Riviera Maya Travel Guide | Two Weeks in Mexico

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This trip to Mexico was a dream, and I had the best time. The last time I was in Mexico was for my best friend’s brother’s wedding, which was a little over six years ago. We’d been planning this trip to Mexico for several months (to coincide with my boyfriend’s sabbatical) and it was even better than I’d hoped it would be. I’d never been to the Riviera Maya area before and I really enjoyed seeing another part of Mexico.

We moved around quite a bit, but I felt like we were able to see a lot during our trip (although there’s still so much more to see!). I feel like we spent a decent amount of time in each city that we went to, and I would 100% go back to all of these places again. Here are the places we visited on our 13-day trip.

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We had a little bit of a rough start in Cancun. When we arrived at the airport, we had to wait a while for transportation and it wasn’t really organized. Then when we got to the hotel, there was some confusion with our reservation and we couldn’t check in for a while. By that time we were pretty hungry, but all that was available was the hotel buffet that was kind of sad looking. Definitely worse things have happened, but it made for a rocky start to the trip.

However, we woke up the next morning, and it was a brand new day. We saw the view from our room for the first time and it was glorious. I find it so so lovely to wake up and hear the ocean in the morning. That day we spent the morning at the beach, then we took the bus into town to check out Mercado 28. We had a really good lunch there at a place called El Cejas that had margaritas the size of my head and fun live music. After wandering around the market for a while, we picked up some snacks and some bubbly and headed back to our hotel to have a chill NYE.

I had such a great time! I didn’t have to get dressed up, which was awesome (although dressing up can be very fun, getting to stay in your pjs is also very good). I got to spend it with my lovely boyfriend (it was the first time we’ve been in the same location on NYE). And we had a chill, stress-free night! From our room, we could hear live music from our hotel and other ones on the strip, and we caught a great fireworks show from our balcony. It was one of the best NYEs I’ve had in recent memory!

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Isla Holbox

Our next stop was Holbox, where we spent three nights. We arranged for ground transportation through our Holbox hotel and all together, the journey from the Hotel Zone in Cancun to Holbox took around 2.5 hours.

After our hotel experience in Cancun, I was a little nervous about checking into our hotel in Holbox, but I had nothing to worry about. Our Holbox Hotel, Alcobas del Mar, was so welcoming and a beautiful place to stay. I loved the zen vibes and immediately felt calmer when we got there. I feel like Holbox was the portion of the trip where I really started to relax.

We had so much good food in Holbox. Coquitos was a great beach club not too far from our hotel and they had some of the best guacamole I’ve ever taste. We loved Mandarina so much that we went there four times during our three-night stay (twice for lunch, once for dinner, and once for drinks). Both the food and drinks were so good, which is why we kept going back! We also went to Luuma, which had really delicious, interesting small plates that were great for sharing, and Básico, which was also great. For both of those restaurants, I’d recommend making a reservation ahead of time, or at least the night before, as it seems like they tend to fill up really quickly. We also had breakfast a couple mornings at Sushi de Holbox. I think it’s a sushi restaurant later in the day, but I can’t speak to their sushi quality as we only had breakfast there!

While we were in Holbox, we did a three-island boat tour, where they take you around to three of the nearby islands. It was a fun and affordable activity (I think it was about $20 a person) and a good way to break up the day. The rest of the time, we were basically either eating or chilling on the beach. We did try to go for a bioluminescence tour one night, but we got eaten alive by mosquitos and didn’t see much luminescence, so I’m not sure I would recommend it. I think we were out of season though and our guide said something about the moon being too high for proper visibility, so maybe it would be a lot better on a different night in season!

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Isla Mujeres

Our stay in Isla Mujeres was short and sweet! It was pouring rain the first day we got there, so we didn’t do much that day. The second day, we rented a golf cart and drove all the way around the island, which was soooo much fun. We stopped off at a reggae bar called The Joint and then also visited Punta Sur, which had beautiful views off the southern point of the island. We spent the rest of the day on the beach, where the DJ was playing some tunes. I had a nap on the beach, the music was such a vibe, and overall it was a very lovely day.

