Posts Tagged ‘Riviera Maya’

The first scheduled stop on my day’s tour, Punta Laguna, did not excite me. I’ll admit it. My initial thought – skip it. I looked ahead. I thought, let’s head straight to the ancient ruins of Coba and spend more time understanding the mystique and magic of the Mayans. Or perhaps add a second cenote to the itinerary. Ever since my discovery of these sacred, swimmable sinkholes I can’t seem to see enough. But Punta Laguna was on the way, so we stopped. And actually, I am glad we did.

A monkey spotted in the sun, I took a picture.

When we arrived, I grabbed my camera and we hired a guide to help us search for the local Spider Monkeys. Not five minutes and one hundred meters into the jungle our guide already heard them in the distance. We changed course and started tracking the troop.  We listened and watched in silence as they moved swiftly from tree to tree searching for food. The monkeys never seemed to mind our presence.

I certainly tried to capture a few photos, but just like when on African safari searching for the Big 5, I didn’t have a telephoto lens and actually, the monkeys blended with the shade. But also, just like on safari, sometimes I didn’t raise my camera and click. Nope. I just appreciated being so close. I enjoyed a glimpse of life in their world, a chance to just feel the jungle from under its canopy.

Then as the monkeys wandered further into the jungle, our guide turned us around and we headed down the main trail to the lagoon. Originally, I thought we might paddle out on the water, but when I arrived to see the lagoon it was not the heat that kept me ashore. The crystal clear water and its stunning reflection almost seemed ask to not be disturbed. So calming. I just decided to savor a moment. This moment.

sometimes its just about the view....

Yes, the rest of the day lived up to its expectations. The Mayan Ruins at Coba and the breathtaking beauty of Cenote Multun-ha were definitely highlights of my entire two weeks in the Riviera Maya. But the silence and stillness of the lagoon made the highlights too. The beauty of the moment taught me a valuable lesson. A lesson to not overlook any stop on a journey as beauty exists in all destinations. And my few minutes on the water’s edge of Punta Laguna reminded me of that very fact. Thank you.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Also, a special thanks to Riviera Maya for being an excellent guide and host.


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As fall descends on the northeast in the states, I find myself dreaming of the beaches of the Riviera Maya. Below is a photo I snapped when touring the luxury property Rosewood at Mayakoba. An amazing place and amazing views.

Jump in. Enjoy.


bliss on the Riviera Maya


Stay luxurious, Craig

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After Chichen Itza and a visit to the Sacred Well, the next stop on the Xichen tour was lunch in the colonial city of Valladolid. After some classic Mexican cuisine we set out to walk off the food and find the convent of El San Bernardino. The history on the colorful streets, churches and convent painted a much different Mexico.

this cenote was one of the biggest I saw

After a tour inside the catholic relic, we hopped on board the bus again for one final stop, the main cenote – Zaci.

it's been a great 20 days.... vaya con dios.

An enormous pool of refreshing water sat deep below. As I climbed down the stairs to capture a better view and better photo, I noticed a few folks down on the edge preparing to take a dip. Dry and refreshed thanks to the provided cool facial towels by Xichen, I did not join them inside the water. Yet, I definitely shared in their joy. Simply enormous.

Thanks for joining me on 20 days across Mexico.  Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 20 of the 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 5 of Cenote Week.

A special thanks to Experiences Xcaret (via Riviera Maya) for providing passage to tour Chichen Itza via the Xichen Tour.

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We found it...

I started my morning en route to San Felipe Ranch, a Mayan community, where Alltournative operates its adventure tours. My host Riviera Maya van sped down the main highway until a small sign and our guide both signaled us to turn off. Then the real journey began.

We drove slowly across the uneven dirt road and continued deep into the jungle. Staying in Playa you can easily forget how thick and vast the Mexican jungle is on Yucatan Peninsula. That morning I was reminded, I was on the Jungle Maya Expedition.

My all day adventure included a packed list of activities. The dance card consisted of: a 4×4 all terrain off-road ride, zip lines across the jungle from above,  mountain biking on trails, a Mayan ceremonial cleansing (possibly needed), and the prize – swimming three different cenotes (including one via a rappel entry).

the entry to the cenote...

But then, as my coffee just seemed the right temperature to drink, we started through this bumpy dirt road.  As I struggled not to spill it, I attempted to take a sip. I knew I’d need the caffeine fuel for this day.

We arrived and it seemed I was on the clock. My guide, an Austrian who now calls Mexico home kept us punctual as we switched from activity to activity. And although my group was just three of us, my Riviera Maya guide, my Alltournative guide and myself, the ranch buzzed with activity. I noticed many other tourists who came to enjoy the same experience, the Jungle Maya.

After an early morning hike, we eventually found ourselves at the first cenote, part of the Nohoch Nah Chich Cenote system.  These connected cenotes, part of the Planet Earth BBC documentary, is one of the longest explored underground river systems in the world. And as I understand it, more is still being discovered today.

enjoying the magic of a cenote...

After a rinse and changing, we obtained the provided gear; the wetsuit (not needed if you can handle 75-78 degree water), and snorkel equipment. We then walked down the steps to the cavernous entry and plunged into the clear, pools. Exploration began. We navigated through the waters admiring the stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations both from above and below. Intense and incredible.

my RivMaya Guide Liz and I explore the tight caverns

The second entrance known as “Heavens Gate”, provided more views of the caverns. Both beautiful and so refreshing, not just for the cool water on a hot day, but rather refreshing to the inner-self. A chance to explore and see an unknown and uncommon world. With bats above and even fossilized shells aged at 65 million years old, you truly enter a unique and different world.

down the Cenote I went...

