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13. November 2018 · Comments Off on Shout Out: Valladolid · Categories: Beach Reads The Blog, Shout Outs · Tags:

This week’s SHOUT OUT goes to Valladolid. Whenever we want a break from the beach and a little change in culture, we sneak away to Valladolid in neighbouring Yucatan state. Now you may get to Puerto Morelos and just want to stay in town until it is time to get back on the plane. We understand and support that idea, but there are a lot of amazing things to do that are not that far away.

Not only is Valladolid a great jumping-off point to visit Chichen Itza or Ek Balam, but it is a worthwhile destination on its own, filled with art and history. We recommend at least a two-day stay just for the town itself. You can leave Puerto Morelos in the morning and be in Valladolid before noon. Using the Ruta de Cenotes shortcut to Leona Vicario, the trip has never been easier by car. Taking this route is quick, direct and avoids all those nasty charges on the overpriced toll road.

Local Tip: There can be a one hour time difference between Puerto Morelos and Yucatan State as they are on Central Time and we are on Eastern Standard Time (EST). They also recognize Daylight Saving Time, and we do not. 

Valladolid itself is a gem. It’s a colonial city with beautiful architecture and an incredible and important history. The Caste War of the Yucatan began here in 1847, and early seeds of the 1910 Mexican Revolution sprouted here. Today it is a busy, but a very accessible town. Most of the attractions are an easy walk from the town square, including the impressive San Bernadino Convent, the fun San Roque Museum, the stoic Cathedral of Valladolid and the Government Palace, which features large dramatic murals depicting the history of the city.

One of the greatest attractions in Valladolid is Casa de los Venados which features the most impressive collection of Mexican folk art we have ever seen, all in a uniquely restored, privately-owned colonial mansion. We have travelled all over Mexico and know that each region has its own distinct art. Often two towns next door to each other will have completely different art, so a chance to see such a fine selection in one place is rare. Admission is by donation (of at least 60 pesos) making it a bargain too. Seeing the impressive casa is worth the price of admission alone. The house is just off the square. Proceeds from your admission and special events held throughout the year go to support a variety of charities in Valladolid.

Local Tip: Casa de los Venados offers tours every day at 10:00 am


While in town, visit chef Hugo at the restaurant Conato (also known as Conato 1910 or Casa Conato Cultural). It is near the square on Calle 40 at number 226. The building was once a meeting spot for revolutionaries in the early 20th century. Now it is an excellent restaurant with a wide and varied menu. While there, be sure to take note of the outstanding local art that decorates the space, and don’t miss the music in the back garden. Highly recommended.

Local Tip: At Conato, sit upstairs for a view of the church at night.

If shopping is your thing, Valladolid is home to some very chic designers who have opened a few high-end shops and businesses like Coqui Coqui Spa & Perfumes that make their own scents and candles. They also own a spa and home-shop, plus La Barberia, a hip place to get a hot towel shave. Featured in Vogue, Ariane Dutzi’s handbags are sewn by local Mayan woman using recycled materials. More reachable on the financial scale are local craftsmen who make leather sandals and the Mayan woman of Valladolid sell their handmade wares at Centro Artesanal ZacÍ located on the main town square.

These are just a few things to get you started in Valladolid. The town has so much more to offer. Our favourite thing to do there is just wandering the streets, eventually stopping for an afternoon drink watching life go by around the main town square. If you really want a change of pace, we recommend Valladolid for a quick getaway. With tons of history, art, culture, and great food, Valladolid is not to be missed.

This post is part of our ongoing feature where we will send a SHOUT OUT to one of our local businesses, people or hints that could improve your time In Puerto Morelos. If you would like to be a part of this feature click here to find out how you can join in on the fun!

18. March 2017 · Comments Off on Day Trips: Chichen Itza-Valladolid-Mayan Villages

 Chichén Itzá – Valladolid – Mayan Villages (updated 2018)

This trip is especially nice if you have a rental car, but can easily be done by bus too.

If you are driving, you have options on which route to take. In the past, we have always recommended the toll road, which is expensive but direct and quick. You can now also take the free road, using the Ruta de Cenotes road, which begins just south of Puerto Morelos. It will take you about thirty minutes longer, as you will pass through many villages and go over many topes (speed bumps) but you will save the heavy toll. The free road is fine, but do not drive it after dark. (Traffic and unmarked topes and construction sites could make this road hazardous. If it is going to get dark before you arrive back in Puerto Morelos, take the toll road.)

If you take the toll road, drive north towards Cancun and take the Chichén Itzá /Merida/Valladolid exit to the cuota (toll) road. The toll is hefty, about $355 pesos (about $15 US), but the road is in very good shape, quiet and very fast. The highway number 180 D. The D is for dinero!) The drive will take about two hours. You will go through two toll booths and there may be an army check-point at Chichen Itza.

If you take the free road, drive south towards Playa del Carmen on the lateral road beside the highway in Puerto Morelos. Turn right at the Ruta de Cenotes road. This good road will take you all the way to Leona Vicario, where you will join the main free highway to Valladolid/Merida/Chichen Itza. Slow down when you approach any town, there are likely many speed bumps. The drive will take about two and a half hours depending on traffic. Drive the speed limit and watch for traffic attempting to pass on the two-lane road. Note, if you take this road on the way back, there is only one sign marking the Puerto Morelos Corta (short cut). Do not miss this turn or you will end up in Cancun!

El Castillo. Stunning!

As soon as you arrive at the site, head for the big pyramid (el Castillo) and see it before the crowds do. Update: Since 2007 you can no longer climb the big pyramid at Chichen Itza. It may be a temporary ban or a permanent one. Please note you still can climb the big pyramids at Coba and Ek Balam. Chichén Itzá opens at 8:00 am, try to be there before 9:00 at least. Going early allows you to see most of the area before it gets too hot (there is very little shade) and also lets you beat the majority of the huge tour buses from Cancun that spit out hundreds of noisy tourists out on the site by around noon. Take water if you can and wear a big silly hat to protect your head from the sun.

Take Lots of Pictures!

After you have finished at Chichén Itzá  (usually 3-4 hours) take the libre (free) road to Valladolid. It’s a right turn as you exit the ruins. You will pass through many tiny Mayan villages. Take note of the round stick houses with hard packed dirt floors that are carefully swept every day. Often you can buy souvenirs or fruit along the roadside.

Watch for topes (tope-ays), which are very large speed bumps. If you hit one at full speed, the undercarriage of your rental car will be neatly removed or you may be launched into space. Most topes are marked with signs, but there always seem to be a few wild cards, so be observant when approaching anything that looks like a town.


A few blocks from downtown Valladolid is Zaci, an immense cenote. There is also a famous cenote called Dzitnup just outside of town that you can swim in. There is a small zoo outside it. (A map of the town is usually available at the tourist information office which is located right on the square.) Valladolid is the REAL Mexico. An old colonial town that is missed by most tourists. Head for the centro, which has a large public square surrounded by a couple of hotels and restaurants. Along one side of the square, a long row of Mayan women sell their wares, all wearing their immaculate white embroidered dresses. The ubiquitous Catholic church towers over the centro. We recommend having some lunch in Valladolid.

If you are in the mood to see another Mayan archaeological site, visit Ek-Balam just north of Valladolid. This has only recently been excavated and features some stunning detailed work. Very few visitors mean you will likely get the whole place to yourself. It’s a favourite of ours for just that reason.

After visiting the Ek Balam site, consider visiting the pueblo of Ek Balam. This is a tiny Mayan village which is home to Genesis Ek Balam, a retreat built by fellow Calgarian Lee Christie. You can stop here for a meal, a drink or a night. Lee has built an incredible facility that is designed to contribute to the preservation and appreciation of nature and the traditional lifestyle of the Maya. You’ll appreciate the relaxing surroundings and the beautiful gardens.

Take the toll road (or free road if it is early) back to Puerto Morelos. Get fuel before you leave Valladolid.

