The Gardens of Lake Atitlan are about a 3 hour drive from the border of Mexico by shuttle bus. Altogether, there are said to be over 500 species representing some 250 plant families found in the separate and distinct gardens that surround the upscale Hotel Atitlan. The antique, modern and David Austin rose gardens, for example, have over 200 varieties of roses on display. In other theme gardens there are over 50 varieties of hibiscus, arbors of vine, 25 or more colors of bougainvillas and azaleas, along with a variety of orchids to be seen. Other theme gardens include the wedding gardens, the coffee gardens, the helicona gardens, and english style knot gardens. The small sample of images in the gallery below is representative of what you can expect to see if you visit the Atitlan gardens.
If you happen to be planning a trip to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico don’t miss the chance to visit Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Tour companies offer daily shuttle bus rides to and from Atitlan for a cost of only $50 dollars round trip from San Cristobal. This lake is considered to be one of the ten most beautiful in the world and has been has been a national park since 1955. Besides the lake; the main outdoor attractions include the 3 volcanes that surround the lake and a nature reserve featuring a botanical garden, butterfly sanctuary, hiking trails and cascading waterfalls. Other recreational activities in the park include trails to the top of the volcano’s, rappelling, zip lines, hang gliding, canoeing and bass fishing. The lake also has several indigenous maya communities where it is possible to gain insight into the their culture and purchase traditional hand made arts and crafts at very reasonable prices.
Botanical garden flora
The botanical garden ferns, airplants and sculptured hedges
In August of 2012, Valladolid became part of Mexico’s “Pueblo Magico” program which recognizes traditional villages that meet their specific requirements of natural beauty, cultural riches, or historic relevance to the country. It is a well preserved colonial city of Spanish arcades and 16th century spires located between the beaches of Tulum and the archeological site of Chichen Itza. A few of the main attractions include the cathedral of San Servacio, Rosado Park, Cenote Zaci, the colonial homes with great architecture on Calzdada de Los Frailes and the Siskal neighborhood temple and ex-convent of San Bernadino de Siena. Additional activities include a variety of tours such as the chocolate factory tour, the mexican folk art tour of Casa de Venado and the Tequila tours of local agave plantations and distilleries. Photos and additional information is included in the photo gallery.
Siskal neighborhood and ex-convent of San Bernadino de Siena
Interior architecture of the temple
Siskal Barrio and La Taberna Restaurant which serves contemporary cusine with maya herbs and spices
This Mayan Home was preserved and restored because it is representative of the maya culture and building materials used in this area.
The chocolate factory in Valladolid is the only one in the state of Yucatan that still makes 100 percent chocolate candy using traditional production techniques
Friendly Manager of the chocolate factory
Take a tour of the Mayapan Agave distillery and learn about the traditional techniques used to make tequila and then taste the difference.
This tequileria features tastings of high quality boutique made tequila along with detailed information about how the local tequila is made
Parque Rosado is the main park in central Valladolid directly across from the cathedral in the center of town
San Servacio Cathedral
A sidewalk cafe next to the cathedral
Horse with bonnet and buggy offering rides around centro
Located in Yucatan near Valledolid, Chichen Itza has been a world heritage site since 1988 and has also been voted one of the world’s new seven wonders. The most dominant edifice at this archeological site is the Temple of Kukulcan, which happens to be the name of a maya feathered serpent deity. One of the most interesting facts about this pyramid more commonly known as El Castillo is that it is a monument of cosmological symbolism existing during this era. There are four sides containing 365 steps depicting the solar year, 52 panels for each year in the Mayan century as well each week in the solar year and 18 terraces for 18 months in the Maya religious year. Additional information about this archeological site is included in the photo gallery below.
Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars. The balustrades of these steps represents ascending plumed serpents
This is a carving on the wall of the jaguars and serpents platform depicting both eagles and jaguars clutching a human heart indicating that human sacrifices may have been made here
Stone carvings of an eagle and jaguar clutching a human heart
The Temple de los Guerreros. This building owes its name to the rows of pillars displaying relief carvings of warriors
row of pillars surrounding the temple of Guerreros
The temple of skulls has walls with relief carvings of human skulls
Entrance to the juego de pelota which is an arena for sports
Inside the sports arena there was a playing field with hoops on each wall. Players had to throw or kick a ball through these hoops
The Platform of Venus with balustrades ending in serpents heads
In each corner of the venus platform there are glyphs associated with the planet venus
Vendors with souvenirs are conveniently located near all buildings.
