Tourists Drawn to Sea Turtle Season in Tulum

Sergeant Major fishes in caribbean reef Mexico Mayan RivieraMexico’s Tulum is well known for its majestic ruins situated on 40-foot-high cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. This pre-Columbian Mayan walled city dating back to the 13th century is also home to another popular albeit lesser-known tourist attraction:  native sea turtles. 

The 2018 turtle nesting season in Tulum has officially begun with the initial discovery of a handful of nests. However, according to local reports, officials are expressing concern about the endangered species’ safety.

Existing Environmental Threats

Francisco Chan Chable, director of municipal ecology, says that Sargasso seaweed has been spotted along Tulum’s beach areas, and a large number of plastic materials have arrived with the seagrass. He explains that the plastic effectively “traps” the turtles.

Chable says another threat to the turtles is the abundance of hotels and vacation rentals in the area. Sea turtles are nocturnal animals who roam the beaches at night and are attracted by hotel food waste. It is important for hotels and guests to keep organic waste covered to discourage the attraction to the animals and reduce risk.

Riviera Maya News reports that members of the sea turtle committee are reinforcing efforts in an attempt to combat sea turtle egg looting, something that has become a reoccurring problem. Lucelly Ramos Montejo, president of the State Committee of Sea Turtles, says that they will coordinate surveillance and protection in the nesting areas that registered looting last year.

Also, many people engage in snorkeling or diving in attempts to swim with these majestic, docile creatures of the sea. It is important to remember not to touch them and remain a considerable distance away so they can swim freely and without stressors. Finally, avoid using sunscreen when doing so as the chemicals stay in the water and contaminate their environment.

Sea Turtles in a (Nut) Shell

Sea turtles have been around longer than the ancient ruins around them – more than 150 million years! Six of the seven remaining species are found in the warm waters around Mexico. And while they swim great distances around the world, the female turtles who make it to breeding age always return to the beach that they were hatched on to lay their eggs; thus, the cycle of life continues.

Between May and October, many Green (Tortuga Blanca) and Loggerhead (Tortuga Caguama) turtles return to lay their eggs in the white sands of Tulum. On average, approximately 300 nests are made each season between the Tulum ruins and Turtle Bay.

Federal laws and international agreements currently protect all species of sea turtles.  Despite these efforts, they are all now classified as vulnerable or endangered.

Members of several organizations patrol the beaches each night of the nesting season, marking nests and moving eggs to a secure location if the nest is exposed. Then, when the eggs hatch, they assist the babies in navigating safely to the ocean. All in all, viewing the process is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will never forget.

Be the Hare, Not the Turtle

Due to the popularity of the spectacle of sea turtle nesting season, it is imperative to book as soon as possible to reserve your perfect vacation rental in Tulum and Turtle Bay. The Puerto Aventuras vacation rental specialists at Sea Side Reservations are ready to assist you! Contact us today and grab a front-row seat to this unforgettable ecotourism adventure.

Additional Information:

  1. National Geographic, “Searching for Nesting Sea Turtles on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula,”
  2., “Tips for Snorkeling with Sea Turtles – Updated 2018,”
Friday, May 25th, 2018
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Why Tulum is a Celebrity Hotspot

Increasing numbers of celebrities are flocking to the seaside hamlet of Tulum, Mexico. This trendy hotspot, known for its picturesque beaches, Mayan ruins and beautiful natural cenotes, ranks among Mexico’s most visited locales.

Once a popular destination for bohemian backpackers, Tulum has evolved into one of the country’s most glamorous towns, where Hollywood royalty come to frolic in the sun and surf. 

Tulum: where celebrities relax & adventure

Word has spread of Tulum’s Instagram-worthy white sands, chic shops and ultra-lux lodging, attracting TV personalities, movie moguls, Grammy-winning artists, as well as the NY fashion crowd. So which larger-than-life characters might you rub elbows with in this superstar paradise?

