2 March 2015

Brief Stays On MEXICO's Yucatan

Location: Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Journal Entry: Monday, February 23 - Tuesday, March 03
Nancy and Jim drove us to the Orlando Airport. We landed in Cancun, MEXICO and from there, took a hotel van shuttle into Playa del Carmen. We'll spend three nights there and visit with my brother Tom and wife Peggy, who are renting a condo in the area. There's also a chance for us to see Phil & Rose Fawna when we are there ... I haven't seen Phil since an Algonquin PP canoe trip, probably 30 years ago! 

At Papa Charlies', Playa del Carmen (clockwise lower left) ... Tom   Peggy   Helen   Dann   Phil   Rose

From Playa, we'll move north along the Yucatan to Akumal for five additional nights. 

Then ... we return to Playa and ferry across to Cozumel Island for a couple of weeks with some diving and snorkelling friends ... life's grand, it'll be a blast!

STAY 1   Hotel Aventura Mexicana, Playa del Carmen

We checked in yesterday around noon and today at lunch, I can honestly say that we had the BEST meal we have had since leaving home on November 9th. This small, out-of-the-way resort has an exceptional restaurant called the Mayan Bistro. It’s rated 25 / 800 restaurants in Playa del Carmen. We each had the Shrimp Tacos and shared a bottle of really good Mexican chardonnay ... for $50. All food is prepared fresh each day. You won’t see a Sysco Truck parked at the curb here and that’s always a sign of a better restaurant. The tacos were presented with a generous dollop of guacamole, salsa (with just the right amount of cilantro), lime wedges, a very large portion of stir-fried veggies (onions, peppers, carrots, garlic), probably 20 medium-sized shrimps and all the corn tortillas you could want. Service was prompt and friendly, Mexican chefs know how to use cilantro, the local chardonnay was as pleasant as any we have tasted and the relative cost was better than reasonable. 

This is a very nice boutique hotel and hopefully we will return. It's reminiscent of our 2005 stay at Hotel Don Carlos in San Jose, Costa Rica. Only 49 rooms, two small pools, clean, well-appointed, very good restaurant, walking distance to the downtown area, close to the beaches and extremely quiet.

STAY 2   Playa Caribe Condos, Akumal
The taxi from Playa del Carmen to our casita in Akumal took about 1/2 an hour. Speeds ranged from 120 - 130 km/h along a 3 lane roadway that could temporarily become, 4 lanes as vehicles jockeyed for position. Drivers often travel between lanes and if they encounter a slow driver ahead, will move slightly left or right in order to be seen in the slower drivers' mirror. Etiquette dictates the slower driver moves and allows the faster to pass. Drivers are not aggresive, they are aware and there is a shared courtesy on the road.

Our casita was not beachfront ...

Akumal is a small tourist resort community 100 km south of Cancun, between the towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum.  It is located in the state of Quintana Roo, MEXICO and is part of the Riviera Mayan area. The 2010 census showed a population of 1,310 inhabitants. Akumal means "place of the turtles" in the Mayan language. The town was officially founded in 1958 as a community for scuba divers by Pablo Bush Romero—a Mexican businessman, diver, writer, historian, and archeologist.  

                    Sign At A Mexican Restaurant, Akumel Norte
                         " We have NO WIFI here
                         Come in, sit down and talk to each other
                         Maybe order a quesadilla or cerveza "


The beaches to the north and south are endangered Green Sea Turtle habitat. 

The day we snorkelled at Akumal Bay we saw a couple of sting ray, a few hawksbill turtles and several remora fish. We saw one turtle with four of these fish attached to it. The remora use the host as protection and transportation and the host benefits because the remora eat any small parasites they find. 


It’s about a 1/2 hour walk from our casita to highway 307. From there we boarded a collectiva (passenger van) for the short drive to the park entrance. Kantun-Chi is an ecopark located in the heart of the Riviera Maya, five minutes from Puerto Aventuras, 56 miles south of Cancun and 14 miles south of Playa del Carmen. This natural park in the jungle is home to various breathtaking cenotes (natural freshwater sinkholes) and local flora and fauna. The park offers a relaxed tropical paradise that is quiet and not at all crowded. We spent the better part of a day here and travelled through an underground river called Riviera Grutas and snorkelled and swam in 5 cenotes. The waters here are crystal clear, they're not cold and there's a mild current.



Everyone really should jump off a cliff at least once in their lifetime ... it's off my bucket list for now, but I just may have to revisit ... only for the heck of it! For those who want to know, this was a 552 ... er, 55.2 foot jump.

 Helen snorkels in the fifth cenote.

Yal-Ku Lagoon
It's only a 15 minute walk along the roadway from where we are staying to the entrance of the lagoon. We did some snorkelling here and technically this is a cenote.

Yal-Ku Lagoon is considered to be the crown jewel of Akumal and offers visitors a chance to view a wide variety of sea life in a calm clear environment that is excellent for snorkeling. What makes Yal-Ku Lagoon so attractive is that during rough sea days, you can snorkel in Yal-Ku, which is protected from the main body of water and remains calm. 

Our experience ... this is a moderately pleasant snorkel, half of which is in clear waters and the rest in extremely murky waters due to ocean mixing. The lagoon is partially in brackish water (fresh & salt). We saw a lot of fish in the clear areas. The murkiness is not caused by others being in the water. Even on calm days, visibility is very poor and the waters are very crowded with other swimmers. The cost is high at 210 peso / person. Not recommended.

Our next updates will be posted from Cozumel Is., sometime in the next couple of weeks ...

Crusty ... from our journal!

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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty