Weekend Getaway: Punta Laguna

It’s that time of the week again when you’re packing up for a new adventure in the gorgeous Riviera Maya. You’re probably wondering what to do or where to go. Luckily for you, the beautiful state of Quintana Roo and its surrounding states offer an array of beautiful hidden gems, offering millions of options to explore. This weekend we’re headed to Punta Laguna. Ready? Let’s get going!

How to get there

Punta Laguna is located inland from Tulum, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes by car from Playa del Carmen, or just 1 hour from Tulum Downtown. The best way to reach Punta Laguna is by car, as there is no public transport or buses heading that way. The only other way is by taking a prepaid tour that offers transportation.

If you’re coming from Playa del Carmen you need to drive south on the 307 Highway until you reach Tulum. Once you’re entering Tulum, keep an eye out for signs signaling the exit towards Cobá on your right. Take the Cobá highway and drive until reaching a roundabout with several exits. You will take the exit that reads Punta Laguna; it’s a rather small sign, but easy to find. Drive through this almost abandoned highway for approximately 20 minutes. You will find Punta Laguna on your left. There is a parking lot on site.
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Where to stay

At the reserve you can rent a Mayan hut for two people for $300 mxn ($18 usd). Take into account that this is a natural reserve and Mayan villagers run the area, which means not to expect any luxury. The other option is camping, for which they offer eco-bathroom facilities.

Punta Laguna is best as a one-day trip. If you want to make this a weekend trip, your best shot is to stay the night in Tulum. You will find many different types of accommodation from luxury hotels to eco-friendly cabins and even hostels in Tulum. If you’re staying there for the weekend, you will only need to drive for an hour to reach Punta Laguna.

What to do

Punta Laguna is a natural reserve, home to spider monkeys, howler monkeys and pumas. It is also home to approximately 30 Mayan families who share over five thousand hectares. If you’ve decided to visit Punta Laguna there is only one thing to do: take a tour.

The villagers of Punta Laguna are the perfect example of how they can live off tourism while protecting their natural and cultural heritage. The tour costs approximately $300 mxn ($18 usd) per person and it is worth every penny invested. The reserve opens at 8 am, and that is the best time to arrive, as prepaid and organized tours start arriving at 10 am. Additionally, at that time the monkeys are migrating towards their feeding areas and it is much easier to spot them.

Your guided tour will last for about an hour, and you will get close and personal with the region’s nature and wildlife. If you’re an early bird and you’ve hired a guided tour, chances are you will spot both howler and spider monkeys in the wild migration. They will not interact with you, but they commonly stop and stare. You will be walking through the lush jungle in small paths, so watch out for the flora and fauna as there are some amazing things around.

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You will then be guided towards the beautiful and peaceful lagoon where you will be able to hear the birds chirping and the howler monkeys howling in the distance. You will get to row your own boat across the lagoon, as well as swim in it – its water is quite refreshing after strolling through the humid jungle.

After crossing the lagoon you will zipline with beautiful views of the jungle and finish the tour with a Mayan ceremony and swimming in an amazing cenote that is home to some old Mayan skulls that are found at the very bottom.

Shopping and eating

Punta Laguna does not really offer any shopping facilities, as it is a natural reserve. It is probable that the Mayan population that lives there sells handmade arts and crafts.

For shopping and lunch it is better to head back out to Cobá, 20 minutes from the reserve, where there is plenty of shopping and eating options. If you’re not keen on stopping by in Cobá, your best bet would be heading back into Tulum where you can shop in Downtown and go to one of the many quaint restaurants on offer.

Recommendations

Punta Laguna is a natural reserve and only accommodates nature lovers who do not mind walking through the jungle, keeping an eye out for wildlife and letting mosquitos feast on them. Here are some recommendations to take into account:

-Bring comfortable clothes and shoes. Flip-flops are not appropriate for walking through the jungle. Either tennis shoes or sandals are a better option.

-Bring biodegradable sunscreen and apply it 30 minutes before jumping into the lagoon. Don’t forget to bring your swimming suit, towel and a change of clothes.

-Arrive early! Tours start arriving at 10 am, and you want to beat the multitudes that tend to scare the monkeys away.

-Bring a camera. Chances are you will spot monkeys and you might catch a glance at other wildlife (like coatis!), so bring your camera and be prepared at all times. Wildlife doesn’t pose.

