Winter escape: reminiscing about our favorite tropical vacations

We’re back from our annual NYE trip to the Washington Coast! I’ll share some photos with you later this week. Per usual, we had a fantastic time with fantastic people. It was sunny, but very cold which seems very contradictory when one is at the beach. Sand and warm weather go together IMO. So in honor of the true sun and sand combo, I’ve dug into the archives to find my five favorite tropical vacations. Enjoy with a side of margarita šŸ™‚

PicMonkey CollageCabo San Lucas, March 2010
Granted, this trip was with the family but hey, it was a relaxing getaway anyways! I think I ate guacamole and chips for lunch nearly every day and poolside lounging was the no. 1 priority. My parents even sat through a boring timeshare meeting so we could get this awesome zip lining trip. This is one of the most fun activities I’ve ever done!

PicMonkey Collage2Panama, Fall of 2010
2010 was a big year of travel for us! We got invited to a close friend’s wedding in Panama and made a week-long trip out of it. Guests came in from all over the world and it was a big party moving from hostel to hostel until we arrived at the Al Natural Resort for the wedding. I will never forget staying in these rustic, wall-less cabins overlooking the ocean. Oh, and that beautiful beach wedding!

PicMonkey Collage3Tulum, May 2012
What can I say? I love me some Mexico! I found Tulum on a travel blog and those white, sandy beaches had me sold. We stayed in this funky little hotel right on the beach and spent our days swimming in cenotes and discovering the local ruins. I’d 100% go back to Tulum in a heartbeat! I even talked my parents into vacationing there this coming spring.

PicMonkey Collage4Austin, October 2012
I guess Austin isn’t exactly tropical, but it’s a warm destination compared to Seattle! We made a trip down south to visit our dear friends and take in Austin City Limits, our first major music festival. The beers flowed, BBQ consumed and the warm weather beat out those fall blues. What a cool, hip city to explore.

PicMonkey Collage5Jamaica, November 2014
Oh Jamaica and your all-inclusive resorts! Honeymooning there was the ultimate treat for us and the perfect unwinding destination after a stressful wedding. We even extended our stay to come home post-Thanksgiving. It was just that good. Quiet beaches, friendly people and bottomless drinks…pure heaven!

OK, I’m dying to hear about your favorite tropical vacation! Give me some ideas so I can start planning our next one šŸ™‚


Ruins Part 2 (hipster style)

Tulum Ruins


Me – doin’ the ruins


Palm trees and ruins – this group knew how to pick a location!


206 doin’ the ruins


There’s a iguana up there….


Beachside ruins


‘Get your worship on’ ruins


Face time
Ruins beach
Oh man, if we had only had more time at the Tulum Ruins……I’m way bummed that we maybe had 45 minutes at this place. Arg. A good excuse to go back though! These ruins were 5 minutes north of town and sit right on the ocean. This tribe knew what was up – what a location! The site is HUGE and very well preserved and although you can’t climb any temples, you can really get a good sense as to what the town was like. Someone pointed out to me that these structures have withstood hundreds of years of hurricanes and that stuck me as super extra impressive. I guess the big thing to do here is bring a lunch, explore everything then swim at the beach making it a leisurely afternoon. Yeah, that didn’t happen for us. We frantically ran around the property, snapped a few pics then rushed outta town to return the rental car. Darn rental cars ruining my trip to the ruins……

Grand Cenote

El Grand Cenote
Snorkel gear ready
The view from above

While exploring the Yucatan Peninsula, one must visit a cenote, a deep, natural sinkhole with crystal clear water and little fishes. So visit we did after an exhausting trip to the Coba Ruins. It was refreshing to get out of the piercing sun and into this shaded, cool oasis – our sunburned skin was quite thankful! There are many of these around Tulum, all family owned, so we tried to find the best one, and according to Trip Advisor, this was it!

The water felt great and there were plenty of animals above and below the surface, but I have to admit, it was very, very creepy. Like so creepy that someone should make a horror movie in one of these things. Come on….Mayan ruins, jungles, human sacrifices, bugs, cenotes….I see the start of an epic horror movie people!

Cenotes connect to many other underground water caves and people acutally scuba dive in these things for fun. WTF? In no way did that appeal to me! We made a quick snorkeling loop then hopped on out, both admitting to each other that we were freaked out. An experience none the less, but I think I’ll stick to snorkeling in the ocean thanks.


Misc. Mexico

Our whip. Nice and cozy!

An average day for us….

I had to! Cancun Spring Break ’00!

Thank god air traffic control has a GIANT Corona logo on it….sheesh.

Adam taking in the local liquor.


Ruins Part 1

Mayan ruin decor
Mayan ball court – to the death! (literally.)
Community living
Sacrificial platforms – only for animals, fruits and veggies
The watchtower
Jungle living
The climb
Almost there!
A long, steep and scary way down
Coba ruins – one of the only places you can climb up one
Jungle for days

Ahhhhh….the Coba Mayan Ruins, probably the highlight of our trip! I had some serious internal debate about going here vs. the mighty Chichen Itza – one of the largest and most visiting archaeological site in Mexico. I wanted to see the biggest and baddest of all ruins, but the 2.5 hour drive was a big issue for me:

1) It was hotter than hell down there and sitting in an oven of a car for that long seemed, well, like hell and
2) Everything I read said you need to go first thing in the morning ie. get there before 10am before all of the tour buses and we all know the BF is not a morning person. There was no way we were getting out the door by 7:30am.

Alas, that’s where Coba came in – a short 60 minute drive from Tulum in the heart of the jungle. WOW is all I can say. They might not be the biggest nor the baddest, but man what a cool place to explore (and I mean literally cool, most of it was fully shaded). After wandering around for a few minutes, we snagged a guide and spent the next 1.5 hours walking through the site. I highly recommend a guide – as impressive as everything is, it’s really hard to tell what’s what. If I travel all this way, I want to learn something darn it!

Not only did the guide provide valuable insight into the ruins, he also was able to point out local floral and fauna as well as answer our off the wall questions about the end of the world (12/21/12?), human sacrifices (not often done at this site) and hallucinogenic plants (done often at this site). 

The most unique thing about Coba is that they actually let you climb one of the ruins, which most other ruins won’t allow. Our guide dropped us off at the bottom and up we went. As afraid as I was, I scurried up to the top, not wanting to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus, there were 65 year old women working their way to the top – I’m competitive like that – what can I say?

We arrive to the top in one piece and all I can recall are my knees literally knocking together and my hands shaking so badly that I can’t take decent pictures. I cling to the side of the small temple, snap a few pictures of the BF then shakily make my way to the rope and hang on for dear life on the way back down with old ladies passing me on both sides. NBD. I made it down in one piece.

I highly recommend seeing these or any other ruins in Mexico. Granted, it’s hard to pull yourself away from the beach and beer, but it’s well, well worth it! More ruins visits to come…..

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