So you need some sun, fun and down time that get you away from the daily grind. The Riviera Maya is perfect for that much needed break.
The beach is calling your name, but you have seen what your friends have experienced on their getaways, and you truly want to mix it up this vacation. As much as you love the glorious routine of beach, swim in the sea, happy hour, dinner repeat for your vacation, you really want to do something a little extraordinary this time.
Now extraordinary does not mean super crazy adventure like swimming with sharks, or hiking for miles, or trying a triathlon….that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about doing something different from your regular beach vacation, something as simple as adding a new activity, flavor, or experience. Something worth planning and doing that will shake things up a bit without going overboard.
For some visitors this could mean stepping off the resort and experiencing a small city in the area. For others it could mean visiting a remote or new Mayan archaeological site that was not on your bucket list. For others it is trying a local restaurant you have been meaning to try but just have not gotten around to it. Sure we have some friends and guests who venture far and wide, into the villages of the Yucatan, walking the streets of Merida, or just trying a new location for their holiday. This is all possible, but baby steps first.
What we do hear each time someone decides to do something new on their vacation is – “why didn’t I do this a long time ago?” or “that was the coolest experience I have had in a while” or “it was easy to navigate” or “I was not expecting that little treasure – thanks.”
So what do you want to do this vacation that is different?. What new thing do you want to try? Here are some great local things you might want to try out on your next Riviera Maya vacation.
1. Go to the nearest town. If you always stay in the same place be it a small city in the Riviera Maya or an all inclusive resort – pick the nearest town and just check it out. Researching one new place is easy. All you have to do is find a beach club, a place to eat, and a street to stroll on.
If you are staying in Playa del Carmen, check out Puerto Aventuras (15 minute drive) or Puerto Morelos (20 minute drive). If you are staying in Tulum check out Akumal (10 minute drive) or Chemuyil. Each town has its unique vibe worth experiencing. And you will find it easy to travel by either taxi, public van (collectivo) or rental car.
2. Check out an activity either in the sea or in the jungle. Some of us sit and stare at the sea for our entire vacation but don’t venture on a snorkel trip, or hop in a kayak, or paddle board. Others venture into the sea but don’t check out the cenotes, fresh water sinkholes that are a glorious if not a surreal experience. Seeing what lies beneath the Riviera Maya is as wonderful as what lies above.
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3. Try a local food – Tamale? What’s that? Jamiaca water? What is that? Horchata? The list goes on and on when identifying local foods. It is easy to grab something to eat or drink at a chain restaurant you know, having nachos, a burger, a steak or a salad. But some of the best and most memorable vacations are when you try a new flavor, a new cultural food, a new dish that you have never heard of. If a food adventure is not up your alley, try a local taco, or ceviche and see what a homemade taco is supposed to taste like. Food trucks and carts are a great place to start. For one dollar you can test the waters and see if you like what you see and taste.
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4. Talk to someone – Call Paulina, our gal in charge of guest services, or talk to someone sitting at the beach bar. Understanding what they like to do locally is a great way to filter through all the different things you can do and eat and get right to a great experience on your first try.
Oddly, doing something new creates physiological changes that add to your day to day health. Yup, stepping out of your routine and having new experiences give you a rush of the reward chemical dopamine and makes time go by slowly. Ever wonder why your vacation never seems long enough? Doing the same thing every day on vacation makes time go by quicker.
Read what one of our recent guests had to say when she ventured out of her regular vacation routine.
“While exploring during our last vacation we drove south on the main highway just to see what was there. As we drove I had my trusty guide book in my lap. When we thought we had driven far enough and decided to make a U turn, I saw a sign for Muyil and decided to turn in to find out what it was.
We got out of the car trying to decide if we wanted to visit this Mayan archeological site. We met a couple from the US in the parking lot who said they visit this site every time they are in Mexico. We grabbed our water and bug spray, and began our exploration. There was no one else there. What was so amazing is that this site is so very close to the main highway, yet was only discovered less than 20 years ago. It is very well maintained, and like most similar ruins – only a very small portion has been uncovered. The paths through the jungle were very well maintained.
If you walk all the way to the back you will reach a gate where you can pay a small fee to continue your adventure. We did not realize it at the time, but we were entering the biosphere. If you walk all the way to the end of the path you reach a beautiful lake. As you walked along the raised walkway through the jungle you passed several small cenotes.
This was totally worth getting out of the car. After we left there we drove down the main highway just a short bit to the dirt road that was the entrance to the biosphere. I was so surprised and excited to see carvings in large rocks along the dirt road – just right there on the dirt road!
Who knows what treasures lurk just behind the next bush.
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Not sure how to make all of this happen? Check out our travel guides that take you step by step to local cultural sites, explain new foods (recipes included), or whisk you away to new cities taking the planning off your plate.
None of these experiences need to be a full day activity. We have put together half day experiences for those hoping to just test the waters, or if you want a longer experience, check out our full day activities.