In late February my brothers, our respective partners and I all packed up and set off for Mexico on a 2 week adventure/holiday around the Yucatan Peninsula. After years of planning, saving and excitement we left Heathrow with snow falling and 6 degrees celsius to set off for the warmer climates of the Caribbean. Throughout our stay we travelled to Merida, Progresso, Pisté, Chichen Itza and Akumal, 5 vastly different areas of the Yucatan but each with their own charm.
Our first stop was Merida, the capital of the Yucatan and a bustling city filled with life and plenty to see. We stayed in a small hotel on the outskirts of the city centre called Hotel Julamis, a small townhouse run by an old Swiss-German called Alex. His generous hosting meant that he cooked a 3-course breakfast every morning and welcomed us to the roof terrace each evening to sample some of his favourite tequilas. I highly recommend looking it up if you are planning on staying there in the future.
During our time in Merida we saw the ancient ruins of Uxmal and dove into the sapphire blue waters of the various cenotes (limestone caves filled with fresh water and fish) scattered around the area. We ate amazing food in beautiful restaurants, the best of which was Apoala that had a tempura Zucchini blossom starter which definitely became a top contender for best starter ever in some of our books.
We took a day trip to the beach town of Progresso just to get away from the city and take in a little seaside scenery. This is an incredibly quaint little town with a busy beachfront lined with restaurants and bars, allowing you to take in the ocean view whilst taking a break from the midday heat. It was certainly a less active day but it definitely helped recharge our batteries before we left for Chichen Itza.
Pisté & Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, one of the modern Wonders of the World, was an amazing opportunity to see ancient architecture and absorb the culture of a fascinating civilisation. However, a small piece of advice to those of you planning on doing this. Don’t go after midday as the heat is intense with very little shade/shelter to help you hide from the Sun. I highly recommend checking out the main temple, but also the Observatory as well as the “Sacred Cenote” where human sacrifices were made and treasures were thrown in as gifts to the gods. It’s incredible to see and the sheer scale of the ruins is breathtaking.
Pisté itself is a small town located about a 20 min walk outside of Chichen Itza, you’ll find a smattering of hotels but otherwise this is probably the closest you can get to “real” Mexican life outside of the tourist hotspots of the peninsula. Children play out in the warm evening and music can be heard around town, there are several tiny basement bars located around the area filled with groups of locals and quiet chatter. However, you also see the sadder side of life in this country, with entire families crammed into one tiny room and women left at home to look after children whilst men head off to the local cafes. It was a clear illustration of the harsh contrast between what many Westerners see of Mexico and what is happening behind the scenes in some areas.
Bidding farewell to Pisté we head back across the peninsula to Playa del Carmen with the aim of catching a ferry across the water to Cozumel, a small coastal town with a bustling tourist industry. Many cruises stop here and the harbour always has 2 or 3 massive cruise liners dominating the visible horizon.
It was here that we were finally able to head out into the blue Caribbean water and do some scuba diving. Our dives took us down to the beautiful reefs where we saw stunning sea life, huge turtles and a 12ft nurse shark (it has been an ambition of mine to see a shark since I was 7 years old). It was, by all measures, a truly life-changing experience for me and one I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Our last stop was in Akumal, where we would be spending the second week of our holiday staying in a huge AirBnB house on the coast called Casa Luna. After a week of coaches, backpacking and constantly having to re-pack luggage it was nice to finally be able to unpack and settle down into our home for the next 7 days. It was here we got to experience the truly calming nature of this paradise with water that lapped the soft, sandy shore, restaurants on the beach that offered a fresh seafood caught that morning and breathtaking sunrises/sunsets that brought peace to the heart and mind as you watched them.
There were evenings when we would just walk down the beach in silence, or skim shells of the almost completely flat sea water just to absorb how peaceful this place was. If you get the chance to visit Akumal, I definitely advise you take it with both hands it is a beautiful area of the world that will offer you rest for your body and quiet for your mind.
So, finally we said goodbye and headed back to the UK. Leaving 34 degree heat and arriving in a chilly 6 degree Sunday morning in London Gatwick (certainly one way of waking yourself up).
That just about wraps up my little Mexican expedition, thank you for checking it out. If you have any questions or recommendations you would like to add, don’t hesitate to comment below and I’ll be happy to answer/discuss them. In the meantime, you can also sign-up to be notified of new posts and follow The Male Stylist