Seven months later, here I am, sharing my travel experience in Mexico with you!
This post is full of good tips that you would never think, good places where to eat delish food, the best places where to stay on the beach at reasonable price and must dos. Are you ready? :)
As many of you might know already I spent three weeks in Mexico in October and it has been the most amazing time ever! We were in Quintana Roo and we spent our time between Xpu-Ha, between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. We divided our holiday in super relaxing time, just chilling on the beach, eating a lot of food, reading under the sun and drinking Coronas and adventure time, when we visited everything we wanted to, from the ruins of Tulum to Chichen Itza, from doing zip lines in the jungle to swim in the cenotes.
If you go for 10 days or a month, this list includes everything you need to know to enjoy your holiday smoothly and experience most of the wonder this area has to offer.
Just one thing before to go on: we went to Mexico on off-season, so my experience could be really different from yours depending on which time you go!
The order of the list is random and not by importance, as every each one of this thing, places, adventures made this holiday unforgettable!
WHERE TO STAY
- El Secreto Xpu-Ha (Carretera Federal Chetumal Puerto Juarez Km 382Xpu Ha, Quintana Roo) – it’s the first place where we stayed and we loved it so much we made our stay longer and ended up here for 13 days! It’s a lovely cabana on the beach, I mean, literally 10 seconds from the water. It has two floors and we had the chance to stay in both. I warmly suggest the top floor as it’s more private and even though they’re quite similar, I liked it more.
It’s a small room but it has all the essential: a lovely bathroom with a perfectly working shower, a little kitchen where to make morning smoothies or cook your own dinner, a comfy enough bed and a really big, lovely terrace, where you can admire the incredible view on the ocean, do some yoga or playing some card at the table. The beach is this rare, clean, almost empty gem, with water so warm and clear you never want to get out! Seriously!
There are a few beach clubs and restaurants along this stretch, where you can take drinks, a good lunch or if you walk a bit further, a fancy dinner. I will talk about these places later in this post.
In short this place is the most wonderful cabana on the beach ever!!
We booked it through Airbnb but you can find it on their main website or on Booking.
- Ahau Tulum (Tulum, Quintana Roo) – wonderful, environmentally conscious resort on the beach. They have different cabanas, with different views, but the place is on the beach and trust me, it doesn’t matter too much which one you’ll choose because you’re in paradise and they treat you like a king, or a queen :)
The staff is truly incredible, the rooms are super clean and really cosy, they all have an hammock either inside the room or outside on the terrace. Their restaurant does delicious food, healthy, fresh and original and their list of juices is mouth-watering! On top of the restaurant they have a open studio with sea view were they’re doing daily yoga. Definitely worth it!
As a super plus, Ahau Tulum has a couple of dogs and a couple of cats wondering around. They’re friendly and safe and only downside is…you fall in love with them and then it’s hard to say goodbye! Especially to sweet-eyes Bandit!
We booked it through their website, but you can find them on Expedia and Booking as well.
WHERE TO EAT
- Hotel Esencia, is located 15 minutes walk on the beach from our first place in Xpu-Ha. It’s actually a beautiful hotel (it’s a Mr and Mrs Smith, which for me it’s always a guarantee!) but you can go there just to take some drinks and dinner. They’re menu is mostly seafood with some vegetarian options. The staff is lovely and they take good care of you. On plus you also have a band of mariachi to sing while you dine! We went twice here and I give it 5 stars!! Only one thing to bare in mind, it’s a bit expensive.
- Restaurare (vegan) – even if you’re not vegan you MUST try this restaurant. It serves the most original, incredibly tasty food that you can’t miss it. It’s located on the hotel road in Tulum, but as soon as you walk few steps and pass the stone bridge you’ll find yourself immerse in a jungly corner where you can taste some mushroom ceviche and lettuce tacos, away from the busy road.
- Posada Margherita – Italian restaurant so YES to this! J jokes a part this was one delicious dinner! Lots of seafood and pasta so good to make you melt! They also have a lovely entrance where you walk in the middle of a candle path and green plants.
- Ahau Tulum – if you’re not staying here, you have to come to eat though! As I was saying before they do really tasty and healthy dishes (that I often shared with Bandit ;))
- Ukami – it’s a sushi restaurant like you might have guessed from the name J a lot of choice of fresh and yummy rolls! And, you know, I’m always in the mood for good sushi!
- Mezzanine – this one and the place below are part of the same chain, Colibrí Hotel. They’re quite fancy and they each one of them has different cuisine. Mezzanine focuses on Thai cuisine and believe me, they’re doing the best dumplings and chicken sate I’ve ever eaten!
