Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is perfect for a sunny and mystical Mayan vacation


I hold my breath, unable to swim as a hundred bats soar around my head, missing me by a few inches.

We dove into the Jaguar Cenote, one of the 6,000 natural sinkholes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and someone’s splash accidentally stirred the flying cave dwellers.

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Tui’s adults-only Mexican hotel has 374 rooms spread across 23.3 acres of beachfront paradise
Behind the low stalactites, the bat colony perches in cavernous nooks and crannies

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Behind the low stalactites, the bat colony perches in cavernous nooks and crannies

Behind the low stalactites, the colony perches in cavernous nooks and crannies, soaring only to munch on insects.

At first, I’m afraid I unwittingly ended up in a scene from the Batman movies.

But all apprehension quickly fades as I gaze at the bats in awe.

We stay in the beautiful Riviera Maya area at the Tui Blue for Two El Dorado Seaside Suites, and local guide Ariel – “like the Disney princess” – shows us the beauties of the area.

“Each cenote is like a fingerprint,” he says. “Everyone is different.”

The Mayans worshiped the mystical caves and believed they were a portal to communicate with the gods.

“I don’t know why but I feel like I should be whispering here,” my friend tells me as we descend the wooden ladder to the turquoise, naturally filtered water.

I have to agree with her.

The name cenote translates to “sacred well” and many come together to form an underground network of water tunnels stretching for hundreds of miles.

Magnet for A-listers

During our swim, we discover that the bats and darting fish below aren’t their only inhabitants.

“Over here,” one of our group calls in a low voice, gesturing to a baby turtle on a slightly submerged rock.

The adults-only Mexican hotel in Tui, with 374 rooms spread across 23.3 acres of beachfront paradise, is just 20 miles from treasures like this one in Tulum.

History buffs can explore the famous Mayan ruins that stand proudly above the crystal clear sea.

Once a trading port, the old buildings are now guarded by sun worshiping iguanas.

Look for holes in the walls where the Mayans made melipona honey from a stingless Yucatán bee, but don’t forget to avoid the midday heat if you want to enjoy the sites without the crowds.

Go: Mexico

COVID: There is no test requirement to enter Mexico.

Current rules require a pre-departure test before returning to the UK and a PCR test no later than the second day.

GO / STAY: Tui is offering seven all-inclusive nights at the 5H TUI Blue El Dorado Suites in Riviera Maya from £ 1,038 per person with flights departing Gatwick on January 23 and starting at £ 1,116 in May.

The price is based on two adults sharing a junior suite with garden view, balcony and hot tub.

Flights from seven UK airports.

To book, go to tui.co.uk, visit your local TUI Holiday Shop or download the TUI app.

About 80 miles south of Cancun’s “spring break” hotspot, the town of Tulum offers a more laid-back atmosphere.

Here, we pass low-rise tree-top hotels and charming beach huts.

The area is a magnet for stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Heidi Klum, and has seen people like Drew Barrymore stay at Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s former vacation home, Casa Magna.

Most recently, British singer Dua Lipa was pictured in the stylish city with friends.
While 2023 is expected to see the launch of its first airport and a train connecting it to Cancun, it will soon be even easier for people to visit Tulum.

“This area is. . . eco-chic. We don’t stop here, ”explains our crocodile-watching guide Olga, a Ukrainian with a quick approach to get us to our destination.

Instead, we head on a rather bumpy road to Sian Ka’an Nature Reserve where we have to board a small boat to explore the mangroves.

The beauty site became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987, and it’s clear why the name translates to “the place where paradise begins”.

The reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Mexico and is home to over 300 species of birds, as well as turtles and dolphins further out at sea. If you’re lucky, you might also spot a manatee.

Before leaving the pier, Olga sees a large, hungry crocodile less than a meter from us under the catwalk.

A slip and we would become lunch, so we carefully board our boat in pursuit of friendlier animals and a coral reef for snorkeling.

Thanks to our local fisherman driving the boat, it wasn’t long before we spotted the big hitters.

For those who prefer to stay within the confines of their hotel during their stay, the five-star Tui Blue El Dorado Seaside Suites is ideal for a complete vacation.

Here, nature comes to you, with guests who can watch the baby turtle releases between July and November.

Pelicans diving bomb

While we were there, we struggled to try the 10 all-inclusive restaurants and 11 bars, many of which overlook the Caribbean Sea.

The beach is the first place I go every morning to watch the gentle sunrise – and the last place I visit in the evening after a nightcap at the resort’s Guacamayas bar.

I’m usually not a morning person, but when you can see pelicans diving into the sea looking for fish, I make an exception.

For those moments not spent lying on a lounge chair with a cocktail or cooling off in one of the four swimming pools, the Naay spa offers massages facing the ocean.

In the evening, you can enjoy a full schedule of events – which includes a popular casino night – listed on Tui’s Blue app.

It is perhaps no wonder that Mexico has seen a recent surge in visitor numbers, given that it does not currently require a Covid test to enter.

Tui is the main UK tour operator for Cancun and is currently the only airline offering regional flights to Mexico from seven airports.

It now operates 11 flights per week to Cancun, increasing to 24 per week for the summer season.

No trip to Mexico would be complete without tequila, and on one of our last nights, we’re booking the hotel’s free tasting experience.

Here we taste everything from the more affordable El Jimador, priced at around £ 18 per bottle, to Don Julio at £ 75.

Anticipating the headaches a little, we hitchhike on a resort golf cart to whisk us away in the balmy night to our king-size beds.

Whether you come to Mexico for the turtles or the tacos, the bat-filled cenotes or the beaches, there really is something for everyone.

Ideally served with a shot of tequila and a lime on the side.

History buffs can explore the famous Mayan ruins

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History buffs can explore the famous Mayan ruins
While we were there we struggled to try all 10 all inclusive restaurants and 11 bars

5

While we were there we struggled to try all 10 all inclusive restaurants and 11 bars
Whether you come to Mexico for the turtles or the tacos, the bat-filled cenotes or the beaches, there really is something for everyone - ideally served with a shot of tequila and a lime on the side.

5

Whether you come to Mexico for the turtles or the tacos, the bat-filled cenotes or the beaches, there really is something for everyone – ideally served with a shot of tequila and a lime on the side.
Chloe Sims lives in Mexico as it becomes the new Dubai after Covid travel ban


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