by Lydia Linton Pontius (Dec. 2014)
We got up early and had a wonderful breakfast at La Selva Mariposa. We took our time getting ready, taking in the beauty you only find in the jungle. Checked our emails and loaded up the car. Next stop—Akumal.
No matter how many changes there are to the area, every time I cross under the Akumal arch I am transported back to my first day. It was one to remember. I had dropped off our film crew at Hidden Worlds; it wasn't even open to the public yet but we had been invited in to film. My friend and production assistant, Vicki, and I went with our driver, Andreas, to scout more locations. We had heard about an environmental organization located in Akumal, Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) and we wanted to go meet them. The minute we drove under the arch, I had the most unique sense of being home. That was in 1999 and, to this day, I still feel the same sensation.
Jamie and I were spending two nights at Azul Riviera which is one of the most amazing properties in North Akumal, located on the interior of Yal-Ku Lagoon. It sleeps 14 and you can rent the entire house or do a B&B. It is perfect, with its private entrance to the lagoon, its gorgeous pool with a magnificent view of the lagoon and jungle at sunset, and plenty of space to entertain.
Before we headed to Azul Riviera we stopped at Lol-Ha Restaurant. Friends, who are local lionfish hunters, invited us to join them for freshly caught lionfish—something no one should ever turn down!
One more stop before we checked in; back up and remember our time-share experience. Well, it included a gift from the jewelry store, Lapis, so we needed to go pick it up. I have passed this store countless numbers of times, with no desire to enter. It is for the tour buses coming off the cruise ships. I prepared myself for another timeshare-like experience and it was certainly heading in that direction. But our salesman got the point that we were there specifically for our gifts which Jamie was taking home to her two kids and we were not spending a peso more. Once we had that cleared up, he gave us an amazing tour of this mammoth store and entertained us with lots of Maya history, or his take on it. With gifts in hand, we left and headed to check-in.
Miguel was waiting and everything was perfect! We were the only guests staying these two nights. We unpacked and immediately headed to the pool. As the sun started to fade, we took a drink and walked down to the lagoon to enjoy the view, then back to the pool for the evening!
Waking up and having your coffee by the lagoon is one of the nicest things about this property! I have always wanted to rent this place and fill it full of friends and family. I just think it would be perfect for all ages. You would have plenty of room to do group activities and also lots of little places to go and relax by yourself. Breakfast at Azul Riviera is simple and delicious. Miguel makes wonderful Mexican eggs served with beans, fruit and fresh tortillas, along with coffee and juice. You also have the option of pancakes.
We got our exercise by doing a little snorkeling in Yal-Ku and, of course, back in the pool. Then off for the grand tour of Akumal. Jamie is planning a family vacation in 2015 and I wanted her to see some of the options. We ended our tour at La Buena Vida! They have totally updated their look and it is SO colorful, Caribbean and fun! Their hotel, Vista Del Mar, looks amazing in its new bright colors and La Buena Vida, which I didn't think could get any better, did! They made some renovations to the restrooms and also put out new seating sections, some which include big overstuffed pillows perfect for beach picnicking.
It is often thought that you have to choose between a great view, or great service and food! That has never been the case at La Buena Vida. You know it is good when you find it crowded in off-season because the locals just love it. The bar hasn't changed; you still have the eclectic look and swings and still have the crow's nests for those who think it is a good idea to climb up a tall ladder and drink! We enjoyed their amazing combo appetizer, which I love because it is a meal for me. This time Jamie ordered what she felt she just had to have—a fun cocktail in a coconut … the best part is when she finished and they brought it back, cracked open and served it with a lime and spicy chili powder!
Back to Azul Riviera, because tomorrow we were heading out early to go check out Puerto Morelos. Puerto Morelos is a seaside village that is located just south of Cancún and is often overlooked for that very reason. It had been years since I had been there and I was intrigued by all that was happening on the Ruta de los Cenotes.
We had arrangements to stay at Casa Caribe, a small boutique B&B that is also home to The Little Mexican Cooking School. Casa Caribe is an adorable place in a perfect location, within walking distance to both beach and the small beachside square. Across the highway is the larger pueblo. This is a great location for anyone with an early morning flight out of Cancún.
What I loved about Puerto Morelos is its "real" feel. It isn't a glitzy, beachfront resort, but a typical Mexican village with the cancha, or town square, right there at the beach.
We had arranged to meet Gerry to get a tour of a couple of new cenote parks that have opened on the Ruta de los Cenotes. For those who don't know this road, it is the old road to Mérida. The last time I was there and visited Tierra De Animales, we drove this road and I was fascinated by its beauty as well as the growth that was happening.
We had the pleasure of touring both 7 Bocas and Boca del Puma, two great cenote spots. One is very remote and family owned; the second is a gorgeous piece of jungle that has been transformed into a real gem with cenotes and zip lining. You'll learn more about both of these places in a future article.
Puerto Morelos is a wonderful place that Sac-Be will be spending more time highlighting. It has a great Mexican, Maya and expat community that is working together successfully to preserve its cultures and environment.
The last part of my trip will be covered in next month's issue. I return to Akumal to spend some real quality time with friends and locals who are working hard to make a difference. We also sneaked away for one more night in Playa and ate at one of the hottest new restaurants … more about that next month.