By: Danielle Kanis - Travel Designer for Go Travel
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We wanted a place with lots of activities on the resort, as well as the nice beaches and areas which we could relax 'away' from everything.
We stayed at the Barcelo Maya Grand Complex in Riviera Maya. This complex is divided in to 5 different resorts; Barcelo Maya Beach, Caribe, Colonial, Tropical & Palace. Guests have full use of the facilities at the first 4 resorts, all 5 if staying at the Palace. We decided to stay at Barcelo Maya Tropical.
The whole complex is very well maintained...staff members are everywhere painting, trimming gardens, grass, trees, cleaning...They really work hard and it shows! It was absolutely beautiful!
In total, there are 11 different a la carte restaurants, 6 buffets and 5 beach grills to choose from...needless to say, we didn't go hungry! We made up for our lack of date nights back home by going somewhere different every night we were at the resort (With the exception of our first night!) We ate at the seafood restaurant (my favorite!) as well as the French, Mexican, Italian, & Japanese! The service EVERYWHERE on the complex was top notch & the food was incredible!
The complex spreads across a gorgeous beach...there’s literally water everywhere you look, whether it be the ocean, the 10 pools (5 of which line the beach & 2 awesome adults only pools 'away' from everything), or the many fountains & 'rivers'. Everywhere you go is beautiful and serene.
The Spa...Oh.My.Word. THIS was an awesome surprise! We decided to pamper ourselves with a spa day. We each booked a massage and we were told to show up an hour early for complimentary hydrotherapy...AMAZING. No words can express how relaxed the hydrotherapy circuit made us feel. The steam room, sauna, outdoor pool with multiple fountains and jets on my back and legs...hot and cold tubs, essence showers...ahhh heaven! By the time we were finished with the hydrotherapy, massage and mani/pedi ;) ...the only thing I could bring myself to do was to lay on the beach and sleep. That is exactly what happened. Pure bliss.
The resort has a lot to offer its guests. The Maya Mall, located in the Caribe section has a 24 hour sports bar with bowling lanes, an arcade, 24h snack buffet and big screens to watch whatever sports you may want to watch complete with theatre seating. We tried our luck at the casino and won! We spent our winnings on souvenirs at the market and may have even gave the haunted house a try or two. There are tons of family friendly activities at this resort as well. Kids club, discos, water parks, the dolphinarium, mini golf, surf simulator...the place is so spread out that it suits anyone that doesn't mind a bigger complex.
The wildlife in and around the resort was incredible to see! Iguanas and different species of birds are everywhere you look! You can go snorkeling right off the beach and see tropical fish, rays & sea turtles. We had one VERY large fish swim right by us as we were swimming! I was terrified until I saw its bright colour (and that it wasn't trying to eat me). If you do not wish to snorkel with the fish, you can simply walk out onto the pier and look into the clear turquoise water. Schools of fish hang around waiting to be fed! You may even catch sight of a ray or turtle!
After supper, there were 3 different theatres to choose from for nightly entertainment. We were pretty tired from our busy days in the sun so only managed to catch a couple shows....and we didn't make it to the disco at all, although I did hear from multiple people that it was a great time!
We made a great decision to go to Barcelo for our honeymoon. It is beautiful and relaxing but with options for a livelier atmosphere & tons of stuff to do. And they make a mean mojito...
On our 4th day in Mexico, we decided that we wanted to go off resort for a bit. We went to the tour desk and found one that would pick us up within the next 2 hours. We ended up at Rio Secreto.
Rio Secreto is a cenote (underground river/cave system) that was just discovered in 2005! This incredible system has been taking shape and hiding underground for over 2 million years!
We were driven down a dusty dirt road through the trees a few kilometers until we eventually reached the entrance. We were greeted by our tour guide who proceeded to help us find our lockers, wetsuits, helmets/headlamps and life vests.
I wasn't expecting this experience to be as interesting and informative as it was! I honestly thought we were going to walk through a cave and then eat lunch afterwards and be done with it. Our guide was so much fun and FULL of information. I felt honoured to have the opportunity to be there, in a space so sacred to the Mayans and so untouched. The guide, who we affectionately dubbed 'Papa' , taught us how to walk and crouch around all of the stalagmites and stalactites so as not to make contact. He taught us about Mayan history and the geology of the system in the dead silence, 20-50ft beneath the earth with no light other than his flashlight and our headlamps. Near the end of the tour, our small group of 6 was told to lay back and float. All the lights went out and there we were, in the deepest darkest place I will ever be, with nothing but the sound of the slow drops of water slowly dripping from the stalactites around and above us. Incredible.
Our tour did end with a small buffet lunch of traditional Mexican food before heading back 'home' to our hotel.
On our 5th day, we went on a half day tour of Tulum.
Our tour guide, Ada made this experience unforgettable. Ada was born in Mexico, her mother being Mayan, and her father North Korean...but as she said, she was born Mayan. She was very well spoken, proud, knowledgeable and excited to share everything she could about Mayan history & culture. What an amazing learning experience!
We walked through the ruins, each building and its significance explained to us. Iguanas everywhere. Scorching hot sun. The beach at the bottom of the cliff was being put to good use by many visitors, however we spent our 'free time' after the tour taking photos and watching the 'Bird Men' perform in the market area outside of the walls.
Tulum was one of the highlights for us, and something I've personally wanted to experience for a long time. This tour was a great introduction to everything Mayan!
A DAY AT THE PARK "Where the history and nature combine"
On our last day in Mexico, we spent the day at Xcaret Archeological & Eco Park. Before booking this trip, I had completed a travel agent course with Experiencias Xcaret and in return, was lucky enough to attain 2 tickets to the park to experience it for myself!
Xcaret is HUGE. There are different color-coded walkways throughout the park and we were given a map upon entering to give us an idea of where we were. I keep saying, if I could have changed one thing about our honeymoon, it would have been to go to Xcaret earlier in the week, so we could have gone again. There’s so much to do, see, and experience here that it seems impossible to do it all in one day!
We spent a lot of time in the Aviary. It was awesome being up close with the many native species of birds....tons of photo ops! We also walked through the butterfly sanctuary, saw the jaguars, howler monkeys, rays, sea turtles (SO many turles!) and MANY others. The aquarium was impressive, full of beautiful sea creatures and even people (haha, swimming with nurse sharks...no thanks)
There is really too much to do at the park to list it all, but the two biggest highlights for us were swimming through the underground river and the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular night show. Swimming/floating through the park was so much fun! We were given a locker to store our belongings then found our life vests and flippers before diving (and slowly crawling) in. The crystal-clear water in the river was refreshing, and we glided along for appx 1.5km in and out of caves to the end of the river by the beach area. The Xcaret Mexico Espectacular was simply that...Spactacular. This is a nightly show, beginning around 7 pm with 300+ artists showcasing Mexico's history and culture in an unforgettable musical journey. Not to be missed!
My husband and I had an amazing day! I couldn't recommend Xcaret enough!
By the time we got back to the resort it was around 10pm. We got dropped off at the market on the resort to finish up some (very) last minute shopping before heading back to our room to pack for an early flight the next morning.
Click this link to see some of our photos! https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Byz1U9jxEsCbalpMWDBrTUg3TkU?usp=sharing
If you are interested in visiting Mexico at this or any resort, we would love to help you get there!