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Days of romance in the Riviera Maya and beyond

On your next trip to Royal Resorts spend the day exploring the Riviera Maya and Yucatan with the one you love. A day on the beach, out on the water or discovering a city full of history can be a magical and unforgettable experience. Here are some ideas for travel adventures.

Riviera Maya Beach Hopping

Start the day with a stroll along the beach at dawn. See the glory of a Caribbean sunrise, listen to the waves and watch the pelicans on their morning fly past. It’s a beautiful beginning to another day in paradise.

Pack a picnic basket with goodies like roast chicken from the Royal Express menu, grab a bottle of wine from The Royal Market and head off for a day of Riviera Maya beach hopping. There are so many lovely beaches to choose from along this stretch of shoreline with idyllic spots to be found in Puerto Morelos, Maroma, Xpu-Ha, Akumal, Xcacel, Bahias de Punta Soliman and Tulum, among others. Choose your favorite sheltered bay or  crescent beach or visit several during the day.

On your way back, plan to call in at Riviera Maya capital Playa del Carmen for a spot of shopping, a cocktail and a candlelit dinner at one of the many eclectic restaurants along Quinta Avenida and neighboring streets.

Island Sunsets

Catch the ferry across the bay to Isla Mujeres and spend the morning on the palm-lined beach of Playa Norte. Picture-perfect for its turquoise waters, Playa Norte often finds its way into lists of the world’s best beaches in online travel magazines.

After a lunch of fresh seafood at one of the tropical thatched restaurants along the shoreline, it’s time to explore the island. Hire a golf cart and drive to Punta Sur for incredible views of the Caribbean with Cancun Hotel Zone in the distance.

As an alternative, board a yacht for a cruise around the island and a spot of snorkeling along coral reefs in the crystal-clear waters of the bay. Keep a look out for sea turtles and even dolphins.

Back on the Isla waterfront, make your way to one of the palapa beach bars to order a drink, watch local fishermen unloading their catch and wait for the sunset. Playa Norte is one of the best places in the area to watch the sun go down.

Once you have visited one of the Mexican Caribbean’s islands, you’ll want to discover the others. Travel further afield to the island of Holbox just off the Gulf coast in northern Quintana Roo, another romantic spot with truly spectacular sunsets, long beaches and tropical ambiance.

Set sail on a romantic sunset dinner cruise

All aboard for a romantic sunset cruise this February. Board the famous Spanish galleon Columbus for a voyage across the Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun. Dine on charcoal-grilled lobster and sip a Caribbean cocktail as you listen to soft jazz performed by a saxophone player.

Another option is to cast off on a yacht for a champagne dinner cruise in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres or a catamaran cruise along the Riviera Maya coast.

Whatever your choice, you’ll enjoy a romantic Caribbean evening under a star-filled sky, a perfect way to celebrate love.

Yucatan serenade

Plan a getaway to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan, a historic city that is still steeped in romance. Spend the day exploring its 16th-century churches and convents, quiet squares and magnificent 19th-century mansions built at the height of the henequen boom. Visit museums and galleries and shop for Mexican arts and crafts in its boutiques and markets.

Merida was founded by the Spaniards in 1542 amidst the ruins of an ancient Maya city of T’ho. In the late 19th century, the city became rich from the cultivation of a native agave plant called henequen or sisal. Prized by the Maya since pre-Hispanic times for its tough fiber used to make rope and bags, henequen became so lucrative that it was called “green gold,” as demand for the fiber in international markets skyrocketed. Merida was one of the richest cities in the world and its wealthiest inhabitants commissioned elegant homes and civic buildings inspired by the belle époque architectural style of Paris.

A Merida evening

As the sun goes down it is time to look for a spot for dinner and there are restaurants and cuisines to suit every taste in Merida. However, to catch the true romance of yesteryear you should dine in a romantic candlelit colonial courtyard filled with plants and listen to the ballads of guitar-strumming trova musicians as they serenade guests.

After your meal, walk to the main square or Plaza Grande where you’ll find more musicians ready to serenade passers by and flower sellers eager to sell you bunches of roses, fragrant lilies, gardenias and nosegays and boutonnieres of local orchid-like white flowers called mariposas.

Stroll around the square and watch the video mapping show that flickers across the façade of the towering San Ildelfonso Cathedral, Mexico’s oldest cathedral, Casa de Montejo, the 16th-century home of the family that conquered the Yucatan and is now a museum, and Government House.

There’s a cultural event somewhere in Merida every night and on Monday it is the turn of the square with a traditional folk dance performance in front of City Hall.

In the 19th century, Merida’s leading families would drive along the Merida streets in their carriages and calesas or horse-drawn traps still ply their trade in the evening. However, it is just as romantic to wander north along Calle 60 past more colonial churches and leafy squares with open-air cafes and bars. En route, you’ll pass the Universidad de Yucatan, one of the oldest in the Americas; the elegant Peon Contreras Theater built in neoclassical style, and Plaza Santa Lucia, site of a trova concert every Thursday.

Head further north along Calle 60 for several more blocks and turn right on to Paseo de Montejo. This wide tree-lined boulevard was inspired by the Champs Élyseés and is the setting for the opulent mansions built during the henequen boom of the late 19th century and the first years of the 20th century. Standing silent now, these imposing town houses and chateaus are testimony to a time when Merida had more millionaires than New York.

As you stroll along Paseo de Montejo, stop for dinner, a coffee or ice cream at an open-air café or sip a cocktail under the stars in a romantic rooftop terrace bar.

Book your trip today

You can book day trips, sunset cruises and yacht trips and longer excursions in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan with Thomas More Travel. And they also offer private trips in a van with your own driver if you like the idea of beach hopping and a picnic or exploring off the beaten track.

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Maya Mystery, the Jungle City of Coba

Follow in the footsteps of 19th-century explorers on your own jungle adventure and discover Coba, ancient city of the Maya. Just 44 kilometers inland from Tulum in the Riviera Maya, Coba lies deep in the forest and many of its temples are still buried under a tangle of tropical vines, palms and tree roots.

German explorer Teobert Maler was the first European to visit Coba in 1891 after hearing tales of strange carved stones and temples hidden deep in the forest. Since then, a number of excavations have revealed that the long lost city is actually one of the Maya World’s largest archaeological sites, with an extension of around 70 square kilometers.

Coba is clustered around five shallow lakes, which would have provided inhabitants with fresh water in ancient times, and its name in Maya actually means “waters ruffled by the wind.”

The city reached its peak during the Maya Classic period, A.D. 250-900, when it was a regional capital and an important trade center, distributing goods to and from the Caribbean coast, Central America and cities in the Yucatán. Merchants would have bartered commodities such as honey, beeswax, cotton, henequen, cacao and copal incense that were produced in the region for sting ray spines, spiny oyster shells and salted fish from the coast and jade, obsidian, quetzal feathers and gold from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and other parts of Central America.

At the height of its power, Coba is thought to have had a population of around 70,000 people. Unlike other Mayan cities in the area, it was still inhabited at the time of the Spanish Conquest.

Although the majority of its temples and buildings still lie under a mantle of vegetation, Coba is gradually revealing its secrets. The most recent breakthrough by Mexican archaeologists is the identification of a dynasty of 14 lords from the hieroglyphic inscriptions on stelae or standing stones at the site. This powerful house ruled the city from around A.D. 500 to A.D. 780 and had links to Ek Balam, Calakmul and cities in the Peten region of northern Guatemala.

