A trip south of the border.

I’d like for you to meet my friend Julie. A few months ago I found out that Julie and her family were taking a much needed break to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. I insisted that she either let me go along as her assitant or at least take pictures so she could tell us all about it. I’m so glad she did and can’t wait for you to hear about their trip. And please don’t hesitate to leave a question or comment for Julie – I’m sure she’d love to answer any travel questions about the area. Take it away Julie!

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When my husband asked me, “How would you like for the whole family to go to Mexico?”, I thought he was crazy. My distorted impression of Mexico had been formed from what I had seen on movies and TV shows. I was confident my kids would not make it home without a ransom being paid. Several of our friends who had traveled there reassured us that TV doesn’t emphasize the good parts of Mexico and they recommended that we try the Mayan Riviera.

So I consented.

A short plane flight from Atlanta and we were on the ground in Cancun. Soon after arriving we were startled to see our first iguana roaming the grounds – just like on Animal Planet!

Everywhere we looked there were fountains, flowing and refreshing.

We dropped our bags at our room and sought out the sea. The crystal clear blue water was a sight for the kids who had only ever been to the murky Atlantic Ocean beaches of the Southeast. We walked on the beach and found pretty pink shells and delicate sea urchins’ former homes. A black and yellow striped eel hid amongst the coral along the water’s edge. In ankle deep water we observed a world which prefers to be covert but our curiosity would not allow it that comfort.

We were there for adventure, so we took a short boat ride to Xel Mal, a bay area where the sea turtles come to graze on the grass which grows at the bottom of the sea. Snorkeling in 10-15 feet deep water, we gazed with wonder at the marvelous creatures which surfaced for air mere feet away from us.

The turtles feast next to a natural coral reef, allowing us to experience two treasures for the price of one. Every nook and cranny of the reef was home to another creature of the ocean.

A Remora fish befriended my husband, attempting to rid him of an apparent algae layer the entire time we snorkeled. As we approached our boat we found ourselves questioning whether the 3 foot long barracuda under the boat was a friend or foe. Do we get in the boat alive or die trying??? No worries amigo. We lived.

Another day took us to X Caret, an ecological park and amusement area.

Beautiful lagoons beckoned us come and relax. The shallow coves were the perfect places for adults to hang out while the kids played and swam.

The real treat of this park though was the underground river where we donned our snorkel gear and embarked on a dark and frigid adventure. Snorkeling in a cave was a bit different than an open, sunny pool! Every so often a shaft of sunlight would descend from the ceiling of the cave, reassuring us that civilization was not far away. As we neared the end of the cave, where the river empties into the sea, the tropical fish populated the waters around us. Yellow, blue and purple fish abounded, urging us to join them as they swam to the open sea.

At our resort, the food was exceptional. We visited the same buffet daily for lunch, but always had new choices of what we could eat.

Food was cooked to order at multiple stations by qualified chefs. It was a good thing that we did so much walking, exploring and swimming or we would have all come home 20 pounds heavier! The staff at Barcelo Maya was happy to help us practice our Spanish. A few workers even asked us to return the favor by helping them with their English.

The highlight of the week was the massage on the last full day of our vacation. A cabana was set up on a fairly deserted section of the beach with 3 massage tables. Rosa worked her magic on my weary muscles while the birds sang me a relaxation song and the waves crashed against the beach, lulling me nearly to sleep. By the time the massage was finished, the sun was ready for its final descent of the day, sinking below the horizon.

The whole trip was surely a complete mind, soul, and body experience and we can’t wait to go back. Why was I ever worried?

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Thanks Julie. Now all I can think about is vacation time! The Mayan Riviera looks like a fun filled place for sure.

Again, please feel free to leave any travel questions or comments for Julie.

And do you have any summer vacation plans or ideas that you can share? Is there a destination that you know of that makes for the perfect family vacation?