I worked as an adventure tour guide throughout Mexico in the 90s/00s, and I was always partial to Quintana Roo. The area called the "Hotel Zone" below the ruins in Tulum is beautiful but it has become quite touristy--and expensive-- over the past decade or so. I would usually stay with groups up the road at Xpu-Ha, and the one no-frills place with beach cabañas in Tulum I'd frequent is long gone. Eat at Zamas, which is one of the original hotels there and the location is particularly stunning (you have my money-back guarantee).
If you do go to Tulum, there is a hostel called the Weary Traveler at the south end of the road that runs through Tulum. If you need any tips or the low-down on things to do or places to stay, stop in and see John, an eccentric ex-colleague of mine who started the place over 20 years ago.
Down the road toward Belize there is a great beach town called Mahahual that used to be completely untouched, and an even less-accessible town called Xcalak (used to need to bring along extra gas in order to make the trip back to "civilization," but now there's a Pemex station down there).
seaweed problem is a real drag. Can’t go in the ocean all up and down the Riviera Maya Coast. Smelly brown seaweed. Pick a place that has a great pool. Recently went to Xel Ha eco park. It was okay, not fantastic. If you like to snorkel, the absolute best is to go up to Playa Del Carmen and ferry over to Cozumel for a snorkel tour. Best snorkeling in the Western Hemisphere. On your way back, spend an evening in Playa Del Carmen. Plenty of good restaurants and shopping along 5th Avenue.
Did a bachelor party here and had a blast. For daytime stuff I’d definitely try to get to the Mayan ruins (and pay the extra $10 to cut the line and get a guided tour) as well as the cenotes (Gran Cenote is the most popular but there are several).
We had dinners at Papaya Playa Project, Gitano and Hartwood which we’re all great.
for a family vacation. We stayed in a VRBO house on the beach near Puerto Morelos. The seaweed was a drag but manageable.
The best thing we did was get a local tour guide for the family. He brought the family around in an air-conditioned van to several cenotes that we wouldn't have found on our own, jetskiing, a lagoon and an underground river (all over 2 1/2 days). It wasn't cheap but didn't break the bank either. Highly recommended. https://myquestconcierge.com/
They offered a tour of the Mayan ruins during off-hours (no crowds), but we didn't take it.
Had a guide names Felix who was great. Took us on a boat tour is the Siam kaan (sp) nature reserve and some cenotes. Would definitely recommend, particularly if the seaweed is present n
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