Actresses Heather Graham and Demi Moore (along with daughter Rumer) have been spotted snorkeling in Tulum’s crystal-clear cenotes, while Drew Barrymore has posted several selfies of her forays at a local yoga retreat. The list doesn’t end there! Tulum is a favorite travel destination for model Alessandra Ambrosio, Orlando Bloom, Cameron Diaz, Sting, Reese Witherspoon, Sean Penn, Paris Hilton, Kate Bosworth and Jessica Lange.

Noted shoe designer Brian Atwood has vacationed in Tulum as has Katie Couric and her children. This sun-drenched beach town, just one hour from Cancun, has also lured popstar Justin Bieber, who was actually booted off the Tulum ruins for his bad boy behavior.

Beach lounging, yoga & delicious eats

Tulum also touts itself as an eco-conscious destination, thanks to a commitment to responsible and sustainable tourism. This dedication to environmental preservation appeals to many visitors, including the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, who makes regular trips to this Mexican Caribbean town.

When not snoozing on the beach, exploring ancient temples, or working on your tan, this is a great spot to practice your downward dog. Tulum is a mecca for yogis, with renowned gurus hosting yoga retreats and workshops throughout the year. Drew Barrymore raves about Amansala’s Bikini Boot Camp, which offers a blend of yoga, indulgent spa services and rigorous cardio workouts.

Dining out in Tulum is a special treat, since the town has been upping its food game. Some of the area’s most-treasured restaurants (where you may bump into a celebrity or two) include:

  • The Dining Experience Tulum
  • WILD
  • Cenzontle
  • Habitas
  • Mi Amor

Culinary offerings range from innovative Yucatan fare to grilled lobster tacos and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Where to stay in Tulum

When it comes to comfortable accommodations in this celebrity haven, you can’t go wrong with a spacious Tulum villa rental from SeaSide Reservations. Fully-furnished and equipped with all the comforts of home, our luxurious properties – many of which boast spectacular ocean views–can let you vacation like a rockstar, while giving you more bang for your buck.

Read More about Tulum Celebrity Sightings:

  1. People, Drew! Reese! Cameron! See Why All The Stars Are Flocking to Tulum, Mexico
  2. NewYorkTrendNYC, New Emerging Caribbean Hotspot: Tulum, Mexico!
  3. US Weekly, Plan a Trip to Tulum Like Drew Barrymore, Cara Delevingne, Sienna Miller and More Stars
Thursday, May 10th, 2018
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Tulum vs. Riviera Nayarit: Which is Right for You?

It’s no wonder that Mexico is one of America’s top vacation destinations — endless sunshine, sublime beaches, and it’s nearby. Mexico’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts have amazing scenery, archeological sites and exciting activities, but how do you choose the right spot to spend those precious vacation days? When you think of dreamy beach destinations south of the border, the brilliant white sands of Tulum may come to mind. But over on the west coast, the laid-back shores of Riviera Nayarit have been making waves as the up-and-coming hotpot for intrepid travelers.

So which beach destination is right for you? Let’s take a closer look at Tulum vs. Riviera Nayarit.

Tulum: Mayan ruins, crystal clear waters and lush jungle

Location: East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, overlooking the Caribbean Sea

Getting There: No flights to Tulum; fly into the Cancun International Airport, which is a 2-hour drive

Beaches:  The white sand beaches of Tulum are Instagram worthy, and the seas are typically calm and safe for swimming

Accommodations: This area is renowned for its all-inclusive beach resorts, luxury condo rentals and lodging with family-friendly amenities. You’ll find accommodations to fit just about every budget.

Primary Attraction: The ancient Maya city of Tulum, one of the best-preserved sites and most beautiful. The ruins are easy to navigate and present numerous photo-ops thanks to its unique setting atop limestone cliffs looking out over crashing surf.

Coolest Activity: Swimming, diving or snorkeling in the cenotes – natural sink holes that are either open like lakes or completely underground, and some even boast ziplines!