Playa del Carmen just finished celebrating an annual event known as a “Taste of Playa” on Sunday the 24th of November. It is a culinary event that highlights the best and most creative restaurants as well as retail food outlets that define the culture of this area.which is renowned for its diversity, international influences and culinary expertise. At the event which is open to the general public from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. guest have a chance to sample a variety of food and beverages served at the many restaurants around town for a few pesos. This is a very convenient way to discover who’s serving your favorite foods at the right price without the hassle of shopping around town for days on end.
Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, a top ten travelers choice beach in the Caribbean
Mexico has about 6,000 miles of coastline and over 450 beaches with a variety of physical characteristics. These range from desert to tropical environments but while it may be easy to classify beaches according to these objective characteristics, the choice of which beach resort is best for a vacation is much more subjective. A quick internet search will turn up several sites that rate beaches in Mexico by a variety of different criteria but there is only one objective system that rates beaches by strict criteria applied the world over and that site can be found at http://www.blueflag.org. Their system for evaluating beaches started in France around 1985 and is now run by the European Foundation for Environmental Education. In general, the Blue Flag criteria used to determine which beaches deserve to be awarded are water quality, safety, services, environmental management and information. As of now, there are 5 beaches that have earned the blue flag award in Mexico. Coincidently, all five of these beaches are also on the list of the best beaches in Mexico as published by websites such as Travelers Choice and magazines such as U.S News and Travel that use tourist opinions or travel writers opinions to rate beaches. So, if finding the best beach is a top priority on your next vacation, it comes down to a decision about the intangibles such as idyllic versus the tangibles such as environmental information signs. In the photo essay below there is a photo of Playa Delfines, a blue flag awarded beach, as well as several photos of beaches in Tulum which Travelers Choice rates as the best in Mexico. All other beach photos below are highly rated by one or more survey about best beaches in Mexico.
Playa Delfines, a blueflag awarded beach in Cancun
Akumal, one of traveler’s choices top 10 beach pics in mexico
Playa Akumal, a top choice for snorkeling and protected area for turtle nesting .
Balandra Beach, a protected biospheres and top ten travelers choice pic for best beach in Mexico
Tulum Beaches, Maya Riviera, U.S. News and Travel rates Tulum beaches as the best in Mexico
Another look at Tulum’s Beaches, Maya Riviera
Playa Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, only coral reefs for scuba divers and snorkeling in this area
El Requeson Playa, Bahia Concepcion, Baja California, Best RV camping on the transpeninsular hwy. Baja California Sur
Gold Coast, Mazatland, U.S. News and Travel rates Mazatland beaches in Mexico’s top 10
La Ventana Beach, Baja California Sur, Best kiteboarding in mexico
Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, One of PV’s best beaches
Las Palmas Beach, Todos Santos, Baja California, Best Secluded Beach in Todos Santos
Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida, Sea of Cortez, One of the top 12 beaches in the world
Mamita’s Beach, Playa del Carmen, U.S. News and Travel rates Playa del Carmen as the best apres beach town in Mexico
Los Cerritos Beach, Los Cabos, Baja California, One of cabo’s best beaches
El Corumel, La Paz, Baja, sea of cortez, best sunset beach in the area
Playa Lanchero, Isla Mujers, Another excellent beach a few miles away playa norte
Akumal, or place of the turtle in Mayan, is a small americanized beach community located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is not only a nesting ground for sea turtles but home to Centro Ecological de Akumal which is dedicated to sea turtle protection, environmental marine research, education and sustainable tourism development. The bay of Akumal is sheltered from waves so conditions for turtles and snorkelers alike are arguably the best that can be found within the Maya riviera. ln addition to the loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles that call Akumal home; snorkelers can expect to see a variety of colorful tropical fish and coral thanks to the clear and calm waters of this bay. The Yalku lagoon, found at the north end of the Akumal, is another ideal location for snorkeling. This happens to be a unique environment where fresh waters from the yucatan’s underground system merges with the caribbean sea to form a lagoon sheltered from waves. For additional details and images, please go to the photo essay below.
