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This time last month, J and I were lying on a white sandy shores of Riviera Maya, Mexico, sipping margaritas and ordering poolside nachos like it was our job. Take. Me. Back.
The honeymoon may be over, but in the spirit of keeping the “honeymoon phase” alive as long as possible, I thought it’d be fun to share a collection of iPhone snapshots with ya from our week in paradise. We got married on September 17th and honeymooned in Riviera Maya, Mexico, about 10 minutes from Cancun. I was *floored* at how value-heavy a vacay down there is versus a week at the Jersey shore with your family…it cost about the same for us to stay at an all-inclusive adult resort as it would to drive two hours to be at an East Coast beach! Seeing as all food and drinks are included with the former AND it’s like a scene outta Bachelor in Paradise, obvi #yes.
We each took the Sunday and Monday right after our wedding off to relax, soak it all in, and handle financial things and gifts and legal things. This was probably one of the smartest things we’ve ever done together (besides getting married), cos neither of us could’ve imagined doing it any other way. Even with that “extra time” before jetting off, it was still a total busy blur! So, here’s a look back at our time in Mexico. Look out for “TRAVEL TIPS” woven throughout for anyone honeymooning and/or jetsetting in the near future! 😉
First thing’s first: this was my second time out of country ever, and I had never flown over water that was legitimately light blue and/or green. Flying into Cancun is like flying into a tropical oasis! So lush and totally gorgeous. Upon landing, we were greeted with margaritas and Coronas, so cheers to that.
TRAVEL TIP: Tell EVERYONE you are honeymooning.
P.S. My hair and makeup weren’t done for anything except out fancy dinners. Ain’t nobody got time to get all fancy when it’s 90 degrees and humid and you’re hanging in saltwater all day, so don’t hate. 😉
As soon as we had dropped our luggage off at our palace of a resort, it was off to the beach! Because it’s an all-inclusive adults-only resort, it caters a lot to honeymooners and anniversary-celebrators. So, little couples tiki areas and lounge-y beds by the water were everywhere!
Our first night there, we were supposed to go to a welcome party on the beach around dinner time. J and I took that to mean let’s hang out at the beach until the ceremony, get welcomed in, then go get ready for dinner. We finally found the ceremony, and it turned out that everyone was *already* ready for dinner, so we looked like two beach bums just strolling in fashionably late. Typical. 😉 It was an ancient tribal ceremony that J volunteered for us to participate in (thanks, J), so we’re up there in our swimsuits and cover ups giving thanks to Mother Earth as they let actual butterflies fly into the atmosphere. Ha! Super cool way to mark night 1.
TRAVEL TIP: Book your trip’s “adventures” ahead of time! One of the first things we had done upon arriving at the resort was head to the concierge to check out the various off-resort excursions available. We figured we’d be pretty tired by the end of the trip and prefer total relaxation to anything else, so we booked two solid adventure days right off the bat for our first two full days in Mexico.
The view from our balcony. Like…ok then.
Riviera Maya has a lot of “theme parks” nearby, so you can easily book your days timing-wise; shuttle vans just go from resort to resort picking up passengers at designated times, and you just spend half or a whole day at the park of your choice.
Our first day was at XPlor – a theme park with ziplining, ATV rides in the jungle, and rafting and swimming in underwater caves, or cenotes. A few things to note here:
1.) J is afraid of heights. He had never been ziplining before. I tried mentally prepping him for ziplining over the jungle, but nothing could truly do the trick. Reason #1 to follow me on Snapchat: I snapped the live experience, and it was hysterical and awesome.
2.) Mexico doesn’t skimp on value here. Where you might spend an hour waiting in line for a roller coaster at an American amusement park, the systems within the parks here were so dang efficient, it took us an hour to get through SIX zip line tracks…you just kept going and going and going and going.
3.) Cenotes are something straight outta National Geographic.
The view from one of the zipline towers.
