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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Riviera Maya newbie checklist Comment
    Gregory Morris, 4/11/06 11:45:30 am
    As I mentioned before, Beth and I are taking the family to Mexico in May. Here is the briefing I prepared for them... ok, you've been in defense contracting too long when you call it a briefing ;)

    Riviera Maya, Mexico Briefing: One Week in Akumal
    What you need to know and what you should bring

    Packing:
  • Keep in mind most affordable rental cars are relatively small, so don’t bring large suitcases.
  • Bring one suitcase or duffel to check at the airport, and one carry-on.
  • Pack light-weight clothes. The temperature never gets below 70F, but it can get up to 95F or higher. You don't need long pants or sweatshirts.
  • Don't pack anything fragile in your suitcase. When returning home, put any delicate souvenirs in your carry-on.
  • Pack in SMALL soft suitcases or duffel bags.
  • It is a good idea to pack a small collapsible bag or backpack to use on the beach, for tours, and for bringing home souvenirs.
  • As a general rule, don't bring anything you wouldn't mind getting broken, lost, stolen or filled with sand.
  • When packing, remember, less is more. You are on vacation, so don't weigh yourself down with lots of stuff! Before you put something in your suitcase, ask yourself, "do I really need this?"

    Clothes:
  • Two or three bathing suits and a beach cover-up if desired.
  • 7 or 8 t-shirts/tank-tops (Don't bring less or you will run out. Don't bring more, you won't have space.)
  • No more than 5 or 6 pairs of shorts or skirts.
  • One or two light-weight, casual outfits for dining (i.e. simple dress, khakis/polo shirt)
  • Enough underwear for 9 or 10 days. After walking around the ruins in Tulum for a few hours, you'll be sticky and want to change.
  • A few pairs of socks. You will be wearing sandals most of the time.
  • You don't need rain gear; it is unlikely it will rain. If it does, it is fun to get wet!

    Footwear:
  • 1 pair of sandals (or flip-flops). Remember saltwater isn't good for leather.
  • 1 pair of tennis shoes (for tours)
  • Water shoes. Half-moon bay is kind of rocky, so its best to have some foot protection in the water.

    Money:
  • Bring a credit card for emergencies
  • Bring an ATM card to get cash down there.
  • Bring a little bit of American currency (~$100) just to handle things until you can get some pesos.
  • There is an ATM at the airport, in the Super Chomak in Akumal, and one in Tulum that will give you pesos at a decent exchange rate.
  • Don't change dollars to pesos at money-changing shops, because they rip you off.
  • Don't spend American currency. Most prices are listed in pesos, and most merchants will give you a 10 pesos to 1 dollar exchange rate, which is not very good.
  • The current rate is about 10.5 to 11 pesos per dollar.
  • Travelers checks are accepted some places, but don't count on it for local services.
  • Most small shops and restaurants don't accept credit cards. Have cash on hand.
  • A lot of places that accept credit cards will offer a discount for cash payment.
  • Gas stations only accept pesos.

    Miscellaneous:
  • Passport, or birth certificate and driver’s license. You can't get in or out of the country without these.
  • Keep your toiletries simple and small! Bring travel-sized containers. Basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush.
  • Pack some basic first-aide supplies, like band aids, anti-bacterial wipes, and Tylenol.
  • Bring enough of any medications you may be taking for the entire week. Make sure all medications are in their original container, otherwise customs may confiscate them.
  • Don't bring a hair dryer, curling iron, flat iron or any other similar appliance for any reason! There is usually a hair-dryer in your hotel room or condo.
  • Don't bother with too much makeup; it'll just get hot and sticky.
  • Whatever sunscreen you use. Don't bring eight different bottles. One is enough. I suggest eco-safe/biodegradable sunscreen to protect the reef.
  • Bring some kind of Aloe gel.
  • Leave your cell phones at home. Generally, you want to leave electronics at home.
  • Bring a waterproof camera and/or a digital camera. If you are bringing a film camera, bring lots of film, as it is much more expensive in Mexico. Bring any batteries/chargers/etc you will need for your gear.
  • There are usually beach towels in your room or available through your hotel, you don't need to bring any.
  • You will definitely want to have sunglasses, and a hat is a good idea too.
  • Bring glasses/extra contacts/contact solution/etc.
  • Snorkel gear: if you snorkel a lot, bring your own fins/masks/snorkels. You can also rent them at the dive shop if you want.
  • A few books to read during our flight and on the beach.
  • Bring a small soft collapsible cooler for cold cerveza on the beach.