Popular things to do: Swimming, stand up paddle boarding, relaxing on the beach, shopping for artisanal goods, catamaran rides, snorkeling, riding bicycles or visiting the Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, one of the area’s top eco-tourism destinations, home to monkeys, crocodiles, pumas and coatimundi 

Atmosphere: Tulum is very family-friendly and has a relaxed vibe. Some describe this Mexican hotspot as a “hippie haven.” There are health retreats, yoga and meditation classes and other holistic offerings.

Riviera Nayarit: Rugged backdrops, juicy waves and fewer crowds

Location: West Coast of Mexico, a 200-mile swath that stretches from San Blas to Nuevo Vallarta

Getting There: Fly into the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, which has many options for direct flights from U.S. hubs 

Beaches: You’ll find both white and golden sands, warm waters and rugged backdrops depending on which hamlet you visit. Some towns like Sayulita are known for wilder waves, making this a popular surfer destination. Within the blue curves of Banderas Bay, there are family beaches, great swimming beaches and others flanked with chic bars and eateries.

Accommodations: There are nearly two dozen towns in the state of Riviera Nayarit. Some feature world-class hotels, luxury all-inclusive resorts and lavish rental properties while others have a handful of modest lodging options.

Primary Attraction: Nayarit is a multicultural and multiethnic state that attracts surfers, golfers, beach lovers, history buffs and nature aficionados.  Many visitors praise the Old World charms of San Blas — a sleepy town that is packed with colonial architecture, lush palms, and extensive mangrove forests.

Coolest Activity: Take a boat trip to Hidden Beach (also known as Lover’s Beach) on the beautiful Marietas Islands where you can snorkel in clear aqua waters.

Popular things to do: Surfing and paddle boarding are the main draws of Sayulita. Recreational activities abound in this vast state. There are wellness spas and championship golf courses. You can go whale watching, sea kayaking, learn about sea turtle conservation or take a wine tasting tour.

Atmosphere: Whether you’re visiting San Pancho, Punta de Mita or Bucerias, you’ll find the ambiance of Riviera Nayarit to be laid-back and friendly.  This destination is still under the tourist radar (for the most part) and is recommended if you want to avoid heavy crowds.

More Resources on Tulum & Riviera Nayarit Travel Highlights:

  1. BeMyTravelMuse, 7 Amazing Things to do in Tulum, Mexico
  2. GQ, Go to Riviera Nayarit, Mexico’s Lesser-Known Beach Haven
  3. AnnaEverywhere, Ultimate Guide to Tulum Mexico
  4. Barefoot Nomad, What To Do In The Riviera Nayarit – 23 Reasons You’ll Love It Here
Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
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4 Great Places to Vacation With Kids in Mexico

Multi Generation Family Giving Children Piggybacks On Holiday Smiling To CameraLooking for a family-friendly destination to spend your next vacation? Head south of the border for some serious fun in the sun! Mexico is a great place to travel with children of all ages, and the country boasts countless attractions that are designed for curious young minds. There are lots of pretty beaches where you can swim, snorkel and boogie board, enormous pyramids to scale, and on top of it all, the locals absolutely adore children (even during temper tantrums).

Check out 5 of our favorite places in Mexico to travel with kids!

Riviera Maya

Just south of Cancun lies the Mexican Riviera—home to nature-theme parks, pristine snorkeling coves, Mayan ruins and miles of picture-perfect beaches. Start your holiday off at Croco Cun in Puerto Morelos, where the little ones can hand feed monkeys, touch baby crocodiles and learn about native flora and fauna at this wildlife reserve. Another family favorite is Xcaret eco-park, home to a massive butterfly garden, a lazy river that winds through underground caverns, and a dolphin encounter program. Don’t miss the clifftop Mayan ruins of Tulum, which overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Beat the heat and the crowds by arriving early in the morning. The beaches at Tulum are nearly deserted and a terrific place to build sandcastles and splash in the surf.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, situated on the lovely Banderas Bay, is another excellent spot for a family vacation in Mexico. This laid-back hamlet offers the perfect blend of historic charm and beach atmosphere. Take a stroll down the cobblestone streets of Viejo Vallarta, and then head to the bustling oceanside promenade (El Malecon) for an ice cream and a chance to watch Mariachi bands in action. Plan a trip to Las Caletas beach for day of swimming, sunbathing and family fun. There’s a playground and snorkeling equipment available to rent. Vallarta Adventures has a dolphin interactive program and children ages 8 and up can zoom through the tropical forest on their zip-line canopy tour. If you have small children in tow, try out the zippy slides at Splash Water Park, which also has sea lion shows.


