Tag Archives: mexico

Places: Akumal, Mexico

This year we were pretty split on what to do for a winter vacation. Although it is tempting to wait until March break to go, most years I find that it is too late – and so this year, we decided to keep it simple and return to Mexico for essentially the same winter break we did last year. After the coldest, wettest spring seemingly ever, we probably could have gone ahead and waited until March though…

After another fantastic vacation I would really say that if you find the right place to stay and are willing to explore it is hard to beat Mexico as a winter vacation destination from Ottawa. There are direct flights right to Cancun, driving is easy, and the Canadian dollar is actually still worth something since the peso has been declining even faster than our own currency. Oh, and there are beautiful beaches, cenotes and jungle and it’s hot. That part is nice too!

This year we only went for a week and stayed in Akumal in a beautiful condo at the Tao Wellness Resort. This place was well-situated for exploring a bit more around Akumal and also for a couple of trips into Tulum. At the resort, we were able to take advantage of the beautiful, and empty!, pool as well as the great breakfasts at the Wellness centre.IMG_1894

While in Tulum, we headed to our favourite beach club, La Zebra. Although it has become a bit busier since we were last there, it is still a beautiful beach and the restaurant is fantastic. The kids made some friends with kids from Toronto who were staying and they were off exploring and playing on the beach for hours.

La Zebra

We also made it back to our favourite grocery store, Chedraui, and hit a couple of our favourite spots in town including Manglar Pizza on the west side of town and Flor de Michoacan. Ella also managed to return to her favourite tamale stand…I’m unsure of the name but it is located just beside the police station on a small little side street. IMG_1888

IMG_1886IMG_1688Just south of Akumal we found a perfect beach, apparently where they shoot Corona commercials, but there was nobody there when we visited. Just off the beach there was also a cenote hidden in the jungle that was great fun. 

IMG_1788IMG_1791Our only big driving of the trip took place when we visited Coba, a huge Mayan archeological site that we really enjoyed. The bicycle taxis to get you up to the site are pretty fun and the actual climb is crazy-steep but well worth it from the top. IMG_1817

Mexico seems to have just so much to explore, and the food is so good, that I’m sure we will be back again soon.


The Stay: Yutacan Peninsula

Typically when we travel I will find a place I think we’d like to stay and then worry about flights et al. afterward. When considering Mexico, there seemed to be plenty of options so we booked flights that worked and then went from there.

We already knew that we weren’t going to consider resorts but I was amazed by the multitude of options available on Airbnb. There were all sorts of different options in the peninsula that we considered but after choosing Tulum, we quickly settled on this newly built two bedroom condo. It was central to the town and the beach and since we knew we’d have a car, it was a great option. Although the pool wasn’t heated, the warm weather was enough to make it pleasant and our kids seem impervious to any temperature of water regardless. The roof deck made the place as we spent many mornings up there having our coffee.

In Akumal, the place we stayed worked out well as we only needed it for three nights rather than a whole week. Attached to the massive Bahia Principe resort, these condos had access to the amenities of the resort but also had their own beautiful pool and facilities that we found less crowded and even nicer. The condo itself was beautiful and was a great deal. I am not sure how the economics of buying a place like this works for the price they were renting for but it worked out well for us! For an easy vacation of just relaxing by the pool and enjoying the sun, this would be a great spot.

My full Airbnb wish list is here. Based on the selection, it is clear we still have lots of exploring to do in the area.


Places: Tulum, Mexico

H was determined that this year’s winter vacation would take us to a beach destination that would deliver warm weather. Finding a vacation that checks all the boxes we were looking for; including a place we haven’t been, a place where the Canadian dollar isn’t worthless, and a place that doesn’t involve an awful flight connection presented a bit of a challenge. In looking at options, we kept coming back to Tulum, a place friends of ours had visited last year and that pops up all over as an exciting place to visit when you do a google search.

Although I had never been to Mexico, and Heidi hadn’t been in years, the capper was the fact that Ottawa actually has direct flights to Cancun and Tulum is just an hour and a half down an easy-to-drive highway.DSCF5338

We loved our ten days in the Tulum area, spending six nights in Tulum itself and then our last three nights about twenty minutes north, closer to Akumal. There are two distinct parts to Tulum, the beach and the town. We stayed about halfway between, in a district of new condos and vacation properties called Aldea Zama. Since we had a car this was an ideal location – about 5 minutes from the beach and 5 minutes from town. Without kids, the whole area would be perfect to explore on a bike but instead we navigated it in a rental car about the size of a bike.

Before we left, we reviewed all the rules we thought we should follow in order to be careful about what we were eating – take Pepto capsules before each meal, don’t eat salad, don’t order drinks with ice – and then about halfway through our first meal we realized we were eating vegetables, hadn’t taken Pepto and were all drinking big glasses of pineapple juice full of ice! Abandoning our self-administered rules worked out fine, we ate everything in sight, with ceviche being the only exception and had no issues.IMG_0543

We had four full beach days – all of the beaches in Tulum are public but there is limited access except through hotels. I had found some patchy information online about how the beach clubs work but it turned out to be that there were plenty of options. It seemed that beach chairs or beds could be rented for minimal cost or no cost at all if you chose to eat in the restaurant as well. Our favourite spot we found was La Zebra – located near the south end of the beach zone, this is a high-end boutique hotel but they were happy to let us use their beautiful beach beds as long as we had lunch at their restaurant, which was also really good. Beyond the beach and the restaurant, they also had two key components for those of us travelling with young kids; nice clean restrooms and a playground! IMG_0557

We made a concious decision to just relax in Tulum and try not to do too much. We did visit the ruins one day and explored parts of the town but beyond that we basically stayed to the beach and pool. DSCF5255

After our week in Tulum, we headed to Akumal and spent the day at the beach snorkelling and looking for turtles. Although the water was a little rough, I was proud of Ella for swimming way out there and finding a couple of the big sea turtles. DSCF8208

At our new place, we spent our last three days just relaxing in the beautiful weather. There was a huge pool that wasn’t busy at all so we spent a lot of our hours there. The condos we stayed at were also associated with the Bahia Príncipe resort so we were able to use their facilities, take the kids to the dolphin show and we went to one of the shows at night.

Although I was a little hesitant at first, I was impressed with how well this trip worked out and how much I enjoyed Mexico. Given the easy flights and the consistent weather, I’d happily return to explore more. We definitely preferred the laid-back vibe of Tulum to the busier resort atmosphere as you travel further north. A rule of thumb we found was that as soon as something is priced in US dollars, it’s time to get out of there.