located at the entrance to this seaside resort, town meetings and other local events take place here
vacation rental homes overlooking akumal bay
ceramic arts and other mayan craft work on sale just behind akumal beach
a smooth white sand beach with palm trees
group or individual snorkeling lessons are available at akumal beach
a meeting place with information for divers
Equipment rentals and ticket sales for snorkeling tours
art and craft work for sale, just off the beach
are both in the same building
north end of akumal where fresh water from the yucatan blends with the caribean
a sheltered lagoon with calm, clear water and lots of tropical fish
this park has a variety of sculptures to see as you walk along a path around the lagoon
partially hidden behind palm trees is this tiki style restaurant and bar located on half moon bay between akumal beach and Yal ku lagoon
This 150 acre botanical garden also know as Ya’ax Che is the last patch of conserved forest between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Established in 1982, the main objectives of the park are to preserve and propagate endangered plant species as well as inform and educate visitors about how the mayans used the natural resources of this area. To this end, there is an interpretive trail of about 4 km with a variety of exhibits set in a natural forest environment representative of the complete eco-system existing in the Yucatan Peninsula. The distinct exhibits consist of cactus, orchids, ferns, ornamentals, palms and medicinal plants, Additionally, there are maya ruins, a recreated traditional mayan home and “chicle camp” where sap from chicle trees was used to make the chewing gum which bears its name. Wild fauna such as spider monkeys, lizards and a variety of birds can also be seen along the trails. For more information and images about this park, see the photo essay below.
A guide to the exhibits found on the 4km interpretive trail
This is a Tradescania Pallida plant native to the Yucatan used for ornamental purposes
There are 20 different kinds of palmae in the yucatan peninsula and 15 of them are part of this parks collecton that includes this Corozo palm
The palmae exhibit includes this Kuka which is native to the yucatan and now considered an endangered species
dedicated to Dr. Ingrid Olmsted who was a pioneer in promoting biodiversity around the yucatan peninsula
The palms on the right are the sabel mexicana native to the yucatan and used in the construction of palpa thatched roofs
This solar home is part of a Ethnographic Exhibition which also includes an apiary, vegetable garden and medicinal plants that were used to supplement the family economy.
part of the maya ethnography exhibit, this Liliaceae plant was used as a traditional medicine for resporatory ailments
a variety of ferns and a reading center are found in this exhibit
a fern native to the yucatan and florida considered to be a threatened species
Maya ruins in the park called the Altar
recreation of a chiclero camp production facility where sap from the chicle tree was boiled down and cast into blocks that formed a base for chewing gum later called chiclets
on the way to the swing bridge, this trail is an representative of a medium height deciduous forest
This bridge crosses a valley which floods in the raining season and leads to an observation tower with a birds eye view
the ever present Iguana turns up almost everywhere in the maya riviera
The archaeological site of Coba exists in a world that has changed very little in the past 1000 years or more. So, it is still surrounded by a natural environment of jungle vegetation, tropical hardwoods, lagoons, vines, and wildlife as far as the eye can see. Although the cities origins date back to the year 600 A.D. it was abandoned after the Spanish conquered the Yucatan Peninsula around 1550. Evidently, Coba was located in such a remote area in those days that the Spanish never found the city which remained hidden in the jungle until 1842 when it was rediscovered by explorers.
Coba is an expansive site which is believed to contain apporximately 6500 structures that once supported an estimated 45,000 people. At this time, however, only a small portion of Coba has been cleared from the jungle and restored by archaeologists. This part consist of 6 separate areas called the Coba Group, the Nohoch Mul Group, the Pinturas Group, the Chumuc Group, the Macanxoc Group and the Uitzil Mul Group which are all connected by a system of dirt roads built over a 1000 years ago. To see the ruins in these different areas you can either walk, rent a bike or a chofer driven tricycle. If your visiting Coba in the summer months it would be best to rent a bike or chofer driven tricycle and save your energy for climbing the Nohoch Mul pyramid, tallest in the Yucatan peninsula at 138 feet. Images of this pyramid and some of Coba’s other attractions along with additional information can be found in the photo gallery below.
