Last week, I spent 5 nights in the Riviera Maya region for a travel agent trip. I’m going to have separate posts for resorts and food (seriously you guys, the food…). This post will be about tours/animals/adventure.
Halloween/Dia de Los Muertos is an AWESOME time to visit Mexico, just saying. I arrived on Halloween, just in time to see all of the decorations and festivities. Costumes, parades, dozens of beautiful shrines; it was awesome!
Animals! I was not actually expecting to see much wildlife in Cancun. I figured people would have scared most of them away, but I was wrong! I saw iguanas on our resort property (El Dorado Seaside Suites), a coati chillin’ in a bar at El Dorado Royale and several spider monkeys playing around in the middle of Azul Resorts the Fives! I was pleasantly surprised, especially by the coati. Things I did not see: insects. Also a surprise!
I decided to use one of my free days to go on an excursion. I was in a small group with 3 couples (yay 7th wheel!) and I was picked up and dropped off in front of my resort lobby. First, we went to Dos Ojos Cenote north of Tulum. I knew we were going to “explore and swim in a cenote” but that was all the info I had. Y’all. This excursion is not for the faint-hearted. First, we donned wetsuits and snorkel gear before heading into the pitch dark caves. We explored the caverns in knee-deep water for the most part (freezing cold cave water)! We got to one point where the stalactites in the ceiling came down to about 2 feet above the water. So, we had to dunk underwater with just our heads sticking out, crawl/swimming through the cave. With just 2 flashlights for the group. It was amazing. We reached the other side and the tunnel opened up into a humongous cavern. The water was shallow on the sides, maybe 4 feet deep in the center. I have some pictures from different parts of the caves, but pictures in pitch dark (didn’t want to use flash too much) don’t turn out too well. Take a look anyways!
Our guide, Miguel, yells for us to come over to the shallows and look in the sand. An excitement/terror that I have never felt before slammed into me. Jaguar prints. FRESH jaguar prints. One set big and one set small. A mama Jaguar and her cub were/are STILL down in these caves, swimming, walking in the shallows and cooling off from the oppressive heat outside. We saw tracks in about 6 different places total. Now, I forgot to mention how deathly quiet and dark these caves are. We turned off all flashlights for 30 seconds at one point. I have never known darkness like that in my life. I felt like the creatures from the Descent were going to take me at any moment. And the silence. An absolute lack of sound, minus the occasional stalactite dripping. And so, when Miguel shows us these fresh jaguar prints….yeah. I think that is the most scared I have ever felt in my life. But also fascinated and excited. Obviously, this happens from time to time and the jaguars have never harmed people down here. BUT, and a big BUT; Miguel showed us a video from 2 months ago of a jaguar attacking a stray dog on a road outside the caves that he witnessed. Reality is sobering. Needless to say, we high-tailed it out of that area and returned to the open, deeper parts of the cenote, where we practiced snorkeling for our upcoming ocean adventure. Check out the jaguar footprints here (I got a clear picture of them thanks to a flashlight!) plus the area where we snorkeled.
After Dos Ojos, we headed to the Akumal Dive Shop to take a boat out on the reef and snorkel for about 45 minutes. Did you know the Mesoamerican Reef is the second largest reef in the world? I didn’t! We swam at a location known for its sea turtles. And turtles there were! I saw 3 Greens, a barracuda and lots of smaller fish I could not identify amidst the churning waves and my lack of snorkeling experience. My underwater camera took much better pictures than expected. My thumb, however, decided to block most of my turtle shots. So, that’s unfortunate. Here’s a few snorkeling pics (turtle in one)!
Next time I hit up the Riviera Maya, I will be sure to see some ruins and do some more water-adventure activities. You can snorkel with Whale Sharks and Manta Rays in the late summer! I only spent a small portion of time with nature on this trip and still got to see a ton of awesome things! Imagine what you’ll see if you experience an entire week in Cancun!