The state of Quintana Roo, is located at the south part of the Mexican Republic in the eastern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula and Tulum town, which is close to Xel-Ha park. It is situated in the central portion of this state. Flying time from Mexico City to Cancún is two hours and it is served by several airlines. You may also do the journey by bus in 22 hours. From this city, you may take a bus that runs on schedule or buy a tour from different travel agencies that depart early in the morning and bring you back late in the afternoon.
Xel-Ha in Maya means "where water is born". Xel-Ha just like the rest of the sites along the coast, which constitute today tourist attractions, was in ancient times, considered a highly important place for one of the greatest civilizations which existed in Mesoamérica, the Mayan. This place a Sanctuary, was a sacred city in which rituals and dances of honor of the different gods of the Mayan mythology took place. Xel-Ha was also important commercial routes. This place reached its peak like the majority of the coastal sites during the 10 th century.
In Xel-Ha you will find several pre hispanic temples. A great part of the archaeological sites of the oriental coast of Yucatan were in fact, highly important pilgrimage sites; in here, starvation periods as well as purification baths took place, preparing in this way the spirit of men and women for the holly encounter with the moon godless "Ixchel", which was rendered honors in the swallows island "Cuzamil", today known as Cozumel. Xel-Ha is an ecological marvel: fresh water and sea water mingle in an inlet surrounded by lagoons and bay on 22 acres of unspoiled nature. The result is a "natural aquarium", declared National Park. Its crystalline waters have attracted thousands of visitors over the years. The colorful marine life of the Caribbean find the placed pools of Xel-Ha a perfect heaven, as indeed they are. Snorkeling is unsurpassed: tropical fish approach you on all sides. They are so beautiful you will hardly believe your eyes. Platforms with steps leading down into the water provide easy access the lagoon. Snorkel gear is available. Walkways among exuberant vegetation make exploring the park easy.
The main activity in this paradise, is the practice of free diving. After a hot day it is not a bad idea to enjoy a sunset from our lighthouse, which will render you speechless, or take a "siesta" in one of our comfortable hammocks. Get a suntan in a relaxing sunbed, or you might enjoy blissfully floating in one of our recreational beach toys. At Xel-Ha you will find: handcrafts, meals, snacks and snorkel gear, as well as lockers, showers, changing rooms and sunbeds.
Contoy Island Tour
Isla Mujeres is located northeast of the state of Quintana Roo to get there from Mexico City, you must fly or drive to Cancun and from there get transportation to Puerto Juarez or Punta Sam takes 45 minutes crossing and it is a pleasure to enjoy the breeze and the panorama from the upper deck from Puerto Juarez. You may enjoy doing the journey on express boats equipped with air conditioning.
Isla Mujeres was discovered by the Spaniard, Francisco Hernandez de Cordova on March 17,1517. Its name was given due to group of idols with feminine shape that were found at the Mayan Temple which is in the south point and is of great importance to the region's natives. The relative proximity with Cuba made it received some influence above all because their fleet always used its harbor. Their are three salt mines on the island made it very important during the Mayas age and later on. Since there was no electricity, fisherman had to dry, and season their product with salt and have them ready to be sold.
With an extension of 7.5 km. long and 500 meters wide, the island population is 14,500 inhabitants; it has glamorous white sandy beaches and very safe for children as there is no undertow. Isla Mujeres hotels has installations from one to 5 stars category and nearly 750 rooms, as well as travel agencies, marinas, diving shops bicycles and motorcycles rentals. The islanders are exceptionally courteous and helpful. Its main attractions are: the famous world wide Garrafón national park where most of the tourists from Cancún are taken; the beautiful pirate's Mundaca Hacienda, the sleeping sharks cave that encouraged Jacques Costeau, the North American Sport Illustrated and Reader Digest editors to do a lot of researching and studies. Other attraction are the light house reefs, the north point reefs, north beaches, and the matchless Manchones reefs. If you've ever fantasized about vacationing on a small island, far from the hustle and bustle and where time passes by at its own slow pace, then Isla Mujeres is the perfect place for you.
For those who love shopping, Isla Mujeres offers at their stores handcrafts and a great variety of typical novelties. Garrafón is the ideal place for snorkeling. This beach and reefs is at the south tip on the Island and it is proud to be famous worldwide. During your journey and at lunch time you should make one stop at beach Lancheros (Boatmen Beach) and beach Paraiso (Paradise Beach), where you may find restaurants with delicious meals based on fresh shellfish. You may also find here a nurse shark pen where pictures could be taken with no risk at all. If you love the sea, Isla Mujeres, has very good diving shops that will offer you tours to several sites with well skilled professional divers. Playa Norte (North Beach) o Playa Cocoteros (Coconuts Beach) are the most beautiful and safe ones specially for children and elderly. You may also visit the turtles hatchery or just sea the splendid dolphin's show at Villa Pirata (Pirate Village). Once you get to Isla Mujeres, you should feel relaxed, as the island has good hotels, food and beverages and all you need to enjoy your vacations without any danger.