Every part of this vibrant colonial city is an adventure. Packed with colorful markets, museums and handicraft stores, Oaxaca has many attractions that will hold the interest of tweens and teens.  If you are a family of foodies, this is the place to be! Beyond amazing street eats and restaurants, you’ll find Mexican cooking classes offered by leading chefs. There is a chocolate factory (Oaxaca is famous for its delicious chocolate), where you can order delectable cacao concoctions filled with vanilla, almonds and cinnamon. Spend a day visiting the fascinating ruins of Monte Alban, where Zapotecs lived from 500 B.C. until 1500 A.D. The sprawling site features spectacular mountain views, and chances to explore the excavations of ancient tombs.


Cancun is the ultimate destination for a no-fuss family beach getaway. Whether you live in Atlanta or San Diego, direct flights are easy to come by and surprisingly affordable. One of the biggest perks of Cancun – aside from its picturesque white-sand beaches – is the sheer number of kid-friendly activities. There are several water parks, interactive aquariums where children can swim with dolphins and feed sharks, and even a Jolly Roger Pirate Show. When you’re not playing at the pool or beach, plan a day trip to the great Mayan wonder of Chichen Itza – ac cultural must-see for the kids. Isla Mujeres is another hotspot for visiting tourists. You can reach the island via water taxi or ferry and spend the day relaxing on the beach, shopping and zipping around on rented golf carts.

Read More about Family Vacation Spots in Mexico:

  1. TripSavvy, Must-Visit Mexico: The Best Family Vacation Spots in Mexico
  2., Mexico: Take the Kids to Tulum!
  3. SFGate, Top 10 destinations for family fun in Mexico
Friday, April 6th, 2018
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5 Jaw-Dropping Caves to Visit in Mexico

Misol Ha waterfall on Chiapas, MexicoThe recent discovery of the world’s largest flooded cave has put the spotlight on Mexico’s many amazing caverns, many of which can be explored by travelers. Underwater archeologists spent years exploring the caves of Sac Actun and Dos Ojos in Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula before connecting the two caverns earlier this year.

The find revealed an amazing web of underwater grottoes; now the explorers’ mission is to link Sac Actun with three other underwater cave systems. The discovery of the submerged labyrinth identifies a significant archaeological site spanning 216 miles (347 km) that illustrates the stories and customs of the Mayan civilization.

“This immense cave represents the most important submerged archaeological site in the world,” says Guillermo de Anda, a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History, in a statement issued in January of this year.

The Maya believed their caves served as conduits to communicate with their gods, so it is possible many historical artifacts will come to light in the depths of the waters.

Amazing Find Sparks New Interest in “Spelunking”

Whether you are new to caving or are an experienced spelunker (cave explorer), Mexico has many options from which to choose. Here is a rundown of five top caves and caverns to check out during your next trip south of the border.

1. Dos Ojos (Tulum)

Traditionally ranked #1 of the 30 nature areas and parks in Tulum, this spot is a magnet for divers and snorkelers. The crystal-clear water, about 77 degrees Fahrenheit (24°C) year round, is perfect for cooling off. Marvel at stalactites formed by centuries of flowing water. Guided tours are available through accessible parts of the cave, which stretches 38 miles (61 km) through the rock. 

2. Sac Actun (Tulum)

Another underground water paradise in the Riviera Maya. Your visit will certainly be a unique experience like no other, mystical and intriguing. You can snorkel or dive in this cavern, which is chock-full of formations. The cenote, or sinkhole, is set deep in the jungle and is surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna.

