Where does one go to celebrate Valentine’s Day? That’s a mind-boggling question for those planning a romantic gateway.
Veteran London-based travel journalist and columnist SHAMLAL PURI found a perfect hideaway off the beaten track –
on the Caribbean Coast, where he enjoyed a fantastic holiday. Away from prying eyes, it’s a perfect spot for young lovers and those young at heart.
Those in love just cannot turn their attention away from the Riviera Maya in the coastal region of Mexico for one good reason – it is a romantic getaway for couples and a perfect hideaway from prying eyes. It’s much better than escaping to Goa beach where who knows, you may find yourself and your pretty partner sharing a beach deckchair with a nosey hated neighbor and worse still, a love rival when all you want is privacy!
Riviera May was at one time the home of the small fishing village but has today transformed itself into a Lovers’ Refuge making it a genuinely sexy destination not only for the young but also retired people still young at heart.
Its popularity is growing steadily as many people not only from the US but also lately the United Kingdom, the EU and Asia seeking a long-haul destination choose to spend a romantic holiday there during Valentine or on special occasions.
The Riviera Maya extends along the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula from Puerto Morelos to the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve.
The 120 km Riviera May coastline has been developed into an ultra-modern tourist corridor with high-end luxury resorts, vibrant nightlife, fine dining, spa retreats, sporting- facilities and shopping. Its numerous all-inclusive resorts along the long stretches of beaches have attracted the attention of people not only in Mexico but also across its borders.
There is a sheer luxury on offer at the popular resort destinations around Playa del Carmen near Cancun in Quintana Roo. Some resorts offer adults-only accommodation in plush resorts where romancing couples can let their hair down and enjoy themselves.
Its beautifully stunning sun-soaked powdery white sand beaches are so inviting that couples enjoy taking walks as the sun sets over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
This area, 1,100 miles from Mexico City, is a well-known destination for romantic students during their college holidays.
It is always better to take a two-hour flight from Mexico City to Cancun instead of driving on hazardous winding roads and mountain ranges for nearly 20 hours.
Few couples would like to remain indoors throughout their holiday. There is quite a lot to see and admire the bountiful and beautiful gifts of nature outside.
This destination has plenty of attractions including scuba and snorkeling, theme parks, cultural activities, nature and wildlife tours, eco parks, zoos, not forgetting beautiful beaches and energetic nightlife.
The Xcaret Eco Theme Park is an inviting place for fun and a day out where visitors can swim in the underground river with dolphins, sharks, and sting-rays. Make sure you bring an extra change of clothes!
Away from the water, there is a Mayan village and a spectacular night show enacting the history of Mexico.
Mayan Ruins of Tulum is a well-preserved great historical site of ancient civilization dating back to the 13th Century which is very popular with visitors in this area. It is a beautiful place with a mixture of ruins and sea. Though there are signs and information in both Spanish and English to get around here, many people prefer to use guides with a good knowledge of Mayan culture and history. There are plenty of iguanas everywhere, but you are only encouraged to see but not to touch them.
There is also a gorgeous beach there, and those interested in taking a dip can enjoy time frolicking in the water.
After your tour of the ruins head off to Xel-Ha for fun in the sun. This is a water park with a lot of natural beauty suitable for a full day of adventure including swimming in the River Maya, snorkeling, contact with dolphins, rafting, cliff jumping and even fun cycling with zip-line bike inside the park.
When you are tired, plonk yourselves on the hammock and enjoy your drinks as you relax admiring the beauty all around.
Have you dreamt of seeing the fish eating right out of your hands? Then visit the Akumal Beach near Tulum where you will see a lot of fish and turtles swimming around you.
There are snorkeling facilities available here, and many swimmers go out to check the reef. Others choose to take a walk holding each other’s hands or sit on the sand for as long as you wish.
Mexican handcrafts are loved universally as they depict their culture.
This country is famous for its cotton dresses with local embroidery designs and wooden carvings.
There are many shops and markets around especially in the 5th Avenue where they sell these items and trinkets to take back home. The vendors are friendly and will welcome you with a tempting cigar. You have to careful on the prices as some vendors may overcharge so please don’t forget to haggle.
With every holiday comes the question of food. Riviera Maya offers a gastronomy delight with its wide variety of restaurants offering both local and international cuisines.
While you may have sampled plenty of pizzas make an effort to tuck into some indigenous cuisine to make your visit something special.
This part of Mexico has been the melting pot of many cultures including the local Mayan, Spanish, Caribbean, Cuban and European. Together they have put their stamp on gastronomic delights here.
Traditional Mayan dishes feature a lot of black beans, vegetables, and onions. Favorite dishes include corn and chilly soup, moist coconut and rice cake, juicy pork cooked using traditional underground cooking with foods wrapped in banana leaves. Added to these are tortillas with thick, creamy guacamole.
One cannot miss sumptuous treats of seafood like tuna, seabass, octopus and shrimps which favorite local delights all served with spicy mango and other local sauces including the pungent local herb epazote. Talk of mirch-masala, it is here too.
Holy guacamole! There is a good range of Indian and desi food restaurants in the Riviera Maya – some the names that come to mind are Curry Omm, Shiva Tulum, Namaste Case de Ta, Chai Bar, Chai House. They serve a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. I assure you the food is as good as back home!
It goes without saying – Riviera Maya promises to steal your heart!