Mexico is a fantastic place for a family holiday – there was so much more to do and see than I was expecting. Mayan ruins, limestone sinkholes, exploring coral reefs and the piece de resistance – swimming with whale sharks which was the “best thing we’ve ever done” according to my children.
Me and my daughter buddying up to swim with whale sharks – an incredible experience:-
August is a little risky as a month to go to this area as not only is it very hot and humid, but it is hurricane season and of course, whilst they have had very few of late, we managed to be there for Hurricane Earl. Several days of strong winds and lashing rain – it missed our area, just, but caused damage in Belize and then Puebla and Varacruz, on the North west of Mexico where at least 38 people died in landslides and floods.
This was our normal bedroom view:-
We stayed on the the Mexican Caribbean side, just half an hour from Cancun airport, otherwise known as the Maya Riviera and took out boats to coral reefs and other islands to swim in the crystal clear sea. The coastline where our hotel was was beautifully warm (like you’ve wee’d in it, but haven’t) and turquoise. Known for some of the best diving sites in the world – some of us scuba dived (dove?) whilst we all snorkelled across the top of some incredible reefs, spotting Dory and other beautiful fish left, right and centre. We even spotted some barracuda!
The flora and fauna is immense. Cancun is also known as “snakes nest” and whilst driving we spotted a few snakes and my daughter was the only one to see several tarantulas wandering down the road. There are crocodiles, turtles, a multidude of wonderful bird life, iguanas and other lizards galore – and that was just all at our hotel!
The Mayan’s knew a thing or two about architecture, science and maths and there are many sites to visit – we went to the increasingly popular Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan city that is now considered to be one of the new seven wonders of the world. The Castillo Pyramid, built around a well and known today as the “sacred centote” was extraordinary and twice a year the sunlight creates shadows that looks as if a snake is slowly winding it’s way down the steps. The area is huge and you can imagine the once 90,000 strong people who lived there. We wandered around their huge football pitch – or ball park – where they used to play a game not dissimilar to football, but you had to use your hips to bounce the ball to the other team members and ultimately into a tiny goal way up high on the sides. The ball was made of rubber so very bouncy, but it was good it was so difficult to score a goal because apparently it was the winning team that got sacrificed in a blaze of glory by having their head cut off so I would have definitely managed to avoid that happening!
After Chichen Itza we were taken to one of the limestone sinkholes for a swim, the nearby Ik Kil Cenote. Clearly this is the most popular sinkhole in the area, with the carpark crowded with numerous coaches. One to be avoided I would say – just far too crowded:-
Cancun itself was as you would expect – glitzy and giddy with “spring-break” American teenagers all drinking themselves into a frenzy. We were all a little nervous about allowing our children to stay out clubbing there, but having wandered around, it all felt fairly safe and our hard-core London based children beat the Americans in drinking competitions hands down – not sure I should have been proud of that fact, but hey ho.
Playa del Carmen was our local town – vibrant and buzzy with numerous fantastic mexican restaurants to choose from as well as a 5th Avenue strip with lots of shops. We even went with our children to a Coco Bongo – a lively, hugely full club full of endless little shows and dancing which was great fun.
Great meal out with the team:-
Truly awful photo of me getting into the tequila, margherita and beer spirit:-
Isla Mujeres was where we anchored our boats after swimming with whale sharks and ate our lunch off floating tables in the warm sea. We didn’t go onto the island, but I’m sorry I missed seeing the turtle farm.
Mexico is a huge country and fascinating country – I definitely want to go back to explore more. Maybe I’ll do the Mayan tour, starting off in Mexico City and taking you across the country.