Mahekal Beach Resort (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

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I have contemplated writing about this resort- I loved it so much that I almost didn’t want to let out the secret. But here it is folks- if you are planning a trip to Playa del Carmen and want something laid back and different than your cancun style hotel strip then I highly recommend Mahekal Beach Resort
This Mayan paradise is located in Playa del Carmen, nestled between lush tropical gardens and a long strip of pristine white sand beach. Whats more special is that it is located steps away from the wonderful shops and restaurants of 5th avenue, or La Quinta as it is locally known. 
If you want luxury, trendy and modernity then don’t stay here. But if you want to be at one with nature, stay in a Palapas style hut steps away from the beach you will love this place as much as we did.  The Resort does have its flaws and is a bit outdated (was purchased from Shangri La Caribe a few years back) but the service, amazing layout, location, food and friendliness of all staff really made up for its shortcomings. 
The Lobby
Happy Hour 5-7 swings, ping pong and pool tables all in the center of the resort
The Garden Resort area tucked away in the back of the resort away from the beach
Restaurant- breakfast and lunch or dinner included 
Pool and Jacuzzi overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea

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La Isla des Mujeres (The Island of Women) (Mexico)

While in Cancun, we decided to take a day trip to the island just off the coast…La Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women).  A quick bus ride, ferry and a skip away and we found ourselves on the Island surrounded by Mexican tour guides attempting to lure us in.  If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun but aren’t willing to travel south to the Mayan riviera, then I highly suggest taking a day trip to Isla des Mujeres. It’s a very charming, small, and laid back island with great beaches and food.

There are two different ferry terminals from Cancun that take you to the Island. We went to Puerto Juarez and took the Gran Puerto ferry boats which were fast and affordable. Once at the Island, we were immediately on the look out for food, and found the small, charming and family run Mexican restaurant called Amigos. We then walked around Centro which is covered by small local shops and made our way  to the the north of the island (by foot) to Playa Norte- which is just minutes away from the ferry terminal. Playa Norte is a beautiful small beach with crystal clear water and local beach bars.

Off to the distance you can see the Cancun strip of hotels.

Cliff of the Dawn- Most eastern point of Mexico

An Iguana enjoying his view or contemplating his/her suicide
Cafe Mango- closed the day we went but known for its tasty fresh food. 
Isla Mujeres grocery store

Playa del Nore

After a day at the beach, we rented a golf cart to tour the beautiful island. We headed south to the Mayan ruins located at the southern most tip of the island. Definitely take the time to rent a golf car to tour the island. We got off at Punta Sur and strolled through the ocean walkway to the bottom. It was truly breathtaking. 

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Thai Lounge and Elefanta Restaurant(Cancun, Mexico)

Thai Lounge: Bulevar Kukulcán Km. Plaza La Isla Shopping Village
Thai Lounge– Thai food in Mexico? It’s possible! Thai Lounge is a beautiful restaurant located in the La Isla Shopping Center overlooking the lagoon.  If you do happen to go here, make sure to call ahead to book one of the cabanas (cabana #7 is the nicest one-includes a bed and a table for two). The place is very intimate, cozy and romantic. It is one of the nicest places to go for dinner in Cancun and I highly recommend it.

The food was really good. As good as the dishes I had tried in Thailand…just not as cheap. My favorite Thai dish that I discovered in Thailand (Glass Noodles with Prawns) was also on the menu and I was not disappointed. The setting is very romantic, especially if you make it in time for the sunset.

Adjacent to the Thai Lounge is Elefanta Indian Cuisine. I would have liked to have tried the Elefanta as well but didn’t have time. They are both set on the edge of the lagoon with magnificent views.

Make sure to ask for Cabana #7 (did I already say that?)
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Tulum, Mexico

When you are ready to go another gear lower than Cancun and Playa del Carmen, get closer to nature and really chill out, then take a 50 minute bus ride farther south from Playa, to Tulum. Known for its Mayan ruins overlooking the ocean, Tulum has attracted backpackers for more than 15 years. Tourism has steadily grown with all budgets now catered for, while still retaining the low-key feeling of a relaxed town by the beach.

Essentially Tulum comes in two parts, the town with restaurants, grocery stores, the bus station and several hotels and the long stretch of beach 3km away.  Lining the beach is a long, low key stretch of hotels and cabanas. North of those are the famous Tulum ruins with an incredible ocean backdrop. Working north to south the hotels go from backpacker to simple beach side cabanas, and then up to honeymoon retreats with full hotel service on offer.

Beyond that is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (, a Unesco World Heritage Site and home to a rich collection of mangroves, reefs and rare sea turtles who come to lay their eggs on the beach.  Both day trips and overnights are possible from Tulum, with hikes and kayaks available to observe the wildlife. But costs are higher than local prices and the official cabins are the only form of accommodation if you prefer to overnight it in the Reserve. With Tulum’s beach hotels sequestered to a single country road, Tulum is much more immersed in nature. There is one main grocery store but otherwise you are in the middle of nature, with the ocean on your left and jungle and the occasional house and restaurant on your right as you travel southward.  The turquoise ocean and fine, white sand are out of the pages of a glossy brochure. In low season, from Mexican Independence Day (16 September) to early December, you could well score your very own piece of waterfront paradise. Low season also means low prices but some of the restaurants may have limited hours or be closed completely.
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