There has to be some sort of science somewhere to prove that February is the least survivable month of the year.
Equipped with the firm belief that experts of some kind back me on that, I took a long weekend trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, a place that has learned to make February just as pleasant as every other month. A 40 minute drive from the Cancun Airport, Playa Del Carmen offers a quieter beach atmosphere and, quite possibly, the bluest, clearest waters I have ever seen. As a part of the Yucatan Peninsula, it also has no shortage of Mayan ruins and explorable cenotes (i.e. plenty of photoshoot opportunities).
Playa Del Carmen is home to Rio Secreto, a National Geographic approved cenote that offers tours through the Mayan underworld, and has a Mayan ceremony before entering. Cenotes are, effectively, underwater caves partially filled with cold water and forms of rock, calcium and fossilized coral reef that look like icicles, but far more wondrous. These formations are called stalactites and stalagmites.
About a 40 minute drive from Playa Del Carmen and Rio Secreto sits the Mayan ruins of Tulum, a breathtaking historical site atop a stunning mountain and beach. Think Chichen Itza, but smaller. The beach is, once again, home to white sand and clear blue water, and the ruins majestically overlook the vast beauty of the Caribbean. Other nearby activities include snorkelling with sea turtles (a neighboring small beach town offers sights of most of the various types of turtles), scuba diving, swimming, and shopping (the downtown area is a treasure trove of locally crafted souvenirs). Tulum is a must-see on a Mexican getaway.
A few tips, though: Private beach clubs are absolutely worth it. Most places fill early with fellow tourists as well as beach lovers, and often limited space and privacy. Beach clubs, however, offer comfortable hammocks & outdoor furniture, privacy and tranquil surroundings. And, again, great photoshoot opportunities: (above and below images)
Secondly, if you have any dietary restrictions (I, personally, am a pescatarian), Mexico isn’t the most accommodating place to be. Asking for meatless tacos, fish tacos, or virgin beverages is like asking for someone’s deepest secret without asking her name. I lived, often, on guacamole, beans and rice.
Also, roads to most adventures are bumpy. Be prepared to hit your head on the roof of a van (we often took private transportation to and from each adventure. It’s worth it!) on multiple occasions. They also ask that, if you’re swimming in a cenote or other federally preserved body of water, that you enter it with as little contaminants as possible. This means no makeup or sunscreen, and taking a cold shower is mandatory before admittance. Also, be prepared to see a lot of wildlife — lizards, fish, deer and other friendly creatures are everywhere.
Finally, private transportation to and from your hotel and the airport is almost essential. It saves time, money and stress — though we were left at the airport about an hour earlier than required. Thankfully, the Cancun isn’t the worst place to be, offering luxury shopping, drinks and a clean atmosphere.
This relaxing getaway is, essentially, the perfect cure for the February blues.