3. Rio Secreto (Playa del Carmen)

Mexico’s newly-discovered underground river, near Playa del Carmen, Rio Secreto offers a fantastic journey into a unique system of underground rivers and ancient caverns that reveals both the passage of time and our planet’s innermost mysteries. Many tours here offer walking sticks, water shoes, and headlamps – take advantage of them for the best experience!

4. Santa Cruz (Akumal)

Its warm, crystal-blue waters offer a great place to relax and are very romantic, according to many reviewers. Originally a spa for Mayan royalty, the caves’ stalactites and stalagmites are awesome, and the underwater life is plentiful. Some tours provide you with a torch to light the way, adding to the unique atmosphere.

5. Grutas de Garcia (Monterrey)

These stunning and dramatic caves date back to more than 50 million years ago. About an hour’s drive from Monterrey, the caves are quite a distance from the parking area, and they offer a cable car ride to get there for a small fee. The natural formations in the caves resemble animals like a gorilla, a donkey, and even a dinosaur. 

Sea Side Reservations offers great deals on vacation rentals all over Mexico, including condos, resorts, and homes. Contact us today and let us help you book your visit to paradise.

Thursday, January 25th, 2018
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4 Great Eco-Tourism Adventures in Mexico

Man zipline flight in jungleEcotourism combines the best of environmental conservation and responsible tourism, offering travelers a unique cultural experience. Mexico, like many Latin American countries, has become one of the top destinations for eco-minded travelers who want to explore the great outdoors and marvel at Mother Nature’s wonders, with minimal impact on local communities.

Mexico’s eco-tourism industry has grown considerably over the past decade, offering visitors a slew of outdoor adventures and wildlife tours that showcase the country’s spectacular natural sites. Here are 4 amazing eco-adventures in Mexico to add to your bucket list!

Monarch Butterfly Migration in Michoacán

Journey to the rural forests of Michoacan, where millions (and perhaps billions) of monarch butterflies converge to spend the winter. Learn more about these phenomenal butterfly gatherings while visiting butterfly biosphere reserves in the charming towns of Patzcuaro and Morelia –a  UNESCO World Heritage City.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Conservation

Witness another natural marvel on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, where thousands of Olive Ridley turtles storm the beaches to nest. The World Wildlife Foundation offers a backstage conservation tour that includes beach patrols, chances to watch female turtles dig their nests and lay eggs, plus the opportunity to help new hatchlings make their way to the sea. Most of the excursions center around Puerto Escondido and La Escobilla beach.

Chiapas Zipline Adventure

Some of Mexico’s most popular eco-tours also include hair-raising adventure. Chiapas is home to the exquisite Mayan ruins of Palenque, where stone temples rise hundreds of feet above dense jungle. Tour operators offer a combo adventure that includes a guided walk through the ruins, followed by a zip-line canopy tour and a hike to a 100-foot waterfall with inviting swimming hole.

Tulum Jungle Tour

The Tulum Jungle Maya excursion is guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping, and boasts not one but three different adventure activities! After exploring the impressive archeological site of Tulum, which overlooks one of the world’s most gorgeous beaches (according to National Geographic), you’ll snorkel among rock formations in the world’s longest underground river. An all-terrain vehicle takes you deeper into the jungle where two more activities await: rappelling down into underwater caves and flying high over the rainforest via zipline. This half-day eco-adventure ends with a Mayan purification ceremony attended by a local shaman. If you’re staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or anywhere along the Riviera Maya, this tour is a must!

