Travel Blog Joao Cajuda

Mexico – 10 Things to do!

Mexico – 10 Things to do!

Last August I had the opportunity to visit Mexico’s Caribbean coast in association with CheckIn Viagens. Knowned also as Riviera Maya, this area is one of the most beautiful regions in the world and you are about to find out why… The 130 Km from Punta Allen to Tulum has many treasures to offer, from spectacular white-sand beaches and offshore reefs to some of the Yucatán Peninsula’s most beautiful Mayan ruins and Cenotes.


Yucatan Peninsula is especially hot and humid from May to September, which is the rainy season. Although hurricanes are not as common in the Yucatan as they are in the Caribbean islands, hurricane season still runs from June to late November. During these months, the region usually sees a few strong storms, if not full-fledged hurricanes. If you want the best weather in the area, still sunny, but milder and with less rainfall and virtually no risk of storms, plan your vacation from December to April.


The best option is to buy an all inclusive package (airplane to Cancun, airport transfers and all inclusive hotel), there are plenty of options (the region has more than 23.000 hotel rooms). You can find great deals at


Hotels – All inclusive resorts are a great deal… boutique hotels in Tulum are more expensive, prices usually are up to 200€ per night (if you can pay GO!)


Mexican food is not so cheap. Buying food on street markets can cost you 12€. Restaurants in tourist areas are more expensive and a meal can cost you up to 30€.



Papaya Playa Hotel: This camp is aimed at everyone from backpackers to free spirits with serious disposable incomes, attracted by one of the most beautiful, unspoilt places on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula. It as 99 eco-cabañas and a great restaurant to eat a ceviche near the beach. Website

Hemingway Tulum: The resort is located near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, and offers exquisite tropical-style bungalows, with an excellent restaurant serving Mediterranean food. Great to have a bear and eat some nachos. Website

Amansala: Right next to Hemingway you will find Amansala. This small hotel offers relaxed eco chic accommodation like no other boutique hotel in Tulum. The restaurant serves fresh fish, local produce and the tastiest mango margaritas in the Riviera Maya. Website

La Zebra: My favorite! This eco-hip cabaña hotel/restaurant is a great option to spend an afternoon. The food is delicious and the beach is really good. The lounge are near the beach is very well designed with beaches beds and hammocks. And at the end of the day there are still plenty of chances to sample some local tequila (including regular Friday night tequila tasting parties) or to eat up a storm with Sunday’s salsa fiesta pit roast grill meal. Website

La Buena Vida Restaurant: Great place, great location and delicious food! Try the burrito… the best one I had in Mexico. Website

Watch the video of my Journey of 7 days exploring the treasures of Mexico – Riviera Maya.


There are a lot of vans running the Highway 307 along the Caribbean coastline where mostly all resorts are located. Taxis aren’t metered, there is a list at the hotel with prices depending the location you want to visit, for exemple 15Km around 20€. In Cancun bus service is 24-hours and very cheap, less than a dollar a ticket. Renting a car is the best option if you want to explore the region. I rented 5 days for 140€. The roads are great and is very safe.


If you have plans to visit attractions parks as Xcaret, Xplor, etc… expect to pay up to 150€ per person. Hotel tours are expensive, you should rent a car and go by yourself, you will save half of the money. Diving is probably the most expensive activity, around 130€ per person. Mayan temples can cost you around 8,5€.


Police: 060 & 080 (Emergencies, traffic, fire etc.)
To report a crime: 061
Fire Dept: 5768-8261
Ambulance: 5557-5757 (Red Cross)
Federal Highway Police: 5684-2142

Private Ambulance:  5705-0925 (English Spoken)
Hospital ABC: 5230-8000 (English Spoken – 24 hrs)
Dr. John F. Symth: (English) – 5250-0019
Clinica Londres: 5229-8400 (English Spoken)
Red Cross: 5557-5757
English Speaking Dentist: Chas. Cornish 5540-2946

Embassy of Brazil: 5202-7500
Embassy of Portugal: 5520-7897
Embassy of USA: 5209-9100
Embassy of Canadian: 5724-7900
Embassy of Great Britain: 5207-2089
Embassy of France: 5282-9700
Embassy of Spain: 5282-2974



Sargassum – In the recent years the region has been pummeled by a drastic increase in sargassum, a brownish macro-algae that has been washing ashore at alarming rates in Mexican coastal cities such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen and as far away as Caribbean island nations like Barbados. Sargassum is a natural phenomenon and it poses no health risk to humans but you should check that situation before booking your vacations. Otherwise instead of turquoise water you will find a brown beach.