-Bring an open mind and a positive attitude. Walking through the humid jungle while mosquitos are flying around you can frustrate people. This is where these Mayan people live and you must respect their habitat and their way of living.
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Hopefully these tips will allow you to have an adventure of a lifetime in this off-the-beaten-path paradise. There are always new places to explore in the Riviera Maya, so check back next weekend for a new getaway destination!

Read about a weekend getaway to Akumal or a weekend getaway at Bacalar here.

Top Mexico Real Estate is an American-owned real estate company catering to American and Canadian people wanting to make the move to the Riviera Maya. If you want to invest in paradise, our Top Buyer Representatives will gladly help you in the search for the perfect location and the perfect home.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We Make It Happen!

A romantic getaway to Holbox Island!

A romantic getaway to Holbox Island: After all the Christmas festivities in Mexico, many people can feel pretty drained. Let me tell you, between kids activity’s, parties and having family in town, one could need a vacation from their vacation.

Living in the Mayan Riviera gives us a wide variety of romantic little known spots to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and our daily responsibilities: Tulum, Bacalar and Holbox, just to mention some!

We had been in Holbox many times, it’s a perfect relaxing, romance getaway!

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About Holbox:

Holbox is a small island located in the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Famous for being a whale shark sanctuary, this island is ideal for nature lovers and those looking for a tranquil setting to enjoy the beach.

Holbox is 26 miles long and about 1 mile wide, and it offers pristine beaches with white coral sand. The island is located within the Yum Balam Natural Reserve, as a result, the marine life of the island is diverse and abundant: from whale sharks, dolphins, lobsters as well as octopus, stingrays and sea turtles, just to name a few.

How to Get There:

To get to Holbox, first you need to get to the town of Chiquila. You can drive which will take about two hours from Cancun or you can take a 20 minute plane ride. Also, there is a new toll road from Playa del Carmen, but there is also public transportation available.

Once you reach the town of Chiquila, you need to find a safe parking spot for your car and then take a boat or ferry to Isla Holbox. A big boat will charge around 40 pesos per person for a 25 minutes trip to the island, if they are not available you can hire a local fisherman and pay about 250 pesos per boat (for 6 people and their bags).

Attractions:

Its shallow, turquoise waters allow people of all ages and abilities to swim at ease; ideal for snorkeling or paddle boarding. Holbox is also the ideal place to learn or practice kitesurfing, as there is always a strong breeze.

During the months of June to September, Holbox is host to the largest congregation of whale sharks: the largest known fish. These majestic creatures, which can grow up to 15 meters, come every year to feed on plankton. Because of its peaceful nature, you can swim alongside these gentle giants and observe them in their natural habitat. Swimming with whale sharks is an unforgettable experience.

Sport fishing and fly fishing is a popular activity, the ocean is full of fish such as: bonefish, barracuda, snapper, pompano and mackerel, among others. Bird watching is another popular activity, where you will be able to see: flamingos, white and brown pelicans, cormorants, reddish egrets, roseate spoonbills and herons.

There are plenty of other activities to enjoy in Holbox like horseback riding, diving, kayaking through the mangroves, kitesurf, or swim in Yalahau.

Romantic Getaways:

Here are two romantic getaway packages I found in Holbox:

Sweet Escape in Hotel Casa Las Tortugas

holboxcasalastortugas.com

Whether you are celebrating a wedding anniversary, a special birthday or an engagement, this Sweet Escape package is a perfect way to say ‘I love you’. This romantic retreat includes a surprise candle-lit dinner on the beach and some of their best spa treatments.

This Package includes:

  • Three nights in a Standard room
  • Half-board for two people (breakfast and lunch)
  • Spa package for two people (Honeymoon package)
  • Romantic dinner on the beach for two people

For only $1175 USD*

*Room upgrade on request.

*Transfer on request.

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Romantic Escape at Casa Sandra

casasandra.com

Casa Sandra is a very romantic and intimate home, conceived with art, music and coziness in mind, where every detail is created with love. This boutique hotel provides personalized service and a friendly atmosphere, allowing loved ones can connect more deeply.

