It’s time for another weekend getaway, this time to Sisal, in the state of Yucatan. This quaint seaside town features a beautiful coastline, a charming main street full of bright colors and incredible nature sanctuaries. Continue reading
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
This upcoming weekend, we’re escaping the hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen and Cancun and visiting a small island on the Gulf of Mexico. Holbox Island is located just at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, surrounded by beautiful blue waters. With a no-cars-allowed policy and offering golf carts to move around, this beautiful and magical island make for a perfect weekend getaway. Are you ready? Let’s get moving!
How to Get to Holbox
Holbox is an island located in the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, technically belonging to the state of Quintana Roo. However, due to its northern location, it is no longer the Caribbean, but rather the Gulf of Mexico. To get to Holbox is quite easy if you have a car. From Playa del Carmen you must take the new Merida highway, which will cost you $107 Mexican pesos. Follow the signs that say Chiquila – you’ll be driving straight. It will take approximately two and a half hours to reach the port of Chiquila.
Once in Chiquila, you will find many parking options. Most of them will charge a $100 Mexican pesos fee to keep your car for 24 hours. Once you’ve parked, you will need to walk towards the ferry. This will take you a couple of minutes. You can expect to pay $300 mxn for the round-trip ticket. The ferry ride takes about 20 minutes each way. Ferries run every half an hour from 6am to 9:30pm.
Where to Stay
Holbox is a very small island offering different boutique-style hotels. You can find from small one-room spaces listed on Airbnb to slightly larger, more luxurious hotels. You will not find big-brand names nor all-inclusive resorts on the island. Homeowners often rent out properties here for days, weeks or even months, for anyone wanting to go for more than a weekend getaway. The island is quite small, which means that a centrally-located accommodations are only 3 blocks from the ferry and 3 blocks from the beach on the other side. There are certain more laidback and less-populated areas in the island, also lined with more luxurious hotels.
If you’re staying at a central location, you can quickly reach other areas by renting a golf cart or taking a golf cart cab for $40 mxn. It takes minutes to get from one point to another. Staying at the central areas is better for those looking to be within walking distance to the main square and the main street with shops, restaurants and bars.
What to Do in Holbox
There are many things to do in this charming island. From visiting the endless sand banks near Mantarraya to walking by the little shops and restaurants, the options are many. During the summer season, you can take beautiful and natural tours to see the migrating whale sharks who swim by the island. These gentle giants of the ocean are a sight not to be missed, slowly gliding through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and making their way down to the Caribbean.
During the day, you can visit one of the many sand banks where you can walk for miles in shallow clear waters. You can visit the Mantarraya beach restaurant to enjoy hammocks in the ocean under letters that spell out Holbox. We highly recommend you also check out the bioluminescence tours, where microorganisms in the ocean react to movement by lighting up. This is done at night and costs approximately $250 mxn per person. Bathe in the warm waters while tiny plankton light up creating amazing starred-like shapes in the ocean.
There are also other tours you can take to snorkel in certain parts around the island. As soon as you get off the ferry, many vendors will approach you offering accommodation, taxis and tours. However, the best thing to do in Holbox is lay your towel down and sunbathe.
Shopping and Eating
Because Holbox is such a small island, there are not many options for shopping or eating. There is a main street lined with delicious little restaurants ready to serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner at very accessible prices. If you head onto the other side of the island where the sand banks are, you will find an array of beach restaurants offering fresh fish and other local delicacies.
For shopping, the main street is where you will find the most shops. There are many locally-sourced shops selling souvenirs and other cute crafts perfect to take home as a reminder of your weekend getaway. Most things in Holbox are quite affordable in comparison to big restaurants in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Although some range slightly higher. Make sure you visit Mantarraya Restaurant for a delicious fresh mixed ceviche to share.
Holbox requires driving and a ferry. So, if you’re visiting from Cancun or Playa del Carmen you should definitely head out early in order to be able to enjoy the day at the beach. We recommend you get on the road around 9 or 10am to be reaching the island around 1pm. That way you can enjoy the afternoon and the next morning there.
Bring cash with you. Not many places on the island accept credit or debit cards. Although there are some ATMs (such as Banamex) on the island, it is best to have cash with you. Bring Mexican pesos to avoid high exchange rates and prices. Plan your activities in advance – especially if you’re taking tours. That way you know how long it will take you to go from one place to the other to not miss out on anything you want to do.