The third cenote, I needed to rappel down the side of the cave to enter. My first time. Again so different.

Stimulation was unavoidable on the Jungle Maya tour, but looking back the chance to take an adventurous sample of the jungle and also swim in the cenotes remain memories that shall stay with me.

And for the cenote swims, I could have spent all day in the Nohoch Nah Chich Cenote underworld, but perhaps the taste I had will just make me hunger for more. Hunger for a return.

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 19 of the 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 4 of Cenote Week.

Also a special thanks for Alltournative for proving me access to both Mayan communities and giving me a taste of all the activities available. Also, all photos where you see me – are by the imaginenative team (I purchased them to support the Mayan community)

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Chichen Itza recently named one of the new seven wonders of the world attracts people from across the globe. Visitors come by the bus loads to walk the grounds, view the sites, and ponder the past where both Maya and Toltec civilizations once flourished.

the stairs of a serpent.

However, on both the Spring (March 20/21) and Autumn (September 21/22) Equinox the crowds grow. People come to witness the special illumination of the pyramid steps from the sun and shadows.

The natural spectacle begins when the first shadows appear on the Kukulcan pyramid as isosceles triangles on the steps. The steps seem to make the body of the feathered serpent on the move. As the shadow slithers down it eventually reaches the snake’s head to the spectators delight. An energy arrived for the masses.

The snake apparently (in legend) continues down a path to the sacred pool. The pool, a magical mayan cenote and source of fresh water provides the final resting place for snake’s passage (the energy) as well as other sacrifices based upon the countless rituals performed. The greenish mysterious and murky waters seems to hold more serpents, but secrets.

Although you can’t swim in this cenote (and can’t climb the steps of the pyramid of Kukulkan) you can see witness its power and magic during the days that span the equinox (it happens both a few days prior and post) or even just visit to see the ruins and pool on any “normal” day. There is so much to see and absorb about this wonder.

a view of the sacred pool cenote at Chichen Itza

And to truly understand the ruins and archeology of Chichen Itza and the sacred pool cenote I recommend hiring a tour guide. If you take a tour from Playa del Carmen or Cancun like Xichen one will be included (in spanish and English). Or if explore solo and like guide books, I recommend supplementing the basic book with the Mayan architectural approach guide to enhance the experience. Both helped me on my adventure.

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 18 of the 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 3 of Cenote Week.

A special thanks to Experiences Xcaret (via Riviera Maya) for providing passage to tour Chichen Itza via the Xichen Tour.

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I took off my life-preserver device and decided to dive. A deep breath and I left the surface to swim towards the bottom. Not very deep, only a few meters down, I touched, turned and planned to return to the surface. I looked up. Magical.

the entrance to the cenote...

Sunbeams penetrated the clear crisp water and shined on my face, my body, and even seemed to warm my soul. A spiritual experience.  And this was just the beginning of my cenote experiences in the Riviera Maya.

we floated Cenote Aquila y Rio Selva

The entire float down Cenote Aquila and the Rio Selva at Hacienda Tres Rios proved magical.  Above water I viewed the mangroves and listened to the birds or below I snorkeled to watch the fish and view the reflections of the sun illuminate the under(water)world. At times I even floated backwards and waved my arms. The shadow created on the floor mimicked an angel.  A water angel. A sensation I did not witness alone.

We all entered the cenote 800 meters up river prepared to float down to the ocean. And after a coming to our senses on the SenseAdvenutre or understanding our own life’s journey through the doors of a Temazcal, we desired a refreshing, fun event. A swim.

Some eased their way in, others apparently jumped in to the cenote. Regardless of the entry method, I believe, many of us found more than just an afternoon swim along the way. I did.

We found a reason to thank the sustainable resort, Hacienda Tres Rios, for making its mission not just saving this cenote (only available to its guests) but for making a difference to the environment as a way of business. I also found more.

the guides smiles where the River meets the Gulf

I found a connection. A connection to nature through the natural wonder of a cenote. Magic exists in such an experience. A magic I’d find all week in swimming and experiencing the centoes of the Riviera Maya.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 16 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 1 of Cenote Week.

Also thanks for Hacienda Tres Rios for proving passage along the river from the cenote to the Gulf of Mexico and inviting me to share in the experiences of their resort.

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South of Cancun, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, travelers find the town of Playa del Carmen.

cloud cover creates color

Whether you spend one night, or one month, this gem on the Riviera Maya will leave an impression. And after three visits within the last year, I can confirm – after the sun sets the town really starts to heat up.

But just like anywhere, during sunset the town seems to pause. And just like in Tulum the sun might not be viewable dipping beneath the horizon on the Gulf of Mexico, but visitors (and many locals too) still take a moment to pause. Time to watch both the sky and clouds change colors. To take a moment and enjoy time as day turns to night. I did.

The best place to capture the moment remains the sands of the ‘playa’ (beach) itself. Whether taking a leisurely stroll or watching from the cozy, comfortable chairs at a place like Fusion, the cool, constant ocean breeze and mesmerizing waves seem to slow down time. And sometimes that is exactly what we need from our travels.

Happy Sunset Sunday.

Fusion, a great place to catch a sunset moment

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 15 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

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