Important Tips:

Fill your tank in Puerto Morelos and again in Valladolid if necessary. There is only one gas station along the toll road and it’s a long way away. In an emergency gas can be purchased at the toll booths, but there are only two of those along the whole road to Chichén Itzá. In 2018 the tolls for a car were $285.00 pesos and $70 pesos each way. You will not have to pay the $70 pesos on the way back if you take the free road to Valladolid. (The toll all the way to Merida is $450 pesos, about $20 US…Ouch!)

Wear a big silly hat at Chichen Itza! (Dork’s identity is being protected here)

Bring sunscreen and wear a hat at Chichén Itzá. The sun is strong and the shade is scarce. We bring water too, though it is available at the gate.

Wear good shoes. You will be doing plenty of walking and the steps on the pyramid are smooth, slippery and irregular.

Admission to the Chichén Itzá site is around $232 pesos for adults and 10 pesos to park. For the latest admission prices, check this website.

Arrive early and avoid driving after dark. The toll road is very good, but there can always be unexpected things on the road (animals, bicycles, pedestrians, unmarked construction sites)

You can extend this daytrip by staying overnight in Valladolid or Ek Balam. Hotels are inexpensive; in Valladolid we have stayed at Hotel San Clemente or Maria de la Luz. Either should be around $40 US. You can also stay at the Genesis Retreat in Ek Balam. Our friend Lee Christie has created a fantastic retreat with gardens and a natural pool. Check out her website here.

Alma Libre Bookstore on the square in Puerto Morelos has current maps and guidebooks to help you get the most out of your trip. There are many destinations you can add to this trip.

GPS locations:
Toll #1 N 20º 52.600 W0 87º 38.455
Chichen Itza Turnoff N 20º 48.400 W0 89º 04.287
Gas Station N 20º 44.634 W0 88º 13.759
Toll #2 N 20º 43.724 W0 88º 34.908
Valladolid N 20º 41.341 W0 88º 12.150

15. July 2019 · Comments Off on Ek Balam From Above · Categories: Do not use

A rare view of one of my favourite ruin sites in Mexico, Ek Balam, which is an easy day trip from Puerto Morelos. A visit to Ek Balam is also an excellent excuse to stop in Valladolid, a genuine Colonial city on our doorstep.

Valladolid was the subject of one of our Shout Outs. More information about day trips in our area can be found on our page under the “To Do”.

22. January 2019 · Comments Off on MUREM: The Ethnic Clothing Museum of Mexico · Categories: Beach Reads The Blog, Shout Outs

This weeks SHOUT OUT goes out to MUREM the new Ethnic Clothing Museum of Mexico (Museo de Ropa Étnica de México) located in nearby Valladolid, Yucatan.

MUREM is a new museum, it just opened at the end of April 2018. It is a not-for-profit organization that has collected traditional and contemporary clothing from different unique ethnic groups in the diverse regions of Mexico. The collection is on display at a beautiful, little museum just off of the main square in Valladolid.

For just 50 Mexican Pesos, you receive a personal guided tour of the collection with a chance to ask all the questions you like. Tours are available in English and Spanish.


We have more information on visiting the fascinating Colonial city of Valladolid on our website here.  It’s quite close to Puerto Morelos, yet a world away.

MUREM is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It located just off the main square in Valladolid here. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page.

They told us they plan to change the displays often, you will have a different experience every time you visit.

This post is part of a feature where we will send a SHOUT OUT to one of our local businesses, people or hints that could improve your vacation In Puerto Morelos. If you would like to be a part of this feature click here to find out how you can join in on the fun!

20. January 2019 · Comments Off on Puerto Morelos Taxi Rates

(Updated January 2019)

All rates listed in Mexican Pesos and are FROM the square to the destinations listed. Always confirm the price before you get in the taxi.

We do our best to keep this page up to date, but rates are subject to change. Ask the driver to see a rate card if there is a dispute. Please note that Uber or other ride-sharing companies do not operate in our state.

The taxi dispatch number is 998-153-1306. You can use WhatsApp with this number too if you add the standard +52 1 before the number.