Exploring Coba
A line of impressive ceibas, the sacred tree of the Maya, marks the entrance to the archaeological site and from there a network of trails leads off through the forest to the different clusters of temples. You can explore this huge site on foot or rent a bike or a tricycle, the traditional mode of transport in Maya villages throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

From a distance you’ll see the crest of Coba’s most famous building soaring above the treetops. Standing 42 meters high, Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the northern Yucatán and the views from the top are spectacular. The narrow pyramid staircase leads to two temples where offerings of animals, conch shells, jade and a fragment of a stela were found.

About 70 meters southeast of the pyramid is Stela 20, the best preserved of 30 stelae, altars and carved panels found at the site. It depicts a lord standing on the back of a bound captive, surrounded by three other courtiers who appear to be paying homage to their ruler. Stelae were erected by rulers to commemorate events during their reign such as military victories, marriages and accessions.

Other building groups are the Cobá group, the oldest at the site, La Iglesia, another 24-meter-high pyramid crowned by a temple, the Ball Court, Las Pinturas, Xaibé or the Crossroads Pyramid and the Macanxoc group which has nine circular altars and eight stelae.

Coba is also famous for the sacbes or Maya causeways that radiate from the heart of the city. To date, 45 of these roads have been unearthed at the site, including the longest sacbe in the Maya World. This sacbe links the city with Yaxuna, near Chichen Itza, a distance of 101 kilometers. Sacbes were used for ceremonial processions, trade and military missions and to mark the boundaries of a city’s territory and influence.

Watch out for Wildlife
Maya mysteries aside, one of the thrills of exploring Coba is being in the jungle and catching a glimpse of some of the creatures that make their home among the trees. Towering chicozapote trees, tropical figs, cedars, chacas and ceibas compete for space, their branches festooned with lianas, orchids and bromeliads. Look up through the leaves and you may spot flocks of parrots and Yucatan jays, the yellow breast of the shy trogon and a flash of turquoise and russet as a motmot bird takes flight.

Families of spider monkeys move through the canopy in search of zapote fruit and agoutis, brocket deer and coatimundis forage in the undergrowth. Iguanas sun themselves on the rocks and huge morph butterflies in shades of iridescent blue flutter along jungle trails.

Choosing a trip to Coba
Thomas More Travel offers several different trips to Coba. You can spend the whole morning at the archaeological site or combine your visit with a side trip to the famous cliff top city of Tulum on the Caribbean coast and a refreshing dip in a jungle cenote or sinkhole.

Another trip takes you to Coba in the afternoon. After a guided tour of the ancient city and a visit to a potter’s workshop you’ll watch the sunset on the shores of the lake between Coba village and the archaeological site. Then you’ll venture into the jungle after dark to watch the representation of the ancient Maya ball game and part of the Maya creation story, the Popol Vuh.

For even more jungle thrills, the Mayan Encounter trip includes a guided tour of Coba, zip lining, rappel, snorkeling in a cenote, a visit to a Maya village for a nature walk, a Maya ritual and a lunch of traditional Yucatecan dishes.
Visit www.thomasmoretravel.com or call in at the tour desk in your resort during your stay.

Visiting Coba at your own pace
If you would like to rent a car and explore on your own, take Highway 307 south to Tulum and the turnoff to Coba. The journey to Coba takes about 90 minutes from Cancun and one hour from Playa del Carmen.

Twenty minutes north of Coba along the same highway is the tiny village and community reserve of Punta Laguna on the shores of a beautiful jungle-rimmed lagoon. For a small charge villagers will take you along jungle trails in search of the spider monkeys that make their home in the reserve.

On the return journey, call in at Tulum or Akumal for a late lunch on the beach and visit one of the many cenote parks in the Riviera Maya.

Related post

Royal Resorts Life magazine now available online

The 2019 edition of our annual magazine Royal Resorts Life is now available online. Click on this link to read and download it. Get the latest news from Royal Resorts, including sightseeing ideas and activities for you to enjoy on your next trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The 2018 Advisory Council Reports and […]

TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 honors for Grand Residences and Royal Resorts

Members of the TripAdvisor travel community have rated Grand Residences and Royal Resorts among the Top Hotels in Mexico by including them in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 listings. For the fifth year running Grand Residences has picked up several TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 accolades given to the best of the best in Mexico. TripAdvisor […]

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Days of romance in the Riviera Maya and beyond

On your next trip to Royal Resorts spend the day exploring the Riviera Maya and Yucatan with the one you love. A day on the beach, out on the water or discovering a city full of history can be a magical and unforgettable experience. Here are some ideas for travel adventures.

Riviera Maya Beach Hopping

Start the day with a stroll along the beach at dawn. See the glory of a Caribbean sunrise, listen to the waves and watch the pelicans on their morning fly past. It’s a beautiful beginning to another day in paradise.

Pack a picnic basket with goodies like roast chicken from the Royal Express menu, grab a bottle of wine from The Royal Market and head off for a day of Riviera Maya beach hopping. There are so many lovely beaches to choose from along this stretch of shoreline with idyllic spots to be found in Puerto Morelos, Maroma, Xpu-Ha, Akumal, Xcacel, Bahias de Punta Soliman and Tulum, among others. Choose your favorite sheltered bay or  crescent beach or visit several during the day.

On your way back, plan to call in at Riviera Maya capital Playa del Carmen for a spot of shopping, a cocktail and a candlelit dinner at one of the many eclectic restaurants along Quinta Avenida and neighboring streets.

Island Sunsets

Catch the ferry across the bay to Isla Mujeres and spend the morning on the palm-lined beach of Playa Norte. Picture-perfect for its turquoise waters, Playa Norte often finds its way into lists of the world’s best beaches in online travel magazines.

After a lunch of fresh seafood at one of the tropical thatched restaurants along the shoreline, it’s time to explore the island. Hire a golf cart and drive to Punta Sur for incredible views of the Caribbean with Cancun Hotel Zone in the distance.

As an alternative, board a yacht for a cruise around the island and a spot of snorkeling along coral reefs in the crystal-clear waters of the bay. Keep a look out for sea turtles and even dolphins.

Back on the Isla waterfront, make your way to one of the palapa beach bars to order a drink, watch local fishermen unloading their catch and wait for the sunset. Playa Norte is one of the best places in the area to watch the sun go down.

Once you have visited one of the Mexican Caribbean’s islands, you’ll want to discover the others. Travel further afield to the island of Holbox just off the Gulf coast in northern Quintana Roo, another romantic spot with truly spectacular sunsets, long beaches and tropical ambiance.

Set sail on a romantic sunset dinner cruise

All aboard for a romantic sunset cruise this February. Board the famous Spanish galleon Columbus for a voyage across the Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun. Dine on charcoal-grilled lobster and sip a Caribbean cocktail as you listen to soft jazz performed by a saxophone player.

Another option is to cast off on a yacht for a champagne dinner cruise in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres or a catamaran cruise along the Riviera Maya coast.

Whatever your choice, you’ll enjoy a romantic Caribbean evening under a star-filled sky, a perfect way to celebrate love.

