NOTE: Cochinita Pibil, Poc Chuc and Chaya are some of the trademark dishes and drinks of The Yucatan.
// TULUM //
Where me and V started our Yucatan adventures. Far from uber touristy Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Though it seems Tulum is likely heading in that direction in the near future, seeing as things have cleaned up quite nicely in Tulum Centro. But one can still find a few hole-in-the-wall restaurants scattered about. It's these very places that we did not hesitate to venture into. After all, if loads of locals go here, it must be good and affordable! Other than the pleasant cheap foodie finds in Centro, it's a pretty chill life in Tulum. Tulum Ruins is only a 15 minute colectivo bus ride - followed by a 15 minute walk - from Centro. And nothing but beaches, beaches, beaches with endless resorts and hotel boutiques along the coast. By taxi alone, it takes over an hour to get from north to the southern part of the beach! All in all, it's a great beach getaway alternative from Cancun and Playa.
>> STAY : Secret Garden, Howlita
>> RECOMMEND : Beaches!, Tulum Ruins, Gran Cenote, Spend a day at Nomade.
// VALLADOLID //
This little town is a joy to walk around! With it's little pastel colored buildings and rustic Spanish colonial architecture. There are many cenotes to explore in the area, conveniently, there's one in Valladolid! Only a 10 minute walk from plaza mayor! Chichen Itza, of course, is the main Mayan ruin attraction in these parts, although Ek Balam is the less crowded (and better) option to check out. By night, we caught street performers doing a cultural dance (Jarana yucateca) in plaza mayor! Such a treat! Yes, Valladolid is a nice mix of authentic nuances and touristy vibes. We enjoyed it here!
>> STAY : El Meson del Marques (Highly recommend!)
>> RECOMMEND : Many beautiful cenotes in the area! (Def check out Cenote Zaci because it's actually in town), Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Tienda Chocolate Shop for their cold chocolate drink, Cafe del Profesor Pitagoras for a quaint place to chill.
// LAS COLORADAS + RIO LAGARTOS //
The sole reason why we made a visit in Valladolid - the famed man-made Las Coloradas pink lakes are a mere 2 hours away! We contemplated about renting a car in Valladolid, but waited til the last minute to rent one and, instead, opted to hire a driver for the day. A much more expensive option, but hey, how often do you see pink lakes? Ever? After a quick stop at Ek Balam Ruins (30 minutes from Valladolid), we were well on our way to Las Coloradas. Happily speeding along with a broken speedometer towards pink lakes and pink flamingos. Now upon first sight, gosh, it's a stunner! To be greeted with epic salt mines and the whitest beaches, flanking these giant pink lakes ... it's mesmerizing, simply put. A pain to get to as they are in the middle of nowhere. But so worth it!
>> HIRED DRIVER FROM VALLADOLID : ~2,000 Pesos
// PLAYA DEL CARMEN //
Aside from quickly checking out the touristy markets of 5th Avenue, I've spent all of my time at the equally touristy The Royal Resort prepping and partying it up for sister's wedding. Life sure was good at The Royal! Who doesn't like all-inclusive luxury resorts? With a jacuzzi in the middle of your bedroom?? Bluntly put: No, I didn't do any exploring in Playa del Carmen!
>> STAY : The Royal Playa del Carmen
When: May 2017
Temp: 85-95 F
Cities: Tulum, Valladolid, Las Coloradas, Rio Largartos, Playa del Carmen
Transportation: We flew in and out of Cancun. Rode buses (ADO) to and from each destination. Once at the desired destination, we try to save money and not take an overpriced taxi to our hotel, opting to walk the 10-15 minutes in the heat with our luggages instead.
Stay: Refer to individual cities above.