To move around, rent a golf cart. You can rent one for 24 hours for $1,500 mxn. You can use this to explore places on the island you would otherwise need to pay a cab to see. Renting a golf cart will give you the freedom to move around and go wherever you wish at your own time.
Most importantly, bring an open mind and be ready to live experiences you can only imagine. Enjoy the laidback lifestyle of the island, the clear waters and the shining sun. There really isn’t another island quite like Holbox.
The Pink Lagoon at Las Coloradas in the Yucatan Peninsula might feel like a fairy tale; but in fact, this is just a beautiful natural phenomenon. This magical place is located about three hours from Playa del Carmen by car, which is perfect for a weekend getaway to Merida or Valladolid. The place is an ideal birdwatching destination, being home to 350 different species of birds. It was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2004. The sights here are unreal.
Visiting Las Coloradas
Due to Las Coloradas being such a small fishing town, there are no hotels or restaurants in sight, so make sure you drive up from Merida or Valladolid to see the place. Likewise, bring enough to drink and eat during the day as you will probably spend about 3 hours there. The best time to see the bright pink color pop is at noon, so make sure you plan accordingly. As the sun beings to set, the colors are lost. The reason the lagoon is pink (and why the flamingos turn pink from feeding from it) is due to the many microorganisms that live there. This includes red shrimp and plankton.
On your way to Las Coloradas, you might want to make a quick stop at the salt production plant. It will also feel like a page out of a fairy tale with its mountains of salt laying around. Once you reach the pink lagoon you will be able to see that the water has a high concentration of salt. That is what makes it so easy to float in. However, locals and guards will not let you actually swim in the lagoon, so make sure you don’t try to go in to avoid getting into trouble.
spotting the flamingos
It is rather easy to find the flamingos, which is the bird most people want to see. They will flock away when too many people are around, so creep up carefully. Funnily enough, these tall birds tend to stray away from the pink waters when not feeding. So you will have better luck finding them in the other ponds. However, there are thousands of them and you will surely spot them in one place or another. Many locals will try offering you tours to see them. If you want to spare some pesos you can go with them and help out the local community. Otherwise, you’ll find the flamingos on your own.
The lagoons are an amazing day trip to take whether you’re living in Mexico or just visiting. Don’t expect too much to do there other than visiting the lagoon. Enjoy your weekend getaway to this amazing natural wonder.
A great thing about Riviera Maya is the amount of activities you can do; from a walk on the beach to a visit in some awesome archaeological site, this zone has everything you need if natural entertainment it’s your main deal. Another good thing about being in touch with such a natural environment is the incredible fun parks that exists, all of them with tons of different experiences, some of them wild, and some of them more chilled… and yeah, Xenses, the new Park in town has just delivered the news of it’s opening in next June. Get to know what is going to offer.
First thing first, what is Xenses? Is a half-day park with more than 15 activities in scenarios that will challenge your mind. Land, air and water experiences designed to revive your senses and, like the Xenses truly says, “Awaken those you didn’t know you had”. For real. Besides, its half-day mode gives you ideal time to return and enjoy the attractions of Cancun and all Riviera Maya if you’re still in the mood for more action. Xenses will also create some sensorial experiences using a lot of natural elements such as water and the same vegetation that exist in the area, all along with visual effects that will come in handy.
Xenses will be located a few kilometers from Xcaret Park with an extension over 40 hectares and will be built into an area called Rancho Xcaret, but be ready, creators expect to have about 1,500 to 3,000 people per day in their facilities.
Now that you´re sync, here’s what you need in order to have an awesome experience: For any visit, wear a swimsuit, water shoes, comfortable clothing, an extra change of clothes and a towel, believe us, you’ll need it. Use sunscreen and insect repellent, you don’t want to see any surprises when you arrive home. Along with your entrance, you get access to lockers, showers and free parking.
Who can come in? Everyone. The park is designed as a family tour; from little kids to older people who want to feel amazing and new experiences. Xenses will be ready in full summer: June 13th . And if you’re eager to the opening, we highly recommend you to plan a trip and get your things ready for business.
If you are interested in exploring properties in the Riviera Maya contact a Top Mexico Buyers’ Representative today.
