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A Little Trip Through the Riviera Maya and Its Hidden Gems

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Quintana Roo has many tourist destinations, however, we decided to visit just a few ones, Cancun, Bacalar, Mahahual, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen to be precise. We decided to visit them due to all the amazing stories and pictures we found on the internet and some great stories we heard from friends.

From pretty and turquoise beaches to wild parties with lots of fun, Cancun and the Riviera Maya are an incredible adventure with also family-friendly attractions even though it is a popular destination among spring breakers. When visiting Cancun, the beaches are a must to visit and will hardily disappoint you.

 

The best time to travel to Quintana Roo is during the mid-season, between the months of December and April. These are months with excellent weather and good prices without high demand. Also, some resorts offer great discounts that can make you save money.

We arrived at the Cancun Airport where our transportation service was already waiting for us. We decided to get a private Cancun airport transportation to avoid all the crowd and go directly to our hotel in the Hotel Zone. If possible, book your transportation service in advance, it can be a real lifesaver. Furthermore, we decided to get accommodation there since there are many attractions close and we wanted to visit as much as possible. 

Get to know some recommendations of what to do and visit that you can use on your Quintana Roo vacations.

 

Bacalar

Bacalar is a little town that is gaining more attention these days thanks to its lagoon known as the Lagoon of the Seven Colors. To go to Bacalar we first reach Chetumal, the capital city of Quintana Roo. Once in Chetumal we decided to walk through the Boulevard Bahía and eat something before going to Bacalar. Even had some time to go to the museum of the city to know a little more about the story of Chetumal.

Bacalar is really close to Chetumal, approximately 30 kilometers away. We went there by bus and the trip was about 35 minutes. As recommended by some locals, the best option to make the most during your visit and not to stay on the shore is to take a tour. You can decide among the different tours in a boat, kayak, or even paddle surf.

 

We got a boat tour and it took us to different amazing attractions. While booking, check out your tour or excursion including different attractions to visit so you don’t miss anything. We visited the Pirate’s Canal with crystal and deep waters, The black Cenote where we do snorkeling, and the bird’s island but we couldn’t disembark since it is a protected area.

There are different restaurants on the coast so finding a good option to eat is really easy. There are different options even for vegans and most restaurants have private access to the lagoon in case you want to swim or just take a rest.

As said before, Bacalar is a really small town, so we decided to just spend a day there, which we consider enough time to enjoy the beauty of the town. Bacalar is very quiet because it doesn’t have many visitors during the day, which makes it the perfect place to take a rest. Of course, we couldn’t leave before viewing the sunset and If you are thinking about spending some time there, try to enjoy both the sunrise and sunset, it is totally worth it.

Bacalar Lagoon goes straight to the top of our ranking of destinations in Quintana Roo. It is a really quiet place that amazes you and where you can connect with nature differently. The ideal way to get here is by using a Cancun shuttle, on this way you will get more relaxed and avoid worries such as taking care of a rented car.

 

Mahahual

After Bacalar we go back to Chetumal and take a rest to go to Mahahual the next day since it is also very close to the capital city. Just like Bacalar, Mahahual is not that popular as Playa del Carmen or any other destination in the Riviera Maya but is perfect for people looking for a relaxed place. It is really far from the nightclubs in Cancun, without large hotel complexes, and ideal to get real contact with nature.

 

Besides the quiet spaces, Mahahual is famous for its large barrier reef, which makes it a perfect destination for snorkeling and diving lovers. We recommended taking a long walk through the Malecon full of local craft stores and restaurants to eat some delicious food. We seized the moment and just laid on the sand of the beach after a little walk through the Malecon. 

Something curious is that along the beach you can find some handmade hammocks that are very popular among tourists that want a photo perfect for Instagram. There are plenty of pretty spots with hammocks through the swing route. You just need to walk and find the perfect one, it is actually not that hard since the beautiful beaches in Mahahual. 

Even though Mahahual has more tourist attractions than Bacalar, it is still a small village, and spending two days was enough for us. But if you need more time to relax, you can definitively stay the time you need.

 

Tulum

Tulum is a small town that is no longer a small town, it is evolving year after year in its infrastructure, its multicultural restaurants, the incredible and fun nightlife options and its tourism.

Tulum or as it used to be known "Tuluum" was a walled city of the Mayan culture, it is located in the state of Quintana Roo approximately 132 km from the city of Cancun, a place that will take your breath away with its incredible hippie chic vibe, its turquoise blue beaches and its infinite cenotes.

 

Passing the town of Tulum and following 12 km along the road to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, inside the Sian Ka'an Reserve you will find the hidden lagoon of Kaan Luum (whose meaning in Mayan is Yellow Land).

The Kaan Luum Lagoon is beautiful and is decorated with mangrove which makes it even more beautiful, its waters are fresh and clear in which you can observe dozens of fish that shine with the sun's rays, but you can also sunbathe on the dock that leads to the lagoon. 

The depth varies, on the shores can reach up to 1 meter and gradually increases as you approach the center of the lagoon until you reach the cenote. A recommended place for the whole family, quiet and economical.

Caleta tan kah is one of the most beautiful beaches in this area, it is located about 20 minutes by bike from the town of Tulum and is located on private property so we need to pay an entrance fee of $ 150.00 MX equivalent to $ 8.00 USD.

In this place you will find turquoise blue beaches and a very interesting phenomenon, due to the mixture of fresh water with salt water subway, a small cove is formed with water as cold as a cenote but so transparent and beautiful that you will never want to leave.

 

Playa del Carmen

To get to Playa del Carmen from Tulum or Cancun, there are different alternatives, all comfortable and economical, such as the Cancun transportation service or ADO Bus. The distance between Playa del Carmen and Tulum is only 60 kilometers, which can be covered in less than an hour. In view of the high tourist demand in the area, transportation is easily accessible and has a good frequency no matter what time of the year you travel.

"Playa" was born thanks to the fact that there was the port where you could take the boat to the island of Cozumel. Little by little it evolved from a small fishing village to what it is today: one of the most famous cities in Mexico.

 

We thought it was going to be too touristy and with little charm. Although there is no denying the former, the reality is that we were super comfortable, had a great time and found no inflated prices, no pushy salesmen and no poor quality food.

Our favorite place to see in Playa del Carmen is, without a doubt, the Parque de los Fundadores.

Located right at the beginning of Quinta Avenida, practically between the tourist bus terminal and the beach, not passing by it during your days in the city is really complicated... you can't miss it, you'll see.

We could go on talking about the Riviera Maya, and there would still be details to tell, without a doubt, we were very impressed with the beauty of these destinations, Bacalar is my favorite without a doubt, especially because it is ideal for families, in the case of Playa del Carmen, it is very close to theme parks that the little kids love.

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