After a year and a half of wedding planning – drafting and re-drafting itineraries, checklists, to-do lists, you name it – the last thing we wanted to do was create, and follow, a busy vacation schedule after we got married. We, as many couples, craved getting away and relaxing in the sun, reveling in the memories of our wedding and making any plans on a more spontaneous basis.
As it would turn out, the majority of these plans simply involved deciding what pool to go to that day, when to get brunch, and what bathing suit to sport. Just what we wanted!
That was the plus of an all-inclusive – which neither of us had ever experienced before – for our honeymoon.
We decided on Tulum in the province of Quintana Roo in beautiful Riviera Maya in the very south of Mexico on the Caribbean Sea. The direct four-hour WestJet flight, sunny (okay, extremely hot) weather, and Mayan history and architecture made this location attractive – plus, I (Stephanie) could practice my Spanish!
After flying into Cancun, we were surprised to learn the resort – Grand Bahia Principe Tulum – was an hour further (two hours total) away from the airport than we thought. While it was a long bus ride there on empty stomachs, we met two other Canadian couples and had some good chats with them on our way.
When we reached our destination and despite a few minor delays at check-in, we were greeted by stunning ocean vistas and mango margaritas (which were not hard to find throughout the duration of the stay!)
Our five days were spent basking in the sun, applying and re-applying SPF, walking on the beach, seeing a dolphin show, enjoying the music and dance festivities constantly happening on the resort, relaxing at the spa, and cooling off in the many pools every chance we could. Oh, and eating – lots of eating.
While the all-you-can-eat-style buffet offered almost any type of food you could ask for at almost any
time, we opted for the taco bar at least once a day. Hey, we were in Mexico, after all. Fresh guacamole, homemade corn tortillas, frijoles (beans), various types of meat, and pico de gallo were the staples we subsisted upon – and were more than happy to. For three of the nights, we went to à la carte restaurants on the resort which served foods of different cultures, were often air conditioned (a welcome amenity) and required dressing up.
The opportunity to go on day excursions off the resort was one of the reasons this area appealed to us, and we took advantage of our whereabouts by heading into Tulum one day. Through our on-site representative of WestJet Vacations, we registered for a full day of guided group adventures that would have us explore the historic Mayan culture and snorkel our way around the area’s pristine waters.
We started out by hiking to the ancient city of Tulum itself, through jungle forests to our destination of Mayan ruins sitting atop a steep 12-meter-high rocky cliff over the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The beauty and history of this tourist hotspot had us almost forget for a second how inexplicably hot we were. Almost. We chugged water from our bottles constantly and re-applied sunscreen every few minutes because the sheer heat of the sun made it feels as though your skin was sizzling.
That being said, it was really awe-inspiring to be on the grounds of El Castillo (the castle) – the main ruin – learning about its origins in the 13th century as one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Maya.
After the educational morning, sweating through our clothes, and taking copious photos, our group headed to a nearby cenote – a natural sinkhole the Mayan people used as their source of freshwater as well as for sacrificial offerings.
The cool temperatures of the cenote’s water had us jumping in swiftly to start our informative snorkeling tour. Swimming in the crystal-clear water we saw catfish, bats, and dodged the stalactites and stalagmites. These formations grew one inch every 100 years, and these ones were massive.
After our delicious lunch nestled in the jungle (tacos and fajitas, of course), we fed monkeys, talked to parrots, and headed to our final snorkeling destination. Donning our masks, flippers and snorkels for the final time, we dove into the warm, salty sea and paddled over cocktail table-sized sea turtles, sting rays and rare eagle rays. While swimming over one of the largest coral reefs in the world off the Yucatan Peninsula, we saw an array of brightly coloured species of fish and ingested a lot of salt water in the process.
Back at the resort, we slept well and filled the rest of our days enjoying the panoramic vistas and telling stories about our dream wedding which had just happened before this dream of our luna de miele!