My Week-long Trip to the Mexican Caribbean, Wonderful Days

When we talk about traveling alone, the beach is not usually on the radar of the lonely traveler. Today I am going to share with you my experience of traveling alone to the Riviera Maya one.

When I told my acquaintances, almost everyone’s immediate reaction was: “Are you going to go to the beach alone?”, “Aren’t you going to get bored?

First, let me make one thing clear. If you think that in the Riviera Maya the only thing there are are beaches, you are very wrong. I want to tell you a little about this wonderful place before I start with my anecdote.

What is the Riviera Maya?

This is how the entire tourist area along the Mexican Caribbean Sea is known. Obviously the name is because of the culture and the large number of Mayan cities found in this area of Mexico.

Travel a week to the Riviera Maya

Let’s pick up again, what can we find besides paradisiacal beaches? Theme Parks, Ruins, natural cenotes, very friendly people, an incredible culture and gastronomy, and of course warm crystal clear water on white sand beaches.

I’m going to share my itinerary, advice, places to visit and others not so much.

I based the first 3 nights in Cancun. I stayed at Señor Frogs hostel, which I highly recommend. The facilities are very complete and incredible, it has bar, swimming pool, everything very modern. It is in the Hotel Zone, which is the ideal zone if you are travelling to Cancun for the first time.

How to get to the hotel zone?

From Cancun airport it is very easy to get to the hotel zone, I book with a tourist transportation company, a week before arriving at the airport, the cost was very low and get very fast to the hotel zone.

In the hostel there are many people from different countries, and I assure you that you are going to meet good people, that can be added to your plans.

Itinerary for a Trip to the Mexican Caribbean

Day 1 – Cancun

My week-long trip to the Mexican Caribbean

Knowing the place. The beach in front of the hostel is called ChacMool, which is very nice, but with a lot of waves so I decided to walk the street of the boliches, there is a fair where they sell souvenirs, next to the Mall. At night you can go for a drink in this area, which can be walked from the hostel. Coco Bongo looks interesting, but the ticket costs an average of 100 dollars. In my opinion, it’s too expensive.

Day 2 – Isla Mujeres

As its Spanish name says, is an island very close to Cancun, to get there just take the ferry, you must approach Puerto Juarez. In my case, the Cancun shuttle included these additional transports.

You can walk around the island during the day. If you have time, you can spend one night. What I don’t recommend at all is taking the boatmen’s tour. Unfortunately, I fell into the trap of those who recommended it, but the tour is very bad and you do not get to travel anything. As I said, they take the ferry and in a few minutes they reach the center of the island. There you can walk, rent golf carts, but they are expensive and are not necessary. You can have lunch in the center and walk to Playa Norte, which is incredible. I recommend spending the afternoon and watching the sunset there. Even take a snorkel and dive to see a lot of little fish of all colors swimming among the reefs.

Day 3 – Dolphins Beach

My week-long trip to the Mexican Caribbean

Playa Delfines and the Cancun poster that everyone is looking for for the photo.

One of the most beautiful beaches in Cancun. Here you will find the famous sign with the letters, an obligatory stop for instagram. On the beach there are straw umbrellas that are free, and if you arrive early you will find several available. The beach is safe and one thing that surprised me is that most people leave things alone to get into the water, and nobody touches them, something they didn’t expect to see in Latin America, but it speaks very well of its people.

Last night in Cancun, ideal to visit a bar.

Day 4 – Chichen Itza

My week-long trip to the Mexican Caribbean

I decided to do the tour of Chichen Itza very early. All over Cancun you will see stands selling all kinds of tours. Here I recommend you to do it on a tour and not on your own, because the price ends up being even cheaper. The complete tour to Chichen Itza I did with the same empress that gave me the transport services.

They pick them up at the hotel or hostel early and take them first to the Cenote depending on the tour (both are similar). Then they have lunch in a parador of the Mayan community, where they explain their traditions and can even see the ceremony of a Shaman. Finally, they are taken to the pyramids, with a guide who will explain everything the first hour and then leave them an hour to tour. One hour should be enough, if the idea is to see and take pictures. If your idea is to sit and meditate for a long time, this tour does not suit you. There is another night tour with light show that is incredible. Bring water and light clothes because it’s very hot there. If you can choose a cloudy day to go.

Day 5 – Akumal Beach

My week-long trip to the Mexican Caribbean

To get to know a little more about the Riviera Maya, I made my trip to Playa del Carmen. Here I recommend you to stop near 5th Avenue, which is the main street, where you can find all the shops and bars. I stayed at The Yak hostel, which is ideal for traveling alone in the Riviera Maya. It has very good vibes, they organize activities and tours that serve to meet people. There are also a lot of people from all over.

On this day I joined the outing organized by the hostel to Akumal Beach, known for its turtles. You can go on your own too.

The beach is public, but in order to get there you have to go through a hotel. If they go with the hostel, they buy some passes that include deckchairs and umbrellas, for a low cost. This beach is very nice, and although there is some sargasso, what is incredible is being able to swim with the sea turtles, which are a few meters from the shore. The turtles are free, check that every time you see an activity like this, because they usually have the animals locked up and you always have to avoid animals in captivity.

ring snorkeling gear, or rent it out, as the experience of swimming next to turtles and other fish is amazing!

Day 6 – Blue Cenote and Tulum

There are two cenotes nearby, the Blue, to which I went, and the Garden of Eden, which is also very nice. Here you can choose one, they are similar. They charge an entrance fee of 5 USD. The Cenote is quite large and is of the open style, that is to say like pools of crystalline water, although cold, in which the little fishes are seen.

Arrived at Tulum, we can choose to do only beach, or also ruins, which is what I recommend. The visit to the ruins takes no more than an hour and is worth it. The most beautiful thing about this tour is that the ruins are close to the beach and the view is incredible, ideal for taking photos.

Then we did visit Paraiso beach, close to the ruins and the best known. The beach is very nice and has a good vibe. I recommend you to check the state of the sargasso before going, because when I went (March) there were lots of algae and the water was brown, like Rio de la Plata. The center of Tulum is picturesque but I didn’t find anything special for me to stay, so at night we turned around and enjoyed Playa del Carmen once again.

Day 7 – Holbox

I left the best for the last day. I went with other kids to Holbox. It’s an island a little further away, with few people, few hotels and less tourist development, which makes it just a paradise destination.

The beaches are white sand, warm water and crystal clear. To get there you must first go to the port of Chiquilá, which is an hour and a half from Playa del Carmen. The tolls are a bit expensive, but the route is quite good. The car can be dropped off at the port, at one of its parking lots for 3 USD all day long. There you take the ferry, which leaves every hour to the island. Once on the island, you can walk and eat something in the center, which is small. In order to move there they can rent bicycles, golf carts or take the taxis that are also golf carts.

To close, I suggest watching the sunset at Punta Mosquito. It’s a long way to walk, so go by bike or taxi. Here if you have a parador to have a few beers watching an incredible sunset. The last ferry returns at 20hrs, so keep that in mind.

Back in Playa del Carmen, I enjoyed my last night at one of the 5th Avenue bowling alleys, La Embajada, where the locals go.

And that’s how my trip ends. I didn’t get to go to Cozumel, nor to the parks of Xel-Ha and Xcaret, which were highly recommended to me, but there will be another trip left. So I have an excuse to return.

About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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