Top 5 Cenotes in the Riviera Maya

Most people come to the Riviera Maya for the white-sand beaches. They think of their holidays and picture themselves swimming in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. However, the Riviera Maya has one of the most complex and exciting underground river systems in the world. And it is worth it to swim in these cool, fresh waters for a change. Cenotes offer a special, sometimes secluded, and certainly refreshing, spot to cool down. These are sinkholes that form when limestone collapses and leaves a hole, often filled with incredible turquoise water.

Cenotes: Mayan History

Cenotes Riviera Maya

These natural features were important in Mayan history. Villages were often built around cenotes because they offered a source of water. The Mayans believed they were a gateway to the underworld gods and the afterlife. Today, they offer a beautiful sport to take a swim or dive, beat the hit, and explore underwater worlds that you can only imagine.

There are thousands – perhaps even millions – of cenotes, underwater rivers and systems in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. However, here are Top Mexico Real Estate’s top 5 favorites.

Cenote Zaci, Valladolid, Yucatan

Cenote Zaci

Found right in the heart of the city of Valladolid, this cenote is a great option for anyone traveling back from Chichen Itza or Merida. While many cenotes are inside mostly covered caverns, this particular one is mostly open. The entrance fee is $30 Mexican pesos. However, if you decide to enjoy a delicious Yucatan meal in the attached restaurant, your entrance is free. And if you do, make sure to try the chocinita pibil.

 Dos Ojos, Riviera Maya

Cenote Dos Ojos

If you are more interested in cave diving, then this cenote is an amazing option for you. However, it is also a perfect place just for snorkeling or dipping your toes. Does Ojos is named like that due to the two sinkholes that are connected via a 400-meter-long underwater passageway. These sinkholes resemble two eyes. It is located just 3 kilometers off the Highway 307, 22 kilometers north of Tulum and 50 km south of Playa del Carmen. Because it is one of the most popular cenotes in the region, it is slightly more expensive and its price varies depending on season.

Cenote Cristalino, Riviera Maya

Cenote Cristalino

Photo: elcaminomascorto

This is one of those hidden gems in Playa del Carmen. While it has a large sign outside, it is rarely as populated as other cenotes on this list. Cenote Cristalino is a 20-minute drive south from Playa del Carmen on the Highway 307. The cenote is entirely open and does not have a cavern. However, the water is 6 meters deep, allowing enough to jump off the wooden platform located next to it. The entrance here is 150 pesos.

Cenote Jardin El Eden, Playa del Carmen

Cenote El Eden

Photo: TripAdvisor

Just next to Cenote Cristalino, you will find a tourist-favorite: Cenote El Eden. Its name translates to the Garden of Eden, and it lives up to it. The cenote is open and its clear waters create the perfect place for snorkeling. The middle of the cenote features an area made of old bricks for people to rest. If you sit still, little fish will come and clean your toes of dead skin. These are the same that you would pay $20 USD for on Fifth Avenue. Except here you’ll pay 200 pesos and enjoy one of Mexico’s most beautiful natural wonders.

Gran Cenote, Tulum, Coba

Gran Cenote

Last, but not least, is El Gran Cenote, located near Tulum on the highway towards Coba. This is one of the top diving spots in the Riviera Maya. Although the name suggests it is quite large, it is actually made up of several smaller cenotes that are all connected by wooden walkways. The water here is so clear you can see fish swimming without even needing a snorkel. The entrance fee is 180 pesos, and you can rent equipment for an additional fee.

Cenotes truly are the door the Mayan underworld. They can open your eyes to the culture and help you understand why they settled in this region. Moreover, they are the perfect place for a refreshing cool-down after exploring the Riviera Maya. Today, there are thousands of cenotes in the region – big and small. Some are privately-owned, others are still up for grabs. But the truth is, everyone must visit a cenote at least once.

Especially if you’re living your retirement out in the area, it is the perfect way to spend your weekends and explore the area. If you’re just considering the Riviera Maya as your retirement home, start by contacting one of our expert Buyer’s Representatives who will guide you through the process so you can start enjoying these adventures as soon as possible.

And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…we make it happen!

Benefits of Living in Mexico

5 Reasons to Retire to Merida, Mexico

Merida is both the capital city and largest city in the Mexican state of Yucatan. It is known for its culture, art and history. Of course, it’s also close to the beach. When thinking about where in Mexico you may want to retire, Merida is sure to be at the top of your list. In fact, Merida is one of CNN Money’s top retirement destination. This comes hand in hand with Mexico being International Living’s best place to retire overseas. Now that we’ve got your attention, here are five good reasons you will want to retire to Merida.