This package includes:

  • Three nights’ accommodation with upgrades
  • Daily American breakfast (including one room service per stay)
  • Romantic amenities in your room
  • One hour massage per guest
  • Romantic dinner on the beach with personalized service, a bottle of wine and a special menu
  • Evening cocktails and seasonal fruit platter, one per stay
  • One hour daily golf cart rental
  • Early check-in and late check-out
  • Ground transfer and private plane, one-way each

For Only $2645 USD*

*10% Discount for locals with State issued ID

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If you are looking for an ideal romantic getaway, do not search any further than Holbox! Holbox is the ideal destination for of those looking to rekindle the spark or just recharge. Let the professionals pamper you and your significant other and enjoy everything Holbox has to offer.

Top Mexico Real Estate is your one and only stop for everything Riviera Maya, we thrive to offer our readers the best possible information. We have also helped thousands of clients find their dream home in Mexico. Live the life, Live in Mexico.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We make it happen!

Xperience True Beauty and Nature at Xel-Ha

Xcaret Xperiences created fantastic opportunities for people from all over the world to come and experience nature and beauty at its best.  Recently we have highlighted Xplor and Xcaret but today I want to introduce to you the beautiful park that started it all – Xel Ha!

 

Where the jungle meets the ocean you can go take a full day of relaxation, swimming, snorkeling and eating! Xel-Ha is a nature park that is ecologically preserved and respected!  Your entrance is all inclusive and includes snorkel gear and unlimited food and drinks all day!  Yes, cocktails are included for those of you who like their does of tequila now and then!

Xel-Ha (Shell-Ha) is more of a relaxed environment where you will find hammocks throughout the park or chairs overlooking the water!  You will see that this particular eco-park focuses more on aquatics highlighting the natural wonder of the ocean and cenotes.

You can walk through some beautiful paths created throughout the jungle where you can see different animals and natural wildlife!  Don’t feel like walking?  That’s ok; pick up a bicycle and make your exploration on wheels.

Once you arrive to the lazy river you can grab a float and chill out until the river takes you to a beautiful centoe that eventually meets the ocean.  There you can swim, go cliff jumping, walk across the tight rope, or go zip lining!

There is a fun wobbly bridge where you can see the lagoon from one side while watching the breathtaking ocean waves roll in on the other side!

In between the swimming and site seeing you can grab a bite to eat in one of the buffets or just simply sit, relax, breath and take in all the beauty surrounding you!

 

Extra activities

While you can enjoy the park all day long with your original admission, there are some other add on options that might perk your interest as well!  Xel-Ha offers swim with the dolphins programs as well as the new Sea Trek adventure where you can get the best underwater experience!

 

You should remember a few things before you go!

Bring your water shoes!  You will be in and out of the water the entire time and walking through dirt paths and rocky areas!  Water shoes will make you the most comfortable for all activities throughout the day

Leave your sunblock at home unless is ecologically approved!  Many sunscreens have chemicals in it that can be harmful to natural wildlife and to the environment!  Xel-Ha respectively asks you to help them preserve nature!  They will be happy to provide you eco-friendly sunscreen if needed.

 

Xel-Ha is a well-known excursion for both tourists and those who live in the Riviera Maya.

 

-By Bea Lozano
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Falling in love with Fall in Playa del Carmen

This past weekend marked a new season of Fall all around the world!  For many the fall/autumn is associated with a slight chill in the air, changing colored leaves on the trees, pumpkin spiced coffee, comfy light jackets and the smell of apple pie!  Although many people are sad to see the summer come to an end, most will welcome fall with open arms!

This is a feeling that often gets missed if you are living in Playa del Carmen or other areas of the Caribbean!  Let’s face it; September doesn’t exactly scream autumn here, at least not in the way we are used to it!  But like anywhere else in the world the season does bring its own feeling no matter where you are!  There are plenty of ways to get you into that fall feeling!

Fill your senses!
Fragrances of cinnamon, apple or pumpkin can bring the life of fall right into your home!  Light a candle or use a fall scented air freshener!

Eat and drink your fall favorites! Don’t stop just because the weather is warm!  Go ahead and bake that pumpkin pie! Or choose your favorite fall flavored latte in your favorite coffee shop!  Fall is a feeling and it doesn’t have to be dictated by weather!

Decorate your home with fall colors and décor! In most stores you will find plenty of fall decorations!  The weather does not stop the retail industry from making these things available to you! Dressing your home in fall colors can bring the sweet autumn feeling right into your heart!

You can taste, smell and look at fall every day inside your house!

Get into the spirit with holidays!