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The Riviera Maya is a stretch of 80 miles of pristine beaches located just a few miles south of the hustle and bustle of Cancun. This area attracts around 10 million visitors each year and offers luxurious hotels and resorts, as well as a number of theme parks, clubs, shopping malls, and other attractions.
Puerto Morelos is located about 10 miles south of Cancun and about 20 miles north of the beautiful Playa del Carmen and it is one of the best kept secrets and one of the top 25 beaches in the Riviera Maya. Walking on its square and around the town will let you feel the vibe of this small fishing village.
Puerto Morelos: General Information
If you want to stay away from the Cancun crowds, do not forget to visit Puerto Morelos! You can not only enjoy the quiet atmosphere, but also visit the Mesoamerican Reef; which is located only a few meters from the beach.
The main roads have a wide offering on small restaurants, cafes and boutiques; no huge chains or massive hotels. The locals and hotels in the area want to keep it that way, by having strict building restrictions and working together to preserve the little town feeling.
Puerto Morelos: Getting There
From Cancun: Get the 307 Federal highway southbound (towards Tulum) and stay on this road for about 10 miles. Once you get to Puerto Morelos you need to take the exit and turn left under the overpass.
You can take the bus straight from the Cancun International Airport; the cost is around $6 USD for a one way ticket. This bus does not go to the town center, but it does go to the highway turnoff into town just 2 kilometers away from the square. From there you can grab a 20 peso taxi or a collectivo to the downtown beach area.
Puerto Morelos: Things To Do
Enjoy the beautiful Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest reef in the world. There is plenty of local providers offering tours just off the main plaza, for only $25 USD your get the boat ride and all the needed equipment.
Enjoy all sorts of diving adventures: there is the reef, caverns and cenotes in the area; ideal for every level and age. Dive Shops are available directly in Puerto Morelos.
- Sport Fishing:
The waters off the Puerto Morelos coast have a wide variety of marine species: Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Barracuda, Grouper, Snapper, Snook, Pompano, and more…
- Ruta de los Cenotes:
This is a wonderful way to visit many cenotes in a day for a reasonable price. Local run cenotes are open for visitors; enjoy the cool transparent water and the amazing caves, a life changing experience!
- Alma Libre Bookstore:
Alma Libre is the Riviera Maya’s best English language new and used bookstore. In this book store you can find regional guide books and maps, as well as books about the
- indigenous culture, flora and fauna of the region.
This is ideal for families, a guided tour to learn more about crocodiles and other native species. Seeing the spider monkeys in the wild is amazing, the kids will love it!
We hope you enjoy your visit to Puerto Morelos and the beautiful beach. Keep up to date with the best beaches in paradise by following our Top 25 Beaches in the Riviera Maya countdown every Friday! If you are in search for the perfect beach to spend the day at, make sure you check out our options. We aim to provide you with the best information about living in the Riviera Maya!
Top Mexico Real Estate is a local American-Owned company that specializes in helping foreigners become homeowners in Mexico. If you are looking for a second home or to retire in paradise, please feel free to contact any of our Top Buyers’ Representatives! Browse our beautiful properties; we are sure you will find your dream home.
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This weekend, we’re taking a day trip to the gorgeous Akumal Bay, just half an hour south of Playa del Carmen. Never forget that the Riviera Maya is vast, full of hidden (and not so hidden) gems, and it offers a million things to explore. Playa del Carmen doesn’t quite give an idea of everything there is to see. Are you ready? Let’s go!
How to get there
Akumal is located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, only a 30 minutes drive from both cities, and approximately 1 hour and 20 minute drive south from Cancun. The best way to reach Akumal Bay is by renting a car and driving. However, colectivos (public transport) leave from the central coelctivo station in Playa del Carmen (15th Avenue with 2nd Street) towards Tulum. All you have to do is get on it and ask to stop in Akumal. You should expect to pay between $2 and $3 USD for the ride.
You will be dropped off on the west side of the highway. There is a huge crossing bridge over the highway, which you must cross and you have reached Akumal. If you’re driving, take the Federal Highway 307 heading south and following the signs that read “Akumal”. It is very well signaled and the exit is clearly marked.
Akumal is quite small and parking is limited. There are two small parking lots, however they tend to be quite expensive. Unfortunately, there are no free parking areas in Akumal so be ready to either pay the parking fee or you can park on the Akumal Pueblo side of the town (on the other side of the highway), and cross the highway by foot.