Cozumel Island -
Cozumel Day Trip or transportation
This colorful, relaxed town is the island's center of attraction. Its classic grid layout makes navigating easy. People congregate around the Plaza del Sol, the city's seaside main square. The usual assortment of T-shirt shops, cafes, jewelry stores, arts and crafts shops fan out from the Plaza. Most of the island's eateries are here, offering something for every taste and budget. Several well- stocked duty-free shops line the Mamelon, Cozumel's seaside promenade. The island's residents, most of them born and raised here, are cheerful, friendly, and easy going.
Museum of the Island of Cozumel
Located in downtown San Miguel, this attractive two-story museum is housed in a former turn-of-the-century hotel. It offers a complete overview of the island's anthropological and cultural history. Dioramas portray the island's wildlife, native vegetation, reefs and undersea critters. More than a museum, the facility serves as the island's cultural center, offering Mayan language instruction, artisan demonstrations and live drama. Admission is charged; closed Saturdays. Upstairs cafe offers sweeping views of the Caribbean.
Chankanaab Lagoon & Botanical Gardens
Sea Turtle Tours
Cozumel (Co-zoo-MEL) is Mexico's largest island, and offers dual delights that take visitors above and below water. It is a very special destination for its friendly, laid-back tropical island atmosphere, world famous diving, and stunning Caribbean beauty.
While the island pre-dated Cancún as the Yucatan Peninsula's first resort area, and rests a mere 35 miles from its big sister resort, Cozumel can't hold a candle to Cancún in terms of grandiose development and sophisticated amenities. However, the island has nothing to apologize for, and is the hands down favorite for vacationers seeking unpretentious comfort and authentic Bohemian charm.
The jewel-shaped, flat-as-a-pancake island lies just 12 miles off the Yucatán Coast, and measures some 28 miles long and 10 miles wide. Its jungle-clad interior and ivory white beaches are girdled by one of the most spectacular ensembles of coral reefs in this hemisphere. Surrounding the island's limestone shore are temperate, crystal clear waters which range from stunning turquoise, to aquamarine, to deep indigo.
The calm waters of the western shore have attracted nearly all the island's resort development. The eastern, wind ward shore is a windswept stretch of deserted beaches, coves and bays.
The area's diving and snorkeling are legendary. Following a 1961 documentary by Jacques Cousteau, Cozumel earned a world-wide following of divers, who rank it one of the top five dive sites on the planet. The island's surrounding sea is teeming with undersea life, colorful reefs, and the slumbering hulls of Spanish galleons. (Note: about 35% of the island's visitors are divers)
For non-divers, the island's attractions include over 35 archaeological sites (only a few of which are accessible and worth seeing), and the charming city of San Miguel (population 50,000). The town is a hodgepodge of cafes, restaurants, and attractive boutiques. It encircles the city's main plaza, and extends some 14 blocks along the city's breezy seaside promenade. Large numbers of day trippers from Cancún and cruise ship passengers sometimes overtake the city proper, only to retreat a few hours later.
Nature lovers come to Cozumel to witness giant sea turtles laying their eggs (May to September) and to peek in on the island's varied concentration of exotic migratory bird life. And perhaps best of all, visitors are only a 40 minute ferry ride from the incredible Costa Turquesa region of the Yucatán Peninsula, brimming with hidden beaches, secluded resorts and archaeological treasures.
Cozumel's history is a unique collage of sometimes epic episodes of outside confrontation, interspersed with long periods of total obscurity. The island boasts a rich Mayan heritage, and was settled as early as 300 ad. It later nourished as a commercial port for Mayan sea-bound trade and as a ceremonial center. Cortés landed here in 1519 en route to his conquest of the Mexican mainland. Later the island's coves provided sanctuary for marauding pirates.
Interestingly, the growth in popularity of chewing gum in the U.S. led to the island's resurgence in the 19th century. Cozumel was a port-of-call on the chicle (gum) export route from Central America. Later a U.S. Air Force base was built, from which the Allies launched planes to hunt for German U-boats.