Yucatan serenade

Plan a getaway to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan, a historic city that is still steeped in romance. Spend the day exploring its 16th-century churches and convents, quiet squares and magnificent 19th-century mansions built at the height of the henequen boom. Visit museums and galleries and shop for Mexican arts and crafts in its boutiques and markets.

Merida was founded by the Spaniards in 1542 amidst the ruins of an ancient Maya city of T’ho. In the late 19th century, the city became rich from the cultivation of a native agave plant called henequen or sisal. Prized by the Maya since pre-Hispanic times for its tough fiber used to make rope and bags, henequen became so lucrative that it was called “green gold,” as demand for the fiber in international markets skyrocketed. Merida was one of the richest cities in the world and its wealthiest inhabitants commissioned elegant homes and civic buildings inspired by the belle époque architectural style of Paris.

A Merida evening

As the sun goes down it is time to look for a spot for dinner and there are restaurants and cuisines to suit every taste in Merida. However, to catch the true romance of yesteryear you should dine in a romantic candlelit colonial courtyard filled with plants and listen to the ballads of guitar-strumming trova musicians as they serenade guests.

After your meal, walk to the main square or Plaza Grande where you’ll find more musicians ready to serenade passers by and flower sellers eager to sell you bunches of roses, fragrant lilies, gardenias and nosegays and boutonnieres of local orchid-like white flowers called mariposas.

Stroll around the square and watch the video mapping show that flickers across the façade of the towering San Ildelfonso Cathedral, Mexico’s oldest cathedral, Casa de Montejo, the 16th-century home of the family that conquered the Yucatan and is now a museum, and Government House.

There’s a cultural event somewhere in Merida every night and on Monday it is the turn of the square with a traditional folk dance performance in front of City Hall.

In the 19th century, Merida’s leading families would drive along the Merida streets in their carriages and calesas or horse-drawn traps still ply their trade in the evening. However, it is just as romantic to wander north along Calle 60 past more colonial churches and leafy squares with open-air cafes and bars. En route, you’ll pass the Universidad de Yucatan, one of the oldest in the Americas; the elegant Peon Contreras Theater built in neoclassical style, and Plaza Santa Lucia, site of a trova concert every Thursday.

Head further north along Calle 60 for several more blocks and turn right on to Paseo de Montejo. This wide tree-lined boulevard was inspired by the Champs Élyseés and is the setting for the opulent mansions built during the henequen boom of the late 19th century and the first years of the 20th century. Standing silent now, these imposing town houses and chateaus are testimony to a time when Merida had more millionaires than New York.

As you stroll along Paseo de Montejo, stop for dinner, a coffee or ice cream at an open-air café or sip a cocktail under the stars in a romantic rooftop terrace bar.

Book your trip today

You can book day trips, sunset cruises and yacht trips and longer excursions in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan with Thomas More Travel. And they also offer private trips in a van with your own driver if you like the idea of beach hopping and a picnic or exploring off the beaten track.

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Maya Mystery, the Jungle City of Coba

Follow in the footsteps of 19th-century explorers on your own jungle adventure and discover Coba, ancient city of the Maya. Just 44 kilometers inland from Tulum in the Riviera Maya, Coba lies deep in the forest and many of its temples are still buried under a tangle of tropical vines, palms and tree roots.

German explorer Teobert Maler was the first European to visit Coba in 1891 after hearing tales of strange carved stones and temples hidden deep in the forest. Since then, a number of excavations have revealed that the long lost city is actually one of the Maya World’s largest archaeological sites, with an extension of around 70 square kilometers.

Coba is clustered around five shallow lakes, which would have provided inhabitants with fresh water in ancient times, and its name in Maya actually means “waters ruffled by the wind.”

The city reached its peak during the Maya Classic period, A.D. 250-900, when it was a regional capital and an important trade center, distributing goods to and from the Caribbean coast, Central America and cities in the Yucatán. Merchants would have bartered commodities such as honey, beeswax, cotton, henequen, cacao and copal incense that were produced in the region for sting ray spines, spiny oyster shells and salted fish from the coast and jade, obsidian, quetzal feathers and gold from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and other parts of Central America.

At the height of its power, Coba is thought to have had a population of around 70,000 people. Unlike other Mayan cities in the area, it was still inhabited at the time of the Spanish Conquest.

Although the majority of its temples and buildings still lie under a mantle of vegetation, Coba is gradually revealing its secrets. The most recent breakthrough by Mexican archaeologists is the identification of a dynasty of 14 lords from the hieroglyphic inscriptions on stelae or standing stones at the site. This powerful house ruled the city from around A.D. 500 to A.D. 780 and had links to Ek Balam, Calakmul and cities in the Peten region of northern Guatemala.

Exploring Coba
A line of impressive ceibas, the sacred tree of the Maya, marks the entrance to the archaeological site and from there a network of trails leads off through the forest to the different clusters of temples. You can explore this huge site on foot or rent a bike or a tricycle, the traditional mode of transport in Maya villages throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

From a distance you’ll see the crest of Coba’s most famous building soaring above the treetops. Standing 42 meters high, Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the northern Yucatán and the views from the top are spectacular. The narrow pyramid staircase leads to two temples where offerings of animals, conch shells, jade and a fragment of a stela were found.

About 70 meters southeast of the pyramid is Stela 20, the best preserved of 30 stelae, altars and carved panels found at the site. It depicts a lord standing on the back of a bound captive, surrounded by three other courtiers who appear to be paying homage to their ruler. Stelae were erected by rulers to commemorate events during their reign such as military victories, marriages and accessions.

Other building groups are the Cobá group, the oldest at the site, La Iglesia, another 24-meter-high pyramid crowned by a temple, the Ball Court, Las Pinturas, Xaibé or the Crossroads Pyramid and the Macanxoc group which has nine circular altars and eight stelae.

Coba is also famous for the sacbes or Maya causeways that radiate from the heart of the city. To date, 45 of these roads have been unearthed at the site, including the longest sacbe in the Maya World. This sacbe links the city with Yaxuna, near Chichen Itza, a distance of 101 kilometers. Sacbes were used for ceremonial processions, trade and military missions and to mark the boundaries of a city’s territory and influence.

Watch out for Wildlife
Maya mysteries aside, one of the thrills of exploring Coba is being in the jungle and catching a glimpse of some of the creatures that make their home among the trees. Towering chicozapote trees, tropical figs, cedars, chacas and ceibas compete for space, their branches festooned with lianas, orchids and bromeliads. Look up through the leaves and you may spot flocks of parrots and Yucatan jays, the yellow breast of the shy trogon and a flash of turquoise and russet as a motmot bird takes flight.

Families of spider monkeys move through the canopy in search of zapote fruit and agoutis, brocket deer and coatimundis forage in the undergrowth. Iguanas sun themselves on the rocks and huge morph butterflies in shades of iridescent blue flutter along jungle trails.

Choosing a trip to Coba
Thomas More Travel offers several different trips to Coba. You can spend the whole morning at the archaeological site or combine your visit with a side trip to the famous cliff top city of Tulum on the Caribbean coast and a refreshing dip in a jungle cenote or sinkhole.

Another trip takes you to Coba in the afternoon. After a guided tour of the ancient city and a visit to a potter’s workshop you’ll watch the sunset on the shores of the lake between Coba village and the archaeological site. Then you’ll venture into the jungle after dark to watch the representation of the ancient Maya ball game and part of the Maya creation story, the Popol Vuh.

