Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Brief Visit to Riviera Maya in Mexico


A scene from Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun

We couldn't believe our good fortune! My wife and I won three free nights in an all-inclusive at Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun on the Riviera Maya, in a contest sponsored by the Travel and Adventure Show in Philadelphia in March 2016. We selected November as the time to go, late enough to avoid most of hurricane season and the increased rain, but before the airfares would go up around Thanksgiving.

A few quick facts about the area: Riviera Maya is a more recently developed resort area to the south of Cancun, which stretches to Playa del Carmen and the park X-Caret, and further south to the ruins of Tulum. You would still fly into Cancun International Airport and pay for a shuttle to take you to your hotel. As there is no other significant development in the area aside from the beachfront hotels or the town of Playa del Carmen, the only practical ways to access Cancun or other parts of the region from a Riviera Maya resort are via taxi or a guided tour.

Our having only three nights meant that we decided not to go to Chichén Itzá, Tulum, or any other long guided tour, so as to be able to make the most out of our all-inclusive resort. The staff at Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun is exceptionally friendly and helpful, and the food nothing short of spectacular.

We realized when we arrived that the temperature of the pool and the sea in general was colder than we had envisioned. It may have been due to the time of year, which featured some cool breezes, or it also could have had to do with the area's latitude. It is farther north in the Caribbean region than Punta Cana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico or the islands of the Lesser Antilles (such as St. Martin). People who have gone to Cancun and Riviera Maya at different times of the year may have had different experiences than ours.

The beach immediately adjacent to the resort was convenient for having drinks delivered to you, and ideal for sunning./We noticed that the water was full of seaweed and not quite as appealing, which led us to look for another beach to visit. Our first thought was a place called Playa Maroma in between our resort and Playa del Carmen. Playa Maroma has beautiful, powdery sand, but the same issues with the water existed, making it more appealing for water sports or swimming with dolphins in a pool next to the beach than simply going into the sea to swim.

We quickly left Playa Maroma and headed via taxi and ferry to Isla Mujeres, where we spent an afternoon. There we found the beach we were looking for: beautiful, with calm waters ideal for floating or swimming, but it wasn't the famed Playa Norte that is talked about so much. The beach we found is a three-block walk from the ferry terminal and is called Playa Centro. I noticed that the beach at Playa Centro was wider than Playa Norte and the water was calmer, at least where I could observe. Playa Norte is good if you book a hotel on that beach and can just take a few steps from your room to go into the water, but for our purposes Playa Centro was ideal.

Playa Centro, one of the beaches on Isla Mujeres
Obviously, if we had had more time we would have explored more of the area, but for a short, relaxing vacation, we were more than satisfied with our experience. Our goal is to return for a longer stay and visit the ruins and other attractions there.


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