This tower is located at the entrance to Coba’s ruins and has a zip over the lagoon
Found at the park’s entrance, this gallery has a unique roof garden
one of several shops around the entrance of Coba
across from the observation tower and park entrance
Located in the Coba group of structures, it is 24 meters high and is the place where rituals were carried out
a jungle canopy covers coba’s roads which were built over a 1000 years ago. here 2 visitors are exploring the ruins on rented bikes
chofer driven tricycles are a good way to get around Coba’s ruins
One of the more well perserved structures found just before arriving at the refreshment stand
just across from the Nohock Mul Pyramid, sells cold beverages and snacks which you will appreciate after climbing 138 feet in the heat
a view up the stairs from the base, there is a rope in the center for assistance when needed
a view of the surrounding environment from the top of Nohoch Pyramid
guest riding the zip line from the observation tower over the coba lagoon
Cozumel is the largest of Mexico’s islands measuring 53 km by 14km and is found in the Caribbean Sea about 1 hour away from Playa del Carmen on the passenger ferries which make frequent trips on a daily basis. Although, there are a variety of things to do once you get to Cozumel the main attraction has always been snorkeling and scuba diving to experience the great meso american reef system. One travel guide book has a list of 86 attractions around Cozumel but 43 of them involve different scuba diving or snorkeling locations. Other things to do while on the island are related to either cultural activities, parks or beach clubs.
Three types of beaches can be found around this island and they will be either rocky, smooth white sand or hybrids. According to people in the know, rocky beaches are a indication of good snorkeling opportunities off shore and they are plentiful. The smooth white sand beaches are not as common as the rocky type but they can be found at the northern or southern tips of the island’s western shores such as Playa San Francisco near Punta Sur. Finally, there is the hybrid variety where sand has been brought in to build a beach on top of the limestone croppings that are the norm around Cozumel.. One such man made beach is found at the Chankannab National Park to the south of town.
At the end of the day, most people head for San Miguel to enjoy happy hour, dinner or other cultural activites. This is the only city on the island and it has a population of over 75,000 people according to the last count. One of the main attractions here is the pedestrian only Plaza Centro where you can find restaurants, shops, street artist, cafe’s and nightlife. In the photo gallery below you will find images and more information about Plaza Centro, a few of the beaches as well as some other highlights.
Carlos and Charlie’s
People gathering in the pedestrian only district for happy hour and live entertainment at Woody’s Bar and Grill
Office of Tourism and the clock tower are found here in the pedestrian only area
the beach and a few amenities at this beach club
Just across the road from Chankanaab National Park
a flea market in Centro San Miguel just off Avienda Rafael Melgar the main beach road through town
a view of the beachfront in San Miguel on Avienda Rafael Melgar
also found north of San Miguel only a few miles from the momument.on Avienda Rafael Melgar
this monument is a tribute to the maya civilization that once occupied this island. It is found on the beach road going north from town.
There are quite a few of these but this one is a little north of Plaza Centro on Avienda Rafeal Melgar
One of the locations where cruise ships drop anchor near Plaza Central and Avienda Rafael Melgar
an alternate mode of transportation around town
Jimmy Buffets margaritaville in Central San Miguel between the beach and Avienda Rafael Melgar
a roadside stand on the jungle side of Tulum beach road, would you rather be here or starbucks?
Tulum is a mixture of 3 separate and distinct areas which consist of the archeological zone, Tulum Playa and Tulum Pueblo. In the past, the main reason to visit Tulum was to see the archeological site but many new additions to both the beach zone and central zone are now attracting tourist for a variety of others reasons. The focus of new developments in the Tulum Playa area is overwhelmingly on eco-tourism and preservation of the natural environment. So, new construction projects are kept to a minimum and must also meet strict standards for sustainable development.
