Our amazing honeymoon excursion started on September 25, 2012 (three days following our beautiful wedding in Portland, Oregon) and sadly came to an end on October 5th, although we almost didn’t make it back home - and not on purpose.
Choosing our destination was almost as challenging as planning the wedding. We (and by we, I mean mostly my wife, Brianne), spent countless days, weeks, and months checking all the travel websites, hotels, and reviews trying to not only find the best deal we could get, but find a place we knew would be special for us.
After countless hours deciding between places like Italy, Bali, Fiji, Bora Bora, Costa Rica, the Greek Isles, and Hawaii, we finally decided that in the spirit of the end of the world in 2012, we would stay on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, at the beautiful Secrets Maroma Resort.
Seeing a theme here yet? We live in Portland, so it was of the upmost importance that our honeymoon be someplace where it is warm and we can actually see the sun for a week or two. Not only that, but we are both very into health and fitness and felt it was important that we got a chance to show off our bikini bodies (only kidding! Well, sort of).
Finding Traveler's Joy was a dream come true for us. We had everything we needed for our home, so the thought of a registry at Pottery Barn or a Bed, Bath and Beyond would leave us with a bunch of stuff we couldn’t fit in our house. We also wanted our friends and family members to feel like they were personally involved in helping us achieve our dream of the perfect honeymoon. Not only did everyone have a good time choosing certain items from our registry page, but we also tagged them in our Facebook pictures of the trip, so they had a chance to see what their contributions rewarded us.
We touched down in Cancun the first day where (wouldn’t you know it) it was raining. At least it was a warm, tropical rain, and not the cold, damp weather we are used to at home. We picked up our rental car right away and headed down Highway 307 south, about 35 minutes to the resort near Playa del Carmen.
The resort itself was nothing less than spectacular. We drove off the highway and deep into the jungles close to the beaches just to get there, where the doors of the main entry gate were comparable to the ones straight out of Jurassic Park. Then we entered the lobby, and it was as if we entered our own personal palace, where we were immediately surrounded by exotic wildlife, beautiful décor, marble everything, and are waited on hand-and-foot 24 hours a day. The resort felt so secluded we never saw, or heard from any of the other resorts. Not to mention the beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water surrounding the property. We had our own personal swim-out suite, where we could take a dip anytime we wanted right out on our patio, and our room was as elegant as the lobby.
The service and atmosphere was everything we imagined and more. There was entertainment all day long, professional shows every night, tons of all inclusive restaurants, and our own personal concierge Romina, who we adored; we even met the King of Rock himself one night. Yes, Elvis is alive, and he is living in Mexico. If that wasn’t enough, they just happened to play a football game of Rob’s favorite team, the Denver Broncos, just by chance the first weekend we were there (and they won!). It was relaxation and paradise in every sense of the word. It literally had us jumping for joy (see inserted picture).
But what would a honeymoon in an exotic locale be without a little exploration and adventure? We decided to venture into the town of Playa Del Carmen, which has a lovely shopping district and great beaches, restaurants, and clubs. That’s where we got to hang out with a couple of Mayan Warriors and hold a leopard cub in the process. We also hit the stores for some extra shorts, because Rob forgot to pack some for the trip (yep, an entire suitcase of clothes but no shorts), and ate at a local restaurant for some authentic Mexican food. It was delicious, and they made us a personalized tequila bottle with our picture on it to bring back home with us. We also left from the port of Playa and took a half-day trip to Cozumel, which is an island about a half an hour away by ferry from the coast of Playa. We did deep water snorkeling and spent the afternoon in the town of Cozumel wandering around and shopping for souvenirs.
We traveled by car farther south for a little jungle fun later in the week, and went to the Hidden Worlds Adventure Park. Because of some late cancellations, we got to go on our own personal adventure tour. The trek to the deeper part of the jungles was needless to say bumpy, and Brianne found herself come down with a little case of motion sickness. Being the consummate trooper, she sucked it up and still did the majority of the activities. We rode through the sky above the trees on air bikes, came down by zip-line, went deeper underground by repelling into the cenotes (underwater caves) upside down, and where we (or should we say Rob) went snorkeling in the dark waters of the caves. We capped it all off with a zip-line rollercoaster, where you are clipped in, given a rusty looking handle with wheels on it, and are let go down what is essentially a line of metal PVC pipe, that starts at the top of the hill and ends down in the cenote, where only the water in the underground cavern can bring you to a stop. Rob went down twice. Brianne could only handle once for fear of safety and her life. Tons of fun!