Mosquito repellent – I never been so attacked in my life… there are no Malaria in Riviera Maya but bring a lot of repellent!


Travel in low season – Try to visit Riviera Maya in the off-season between June-November (except August).

Tours – Don’t buy those tour packages at the resort…  You can save money if renting a car and doing by yourself.

Money – Always use Mexican money. You can pay with $US in almost every store, attractions, etc, but they might ask you the double of the price if paying in american dollars.

Park Attractions – If you want to visit Xcaret and other parks you should buy the tickets online, is cheaper and you can find great deals on their website.



The first society to settle the Riviera Maya were the Maya, an Indian people who developed one of the most advanced civilization in Mesoamerica, the region of southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, Belize, and northern El Salvador.  Researchers believe their ancestors crossed the Bering Strait at least 25,000 years ago when glacial ice enabled passage from Siberia to Alaska.  Originating in the Yucatan around 2600 B.C., the Maya rose to prominence around 250 A.D. and flourished for a millennium, to be eventually conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century.

The early Maya are recognized for their religious beliefs and practices, the foundation for their way of life.  As notable are their intellectual achievements that were manifested in great construction feats as well as tremendous advancements in mathematics, astronomy and writing system.  The Maya developed one of the most sophisticated cultures in the ancient world.

They also developed a calendar of 365 days, based on the orbit of the earth around the sun that was more accurate than the one used in Europe at the time.  The days were divided into 18 months of 20 days, plus 5 days at the end of the year, a period considered very unlucky.


While much of Mayan culture has been lost, many traditions are still practiced based on ancient beliefs of the natural world. Nowadays, The Riviera Maya is a tourism and resort district in Mexico. This district historically started at the city of Playa del Carmen and ended at the village of Tulum.

The Riviera Maya was originally called the “Cancun–Tulum corridor”, but in 1999 it was renamed as the Riviera Maya. A major attraction throughout the Riviera Maya are coastal and reef aquatic activities dependent on the coastal water and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (also known as the Belize Barrier Reef) which begins near Cancun and continues along the whole length of the Riviera Maya continuing southward to Guatemala. This barrier reef system is the second longest in the world.


1 – Visit the Tulum ruins

No Riviera Maya vacation is complete without a stop at the famous Maya temple ruins. The entrance is about 2€. Don´t forget to get to bring your mosquito repellent and buy some water before entering. Wear your swimsuit and bring a towel (there are no changing facilities) because you’ll want to spend at least an hour cavorting in the frothy aquamarine waves that barrel up to the small cove at the seaside site.

Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo19 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo25Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo22Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo24Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo26 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo38 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo27Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo56

2 – Visit Tulum Village

Drive along the Road 15, from the Tulum Ruins to Boca Paila. This area is full of boutique hotels, casual chic restaurants, fashion stores, bars and spots to enjoy a drink near the beach. Check out the “where to eat” section for more details.

Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo16 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo9 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo10 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo15 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo13 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo72Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo0Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo73Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo28

3 – Explore Chichén Itzá

A trip to Chichen Itza, one of new seven wonders of the world,  is a must do. Avoid guided tours with their crowded buses that leave you stuck there all day in the baking heat, and instead rent a car. The Yucatan’s grandest archaeological site gets hot and overrun every day, but do not let that deter you. It can get a bit crowded, so try to go as soon as it open or during lunch time when most of tourists are in restaurants.

Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo46 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo47Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo48Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo49 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo44 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo43

4 – Underwater Museum of Art, Cancun

When Cancún’s new Underwater Museum of Art is complete, snorkelers and divers will be able to fin amid more than 200 eerie, life-size concrete figures that form an artificial reef.