For even more jungle thrills, the Mayan Encounter trip includes a guided tour of Coba, zip lining, rappel, snorkeling in a cenote, a visit to a Maya village for a nature walk, a Maya ritual and a lunch of traditional Yucatecan dishes.
Visit www.thomasmoretravel.com or call in at the tour desk in your resort during your stay.

Visiting Coba at your own pace
If you would like to rent a car and explore on your own, take Highway 307 south to Tulum and the turnoff to Coba. The journey to Coba takes about 90 minutes from Cancun and one hour from Playa del Carmen.

Twenty minutes north of Coba along the same highway is the tiny village and community reserve of Punta Laguna on the shores of a beautiful jungle-rimmed lagoon. For a small charge villagers will take you along jungle trails in search of the spider monkeys that make their home in the reserve.

On the return journey, call in at Tulum or Akumal for a late lunch on the beach and visit one of the many cenote parks in the Riviera Maya.

Related post

Royal Resorts Life magazine now available online

The 2019 edition of our annual magazine Royal Resorts Life is now available online. Click on this link to read and download it. Get the latest news from Royal Resorts, including sightseeing ideas and activities for you to enjoy on your next trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The 2018 Advisory Council Reports and […]

TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 honors for Grand Residences and Royal Resorts

Members of the TripAdvisor travel community have rated Grand Residences and Royal Resorts among the Top Hotels in Mexico by including them in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 listings. For the fifth year running Grand Residences has picked up several TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 accolades given to the best of the best in Mexico. TripAdvisor […]

Photo courtesy of Herbert Meyrl
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Riviera Maya cave discovery: world’s longest flooded cave system

Photo courtesy of Herbert Meyrl
Photo courtesy of Herbert Meyrl

In a limestone landscape peppered with cenotes or sinkholes and caves, there has been another incredible Riviera Maya cave discovery. The world’s longest flooded cave system has been discovered in the Tulum area. After 10 months of exploration, the Gran Acuifero Maya (Great Maya Aquifer Project) expedition team of cave divers announced that they had found a tunnel linking the Sac Actun (white cave in Maya) and Dos Ojos flooded cave systems near Tulum in the Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico. This connection means that Sac Actun is now the world’s largest known underwater cave; at 347 kilometers long, it is longer than the Ox Bel Ha cave system, also in the Tulum area. With 270 kilometers of mapped submerged caverns, Ox Bel Ha had previously held the world record.

When a tunnel connecting two cave systems is found the name of the larger one is adopted for both, this means that the Dos Ojos system is no longer known as such and now forms part of Sac Actun.

For Robert Schmittner, the cave diver team leader, the discovery is the culmination of 14 years of exploration of the Sac Actun system. Team members think that it is likely that Sac Actun is connected to other flooded cave systems in the area such as Ox Bel Ha and Kook Baal.

In another Riviera Maya cave discovery, the team also found a huge cenote to the north of Sac Actun that is 18 kilometers long and has a depth of up to 20 meters.

Mexican archaeologist and National Geographic explorer Guillermo de Anda, the Gran Acuifero Maya project director, revealed that during the exploration of Sac Actun the team had made some amazing discoveries that will help build up a picture of the early history of the Yucatan Peninsula. He referred to the flooded cave system as a huge archaeological zone, the world’s most important flooded historical site. The team has found the fossils of prehistoric animals, traces of the earliest human inhabitants of the Americas and structures, bones, ceramics, offerings and cave paintings associated with the ancient Maya. All are documented and left in situ so as not to interfere with the context.

This is the latest in the series of groundbreaking discoveries that the Gran Acuifero Maya expedition has made as it explores the mysterious Mayan Underworld, the network of cenotes and caves scattered across the Yucatan Peninsula.

(Source: Gran Acuifero Maya)

Related post

Royal Resorts Life magazine now available online

The 2019 edition of our annual magazine Royal Resorts Life is now available online. Click on this link to read and download it. Get the latest news from Royal Resorts, including sightseeing ideas and activities for you to enjoy on your next trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The 2018 Advisory Council Reports and […]

TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 honors for Grand Residences and Royal Resorts

Members of the TripAdvisor travel community have rated Grand Residences and Royal Resorts among the Top Hotels in Mexico by including them in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 listings. For the fifth year running Grand Residences has picked up several TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 accolades given to the best of the best in Mexico. TripAdvisor […]

Sea turtle
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Sea Turtle Season in Cancun and Riviera Maya

Sea turtle season in Cancun and Riviera Maya begins in May

Sea turtle nesting season begins in May in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. All along the Mexican Caribbean shoreline, the Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres, Contoy, HolboxCozumel, Sian Ka’an and the beaches of southern Quintana Roo, female green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles, and the occasional giant leatherback turtle, come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand. Forty-five to 60 days later, their eggs hatch and the baby turtles struggle out of the shells and begin their perilous dash towards the waves and a new life at sea.

The birth of the sea turtle is one of nature’s greatest wonders and Royal Resorts is proud to do its part to protect this ancient, and sadly, endangered species.

After refresher courses on turtle nesting habits given by biologists working for the Ecology department in Cancun City Hall, Security guards at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander in Cancun, and Grand Residences in Puerto Morelos, have begun their annual summer vigil.

Night after night, these conservation guardians patrol the beaches in search of nesting female sea turtles. When they find one, they watch over her as she digs her nest and deposits her eggs. They then transfer the eggs to a nursery where they must dig another nest that is identical in shape and depth to the original. The sea turtle species, date and time of nesting and number of eggs are recorded and another long wait begins until they hatch.

Finally, the watch is over and guests are invited to see the baby sea turtles being released to race across the beach towards the waves and a new life in the ocean.

Royal Resorts is a Sea Turtle Conservation Pioneer

Royal Resorts has been protecting the sea turtle since 1985. Official record keeping began at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander in 1998 and in 18 years we have protected 6,686 sea turtle nests and released 604,309 baby turtles! In 2015, there were 527 nests with 55,434 baby turtles at the Cancun resorts and a further 69 nests and over 5,000 hatchlings released at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun. We hope that our sea turtle guardians will be even busier this year.

Follow the Sea Turtle Nesting Season Rules

If you are due to visit Royal Resorts or Grand Residences Riviera Cancun or will be traveling to Cancun or the Riviera Maya during the summer, join us in protecting these beautiful creatures.

• If you spot a sea turtle on the beach at night alert the security staff

• Be very quiet and keep still

• Watch from a distance of ten meters

• Do not attempt to touch the sea turtle or crowd her

• Do not shine a torch or use the light on your mobile phone

• Please, no flash photography of nesting sea turtles or baby turtles

• No smoking

• Follow the instructions given by security staff at all times

• Security staff will release baby turtles after dark when predators such as seagulls and frigate birds have gone to roost. Changes in Federal environmental law here in Mexico mean that it is no longer possible for guests to handle baby sea turtles.

• Help us to keep our beaches and sea clean. Discarded straws, plastic bags, beer packaging, fishing lines and other garbage floating in the water are lethal to sea turtles and other marine life

• When snorkeling or diving watch sea turtles from a distance, do not swim towards them and do not attempt to touch them

• Wear a t-shirt when snorkeling as protection from the sun instead of applying sun block. Sun products pollute the water and are harmful to marine life

The sea turtle is protected by Mexican law and it is illegal to disturb them, persecute or hunt them and consume their meat or eggs.

