Riviera Maya is Mexico’s ultimate spot for romance, winter sun and tequila

Why does everyone look so in love here? It’s a question I ponder as I arrive at the luxurious TUI Blue El Dorado Seaside Suites resort on the Riviera Maya.

The sun had just set over this blissful stretch of coastline on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula and, dressed up for the evening, couples are casually ordering cocktails and smooching under palm trees as I pass by in a golf buggy.

With a wedding reception in full swing in one corner of the resort, it is clear that romance is high on the agenda here.

A low murmur of music and chatter is just about audible over the waves breaking on the beach as I’m dropped off at the door of my plush double room.

Inside I find the bed scattered with rose petals. There are complimentary chocolate desserts on the side.

If you’re not in love when you arrive at this beautiful five-star resort, you soon will be.

Designed with lovers in mind, it has access to a nudist beach and has couples’ massage tables set in tree houses overlooking the coastline.

But for those who are willing to prise themselves away from the whirlpool baths, spa days and gourmet dining, there’s a world of wonder to explore outside the resort. This area of Mexico is famous for its gripping history, proud traditions and dazzling coast.

An hour’s drive south from the resort are the amazingly preserved Mayan ruins of Tulum.

Our guide, Ariel, keeps the tour group entertained with mythological tales as we explore the Temple of the Frescoes – an observatory built to track the movements of the sun. As beady-eyed iguanas perch on the stone buildings, he tells us stories about blood rituals and human sacrifices. Thankfully, the Mayan gods only seemed to be interested in high-status martyrs, so we are left unscathed.

After working up a sweat walking around the ruins, we head for a nearby cenote to cool off. These sacred sinkholes form underground river systems that span the peninsula, and our pool of choice is the mystical-looking Cenotes Dos Ojos.

Some believe these cenotes are portals to the Mayan underworld. The dark caverns are home to bats, which hang from the stalactites and squeal while circling overhead.

Just be careful to avoid the jagged rocks as you wade into the water. Peer down and you’ll see scuba divers venturing deeper into the caves.

To complete the experience, we visit a nearby Mayan village for an authentic Mexican lunch.

A few dozen people live in this small traditional community. To beat the heat, they sleep in hammocks in their thatched-roof homes.

After the locals demonstrate how to make Mexican corn tortillas, they chuckle as we burn our mouths on the hot habanero sauce accompaniment, before pouring out restorative cups of sweet hibiscus tea.

Moving on to something stronger, at a tasting session we discover that Mexico’s love of tequila isn’t just a stereotype. But instead of licking salt and knocking it back, we are told to sip the spirit slowly.

This proves to be the best strategy given that the drink, made from the blue agave plant, is 38-55% alcohol.

We’re told it’s best to look for bottles that are 100% agave. The longer the spirit has aged, the more mellow the flavour and deeper the colour tends to be.

Unfortunately, that’s all the knowledge I managed to retain after an hour spent sampling the stuff.

Thankfully, a Mexican feast back at La Carreta restaurant at the resort is just the ticket to stave off a throbbing headache the following day.

Served on colourful, clashing crockery, pork tacos with chilli sauce, salsa, guacamole and watermelon salad is the perfect livener.

Chicken mole – a Mexican classic made with a spiced chocolate sauce – accompanied by fluffy rice feels like a warm hug. Churros rolled in sugar and cinnamon end the meal perfectly.

To make the most of my final day here, I get up early and head to the beach to watch the sunrise over the sea. Being closer to the equator, the quality of light is extraordinary, the temperature lusciously warm and the breeze mellow.

After a quick breakfast of tropical fruits and coffee, I set out on an excursion to the biosphere reserve Sian Ka’an, which translates as ‘gate of heaven’.

While you may think visiting a UNESCO world heritage site in an area of outstanding natural beauty would be a relaxing day out, be sure to pack your sense of adventure.


TUI offer seven nights on all-inclusive at the five-star TUI BLUE El Dorado Seaside Suites in Riviera Maya, Mexico, from £1,087 per person, departing from Birmingham in May and including transfers and 20kg baggage. Bristol, Doncaster, Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle also available.

TUI Collection excursions bookable in resort or in advance.

Use code SALE to save up to £300 per booking on TUI holidays departing May 1-October 31.

Visit tui.co.uk and visitmexico.com/en for more information.

The tequila feels like it may make a resurgence during the two-hour car journey crawling down the rockiest road in Tulum. Then, after a military-style rundown of the itinerary, tour guide Olga helps us on to speedboats and we set off zig-zagging through the mangroves.

These waters are home to plenty of predators and Olga warns us it will be our own fault if we reach in and get eaten by crocodiles.

Instead, we encounter a pod of dolphins which dance around our boat in formation. Then as we break out into the sea, we spot turtles popping up out of the waves and pelicans swooping down to catch fish.

Jumping in the water to snorkel, we skim through the currents with our flippers, marvelling at the brightly-coloured fish darting around the coral. It is an adventure I’ll never forget.

Later sipping a final few mojitos under the palm trees back at the resort, it is clear to see why it is so easy to fall in love under the Mexican sun.

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