(Photo by Ron Stern: firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s my favorite time of year and here are my insider tips for my favorite place in the world – Cancun and the Mayan Riviera a.k.a. "The Mexiteranian."
Just south of the Rio Grande lies a country wrapped in Aztecs and Mayan mysteries, jungles filled with jaguars and butterflies, and warm white beaches with silky blue waters. Thousands of years ago the proud Indian warriors built breathtaking edifices that scraped the heavens and could tell time. A country with deep European roots, Mexico is a magical destination where you can get lost down Spanish cobblestone streets, swim in tropical azul waters, or sip martinis at your 5-star hotel on the Mayan Riviera. When it comes to the perfect destination, Cacun and the Yucatan has something for everyone.
Mayan Riviera Cultural Attractions:
Equinox at the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen-Itza
March and September (depends on the year)
This magical bi-yearly event attracts visitors from all over the globe and is truly the most dramatic display of Mayan astronomical knowledge encoded into architecture of any Mayan site yet discovered. On the days of the spring equinox, the edge of the sun’s shadow falls perfectly in line with the corner of the Kukulkan pyramid at Chichen-Itza, leaving one side in total sunlight and the other in total shadow. Additionally, a shadow running down the north staircase takes the form of a snake–hence the Mayan name, Kukulkan, the plumed serpent god.
Day of the Dead – Playa Del Carmen
October 31 – November 2
This is a colorful 2-day celebration that is anything but scary. The Mexican love to honor their relatives who have passed – and do so with grand parties in the local cemeteries. Everyone is welcome and it is a entertaining sight to see kids running around, playing with skeleton toys and eating skeleton candies – much like Halloween. The party continues until November 2, where the town congregates at the shopping center of Playa Del Carmen with lots of music and food.
Playa Del Carmen: Fifth Avenue Night Life and Restaurants
Byblos Restaurant: French Restaurant & Wine Bar. Some of the items on the menu include duck, risotto, endive salad and incredible desserts. Phone: 984-8031790.
Avenida 5 between Calle 10 and 12
Alux Cave: Eat dinner in a real cave festooned with dramatic lighting and spooky nooks and crannies. Enjoy dinner here, then head back to Fifth Avenue (Calle 5). Located about 5 blocks across the highway on your left on Juarez.
Da Gabi: Fabulous Italia food served in a lovely open-air restaurant. Dishs include baby spinach salad vinagrette and fish filet stuffed with crabmeat. (52) 987-30048
Calle 12 off Avenida 5
Calypso: For you salsa lovers, dance the night away at Calypso and if you just want to listen, come when they have live salsa bands. Located on the second floor on the south side of Calle 6.
Just south of Playa you’ll find some of the best horse riding on the Mayan Riviera. Near the Calica Pier is Rancho Punta Venado. Rancho Punta Venado (tel. 984/877-9701).
Spend the day snorkeling in the gossamer blue waters of the Caribbean, or better yet, become a certified PADI diver. You can dive off the waters of Playa, or sail out to Cozumel Island. For a truly magical experience, leave the tourist waters near Playa and cruise out to the back, eastern side of Cozumel. Try under-water cavern diving. Tank-Ha Dive Center (tel. 984/873-0302; fax 984/873-1355; www.tankha.com or Sealife Divers www.sealifedivers.com
Spend the day at Xcaret EcoPark
This place is magical! You can snorkel the underground river, walk through a unbelievably beautiful butterfly sanctuary, play with dolphins, watch sea turtles frolic and walk around real Mayan ruins. And at night you can watch a spectacular firelight Mayan ceremonial dance. From Playa del Carmen, take a taxi or the Xcaret tour bus; it’s less than 20 minutes away.
Spa Itza, a great day spa specializing in healing through water, massage and authentic Mayan therapies. Treatments include: Original Mayan Healing Bath, Sensory Floating Room, Massage Therapies, Hydro Remedies, Body Antidotes, Manicure, Facials, Pedicure, Body Waxing, Open Air Showers, Roof Top Dry Sauna, Roof Top Sun Bathing, Roof Top Vapor Lodge, "Oxygen, Tea and Elixir Bar For reservations call: (011-52) 984-803-2588 or from Playa: 803-2588, email@example.com
HOTELS AND RESORTS
This Preferred Boutique hotel is tucked away in the small fishing village of Porto Morelos, just 30 minutes from Cancun airport, but worlds away from civilization. White sandy beaches line this darling hotel and spa. Service and spa-ing is the focus of Ceiba Del Mar with complementary airport pick up and in-room breakfast. The spa is equipped with a fantastic gym and offers yoga and Pilates classes daily. Every room has a view of the azul Caribbean Ocean and guest can dine in luxury in one of the two restaurants on the property. 1000 count cotton sheets, specialty spa product in the room, and free wireless internet is a few treats that make this destination ideal for the leisure traveler and the business person alike. Plan on relaxing, breathing fresh ocean air, and swimming in one of the pools that wrap round the property. This gem is a hidden oasis for travelers who want to get away from it all, but still want top-notch service and amenities. The resort is adults-only and children under 15 are asked not to stay at this quiet, tranquil property.
Costera Norte Lote 01
Mza 26 SM 10
Puetro Morelos, Mexico
Maroma Resort and Spa
Carretera 307, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Tel: 52 (998) 872 82 00 Fax: 52 (998) 872 82 20
This hidden gem is nestled on one of the best beaches in the world, With first-class service and superb accommodations, you won’t want to go home. Echoes of the ancients, coral reefs fringed with sugary veils of white sand, a lapis blue sea marking the rhythm of days and nights.
The resort offers over a dozen tours for their guest, for a complete list of activities, click here.
Ikal del Mar Villa Resort & Spa – Playa del Carmen
Hidden in the small village of Playa Xcalacoco just outside Playa del Carmen, along the warm sands of the Riviera Maya, Ikal del Mar, translated from Mayan as "poetry of the sea", is a seaside refuge extending deep into the primitive Mayan tropical forest.
Thirty palapa-roofed, stucco bohÃos, or villas, are decorated with an eye to the sophisticated simplicity of Mayan aesthetics, utilizing natural materials throughout: louvered-mahogany doors and windows, sisal rugs, and canopy beds with hand-stitched Egyptian cotton linens. Bath areas are especially spacious with indoor and outdoor showers, his-and-hers sinks and closets, and Molton Brown amenities.
ISLA MUJERES – Resort
Casa de los Sueños is a decadent luxury boutique hotel with only eight rooms in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The island is a 20 minute cruise from Cancun.
The resort sits on a cliff overlooking the blue Caribbean waters. Total privacy, exceptional service, and awe-inspiring views and always served up with Mexican charm.
The Spa Zenter has a bevy of treatments that are influenced by the Island’s Mayan history.
Expreso Maya: luxury 7 to 8 day train adventures visiting colonial cities and archeological sites in the Yucatan.
Expreso Maya takes travelers off the beaten track and through lush jungles via their 5-star train. With stops that include some of the most historic Mayan pyramids and rich Spanish culture, it is the ideal way of seeing the country in luxury.
Backroad’s Mexico’s Maya Kingdom
Dive into ancient history as you visit the enigmatic Maya ruins at ChichÃ©n ItzÃ¡. Stroll through beautifully preserved towns and discover picture-perfect vestiges of the colonial past. Explore one of Mexico’s largest cave systems with a local guide and bike to ancient cenotes for a refreshing dip. And throughout this YucatÃ¡n adventure, you’re embraced by the comforts of elegantly restored haciendas and a seaside haven, where options for watersports and relaxation abound.
VIVA CINCO DE MAYO Y MEXICO!