The Yucatan Peninsula is a must do for anyone who loves beautiful, aqua blue water and soft white sand beaches. There are enough pristine beaches to satisfy any beach bum, as well as hiking, zip-lining, and Mayan Ruin exploration for anyone looking for adventure. For those of you travelling from the U.S., it’s a very quick, easy flight so you can make it a long vacation, or zip down for a quick weekend trip.
Riviera Maya is a perfect blend of everything Mexico has to offer. We flew into Cancun and upon landing, were greeted with some celebratory Mexican libations from our shuttle driver. We stay at many different kinds of places when we travel. Sometimes we elect to rent a condo through Airbnb, sometimes we stay at one of our hotel partners, and sometimes we look for a resort that offers a particular experience. For this trip we selected the all-inclusive Grand Bahia Principe Resort. Sometimes all-inclusives get a bad rap, but I will tell you that if you do enough research and find the one that has the amenities you are looking for, there are some great values out there. Plus it’s fun to eat and enjoy festive cocktails anytime throughout the day without worrying about how much extra you’re spending. If you’re considering an all-inclusive resort, and are unsure about it, send us an email and we can help you find the right one.
Since we like to get out and explore new places, we rotated days between relaxing days at the resort, and adventure days out in the jungle. Our first stop was with Adventuras Mayas who brought us to a zip-lining spot with multiple towers spread across the jungle. After walking up A LOT of stairs at the first tower, you get hooked on and away you go through the tree tops to the next tower, and again to the next. For a little extra fun, feel free to swing yourself upside down, just be ready at the last tower because they will take your picture and you have the option to purchase.
One of the coolest things we did while in Mexico was explore a cenote. Cenotes are caves created by sink holes filled with fresh water that were very important to the Mayans. Some you can climb down into, and some you need to repel with a rope. Once inside, it looks like an underground world full of stalactites and yes, there will be bats but they don’t bother you. We threw on our snorkel gear and went exploring. The water was so clear (and chilly) and just a word of caution… some areas require you to swim underwater to get to another area. If you are claustrophobic or this just freaks you out, make sure you check ahead of time or go with a guide.
The Mayan ruins of Tulum are a must visit while you are here. They are smaller than chichanitzu, but they are located right on the ocean and the backdrop is amazing. There will be a lot of people here (and iguanas), but there is a lot to walk around and see so don’t let it deter you. It’s worth it.
One of our last days in Riviera Maya we went to Xel-ha which is a protected marine park with an abundance of things to do. We opted to snorkel in the large, enclosed bay, as well as take the walking path around and watch all the wildlife. It was a really pretty place and the water was beautiful.
Trip Summary: Riviera Maya, Mexico
Lodging: Grand Bahia Principe Resort- This resort was all inclusive and had a large buffet breakfast and lunch place, as well as at least 15 other options for lunch and dinner. There are actually 3 sister resorts so you can shuttle between all of them for even more choices of restaurants, bars, shops, beaches, etc.
Good places to eat: Since we did an all-inclusive on this trip, we ate at the resort for most of our meals. The breakfast buffet was huge and had multiple different types of foods but I loved the make your own tacos station. For dinner, definitely do the Brazilian Steakhouse (if you like ridiculous amounts of carved meats). If meats aren’t your thing… maybe stay away from this one, but there are plenty of options.
Activities: Beach activities (all non-motor activities are included at the resort) like snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking. Outside the resort you can go zip-lining, rent ATV’s, explore caves and cenotes, visit the Mayan Ruins, Xel-Ha amusement park.
Do’s: Do your research before exploring cenotes or go with a guide, get outside the resort and see some of the county’s beauty, go visit the Ruins of Tulum.
Don’t’s: Don’t book an all-inclusive without proper research- The quality and amenities of these resorts vary greatly, don’t forget to check on transportation from the airport- Cancun airport is about 45-50 minutes from the resorts so be sure to include shuttle transportation when you book, or book a separate transport.
In Robyn’s Bag- Packing and Clothing tips
As I’ve stated in other posts… I used to be terrible at packing. I had a dreadful fear of “lack of options” and would often pack way to much. This resulted in paying for unnecessary baggage, but then having to lug it around as well. Thankfully for warm weather trips such as this one, all clothes are small and light so pack away and wear a different bathing suit every day if you want to!
In the bag for this trip:
- Lots of bathing suits!!- I love bathing suits, and since they take up barely any room and don’t weigh anything, I bring lots. I bring multiple different styles and sometimes I mix and match tops and bottoms. In an upcoming post I will be sharing some of my favorite sites to get awesome suits. Stay tuned.
- Cover ups- If you plan on lounging around in bathing suits all day, bring a few cover-ups or light, flowy items to throw on when you decide to walk around or go to get something to eat. The sheer pants I’m wearing in the photo are so comfy and perfect for beach flexibility. →
- Work out clothes and sneakers- Yes, when you spend much of your life traveling, you do have to work out on the road. I bring a pair of sneakers and a bunch of workout clothes (which can also double as hiking/exploring/adventuring clothes on non-beach days).
Even with lots of bathing suits and the other items listed above, you should be able to pack for a lengthy beach trip with very little luggage. If your airline charges for checked luggage, you should be able to manage everything in a carry-on…. unless you are like my crazy husband who uses his carry on for a ridiculous amount of camera equipment.