Riviera Maya itinerary check please?

Old Jan 13th, 2010, 03:35 PM
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Riviera Maya itinerary check please?

We found out we couldn't go to Puerto Rico when we wanted to (we're using flights from getting bumped), and that somehow morphed into a week flying into Cancun two months before the PR trip.

We'll be there Saturday-Saturday, arriving around 2:30 and departing at 11am the following Saturday.

Our plan for the first day is to get the car (already reserved) and drive to Chichen Itza. If we get out of the airport quickly and have enough time, we'll stop at Ek Balam.

On Sunday, we're getting up early and seeing Chichen Itza. After we're done, we'll drive to Tulum where we'll stay until Friday.

On Friday at some point, we'll drive up to Puerto Morelos to spend the last night (we're not early risers, and really don't want to wake up at 6am to leave for home- going there is fine, but coming back is too depressing).

Our plans for the greater Tulum area are:
Tulum Ruins
Akumal snorkeling
Coba ruins
Maybe a cenote or zipline or more snorkeling or Sian Kaan.

We're really not beach people- I like it for about a quarter mile stroll, then I'm done. I much prefer being on the water in a boat.

I'm not sure about the cenotes either- 70* water when it's barely 80 out?! No thank you! But we'll be there, so we'll probably do it just because we "should".

We also agreed on our honeymoon that we'll just beat one another with the paddles before we ever kayak again.

Am I missing anything? Any other "must-do's"? And the biggie- any food suggestions? El Tabano and El Pollo Bronco are on the list already.
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Old Jan 14th, 2010, 08:18 AM
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I wasn't particularly interested in cenotes either but ended up enjoying one of the two that I visited. The first (near Valladolid) was so developed, it was like visiting an underground public swimming pool. The other one (Dos Ojos, I think), however, was a completely different experience. I enjoyed snorkeling through the caverns with only a few other people snorkeling or scuba diving. It did take me a while to get used to the water temperature, though. FWIW, I'd like to visit other cenotes should I get the chance.

I also enjoyed snorkeling at Akumal.

The Tulum ruins were interesting but won't take much time. Get there when it first opens and you will have the place almost to yourself. Get there a little later and it will be packed.

I did try ziplining. It was interesting. It felt more like gliding. I had expected something with more of an adrenaline rush but it actually was rather relaxing.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to Coba. Wish I had.

I'm not a foodie and stayed at an AI so can't help with restaurants.

I hope this helps.
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Old Jan 14th, 2010, 11:00 AM
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You don't say when you're going but I hope you'll post a trip report. I usually travel in Central America in the summers but we're heading to Mexico for the 1st time this June. We're planning a week in Tulum (diving, snorkeling, cenotes, flyfishing) > Valladolid via Coba (Chichen Itza, Ek Balam) > San Felipe (tarpon fishing, flamingos) > Isla Mujeres (diving, fishing, etc.). Would love to hear what you think of the places we have on our itinerary, too. Happy trails!
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Old Jan 14th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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The best cenote we went to was near Coba. You can ask for directions from the parking lot guy at Coba as they are connected. The one we liked was the third on the list, underground, clear clear water and exactly what you see in the photos of cenotes.
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Old Jan 15th, 2010, 08:27 AM
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Perhaps you will find my notes about the restaurants in which I ate useful:

http://www.fodors.com/community/mexi...nd-chiapas.cfm
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Old Jan 16th, 2010, 10:58 AM
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I completely missed that thread kja! I think I saw Chiapas and looked right past it.

Shanti, I did forget to mention that I've been ziplining before. I'll do it again if Tom decides he wants to, but I don't care if I get to do it again. It will depend on the area once we get there, as well- the description was "jungle" but it was barely "woods" when we were there.

Between your and Monica's comments, looks like we'll have to do a cenote!

Hopefulist, we're going at the beginning of February. I can't promise a full trip report, but I'll definitely report back!
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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Just got back from Playa Del Carmen and ate at some really nice places: El Bistrot (10th av betw 12th & 14th St) and John Gray's Place (Calle Corazon betw 5th and 10th Avs). I have more but have to check my notes for the names. These 2 though were at the top of the list.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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We're here! I'm basically making this my trip report, because I couldn't remember what I had planned for tomorrown, plus if I do a blurb here and there, I'll actually do it!

First of all, I FLOVE Airtran!

Our flight from Detroit (at 5:30 in the morning) was oversold, and because we couldn't check in online due to the international flight (or possibly computer issues with my passport, since I hadn't updated it with my married name when we originally booked the flight, so the number changed), we got upgraded to business class. We originally had a five hour layover in Atlanta, but were able to get on the earlier flight down, so ended up getting in about three hours early! Did I mention that this flight was basically free for giving up our flights last year?

We got to the airport- what a mess! The rental car place wasn't open yet when we got on the plane for the earlier flight, so we just emailed and hoped for the best. We'd heard so many stories about being taken to the wrong car company and time share pitches and stuff, and while I'm still not sure we have the right company's car, they were nice and reasonably efficient, and no one tried to sell us anything.

Once we got the car, we set out for Chichen Itza. We stopped at Mr. Carnitas on 180, since there was a tour bus in front and not a load of tourists. We had a few tacos with pork and a couple of Cokes, which don't taste like the Mexican coke at home. Go figure. Anyway, they were great. The red sauce was just hot enough, and the meat (pretty sure it was hock and ear) was so tasty!

We stopped in Valladolid on the way, and explored a bit. It reminded me a lot of Ponce in Puerto Rico. It was pretty, and a nice place to kill an hour, but I wouldn't go back or put it on any must-see lists.