The island offers 2,500 units of mostly moderate lodging, divided among two dozen or so properties to the north and south of San Miguel. In town there are a few two and three-star properties, catering mostly to budget travelers and divers. Fortunately, massive resort development is stymied by a lack of potable water, and a desire to protect the island's delicate ecosystem. This helps keep island life simple, while somewhat limiting the island's land- based activities.
Xcaret is situated in the central part of the Quintana Roo state, 55 kms. south from Cancun's International Airport and half way to Tulum ruins. For transportation you may purchase your ticket at the bus terminal in front of Plaza Caracol next to the Coral Beach Hotel. Colorfully decorated buses, done with Mexican Flair, take in air conditioning comfort from Cancun's hotels zone to Xcaret; the trip takes about an hour.
Xcaret in the Mayan language means "small
inlet". Some researchers think that during the ancient age
Xcaret was the Pole from which canoes departed for Cozumel. That
is why all the ancient "scabies" (unpaved roads)
converged. Mayans believed that those waters could purify their
bodies and souls and that is why they made rites.
A modern concrete pyramid surrounded by lawn welcome visitors.
Inside that pyramid you may find a museum, restaurant, galleries
and souvenir stores and a great lookout towed to the Caribbean
sea. Beaten paths crossing through the lush jungle start here and
take you to the peaceful beaches, inlets and the dolphin area.
These path ways will also take you to the lagoon, the
"cenote" (underground well) and one of the main
attractions the underground river. The aviary aside the museum
where you will admire 36 different species. The aquarium will
give you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the submarine
Caribbean life that some time ago could only be admired by
experts divers. Xcaret offers at night a thrilling tour through
the strategically illuminated caves with simulated water falls
sounds that takes you afterwards to enjoy a Mayan ceremony and an
spectacular folkloric ballet at the theater.
A modern concrete pyramid surrounded by lawn welcome visitors. Inside that pyramid you may find a museum, restaurant, galleries and souvenir stores and a great lookout towed to the Caribbean sea. Beaten paths crossing through the lush jungle start here and take you to the peaceful beaches, inlets and the dolphin area. These path ways will also take you to the lagoon, the "cenote" (underground well) and one of the main attractions the underground river. The aviary aside the museum where you will admire 36 different species. The aquarium will give you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the submarine Caribbean life that some time ago could only be admired by experts divers. Xcaret offers at night a thrilling tour through the strategically illuminated caves with simulated water falls sounds that takes you afterwards to enjoy a Mayan ceremony and an spectacular folkloric ballet at the theater.
Xcaret, exotic and exuberant, is a park that offers mu1ltiple attraction. Swimming with the friendly dolphins or snorkeling in its crystal waters is an excitement adventure. With so much exercises, you work out an appetite, you can have a snack or choose from a variety of Mexican and seafood specialties features at the park's restaurants like "El Mexican" where you will enjoy the rodeo show and the performance of Mexican dances. You may ride a horse along the park.
As in all ecological parks sun screen, sun lotions, and sun blocks are not allowed, neither liquor, noisy devices that could harm the ecological environment. Children under 11 years old pay half the entrance fee and those under five get in free. October through March the park opens from 09:00 am till 05:00 p.m., and from April through September from 09:00 am till 06:00 PM.
Valladolid tour with Chichen Itza
The Mexican State of Quintana Roo, is located at the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula in one its eight municipalities Felipe Carrillo Puerto, where the Sian Ka'an's biosphere reserve is placed is the central portion in this state. Ground distance from Mexico City to Cancun is about 22 hours by bus. From Cancún to Tulum there are 131 kms. which takes 1 hour and 50 minutes to get to where the reserve begins. It takes one hour and fifty minutes by plane from Mexico City and there are several national and international airlines.
The name is Maya for "birth of the sky". This reserve was incorporated to the roll of zones considered as menkind Patrimony, on January 20th, 1986. The Sian Ka'an's biosphere reserve was included in the menkind Patrimony by UNESCO in 1987, with 1.3 million-acres. Sian Ka'an is a 1.3 million-acre reserve in which environmental conservation and sustainable development go hand in hand.
Sian Ka'an's barrier reef forms part of the seconds largest reef in the world. Its great, shallow bays are important nurseries for spiny lobster. In these bays, scattered keys provide nesting sites for thousands of water birds such as the roseate spoonbill, woodstock, magnificent frigate bird, and boat-billed heron. The rare jabiru stork, nest in the reserve, and the beaches are nesting grounds for four species of endangered sea turtles. The reserve serves as habitat for wild cats such as jaguar, ocelot, margay, jaguar and cougar, two species of crocodiles, howler and spider monkeys, tapir and west Indian manatee among other species, as well as forest birds such as the ocellated turkey and great curassow. Plant diversity is high with approximately 1,200 species found in the reserve. Hardwood hummocks, called "petenes", occur like islands among the wet lands, some of them with sinkholes-huge natural wells more than fifty yards in diameter.