Next we decided to have some fun in the sun and we went to Xel-Ha (pronounced shell-ha), a natural aquatic theme park off the Caribbean coast. The whole park is in an inlet created by the warm ocean water. To say it was fun is a huge understatement. There is a natural lazy river, cliff diving, ocean zip-lining, and you get snorkel gear near the entrance of the park so that you can swim or let the current take you from one end to the other without even getting out of the water, and where you could see exotic fish, including stingrays. That’s where we also took time out to swim with some dolphins, because, who doesn’t want to swim with dolphins? After a long day of playing, we took a nap in the hammock park. Did we mention it was all-inclusive too? Gotta love Mexico!
In the spirit of the apocalypse, we saw two different Mayan ruins; Tulum, an ancient trading city right on the coast of the Caribbean, and took the three hour trip to Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the hub of our world ending. One of the most interesting tidbits we took away from the visiting ruins was that the Mayans never believed in the end of the world, but that it is the end of one era, and the beginning of a new era of human enlightenment.
Chichen Itza houses the giant temple that everyone comes to associate with the Mayans, where they held the human sacrifices (including babies if necessary), in the hope that the Gods would bring them rain for the crops of the season. Unfortunately they no longer allow tourists up the main temple stairs, but there were tons of workers there remodeling the top of the temple, passing buckets and cement up and down person by person in a line along the stairs. No cranes were used. We got a little nervous for them. The stadium, where the captains of the losing teams were beheaded, was amazing and you could playfully bounce the echoes of your voice and hand claps from one wall and hear them against the walls on the other side of the field.
The Mayans were incredibly ingenious with their construction and architecture techniques, building them in accordance with the stars and night sky, so that they could predict seasons, planting, keep time…and hence the calendar was born. There was an observatory built in the middle of the city to keep track of this, where the high priests would spend their time star gazing. We found it fascinating that we still implement the same techniques they used 1,000 years ago to keep track of time, days, month and years.
So it was all that sight-seeing, adventure, food, relaxation, and fun, we reluctantly packed up to come home. Except (and this is where we come back to the beginning of this story) while standing in line to check-in at the airport for our flight back home, we both came to a sudden, unwelcomed epiphany.
Brianne left her passport in the safe at our resort— 40 minutes away. Normally it wouldn’t be the end of the world (no pun intended), except for the fact that we only had 45 minutes left to check in for our flight. So in a calm panic Brianne set off to get her passport back. She went to the calling card dispenser to get one so that we could call the resort and have them drive her passport to the airport. Problem was they were out of calling cards. It was as by some kind act by a divine Mayan God that they were just coming to refill the machine at that same moment. Bri bought one and attempted to use the pay phone; which came with its own set of challenges, considering we did not have the number to the resort and everything was in Spanish.
Luckily Brianne is very resourceful and managed to use the little Spanish she knew to get someone to help her call. Brianne contacted the Hotel, was patched through to security, who managed to get the safe open and get the passport in the hands of one of the driver’s on staff, on a mission to get to the airport and find Brianne at the airport before time expired. We paid the $36 US dollar ATM fee for the pesos we pulled out to pay the taxi driver, and waited with baited breath. And just our luck, the skies brought a heavy rain, the bane of our existence, and halting traffic throughout the city. After waiting for what felt like an eternity, the driver finally arrived with the precious cargo, we paid and thanked him and checked into the flight—with 2 minutes to spare before they closed it. We took a deep breath, boarded the plane, and came back home to Portland, where it was raining.
The total cost of our trip ended up being approximately $6,200, but we ended up paying nothing out of pocket thanks to all of the generous gifts we received from our friends and family through the Traveler’s Joy registry. We booked the whole trip sans the extra activities through Expedia, so resort and flight were included with them, and all the added activities we tacked on later. It was an extravagant honeymoon at an incredible price.
If you don’t like warm and exotic locales, great and friendly people, all you can eat meals all day long, exciting adventures, and ancient wonders, then this trip just isn’t for you. Of course we are being sarcastic. We couldn’t recommend it enough, and every time we talk about it you would think we worked for the tourism department of Playa del Carmen! However, the best getaways are always spent with the ones you love the most, and with memories that will last forever. We are already planning our return visit.