On our last trip to Mexico, we decided to expand our travels and enjoy not only the beach, comfortable hotel and fabulous food but also some of the lesser known architectural sites located in the Yucatan Peninsula. Mayan culture is all pervasive in this region. In the local villages, many villagers still dress in traditional clothing: embroidered blouses and colorful woven skirts. Dating back as far as 3,000 years, the flat countryside has been dotted with Mayan ruins that are not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Most are covered by jungle vegetation and it was only recently that excavations began to uncover some of these architectural wonders. Coba and Ek Balam are two of the locations that are still relatively unknown. When we travel, we always enjoy experiencing unusual, or less well frequented, places and so we were pleasantly surprised that there were so few people when we visited these two sites.
We spent a relaxing week at the Sun Palace Couples-only Resort, an all inclusive resort where pampering was the order of the day. This resort is located only 10 minutes from Cancun Airport near the end of the beach. This was fortunate as Hurricane Wilma, in 2005, wiped out most of the beach along this beautiful stretch of land. The beach in front of the Sun Palace and the Club Med Cancun were spared being washed out as they are located in the arch of the cove. We were met at the airport by the hotel limousine, which we requested when we made our hotel reservation. From the moment we registered there was no waiting and we were greeted at the door with flowers and champagne. We were also offered a cool damp cloth to refresh ourselves from the heat of the day.
A secluded barefoot-casual, sun drenched enclave of small cabana hotel s nestled between tropical jungle vegetation and the gentle surf of the Caribbean Sea, Tulum was an idyllic “base camp” to explore the nearby archeological and natural wonders of Mexico ’s Yucatan peninsula. When we last visited Tulum, it was a barely visible icon on the map of the Yucatan , indicating the presence of a not yet excavated minor Maya site. Luxuriant tropical vegetation encroached in places upon the narrow, intermittently paved jungle road that took us there. Things have changed a lot in the past thirty years. Today, Tulum is definitely on the map! Easily accessible via a modern highway, as well as a stopping point for cruise ships, it has become one of the most visited Maya sites in the Yucatan . The spot, although small and structurally far less impressive than others nearby such as Chichen Itza , Uxmal and Coba , is spectacularly perched on the edge of a limestone cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean .
When, after a short walk along the palm-shaded sandy paths winding through the lush gardens of Azulik, we reached Villa #2, we instantly knew that whatever plans we may have had for the next few days had just been canceled. What could possibly be compelling enough to entice us away from this serene enclave of rustic luxury? Perched on a 20- foot high ledge over the Caribbean , for a breathtaking view of the shimmering turquoise sea below, our large thatched roofed one-room villa blended discreetly into the lush jungle surroundings. In the peaceful seclusion of Azulik , the “adults-only, clothing optional” character of this eco-resort seemed an obvious irrelevance