First Sea Turtle Nests in the Mexican Caribbean

Volunteers patrolling the beaches in the Puerto Morelos area, Akumal and the Xcacel-Xcacelito Turtle Sanctuary in the Riviera Maya and the island of Cozumel have reported the first sea turtle nests of the season. There will be many more in the weeks to come.

The first sea turtle of the season spotted on a beach in the Puerto Morelos area was a huge leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the largest species in the world and seldom seen in the Mexican Caribbean. Known as tortuga laud in Spanish, the leatherback turtle can be up to seven feet long. It owes its name to its carapace, which is rubbery and ridged, unlike the harder bony shells of the green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtle.

All sea turtles are ocean wanderers and none more so than the leatherback turtle. It swims the longest distances between feeding and nesting areas; distances in excess of 7,000 miles have been recorded, there and back again. It can also dive deeper than any other turtle, to over 4,000 feet and can stay immersed for over an hour.

Leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish and many die as a result of swallowing plastic bags and other refuse they mistake for their prey.

Xcaret nurses 12 injured sea turtles back to health and releases them

In more sea turtle news, after a year of intensive care in the Xcaret Turtle Rehabilitation Center, 12 green and hawksbill turtles were released in May to begin life at sea.

The three hawksbill turtles were juveniles, around eight or nine months old when they were rescued in a state of extreme malnutrition. The nine green turtles were hatchlings born in the 2015 season that were too weak to be released. Xcaret vets were able to nurse them back to health.

The most important center of its kind in Mexico, the Xcaret Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center attends turtles brought in with injuries caused by boat collisions, entrapment in fishing nets, plastic garbage and swallowing fishing hooks. Others have been attacked by poachers, dogs or jaguars or are suffering from anorexia, starvation or diseases. The survival rate of turtles rescued in such circumstances is up to 67 percent at the Center.

Together with its charitable foundation Flora, Fauna y Cultura de Mexico, A.C., Xcaret has been involved in sea turtle conservation for more than 30 years. Flora, Fauna y Cultura manages several turtle camps in the Riviera Maya and on its watch it is estimated that more than 10 million baby turtles have been helped on their way to begin life at sea.

Check this blog for more sea turtle news during the season. You can also pick up a Save the Sea Turtle t-shirt from La Paloma Gift Shop at Royal Resorts and support conservation.

Want to know more about sea turtle protection in Cancun check our Cancun Destination Guide 

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Royal Resorts Life magazine now available online

The 2019 edition of our annual magazine Royal Resorts Life is now available online. Click on this link to read and download it. Get the latest news from Royal Resorts, including sightseeing ideas and activities for you to enjoy on your next trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The 2018 Advisory Council Reports and […]

TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 honors for Grand Residences and Royal Resorts

Members of the TripAdvisor travel community have rated Grand Residences and Royal Resorts among the Top Hotels in Mexico by including them in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 listings. For the fifth year running Grand Residences has picked up several TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 accolades given to the best of the best in Mexico. TripAdvisor […]

Tulum Quintana Roo, Mexico
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Best in Mexico

It’s 1 and 2 for the state of Quintana Roo in the 2016 Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice awards. Members of the world’s largest online travel community have rated Playa del Carmen as the Best Destination in Mexico, Cancun came second and Tulum was in fifth position.

In the Travelers’ Choice Best Beaches in Mexico category, the dominance of the Mexican Caribbean was even more overwhelming. Our soft white sand and turquoise waters won five of the top 10 spots:

  • No. 1 Playa Paraíso, Tulum (also No. 21 in the World’s Top 25 Beaches)
  • No. 2 Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres
  • No. 3 Akumal
  • No. 5 Playa Paraíso, Cozumel
  • No. 6, Playa Delfines, Cancun

www.tripadvisor.com

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Sea Turtle Season in Cancun and Riviera Maya

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Painting the Phase 2 Buildings at The Royal Haciendas

As part of the Resort Improvements program for 2016, all buildings in phase II (facades and terraces) at The Royal Haciendas are being painted and work started in week 18. Work will take place from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and all buildings are scheduled for completion by week 38, weather permitting. We appreciate […]

Cenote
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Exploring the Gran Acuifero Maya, Yucatan’s Caves and Cenotes

Cave divers, archaeologists and biologists have been unlocking the secrets of the cenotes (sinkholes) and underground rivers in the Riviera Maya for many years and have mapped an intricate network of channels hidden deep in the limestone rock. The world’s two longest underground river systems found to date Sac Aktun and Ox Bel Ha are in the Riviera Maya and the neighboring state of Yucatan has its own famous sinkholes and caves once held sacred by the ancient Maya. Amazing discoveries of Mayan offerings in cenotes and caves have been followed by finds in the Riviera Maya that cast new light on the earliest settlers of the Americas and the creatures that roamed the area in prehistoric times. Yet of the estimated 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula only a few have been explored. This is about to change with the launch of a five-year expedition called Gran Acuifero Maya funded by National Geographic, the CAF-Latin American Development Bank and the Aspen Institute of Mexico.

Expedition will Explore Cenotes throughout the Yucatan Peninsula

Expedition leader Mexican archaeologist and Nat Geo explorer Dr. Guillermo De Anda and a team of divers, archaeologists, geologists, biologists and oceanographers from Nat Geo, INAH, UNAM and the Universidad Tecnologico de la Riviera Maya will begin by exploring cenotes in southern Quintana Roo and Felipe Carrillo Puerto. They will then move north to the Coba area and explore a chain of lagoons and cenotes on the Quintana Roo-Yucatan border. Future stages of the project will take them to Yucatan and Campeche to unlock the mysteries of this secret submerged world.

Guillermo De Anda has been exploring cenotes since 1983 and led his first archaeological research expedition in 1996. Since then, he has made many discoveries in the depths of cenotes and caves.

The Maya believed that cenotes and caves were the gateways to the Maya Underworld they called Xibalba, the home of the gods. Cenotes were the source of life-giving water and a place of worship. During his research, De Anda has found offerings of ancient ceramics, human and animal bones, altars, pathways and even evidence that some cenotes were used as observatories marking the passage of the seasons.

As part of the Gran Acuifero Maya project, the team will be using 3D modeling and data sensing software developed by Nat Geo engineer Corey Jaskolski that will enable them to study and create imagery of artifacts, bones and structures without moving them.

The scope of Gran Acuifero Maya goes further than archaeological and paleontological research and mapping, biologists will be analyzing water quality and registering cenote and cave-dwelling species. The underground rivers and cenotes of the Yucatan are the only source of fresh water in the Yucatan Peninsula and the project will also make recommendations for the management of this precious natural resource and the exploitation of cenotes for sustainable tourism.

 

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As part of the Resort Improvements program for 2016, all buildings in phase II (facades and terraces) at The Royal Haciendas are being painted and work started in week 18. Work will take place from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and all buildings are scheduled for completion by week 38, weather permitting. We appreciate […]

Celebrating Nine Great Years at The Royal Haciendas

Wondering what does a Sunrise look like at The Royal Haciendas?

