Adventure Awaits at Mayakoba
Hugging the shores of the Caribbean Sea, amidst a tropical rainforest, the AAA Five Diamond Fairmont Mayakoba is about 40 miles south of Cancun in Mexico's Riviera Maya. This tropical paradise includes mangrove jungles, lagoons, pristine shores and miles of canals, earning it the nickname, “Venice of the Caribbean.” A visit to Mayakoba offers the opportunity to explore this fragile ecosystem in tandem with local Mayan culture.
Get Back to Nature
During your stay, the Fairmont Mayakoba concierge can arrange a visit to Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 2.5 hours south of the resort, covers more than 1 million acres. Hundreds of bird species and a variety of wildlife, from manatees and turtles to spider monkeys, jaguars and toucans, call the reserve home.
With so much land to explore, a personalized, guided tour is just the ticket. Trek through the rainforest to explore an ancient Mayan temple, snorkel the world's second largest coral reef, paddle the lagoons or explore the mystical cenotes, or underwater caves.
Daniela Daniel, the resort's public relations manager, describes the experience: "Visitors' senses will be awakened to completely new sensations, as they walk across ancient and modern Mayan communities or snorkel past the coral reef. This is a unique experience in a place untouched by urbanization and undisturbed by mass tourism."
Swim with Big Fish
The world's largest fish, the giant whale shark, calls the waters off the Yucatán Peninsula home. These docile fish can reach more than 40 feet in length and mate in the waters near Isla Holbox. The island is an hour and a half away from the resort and then a ferry boat from the island takes another 25 minutes. From late May through late September, this area is home to whale sharks. Your guide will take you to deep water, where you can snorkel in pairs with these giants of the sea.
Discover Nature at the Resort
If you don’t feel like venturing out, an adventure awaits right outside your casita. Opt for the 40-minute canal tour, where your Tatich (Mayan for “guide”) leads you through the resort's private canals. Learn about this special ecosystem, including the flora and fauna of the surrounding jungle and lagoons.
If you're an early riser, head down to the main landing for a nature tour. You’ll have the option of tours by foot along the trails, or by boat to explore local wildlife habitats. Along the way, the Tatich recount fascinating Mayan legends.
Tastes of the Yucatán
The flavors of the Yucatán have been influenced by many different cultures. During your stay at Fairmont Mayakoba, take the opportunity to sample traditional Mayan cuisine and more modern regional cooking.
If you’re interested in a one-of-a-kind, daring experience, ask the concierge to arrange an "Insect Degustation.” You’ll sample four classic, edible insects popular with locals: Chapulines (diced grasshoppers), Hormigas Chicatanas (leaf cutter ants), Chinicuiles (maguey worms) and Escamoles (ant eggs). These delicacies are served with onion and cilantro on either a flour or corn tortilla, with a selection of three hot sauces.
If you prefer something a little less adventurous, consider a Mexican craft beer tasting. The resort will arrange your personalized tasting, complete with a history of Mexican beer and a selection of botanas, or Mexican tapas.
Feel like doing a little cooking away from home? The concierge can schedule a personal cooking class in the resort's famous kitchens under the guidance of the executive chef. Choose from one of six themes, including healthy, green cuisine or sweet endings. After donning your chef's hat and apron, you’ll head to the garden to harvest ingredients. This is not your average chef's garden. Here, you'll discover everything from tomatoes and zucchini to native fruits and vegetables, including papaya, bananas, nopal (cactus), agave, habanero and jalapeño chilies, oranges and lemons.
Every cooking class also includes a tour of the impressive main kitchen, and step-by-step instructions on how to prepare an unforgettable meal.
Indulge with the Food of the Gods
Chocolate (ka'kaw in Mayan) was one of the most prized possessions in Mayan culture. Now, at Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Mayakoba, enjoy the antioxidant properties of chocolate with the 60-minute Chocolate, Food of the Gods treatment.
During your chocolate spa experience, your body is nourished with a cacao body wrap, scalp massage and fragrant body massage, with coconut oil and rose essence. The delicious, subtle smell of chocolate wafting through the air lingers as you leave the spa. Afterwards you can indulge in a Mayan chocolate bar, which is provided at the end of the treatment.
Are you ready to engage your senses with a Riviera Maya adventure? E-mail Fairmont Mayakoba at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin your memorable visit.
To read the Spanish version of this article, click here: La aventura lo espera en Mayakoba
Susan Lanier-Graham is a freelance writer based in Arizona. She specializes in luxury destinations, food and wine. Her work has appeared in such publications as AAA Highroads, AAA Home & Away, Uptown Magazine, So Scottsdale, View Highlife, Design & Architecture, Luxe Beat Magazine, Phoenix Home & Garden, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, Cowboys & Indians, AOL Travel and dozens of online publications.