze to create the perfect swells. The best snorkelling would have to be in Akumal for swimming with the turtles. However, Cozumel was still fantastic. We saw lots of tropical fish and the coral reefs were beautifully unspoilt.
- What are the locals like? Did you get the chance to eat out anywhere locally for dinner and try a special Mexican dish? The locals were so approachable, outgoing and had a great sense of humour! We dined in Cozumel at the ‘Kondesa’ Restaurant which we stumbled across whilst looking for another restaurant. It was so worth the find as this was one of the best dining experiences we had in Mexico. The local dish I tried was the daily pescado special which was the local Mahi Mahi fish served in spicy tomato salsa and sweet chipotle apple sauce – Yum!
- Why should I make the Riviera Maya the top of my travel list? It’s a whole different experience to your usual holiday, there’s so much this country has to offer. Whether you’re looking to relax and have a stunning beach break, explore the ruins and the extensive Riviera Maya coast, dine and shop locally, or visit the nearby island of Cozumel. The best thing is that you can enjoy and all of this in just one holiday!
- What did you learn about Mexican history and culture during your stay? Whilst I was in Mexico the people I met on tours, in taxis, dining or shopping locally, often talked about their fascinating history. I didn’t realise how much I took in until I arrived home! When I was shown around the Belmond Maroma Resort, I was told that the layout of the spa rooms are aligned with the sun, moon and stars. The main ingredient in the treatments is honey from their own hive of Mayan bees. I learnt that the Mayans have been renowned for thousands of years to be excellent bee keepers, and for bringing up stingless bees! I had no idea how important astronomy was and still is for the Mayans. They practiced mathematics alongside stargazing to create the most accurate calendar we use today. Some pyramids within Chichen Itza were built for astronomical purposes so advanced enough to predict a solar eclipse!
- If you were to go back, where would you like to spend more time? Is there anywhere you didn’t visit that you would love the chance to see? For my next visit, I would love to stay near Tulum and make sure I spend a day visiting the ruins and the nearby cenote afterwards! Also on my list is to visit Isla Mujeres which was recommended to us by a local man on the ferry across to Cozumel. He told me that Isla Mujeres is renowned for incredible snorkelling, it’s much less touristy and a visit to their turtle sanctuary is a must!
If you have any further questions for Rachel or would like to plan your very own Mexican getaway, please get in touch and we’d be delighted to assist.