Posted by The Royal Haciendas on Monday, June 29, 2015


The Royal Haciendas turns nine on July 1, 2015 and to celebrate the occasion, your hosts at our Riviera Maya resort have lined up some special activities for you to enjoy.
Join your hosts at the stage in Phase II of the resort the evening of June 30 for a Mexican folk dance show. There’ll be cotton candy and traditional aguas frescas or fruit drinks, a special Member quiz to test your knowledge of your home away from home and commemorative t-shirts.

Share your Favorite Memories of The Royal Haciendas
We would like to know what it is that you love so much about The Royal Haciendas. Is it the beach, the infinity pool or the tile designs of sea turtles in the fountains and ponds? Do you love the Mexican hacienda architecture, the tropical gardens or the air of tranquility? Perhaps you enjoy relaxing in a hammock in true Riviera Maya style, watching orange orioles in the trees in front of your terrace, the colors of the bougainvillea and the warm orange shade of the buildings. Do you have a favorite member of staff, someone who always greets you with a smile and bienvenido a casa, welcome home? Is there a Haciendas cocktail or dish you look forward to all year long? Do you love the seafood at Los Murales or the beach view from La Palapa del Sol? Drop us a line, we would like to hear from you.
Share your photos if you have a special memory of The Royal Haciendas or a favorite corner of our beautiful resort, your Riviera Maya hideaway just five minutes north of Playa del Carmen.

Eastern Healing, the new Thai Samunprai Massage at the Royal Resorts Spa

If a morning at the Spa at The Royal Sands or The Royal Haciendas is part of your recipe for relaxation in the Mexican Caribbean then be sure to try the new Thai Samunprai or Hot Poultice massage on your next trip to Cancun or the Riviera Maya. This timeless Thai therapy alleviates muscle pain and soothes the spirit with the fragrance of fresh herbs.

Legend has it that as far back as the 14th century, Siamese soldiers in the service of the royal army were treated with hot poultice massages to help relax their minds and bodies after returning from battle. The Thai name Samunprai means “warrior’s peace” and the therapy certainly works wonders on tense and aching muscles.

Cloth bags filled with medicinal herbs including mint, chamomile, eucalyptus, rosemary and camphor salts are heated with steam and applied to the body as a poultice, also known as a Pindas or compress. The heat opens the skin’s pores and transmits warmth deep into the muscles, giving relief and a comforting sensation. As you inhale and begin to breathe deeply, the fragrance of the herbs clears the head, restoring balance and a feeling of wellbeing.

The poultice is combined with gentle stretching and a massage with lavender oil to eradicate tension and muscle pain.

Book this 90-minute massage and a variety of other Spa therapies by contacting spa@royalresorts.com

Romantic Moments at Royal Resorts, Valentine’s Day 2015

“And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.”
William Shakespeare

Love is all around you at Royal Resorts this Valentine’s Day with spa packages, special dinners and more planned for you and the one you love.

spacouplesSpa Indulgence
Start your day by sharing some Spa magic this Valentine’s Day. The Spas at The Royal Sands and The Royal Haciendas are offering a February special designed to captivate the senses and indulge body and soul.
The Spa at The Royal Sands Valentine’s Day promotion consists of a 90-minute massage for couples (your choice of massage*), 20 minutes in the Jacuzzi and chocolate-dipped strawberries to share. Price: US$305.
Staying at The Royal Haciendas in February? Indulge with a Spa Valentine’s Day Special featuring a 90-minute massage for couples (your choice of massage*), the tense feet relief therapy for two and a surprise gift. Price US$375. Both promotions are valid February 1 – 28, 2015. Reservations: spa@royalresorts.com or by calling ext. 179 at your resort.
*Package does not apply to the new Samunprai massage. Information subject to change without prior notice.
Romantic DinnerRomantic Dining
Celebrate your love with a romantic night out at one of the Royal Resorts
Restaurants. Opt for an evening of Mexican romance in the elegant setting of Hacienda Sisal; La Veranda at The Royal Sands has a Lobster Night and a Seafood Sampler with live piano music or dine on fresh seafood under the stars on the shores of the lagoon at Captain’s Cove.
If you are staying at The Royal Haciendas in the Riviera Maya, enjoy a sumptuous Valentine’s Day menu in Los Murales, a cook out under the stars or the Mexican buffet with special heart-shaped desserts in La Palapa del Sol.

“And love is the sweetest thing on earth”
James Jeffrey Roche

floralWine & Roses
Surprise the one you love, say it with flowers! You can order a variety of colorful bouquets of roses and fragrant floral arrangements of lilies and other blooms from The Royal Market while you are staying at Royal Resorts, and why not pick up a bottle of champagne or some chocolates to go with them? An alternative is to use the convenient online order service at www.royalresorts.com You can give flowers, fruit baskets, wine and cakes to members and guests staying at all the Royal Resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya and staff at The Royal Market will deliver them to their villa.

“All love is sweet,
Given or returned. Common as light is love,
And its familiar voice wearies not ever.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

183890_262316253784225_2200234_nSaying “I Do”
With so much romance in the air, the starlight of a Mayan evening and the beautiful beach as a backdrop, there is a chance that someone somewhere may decide to pop the question and get married or renew your vows all over again. What better place to celebrate the most important day of your lives than the Mexican Caribbean and with Royal Resorts as your host? The Special Events staff will help you plan the wedding of your dreams, taking care of every little detail so that you can enjoy the captivating setting with your family and friends. For more information on wedding and special events services contact specialevents@royalresorts.com

“Yes, love indeed is light from heaven”
Lord Byron

the-royal-islanderCelebrating Romance, All Year Round
Whatever the season, you can organize a romantic dinner on the beach at your resort to celebrate a birthday or a wedding anniversary or to add more magic to your Mexican Caribbean vacation. There’s something really special about dining by candlelight with the sand between your toes. Enjoy an exquisite menu and let the soft sea breeze and the sound of the waves weave their magic.
For even more indulgence discover the Royal Romance Collection Three special REFINE packages are offered as an option for Royal Resorts members and guests and range from a Romantic Dinner to the Royal Celebration package which includes a romantic dinner on the beach or in your suite, a couples massage, sparkling wine, tempting chocolate-dipped fruit and more. For more information email Thomas More Travel at vtm@royalresorts.com or ask at the travel desk in your resort during your stay.
grand-residencesTruly Grand
With its secluded beach setting and The Leading Hotels of the World® hospitality, Grand Residences, our luxurious private residence club to the south of Puerto Morelos is an enchanting spot to celebrate love and romance.
The Grand Residences Spa is offering a Relaxation and Romance package for couples to enjoy in their suite. Priced at US$405, it includes a 90-minute massage of their choice, 30-minute exfoliation, a luxury spa bath in the suite and a bottle of wine.
Award-winning French Chef Yann Cozic has created a sumptuous menu for Valentine’s Day in El Faro Grill featuring a tropical take on moules mariniere with ginger and coconut, a main course of duck, veal or lobster and a choice of three continental classics for dessert: pear Belle Hèléne, raspberry mille-feuille and passion fruit crème brûlée. After dinner, the open-air terrace is perfect for sipping a cocktail or champagne and listening to the sound of the waves.