Start creating your Halloween costume and get excited for your Thanksgiving dinner!  Getting excited for these fall holidays can put you right into that cozy comforting autumn mood.

Escape the Caribbean!

If you are truly itching for a taste of real fall then you might want to plan your vacations home during this time period.  Or if you have never traveled through Central Mexico it can be a perfect time of year to see the beauty of Mexico City, Guanajuato or San Miguel!  Taking a week or so in a cooler climate can do just the trick!

Natural changes the fall equinox brings to The Riviera Maya!
While it may still be quite warm in the Riviera Maya during the fall season, the weather and the amount of sunlight does start to change.  You may, every now and then, experience an evening or morning that becomes a little chilly!  If you love the fall take advantage of those moments!  Grab a sweater and go for a walk!  Take in the chill!  This is your time to drink a hot beverage and smell the cool air!  Fall is not non-existent here, it’s just sporadic!  So take advantage of the days that do come!

Each season brings new changes enter our lives. All of us here at Top Mexico Real Estate want to wish everyone a happy fall season in Paradise!

-By Thomas Lloyd
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Cenotes Are a Natural Wonder – So Let’s Protect Them!

If you’ve ever been to a cenote here in the Yucatan Peninsula, you won’t hesitate to call these beautiful, natural pools of water a natural wonder.  I have no idea if they have that distinction “officially,” but they sure should.

In case you don’t know about them, cenotes are naturally-occuring pools of water which form in sink-holes opening up to the water table; they connect to the area’s vast network of underground caves and rivers.  They are wonderful for snorkeling, swimming and even diving.

One point about cenotes that many people don’t know about is that they are also a sensitive eco-system; besides the plant and animal life within them, water from cenotes can also make its way to the Caribbean Sea and impact the equally sensitive coral reef ecosystem.
Many parks have rules posted, like no using sunscreen or insect repellant because these can harm the life inside the cenote.

Thankfully, the effort to protect these beautiful phenomena is going to the next level with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) now producing a document and education program to teach property owners what steps to take to protect themselves and the cenote’s ecosystem.

Here’s an excerpt from an article on INAH’s website:

“In order to strengthen the protection and conservation of the region’s cultural, archaeological, historical and paleontological heritage specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) created a statutory provision for the proper use of the cenotes, caves and underground of the Yucatan Peninsula.

“Archaeologist Antonio Huitron, director of INAH Site Operations, said the document will serve to educate the owners and users of caves and cenotes.  It will present the actions to be followed to safeguard and care for them, as well as legal restrictions from various levels of government.”

(Source, in Spanish)
The article also notes that there will be obligatory registration of cenotes so that they can be recorded in the Public Registry of Monuments and Archaeological Sites for protection.

While the article does not specify exactly which rules will be in the document and education program, let’s hope that the program helps to improve the protection of this natural wonder!

For more information on eco-friendly areas and activities click here!

-by Thomas Lloyd
Mexico Real Estate Testimonials

Rio Lagartos is the Yucatan Peninsula’s Flamingo Paradise

Of all the cool places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula – and there are many! – this one is near the top of the list.  Rio Lagartos is a biosphere reserve at the north end of the Peninsula, sort of between Cancun and Merida, but north of the highway that connects these two cities.

Like the other biosphere reserves on the Peninsula – especially the impressive Sian Kaan – Rio Lagartos offers a huge biodiversity, and many activities like bird-watching, fishing, boating, hiking and nature tours.  There are also cenotes, the awe-inspiring pools created by the area’s sink holes.

But the most impressive part of Rio Lagartos is the flamingos.

The reserve is home to about 40,000 flamingos that have both their nesting grounds and year-round habitat here.

You can take a boat tour through various water water ways to arrive to the estuary where the flamingos are found.  The sight is simply amazing:

Also, take a look at some of the nature:

Be sure to get the official tour with qualified guides; there are “unofficial” tours which are entirely safe, but you may not get to see the best places.

At the point where the biosphere reserve meets the beach there is also a traditional fisherman’s village.  The village is relaxing and quaint, and a good place to have lunch or dinner.

Another amazing part about Rio Lagartos is that you can actually live here in a luxury eco home if you like!  There are eco-lots with various options for home construction available just outside of the village.

Whether it’s a weekend getaway, a vacation, or for your new dream home, I suggest that you give Rio Lagartos a try!

