Sunday, January 25, 2015

Southern Yucatan, Fancified

getting fancy

The last time we visited the southern Yucatan Peninusla we were poorer, younger, and tougher. As we prepared for a return visit to celebrate the completion of a master's program and the end of a semester spent attempting to engage teenage brains we decided to reward our general amazingness. 

Location #1: Xcalak
Located adjacent to the Belize border, Xcalak is a long haul from Canun. The last part of the drive into town, completed on a narrow jungle road, seems to take eons. The town itself is tiny and most gringo visitors stay in houses or small "hotels" located on the beach road that extends several miles north of the pueblo. 

We used the excuse that the campground was gone to splurge at Sin Duda, about five miles north of town. (FYI: Five miles on the beach road actually takes about thirty minutes of driving time.) Our upgrade from the campground was well worth the dinero; we had a fabulous time (you can read our review here). We had our own little studio apartment complete with a kitchen and balcony. There was also a nightly cocktail hour where we mingled with the other cool guests; the conversation was always flowing, due in part to Lesley's stiff margo-ritas. On previous trips our cocktail hour consisted of sipping warm tequila and juice from plastic containers scavenged from the washed up detritus at our campsite. We were definitely getting fancy at Sin Duda.

Although we brought our own alpackas (small, inflatable rafts) for exploring the mangroves we were very excited that Sin Duda provided both single and double kayaks for guest use. 

pink kayak

xcalak lagoon

TH caught many fish, including a tarpon from his alpacka! 


We'd worried that in our absence Xcalak had been exploited by hordes of people like us, but we were so pleased to find that it was still the quiet, laid-back, friendly town that we'd remembered. 

xcalak house

xcalak houses

river dusk

Location #2: Punta Allen

We love Punta Allen. Even though the drive is a nightmare. This year the heavily rutted road heading south of Tulum was especially bad; it took four hours to drive fifty kilometers. We were also shocked by the number of jeeps blasting down the jungle road. It seems that Punta Allen has become a day trip destination for the resort crowd. We assumed, judging from the number of vehicles, that the town would be swarming with people. This wasn't the case, as the tourists actually go from jeep to boat to restaurants on the northern edge of town, and then back to the jeeps to make the long haul home. 

Continuing to embrace our newfound fanciness, we decided to rent a tent from Niki, our favorite Punta Allen hostess, rather then bring our own. We were shocked to be shown to our palatial tent, complete with a mattress, sheets and pillows! We spent our days hiking (scaling a wall to illegally climb to the top of the lighthouse was a highlight), paddling the alpackas (perhaps also illegal, but we didn't get busted), and eating at the exceptional (considering it's a tiny town at the end of a harrowing road) restaurants.


lighthouse view

alpacka bridge

boats Punta Allen

house boat


Our very favorite activity in Punta Allen involves sitting on the white sand beach after the sun has set, stargazing, listening to the waves lap the shore, sipping evening cocktails, and sharing our gratitudes for the day. Pretty fancy, right? 

punta allen night

Location #3: Puerto Morelos (to be continued....)

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