Safety

Merida Monumento a la Patria

The National Survey of Public Security listed Merida as the safest city in Mexico, and subsequently the city was recognized for this by the organization Building Spaces for Peace. The award recognizes Merida as, “an inspiration for others in relation to the culture of peace and for the actions of authorities to carry out and maintain tranquility as well as the city’s continued meetings with local authorities, businessmen and citizens on peace issues and security.” Moreover, the Yucatan government has been actively injecting money into safety.

Affordability

Merida Modern Home

In Merida, as with elsewhere in the Riviera Maya, life is much less expensive compared to Canada or the US. Aside from the affordably priced homes, you will also find that every day expenses are a fraction of the cost for the same at home. Your own dollars will stretch further when converted into the peso as well. Mexico also provides low-cost public healthcare for expats (and citizens) which will ensure that you will be able to live comfortably during your retirement.

Amenities

Merida Supermarkets

Merida is the largest city in the state of Yucatan. In fact, it’s the largest in the whole Yucatan Peninsula, including Quintana Roo and Campeche. As such it is a large and developed city with all the amenities and services that you would need for a comfortable life. There are innumerable shops, both small and large, and the new Harbor Mall that opened in late 2018 is among the five largest megamalls in all of Mexico.

Culture

Cochinita Pibil Tacos

Merida has a rich history. Its colonial past has resulted in a beautiful downtown core. It features historic buildings painted in traditional bright shades of pink, blue, red, yellow and purple. The city is also an incredible destination for any art lover. The Museum of Modern Art shows regular exhibits showcasing local traditions and the beauty of the region.

The food in the city is also incredible. You won’t want to miss out on some Yucatan specialties including escabeche, cochinita pibil, sopa de lima, frijol con puerco, relleno negro/blanco, queso relleno, papazules, salbutes, tostadas and poc chuuc .

Living options

Home for Sale in Merida

Merida is a large, historic city. This means there are a huge number of options for anyone looking to buy and live in the area – everything from colonial homes in the city center to homes in the jungle. Nowadays, there are many new condo buildings and gated communities being developed. These are great options not only for those looking to move and retire, but also anyone looking for an investment.

Make Merida Your Home

So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring our listings in the region and find that dream home you’ve always wanted! Our Buyer’s Representatives can help you narrow down your choices based on preferences, needs and budget. Contact us today!

Benefits of Living in Mexico

All the Reasons to Consider Retirement in Mexico

When time for retirement starts closing in, it’s time to consider a place to retire to. Many people stay home and carry out their retirement there. But others are keen to spread their wings and fly. They consider heading out somewhere new, where that new breath of life is waiting. That is why so many people place the Riviera Maya in Mexico at the top of their list. It might be the weather, the lower cost of living or even the fulfilment of living abroad. Mexico has everything, which is why it is the perfect place to seek retirement. Take a moment to write down all the elements that you and your partner will want and need in selecting a retirement destination. Then start a shortlist of places that will satisfy the criteria. We bet that Mexico is at the top of the list!

Retire in Playa del Carmen

When living in North America, you have several choices to live out the best years of your life. You could select Europe, Hawaii, or somewhere in the Orient. Whichever countries you are researching, make sure you do all your due diligence when comparing what best suits your specific requirements. But at the same time, don’t forget to listen to your emotional urges to live in a place that keeps popping up in your mind. And we certainly hope that place is the Riviera Maya. In all honesty, there are no shortage of reasons to consider this piece of paradise.

Just recently, International Living rated Mexico 3rd out of 10 on its annual report The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2019. Even though Mexico wasn’t number one, you have to consider the approximate location to your home country and family. Living in North America, most retirees and expats can be less than a 3 to 6-hour plane flight from home. The following reasons will help you complete that long-visited list of why you should consider retirement in Mexico.

The Cancun International Airport

Cancun International Airport

This ever-growing airport is conveniently located on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, just minutes away from the Riviera Maya stretch. It is an ideal location that can be used as a home base to explore other worldly destinations. In fact, the Cancun International Airport is the second largest and busiest airport in Mexico, right after Mexico City’s. Moreover, it is one of the country’s state-of-the-art airports. It is constantly improving its infrastructure and completed its fourth terminal in October 2017. Cancun’s airport is Mexico’s most popular ports-of-call for tourism. It provides multiple means of transportation to almost anywhere on the Peninsula. You can choose from luxury bus lines, shuttle services, taxi services, and reliable public transportation.

Near perfect year-round weather

Once you arrive in Mexico, you can toss your coat, sweater and boots in a box and store them away – for good. The Riviera Maya’s daily temperature rarely fluctuates throughout the seasons. The daytime highs in summer range from the low to mid 90s, and the evenings settle down to the mid and upper 70s. The colder months level off into the low to mid 80s, and a relaxing 70 to 73 degrees after the sunsets. These types of temperatures make every day a beach day. Mexico is all about outdoor living day or night. Can’t ask for any better weather than this. Especially for your long-awaited retirement.