Once we got to the hotel, we kind of wished we were staying in Piste, rather than out on scenic 180, until we drove back into Piste for dinner. It felt sketchy. Nothing bad happened to us, or the car which I accidentally left unlocked, it just had a kind of seedy feeling. We had dinner at Casa de Pescadores. The soupa de lima and the soupa de arroz were both just ok, but the Mayan pork was out of this world.

The Dolores Alba was fine, but I would try another hotel (or five) before I would stay there again. The grounds were gorgeous, but the road noise was really loud. The beds were what you would find in a Motel 6, only with ancient sheets that didn't match, and two smallish towels- no hand towels, no washcloths, just a smallish towel. The people were nice and the included breakfast of a fruit plate, then eggs with ham, plus bread, was really good, but the rooms themselves were basic at best.

We got up and hit Chichen Itza before 9:30. We had the place nearly to ourselves- maybe 30 other people for a good hour or so. We did get a guide, which was money very, very well spent. It was just awesome! I think we took 80 pictures, which is about our average for an entire vacation. We left around 1:30 and drove to Tulum.

The drive was uneventful, although everything was closed, so our lunch ended up being a coconut with chili powder, lime and salt.

We got to Tulum and checked into Secret Garden. This might not be the most luxurious hotel I've ever stayed in, but it's probably the cleanest I've ever seen. It's absolutely the friendliest by a long shot, and it's mostly quiet, even with the window open. Joshua and Sean have been constantly helpful. Even the dogs were ready to help us unload the car! My only complaint is that there's a Speed Racer mosquito in our room that I haven't been able to kill yet (I've missed five times already, and the little sucker is starting to make me mad!).

We had dinner at TacoQueto, which was ok. It wasn't bad, but wasn't anything special.

We went to Cantina 307 to watch the SuperBowl under Joshua's suggestion, since his sister just opened the place. I cannot believe I ate chicken wings in Mexico, but they were really good. The hamburgers looked good too- not quite what I would make at home, but definitely handmade. The drinks were good too, and it was very, very cheap.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 10:42 PM
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What a day brightener! We're heading to the Yucatan in June so I'll be looking forward to your future installments.
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 03:36 PM
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We had a late breakfast of pastries from the San Francisco market before we went to the Tulum ruins today. My best suggestion is to go there before Chichen Itza. They were ok, but it felt more like a cemetery or park than a historical site, and after Chichen Itza it was not that impressive. It was very picturesque though.

I know iguanas are like squirrels down here, but we can't stop taking pictures of them. They were pretty tame (or cold) so we got some shots with us pretty close to them.

The beach was pretty, but small. We didn't go to the main beach, other to drive down the road (Tom hates sand and I hate sun, so we're really not beach people in the least). We had a late lunch at El Tabano, which was pretty good. They seem to have been infected by the no-heat virus though. The ceviche had no discernible heat, so we asked for hot sauce. Our waiter told us to be careful- I tried it and dumped it all in, and then it was perfect! I think that surprised him. Our entrees were shrimp served over apples, zucchini, onions and garlic. It was supposed to have habaneros, but no heat there. Tom had shrimp with caramelized onions, garlic and tomatoes.

I think we're going to spend the rest of the evening in the hammock in the garden.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 05:34 PM
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We snorkeled Akumal today. We missed the cannons, but did see several turtles- either four or three with one twice. It was really cool, but the reef wasn't as good as I was expecting. I don't know whether we were just in the wrong spot or what. The number of boats, plus the little lane for snorkeling between the boat areas, made us kind of nervous. We wouldn't mind staying there, just so we could get up and snorkel, then go do something else for the day.

We had a late lunch at El Pollo Bronco. It was fantastic, and dirt cheap. We're still full (Tom did eat half of a chicken, and the dogs and I finished the rest).

The hotel dogs, Asha and Minka, were mentioned in like half of the reviews, and I'm starting to really get why. You open the door, they come to greet you. You sit in the courtyard, they walk you there. You leave, they escort you out. Minka's asleep in front of our door now (we're in the courtyard). They're really sweet, laid back puppies.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 07:16 PM
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Forgot to mention that our plan to hang out in the hammock got scrapped when we found a good cigar and liquor bar a couple of blocks away. I think it's called Pepero's. A gorgeous Italian owns it. He said he just opened about three weeks ago.

We went to Coba today. It was more crowded than Chichen Itza! There were probably 20 tour buses outside when we got there. I don't know if we just hit the days wrong (Chichen Itza on Sunday, Coba Wednesday), but we got the impression that the time didn't matter as much with Coba, so we got there around 11:30. It was friggin packed! We did get to Chichen Itza much earlier (9:30), but we stayed until after 1, and it did not feel that crowded. I heard a guide say that Wednesdays were the most crowded, but I don't know whether he was being honest or telling them what they wanted to hear.

We got breakfast tacos at Taco B. Arborito, which is a little stand on the north end of town. It was great.

Lunch was at El Capitan, which is a fish place. It was also very good.

Dinner was tamales off Sean's (hotel co-owner) girlfriend's dad's cart at 307 and Gemini. Wow. They were out of this world!
So, my biggest tip thus far is the order to see the ruins. Tulum is a nice park. It would have been pretty impressive had we not seen Chichen Itza, but it's more picturesque that impressive. Coba has some different points, namely that you can climb all over pretty much everything since it's mostly unrestored, and the large pyramid is pretty cool, especially from the top. But once you've seen Chichen Itza, they really pale in comparison.
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