Thursday, August 4, 2016

EXPLORING THE YUCATAN PENINSULA, MEXICO


I’ve LOVED the time I’ve spent exploring the Yucatan Peninsula, my photos cannot justify how beautiful it is! The air is a bit humid, the waters warm, and the occasional rains bring in a fresh cool breeze. It’s awesome!

We decided to make our home base in Cancun, taking day trips exploring ancient temples in Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza. We went swimming at two different Cenotes also known as sacred Mayan wells. We spent a day at Isla Mujeres renting a golf cart driving around the island and swimming in the warm turquoise waters at Playa del Norte. We spent our last night in Playa del Carmen. This part of our trip was filled with lots of adventure!
 
THE YUCATAN PENINSULA IN THREE WORDS:

If I had to describe the Yucatan Peninsula in three words they would be: 
Ancient. Lush. Playground. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I learned a really useful lesson with Airbnb this time around. And that’s not to rely on the directions listed in the itinerary. Not confirming if the address listed was correct wasted time and money. Luckily for us an angel named Coral, a woman living in Cancun who is originally from Madrid, called our host and drove us to the correct location. What can I say I’m hashtag blessed and incredibly thankful for the generosity of this woman. Cancun itself is really spread out, taxis are cheap (if you know what you should pay), you can get everywhere outside of the city easily by bus, and the people are chill.

WHAT SURPRISED ME ABOUT THE YUCATAN PENISNULA?    

Here are a few things that surprised me about the Yucatan Peninsula. 

The main reason we decided to come to this area of Mexico was to explore the ruins. My favorite being the lesser known/visited in Coba, luckily our barista in Mexico City recommended we go there. It’s a great ruin that can be climbed in the middle of the jungle! Chichen Itza totally felt like Disneyland, the main temple was awe inspiring, but the crowds and endless hawkers were a bit too much for me. 

Swimming in the Cenotes wasn’t something we planned but I’m beyond happy that we did! There is something majestic and special about these sacred wells. The water feels pure and at the same time one can’t deny feeling anxious in the caves and not knowing exactly what lives deep down beneath the waters.

WHAT DO VEGETARIANS EAT IN THE YUCATAN PENINSULA? 

Pretty much everything I’ve listed in Mexico City. We had breakfast at Mega (large grocery store) consisting of bakery pastries and coffee, lunch near the bus terminal at roadside restaurants/stands serving local Mexican dishes, and dinner at what I’ve listed above and occasionally fast food chains/pizza at Costco because I can’t eat Mexican food three times per day, every day, and I'm aware of how ridiculous and hashtag privileged that sounds. 

TIPS- In this section I've laid out tips if you're interested in traveling here...

DO:
Pick a city to call home and take day trips to the ruins. The ADO buses run everywhere. They take a long time because of frequent stops but they are easy and pretty cheap. My favorite ruin was in Coba because as I’ve mentioned you can climb it and it’s in the middle of the jungle. We lucked out because after leaving the ruins in Tulum we found an Italian couple interested in going to Coba and we shared a car also going to a Cenote on the way. I’d skip the Cenote in Tulum and swim in the ocean instead.

I’d most definitely recommend Cenote Yokdzonot in Chichen Itza. This Cenote is operated by a women’s co-op and not many people know about it! It’s so pretty and peaceful! I can’t even imagine what it was like to be the first human to discover it!

A day trip to Isla Mujeres was totally worth it because we were able to swim at a beach that wasn’t crowded and shallow waters to float/swim in. At the end of the beach area is the best and that’s where you’ll find these cove type areas I’m referring to. Oh yeah, we couldn’t find public showers at any of the beaches! We rented a golf cart for the day going around the island twice it was a fun and relaxing day. I’m glad I brought my California Drivers License because without it we wouldn’t have been able to rent the cart.

EAT:
We found a lot of options (local Mexican food and fast food chains) near the bus terminal in Cancun. It was also convenient to pick up bus tickets for our day trips at the same time and if we needed to convert dollars there are lots of options here too.

STAY:
Pick a city and take day trips. If you’re looking for beach towns pick Tulum or Playa del Carmen. If you prefer the city feel pick Cancun and don’t stay near the hotel zone because it’s expensive to get to and from the city center.

I know I’ll be back to the Yucatan Peninsula in the future because there is more to discover and I’d love to swim in another Cenote!