Beach Sunset

Enjoy a Caribbean lifestyle

If having fun in the sun and being surrounded by the Caribbean Sea sounds like the perfect place for you, move down here now. The Riviera Maya has made several Top 10 lists as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Here is where the turquoise waters meet up with the fine, white sand. Imagine strolling along where the soft sand gently massages your feet, the warm tempered waves splash against your legs, and palm trees sway subtly above your head. It’s not longer a dream, but a reality.

The cost of living is unbeatable

Tulum

Living a comfortable lifestyle on a modest amount of money is no problem at all in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. With inexpensive entertainment, low taxes, and bargain shopping, you can enjoy a comfortable – and sometimes luxurious – life. Other contributing costs of saving factors include the USD to Mexican Peso exchange rate and low property taxes. The latter makes owning a home very affordable. You will rarely need a car, because public transportation is very reliable and inexpensive. Likewise, walking around or biking is great due to the proximity of it all. Visiting nearby communities can be as easy as catching a colectivo or flagging down a taxi.

Modern infrastructure, modern comforts and stable government

Mexico has a very modern infrastructure that includes running water, sewer systems, water purification plans, and a very reliable electrical grid. Likewise, services such as Wi-Fi are offered everywhere, and many times it is free. Internet cabling reaches most places and has a reliable speed. When it comes to shopping, you will find familiar retailers, grocery stores, and outlets selling all modern conveniences of home. Lastly, the Mexican government has been and continues being stable. It also has plans to continually enhance the country’s notable reputation for being safe and very protective of its tourists. Don’t hesitate to let your guard down once in a while and enjoy life as it is meant to be.

Other factors for the best retirement in Mexico

Other worthwhile benefits are the fabulous cuisines, the ease of travel between regions (especially with the upcoming Mayan train), a welcoming culture and festive environment. These are only a few of the reasons why Mexico is the perfect retirement destination, and why it has topped many international lists.

Most importantly, however, is the ease of purchasing real estate in the region and becoming a happy homeowner in Mexico. You will find new developments which are thought out as perfect for retirement, such as Starlight Towers in Playa del Carmen, with its indoor patio and smart architecture. Or if you prefer Tulum, you will find places such as Puerta Azul, which offer open-plan condos perfect for entertaining visiting friends or family.

Benefits of Living in Mexico

Mexico’s Holidays: Dia de los Reyes Magos and Dia de la Candelaria

In the United States and Canada, Christmas festivities are generally wrapped up by New Year’s Day. In Mexico, however, the festivities are far from over. Mexicans celebrate Dia de los Reyes Magos (known as Epiphany in the English-speaking world) on January 6th. This marks the day that the Three Wise Men visited and brought gifts for baby Jesus. It is tradition for families to get together on this day, exchange gifts and, of course, feast with delicious meals.

The Arrival of the Reyes Magos

Three Wise Men

One of the most important elements of the Dia de los Reyes Magos is the rosca de reyes, or the wreath of the kings. This is a large, oval-shaped cake featuring sweetened dried fruit, which represents the jewels on a crown. A small white figurine representing baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. This mimics the hiding of Jesus from King Herod. Slices are served from the cake to every attendee. Whoever gets the cake with the figurine then has to host a tamale dinner on Dia de la Candelaria on February 2nd.

However, for children, the exciting bit takes place on the 6th in the morning. On the night of the 5th, the Three Wise Men travel by elephant, camel and horse to visit the house of every well-behaved child. They leave gifts behind as a representation of the gifts brought to baby Jesus. The following morning, children will awake early and open their presents. Many children in Mexico today get presents both from Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men.

Dia de la Candelaria: Feburary 2nd

Tamales

While the United States and Canada celebrate Groundhog Day, Mexico is looking another way. Dia de la Candelaria is known as Candlemas in English. The tradition of Groundhog Day is echoed as well in an old English saying:

If Candlemas be fair and bright, 

Winter has another flight. 

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, 

Winter will not come again.

In Mexico however, the celebration on this day is quite different. Throughout the country on this day people dress up figurines of the Christ Child in special holiday outfits and take them to the church to be blessed by the priest, and are then carried around by their owners as part of the celebrations. Another part of the tradition is to bring candles to mass, so you might notice some beautiful examples being sold around this time in some of the shops.