“There is only one happiness in life; to love and be loved.”
George Sand

The Mexican Caribbean is much more than heavenly beaches, a world of adventures awaits discovery

Cancun is hosting TBEX this week, an international event that brings together travel bloggers from all over the world. Endless vistas of turquoise waters, soft white sand that’s cool to the touch and the warmth of the Mexican people will captivate them and they’ll soon find out that there’s so much more to discover in the Mexican Caribbean than fabulous beaches. Amazing travel experiences await and no matter how many visits you make here, there’s always something new to see.

From ancient Maya pyramids to coral reefs, eco-adventure parks and nature reserves to vibrant communities, mysterious caves and cenotes and the gracious colonial towns in the state of Yucatan, just a few hours away, there’s something for every interest, whether for families, nature lovers, adventure seekers, history fans, foodies and those who want to learn about a different culture. This really is a multifaceted destination like no other, the gateway to the Yucatan and a world of natural and historical wonders.

Take a look at what’s in store when you step out outside your resort and start exploring:

Underwater World

Did you know that the Mesoamerican Reef, the world’s second longest barrier reef runs south along the Mexican Caribbean coast from Contoy to the neighboring country of Belize? Six hundred miles of spectacular reefs, home to as many as 500 species of multicolored fish and other marine creatures, await discovery. From the reefs of Cancun and Isla Mujeres to Puerto Morelos, Akumal, Cozumel, first made famous by Jacques Cousteau, and Banco Chinchorro, an atoll in southern Quintana Roo, there are dive sites for advanced divers and beginners alike.

And you don’t have to be a diver to marvel at the underwater world of the Mexican Caribbean. Many reefs are in shallow, calm waters and are great snorkeling spots, and crystal-clear caletas or inlets such as Xel-Ha Park, Yalku and Chankanaab on Cozumel are snorkel heaven.

The area’s newest underwater attraction, Cancun’s iconic Underwater Sculpture Museum entices divers and snorkelers alike. The creation of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, it has 500 sculptures in different underwater galleries in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres and at Punta Nizuc and is still expanding. In addition to being beautiful, the sculptures have a conservation role, as they provide a home for corals, sponges, fish and other reef dwellers.

For those who prefer not to get their feet wet, there are aquariums in Cancun and Xcaret Park, glass-bottom boats, semi-submersibles and the Atlantis submarine for a look at Cozumel’s Palancar Reef.

The Ancient Maya

Travel back in time to the days of the ancient Maya. Visit some of the ancient cities that dot the Yucatan Peninsula and learn about Mayan architecture, art, society, religion and scientific achievements.

The cliff top city of Tulum and Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was also voted one of the World’s Seven New Wonders in an online poll in 2007, are the area’s most famous Mayan sites but there are many more to visit. How about a trip to Ek Balam, Coba or Chichen Itza’s fellow World Heritage Site, Uxmal, the most important archaeological site on the Puuc Route south of Merida? If your Mayan discoveries look set to take you further afield, other major sites include Kohunlich and Dzibanche in southern Quintana Roo, another UNESCO World Heritage Site Calakmul in southern Campeche, Palenque in Chiapas and Tikal in neighboring Guatemala.

Start your Maya tour right here in Cancun with visits to El Rey and El Meco archaeological sites and the Cancun Maya Museum for an introduction to Maya culture.

 Wild and Wonderful Nature

With ecosystems ranging from jungle and mangrove forest to coral reefs, the Yucatán Peninsula is a natural wonderland with plenty of exciting experiences to offer eco tourists. Whether you venture into the coastal wetlands in search of flamingos and herons, swim with the whale sharks in the summer or follow a guide though the jungle on the trail of spider monkeys, jaguars and toucans, the area is teeming with wildlife.

Plan an eco trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then it’s on to Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve on the north coast of the Yucatán where thousands of flamingos literally turn the horizon pink! Sail away to Contoy, an island bird sanctuary; visit Punta Laguna, a private community reserve near Cobá that is famous for its colony of spider monkeys or plan a dawn bird watching trip in the forest near Puerto Morelos. Further afield are Celestun, another great spot to see flamingos, and Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

No matter what the season, bird watchers will have fabulous sightings but particularly during the winter. The Yucatan Peninsula is on one of the world’s great bird migration routes and an estimated 150 million birds, including hawks, waders, ducks, songbirds and even hummingbirds, fly south from the US and Canada to escape the cold.

Beach Hopping

We know that you won’t be able to resist the call of our beaches and in the Mexican Caribbean we have 500 miles of them! Discover Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres or remote Isla Blanca, and walk the Cancun shoreline, home to three Blue Flag beaches.

The fishing peaceful village of Puerto Morelos has wide family-friendly beaches sheltered by the offshore reef and the Riviera Maya offers a chain of picture-perfect beaches including Punta Maroma, Playa del Carmen, Paamul, Puerto Aventuras, Xpu-Ha, Akumal, Xcacel, Tulum and the shoreline in the Sian Ka’an Reserve and south to the Costa Maya. The island of Cozumel has spectacular beaches on both coasts and the island of Holbox just off the Gulf coast is an idyllic hideaway.

Island Gems

Discover the island treasures of the Mexican Caribbean: Isla Mujeres, Contoy, Cozumel and Holbox. You have four islands to visit, each one offering natural wonders, rich history, fabulous beaches and a unique ambiance.

Head for Adventure

Wildlife aside, the forests of the Riviera Maya offer even more thrills. Ever wanted to leap off a cliff into a still, clear jungle pool or cenote, glide through the trees on a zip line or explore a cave? There are jungle activity tours and cenote parks in the Riviera Maya to bring out the adventurer in all of us.

If you enjoy zip lining and the wind on your face as you fly through the jungle canopy, visit Xplor Park, where you’ll do the longest and highest zip lining circuit in the area. That’s not all, you can also swim and raft in an underground river and drive an ATV along forest trails. Other zip-lining experiences are available at

Hidden Worlds, where you’ll also snorkel in some spectacular cenotes and Selvatica near Puerto Morelos. For a non-stop jungle adventure try a multisport safari or an ATV expedition.

Caves and Cenotes

The limestone landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula is a labyrinth of underground rivers, caves and the cenotes or sinkholes filled with cool, crystal-clear water that form when cave roofs weaken and collapse over millions of years. Boasting the longest underground rivers in the world discovered to date, the area is a magnet for cave divers, biologists and archaeologists, all of whom are making fascinating discoveries.

The spectacular caves at Rio Secreto and Aktun Chen in the Riviera Maya and Balancanche and Loltun in Yucatan offer you the chance to discover this mysterious otherworld, held sacred by the Maya as the home of the gods.

Many cenotes are open to the public for swimming and snorkeling and you can do your own cenote-hopping trip. There’s a chain of them to visit in the Riviera Maya, starting with the Ruta de los Cenotes in Puerto Morelos, continuing on to Puerto Aventuras and ending in Tulum. And more amazing cenotes await in the state of Yucatan. Visit the Zaci Cenote in Valladolid, Dzitnup and Samula just outside the city and Ik-Kil en route to Chichen Itza.

An alternative is to sign up for the Xenotes, Oasis Maya day trip and discover four different cenotes during one day on the Ruta de los Cenotes.

