Monday, January 4, 2016

Hey I'm Going to Riviera Maya Mexico

*Every once and a while I’ll get an e-mail from a friend, like hey I'm going to (Paris, Puerto Rico, NYC ect.) what do you recommend, so I think I'm going to try to turn these e-mails into some sort of organized list of suggestions/ideas for their trip...and yours too, so here is another installment.
Some things to know...
Riviera Maya is awesome...your vacay can be as laid back as beers at the beach, or as thrill seeking as "lets bike through the jungle, climb this pyramid then swim through these caves" . It's also going to be cheap to get there if you live in the mid west, east coast, or south east, AND the exchange rate is pretty rad.

Where to Stay-Cancun is not an option: Anywhere between Puerto Morelos and Tulum is however. You can go the all inclusive resort route, and there are a bunch to pick from, or you can just hop on Air B&B or even craigslist. I always stay in Puerto Morelos as it's slightly quieter than Playa del Carmen, and closer to the airport than Tulum. 
What to Do-first and foremost get a car, renting a car in Mexico is a bitch, the price never matches the website, there are all these extra insurance add on's, blah blah blah, but you don't really have a choice. Taxis are expensive and sure you may see the Playa Express but you'll also have to stand on the side of the highway waiting for the heat... 
Driving here is just like driving in the states. So grab your car (make sure it's an automatic), pick up some cerveza+groceries, find your place, get your kini on and jump into the ocean. From here on out you've got alot of options.  Puerto Morelos is the best place to snorkel on the reef (Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, second largest barrier reef system in the world)

Tulum (ruins and beach) The ruins are impressive, and so is the electric turquoise beach in the background. Plan to get there early, at least before lunch time, hit the bathrooms before you enter. Bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen there is hardly any shade near the ruins or on the beach for that matter. Pack a lunch drinks everything because once you see that view and take the stairs down to the beach with the best waves ever you wont want to leave, but when you do take time to wander around the town. EL Camello Jr. In the pueblo has the most delicious ceviche, best fish tacos is Mateos along the beach road (plus 2x1 drinks-and they have a roof top bar) down the street from Mateos is Hotel Zamas you have to have a drink there at sunset it's amazing and right on the beach, lots of lanterns hanging from the trees

Coba it's about 2 hours from Puerto Morelos so get an early start, this is one of the few pyramids you can still climb, but a word of caution it's way steeper than it looks...hello panic attack.  I highly suggest renting a bike at the gate, it was super fun and I don't think I would have made it on foot to all of the sites. After you've conquered Coba I'd make a bee line to Playa del Carmen (or playacar as it's affectionately known) spend the rest of the day resting those tired calves (so many stairs on those pyramids) at the beach, then when the sun starts setting grab some dindin, and if it's your thing hit the clubs, or get some drinks at a swanky bar.
No matter where you go or what you do it's likely that you will pass signs for cenotes, or giant caves filled with fresh water.  Some are giant and cavernous, some are tiny and maze like but they are all creepy as hell and totally amazing at the same time. The best ones are going to be on the way to Valladolid (a cutie little colonial town about an hour and 45 from Puerto Morelos) We checked out X'keken (careful those stairs are slippery) Samula (Casey actually swam out to the tree roots, yikes) and speaking of Valladolid it's a good place to stop and explore if you are making the trek to Chichen Itza. There will also be cenotes near playacar and Tulum with signs just off the highway, I think Dos Ojos is one of the best in this area and there is a guided snorkel tour. If you're sticking closer to the coast then Gran Cenote is your best bet.
Chichén Itzá is probably one of the most famous sites in Mexico and on the weekend it can be PACKED, it's certainly something to see but I prefer the ruins at Coba, Tulum, or Ek Balam more, especially since in Coba and Ek balam you can still climb the pyramids for the most amazing views.

If you've seen and done it all in this area there's always the exciting option to skip town and go to Cuba for the weekend, most travel agencies have pretty cheap package deals to Cuba, and most of them will have you picking between Old Havana or the Resort towns on the ocean, CHOOSE HAVANA 

Eat Drink Be Merry- is it time to eat? In Puerto Morelos there is a quesadilla place that I never seem to have enough time to get to, this palce is #1 on my list for next time.  Above I mentioned the grocery store between the airport and Puerto M called Chedraui, this is the best place to stock up and it's attached to the mall with stores like Zara, Mango etc...  In Puerto M all the restaurants around the square are delicious, and there are some more stretching down Ave Javier Rojo Gomez, try the hurrachi, a giant flip flop shaped thick tortilla topped with lettuce beans veggies and cheese, or some amazing sea food at El Pelicano right on the Ocean and remember there is no such thing as bad Mexican in mexico. There is also a small market on the square but it's better to hit one of the mega groceries for better selection and cheaper prices. Mexico the official language is SPANISH so please memorize the following:
Hola and say it every time you walk into a place, Gracias when you leave or you know...just to say thanks, and 

lo siento and no one will ever be rude to you
busco-I'm looking for
yo quería-I would like
cuánto cuesta- how much does it cost 

feliz viaje, have an awesome time!!