Where to stay
Akumal is a very small town with a beautiful bay and a few hotels. Accommodation varies between renting one of the houses or apartments available down the road towards Yal Ku (where you can enjoy Half Moon Bay beach), and staying at one of the hotels available there. Hotels, however, are quite expensive and you can expect to pay no less than $100 USD per night, or even much more. If you are staying in Playa del Carmen or Cancun, Akumal is great for a day-trip, with no need for staying the night.
However, you should consider that if you do stay at one of the hotels you get the added bonus of enjoying beach beds, towels and shade; whereas if you go for the day, none of that is available.
What to do
Akumal means “place of the turtles” in Mayan, and people go there for one thing: sighting sea turtles in their natural habitat. Approximately 40 juvenile sea turtles live in the bay, coming and going as they please, as it is their feeding zone. There are plenty of activities to enjoy in Akumal, but swimming through the bay searching for sea turtles is the main attraction.
You can either rent snorkeling equipment and lifejackets at one of the two diving shops, or take a guided tour. Keep in mind that Akumal Bay is a federally protected area and offenses are taken seriously, so we recommend you hire a guide in order to not break any of the rules (touching or chasing the turtles, standing on the corals, touching the ocean bottom, amongst many others).
After spending about an hour swimming around the bay looking at all the amazing sea creatures (there are plenty of fish, turtles, rays and corals), you can head over to Yal Ku lagoon, just a 5 minute car ride from Akumal, to swim in the gorgeous mixture of fresh and salt water that is home to thousands of colorful fish. This is also a protected area and an entrance fee of $12 USD has to be paid.
For those of you who love fishing or scuba diving, there are plenty of boats taking you out on tours. All you have to do is ask at either one of the dive shops for prices and information. Usually any fish caught can be cooked at one of the restaurants in Akumal. Diving is a favorite activity here as past the reef barrier there is a whole other world underwater.
You can also visit the NGO located in Akumal, which protects the ocean and the nesting turtles. Akumal is a nesting beach and if you visit anytime between May and November you are most likely to be able to take a tour at night with the biologists to see the turtles nesting and watch hatchling releases.
Shopping and eating
It’s clear that Akumal is quite small and there is not much to do but spend the day at the beach. There are a handful of small shops around selling hand-made crafts, paintings and other curiosities. There is also a small market on the basketball court at the entrance selling necklaces, earrings, clothing items, bags, amongst others.
For eating there are three main restaurants to choose from: La Cueva del Pescador, Turtle Bay Café and Lol Ha Restaurant. They all are delicious and vary in cuisine styles, so make sure you choose wisely depending on what you are craving. On the road towards Yal Ku there is another famous restaurant called La Buena Vida with delicious food and an amazing variety of drinks, as well. This restaurant is on Half Moon Bay offering beautiful sights, and even a section with hammocks for relaxing after lunch.
Akumal is one of the biggest attractions in the Riviera Maya – not to be overlooked! Although a weekend getaway is perfect in Akumal, if you’re staying in Playa del Carmen, Tulum or Cancun, one day will suffice to visit this gorgeous bay. Here are some recommendations to take into consideration:
Bring cash: there is an ATM in Akumal, but remember that those usually charge hefty commissions. Most restaurants and shops take credit card, but it’s better to be safe and sorry (La Cueva del Pescador is cash only and definitely a great dining option). The small market is also cash only and it’s worth having some money on you to buy anything.
Bring a towel, a hat, sunglasses, your own umbrellas and biodegradable sunscreen. Akumal, as mentioned before, is an ecologically protected area, so it is of utmost importance that no damaging sunscreen is introduced into the ocean. Put on your sunscreen half an hour before you plan on swimming and make sure it’s biodegradable.
There is no beach club in Akumal so you must provide your own towels and shade. There are no beach beds, no umbrellas or anything. People lay their towels down on the sand and sunbathe there, so make sure you’re prepared.
Visit with an open attitude. Sea turtles are free, and they come and go as they wish, and – although unlikely – you may leave Akumal without having seen one. Don’t complain to the tour guides or the locals, as they have no control over them. Have fun, enjoy the beauty of the place and keep an open mind about everything.
Well, one weekend comes after the next, and there are always new adventures and places to discover in the Riviera Maya. So check back next week for a new weekend getaway destination!
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!