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Playa del Carmen

We decided to make Playa del Carmen our base for the the last 5 nights of the trip and it was great to settle in one place for a little bit. Even though I knew it was a big tourist destination, I wasn’t expecting it to be so built up for whatever reason. There were so many Starbucks and Haagen Dazs and spotted a McDonald’s too. Our hotel, Quinta Margarita, was so great and the people working there were so friendly. I would highly recommend it! There were some great food spots around our hotel as well, including Chez Celine, a French spot that had delicious pastries and just generally had tasty food, and Axiote, which was a great Mexican restaurant.

While we were staying in Playa del Carmen, we did two amazing tours with YucaTreks. The first one included a trip to the Tulum Ruins, a visit to grand Cenote, and lunch on a beach in Tulum. The Tulum Ruins were so impressive to me. We walked through a little stone tunnel, which opened into the ruins, and it was actually pretty breathtaking. I loved wandering around there and learning about the history of the area. Also, consider me a cenote fan after this trip! I was a little scared when I first got in, but then I started to feel more comfortable after a little while. It was so cool to see all the fish swimming so close to us. And after the cenote, we had an amazing lunch on the beach in Tulum. The food was really simple and the location was stunning. I think that little spot is my new happy place.

The second tour we did involved a trip to Chichen Itza, two cenotes, lunch at a hacienda, and a stop in Valladolid. Chichen Itza was really cool and I’m glad we got there super early, before it got super crowded. One of the cenotes we visited this day was underground, and it felt very adventurous to descend into it, where we saw lots of stalacites and roots dangling from the ceiling. We had a tasty buffet lunch at the hacienda, saw another cenote with a beautiful waterfall, and then stopped in Valladolid for a bit of shopping before we headed home.

Our last day trip was a ferry ride over to Cozumel. I’m not sure why, but the boat ride across was kind of terrifying for me. The water was really choppy and it felt like been on a plane with really bad turbulence. Once we got there though, I quickly recovered from that scary boat ride and we booked a trip to go snorkeling. The snorkeling was amazing. The water was so crystal clear blue in some spots and we had schools of fish swimming right by us. I was struggling with my mask and panicking a little bit at first (I’m not the strongest swimmer, so sometimes I get scared in the water), but once I got more comfortable I really enjoyed the experience. I was buzzing from getting to see so much marine life up close and personal (we even saw a sting ray). Definitely a memorable experience!

When we weren’t day tripping to various places, we spent some time on the beach and walked around Quinta Avenida. Playa del Carmen did feel very touristy, but I feel like there is so much to do in and around that area and I would definitely go back!

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Ahhhh, this trip was such a good one and I’m dying to go back! I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures in Mexico and if you’re planning a trip to the Riviera Maya area soon, I hope some of these recommendations are helpful!

London Travel Diary

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You know when you get back from a trip and you’re happy to be home, but also simultaneously wishing you could have stayed a few more days? That’s how I felt this summer after getting back from a short and sweet trip to London.

We flew over for a friend’s wedding and stayed five days/four nights. Since we had such a short timeline, we had our itinerary well planned out beforehand. I’m happy that I got to see and do the majority of the things I wanted to. While we were there, I snapped plenty of pictures and kept notes on all the places that we visited. I was hoping that I’d feel inspired enough to write a post about the trip, and here it is (about five months later!). Without further ado, this is my London travel diary!

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I’ve been to London several times, but it’s always been to visit my family, who live in South London. This trip was different since I was primarily there for the wedding (but I saw my family too, of course!). We stayed in an Airbnb right on Brick Lane. This was my first time staying in Central London and visiting that area. I loved it! The neighborhood is packed full of places to eat and shop. There’s lots of street art in the area as well, which is always fun to look at. It was a really vibrant and fun place to be and it was great to experience it for the first time.