TRAVEL TIP: Invest in a waterproofing phone case right off the bat. I scored one at the park, and it turned out to be the handiest dandiest thing of the entire trip. It was a roll up waterproof case that allowed for a touch screen, and it strapped around your neck. For those that asked, that was how I was able to Snapchat the experience of ziplining through a waterfall. 😉
The cenotes were absolutely breathtaking. It could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get through a cave. First, we rafted through. You share a plank of wood and have little hand paddles and literally just paddle your way through the cave. J and I are a bit *ahem* competitive, so we took that to be we are now an Olympic cave-paddling duo. So as everyone is laughing and leisurely paddling and near-falling into the river, you hear us going “ROW! ROW! Scoop left! Push right!”
…we totally won.
But it was totally magical. We swam through it next, which was slightly less fun since the river bottom is really rocky and I hit my feet on seemingly every underwater cave piece possible. But it was all just magical, really.
ATV rides were the bomb dot com. This was a solid 15 minute excursion in and of itself, where you literally just jetted out into the jungle driving your own ATV. I’m a weeeeee bit of a fast driver, so this was right up my alley. 😉
TRAVEL TIP: BUGSPRAY IS ESSENTIAL. We snatched some up before going out in the jungle, which was good, cos Lord knows you get eaten. up. if unprepared. My one mistake was not putting bugspray on my ankles during dinner. We were all good during the day while out adventuring, but I hadn’t thought to apply more on my legs after getting all dolled up, and I *still* have scars on my lower legs from the bites.
Our dinner looks that night:
Next day’s adventure: Catamaraning, snorkeling, and swimming with dolphins.
Backstory: Swimming with dolphins has been my dream since, like, age four. I wanted to be a professional swimmer with dolphins and 100% had a solid phase of wanting to be a dolphin trainer and marine biologist. That only changed cos I’m way too much of a family girl and homebody to have to move to a coast. But.
Can we talk about how gorgeous this water is for a hot sec?!?!?! HOLY MOLY. The only other time I was out of country was when I studied abroad for a summer in college in Alicante, Spain. Hanging out in the Mediterranean Sea every day is the *only* thing that could possibly rival this, although the water is just clean, deep blue and not this clear crystalline goodness.
We took a big party catamaran (basically a bigass sailboat with netting as seating over the water) out into the Caribbean, and then we all hopped off the boat and into the Sea to snorkel in the coral reefs. We were out near Isla Mujeres, where men had put status of women (“Isla Mujeres” means “Women Island”) underwater amidst the reefs. It was such a cool experience, and I’m SUCH a water girl – I used to swear I was actually a mermaid – so it was nothing short of epic.
TRAVEL TIP: It rains at least once a day during this time of year in the Riviera. At first, upon seeing weather reports before going, we were super nervous since it said rain everyday. Turns out, it’s totally normal for a wicked thunderstorm to hit around 10 am, and then have absolutely clear, perfect skies and sunshine 20-30 minutes later for the rest of the day. This day’s storm hit while we were all out swimming in the sea, so it was quite the adventure having the sailors reel everyone in ASAP while the storm passed. It always rained early on in the morning, though, so we’d just plan to go out right after it hit, and/or we’d be on the shuttle headed to our adventure destination when it happened.
I didn’t bring my phone in while snorkeling (although I could have, cos that case was BOMB DOT COM and legit 100% waterproof and airtight!), though, since I just wanted to fully experience snorkeling without it.
After snorkeling, those of us seeing dolphins were dropped off at the actual island, and I lost my sh*t with excitement. I cannot fully explain to you how much of a dream this was for me, so I was fully on cloud nine. I got in trouble by the trainers once we were actually in the water with the dolphins because I kept trying to venture off and play with them. #awk. HA.
CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THIS FOR A HOT SEC.
Dreams. Come. True. People.
