What's your favorite place in Mexico
11 things to do in Mexico
Lying on the beach, snorkeling with turtles, visiting Mayan ruins, buying colorful souvenirs or eating delicious food - there are many, many options in Mexico. This is my 2nd time to the Yucatan Peninsula and it remains one of my favorite travel destinations. Here are my 11 tips for that.
I spent ten days on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. The flight was exciting for me because I was allowed into the cockpit.
On the approach I looked out over the Caribbean coast. Here the sea has an incredibly beautiful color - partly dark blue because of the coral reefs, partly light turquoise because of the sandy bottom. Deep green mangroves and the rainforest grow on land.
The average temperature of the air is 25 degrees - nice! I was there in the rainy season. But I only experienced rain on my last day, otherwise sunshine.
1) Enjoy the beaches
At the beach in Tulum in Mexico it was first of all: sunglasses on! The sand was so bright it was blinding. That is why sunscreen was also very important.
The water only slowly got deeper as we went in further. It was nice and warm - protected by a coral reef. I lay in it like a bathtub, let the waves rock me and looked at the coconut palms on the beach. Very relaxing!
I had hotels on the beach in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Seeing and hearing the sea from the hammock or balcony is just perfect.
2) Snorkel with turtles
The Mesoamerican Reef in Mexico is the second longest in the world. You can go diving and snorkeling here.
Akumal means in Maya: place of the turtles. In fact: 60 to 70 are located here. At the Akumal Dive Center I borrowed snorkels, fins and a vest. Then I waddled into the sea.
While snorkeling in the clear water, I repeatedly met one of the large turtles. Slowly they flapped through the water or ate algae from the sea floor. So calm, so beautiful!
3) Look at animals and plants
Turtles are great, but there are lots of other animals around. I like the iguana, a green iguana. The Mayan indigenous people liked it so much that they even ate it. ;)
I often saw pelicans circling over the sea in Mexico. There were toucans, parrots and monkeys in the forest. Fortunately, I only met Jaguars and Pumas in the Xcaret Park. The mosquitoes were a bit annoying, so I always used the insect spray in addition to the sunscreen in the morning.
Some plants looked like they were from another planet. The red Heliconia was beautiful. There were also cacti (I tried it for dinner) and agaves. And of course a lot of great tropical fruits like mango, papaya or banana - they landed on my breakfast table.
4) Marvel at Mayan ruins
What particularly fascinates me about Mexico is the history of the indigenous people, who include the Aztecs and Incas as well as the Maya.
In 300 AD the Maya culture originated in Guatemala, Belize and parts of Mexico. The Spaniards did not come to Mexico until the 16th century. In the Yucatan you almost stumble over ruins - very exciting. There are i.a. To see pyramids, temples or places for observing the sky.
What makes Tulum special are the Mayan ruins right by the sea. The word Tulum means in the Mayan language: protective wall. It is the only town with a fortress wall on the coast, most of the buildings were built between 1200 and 1450.
You can swim on a pretty little beach near the ruins - the iguanas watch from the rocks.
I have already looked at Chichen Itza (one of the new 7 wonders of the world) and Coba with the largest pyramid (42 meters) on the peninsula in Mexico. Both very worth seeing!
5) Experience Mayan customs: shamans, hip soccer and fireball hockey
At Park Xcaret, I found out about some of the Mayan traditions. The shaman Eduardo Colunga showed me how to burn copal (incense). He comes from a family of shamans, his dreams proved early on that he is one too. He teaches people how to heal with their hands - he's even going to Colombia soon to do that.
Loud screams could be heard from close by. In the Temazcal, a kind of steam bath, visitors freed themselves from their demons. Then swim in the river that cleanses.
In the evening I watched the “Mexico Espectacular Show” with around 300 actors: In the funny Mayan team game “Pok ta’ pok ”, the players shot the ball with their hips. The goal was a ring that was attached to the side of the wall. The unbelievable: you scored a few goals!
A kind of hockey game with fireballs was also great. The “Uarhukua” looked very impressive in the dark.
6) Visit Mayan House and Village
With Pablo Sosa from Alltournative (great guide!) I experienced the modern Mayan world. The couples usually marry between the ages of 18 and 20 and have an average of 5 children. A full house.
In the middle of the country near Laguna Chabela we visited a family who lives in small huts with palm roofs. One is e.g. B. the kitchen, another the boy's bedroom. I am learning my first words in Maya: “Malo Kin” as a greeting and “Jach Dyos bo’otik” as a thank you.
In the kitchen, Aurelia was preparing tortilla on a platter over the open fire. I broke out in a sweat, it was insanely hot. But it was worth it, I was allowed to try the delicious flatbreads.
Everything she cooks for the family comes from the farm. Bananas, papaya and chilli grew around the buildings. There were chickens and a fat pig running around.
Medicine also comes from the area. The jungle supplies aleo vera, cocoa and honey. Incidentally, Mayan men live on average 95 years old, women “only” 90 years.
In the bedroom the dog was lazy on the floor. He had enough space - there was no furniture in the whole hut, hammocks were used for sleeping.
Then it went on to the Maya village of Tres Reyes with its 600 inhabitants. Here I was allowed to stick my curious nose into the church, the village school and the tortelleria.
I also went to a bakery and ate a piece of pudding that was still warm.
The village shaman greeted me at a kind of altar. He blessed me with incense and wished me and my loved ones all the best.
7) explore cenotes
The Yucatan soil is made of limestone. So porous that over time a network of caves, underground rivers and cenotes has emerged.
“Cenotes” are holes or caves, some of which are filled with fresh water, and in some you can swim or dive. Paddling around between stalagmites - a great feeling.
The cenotes are sacred sites for the Maya. She came here to protect herself from a hurricane.
I looked at the biggest one: Aktun Chen. The Mayan name means: cave with cenote. With my guide I walked for a long time through the impressive cave with its stalagmites and stalactites. National Geographic Traveler has named it one of the best underground walks in the world - and rightly so!
8) City life: restaurants, bars and Mayan massage
I was only briefly in Cancun - my point of arrival and departure. There was too much hustle and bustle for me in the hotel zone.
Playa del Carmen (70 kilometers from Cancun) was also full of visitors, but I really liked it.
Restaurants, bars, and discos crowded 5th Avenue. I was toying with a Mayan massage with papaya and honey, but at that moment I wanted to continue exploring the city.
My favorite place in Mexico is Tulum (50 kilometers from Playa), the meeting place for backpackers and hippies. The atmosphere is relaxed, the beaches are beautiful and there are many cenotes in the area. From here I visited Chichen Itza and Coba by bus (easy and comfortable).
9) Shopping: hammocks, hearts and skeletons
The Maya sleep in hammocks and make them painstakingly by hand. You need an average of one month for one copy. You can buy them everywhere.
I bought some of the heart-shaped metal mirrors. A little kitsch makes life more beautiful. :)
In Mexico I really want to experience the Dia de los Muertos. On the day of the dead, the deceased are invited to their favorite meal. It's a happy, colorful family celebration. On my first visit to Mexico, I fell in love with the small skeleton figures.
10) Eat like Mexicans and Maya
Mexican is definitely one of my favorite cuisines. Tacos, mole or guacemole - all very, very tasty. I sacrificed myself for you and tested 7 restaurants in Playa del Carmen. ;)
The Aztecs invented chocolate. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that! At Cafe Ah Cacao I tried a hot Mayan chocolate with honey, sweet and hot spices. I found the Maya chocolate ice cream even better - you have to try it!
Unfortunately, I couldn't take her home with me. So I covered myself with cocoa powder, chocolate soap and shampoo as an alternative.
11) Salud: Wine, Tequila, and Margarita
In Xcaret I took part in a wine tasting. The park has its own wine cellar with 400 different varieties. I tried six red and white wines. First I looked at the color. Then I sniffed the aroma: Did I smell flowers, fruits or herbs? Lastly I tried the wine - first alone, then with the meal.
I liked wine from Mexico very much, especially in combination with the right food. The red wine with the chocolate cake with popcorn ice cream was delicious.
Did you know that tequila is made from algave? If it is not produced in the town of the same name, it is mezcal. In Cancun there is a tequila museum where you can taste it.
However, I prefer margarita, the tequila-based fruit cocktail. My favorite is the mango margarita.
After ten mostly sunny days we went home again. In Mexico I felt very safe and comfortable again, a great country. I will definitely come back!
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