Additional Mexico Eco Tourism Resources:

  2. Viator, Mexico Eco Tours
  3. TripAdvisor, Top Eco Tours in Mexico
Friday, October 6th, 2017
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5 Great Reasons to Vacation in Puerto Aventuras

Situated in an idyllic bay on Mexico’s stunning Riviera Maya, Puerto Aventuras’ prime location is perfect for excursions to the region’s most exciting activities and highlights along the Caribbean coast. Whether you are planning an intimate girls’ getaway or a week-long family holiday, there are plenty of compelling reasons to vacation in the resort community of Puerto Aventuras. Here you will discover unspoiled beaches, crystalline waters and activities that cater to thrill-seekers, wildlife enthusiasts and those who love leisure sports.

Significantly less crowded than Spring Break hotspots Cancun and Playa del Carmen, this luxurious resort community is a well-rounded vacation destination. Here are five reasons you should start planning your escape to Puerto Aventuras Mexico today!

Luxurious resort amenities in Puerto Aventuras

Puerto Aventuras is one of Mexico’s first planned communities boasting a deluxe marina, championship golf course and luxury tourist developments, all within a gated subdivision. For the occasional visitor, that means unparalleled access to first-rate resort amenities, boat charters, tennis courts, fairways, clubhouses, fitness centers, day spas and a wide selection of ocean view condos, bungalows and vacation rentals. Imagine having a full-service marina, a golf course designed by Thomas Leman and more than two miles of palm-fringed beaches just steps from your door!

Diverse activities

Thanks to its privileged location on the Riviera Maya, this 340-acre community promises a diverse range of activities and excursions that take advantage of the area’s secluded bays, pristine shoreline and spectacular natural beauty. Avid golfers can improve their game on the challenging 9-hole, par 36 Puerto Aventuras Golf Course. Snorkeling, diving and kayaking opportunities await at the nearby Xel-Ha natural water eco park. Even novice anglers rave about the offshore fishing at Puerto Aventuras, where you can book half and all-day adventures for chances to reel in outsized sailfish, dorado, bonito and wahoo. The Mexican Caribbean also boasts natural sinkholes (cenotes) and numerous jungle adventures just minutes from Puerto Aventuras.

Tulum ruins close by

Did you know that the famous Maya ruins of Tulum are just 30 minutes south of Puerto Aventuras? Open daily from 8AM to 5PM, this archeological wonder is built on a 40-foot bluff overlooking turquoise waters and facing the rising sun. Visiting the Tulum ruins and surrounding white sand beaches are an easy and interesting day trip.

Dolphin Discovery

If you’ve ever dreamed of swimming with dolphins or getting “hugged” by one, this is your chance to earn some serious bragging rights! Puerto Aventuras Dolphin Discovery is a family-friendly eco-park that caters to visitors of all ages, and also features chances to learn about and interact with playful manatees and sea lions.

Sophisticated Puerto Aventuras cuisine

Foodies can take heart when vacationing in this premier resort community, where talented chefs whip up everything from Italian pastas and fresh sushi to new takes on traditional Mexican favorites. Dig into casual beachside fare, or dress up for an elegant evening of gourmet eats at one of Puerto Aventuras’ top restaurants.

Additional Puerto Aventuras Vacation Resources:

  1., Puerto Aventuras Golf Course
  2., Marina
  3. Dolphin Discovery, Dreams Puerto Aventuras, Swim with Dolphins
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
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3 Incredible Mayan Ruins You Must Visit

Ruins of Palenque, Maya city in Chiapas, MexicoMexico is nation renowned for its breathtaking beaches, vibrant traditions, world-class sportfishing and palate-pleasing cuisine. But few tourists know that Mexico is home to nearly 200 sites created and inhabited by Mesoamerica’s most advanced civilization – the Maya. Celebrated for their impressive developments in mathematics, hieroglyph writing, astrology and architecture, the Maya civilization dominated southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula as well as parts of Central America between 250 and 900 AD.

It goes without saying that no Mexico vacation is complete without visiting at least one Mayan ruin. For a chance to explore awesome pyramids, towering fortresses and ceremonial temples – surrounded by dramatic jungle and ocean vistas — add these three ancient Mayan sites to your bucket list!

