Hubby and I always run off to the Carribean islands when it comes to vacation, but then it clicked to us that Mexico was a quick and direct 2-hour flight away! So we did our research, booked our flights and made our way down to Riviera Maya! If you’ve been thinking about traveling to Mexico but don’t know where to start, I’ve done all the research for you! Here’s my full guide to our trip:
We’d heard many great things about the Riviera Maya and wanted to visit somewhere tranquil and adventurous. Tulum was our first thought, but there weren’t many all-inclusive resort options to choose from. We prefer the all-inclusive option that way we don’t have to worry about paying for food and drinks once we arrive. It makes it simple for us! So after searching through all of the boutique style hotels of Tulum, we decided to stay just 20 minutes north of the city in Akumal. Akumal is only about 1 hour and 15 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport and there are a ton of resorts to choose from between the two cities! We didn’t want the spring break atmosphere of Cancun or Playa Del Carman or the boutique prices of Tulum, so Akumal was the most perfect spot!
After browsing a ton of different resorts, we chose to stay at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa. We wanted a resort that was all-inclusive, had an adults only section and had a swimmable beach and Grand Palladium checked all of those boxes! A few things that we loved about this resort:
1. Fourteen restaurants to choose from; nine a la carte and five buffet style
2. Seven freshwater pools
3. Twenty-five bars throughout the complex
4. Ocean view private Mayan Suites
5. Four resorts on one large compound and you can visit all three of the four. The fourth is exclusive so it has limited access
We settled into our Mayan Suite and started to explore the property. There is a tram that stops at each lobby so you won’t have to walk around the whole compound which was so very convenient. We located the pools and swim up bars quickly because, ya know, #priorities 🙂
There were so many restaurants to choose from, and we wanted to try the a la carte restaurants for dinner rather than the buffets. The first night we tried out their Italian restaurant, Portofino, and it was amazing! Fresh pasta and fresh seafood, you can’t beat it. We finished our meal with the most amazing tiramisu and creme brulee, I seriously thought we were in Italy. The second night we decided on the steakhouse, El Dorado. Chase and I both picked the filet and it was seriously one of the best steaks we’d ever had and it was a huge serving! That’s hard to come by in the States without paying an arm and a leg. They also had an amazing salad bar to start. We definitely didn’t go hungry! The third night we decided to try out their hibachi, Sumptuori. This might have been my favorite restaurant. You know when you go to a hibachi restaurant and they usually tell you that you have to choose between chicken, beef or seafood? Well, they let me pick all three here, and ya girl did not hesitate! The entertainment was great and the food was even better. I am a sucker for fresh seafood and always try to get it when I can!
On the last night, we decided to check out the Brazillian steakhouse, Bahia E Brasa. Think Fogo De Chao, but with a Hispanic flair. So GOOD. Any time I can just indulge in copious amounts of food without judgment, i.e., someone constantly bringing me a new dish to try, I’m going in! We even found a cute dessert bar on the last night that had all kinds of cakes, macarons and treats that they pair with chocolate and coffee flavored alcoholic drinks. I was in heaven! We stuck to the buffets for breakfast because I usually just love an Americano, omelet and muffin, nothing to fancy, so the buffet was perfect for this. We also went to the buffets for lunch because they were quick and easy so we could get back to our fun in the sun.
DAY TRIP TO TULUM
We try to only do one or two excursions that way we can truly just relax for the most part of our trip. This time we decided on one all day excursion that allowed us to do a couple different things in one day. We were up bright and early on our third day to begin our day trip to the city of Tulum. I know waking up early on vacation can be dreadful, BUT, Chase and I have always had the best of luck at being able to enjoy “touristy” spots if we get there early before the crowds start arriving, and I am so glad we did!
If you’ve been on Instagram at all this year, you’ve likely seen pictures of the Tulum jungle or at least heard of it. Tulum is more known for its lush jungle and for being the city of the Mayans ruins. Our day trip began with a quick 20-minute drive to Tulum where we first stopped at the ruins. The ruins are now a protected park with a small market at the entrance. At the market, you can find anything your tourist heart desires, including a Starbucks! We browsed the market for a bit while we waited for our group to get together to head to the ruins.
Once we entered the ruins, our guide gave us a brief history lesson on everything Tulum, from the Mayans thriving days to their demise. I really enjoyed learning about the culture and how the state of Quintana Roo tries to preserve it. The ruins were beautiful to see and I encourage everyone to visit if they can! Remember how I mentioned getting there early before? Well when we were leaving there was probably 100 tourist buses in the parking lot, so take my word for it when I say you want to get to the ruins early!
After exploring the ruins, we headed off to lunch, which was an amazing Mexican BBQ and then on to the next part of our day trip which was an ATV ride through the jungle! We hopped on our two-seater ATV which was HUGE and I let Chase do the driving so I could just sit back and relax with the wind in my hair like a queen should 🙂 The ride was definitely adventurous and included a lot of bumps, I was sore the next day but it was totally worth it!
Lastly, we ended our day trip to Tulum with a dive in one of their famous cenotes. A Cenotes is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. In simple terms, it is essentially a natural pool. A lot of the cenotes in Mexico are open-air, but the one we went to was inside a cave! We arrived at the cave where our guide let us know the water would be could but we would get used to it. Y’ALL. It was FREEZING! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it passed the third step, but she wasn’t lying when she said you would eventually get used to it, and I’m glad I did because it was so amazing to see! All the natural formations and how clear the water is was a sight to see.
We loved being able to do a variety of adventurous things during our day trip to Tulum! Once it was time to head back to the resort, it was only a quick trip back, which Chase and I appreciated because we were spent!
We spent our last day just lounging on the beach or at our favorite swim-up bar just soaking up the last little bit of the Carribean sun. We didn’t have to worry about booking a cab back to the airport because our resort included roundtrip transportation for the airport which was a huge plus! We always have our transportation taken care of before we leave the states because it’s one of those things you could so easily forget! Speaking of forgetting, I got asked quite a bit how I knew what to pack and what I did to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Let me tell ya, there is nothing worse than forgetting to pack something when you are going on vacation, but, if you do forget something, I promise it will not be the end of the world! I’ve taken on the mantra that as long as I have my wallet and passport, anything else can be replaced once you get there! But, my secret to making sure I pack everything is a checklist! I make a thorough list of everything I need to bring we me on vacation, all the way down to hair ties and my phone charger and I SWEAR it has been the reason why I haven’t forgotten anything on my last few trips *knock on wood*!
We absolutely loved our stay in Mexico and can’t wait to return! We’re thinking Isla Mujeres next 🙂 I’d love to know about your favorite trip to Mexico!