Of all of the places we’ve visited so far the campsite at Xpu-Ha has to be one of my favorites. It is also one of the places where I could imagine spending a lot of time each year. If it had been up to me I would have spent another month there, but Matthias was getting a little antsy and ready to move on, so we did. We do have a lot of miles to drive so I understand why it was a good idea to leave. One of Matthias’ favorite sayings is that it is best to leave the party when it’s at its peak. He does have a good point because now I’m left with great memories and no regrets.
There is a 4-lane highway that goes down the coast of the Yucatan peninsula from Cancun to Tulum. This area is called the Riviera Maya and it is one resort after another. About 70 kilometers south of Cancun there is an area called Xpu-Ha. A little dirt road goes from the main road down to the Bonanza camping grounds – one of the last non-resort and family-run sections of beach. The campground is right on the beach and when you first drive in you drive onto the most perfect white sand you have ever seen. There are no lines or barriers or individual campsites anywhere. There are just a bunch of palm trees, and a few campers nestled in amongst them. There are 2 full-time campers who have RVs parked there the entire year. There is another woman who comes down for 6 months out of the year and a handful of others that keep coming and going throughout the year. The last time we left this campground there were only 4 other people staying their besides us.
The beach was also amazing: perfect white sand, crystal clear waters and just the perfect temperature. The first time we had been there we met a Swiss couple and she went out snorkeling every morning. There are tons of places in the area where you can pay to go snorkeling. But here all you had to do was walk out there and you had some of the best snorkeling I’ve done in my life. The last couple of times I went out I got so lucky and we had very clear water and a nice sunny day – perfect conditions for snorkeling. Just a short ways down the beach there are only rocks, but right out in front of our campsite there were some very nice coral reefs. I saw all sorts of different fish and some of the most vibrant colors. The highlight was definitely the 2 manta rays I saw. They have a triangular shaped body and at the back edge I believe they were about 4-5 feet wide. They have a disproportionately long tail-like thing behind them that just kept going and going and going. The first one swam by me about 10 feet away. The next one was farther away. I wish I had gotten a better look at each of them, but both times I was so freaked out and scared I bolted for the shore as fast as I could. All I could think of was the crocodile hunter and how was killed by one of them. Or was that a sting ray? Or are manta rays and sting rays the same thing? I still don’t know, but it was really an amazing experience to see such enormous fish that close.
During our last stay there we also met a great couple – Josh and Anna. They live in California, he is American and she is German, and they had just begun their road trip. They are coming through Mexico and heading into Central America next. They were more like-minded travelers and we had lots of fun and things to talk about. Somewhere on their trip they started playing Bacchi Ball, but with oranges and one lime. You throw out a lime and each player gets two oranges and the object is to get your orange to land as close to the lime as possible. They play this game in Italy and France (there it is called Boules, I think). We would play with them when the sun was beginning to set, and after the game was over we took the oranges, pressed them, mixed them with tequila and had cocktails. It was great fun for us and Julian and William also loved playing too. They read books with William and Julian, went swimming with us and even watched them for a while so Matthias and I could go to the beach by ourselves. The afternoon after our first night of heavy drinking she had made a huge batch of her specialty “Borracho Nachos” (borracho is Spanish for ‘drunk’) – the perfect hangover cure. The next couple of days all shared cooking duties and had great dinners together. They picked stuff up for us from town and we did the same for them. It was sad to leave them but we are excited to hear how their travels continue and where they end up.
The constant sight-seeing and the major lack of a plan these days is getting a bit old, but at Xpu-Ha it didn’t seem to bother me. I was content to spend a day without any sort of plan. There is all sorts of stuff to do: go for a swim, dig in the sand, lay in the hammock and read, play soccer with the kids, go into town to do some grocery shopping. In paradise, that is more than enough to keep me busy.
Tags: Mexico, Mexico-Guatemala, snorkeling, Xpu-Ha, Yucatan