There are guided tours through the reserves, which are divided in: Summer tours.- First stage of the tour is by road, 20 km. unpaved in which you will be sensible by regions ecological environment. The second part is by boat through Boca Paila and not salty water channels and mangrove swamps and savanna until you reach the Chunyaxche lagoon. You may swim through a channel on your way back. This is an experience you should not miss.
(Border - 400 Km - 250 Miles South of Cancún)
Formerly British Honduras, Belize became independent in Sept. of 1981. The official language is English, but you'll also hear some Spanish and many Mayan and Creole dialects spoken as well. It's quite a shock to cross the border at Chetumal (Mexico) and suddenly be hearing perfect (British) English spoken. "Hey mon, have a good day" is very common among these friendly people.
Used as a base by pirates in the 1700's, Belize contains pine tree covered mountain ranges, many large rivers, extensive tropical rain forests teeming with plant and animal life, some incredible diving at the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, and incredible Mayan ruins Caracol, Lamana, Altun-Ha, Xanantunich, etc.
You'll also discover a series of nature
preserves, including the only jaguar reserve in the world.
CENOTE SAGRADO (in Chichen Itza)
CENOTE AZUL ( 234
Cenote Dzinup (Valladolid)
Cenote Zaci-Ha (Valladolid)
This colonial gem is a fascinating yet often over-looked destination. Mérida is not only the gateway to Mexico's most awesome Mayan ruins, but also a unique inland city of strong Spanish, Mayan, French, and Lebanese influence. Most archaeological buffs use Mérida as a base for exploration. The city complements a Cancún vacation wonderfully and should be strongly considered for a 2-3 day side trip.
The Weekly Cultural Billboard is in the Yucatan State, southeastern part of Mexico, in the city of Mérida. By plane from Mexico City the approximately flight time is one hour and twenty-five minutes. By bus or car from Mexico City to Mérida takes approximately 22 hours (1,458 kilometers). This cultural and artistic expressions can be enjoyed every day, since each week a different spectacle is presented outdoor in different parts of the city.
It started twenty years ago with the Serenata Yucateca (Yucateca Serenade) at the Santa Lucia Oak. This is the maximum love, senses and musical expression, typical of the state and generally formed by trios (three singers with guitars). The City Hall and the University of Yucatan have integrated different shows like the regional "vaquerias", folkloric ballets, singers and other cultural and artistic activities.
Monday- At the City hall vestibules, on the main plaza, at 9:00 PM the folkloric ballet performs the typical "vaquerias"- a dance originated in the 18th. century farms and named this way because the women dancers wore cowboy hats- Now the woman dancers wear a"Terno", which is the typical Yucateca dress to dance the "jarana"- dance performed by a couple in which they dance with no specific footsteps, keeping the body straight and even dancing while holding an object on their heads, without letting it fall; this is called "galas" or "suertes", in which they use bottles of liquor or trays with wind instruments- Sometimes during the dances, the band stops the music to tell the famous bombs- verses that make people laugh-. The origin of the vaquerias is Spanish. Tuesday- Orchestras and singers of popular music to entertain, dance in the garden located at 72th street between 57th-A and 59th streets, across the Santiago church. Wednesday- At Casa de la Cultura (the Cultural House), there is Yucateca music, folkloric ballet and declaimers. Located at 63rd street between 64th and 66th street. Thursday- Parque de Santa Lucia. Yucateca Serenade- Singers and typical orchestras play and sing Yucateca melodies. Also declaimers recite. The park is located at the corner of 60th by 55th streets.The show starts at 9:00 pm. Friday at the Yucatan University. Enjoy the University serenade with the folkloric ballet of the State University. Location: at the patio of the central building on the corner of 60th by 57th street. Sunday- Sunday mornings you can enjoy the "Mérida en Domingo". In the main plaza at the City Hall you can see the folkloric ballet and marimbas. Also at the plaza are different stands with books, handcrafts and typical food.
All these shows are outdoors and free of charge. In "Mérida en Domingo" on Sundays besides the music and dancing children's shows are presented. There are also small souvenir shops, food, handcrafts, etc.
(160 Km - 100 Miles NW of Cancún)
Located to the northwest of Cancún, to two
hours by highway and to the east of Rio Lagartos "Lizards
River" (home of the flamingoes) you will find the island of
Holbox. As part of the Yum Balam Reservation, this region
represents a very interesting option for the lover and
observant of the fowl, You first must arrive to a small populated
town called Chiquilá.