A dinner gathering featuring tamales is then hosted by the person who found the figurine in the Rosca De Reyes during Dia De Los Reyes Magos. Tamales are dumplings made of masa (corn dough) stuffed with either savory or sweet fillings, and then wrapped in a corn husk and steamed – this is a staple dish for many families who often have their own secret recipes. Often this is also the day when many people take down their Christmas decorations so the added help of party attendees is very welcomed!

Become a part of Mexican culture

Retirement in Mexico

After Dia de la Candelaria things get back to normal – until the next round of festivities! If you are in Mexico during February, be sure to take part in celebrations during this time. It is a great way to experience authentic Mexican culture, as these are celebrations that are deeply important to devout Mexicans across the country. It’s a beautiful view into the culture and lifestyle of the Mexican people, and a great way to get to know your Mexican friends and family.

The best way to get involved in the culture, of course, is by living it. So, if you’re considering retirement abroad, don’t overlook Mexico. We have thousands of properties suited for all styles, needs and budgets.  Make sure to contact our Top Mexico Real Estate Buyer’s Representatives and start looking for your dream home in Mexico!

Buying Safely in Mexico e-book

Adopting a Green Lifestyle in Mexico

Over the past few years, environmental impact has become a more pressing issue. It has called for people to start making changes in their lives. Likewise, it has pushed real estate developers to consider sustainable construction to avoid damaging the planet further. In fact, Tulum was recently the first destination in Mexico to become a sustainable tourism zone. Each day, more and more people are adopting a green lifestyle to help the environment as much as possible. And it is as easy as making slight little changes at home. Because Tulum and Playa del Carmen are pushing to become sustainable communities, we urge expats, locals and retirees to start adopting a green lifestyle.

Although the Earth’s temperature has ebbed and flowed throughout the course of history, all current signs point to human activity causing a shift in its natural path. Global sea levels are rising and temperatures are surging. 15 out of the 16 hottest years on record have taken place since 2001. Fortunately, there are still opportunities for us to reverse this course. The introduction of new technologies and environmentally-friendly products have made it so that it’s more possible than ever to switch to a green lifestyle.

Simple Solutions to Help the Environment

Riding a bike

Going green nowadays does not mean going back to basics (or adopting a more bohemian or hippie lifestyle). You are not expected to live off the grid or move into a commune to lead an environmentally-friendly life. There are many ways to incorporate green practices into your everyday life. Some simple solutions are:

  • Wash your clothes with cold water;
  • Use drying racks or clotheslines instead of a dryer;
  • Take shorter showers;
  • Walk or bike instead of using a car.

Green Lifestyle in your Home

Green Energy Homes

However, you can also adapt your home for a green lifestyle to reduce energy usage. While many people still consider a green home to be too expensive, the reality is that certain things are affordable and even free (like recycling). Solar panels have become reasonably-priced over the past few years. In a sunny locale like the Riviera Maya, solar panels can be an extremely effective way to reduce your energy usage. Mexico’s primary electric company, Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), allows you to connect your home’s solar panels into a nation-wide grid in order to more effectively reduce your usage.

Energy-efficient appliances have the ability to reduce your environmental impact (and reduce your energy bill). Even if many of these are slightly more expensive, you will still end up ahead in the money you save on energy bills over time.

Now, if you’re going all out money-wise, adding water recycling systems can also be a huge saving. Mix this up with a green wall that will enhance your home, keep you healthier and, of course, save water.

You will not only be saving on your monthly bill with your energy-efficient home, but your home value will increase. You will intrigue buyers with a home outfitted with green technologies, should you ever want to sell your home.

Invest in Sustainable Real Estate

Nuuch Allure Tulum

If you’re just considering the possibility of purchasing real estate in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, you should consider investing in sustainable real estate. There are many options available throughout Playa del Carmen. However, Tulum is ahead of the game in sustainable development at the moment. Places such as the community of Luum Zama are committed to preserving the environment. That is why developments within this community are bound, by contract, to keeping 60% of their land untouched. Moreover, developments such as Nuuch Allure also offer the possibility of adding solar panels right from the start. You can also consider Puerta Azul Tulum. It is built with locally-sourced materials that make maintenance easier and more affordable, as well as less damaging.

Earth is humanity’s only home. It is important for all of us to do our part to keep our planet healthy. After all, who would like to live in the Riviera Maya if it didn’t have its bright-blue waters, fine white-sand beaches and lush tropical jungle? Consider some ways you can incorporate a green lifestyle to keep our planet beautiful for generations to come.

New Year’s Eve Activites in Playa del Carmen

The year is coming to and end. Celebrating New Year’s Eve is the highlight of the year to many. Playa del Carmen is a great place to celebrate. There are many exciting events going on over the holidays for you to enjoy with friends and loved ones. Playa del Carmen is an exciting place to be during this time of year. You can meet friends old and new. You can hang out with expats, locals and tourists. These are some of the events going on in town.