Tulum pueblo is primairily a business and residential area for the locals but it also has some restaurants and nightlife that appeals to both tourist and residents alike. The beach area, however, is the main attraction for most people and Tulum beach road is where it’s all happening. This is where you find all the new ecologically designed boutique and spa hotels along with beach clubs, beach parties, stores and a decent selection of restaurants and nightlife. This is the only way into and out of Tulum Playa and it is surrounded by jungle on one side and the caribbean on the other. This is the same road that leads to the Sian Ka’an Reserve and Punta Allen which is a fishing resort at the tip of the peninsula. In any case, someone once said “a picture is worth a thousand words” so, to learn more about Tulum Playa, see the photo gallery below.
if you need directions on the way to the beach, look for this roadside stand
your basic and economical beach cabana
an upscale beach cabana
Volleyball game at La Luna beach club
a private 3 bedroom, 3 bath home for rent but if you have to ask the price you probably can’t afford it
there are several beach clubs in town and here’s a look at Ziggy’s swing bar
a 2 story beach side hotel on tulum road, There are new luxury hotels in towm but no high rises allowed. The limit is around 2 or 3 stories.
a jungle side open air restaurant considered one of the best in town owned and operated by Eric Werner who learned his craft at the vinegar hill house in Brooklyn and the Peasant in Manhattan restaurants
a jungle side open air restaurant on tulum beach road
a beach side stand with brick oven made pizza and bread
On the jungle side of Tulum Road is this popular restaurant serving mexican food with a mediterrian twist
If you don’t like tulum the sign says 700 miles to cuba and if you want to just help youself to the dingy
a newer upscale beach side restaurant
an arts and crafts store on the jungle side of Tulum beach road
there is a kiteboarding school on the beach here and lot’s of wind
a mexican sombrero and a look down tulum beach road going south
a beach restaurant and bar featuring Italian cusine
Tulum Beaches, Maya Riviera, U.S. News and Travel rates Tulum beaches as the best in Mexico
Puerto Morales is a small seaside fishing village about halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It was not built for tourist and commercial development has been kept to a minimum, so it is still more like a residential community where prices for most everything are lower and the pace much slower than the typical “touristy” resorts. The Great Meso American reef lies just 500 meters off the shores of Puerto Morales and offers a variety of marine life as well as one of the most beautiful reefs in the world. So it should not come as a surprise to say that the main attractions here are fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. The largest annual fishing tournament is held in May and offers $80,000 pesos to the winner while scuba diving features coral reef formations, wrecks and schools of colorful fish. Other nearby attractions include the Dr. Alfredo Barrera botanical garden and Crococun Zoo, in addition, the photo gallery below provides a look at some of the sites around the center of town.
one of many boats available for fishing trips
The old lighthouse in front was nearly knocked over by a hurricane years ago but still stands today
a local modeling posing on the boardwalk
A beachfront restaurant in the center of town
This pier is directly in front of the pelican restaurant and is used as a diving and boarding platform
a good place to relax and enjoy the scenery, this boardwalk park is part of the town plaza (zocala) in the center of town between the main pier and pelican’s pier where people relax, enjoy the view and special events
This cafe is just a block from the beach and across from the zocala (town center)
new and used books for sale in both english and spanish languages. Located right next to the cafe
The RV lifestyle in Puerto Morales. Looks like an old school bus conversion in the a psychedelic style of the 60’s
unique architectual design across from the cultural center, It is used a local musuem
it’s a dog day afternoon on the shores of Puerto Morales
Restaurant/Bar with Mexican Cuisine, notice the absence of doors, walls and windows. This traditional style of building is the norm on La Quinta Ave.,
The pedestrian promenade of La Qunita or Fifth Avenue attracts an international mix of travelers and is the place to see and be seen while in Playa. A party atmosphere, created by the nightclubs, bars and restaurants on La Qunita; keeps the grown up good time crowd around until the wee hours of the morning. On another level, La Qunita attracts people for it’s down to earth lifestyles and egalitarian spirit characterized by the very casual style of dress seen everywhere, the variety of businesses that offer both low end and high end merchandise or services and the friendly attitudes of most people around town. The photo gallery of this edition and the prior edition illustrates what has made La Qunita Ave one of Playa’s main attractions.
