Now that I've shaken the sand from my shorts and put my straw hat away, let me recap my Riviera Maya trip. First of all, the Riviera Maya is a must see. Lush greenery, warm weather, tropical fruit and kind people are characteristic of this area of Mexico. The Riviera Maya district is nestled along the coastline of the Caribbean sea. Popular towns include Cancun, Akumal, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras, and Playa Del Carmen. I recommend renting a car and traveling outside of Cancun to get a sense of the area's culture. Cancun is filled with resorts where many guests never leave the property. That's fine if that's your thing but if you want a more local experience, rent a car. Hop onto Federal Highway 307 and head south in the direction of Akumal and Tulum. Highway speed limits vary so pay close attention to posted signs and distance is measured in kilometers. Also, people are allowed to cross the highway so watch out.
Akumal and Tulum
Akumal and Tulum are a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Cancun. All towns are dotted along Federal Highway 307. The beach house where I stayed is in Akumal. Akumal is a resort town surrounded by a few hotel and condo resorts and beautiful coastline. As you're traveling south on 307, in the town of Puerto Aventuras, there are several quaint, unassuming family-owned taquerias. You can find delicious food for a few pesos. You won't find them in any of the travel guidebooks but the locals know them well and can direct you.
Neither Akumal or Tulum have become as glitzy as Cancun, yet. However, there are two areas in Tulum where you can find bars, restaurants and clubs: El Centro and Jungle road. El Centro is located on Highway 307 and runs through town. Jungle road, located parallel to the coast, is a narrow, two lane road with bars, shops, clubs and restaurants along both sides. Cabs are plentiful in Tulum if you decide not to rent a car.
Tulum is one of the locations in Riviera Maya where you can see Mayan ruins. The ruins were the only Mayan city built on a coast. The ruins date back to the late 13th century. Limestone was used to fortify the city and was chosen for its ability to withstand the salty air from the Caribbean. After you've explored the ruins, take a walk down to the beach. It's just below the ruin castle. The powdery, white sand and blue-green water is inviting. A cool breeze beckons you to take a dip. In addition, there are several beaches along the coast, find one, relax and enjoy. The beaches are public so no need to worry that you are trespassing.
Playa Del Carmen
If you grow idle in Akumal or Tulum, head to Playa Del Carmen for a day of fun. On 5th Avenue, the pedestrian promenade parallel to the beach, you will find shopping (featuring national retailers like Tumi and Old Navy), bars, restaurants with live music and clubs.
If you're looking for a relaxing beach vacation where you can still party and enjoy tropical beauty, consider the Riviera Maya district. Just pack your swimsuit and book a flight. Adios and stay stylish friends...
Photos courtesy: The Squad