New Year’s Eve at Mamitas Beach

Mamitas Beach in Playa del Carmen

Check out one of the hottest beach clubs in Playa del Carmen for New Year’s Eve. Your ticket will get you a three-course dinner cooked by Chef Francisco Del Piero, a bottle of sparkling wine per couple, champagne glasses, and grapes for your toast. You also get your very own party kit and, of course, performances and music all night with a special fireworks show at midnight.

A Very Tiki New Year

Welcome the new year in style at The Tiny Tiki Hut. You get three menu times, an open bar with house cocktails and beers, and party favors for just $700 pesos. Act fast, though, because space is limited and reservations close on December 29th.

Cheering at Tequila Barrel

Ring in the new year with fun at the Tequila Barrel’s New Year’s Eve party. They have several packages to choose from for groups of four people. You can get bottles of champagne, appetizers, New Year’s party kits and, of course, your grapes.

Sundowner Yacht Club

New Year’s Dinner

Imagine starting the new year with amazing Australian specialties all the way in Mexico! At Sundowner Yacht Club, you can join the New Year’s Eve Dinner with your family from 6pm to 10pm. You will enjoy delicious seafood and cocktails. If you want to stick around until midnight, consider joining the all-inclusive party starting at 10pm.

Hang Out with the Locals, Expats and Tourists

Regardless of whether you want to go to a specific event or not, you can enjoy the company of people from around the world. Head down to Fifth Avenue and check out what’s going on around there. Trust me, there are hundreds of things happening. Beware, though – lineups will be long and most restaurants will be full. Even if you do have tickets, be prepared to stand in line. Thankfully, the warm Caribbean weather makes spending time outside in the evening a much more enjoyable activity than it would be for most people in the US or Canada.

Wherever you plan to spend New Year’s Eve don’t forget to grab some grapes for las doce uvas de la suerte (the twelve grapes of luck) – a tradition that dates back to the turn of the 20th century! You must eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight on December 31st – the tradition says that doing so will lead to a year of prosperity.

Make Your Dreams Come True

Start the new year by considering purchasing that dream home in Mexico for your retirement. Swift through our special properties to find the perfect retirement haven in the Mexican Caribbean.

And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…we make it happen!

Benefits of Living in Mexico

How are the Christmas Holidays Celebrated in Mexico’s Riviera Maya?

Perhaps the sunny white beaches and azure waters of the Riviera Maya aren’t typically the scene you think of when Christmas comes to mind. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some incredible holiday activities for you to participate in this holiday season. Mexico takes Christmas and the holidays quite seriously. The holidays are filled with tradition, love and happiness.

Longer Celebrations

Three Kings

In Mexico, the holidays begin on December 12th with the celebrations of the Virgin of Guadalupe and officially ends on January 6th – the day of the Three Kings. Many extend the date to February 2nd or the Candlemas Day. On this day, they share atole (a traditional warm cornmeal drink) and tamales with friends and family. For those who love a traditional western holiday atmosphere with snowmen and reindeer, there will be no shortage in Playa del Carmen. Authorities line the Palacio Municipal with poinsettia plants, as well as Christmas-themed decorations each year.

Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first Ambassador to Mexico from the USA. Poinsettias are named after him. These beautiful bright-red flowers are native to Central America and specifically an area of southern Mexico called Taxco de Alarcon. Poinsett loved the way the flowers looked and brought them back to America. Now they are Mexico’s official holiday flower. In Spanish, they are known as Noche Buena, which means holy night.

The city center plaza at the Palacio Municipal is also the location of many holiday-themed events during the season. In addition to the poinsettias, there are also other themed displays often with giant Christmas’s trees and mangers. Here, you can also find delicious Mexican street food like marquesitas (thin rolled crispy wafer-like crepes filled with your choice of fillings, including Nutella, cajeta and sprinkled cheese.

Traditional Mexican Christmas

Christmas Piñata

For more traditional Mexican celebrations, you must look into the posadas. Posada in Spanish means inn, or place to stay. These parties come from the story of Jesus being born and his family asking for space at the inn. Mexicans celebrate this with traditional foods like ponche (a drink made from dried ruins and spices), rosca (a Mexican version of fruitcake) and other local delights. Posadas take place from December 16th all the way up to Christmas. Many people throw posadas at their houses. These involve a sing-off where half the party are the inn-keepers and the other half are the Virgin Mary and her family asking to be let in. When the doors open, the celebrations start. You are expected to crack open the famous piñatas during a posada. Each spike representing a capital sin.

