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Discover the beauty of Yucatan's past and present while immersing yourself into the real Mexico.
This French-run hotel has just eight rooms, all attractively decorated according to a different international theme - an India room, Mexico room, Africa room etc. The hotel is located on the edge of Parque Las Palapas, the center of Mexican life in Cancun. Most weeknights and every Saturday night, there are crafts markets, music and great children's entertainment. Perfect for mingling with locals! The beach is a short and cheap bus ride away on the R-1 Line which runs all the way through the Hotelera Zone. Great budget accommodation is available right across the street at Hostal Chacmool.
All along Avenida Tulum, just one block from Casazul, there are plenty of rental car agencies. Drive approximately two hours on the toll-free road (libre) to Chichen Itza. On the way you will pass through several Mexican villages that are worth the trip. Try to get there early in the morning when the bus crowds haven't arrived yet and wonder through breathtakingly sophisticated structures.
After walking through the heat while touring Chichen Itza, a dip into an ancient cave bath will be a treat. Head over to the small town of Cuzama and take a small rail trolley to three beautiful cenotes along the rail line. The first is the largest and easiest to get into, with concrete stairs leading to a cavernous pool. The second two are more challenging and lead from the cavern roof down to the water. Make sure to take mosquito spray with you!
Merida has plenty of arts and culture to offer, in a way unrivaled by any other city on the Yucatan Peninsula. Every Saturday night one of Merida's main avenues is closed and a series of live bands play salsa and merengue while people dance in the streets. Modern music, dance, film, and art performances, and expositions are held in numerous art galleries and performance spaces throughout the week. Sundays the central streets around the plazas are closed off, everyone dresses their Sunday best and mingles.
Rest at this gem of a colonial casona. The interior courtyard is like a piece of rainforest, with lush tropical plants surrounding a crystal-clear pool and jet pool. Eight guest rooms and a penthouse offer spotless accommodations with a superb breakfast included.
Drive eastbound from Merida on the highway 180 for about 45 miles and steer Northbound towards the fine old colonial city of Izamal. This small town offers a beautiful mustard-colored convent, which was built upon what was once the immense Mayan temple Pap-Hol-Chac. Pope John Paul II came to visit in 1993. There are several Mayan ruins right in town, plus quiet plazas and very friendly and helpful residents.
Head back South towards 180, but do NOT take the autopista, drive Eastbound on the old Highway to El Ideal, about 60 miles West of Cancun. Turn North onto Highway 5 and follow for about 80 miles to the small coastal village of Chichila. Leave your car in Chichila and take the passenger ferry to Isla Holbox for about 4 dollars. The island lies completely within the Yum Balam national reserve, has no paved roads and is best explored by foot. You'll find brightly painted homes, beaches filled with shells, and extraordinary tranquility.
Deluxe beachfront cabanas with plenty of space, large patio, and wood floors.
Ida y Vuelta Campground, located 600 feet from the beach) is run by really friendly Italians who offer accommodation in large, screened-in palapas where you can sleep in hammocks or pitch a tent. The bathrooms are sparkling clean and beautifully designed. There's a communal kitchen as well.
Holbox offers snorkeling with whale sharks in the summer months, kite boarding, horseback riding, fishing, bird-watching or just plain lazing in a hammock. Check in with the friendly locals at the beach fisherman's shack outside of Casa Sandra's Hotel.
El General Taquitos at the park on Igualdad is open from 8 pm until midnight daily. A classic Mexican taco joint with metal tables, fluorescent lighting, and delicious food.