Palenque – Chiapas, Mexico

The stunning archaeological site of Palenque is situated in Chiapas, Mexico, which was once part of the vast Mayan empire. Though diminutive in size compared to other touristed ruins, Palenque is noted for its exceptional sculptures, beautiful bas-relief carvings and awe-inspiring construction. Palenque overlooks the Usumacinta River flood plain, and is flanked by dense primordial forest. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, Palenque features the area’s largest Mesoamerican step pyramid, the 75-foot Temple of the Inscriptions, and is widely considered one of the Maya’s most significant artistic and architectural feats.

Chichen Itza – Yucatan Peninsula

The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza lure more than 1.5 million travelers every year for good reason. This sprawling complex was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, about two hours from Cancun.  Mexico’s best-preserved and most-visited Mayan site, Chichen Itza’s tremendous pyramids and temples are sure to impress. The ruins cover nearly two square miles and boast amazing examples of post-classic Mayan architecture, including El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan), which climbs 98-feet into the sky and features one step for each day of the calendar year. Other noteworthy sites include the Sacred Cenote, the Ball Court and the Temple of the Warriors.

Tulum – Riviera Maya

The Mayan city of Tulum was once a busy trading seaport, thanks to its strategic location next to the Caribbean Sea. With its gorgeous backdrop of jade-green waters, Tulum is undoubtedly one of Mexico’s most scenic ruins, roughly 45 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. The city’s principle structure, El Castillo, is perched on a towering cliff with 360-degree views of aquamarine waters and pristine beaches. Be sure to explore the Temple of the Frescoes – used by the Maya to observe the sun. The area also features numerous cenotes (natural swimming holes) as well as stellar cave diving.

Thursday, February 9th, 2017
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Yucatan Cave Discoveries Offer Insight into First American Inhabitants

More than 6,000 water-filled caves can be found along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Known locally as cenotes, these limestone sinkholes are popular scuba diving sites marked by their stunningly beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. Over the past 35 years, avid spelunkers and divers have been exploring the underwater caverns, primarily located on the Riviera Maya between the Tulum ruins and Cancun.

In 2007, while diving the site known as Hoyo Negro (Spanish for black hole), a group of amateur cave divers made a startling discovery that would completely transform the way scientists view the first inhabitants of America. Alejandro Alvarez and his friends stumbled upon a completely intact 12,000-year-old skeleton of an adolescent girl. This landmark discovery was only announced publicly this year in the U.S. magazine Science, following years of meticulous scientific investigations by Mexican authorities.

12,000 year old skeleton found in Yucatan water cavern

Mexican scientists believe that the preserved skeleton of the teenage girl, nicknamed Naia (which is old Greek for water nymph), may shed light on the origin of the American continent’s first inhabitants. Later studies on the skeleton’s facial features and skull shape helped identify Naia as a paleo-American woman. Her DNA can be traced back to hunter-collectors who traveled to the Americas from northern Asia more than 20,000 years ago.

Scientists think that the 16-year-old girl possibly fell into the hole before the caverns filled with water. Over the many thousands of years, as glaciers melted, the girl’s bones along with those of prehistoric mega fauna were sealed off in a watery grave.

Fortunately for scientists, the skeleton was found practically untouched and in pristine condition, providing almost a time capsule. In the watery tomb, divers also found many bones of creatures that were later identified as puma, sabertooth, giant tapir, boar, coyote, bear and gomphothere – a distant elephant relative.

Great Maya Aquifer discoveries

Within months of finding the Naia skeleton, underwater explorers made two other notable discoveries within the Great Maya Aquifer in the state of Quintana Roo. Archeologist Guillermo de Anda Alanis and his team discovered a perfectly preserved Maya altar, along with remains of prehispanic building structures dating to 900-1200 AD. Divers also found the fossilized cranium of a man more than 10,000 years old.

Researchers speculate that these ancient remains found in the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula suggest some sort of catastrophic climate event or drought that occurred in the late classic period.


  1. LA Times, Teen skeleton found by Mexico cave divers has scientists breathless,
Friday, December 16th, 2016
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