Most Used Taxi Rates
Base rate 30
Chedraui Selecto, Chedraui (HWY), La Colonia Centro, Villas I30
Villas la Playa 50
Villas II, Palma Real Residence, Jungle Market/Spa60
Puerto Marino, El Faro and Palma Grand 70
Close to Puerto Morelos
Casas del Cid, Palma Real60
Rancho Sak Ol, Calle de las Palapas120
Ventus, Marina El Cid, Now Jade, Grand Residence150
Desire Pearl, Ibis Condos150
Dreams, Acamaya, Excellence, Now Sapphire, Ocean Coral300
Casa del Puerto, Mayan Breeze, Mayan Tide320
Casa Caribbean Breeze, Casa Conde, Condo Lindo320
Silversands, Sensatori, Breathless, Desire RM, Azul Beach, Zoetry400
South of Puerto Morelos
Botanical Garden150
Casa Pescadores, Matis270
Generations, Dorado Royale, Playa Secreto300
Vidanta, Cirque du Soleil360
Punta Maroma400
Ruta de los Cenotes
Los Colibries 300
Las Mojarras320
7 Bocas, Verde Lucero, Boca del Puma 350
Zapote, Cenote Kin Ha, La Noria, El Abuelo, Jolie Jungle450
Popol Vuh, Leona Vicario 500
North of Puerto Morelos
Airport 450
Royalton, Sensacions, Haven Riviera, Moon Palace500
Cancun Downtown500
Cancun Hotel Zone550
Puerto Juarez (Isla Mujeres Ferry)600
Punta Sam 650
South of Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen 500
Paamul, Rio Secreto, Punta Venado620
Puerto Aventuras720
Xelha 850
Cenote Azul, Xpuha, Barcelo Maya780
Akumal, Bahia Principe800
Tulum 1000
Coba 1300
Chichen Itza2000

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13. February 2018 · Comments Off on Packing Tips · Categories: Our Favourite Things · Tags: , , , ,

We love to travel and we do it as often as we can. Usually our journeys are within Mexico, but we recently completed an 11 week trip through Europe, which had us staying at 16 different vacation homes and renting four cars (which turned into 6 cars after 2 broke down on us) and taking a variety of trains, planes and ships for transport. Moving around this much, we found a few items that came in extremely handy and we thought we would share them with you.


When you travel to several locations, we cannot say enough about the humble little packing cube. These zippered bags kept our luggage organized, our clothes wrinkle free and allowed us to unpack and repack in seconds, saving precious vacation minutes. We bought ours in the family section of Ikea. But you can get similar ones here on Amazon.
I went even one step further with my cubes and used some liquid paint to tell me what is inside each cube, so that I don’t have to go looking through them when I am in a hurry.

Another thing that I found invaluable, is this little travel blow dryer. My husband actually laughed out loud when he opened the box that this came in. It is so small that it looks like a toy, but it isn’t. It is a really powerful travel dryer. A lot of hotels in Mexico do not offer blow dryers, so this one comes in really handy. And you can switch it from 120v to 220v for travel abroad.

We seem to travel with more and more electronic devices that need constant recharging. When overseas, we like this one. It converts 220v to our 120v. It has four USB plugs, and it comes with enough adapters to plug in anywhere from from Albania to Zimbabwe. It works when plugged into 120v as well, so you can use it anywhere. It’s compact, but has lots of places to plug in, because there are never enough outlets in most hotel rooms or vacation rentals.

In Mexico we use one like this that has a built-in surge protector for the sometimes unsteady current we get in Mexico. This has saved our gadgets on many occasions, plus the USB connections come in really handy.

Good idea to have a two-prong adapter as well, as you will see two prong outlets in older Mexican hotels and even some vacation rentals.

And one last item. If you are renting a car, most of the cars in Mexico are very basic and don’t come with USB chargers. We highly recommend bringing a USB lighter/adapter to keep your phones/GPS charged while you are enjoying that driving trip to Chichen Itza.

If you have any travel gadgets your can’t live without, drop us a line, we would like to hear about them.