From Mass to Dinners

There are also many activities going on throughout the city. Santa Claus often makes a special visit in the days leading up to Christmas at the Playacar Center. If you’re interested in going to a Christmas Eve church service, there are also masses happening at the various churches around the city – including the chapel on the south end of 5th Avenue. You can attend this mass at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm.

Christmas Gifts

Just like in the USA, gifts are a big part of the Christmas celebration in Mexico. Families usually exchange this over dinner on Christmas Eve. Then, children open their Santa Claus presents on Christmas Day. The last gift exchange happens on the morning of January 6th, when children wake up to open the presents brought to them by the Three Kings. On Christmas Day, you will be able to stroll down 5th Avenue and enjoy the calmness of the morning when people are still at home having dinner leftovers.

Give Playa del Carmen a Try

So, if you’re planning on spending the holidays in Playa del Carmen, you’re sure to be able to enjoy the many traditions of the Mexican people. And don’t forget to bring an open mind and big heart. Although Mexicans tend to be friendly year-round, they are specially jolly during this season.

Weekend Getaway: Punta Laguna

It’s time for another weekend getaway in the beautiful Riviera Maya! This time, we’re exploring one of the most incredible hidden treasures in the region. Punta Laguna is a small Mayan village, home to monkeys, jaguars and plenty other wildlife. So, get ready, we’re going on a road trip.

What is Punta Laguna?

Punta Laguna is a small Mayan village that sits within a 5,000-hectare, government-protected nature reserved called Ma’ax Yetel Kooh. That is Mayan for House of the Spider Monkey and the Jaguar. This reserve is home to its own unique spider monkey subspecies, along with howler monkeys, pumas, coatis and hundreds of species of birds. The village itself gives you insight into the Mayan way of life as it is lived today. You can see thatched-roof houses, cooking over open fires and freely-roaming farm animals which are reflective of the way that these families have lived for decades.

How to get to Punta Laguna

Reaching Punta Laguna is quite easy. It is located almost a straight shot from Tulum via the Coba road. Heading from Tulum, take a right at the Coba road and follow the signs for Nuevo Xcan until you see the sign for Punta Laguna.

There are no restaurants or hotels here – it is a genuine jungle village. You will, however, want to either pack a meal with your or stop for refreshments before you arrive. Along the way to the Coba road, there are a few small towns where you can stop for refreshments and breaks. You can also check out the handicrafts made by local artisans. However, we highly recommend you skip these and see them on your way back. Pack refreshments and snacks the day before. You want to reach Punta Laguna very early in the morning to avoid the swarms of tours that arrive after 9am.

What to do in Punta Laguna

Punta Laguna

While this truly authentic Mayan village is not home to restaurants or art galleries, there is no shortage of activities to take part in. At Punta Laguna, you can purchase a tour of the jungle and lagoon (reason for which it is called Punta Laguna), to experience the wildlife and enjoy a morning full of fun activities. The reason for which you want to arrive early is to take a guided tour through the jungle trails and be able to spot both howler and spider monkeys on their morning feeding migration. You will be able to spot them around 7 or 8 in the morning. The tour also guides you down to the lagoon where you can row across to then zipline over the lush jungle.

Lastly, the tour allows you to dive into a beautiful cenote. Not first without being blessed in a Mayan ceremony. At the bottom of the cenote – if you bring a waterproof flashlight – you will be able to spot a few skulls from old Mayan sacrifices practiced in the area.

The locals at Punta Laguna are very friendly. They are often more than willing to chat about their culture and daily life. Some may even invite you to have a look insider their home. However, keep in mind that if they do so, it would be considered impolite to not buy at least a small trinket from the homeowners. Many villagers are also willing to let you take photos of them – just make sure you ask permission first!

Walk through the jungle!

Most of the villagers and guides in Punta Laguna speak Spanish or Yucatecan Maya. Although some may have some limited English skills. If you don’t speak Spanish, make sure you either have a Spanish-speaker with you, or are prepared to translate using dictionaries or an electronic device.

Within the village, you will find a small walking road that passes several trails and a cenote on the way to the saltwater lagoon. You can find a dock stretching out over the water to give you a lovely view of the water and wildlife. Fishing is strictly prohibited. Swimming, however, is at your own risk, as crocodiles have been sighted in the lagoon.

Spider Monkey

There are also a number of trails available to explore. You can view the abundant wildlife from here. The entrance fee – without a tour – for each trail is 30 pesos per person. You must also hire a local guide for 150 pesos for a group of up to 10 people. Guides are experienced and have been trained by primatologists to ensure they are knowledgeable about the wildlife.

In addition to the trails and tours, there are also some ancient ruins to explore, freshwater cenotes for crocodile-free swimming and caves for rappelling.

