Mexico North America

Thanksgiving in Mexico: Beach Edition

From Mexico City, Chelsea and I headed to Playa del Carmen! We flew into Cancun and took the bus an hour south. It dropped us off right in the middle of Playa del Carmen’s main street.

Unsurprisingly, Playa del Carmen is significantly more touristy than Mexico City! Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum make up a significant amount of American travel to Mexico, and it was easy to see what draws people here. The beaches are stunning and there’s a lot of tourist infrastructure. Chelsea was coming off a significant amount of travel in the US and I was coming off moving across the country, so we appreciated the chill vibes and the spent a lot of time at the beach.

We also took the ferry out to Cozumel! It was a pretty short boat ride, and it had a charming town and some nice landscapes. We ended up walking quite a ways away to find some good lookout points that the map indicated, and it was a great day trip from Playa del Carmen.

But the main reason I wanted to come to the Yucatán Peninsula was to see my third world wonder! Chichén Itzá is an easy day trip from Playa del Carmen as well. We were not interested in renting a car and you theoretically can get there by bus, but it’s not convenient with the transfers, so I booked a tour.

All the tour companies had pretty similar itineraries, featuring cenote swims, Valladolid, and the site of Chichén Itzá itself. Ours started with the cenote. The cenotes themselves are super cool looking, and it was fun to go to one and have the chance to swim! The water was pretty cold but I got used to it after a few minutes. What I could have done without was the hard sell – this was one of those tours where they try to sell you things on the bus and give you a tour of the gift shop and all that. A lot of the places I go are not necessarily on the beaten path and so it was a bit surprising to have so many pushy salespeople everywhere we went.

After the cenote and a pretty decent buffet lunch, we headed to the pyramids! I’ve always been a little surprised to find Chichén Itzá on the world wonder list given the sheer number of amazing historical sites out there, but I was pretty impressed. I didn’t know about the sonic engineering they did, with the effects that made it sound like echos and bird calls, and it was very cool. We had a good amount of time to explore the whole area, which had more than just the main pyramid. Of the two Mexican pyramid sites I went to, I probably enjoyed Teotihuacán slightly more, but I would definitely recommend both sites if you’re in the right region to see them.

Our last stop of the day was Valladolid. I found it quite charming and wished we had more time there – I could have used a full half day, and it would have been fun to do breakfast or lunch there instead of at the cenote. As it was, we left as the sun was setting and it took us a very long time to get back to our hotel. It was a long day but worth it in my opinion.

Overall, I had a great time in Mexico. Good food, good drinks, and interesting museums and historical sites. I know it’s a huge country with a lot of incredible places to visit, and I would definitely be open to going back – I would probably prioritize Oaxaca and Puerto Vallarta on a next trip! It was getting a little embarrassing that I hadn’t been, and so I was glad to get the chance to go over Thanksgiving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *