Puerto Vallarta was fun and relaxing. Unfortunately we stayed at a resort that is closing
Sleep, read, swim and drink. And I did a lot of all four. It was hot in October and I relaxed all week. Each night we thought “let’s go on the tour tomorrow”, a trip to town, a hike to a waterfall and each morning we said “Na, I’m just going to read, swim, drink and nap.” Puerto Vallarta is a resort town and there is lot’s to do or as we did, do nothing.
Yucatan will be the focus of this writing. Yucatan can be fun and relaxing experience, but it has the added benefit of ruins, AWESOME ruins. Chichen Itza is “close”. It is a three hour bus ride to Chichen Itza if you go direct. Most tours do not go there directly. They stop at the market (for an hour) and for lunch (for an hour) and finally get you there at 1:00 in the “HOT” afternoon. Don’t do these tours. Get there directly and get there when the doors open. Tour buses arrive between 11:00 am - 1:00 pm. Get there at 9:00 am and you will have a couple hour without the tourist hoards. Spend the time there. Walk from end to end. Bring an umbrella. This is RULE #3 – bring an umbrella. You will use it rain or shine. I have been twice. Each time it was great and each time it was hot. An umbrella really helped.
October is not the month to go. You think the crowds will be small, but this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Get there early for the best experience. It is also not as hot in the mornings.
The Cenotes are cool. I don’t mean “that’s cool dude”. I mean the water is cool. The water was much cooler than I was anticipating. It was crowded too at the peak heat of the day too. It would be better to find one that was a bit out of the way and not on the Tourist bus stops. Bring a change of clothes for after the swim. Cenotes run down the coast and there are many. If the pool or the ocean doesn’t do it for you, try a Cenote. Try one anyway. It will be refreshing. We saw several on the way down to Tulum.
Tulum is a beach front ruin. It is quite stunning and yes, you got it – HOT! October is hot in Mexico. December is a better time to go to Mexico as far as the heat goes. More people, less heat, it’s a tradeoff. Tulum is right on the beach. In fact you can go swimming right off the beach. There are stairs down to the water and it's a nice beach.
We spent a week at The Grand Mayan in Playa del Carmen. I really liked the resort. We did not have to do the all-inclusive and the entire week of food and drinks cost us about $800. Compare that to $200 per day per person for 7 days and it is a steal. They had a fantastic breakfast layout. Anything and everything and what is that thing? and it was all delicious. Drink special by the pool and service to your cabaña or lounge.
This brings me to why the off season is good. There were enough people to make it interesting but not so many it was a crowd. We could have a cabaña every day. We would lay back and drink and read and nap. October it is not crowded.
We went back in December, but we went south to Chetumal. This is the furthest town south on the Yucatan in Mexico. It was on the board with Belize. We flew into Cancun and took a bus to Valladolid. This city has multiple Mayan sites around it to see. We went to Ek Balam on our first morning. We were able to hike up on the pyramids at this site. It was great to be able to look out from the top and see the other buildings and the horizon.
There are no hills on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is flat. If you see a “hill” it is a covered Mayan site. There is not enough time, people or money to uncover all the sites. Upkeep costs are expensive and the $15 archeological zone entrance fee when you land at the airport is just not enough to cover the costs associated with the work involved. The jungle really wants to keep growing.
The city is also a few minutes from Chichen Itza. I want to go back and see the entire site. Our first tour gave us an hour and a half and left me unsatisfied. It was December and it was still hot. Can you say umbrella? Very helpful to stay in the shade and it follows you around. We were able to spend 4 hours at the site and walk it form end to end. El Castillo was just as impressive this trip as last. It was still HOT as the first time on the day we went. We spent two days there and then got on a bus and headed to the boarder.
We had a reservation at the Explorium Eco Resort in Chetumal. It was a mile from Kohunlich Mayan site. We rode bike to the entrance is a light rain. It was a great site. We had the 1 hour tour and were left on our own. We spend another 2 hours walking the site with only one other small group.
We did tours out of the resort to several other Mayan sites and each had something to offer. The food was good at the Explorium Resort. It was an Eco resort and you are in the middle of the jungle. To the horror of my girlfriend Sally, there were spiders. BIG spiders and lots of bugs filled the pathways at night. To be fair there was only one big spider on the first day. I scared him as much as he scared me and we never saw him again, but there were bugs attracted by the lighted pathways. They had a self-server bar, a pool and lots of activities. Besides the ruins, we did a trip to the fresh water lagoon. We kayaked out, got rained on and swam in the lagoon. It was fresh water and was a fun day. I got to try out my new camera with all the rain and water it worked out great.
There are so many ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula it would take weeks to see them all. I know I will go back several times to see the different Mayan ruin sites and see towns and people. I love Mexico and I can practice my Spanish. Sometime they even understand me.
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