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. is located at the center of all major tour attractions, it is known as the tourist corridor. At the Northeast at just 41 miles is located Cancún and at the southwest is at just 4 miles you will find Xcaret, and then further down you will find Xel-há and then a just 56 miles from Playa del Carmen the great Mayan ruins of Tulum, and Cobá. At the south is the island of Cozumel.
Playa del Carmen also hosts large amount of cruise ships that disembark at this European-style town that creates a laid back atmosphere where rest and relaxation are widely practice. It is situated on the edge of the must spectacular view of the clear waters of the Caribbean.
By day the main action of water sports such as para sailing, water skiing take place on the water front area of the plaza. By night, taking a leisurely walk along the plaza's walkways, is the main attraction, or if you prefer you can just sit on the deserted beaches and absorb the tropical sounds around you (a lovers paradise).
The town is also the gateway for daily visits to the island of Cozumel, or the center point to visit the extraordinary Mayan ruins. (ferries to the island of Cozumel run every hour to two hours from 5:15 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.)
(98 Km - 62 Miles South of Cancún)
This once-deserted bay of turquoise water is now home to an ambitious deluxe resort development spanning some 900 acres. The centerpiece is a 240-slip deep water marina and an 9-hole golf course (open to the public). When completed Puerto Aventuras will be home to private villas condos, several hotels, shops and restaurants. Currently there is the Oasis Puerto Aventuras Hotel, a 300 unit all-inclusive property/ timeshare project. Several restaurants, a commercial center and a shipwreck museum make this a popular stop along the coast.
Yal-Ku (98 km. south of Cancún):
This seldom visited lagoon is a miniature version of Xel-Ha without the crowds. The unmarked entrance can be spotted near a ranch house with a tall windmill at KM 256. There are no facilities to date, only you and several canals of fish-choked emerald water. Great for snorkeling.
Akumal (102 Km - 63 Miles south of Cancún):
This palm-fringed bay is one o Mexico's loveliest settings and home to an every-growing resort community. Once part of a large coconut plantation Akumal was first developed in 1958 by Mexican divers that were salvaging a sunken Spanish galleon just off shore. This group founded CEDAM, an inter- nationally acclaimed society of divers dedicated to community service and ecological preservation. Akumal's breathtaking white sand beaches are protected by off-shore reefs. This is a haven for divers from around the world, who have been coming here for decades. Many non-divers come to enjoy Akumal's tranquil tropical atmosphere, wide sandy beaches, and blissful isolation. In terms of development Akumal is the antithesis of Cancún - laid-back and unpretentious. There are several hotels, bungalows and condos, plus a few good restaurants/bars (see Tulum Corridor section.)
Chemuyil (109 km. south of Cancún):
Unsuspecting bus tours cruise past the dirt road at KM 249 not knowing that a short distance form the main highway is what may be the most idyllic beach in Mexico. A billboard at the entrance boast that this quiet horse shoe-shaped cove of tranquil emerald water is "the most beautiful beach in the world." Hard to argue this claim, especially once you have snared a hammock, ordered some " ceviche" and a cold beer. The palm-lined beach of powdery white sand is protected by a shallow reef that crosses the mouth of the cove. Chemuyil is excellent for swimming and snorkeling. There is a fun bar/restaurant (Marco Polo) serving fresh seafood. If you can't tear yourself away there are a few tented palapas for overnight rent.
CROCOCUN: Venture into the Natural Tropical Forest and confront the prehistoric cocodriles, the rulers of this sacred abode and witness their unpredictable personalities. The journey continues with a welcome from the friendly monkeys, a view of diversity of snakes and the other exciting surprises that await.
The botanical garden "Dr Alfredo Barrera Marín" has an extension of 60 Ha and is characterized for having its original vegetation, There is a mangrove at the eastern part of the botanical garden. It has several botanic collections: ") the epiphitary where we can find orchids and bromeliads, b) succulent plants like cactaceans and agavaceaes, c) ornamental plants, and d) medicinal plants used tradicional way of life and management of the natural resources, two special sections were built: the Chiclero camp and the ethnography house. At the BG we can find Mayan ruins built in the late postclassical (1400ac) There is also a big natural park with its original vegetation ( medium - tropical forest). Some endangered plant species like "chit"and "nacax" palms are protected at BG. The later one is endemic of Yucatán Península. The original fauna is rich and very interesting. Its very common to see iguanas, foxes, agouti, great curasow and migratory and resident birds. There is a great diversity of insects and is common to see herds of spider monkeys.
see tours page at http://www.cancuncd.com/cancun-tours.php
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