Mexico is a land of mystery and beauty, and at Turquoise we are proud to introduce the Riviera Maya as the peaceful beach antidote to the more hectic area of Cancun. Sue Friell, one of our Caribbean specialists, has helped to compile a shortlist of her favourite experiences both in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan, and the best places to stay on this picture-perfect coastline.
Swim in the cenotes. Cenotes are spectacular freshwater underground caves and rivers complete with stalagmites and stalactites and the Yucatan Peninsula is the only place in the world that boasts this geographical phenomenon. ‘The water is freezing but crystal clear and so refreshing, I would highly recommend this experience for anyone looking to really explore Mexico.’
Go snorkelling on the world’s second largest Barrier Reef. ‘I swam on a stunning reef not far from Belmond Maroma, and was lucky enough to see yellow sting rays, a large cat shark and a beautiful sea snake along with brightly coloured reef fish and purple fan corals.’
Look out for wildlife at Rosewood Mayakoba! ‘There are lots of beautiful birds, butterflies and large iguanas and I also saw a large spider monkey on my first day here– he was running upright on his rear legs which was very funny! Mayakoba has lots of wildlife living in and around the waterways that have been built around the mangroves – the resort offers a 30 minute complimentary boat trip which is perfect for spotting the resident birds, turtles and fish’
Visit the Mayan ruins in the coastal town of Tulum overlooking the sea. ‘They are wonderful, and the setting is simply stunning. Many tourists make the long drive from the coast to see the infamous Chichen Itza, but for me, the Tulum ruins were still spectacular!’
Swim with large green turtles at Akumal (near Tulum). ‘The turtles nest here in the sea grass and are protected. You are not allowed to touch or feed them, just observe them in their natural surroundings – I saw four and they are so beautiful!’
If you’re looking to stay away from the larger resorts, Sue recommends Belmond Maroma:
‘Belmond Maroma was my favourite place to stay. The hotel, beach, food and staff were all superb and it has the most Mexican feel out of all the resorts I saw – there’s a real sense of place. I also loved Hotel Esencia – it is small and quirky with a stunning beach, great reef, charming staff and lovely rooms.
Dining out locally is a treat in Mexico and Sue has some great recommendations: ‘I ate out in Playa del Carmen a few times during my stay. The restaurant options are varied – we had Jamaican, Italian, Thai, and obviously Mexican cuisine while we were there! The food was delicious everywhere we went and the local restaurants are more affordable than the hotel eateries. I love Mexican food and tried a lot of new dishes during my holiday – my favourites were fish ceviche, perfect to have with a Margarita, and shrimp taco’s!
Sue is already planning her next trip to Mexico:
‘The Mexican people are wonderful – so friendly and gentle! I plan to go back again and I would definitely go to Chichen Itza and perhaps stay near Merida for a few days for a change from the beach. I would also love to visit the mountains as they look absolutely stunning.’