Recommendations

Bring comfortable clothing and shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking, and possibly rappelling, hiking and swimming. So, make sure you’re covered for it all.

Don’t forget to bring some energy-packed snacks such as granola bars, and bottled water. The village has no restaurants, and it is likely you won’t find any shops around. Make sure you come prepared to avoid hunger or dehydration.

We highly recommend you bring biodegradable sunscreen and insect repellent. You will be in the jungle, after all, and insects are unavoidable. Make sure it is biodegradable to avoid harming the environment.

Punta Laguna Zipline

Photo by Wiz Tours

Bring cash! If you will be buying the guided tour, paying for the walking trails or giving tips to the villagers, you must do so in cash. They will not accept any other form of payment and there are no ATMs nearby.

Most of all, however, bring your adventurous spirit! You are here to enjoy the wonderful nature of the lush Mayan jungle. Be open to learning about the lifestyle and customs of these locals. And don’t forget to snap as many photos as possible – especially of the spider monkeys! Come back next week to see where we’ll be headed next weekend!

Weekend Getaway: Campeche

It’s time to pack our bags and get ready for another weekend getaway! This time we’ll be travelling to a place that may seem straight out of a fairytale with its beautiful mansions, old-world forts and pirates! Campeche is the capital and the largest city in the state of Campeche in Mexico. While you won’t find the sparkling beaches and turquoise seas here that you might be familiar with in the Riviera Maya, you are sure to be blown away by the rugged beauty of Mexico’s western coastline of the Yucatan peninsula.

How to get to Campeche

Campeche, Mexico

While not home to an international airport Campeche is still surprisingly easy to get to by motor vehicle.

Those with their own cars or rentals will be able to make use of the comfortable highway drive from Cancun (7 hours) or Playa del Carmen (8.5 hours) by following the freeway to Merida where you will route onto Mexico 180 O that will lead you straight to Campeche.

For those who would rather not drive there are daily buses through ADO or OCC from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to Merida where you can transfer to a short 2.5 hour bus straight to Campeche.

Where to Stay

Downtown Campeche

There are a number of quaint and luxurious hotels and rentals in the area, ranging from modern luxury to ex-haciendas. Most hotels are located along the Malecon which runs the entire length of the city, however there are also a few more budget-friendly hotels in the historic center. With the lack of azure beaches in Campeche you will definitely want to ensure that you find a place to stay with a pool.

What to do

Campeche is home to some incredible historical sites, which are responsible for its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just wandering the streets of the city will leave you in awe. Within the old town every building has been restored. Rainbow pastel homes line the cobblestone streets and will surely inspire you to have your camera out and ready with every step you take!

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Campeche was a key port in the Caribbean which meant it was a prime spot for pirates – this is the reason for the historic old town’s outer walls and fortifications which acted as protection against the omnipresent attacks.

Ednza Ruins in Campeche

There are also a number of ancient Mayan ruins in the area. Ednza is the closest major site and is about 45 minutes away. They are smaller than many of the other major ruins, but they allow more intimate sightseeing than more popular and larger sites like Chichen-Itza.

You also won’t want to miss the food and drink in Campeche which is known for its seafood. Cazón (shark) is a local delicacy and widely available. There are many small restaurants located around the city, including many in the historic center that range in price. There are also some groceries stores in the city for those on a budget who would prefer to make some meals themselves.

Whatever you decide to do when you’re in Campeche, you’ll want to make sure you bring your walking shoes. There is a lot to see and explore during your exciting weekend away!

Shopping and Eating

Shark Bread

It’s fair to say that this once colonial city offers some amazing gastronomical delicacies. You can find eateries from small cafés to extravagant restaurants and everything in between. Seafood is quite popular with both locals and tourists. Local dishes are plentiful throughout. Try some pan de cazón (shark bread), coconut shrimp, poc chuc, and others.

When it comes to shopping, you’ll be surprised at the many options found in Campeche. You can buy some textiles, clothing, hammocks and more at one of the many artisanal craft shops. Or you find gems, magnets and jewelry inspired by nature. There are, of course, a handful of shopping centers and malls, as well for a more Americanized experience.

Recommendations

Be prepared for a long road trip. Getting to Campeche can take up to 8 hours, so make sure you have plenty of activities if you’re taking the ADO bus, or things to do if you’re driving.

Most of Campeche’s larger places accept credit card. However, it is highly recommended to always carry enough cash around.

Come with an open mind. Local foods, drinks and traditions may be very different to what you’re used to. So, make sure you come with an open mind and embrace the culture of Campeche.

