Oh my goodness.... I've been so busy wrapping up orders before my holiday planned for a week in the sun in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico, that I haven't had any time to blog about my continued African trip! Here's a post on my Mexican Mayan Riviera adventures and I'll be continuing my blog shortly on my Africa trip so stay tuned!
After a cold winter here in Vancouver, Canada, I took a short vacation to the sunny Mexican destination. Our hotel, Bahia Principe Akumal, was amazing. We did a lot of snorkeling and I took some fabulous photos along the southern beach from our hotel. The food, beach and pools were amazing. The ocean water was so warm and we had the best weather all week long. These photos were taken at the hotel and my walk along the southern beach off of the resort along the shore which led to a secluded bay and beach.
We went snorkeling at the Yal-Ku Lagoon just north of Akumal Beach for the day. We simply called a cab from the hotel which took us through Akumul to the lagoon and was considerably cheaper than booking a tour. Akumal Beach is where you can swim with the turtles but recently the beach was closed by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA) as a result of numerous complaints of tourist companies not adhering to the specified number of persons permitted during the tours and environmental damage caused by the large number of snorkelers in the area. These two websites have some details on the closure of the beach: https://www.riviera-maya-news.com/profepa-temporarily-suspends-akumal-bay-turtle-swims/2017.html and https://www.riviera-maya-news.com/outside-companies-not-complying-with-akumal-bay-regulations/2016.html.
Snorkeling in Yal-ku Lagoon was a great experience and the lagoon is so picturesque and calm. Yal Ku Lagoon is a inland lagoon that connects to the Caribbean. Fresh water from surrounding cenotes escapes to the sea in this area. The result is a calm waterway that mixes both fresh and salt water called brackish water and creates a home for many fish species. This natural estuary is full of both fresh and salt water fish in an area no deeper than 10 feet/4 meters. The grounds surrounding the lagoon have been manicured with paths, waterfront benches, palapas and statues and you enter the water by platforms and stairs. My highlight was seeing large parrot fishes, the mangroves under water and the underwater landscape.
Check out my GoPro Video of snorkeling in the lagoon. I followed that Parrot fish around but it wouldn't let me get very close at all!
We also decided to visit the Xel-Há Water Park along the Mayan Riviera and arranged the tour through the hotel as we added on a tour to the Mayan "Tulum" ruin site as well.
The 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park, overlooks the Caribean sea. It incorporates the clifftop Castillo, built as a watchtower, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. I have been to numerous Mayan ruins located throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize and while this site was small compared to some of the other sites I've seen, the view over the sea from the Castillo was spectacular!
Xel-Há is an ecological water themed park. Their website describes the park as follows: "The ancient Mayas baptized this wonderful site with the name Xel-Há, which in the Mayan language means “where the water is born”.
Due to its privileged location, during pre-Hispanic times Xel-Há served as an inner port, trading center, place of pilgrimage and shelter for sailors, as well as being a food reserve during bad weather.
According to legend, Mayan gods joined together their wisdom, illusions and love for beauty to create a place that would bring together the best of nature, and that place was called Xel-Há. Once created, the gods were so pleased with this heavenly place that they decided to permit the entry of all mortals. To take care of it and the elements that surround it, the gods appointed three guardians: Huh, the Iguana, Guardian of the Land, Chuc Kay, the Pelican, Guardian of the Air, and Kay Op, the Parrot fish, Guardian of the Water. It is said that these guardians still protect and care for the Park and everyone who comes to visit."
You can walk around the perimeter of the park which includes walking around the cenotes, across a floating bridge at the inlet to the lagoon and over to the river where you can gently float in inter tubes down to the lagoon. We snorkeled into a Mayan Cave, floated down the lazy river and did some snorkeling. The highlights of the snorkeling was a large Southern Stingray. We didn't get to swim with the manatees though because it was fully booked!
Here is the goPro video of the large Southern Stingray while snorkeling at Xel-Ha. At the end, the stingray was burying itself in the sand and you could barely see it.