16. January 2018 · Comments Off on Puerto Morelos Taxi Rates

Puerto Morelos Taxi Rates (updated March 2016)

All rates listed are FROM the square to the destinations listed. Always confirm the price before you get in. Please note that Uber or other ride-sharing companies do not operate in our state.

Colonia, Ojo de Agua, PlayaSol, Affecifes, Eden, ADO bus station, etc 25-30
Villas Morelos 1 30
Villas la Playa 40
Jungle Market / Spa (Sandra), Villas Morelos II, Villas Marinas 50
Zona Urbana, Calle 10 80
Desire Pearl, El Cid, Now Jade, Botanical Garden 120
Royal Resorts, Casa de los Los Angeles 120
Crococun, Punta Brava 150
Hotel Dorada Royal, Dreams, Excellence, Saphire, Ocean Coral & Turquesa, Acamaya Reef, Punta Caracol 200
Petempich, Silversands, Azul Sensatory, Zoetry, Azul Beach, Desire Resort Spa, Playa Secreto, Mayan Palace, Iberostar, Central Vallarta (Ruta de los Cenotes) 250
Punta Maroma, Leona Vicario 300
Airport, Tres Rios 350
Moon Palace 360
Cancun Centro, Cancun Hotel Zone, Playa del Carmen 400
Xcaret, Puerto Juarez 500
Punta Sam 560
Puerto Adventuras 600
Akumal 650
Xel-Ha 700
Tulum 800
Tulum Hotel Zone 1000
Coba 1100
Valladolid, Ek Balam 1300
Chichen Itza 1400
Chetumal, Merida 2000
12. December 2017 · Comments Off on Day of Guadalupe · Categories: Beach Reads The Blog

Our Lady of Guadalupe

This is our Lady of Guadalupe who guards the front door to our home.

December 12th is the Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe or the Day of Guadalupe. Derived from the Catholic religion, Our Lady of Guadalupe or the Virgin of Guadalupe is seen everywhere in Mexico from candles in people’s windows to statues on cabbie’s dashboards to full altars in front of homes. Many Mexicans have adopted this darker skinned version of the Madonna or the Virgin Mary, who was first introduced to the culture by Cortez, as their own. It is believed that she first appeared as a vision in 1531 to Juan Diego, a native Mexican peasant, on was on his way to mass.

Our Lady of GuadalupeSince then the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, has become one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destinations in the world, especially during the anniversary of the apparition.

Guadalupeans in Valladolid

Leading up to December 12th the “Guadalupeans” show their devotions to the virgin by praying, biking, running, walking and illuminating their home altars. On a trip to Valladolid we saw dozens of groups of young men and women biking through the city, showing their dedication to the Virgin.

Guadalupe Parade in Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos has several small parades on the 12th of December ending at the church on the main town square. This ritual happens at churches all around the country. Mexicans flock to their local churches and homemade memorials in their homes to worship Guadalupe. The prayers will be followed by a celebration and as always in Mexico, a large meal. For a more detailed account of the tale, check out Wikipedia or Smart History.

18. March 2017 · Comments Off on Day Trips: Tulum-Coba-Riviera Maya

Tulum – Coba – Mayan Riviera

Tulum is simply breathtaking.

This is a good day trip by car, by bus, or even collectivo.

Breathtaking Tulum

Head out early for Tulum. The drive will take you about 90 minutes. (Traffic gets heavy as you pass through Playa del Carmen) The site opens at 8:00 am. It tends to get very hot and humid at Tulum, so an early hour will let you beat the crowds and the heat.

Note: If you are planning to see more ruins, we recommend seeing Tulum first. Seeing the spectacular Chichen Itza may “spoil” you for a small site like Tulum.

A relaxing afternoon

Tulum is not a very big site, it’s main attraction is its spectacular location. Most times when you see a tour book or magazine article on the Yucatan peninsula, the cover picture will be Tulum. It will not take you long to see the site. If you plan ahead and wear your swimming attire, you can run right into the ocean right at the site. Tulum is the only museum I know that has a beach!