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We stuck pretty close to the Brick Lane/Shoreditch area, since there were so many places to try that were within walking distance. There’s definitely no shortage of good places to eat in London! On our first night, we hung out at a cool pub in Shoreditch called The Owl and Pussycat. It had a good amount of space indoors, along with an outdoor area in the back which was really nice.

That same night, we had dinner at Dishoom, which was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I’d been wanting to try it for ages and I’d heard nothing but good things. As soon as I knew that we were definitely going on this trip, Dishoom was at the top of my list of things to do. Since we were a large group, we had to do the sharing feast and chose the non-veg option, which was so, so good. It includes the Black Daal, which is the one dish that multiple people told me that I had to get. Everything they brought out to us was absolutely delicious, but my favorite dishes were the Keema Pau, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Boti Kabab, Biryani, and the Black Daal (plus the breads were amazing too). I would highly, highly recommend Dishoom if you’re looking for a place to eat in London (they have locations all over the city)!

There were tons of good places to eat on Brick Lane as well. We caught the Brick Lane Sunday Market, where they had lots of food stalls on offer (as well as other goods for sale). I opted for a sausage that was fresh off the grill and so tasty. I also popped into Crosstown Doughnuts– you know I had to sample at least one donut while I was in London!

The evening before the wedding, we had drinks at Callooh Callay, which had cool decor, and then we also popped across the street to Strongroom Bar, which seemed to have lots of space both indoors and outdoors. And then on the day after the wedding, we posted up at Well and Bucket for a few drinks, a pub with gorgeous signage inside. It was the groom’s birthday that same day, so we met up with a few people for drinks and dinner at the Hoxton Hotel. I thought the lobby/bar area was beautifully decorated and had great ambience. Our dinner was really good as well. 10/10, would recommend!

We had brunch at Albion one morning, which was really nice. There’s a good amount of space in the restaurant with nice big windows and there’s also a portion of it that’s a small market, where you can just pick up a pastry or a drink. The pancakes and berry compote that I had there was delicious, so I would definitely go back.

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We visited Box Park and I thought it was a really cool spot. It’s a structure made out of shipping containers. On the top level, there are a bunch of food stands (along with a couple bars), and on the bottom level, there are several shops. This is great place to go for a casual bite with a group since there are options for everyone and long tables where you can sit and relax for a bit.

Borough Market is another great place to visit. You can food to eat on the spot, or you could do a bit of grocery shopping there (think fresh bread, eggs, preserves, etc.). We only popped into the market for a short stint, but I still managed to sample a chorizo sandwich and some tasty fudge while I was there.

I went to the Tate Modern for the first time on this trip. I’ve been wanting to go for ages and was so happy we finally made it happen this time. I think it’s absolutely amazing that London’s museums are free to the public (NYC, when are you going to jump on that system?!) This museum is huge. We walked around for a little under two hours. We definitely didn’t see everything, but we saw the exhibits that we most wanted to see. There’s also a great terrace on the top floor where you can look out onto the Thames and get nice views of the city.

On our way back from the Tate Modern, we decided to walk across the Millennium Bridge (also known as the bridge that was in Harry Potter!).

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Brick Lane is the perfect street for wandering. We saw a couple different markets while we were there, and there’s so many shops in that area where you can pop in and have a browse. We did spend about an hour or two wandering, but honestly, we were much more focused on the food stands rather than the product stalls.

Bookstores are always at the top of my list of places to visit when I’m traveling to a new city or country. On this trip, I visited two shops for the first time: Brick Lane Bookshop and Librería. Both were within walking distance of our Airbnb, which was amazing. I love supporting indie bookstores and I ended up purchasing one book from each shop: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney and Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton.

And that was really all the shopping I did on this trip. Oh, but I also want to mention that the Tate Modern has a really beautiful gift shop. I was tempted by many things in there, but I was able to resist!

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That’s a wrap on my London travel diary! I hope I gave you a few suggestions of places to visit if you’re ever in London. Since I have family in there, I know I’ll always have an excuse to visit. I already can’t wait for my next trip!