    Water:
  • Don't drink any water that isn't bottled. This also applies to drinks with ice, brushing teeth, etc.
  • Drink lots of water. Most cases of tourists getting sick in Mexico are dehydration, not bad food/water.
  • The tap water in Akumal is technically safe, but it is a little brackish, so you won't want to drink it.
  • Ask for "agua purificada" and if you want ice with your drink, say "con hielo purificada".
  • Alcohol is a disinfectant. To be safe, drink a margarita with your meal. Also most food is served with lime, which also kills bacteria.
  • Most restaurants will wash all of their produce in an antibacterial solution, however it is still a good idea to be cautious, especially if you are eating somewhere you are unfamiliar with. Don't eat raw fruit or veggies that cannot be pealed.
  • I don't suggest eating salads unless you are sure the restaurant rinses the veggies in an antibacterial solution.
  • Bottled water: our condo will have bottled water for us so you don't need to bring any. It is not a bad idea to bring a few bottles of some kind for tours.

    When you are in the Riviera Maya:
  • The Mayan people are very friendly and willing to help you. However, you need to remember that you are still visiting their home, and be courteous.
  • This is an economically poor area where tips are the primary income for many people. Tip well, and you will be treated like royalty.
  • Everyone you are likely to meet down there can speak English to a varying degree. Communication is rarely ever a problem. However, they do appreciate it if you at least attempt to speak some Spanish. It is a good idea to bring a Spanish phrase-book.
  • You can get all kinds of "American" food in the Riviera Maya, but it will always be a Mayan interpretation. Don't be afraid to try any of the different local dishes. They are all good!
  • Crime: one of the most common crime in the Riviera Maya is stealing from tourists' cars. Don't ever leave anything valuable in your car. It is a simple matter to break into a trunk or a glove box.
  • As with any vacation spot, tourist scams are common. Keep on your toes when dealing with pushy salesmen.
  • Law: don't do anything you wouldn't do in the US. In Mexico, crimes are more harshly punished, and you don't have many rights if you are arrested.
  • Scams: If you have to stop at a Pemex gas station, they are full service (Pemex is the only gas station in Mexico, and is run by the government.) However, you should still get out of the car and make sure they have zeroed the pump before they start filling. It is a common scam to not zero the pump after the last filling, and charge you a lot extra for the gas.

    Environmental:
  • Turtles: May-June is turtle nesting season. Female turtles will come up on the beach at night to lay their eggs. It is important not to disturb a nesting turtle with lights or loud noises. Also if you see a loose mound of sand on the beach, do not step on it because it could be a turtle nest. With that said, there are opportunities to participate in turtle walks with CEA. They patrol the beaches at night with red lights to ensure the safety of the turtle and her eggs.
  • Reefs: The coral reef is very fragile. It is great for snorkeling on, but we must be careful not to damage it. Watch where your feet or flippers are at all times when on or near the reef. In Akumal Bay there is a larger sandy place for swimming where you don’t need to worry about stepping on coral. The reef in Half Moon Bay, in front of our condo, is rocky and starts almost at the waters edge. Don’t touch or bother any reef animals or coral. Some corals also sting so avoid contact and just enjoy the view!

    Activities in the area:
  • Fishing
  • Tour various ruins (Tulum, Coba, etc.)
  • Eco-parks (Xel-Ha and Xcaret)
  • Sunset cruise/Robinson Crusoe cruise (Catamaran sailboat)
  • Shopping (Akumal, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, etc.)
  • Snorkeling
  • Cenote tours
  • Glass-bottom boat tour
  • Golf
  • Numerous Spas
  • Bike Tours
  • ATV/Jeep Tours
  • Jungle Tours
  • Kayaking
  • SCUBA

    Other Services:
  • Laundry
  • Internet Cafes, Pay phones
  • Super Chomak, Mini-Super (groceries in Akumal)
  • Sams club and Walmart (Playa del Carmen)

    Restaurants/Bars (Akumal):
  • Turtle Bay Bakery/Cafe (yummy breakfast)
  • Lol-Ha (all-around great food/beverages, pizzeria)
  • La Buena Vida (great night spot)
  • La Cueva del Pescador (excellent seafood)
  • Loncheria (cheap)
  • Many more in Akumal and Tulum



    “If I need it, and I don't have it, then I don't need it.”

    --Ray Jardine


    “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery


  • [Comments are closed after a month.]

    Re: Riviera Maya newbie checklist
    Jessica, 4/11/06 12:43:50 pm
    We Get IT Greg!! Pack light! or are you just worried that we might loose our copies?
    Re: Riviera Maya newbie checklist
    Gregory Morris, 4/11/06 1:22:54 pm
    hehe. I was just posting this so other people would have the benefit of my carefully prepared briefing.

    but yes... pack light. there's really no reason to even bring a suitcase, except to bring bottles of tequila home.
    Re: Riviera Maya newbie checklist
    monica, 4/11/06 7:02:01 pm
    Damn, if anyone didn't believe you before, now we know for real: You DO work for the government.

    Damn bureaucrat. :)

    No really, have a great time!
    Re: Riviera Maya newbie checklist
    Gregory Morris, 4/11/06 8:49:42 pm
    Would a govy quote Ray Jardine in his briefing though? Didn't think so :)
    < "TSA, Fishing, and Mexico"
    "Briefing Update" >


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