World-famous Parks, Ideal for Families

Offering the perfect combination of aquatic fun, history, nature and Mexican traditions, Xcaret Park is a Mexican Caribbean must and it doesn’t matter how many times you visit it, there’s always something new to see and enjoy. Be sure to stay on for the evening show, it’s spectacular and a moving tribute to Mexican culture.

Xel-Ha is another popular spot for families who love snorkeling and spending the whole day in the water. At the Garrafon Reef Eco Park on Isla Mujeres you can actually zip line over the Caribbean and Crococun in Puerto Morelos is a small nature park with crocodiles, friendly deer, monkeys and other creatures.

Take to the Water

Ready for an unforgettable day out on the waves? Sail through the turquoise waters of the Caribbean bound for Isla Mujeres. Head for the island bird sanctuary of Contoy or take in a spectacular sunset from the deck of a sleek yacht or a catamaran. Evening cruises include pirate parties or romantic lobster dinner cruises.

The Mexican Caribbean is one vast water playground and activities range from windsurfing and kite surfing to water skiing, speedboats, wave runners and jet skis. Paddle boarding and kayaks offer the chance to explore sheltered bays and lagoons, and fly boarding is growing in popularity in Cancun.

Fishermen can go in search of their own very big fish (catch and release) on a bill fishing trip and try tarpon or flats/fly fishing in the area’s coastal lagoons.

Sports Galore

Take to the fairway on 14 immaculate golf courses in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Cozumel. Fine-tune your tennis game, go biking, parasailing or horseback riding; you can even learn to play polo in Puerto Morelos! And other sporting adventures include driving a luxury car, jeep safaris and a night of baseball, basketball, soccer or even lucha libre in Cancun.

Night Rhythms

The hottest nightclubs in Latin America, salsa bars, chic beach watering holes, dinner cruises, shows and every kind of live music, the Mexican Caribbean nightlife scene is pulsating. Mariachis serenade at every turn and traditional cuisine, music and dance are showcased to perfection in evening performances at Xcaret and Xoximilco Parks. For a quieter evening just stroll along the beach, watch the moon rise over the Caribbean and look up at the stars.

Colonial Treasures

Discover another facet of Yucatan’s history by visiting its colonial towns: Valladolid, Izamal and the largest of them all, vibrant Merida. All boast impressive churches and convents, mansions and tree-lined squares where one can sit for hours and watch the world go by.

In addition to its colonial churches and opulent Belle Époque houses, Merida is renowned for its museums, galleries and its open-air cultural events during the week. Izamal is known as the “City of Gold” due to the bright yellow color of its huge convent and all the buildings in the town center. Valladolid has 16th-century churches, another sprawling convent, a colonial home known as Casa de los Venados that is also a folk art museum, and the Mayapan distillery on the outskirts of town that produces a tequila-like liquor from the blue agave plant using artisanal methods.

Learn about the history of henequen cultivation in the Yucatan by visiting an old hacienda or estate such as Hacienda Sotuta, Teya or Yaxcopoil. Henequen is a native agave plant that yields a tough fiber used to make rope, sacking and mats. World demand for rope fuelled an economic boom in the late 19th century and the plant was known as “green gold.”

Meeting the Maya

Meeting the local people and learning about their lives is one of the most interesting aspects of travel and for many one of the most rewarding and the Mexican Caribbean offers many opportunities to do just that. Maya Ka’an is a new destination in central Quintana Roo comprising nine Mayan communities around Felipe Carrillo Puerto and in Sian Ka’an that offers eco adventures and trips to the villages to meet the inhabitants.

Sixteen different small group eco adventures and community trips are offered by tour operators from the villages themselves, meaning that local people benefit from this sustainable tourism initiative. Visitors can talk to village elders and learn about the history of the area, traditions and legends; walk through the forest gathering medicinal plants; watch honey and chicle, the tree sap that is the natural source of chewing gum being harvested and witness ancient rituals.

Further north, other villages to visit are Nuevo Durango, Punta Laguna, Campamento Hidalgo near Coba and San Angel and Solferino en route to Holbox.

Wherever you go in the Yucatan visit the markets, listen to the language, sample the cuisine or simply sit in the town squares and watch life go by. You may even be lucky enough to see a saint’s day procession or fair and the village fiesta or vaqueria.

In the village of X’ocen near Valladolid, a community theater production called Momentos Sagrados Mayas (Sacred Mayan Moments) is staged from January to March on Sunday at 4 p.m. and gives visitors a glimpse of a world of timeless beliefs and customs. Over 200 actors of all ages from seven different villages take to an open-air stage to reenact scenes from daily life, culminating in the dances performed during the village fiesta.

Off the Beaten Track

If you take Highway 307 south and have days to spare, don’t stop at Tulum, keep on going! You’ll find that central and Southern Quintana Roo have many more natural and historical treasures to offer.

The Zona Maya comprises rural communities clustered around area capital Felipe Carrillo Puerto; this is the Mayan heartland and is known as the Zona Maya. Further south is the archaeological site of Chacchoben and the turn off towards the coast and the fishing villages of Mahajual and Xcalak.

A sheet of turquoise and aquamarine water, Bacalar Lagoon, also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors, is spectacular and the Cenote Azul on its shores is the deepest sinkhole in the Maya World. A colonial fort is testimony to the area’s history of Mayan uprisings and pirate raids.

You can make Bacalar or state capital Chetumal your base for exploring a chain of ancient Mayan cities in the jungle such as Kohunlich, Dzibanche, Oxtankah and Chakanbakan or for longer trips into southern Campeche to Calakmul or the neighboring countries of Belize and Guatemala.

Once in a Lifetime Experiences

How about swimming with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark? From mid-May to mid-September these gentle giants gather in the northern waters of the Mexican Caribbean to feast on plankton and tours are available out to their feeding grounds. Marine biologists believe that this is the largest gathering of whale sharks in the world and a swim with these beautiful creatures is a once in a lifetime experience.

And incredible sightings don’t stop there, during the year you can see manta rays, golden ray migrations and dolphins, swim with sea turtles and even dive with sailfish in the spring, the ocean’s fastest predators.

A helicopter or ultra light flight along the coast is also a memory to treasure, or how about an evening walk in the jungle or on the beach, a light and sound show in the ancient cities of Chichen Itza and Uxmal or a candlelit dinner in the courtyard of a gracious old mansion or hacienda. There are so many unforgettable experiences here.

Viva Mexico!

Unlock the secrets of the Mexican kitchen. The national cuisine is so diverse that UNESCO declared it World Heritage in the category reserved for culture and traditions in November 2010 and there are so many delicious dishes to try. Spare some space for Yucatecan cuisine and if you like food then you’ll love a Mexican cooking class in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Valladolid or Merida.

For a Mexican evening out, head for Xoximilco, the new park from Experiencias Xcaret located five minutes to the south of Cancun Airport. A celebration of Mexican cuisine and music, it is inspired by the famous floating gardens and canals of Xochimilco on the outskirts of Mexico City and you’ll board a colorful barge known as a trajinera for dinner and a fiesta as you sail along a series of canals winding through the jungle.

Take in the unforgettable evening show at Xcaret and you’ll soon be shouting “Viva Mexico.” With 300 dancers and musicians on stage, it takes you on a spectacular tour of this wonderful country, its history and traditions.

We hope that you are now raring to go and explore this wonderful area. For more great trip ideas ask at the tour desk in your resort.