One of several starbuck’s in Playa, looks like if you drink to much coffee the police will give you a ticket for being under the influence of caffeine.
If it has doors and windows you cannot negotiate prices
Be careful of what you put in these pipes
CD’s and miscellaneous items for sale
leather, bags, mask and miscellaneous items for sale, has no doors so the prices are negotiable
specializes in mexican cusine, has no doors, walls or windows
This plaza currently marks the north end of La Quinta, It offers restaurants, cafes, music and bars
At the north end of La Quinta across from Plaza Luna
Right in front of Plaza Luna. Makes fresh juices for your health
A pavilion hotel lobby with bar and front desk around 34th street and la quinta
Offers speciality merchandise, cuban cigars, a restaurant with cuban food and music
100 percent natural fruit juices freshly squeezed
japanese cuisine and sushi
hats, bags, souvenir’s and local color
The south end of La Qunita during semana santa week (easter)
A bar and grill with sports betting on La Quinta as well as St. Patricks Day decorations.
La Qunita or Fifth Avenue is the entertainment and shopping center of Playa del Carmen. It is a pedestrian only street parallel to the beach and is somewhat like a boardwalk except that the beach is a block away. What is unique about this street is that the majority of restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and even retailers feature an open air or sidewalk atmosphere. At this time, La Quinta is over 30 blocks in length and still expanding, so you need good walking shoes if you plan to see it all in one night. Here you will find a huge variety of restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, local bars, specialty retailers, services, hotels, hostels, kiosk’s and art galleries to visit on this strip. While some of the vendors on this street have a reputation for being very aggressive, keep in mind that these are mostly small business owned shops not corporations with advertising dollars to spend. That said, the photo gallery below is just a small sample of what you can expect to find on La Quinta Avenue.
One of several galleries on La Qunita with original art work
Karen’s found on La Quinta specializes in steak and seafood, there is also live entertainment’ here during the afternoon’s and evening’s.
Hand make textiles from the state of Chipas on La Quinta
Tattoo’s and Body piercing art on La Quinta
a pizza stand with slices or whole pies
at the intersection of la quinta and calle corazon
Tequila for sale along with a history lesson
a popular open air restaurant with natural organic foods
One of several alley’s found along la quinta ave. this one is home to the popular casa mediterrain restaurant a several boutique retail shops
This vine covered hotel is one of the first on La Quinta and is also one of the most affordable
The original Katrina image was created in 1910 by artist Jose Posada to symbolize the death of indigenous mexican culture but today the original meaning has been obscured and Catrina is now associated with the day of the dead rituals.
a custom design clothing shop
Enjoy italian ice cream on La Quinta
open air bar on La Quinta
There are several shops that feature Ceramic art work and talavera pottery on La Quinta
In Playa del Carmen on the Maya Riviera, life is a beach and so it is called Playa by most everyone familiar with this area. Up until a few years ago, the main attraction to Playa was the ferry to Isla Cozumel but there has been a dramatic transformation in the past 10 years from portal to what is now one of Mexico’s most popular resorts. Some of this success can be attributed to nearby attractions such as Cancun or Ecaret theme park but Playa’s newly developed amenities and attractions make this resort an appealing destination on its own..
As far as attractions and activities are concerned, the sun, sea and beaches are the most important to consider. There’s plenty of sunshine to go around, the ocean temps are comfortable all year long, and the beaches stretch from one end of town to another. Playa Caribe is one of the main public beaches at the south end of town next to the maritime terminal where ferries to and from Isla Cozumel are located. Amenities at this beach include volleyball nets, several tiki bars, showers and massage tables. On the other side of this terminal you will find Senor Frogs beach which offers similar amenities as detailed by photo on the left, as well as there restaurant and bar.
