Leave the resort behind for your next Mexico trip
The beach of Tulum is known for its secluded nature, white sand, palm trees and jaded green water (above) while on Isla Mujeres you can watch as the sun sets and rises over water. Supplied
Clean white sand, turquoise blue water and cocktails on tap — it’s the land of luxury and relaxation.
With more than 1.9 million Canadians travelling to Mexico every year, it is highly likely that you or someone you know has experienced this culturally diverse and vibrant place. With the east coast of Mexico being lined with lush palm trees and crystal-clear beaches, and inland Mexico screaming vibrant cities with an abundance of culture and fiesta fireworks, Mexico will provide you with a range of diverse adventures.
Mexico is one of my favourite countries to visit and explore, but it saddens me to hear so many people travel to Mexico to only stay in five-star all-inclusive resorts. Of course, I completely understand the desire and why people find it appealing to stay inside an enclosed resort, with an abundance of food, cocktails and your own private beach at your footsteps. But I continue to try and convince people there is so much more to Mexico besides the three pools and swim up bar you’ve paid quite a lot for. If staying in an all-inclusive resort with other Canadians, Americans and Australians is exactly the kind of holiday that appeals to you, then go for it. But for myself, I prefer to step outside the bubble and immerse myself in the culture that is hustling around the privileged resorts.
There are a few locations on the east side of Mexico that I highly recommend visiting.
Isla Mujeres is at the top of that list. Meaning the ‘Island of Women,’ this incredibly pristine island is only four miles long, is located 13 kilometres off the coast of Cancun and displays a slow, relaxed vibe. By scoring a beach front self-contained apartment directly on the water for only $50 CAD a night, it was very difficult not to love Isla Mujeres from the beginning. As the island is completely surrounded by water, you have the luxury to witness the sunrise and the sunset over the water, which aids in the magic of this little untouched island. The most common way to get around the island, is by hiring a golf cart. This will enable you to bear witness to the locals and their culture. Isla Mujeres has approximately 12,000 permanent residents, who usually earn a living selling fish at the docks or plates of local, traditional food outside their homes.
South of Isla Mujeres is another relaxed island, slightly bigger in size. Cozumel is known to have some of the best reefs in the world, so travellers and snorkelling addicts come from far and near to experience the under-world. Although Cozumel is usually a stopover for some of the huge cruise lines that sail across the coast line of Mexico, the island has done a spectacular job at leaving the tourist stops and gringo-friendly souvenir shops in arms reach of the cruise stop. This ensures that the remaining 90 per cent of the island stays true to its cultural authenticity. While the diving and snorkelling are usually the main attraction, the town square is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon and balmy evenings. With live music, traditional open style food stalls and salsa dancing, you’ll quickly fall in love with Cozumel’s high energy and free spirit.
A little further south from Cozumel on the coastline, you’ve got the spectacular beach of Tulum. With jaded green water and lush palm trees on a very long stretch of perfectly placed white sand, you’ll continue to pinch yourself as you question whether you’re walking in a postcard. Tulum beach is nearly two kilometres in length, so the likelihood of it being populated is very rare, leaving you free to find a secluded spot away from others. Along the coastline are the Tulum Ruins, which are situated on a sheer cliff against the turquoise water. The Tulum Ruins are enclosed by a 784-metre long, seven-metre thick and five-metre high wall, which was initially built to protect the 1,600 mayans that lived inside and kept invaders out. The site began to be inhabited as early as 564 A.D and is now structurally preserved for the purpose of historic architecture and cultural beliefs.
Playa Del Carmen is another beautiful spot to explore, however if you are after something a little more secluded and quiet, the above locations will not only leave you feeling relaxed, but by immersing yourself within the diverse culture of Mexico, you’ll leave knowing a little bit more about the world we live in.
I encourage you all to step out of your comfort zone a little bit and next time you’re travelling to Mexico, look into staying in beach bungalows, home stays and quaint bed and breakfasts, you’ll leave knowing you’ve gained an experience that you would have never been able to receive from an all-inclusive resort.
For more travel articles on other locations on the East Coast of Mexico, visit www.explorethegoodlife.com or follow us on Instagram at @explorethegoodlife