A November 2003 trip
to Yucatan Peninsula by jenae567
Quote: Dazzling tropical beaches, colorful culture, and dense tropical jungle adventures await you in the Yucatan Peninsula! Swim with dolphins, climb a Mayan temple, or just sit back and soak up the sun in Mexico!
Hotel | "Catalonia Riviera Maya"
The lush property is absolutely beautiful. As our hotel shuttle pulled up to the open-air lobby, all the stress from my wedding and traveling melted away. After we checked in, we followed the walkway into the heart of the property and became surrounded by palm trees, grassroof huts, and swimming pools—all complemented by the Gulf of Mexico sparkling in the distance. Upon entering our room, we were greeted by festively colored walls adorned with stone-carved masks. Our balcony view overlooked one of 3 swimming pools. Exhausted, we flopped onto our king-sized bed and turned on the TV. Much to our surprise, we were greeted with The Simpsons—in English! We were elated. After a nice siesta, the pool's beckoning was impossible to ignore. We threw on our swimsuits and jumped in. The first pool is terrific—it offers a swim-up bar! Of course all drinks are complementary, and a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages are available (and very tasty!) As we soaked in the sun and beverages, we watched a nearby cocktail-making class. There are many activities available near the pools, such as cocktail making, dance lessons, and my personal favorite, ceramic painting. For a small fee, you can sit in the shade (or sun!) and paint Mexican ceramic pieces. That evening, your piece will be embellished with fine festive detail, and glazed with a clearcoat to make it supershiney! All these activities had us working up a huge appetite, and what better to qualm our needs than an all-you-can-eat buffet! The open-air dining area is a come-as-you-are setting that catches the ocean breeze just right. Both authentic Mexican and American fare are available, as well as wines, cocktails, and domestic beers. In the morning, the same buffet will awaken your senses with made-to-order omelettes, the freshest fruits you'll ever eat, and the best coffee south of the border. After breakfast, we got ready for one of many excursions. Signing up for one couldn't get any easier. A travel representative sits at a table in the lobby with books and pamphlets of all the tours available. All you have to do is hand over the cash, write your name on the line, and hop on the bus the next morning! Simple as grapes to wine.
If adventuring isn't your thing, there are plenty of beach loungers available to relax in. I chose the beachfront location, but after seeing more topless women than I was accustomed to (or comfortable with), I decided to go for the "more conservative" poolside locations. It was just as fabulous. I sat back and let the Mexican sun lull me into paradise...
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 6, 2006
Catalonia Riviera Maya All-Inclusive
Lote 1 Mz 18 Plano 2
Puerto Aventuras, Mexico 77750
Restaurant | "Los Alebrijes"
Catalonia Riviera Maya Resort
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Next on our Mayan to-do list was descending into an ancient "cenote", or a type of underground well-type cave. But to get there was an adventure in itself! Soon enough, my new husband and I found ourselves harnessed together and suspended about 50 feet above a lake by a zip line. Some small locals gave a good tug on the end of our rope and off we zoomed over the lake, like a pair of conjoined Supermans. How exciting!
After yet another short hike on the other side of the lake, we reached the cenote. Once again I found myself in yet another harness, only I was the one in charge of getting me down to the bottom of this well! The idea freaked me out a bit, but once I understood the instructions, it was fun! In the cool waters below, we floated in donut-style inner tubes until we were given the options to ascend via rope and harness, or tackle the rope ladder! Me being the self-confident fool that I am, believed I could climb up the rope ladder with ease. Boy was I wrong! However, after much mental speculation of quitting and the consideration of what a fall into the water from such a height might do to my body, I struggled on and eventually made it to the top.
After all the hard work of climbing, we were given the opportunity to relax and kayak on a small lake. It was nice to see the wildlife buzzing about us. Eventually the tour guide called us into shore. While we were kayaking, some local Mayans had prepared an authentic Mayan dinner for us! It was superb. Large french-frie like potato wedges and meat was exactly what my empty stomach had wanted.
After an exciting but exhausting day, we piled our weary bodies back onto the shuttle and smiled as we dozed off in the back of the van...
Attraction | "Shopping in Playa del Carmen"
Surprisingly, we discovered that many foreigners have moved to Playa and set up shop there. We met a shop owner from Canada, and another one from France! Both offered unique wares that I've never seen anywhere else. We even found an Internet cafe, where we emailed our families and let them know what a great time we were having!
Playa del Carmen offers enough shopping to last you all day, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 6, 2006
Avenida Quinta-Fifth Avenue
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
As part of a wedding gift to me, my husband signed us up for a trip to the nearby water park—with 2 tickets to swim some of its local residents—bottlenose dolphins!
The weather was a bit rainy and the water was a little cold, but it didn't matter. I was too excited to care. After we zoomed down a few water slides, we made our way to the back of the park, where our new friends awaited us. Some marine biologists gave us some interesting info on the flippered fellows and then divided us into small groups of 5 people. And then, off into the water we went! It didn't take long for the curious dolphins to see who had come to visit! They circled around us and did a few tricks. And then came the best part, photo ops! Each person in the group received a kiss from each dolphin at the same time! (Surprisingly, their "beaks" are pretty hard and it kinda hurt! But it was worth it!) As I grinned for the cameras, I was imagining just how jealous everyone back at home will be when they see this picture! After everyone got their dolphin kisses, it was time for the dolphin RIDES! After receiving instructions, I found myself face down in the water. Quickly, the two dolphins came up behind me and used their beaks to push the bottoms of my feet! They pushed me so fast I was almost standing completely upright in the water! The pictures make me look like Poseidon surfacing in a majestic wake! It was awesome.
All too soon, however, the dolphins waved their goodbyes, and off they swam. We climbed out of the water with huge grins. It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had.
Okinawa City, Japan