Learn some phrases in Spanish. Campeche is far from the English-speaking community in the Riviera Maya. Not many locals speak English like they would in Tulum or Playa del Carmen. That is not to say you won’t find someone who does and is willing to help. But it definitely helps if you can pick up some Spanish beforehand for the best experience possible.

Have fun!

Campeche

What are you waiting for? Pack your bags. We’re going on a road trip. Enjoy the colonial vibes of Campeche, soak in the culture and engulf the delicious food. When the weekend is over, head back home to your beautiful home in Playa del Carmen. But get pen and paper out. It’s time so start planning next weekend’s getaway!

The Six Rules of a Golden and Profitable Retirement

As the years start rolling about faster and faster, boomers, who are now on the brink of retirement, start to wonder how they will retire and what they will do in their retirement. The truth is, there are no rules to this and each person decides what to do with their retirement time, money and plans. However, experts have panned out a retirement plan to make it truly golden and profitable. You may call them guidelines, rules, commandments, or whatever pleases you. But these rules have helped millions of soon-to-be-retirees understand what the golden years have in store for them.

Save, save and save some more

Piggy bank

The first rule to retirement is saving money for it. Putting money into your 401(k) and IRA retirement funds is a great way to ensure you will have money to do what you please in your retirement. In fact, many people even put their IRA retirement funds to work prior to retirement by investing in vacation rental homes overseas. Any income generated from that property is put back into your IRA account, helping you create a steady flow of income that will come in very handy in your retirement. In the meantime, you can also create automatic deductions from your paycheck and join investment plans, which help put away money before you are able to spend it. Many retirees often just rely on their Social Security, which is a safety net, to say the least. It does not guarantee that you will be able to afford any sort of comfortable lifestyle. So, if you save – and invest – your money wisely, you’re ahead of the game.

Move away and find an affordable retirement spot

 

The reason why thousands of Americans and Canadians move to Mexico for their retirement is cost of living. Don’t be afraid to get up and move elsewhere. In Playa del Carmen, you can comfortably live for 50% less of the cost than you would in Sarasota, FL or Scottsdale, AZ, for example. And you might even be able to purchase a home for a fraction of the cost it would cost you back home. Mexico is the perfect spot for retirement due to its proximity to the US for quick visits back home, and it is the most culturally familiar country for those in the United States and Canada. So, get ready for that adventure abroad that retirement often promises.

Wait the correct amount to retire

Retire

You might hear of early retirement cases that are a huge success. A young man of 53 and his similarly-aged wife investing abroad and getting ready to retire after years of work. But this is not the case for everyone. Retirement should come at the right time for you. Early retirement is good when you have a fortune saved up and are certain that you have enough to live comfortably for the rest of your life. However, you need to measure your individual case. It’s quite simple. You need to give your money time to accumulate and multiply. Your Social Security checks will become smaller if your retirement is longer. So, make sure you give yourself time to fully prepare for retirement.

Think of no one but yourself

 

Downsizing is often a scary thought for people. But the reality is that you no longer need to shelter a whole family – just you and your partner. Think of yourself first, and everyone else second. Sure, you might want a guest bedroom in your Mexico home for whenever your grown children and grandchildren visit. Or if you have friends who are enjoying their retirement by traveling and want to stay with you. But there is no need to look for a 4-bedroom home with a studio, a TV room, a laundry room and all the big, lavish spaces you enjoy as a family. Retirement often means going back to basic. And that means you should think of your savings and your needs. Get rid of that mini van and switch out for a small car, or no car at all!

Plan to stay active, motivated and busy

 

Retirees often find themselves bored, not knowing where to go and what to do. If you’re used to a busy lifestyle, where you work 9 to 5, go out for business meetings or are often traveling, make sure to keep a fast-paced retirement. Except this time, there are no responsibilities, commitments or people depending on you. Staying healthy, active and busy during retirement is great for both your physical and mental health. So, make sure you plan your retirement with enough motivating activities. You might want to move abroad and spend your time traveling to nearby places. You might want to travel the world. Maybe your retirement doesn’t really necessarily mean you’ll stop working altogether. Maybe you open up a shop you’ve always dreamed of or join a club. The point is to keep yourself going and don’t let yourself disappear into your couch in front of the TV.

Make new friends and try new things

Retirement in Mexico

Retirement is a treat. It’s a reward earned from years of studying, working, caring, learning, stumbling and starting over again. So, don’t be afraid to do all those things you couldn’t when your focus was elsewhere. Travel, learn new languages, make new friends. Thousands of Americans and Canadians relocate to Mexico for their retirement and enjoy living a simple, laid back life surrounded by friends they never thought they’d have. Enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned it!

And if you’re keen on making that retirement money work for you, don’t hesitate to invest in real estate in the Riviera Maya!