I'm back from my trip and so so happy with how everything went!
I feel so at home in the tropics and couldn't help but feel that it is somewhere I really belong, even if only for a little bit each year. Better add that vacation home to my bucket list!
If you are lucky enough to be able to take a vacation, I would highly recommend considering the Mayan Riviera, Mexico. The ocean is a turquoise blue, and has a mix of calm and wavy waters. Although I'm not a scuba diver, I know there are acclaimed scuba spots throughout the area. The water is perfect for snorkelling and other water activities.
We stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar, a resort known for its enormous size. I didn't mind. Walking through the grounds is amazing, there is so much beautiful flora and wildlife. Perfect landscaping. There is also a shuttlebus if needed. As you can see below, the reception is pretty "wow!" Wifi comes at an extra cost (affordable though) and to be honest, I didn't want to be on my phone more than 1 hr each day.
The resort boasts one of the largest pools in the Mayan, and there was always that perfect spot to lounge! No food was allowed around the pool which allowed it to be very clean, although I do admit I was a bit disappointed I didn't get to be completely lazy. We had to get dressed and go to the restaurant when we wanted a snack. There was no waiter service around the pool either, but plenty of bars (including swim-up bars!).
Wearing: Triangl Bikini
Loved the soothing glow of the pool at night!
The beach at our resort had a beach grill for snacks and several bars. The water was clear and warm, but very wavy - which is fun if you like jumping in the waves, or rolling around like Nicole!
Landscaping and wildlife through the resort. There were swans, peacocks, flamingos and of course coatis - the little critter with the long tail. I LOVED THEM!
Our room was very nice, always clean and very comfortable. I had no complaints at all. There is also a turn-down service where you get fresh flower petals along your bed and in the bathroom, as well as some chocolate! I give the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar 5 stars.
You could also make reservations at the specialty dinners. You could make 3 guaranteed reservations if you were there for 1 week, which is unlike more expensive resorts which require no reservation. Regardless, we managed to make daily reservations at 9AM in additional to the 3 guaranteed.
We tried the Steakhouse, Mediterranean, Gourmet and Italian. The Steakhouse was my favourite, serving up a perfectly cooked t-bone steak. Mediterranean was closely behind with a dish of lobster and risotto.
We spent one day at Playa Del Carmen. Taxi cabs are really expensive so make sure to take your hotel shuttle if they offer it. I fell in love with Playa Del Carmen, and we only saw 5th Avenue. The strip is split between tourist-esque shops and higher end boutiques, all separated by delicious-smelling and trendy restaurants. We tried one to have an appetizer at, and the bruschetta was delicious.
The strip really comes alive at night. We ended up only going to the resort club (pretty dead) so I wish we would have ventured to Playa Del Carmen for the nightlife!
Wearing American Apparel shorts.
I didn't shop much, and only bought a small black leather satchel. Remember to bargain. They originally wanted $110 dollars but I wouldn't pay a dollar above $30 (the purse was small and damaged.)
There are a huge variety of tours that you can take in the Mayan Riviera but I opted to looking at trip advisor and choosing one that wasn't advertised at the hotel. We decided on Local Quickies and were not disappointed. We hung out with two amazing tour guides (Mani and Andy) and 6 other people as we went snorkelling with turtles, jumped in a fresh-water cenote (SO BEAUTIFUL!), chilled on Tulum beach and went on a cruise meant for 250 people. Tulum is known as a hippy town and also seems like an amazing place to get a holiday home.
I would give the tour 5/5. It was personal, small, relaxing AND fun. A tour is only as good as its guides and these two guys were entertaining and helpful the whole way through!
Lunch was at this little spot in Chemuyil. I had delicious fish tacos while Nicole had chicken quesadillas.
My trip was magical, unforgettable and this is another place on Earth that has a place in my heart now.