Now you have a decision to make, you can either go on with the day trip or walk south outside the gates and head for one of the little cabana hotels and spend the rest of the day on the beach. Lonely Planet voted the beaches at Tulum as one of the top 10 in the world, and we think they’re right. The beach is dotted with small hotels and restaurants, but it never feels crowded.

Towering Coba

Nohoch Mul at Coba

If you decide to go on, head for Coba. (You can always come back to Tulum later) This is a very large site that is still covered by jungle. There is plenty of shade but also mosquitoes, so bring your repellent. The site is so large that you can rent a bicycle for around 25 pesos. We didn’t but wish we had. The pyramid at Coba is the highest in the Yucatan. Hope you brought good shoes!

Now you have another decision to make. You could go north here and see Valladolid or go back to Puerto Morelos that way, or you can drive back to Tulum and meander your way up the Maya Riviera.

The town of Tulum has a number of shops & restaurants, but for the real experience of Tulum, keep going on the Coba road and head for the beach. The road north and south is lined with small hotels and restaurants and bars. They are all very small establishments though and do not spoil the beautiful beach. This is no Cancun hotel zone! You may wish to spend the night in one of the hotels. Most are very rustic with cabanas right on the beach. Most have electricity for only a few hours a night, candles are provided. Muy romantica!

As you work your way north, back towards Puerto Morelos you can stop in at a few places:

Cenotes: You will pass many cenotes on your way home. These are freshwater underground lakes that are great for swimming, snorkelling or diving. There may be a small charge for admission.

Akumal: Beautiful beach and snorkelling. Many Americans and Canadians have homes here.

Puerto Adventuras: Big development of condos, homes and a golf course. You can swim with dolphins here or just watch them train them. This area should not be confused with Mexico. There is a shipwreck museum here that is worth a look. (donation)

Paal Mul: Of special interest to RV’ers, this area has been taken over by Canadians and American campers. Some have cemented their units in permanently and covered them with huge and elaborate palapas.

Playa del Carmen: A former sleepy fishing village much like Puerto Morelos, PdC did not grow, it exploded! Depending upon whom you believe this is either the fastest growing city in Mexico, Latin America or the Universe. Beautiful beach packed wall to wall with restaurants, bars and international tourists. The main street, Fifth Avenue has been pretty much handed over to pedestrians. A good place to walk, shop or have a meal. Shop owners and restaurateurs and the occasional timeshare hawker will aggressively solicit your business.

You can catch the ferry to Cozumel in downtown Playa del Carmen. It’s a 42-minute ride and costs 140 pesos each way.

Playa Secreto: Shhh. A very rough road to a very nice beach. Lots of stylish homes & condos, but no town.

Important Tips

  • If you have a meal in Playa del Carmen, have a close look at your bill. Many restaurants add 15% for service but do not tell you, causing you to tip twice. We had one tell us it was a restaurant tax. Hooey!
  • Restaurants in Playa are very competitive. Many will entice you in with low priced entrees but nail you with over-inflated drink prices that are not on the menu. If your budget is tight, make sure you know what you’re spending. Many restaurants will hand you a card good for a free round of drinks or a percentage off your meal. Look for them.
  • The highway is very good quality, but everyone drives too fast. Drive the speed limit, especially the long 80 km/h (50mph) zone around Playa del Carmen. Local police watch this area very closely. Watch for topes (speed bumps) too on the highway in this area.
  • Bring sunscreen and wear a hat at Coba & Tulum. The sun is strong and the shade is scarce. We bring water too.
  • Wear good shoes. You will be doing plenty of walking and the steps on the pyramid can be smooth, slippery and steep.
  • You should really have a good map and a guide book to get the most out of this trip. Why not drop by Alma Libre Bookstore before you go.

29. April 2011 · Comments Off on Day Trips

Day trips!

You may be tempted to just check into Puerto Morelos and never leave, but our town is very well located to see the best of the Yucatan in a few day trips.

You can travel by car, bus, collectivo or taxi. Our standard advice is get a travel guide and a map, always have lots of gas and do not drive at night.


Tulum-Coba-Mayan Riviera

Isla Mujeres