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Trip List by AimeeGee

Forget Cancun! A Yucatan sampler...

May 1, 2007  
4.0 of 5 stars based on 7 votes

Tired of the tourist scene in Cancun? Get off the beaten path and experience some REAL Mexico!

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Merida
  • Category: Recent trip
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors, Beachgoers
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Budget travelers, Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Hotel Lab Nah, Playa del Carmen, Quintano Roo, Mexico
    http://www.labnah.com/

    Quaint little place that is surprisingly quiet, just steps away from 5th Ave. The place is fashioned after the Labnah Ruins in the Yucatan. Balconies overlook the pool, which is decorated with stone and plants for a lagoon effect. The pool also has a wooden bridge across it and a few fountains that add some nice "water music" to the scene.
    The service at the front desk was great and even helped in recommending a nice place for dinner one night. Internet is free in the lobby, which is also helpful in finding places to eat or visit. Breakfast is simple, but adequate with fresh-squeezed OJ, freshly-baked pastried, cereals, fruits and yogurt.

  • 2. Java Joe's Cafe, Playa del Carmen, Quintano Roo, Mexico
    http://www.javajoes.net/

    We were less than pleased with the many-prevalent "instant coffee" places we found in Mexico, so we were about to succumb to the evil-american empire of Starbucks, when we happened to glance a bit further down Calle 10 and saw this GEM! Java Joe's has great coffee and a vast breakfast menu that includes everything from a "hanover" egg sandwich to lox and bagels!! It's not the most authentic of places Mexican, but it offers a nice cup of Gringo Joe, which a cofee lover like me lists as a necessity when on vacation. :)

  • 3. Yaxche Restaurant, Playa del Carmen, Quintano Roo, Mexico
    http://www.mayacuisine.com/

    Incredible food!!!!! Authentic Mayan food with a vast menu of culinary delights! Go with a group, so you can sample a little of everything. Fantastic! The service was also very good and the mariachis WILL serenade you, if you sit outside. Candles and flowers on each table add a special touch.

  • 4. Cascadas de Merida
    Cascadas de Merida, Merida

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Can't say enough about this place. Ellyne and Chucho are living the dream in Mexico with this gem. They have created an absolute oasis within the busy city of Merida. It is immediately obvious once you set foot inside that a lot of thought and care has been put into the creation of this B&B. There are only 4 rooms and each has its own entrance, so you never feel like you are "intruding" when you come and go at odd hours, unlike other B&B's I've experienced. The waterfalls and natural setting that they have built, make it a very peaceful place to stay. I only wish we could have stayed longer!! Breakfast was hearty with traditional Mexican fare, some of which we are now preparing at home!

    Merida and the surrounding area have so many things to explore and our hosts were wonderful with helping us use the most of our time. We will definitely return.
    Mil gracias por todo! :)

  • 5. Dzibichaltun Ruins: 10 miles North of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
    http://mayavision.com/dzibichaltun.html

    not as crowded or popular as some other ruins, which made it ideal for us! You won't see any tour busses here either. Take a cab from Merida for about 10 bucks - pay a little more, if you want them to wait a few hours and then return you, otherwise it may be a bit tricky getting back. We opted to "wing it" and had the great fortune of having the place almost completely to ourselves, including the divine cenote Xlacah. The old cathedral and "Temple of the Seven Dolls" make this site quite unique. There is also a nice nature walk "interpretive trail" that takes you to the ruins through a shadier route - a necessary option, if you are there in the heat of day.

    Our luck ran out on the way out, as there were no other taxis or buses waiting and no phone! No worries...we hitched a ride back to the main highway(about 3 miles) and caught a cab there. Of course, your mileage may vary, so I don't encourage anyone to attempt this. :)

  • 6. Sunday Market in Plaza Principal, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
    http://www.travelyucatan.com/merida_mexico.php

    On Sundays, this main square in Merida is closed to vehicular traffic and becomes a giant marketplace for vendors who travel into the city from the various countryside towns. Here, you'll find many Mayan artisans with their wares on display, plus the usual over-priced gringo trinkets! Buying goods in Mexico is all about haggling, so don't be afraid to barter. If you take the first price they throw at you, they'll feel dissatisfied that they possibly could have gotten more. Bartering is expected and appreciated. Hammocks, plates, jewelry, clothing...there are some amazing things to buy here and for much more reasonable prices than in Cancun or Playa.
    The people in Merida, as a whole, are much less aggressive than in, say, Playa del Carmen. They won't chase you down the street or harass you. We made many new friends while touring the streets and markets of Merida, which was a great way to find some little-known coffee shops and restaurants. (sorry, but we don't have the names, as there were no business cards or matchbooks to keep). Take a horse-drawn carriage ride tour after dark - the city is magical at night.

  • 7. The Sea Hawk, Playa Norte en Isla Mujeres, Quintano Roo, Mexico
    http://www.isla-mujeres.net/seahawkdivers/rooms.htm

    This simple, but clean hotel is also a dive shop just a short walk away from Playa Norte(a great beach on isla.) The 2nd floor room we stayed in was air-conditioned, but had such a great ocean breeze, we rarely used it. The balcony had a nice view of the ocean and North Beach and there was a giant hammock for 2 in the room that we enjoyed. The room had a double bed and an additional single, dining room table with 4 chairs, refrigerator, coffee maker, room-safe and a water cooler bottle filled with purified water. The shower had great pressure and was nice as hot as you needed. Great room for the price - be sure to haggle the price in conjunction with your snorkeling or scuba trip. We did and ended up with a sweet deal that included a private snorkel trip for just the 2 of us out to the lighthouse and a shipwreck. If you want something fancy, go to Cozumel, the Sea Hawk IS typically isla.

  • 8. Chi-Chi & Charlie's, Playa Norte en Isla Mujeres, Quintano Roo, Mexico

    At the tip of North beach on Isla Mujeres. Definitely a cool spot to hang out in general, with swing chairs all around the bar and various hammocks and seating sprawled all around the surrounding beach. There is a pier to sit out on and watch the ocean and boats, plus a sand volleyball court, but the key factor for us was that it's a fantastic site to watch the sunset! Grab a couple of cervecas and kick off your shoes to take a stroll down the beach with your honey. Ahhhhh bliss!!

  • 9. Picu's Restaurant, Isla Mujeres, Quintano Roo, Mexico

    Best fish ever! This place doesn't look like much: just a gathering of plastic tables and chairs on the beach; but the food is amazing!!! Just off the ferry, turn left and walk a few short blocks and Picu's is on the left. In the evening, enjoy a suprisingly good DJ, Mexican-style, of course! The fish can be brought to your table for inspection before cooking, if you like, and prepared in several specialized ways or you can tweak it. It's all good. No worries here, nobody left the place without a full belly and a big smile!

  • 10. Mañana Cafe and bookshop, Isla Mujeres, Quintano Roo, Mexico
    http://manana.myislamujeres.com/

    THE place to go for REAL coffee. The bohemian charm of this cafe and used bookshop makes it a draw for the local expats. They are only open for breakfast and lunch and both options are excellent. While they offer some less "mex" options, they are very encouraging for their patrons to try some authentic dishes - which are fantastic. It is easy to see why this place is a favorite hangout for island residents.