5 – Akumal

Akumal means “place of the turtles,” and these large creatures are one of the main attractions in this protected bay. Akumal also has one of my favorite restaurants, La Buena Vida Restaurant.

yalku-lagoon Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo62Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo65 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo61 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo1Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo60

6 – Relax at the beach – BEST BEACHES

Paraiso Beach

Tulum has been rated the best beach in Mexico and one of the top five beaches in the world in 2011 and 2012, according to the Traveler’s Choice Awards by TripAdvisor. Do I need to say more?


Maroma Beach

Renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Maroma Beach is 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. This quiet part of the Riviera Maya has a lot of resorts and beautiful landscapes.

playaIMG_0677s (2)bb (1)


This small town in the Riviera Maya is the “Land of the Turtles”. The crystal clear waters makes it the perfect beach for diving and snorkeling.


Mamitas Beach

This beach has hosted unforgettable music events. Artists like David Guetta and Tiesto have graces the stage to keep the party going until dawn. It’s also the host of concerts like the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival and the BPM Festival, celebrated every year in Playa del Carmen. The best nightlife in Playa del Carmen can without a doubt be found at Mamitas Beach and along its surrounding streets.

Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo32Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo37Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo31 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo36


Immersed in one of the most secluded areas of the Riviera Maya, this beach has calm waves and extensive stretches of sand with water just two feet deep, allowing you to easily enjoy kayaking or sunbathing.


7 – Cenotes

My favourite activity in Riviera Maya. There are an estimated 7,000 cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula. Depending on their particular formations, these natural sinkholes can be explored via wading, swimming, snorkeling and cave diving. Be prepared for a magical turquoise water with stalactites and stalagmites. Also the best way is to rent a car and go by yourself, is much cheaper. My favorites:

Cenote Dos Ojos

Near Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, this dive site is must do for any divers or swimmers who are looking for something a little different. The name means “two eyes ” in English and there may not be a better way to describe this magical dive site. The setting is perfect as you walk a short distance through the jungle to the rather large hidden away cenote.

Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo54 pQeFn

Cenote Hil Kil

Located 5 Km from Chichen Itza, the Hik Kil cenote is stunning – considered to be sacred and found en route to the ancient city of Chichen Itza. A 26m-high circular rock shaft surrounds a natural pool of water, with jungle vines draped over the edge. About 50m deep, the pool is perfect for swimming, and ledges have been carved into the limestone rock for this purpose. Hik Kil has been a venue for the Red Bull cliff diving world series – with some of the world’s best divers hurling themselves into its depths.


girl-jumping-head-first-cenote-ik-kil-yucatan-140830-p Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo52

Grand Cenote

Gran Cenote is considered one of the best cenotes for Cavern and Cave Diving, as well as for snorkeling in the Riviera Maya. It´s is part of the system Sac-Aktun which means “Cave” in Maya. It is along the highway to Coba just 4kms outside the town of Tulum.

Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo71 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo69Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo68 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo66Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo57 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo58

8 – Valladolid

This colonial city offers a true glimpse into Yucatan life with locals still dressed in traditional garb such as embroidered white peasant dresses. When visiting Chichen Itza, try to stop over here to enjoy some beautiful colonial-style architecture.

travel-mexico-valladolid-2484414-oMexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo39 Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo50Mexico-Riviera-Maya-Tulu-Viajar-férias-cajuda-viagens-turismo53

9 – Congo Bongo

Everybody should go to Coco Bongo nightclub at least once in their life. You know those parties where you can only see in movies? Well this is the place! I had so much fun there, the show is amazing! There are two things I didn’t like: bad quality drinks and waiting at the door almost 1 hour to get in (and I bought the ticket before).


10 – Attractions parks

I’m not a huge fan of Tourist parks but the Xcaret marketing team is so good that they convinced me to visit the Xplor Park with all those great publicity. It was fun, specially the moment I got stuck in the middle of a 700m zip line, 40 meters high. I thought I would die there, specially because it was dark and I thought nobody would notice me. I spent like 5 minutes screaming for “HELP” (ahah, this is so funny now that I’am on my desk at home). Finally someone came to rescue me. At the end it was a fun night, but does it worth the money? You decide…


A special thanks to my sponsor CheckIn Viagens, check their website to book your next vacations!