- La Zebra – We spent two days on the beach here and ate lunch. They’re doing authentic Mexican cooking that is so lush you wanna keep eating J my favourite was the tuna burger!
Just to remind you once again that it was off-season while I was there, so I didn’t have any trouble finding a table. But if you were going in high season I would recommend booking the restaurants with notice!
- Xplor Park – this is an adventure park in Playa del Carmen. It offers zip lines, driving through the jungle with amphibious vehicles, underground rafts, stalactite rivers and hammock splash. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever did! It takes one full day so I would suggest go there relatively early.
- Swim with the turtles in Akumal Beach - I absolutely LOVE turtles! They're such wonderful creatures and have had the chance to swim with them, filled my heart with joy! An experience I warmly suggest to do, but also be aware: this beach is quite touristy and crowded. You can't go swim by yourself but you need a guide - we found one there and even though we thought it was a scam at the beginning, we really appreciated having one. PLEASE, don't try to touch the turtles or to get too close to them. Observe them and let them enjoy their habitat without invading it too much!
- Chichen Itza - well I don't need to say too much here as it's one of the Wonders of the World and it truly is something wonderful to see and visit. Again I would suggest to take a guide, someone who can even come and pick you up at the hotel and bring you back, considering it's two hours drive from Tulum. The place is soaked with so much history and so many tales, it's gonna leave you with goosebumps!
- Tulum Ruins - another historical place worth to see for the stories it has to tell. The Mayan culture was something beyond incredible!
- Sian Ka’an Biosphere - on this day we got to see dolphins, turtles, alligators and many different species of birds. I don't want to sound repetitive but it was AMAZING! We booked our tour with Osprey and we booked the Punta Allen one. They do offer many different tours so just have a look at their website and choose the one that fits you more! You can find different companies but I highly recommend them as they are really prepared and incredible guides.
- Cenotes - these are natural sinkholes and it's incredibly refreshing and nice to swim in them. There are a lot all around so it's your choice because they're all worth it a visit! Remember to bring your snorkeling gear!
- Snorkeling and Relax on the beach - a must as I've never been on a better beach. The pink sand and the clear and warm water, the colours of the sky, really make you feel you're in heaven! :)
Just one tip, that I hope you'll not need ever: while I was snorkeling not far from the shore I put my foot down in what I thought it was a rock - nah ah - it was a scorpion fish! Now, not to be a drama queen but I consider myself lucky to be here to tell you this as this kind of fish is deadly poisonous!! Fortunately I barely touch it and moved away as quick as I could. Fortunately again, Simon saw it, realised what it was and knew what to do. It hurt like a mother-fu***r, sorry for the language. I wanted someone to cut my foot off. Just saying. What you need to do is to put your foot in water as hot as you can bare and take a pain-killer. A strong one! That's it! You can't do much. Obviously if your conditions are getting worst then hurry to the hospital! For me it lasted for about two hours and I avoided the hospital. It hurt for a couple of days after then it was like it was never happened. I think about it now and I like to remember myself like a strong warrior but the truth is that...well, THANK GOD TO SIMON, because without him I would have been lost.
TIPS & WARNINGS
- go off-season - once again, we went in October and I'm so happy for that. It was still super warm, no rain, less humidity and, most importantly, less people! If you can, do go in low season!
- take probiotic - especially if you're a bit weak of stomach or not used to different cuisines I would recommend taking probiotic from a few weeks before the trip and while you're on holiday. It's a great help and you don't risk to spend a couple of days in bed.
- buy eco mosquito repellent THERE - Simon and me noticed that even if it's the same brand, the mosquito repellents that work best are the one bought on the place as it seems to be more specific for their type.
- pay in pesos - they can accept also dollars and we had some left as we were coming from Albuquerque but after a little while we noticed it was actually a rip off :-/ so try always to pay in pesos!
- don’t drink tap water - they're gonna tell you everywhere you go but do not drink tap water. Not even the probiotic could save you then.
- rent a car - we're used to always rent a car during our holiday and to be honest it's a real commodity to have your own vehicle. I wouldn't say it's absolutely necessary but from my point of view it's always best to have one!
- sun cream protection - let me play the part of the mum and tell you: the sun there is HOT! Protect your skin, preferably with a natural cream.
It’s rare that I feel to go back to the same place because I always think that there so much to see and explore that would be a waste. But I’m actually looking forward to go back to Mexico, stay again at the Ahau Tulum and also visit some more of the Yucatan as well.