Our pass meant it was us + 8 others, a trainer, and two dolphins. One of our dolphins was rescued from a shark attack, so she was being rehabilitated. The “pool” was really just a massive section of the sea that was sectioned off. We each got to do some tricks, hence why I included the second to last pic above…one trick was having both dolphins flank your feet and literally lift you above the water as they sped forward swimming, cos they’re strong as heck and just amazing creatures.
Dolphins have always been one of my favorite animals – actually, my spirit animal TBH – so being able to actually interact with them was amazing. They’re one of the smartest mammals on earth, and they’re treated so well by trainers because it’s actually about building a genuine relationship with them. Fun fact: Dolphins are one of the few creatures besides humans who can actually understand concepts.
Your dog or cat can’t do that – they just learn a word or a motion or sound and react to it. Dolphins are more intelligent and can understand concepts the way you and I do, which is so weird to think about in and of itself. They can remember past actions and commands, recognize themselves in a mirror, mimic behavior similar to how humans can…the list goes on. Imma move on before I go all science nerd on ya. 😉
After making finned friends and grabbing lunch, it was back to the booze cruise for the trip home!
Our resort was nothing short of amazing. We stayed at the Excellence Riviera Maya, and it. was. perfect. Already planning a return trip. The above shots are just from around the resort; there are pools everywhere, including a lazy river, complete with swim-up bars and smoothie stations, so it was heaven sent.
I landed poolside nachos “after hours” one day because my husband told some poor guy that “his wife was hormonal and needed nachos right now” HAHAHA. He wasn’t wrong…his wife just needs nachos 24/7. 😉
TRAVEL TIP: Stay at a resort with lots of restaurants! Our resort had about 10 restaurants, all of different cuisines, so we tried a new place every night for dinner. Since everything is on the house and included in your stay, go hog wild trying new things! Take it as your opportunity to try that dish you wouldn’t typically go for, or to splurge on some extra dessert. 😉
After two adventure-filled days, our next day was totally relaxing. Those poolside nachos came after a full morning at the spa, where we got a couple’s massage and had hydrotherapy and it was just the perfect thing.
On our last full-day in Mexico, we opted for a morning hike to Tulum, an ancient Mayan city. This was definitely the longest bus ride, and since it was the shortest outing, we were pretty pooped after this one. The city has so much cool history to it, so it was a fun adventure nevertheless!
TRAVEL TIP: Bargain for everything! Both in Tulum and one other opportunity to be on island amongst locals, you’re bombarded with ALL THE SHOPS and ALL THE THINGS. It low key felt like the Jersey shore boardwalk. HA. BUT, there are no prices on anything. When you’re obviously a tourist – especially if you have a wristband from an all-inclusive resort – your prices are nowhere near what locals would pay. Negotiate, and don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s not a number you wanna hear. And IMPORTANT: Do not take shopowners up on their offer for free tequila shots if you come inside. Just don’t.
There are wild iguanas *everywhere* at Tulum, which is always fun.
There’s also the most gorgeous spot where you can swim in the sea right off the city’s coast! I swear around every corner is another hidden gem of a hotspot that just makes you spot and thank God for creating such a beautiful world.
The morning of our departure, I raided the carbs table. Not an ounce of shame.
Definitely took a chocolate croissant to go, too. 😉
I know this was a whole hodge podge of pics and details, so if ya made it this far, FOUR FOR YOU GLEN COCO. You rock. Thank you.
Have you ever been to the Riviera Maya, Mexico?
If you’re a married or soon-to-be married chica, where are you honeymooning? Do you have any Q’s about planning and/or this place in particular? I know I got a ton of Q’s via Snapchat while on the actual honeymoon about our resort, our activities, the weather, my outfits, and then some, so if you have any lingering Q’s after seeing this lil’ recap, drop ’em in a comment below!
P.S. You can still enter to win $500 to Nordstrom! Just do yo’ thaaaaang in this here widget and have yo’self a GREAT day.
Giveaway Deets: One entry per completion. Open internationally and runs until 10/31. Winner will be announced here. Good Luck!