In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Part One we reported our circumnavigation of the peninsula. This report includes a third member to our party, our friend Aline, who flew in from Paris to join us on our travels. We picked her up at the Cancun airport and, as usual, immediately fled that money pit for laid-back Puerto Morelos just half an hour’s drive away. We checked into the Arrecifes hotel where we had reserved a comfortable two-bedroom suite at $65 per room for the three of us. Exhausted from traveling, we had a delicious seafood dinner and turned in for the night.
Up early, we drove two hours northwesterly to the small colonial city of Valladolid. There we checked into the 400 year-old hotel, Meson de Marquis, for $52/night. By mid-afternoon we were settled into our rooms, so we drove to the nearby Mayan ruins of Ek Balam. This site has some particularly well-preserved stone reliefs and a very ominous toothed alter. I could imagine hearts being cut out of human sacrifices on it. If traveling to Valladolid you should be sure to go to Ek Balam.
The following day we woke up early and drove to the Mayan archeological site of Chitzen Itza. Chitzen Itza is the most well restored Mayan ruin in Mexico, but also the most popular. Getting there early is essential for avoiding the crowds. We strolled through the huge ancient city for the next few hours. Chitzen Itza is a must see for anyone visiting the area including the light show at night. We finished the day with an excellent seafood dinner at the Conato restaurant with its strange murals.
Throughout the trip we gorged on seafood; coconut shrimp, lobster, grilled fish. We discovered a local herb, chaya, which tastes like a cross between parsley and spinach and soon became addicted to fresh pineapple and chaya juice.
Up early again, we drove to the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and the town of Ria Lagartos. There we hired a boat and toured through the mangrove lined estuary seeing flocks of flamingoes and various water birds.
For our last day at Valladolid we swam in nearby cenotes. Cenotes are caves and sinkholes that have filled with fresh water. We swam in cenote Zaci just a right in downtown Valladolid and then drove to cenote Dzitnup on the edge of town. It was refreshing to swim through the strange rock formations in the caves with bats flitting around overhead.
Time to finally turn in the rental car, so we drove back to Cancun, turned in the car, and boarded a van for our next destination, Holbox Island, a place we hadn’t’ been to before. After a two-hour drive we reached Chiquillo and boarded the ferry to Holbox. Once on the island we took a golf cart taxi to our hotel, hotel Siesta Holbox for $87/night. Holbox isn’t cheap.
Now tired from traveling, we spent our first day at Holbox lounging and swimming at the Beach Club, a section of beach about a kilometer out of town. Unfortunately, there were piles of Sargasso Grass rotting on the beach producing a putrid smell. The proliferation of Sargasso is another result of climate change and beaches all over the Caribbean are dealing with invasion of Sargasso.
That night we took a 4X4 all-terrain vehicle to Punto Cocos at the southern tip of the island. Here the mx f water from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean make perfect conditions for bioluminescent plankton and as we shuffled through the shallow water it sparkled with trails bright blue-green light wherever the water was disturbed.
The next day we signed up for a half day snorkel trip. Unfortunately, the water was cloudy with visibility just a few feet. We caught some fish on the way out and the guide made fresh ceviche out of it. The trip was overly long, the snorkeling poor even in good conditions, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Still, we enjoyed the boat ride to the unpopulated side of the island.
Our last day at Holbox Aline and I went back to the Beach Club for a swim and our usual drink, chaya and pineapple. Then it was time to take her to the airport. We had the taxi driver drop us off in Puerto Morelos first, so we said our goodbyes there. We flew out the next morning after walking the beach at sunrise one last time, but we knew we’d be back to the Yucatan before too long.