Other conveniently located attractions include a variety of retail stores, restaurants and bars. The retailer’s directly behind Playa Caribe are for the most part independently owned and operated. Wheras, the retailers directly behind Senor Frog’s are corporate owned speciality stores that are part of the upscale La Fiesta Plaza. As you might expect, there is a considerable difference in the merchandise available at these shops and in the way they operate their business. Suffice to say, that if you are looking for a bargain on products made in Mexico, shop at the independently owned stores as seen in the photo to the right. If you want expensive name brand imports, shop at the Plaza La Fiesta. In addition to the different types of merchandise for sale, it is also interesting to compare the old world approach to retailing practiced by the independent shops versus the contemporary style of retailing at the Plaza La Fiesta.
Likewise, the choice of where to eat includes traditional mexican food served at stands or restaurants just behind Playa Caribe or restaurants like Subway, Haagen Das and Starbucks in the food court at the La Fiesta Plaza. When it’s time for happy hour, however, the choices are easy because all the bars seem to serve the same brands of mexican beer and after a few hours in the sun, they all taste good. Cheers!
In this second post with more Cancun highlights, there are photos of the El Rey archeological site, the new Maya museum, the Forum Mall, and the Fiesta Americana Luxury Hotel which are all located within the hotel zone. The above photo shows the remains of an ancient observatory at the El Rey site which dates back to 1200 a.d. The architectural style found here is similar to that of other structures built in the southeastern region of mexico during the time period from 1200 a.d. to 1500 a.d. San Miguelito, another archeological site in the Cancun Hotel Zone, can be found within the grounds of the new Maya museum which opened last December. Inside the museum there is a lot of information about Mayan history along with exhibits and artifacts. The archeological site at this location features an interpretative trial through Maya ruins that are surrounded by a jungle ecosystem much like the one that existed when these structures were built.
Other photos featured in this post include the Fiesta Americana Resort and the Forum Mall both found in the heart of the hotel zone. The Fiesta is a family resort that has won the presitigous 5 diamond award numerous times and is considered to be located on the finest stretch of private beach in Cancun, It also features a 40,000 square foot spa and an awesome swimming pool that spans the length of the 602 room hotel. Only a short walk from here brings us to the Forum Mall which offers a unique blend of retail shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. The anchor tenants here are not walmart or costco, however, but super clubs such as the Hard Rock Cafe and Coco Bongo which ranks as one of trip advisor’s top attractions in Cancun.
Playa del Carmen is located on the Maya Riviera and has the ambiance of a small beach resort but at the same time it is sophisticated in many ways. Here you will find vistors and shop owners from all over the world, special events such as the Maya Jazz Festival that features music from a variety of cultures, restaurants that serve many different kinds of cuisine
from different countries around the world, specialty retail shops with merchandise from all over mexico and small boutique lodging’s with distinct European styles. Most of the restaurants, cafes, shops, nightlife and other tourist activity are located on a 15 block section of fifth avenue which is limited to pedestrian foot traffic.
There are many other attractions in and around Playa del Carmen. Some of the best beaches in the world can be found in this area along with miles of offshore coral reefs that offer what are just about the most spectacular snorkeling and scuba diving sites anywhere in the world. If the beach or scuba diving are not your cup of tea, than there are several major theme parks near by such as Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor and Xaman-Ha Avairy. Each offers its own unique blend of outdoor recreational activities. These are just a few of the reasons why Playa del Carmen was selected as the second best destination resort in Mexico for 2012 by travelers choice.
The Sculpture Park opened in 2001 on the same grounds where remnants of the Templo Maya Diosa Ixchel can also be seen by interested visitors. It is an open air musuem with a mayan related theme. All together, there are 23 original pieces which were donated by local and foreign artists. The most well known of this group are Jose Luis Cuevas and Sebastian.
One of the sculpture’s, created by Sebastian, is called Chac-Mool; a name given to a type of pre-columbian, meso- american stone statute which depicts a human figure in a reclining position with the head up and turned to one side as seen in this abstract rendering. The original meaning of Chac-Mool, however, is unknown. The other piece featured in this post is the work of Jose Luis Cuevas and is named “El Tamborilero” which is almost like saying Mr. Tambourine Man. If the tambourine man could sing a song today, it would be about the rust and corrosion that will eventually destroy these sculptures if repairs are not made in the near future..