 

-by Bea Lozano

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Camping and the Outdoors around Playa del Carmen


When most people think of Mexico, they think of resorts, beaches with bars and restaurants nearby, colonial cities, ancient pyramids, etc. While people know that there is beautiful nature in Mexico, when making their choice to make this their new home many soon-to-be expat is the actual “roughing it” outdoors lifestyle that can be enjoyed, alongside of the more comfortable ways of enjoying nature.

 

 

Camping

Like every other outdoor activity, camping in tents can be enjoyed year round; unlike other favorite camping locations, in this area, you’ll be camping on some of the nicest beaches in the world.  You choose your location to be as near to or far from conveniences as you like; some good spots, like Xpu-Ha Beach are next to little rustic shops and restaurants to make the experience easier and give it a unique flavor; others, like Sian Kaan, would be miles away from the nearest building.

 

Rustic Cabins

In addition to camping, Tulum especially has some rustic beachfront cabins.  When I say “rustic” I really mean rustic – no electricity, basic beds, simple wooden huts with thatched roofs.  These are a beautiful experience, because, as with camping, you can see the bright stars in the sky over the Caribbean Sea in a place where lights from hotels and towns don’t overpower them.

There are many reasons to love Mexico, and nature lovers who really love to get away from civilization can easily do so here and in many other parts of the country!

 

-by Thomas Lloyd
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An adventure through Paradise to Punta Allen

I would like to share an experience of friend who traveled through the Jungle to the small little fishing village of Punta Allen.  The way she described it to me was somewhat humorous as they did not travel the traditional way through the jungle to arrive there.  Punta Allen is a very cute and small fishing village past Tulum and Sian Ka’an.  In order to get there you must travel through a rocky dirt road through the jungle.

 

There are many beautiful things to see as you travel through before arriving to the quaint little town.  My friend’s journey began in Playa del Carmen where she and her husband rented a scooter to take a spontaneous weekend getaway.

 

In Tulum

Although very close to home they stayed one night in a tiny but sweet and clean hotel room in the center of Tulum.  When they awoke in the morning they decided to head off to Punta Allen as they had heard about this destination yet knew nothing about it.  Still they wanted to find out.  They asked a few locals in town how to get there and received some directions but were advised to rent a jeep or a 4×4 if at all possible.

 

Adventurous Mishaps …
Being adventurous and spontaneous as they are they decided to ignore the advice and swing it on the scooter! Well about a quarter of the way through the long dirt road of Sian Ka’an, they finally realized the importance of the 4×4 as the ride was very slow and very bumpy.  None the less, they took frequent stops to take a look and snap photos of all the beauty that surrounded them.

 

There are beautiful jungles, pristine bays of water, and sheer quiet and relaxation!  In some points of the route you will even see camping areas where people come to enjoy a place where the jungle truly meets the sea.  They realized half way that they hadn’t even arrived to their destination yet and they were already taking in quite a beautiful experience.  Alas, they arrived and there was the sign “Welcome to Punta Allen”!  It probably should have taken them half the time in a jeep but they didn’t mind because it was an experience.

 

Definitely Not a Resort!
Punta Allen is a tiny fishing village that attracts some attention for a quiet weekend or night away however fully maintains its charm.  There is only one restaurant there and they have some options for cabanas.This is not a place for resort goers!

 

The cabanas are small, simple, clean and nice!  You are surrounded by beauty and nature.  There is a light house if you stroll down the path and in the little town you will see what some may think of as typical Mexico as this is not a tourist destination in general. The main activity there is fishing and as a tour option you can head out on a boat with a guided tour out into the ocean.  Other than that it’s all about the relaxation.  My friend thought it to be quite cute and funny that the restaurant owned a turkey for a pet, which had been tied to a tree in the restaurant, you know, just in case it ran away!

 

The Journey Home

The duration of the stay was not too long; only one night but enough to have a beautiful experience.  Then they headed home back on the scooter back towards Tulum and back to Playa.  It is truly wonderful that when you live here you have the option to just pick up and go somewhere and explore in such a beautiful place!

 

We should remember that some people save up for a year to take a vacation out to the Riviera Maya to explore and experience as much as they can because for many it is only a once in a lifetime event or at least every once in a while.  Take advantage of what you have surrounding you and go!

 

-by Bea Lozano

 
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