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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 9:31 pm 
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Our last trip to Mexico had been really nice and laid back. ISLA HOLBOX. Where could we go to get that same isolated local feel, but be near barrier reefs for snorkeling. Something you don't get, off the beach in Holbox. One other criteria,fly fishing. I'd found out about Holbox in a fly fishing magazine, and so it would be this one too.
For years I'd been reading about an amazing bonefishing place, almost on the border of Belize. I really never thought it would fit into our travel destinations, until I found out how good the snorkeling and diving was in this area. "How bout it Hon? Do you want to go to Xcalak?" 5-5 1/2 hours drive south of Cancun, sitting just 7 miles from Belize on the Costa Maya. Maybe 300 people, probably less, and maybe half expats. (Just a guess)
Sunday
DAY 1
We took the shuttle from the Day's Inn in Denver to DIA and were dropped off at Frontier Airlines check in. " UH Oh! Where's my clothes bag? Is it still on the shuttle?" Quick phone call. "NOPE! Don't have your bag. Your Problem! Pal." FREAKING Great, I'm losin it! There were 2 drops before us, at United and US Air. Could it have been pulled off the van and then not put back? Fuming mad, I run across the terminal to the other side of the airport. "Hey United, anyone see an extra bag?" Nuh uh! Of course, US Air is all the way down the other end. Huff, Huff! 2 policemen are poking sticks at my blue clothes bag. Yay! Double Yay!! The girl at the Frontier desk asks us if we can cut it any closer. Really? Really? You don't even want to know lady! OOH! And I tipped the shuttle driver well!! Too well! AAARRGH!!! :x
Nice Flight. All the bags show up including my fishing rods. Yay again! We get a super deal on Stoli Vodka at the Duty Free. $11 US for a liter. 1/2 price for sure. Next? Some pesos at the ATM, and find the Easyway guy for our rental car. We hop in their shuttle, quick ride to the office. AC works, good spare, check off all the scratches. ADIOS AMIGOS! We're out of here! At least to the Pemex station to fill up. "Set the pump to zero, Amigo. Gracias." I tip him a couple of bucks and we're finally off. The goal is Tulum before dark and dinner at El Camello Jr.
We booked a room for the night in the pueblo rather than on the beach. The plan is to shop at the super mkt the next morning, before we head down the hwy the 3 1/2 hrs to Xcalak. We have 7 nts down there, So some basic groceries and cerveza to keep in the fridge will be nice. I packed a soft collapsable cooler and some ice packs for the ride down from Tulum.
Anyway, on to our hotel. Don Diego de Selva is on the very south end of town. Set just back off main st hwy307. We arrive just after 6:30PM, drop our stuff, and run across the street to eat at El Camello Jr. "Sorry we close at 6 on Sundays." Darn!! This place is seafood heaven. Two doors to the south is an open air restaurant (don't know the name) turned out to be fine except for the DJ musica (a little much). Mixed ceviche and grilled fish tacos were excellent! Margs very tasty. Cerveza very cold. And.. a very attentive waiter. Good dinner, I'm happy. We walk back across the street to our hotel, get our stuff organized and go for a night swim in the pool. Great first night as we stare up at all the stars from the refreshing water. Yay!! We are in freaking Mexico!!!!!
Monday
DAY 2
A nice breakfast in the open air palapa at the hotel. We then head for the Super San Francisco for groceries, beer and pesos at the ATM.
Loaded with food and cerveza, and on our way to Xcalak by 11:15AM. Destination, Casa Caroline (CC) our home for the next 7 days. About a 3 1/2 hour drive from Tulum, with a gas stop at Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Very straight forward drive from Tulum. We get to CC and meet Caroline and Bob. We get the room and property run down from Caroline, then dive into a beer and some cooked chicken, tortillas, rice and beans we had gotten at the market. We unpack and settle in. Time for Deb's wine (she brought 2 bottles from home), a vodka cocktail for me, and major wind down time. No long drives for the next 7 days, unless it's on a boat. Oh Yeah!!
We do dinner in town at Toby's. Mixed ceviche and grilled fish Tacos and grouper fillets. The bomb!! (This will be a recurring theme) We get back to CC where I grab a cerveza and head up to the roof deck. Just shorts, no shirt and a million stars. Oh the feeling to be in the tropics! Oh sweet dreams! (this will be a recurring theme).
Tuesday
DAY 3
Wake up early and make hot tea. Head up to the roof deck and watch the sun come out of the ocean. A beauty sunrise! (This will be a recurring theme).
Breakfast at Caroline's. Usually 3 or 4 fresh cut fruits, Coffee and tea, hard boiled eggs and her homemade hot muffins and sweetbreads. Delish! A great start to the day.
We have a snorkel trip planned around 10 am with a local guide named Luis. (Thanks to Caroline.) 1 of the girls staying in the beach level unit decides to join us. Good move. All boat trips come to CC and pick you up. You walk out to the dock and leave. Very nice! Luis takes us to 3 different sites full of colorful fish and coral all inside the barrier reef. An excellent 3 hour introduction to the waters around here. After lunch (back at our room at CC,) we swim out from the dock to some coral heads. Bob says keep your eyes open for the Moray eel and a beautiful small turtle that live out there. Never saw the moray, but the little turtle followed us around like our family pet.
We do dinner in town at the Xcalak Carribe. It has just reopened and is it ever good. Wine, Mojitos, Freddie's mixed ceviche was ridiculous. I can't name all the fish in it, but it was the best one I had while in Mexico. It was huge. My wife said that would be a $100 plus dish at any decent US restaurant. Along with 2 huge snapper fillets and all the sides, we were in heaven. We take home half the Ceviche for later use. yeah! Sit on the roof deck and check out the stars and a last cocktail. First full day in Xcalak and it feels good! Asleep by 9:30 PM. Contentment.
Wednesday
Day 4
On the roof deck for sunrise sipping tea and watching the splendor. Sweet! Fly fishing day for me. My wife is invited, but declines saying she can do without the 8hrs baking in the hot sun in a panga while I fish. Your loss honey! " Don't worry about me I'm good, catch fish!"
Victor Castro's son Andres picks me up at 7:30 AM at the CC dock. He see's I have 1 of my rods rigged for tarpon, so suggest's we take a peek in the big lagoon behind town. Very cool cutting thru the tight mangrove creek to the wide open bay. Oh well No Tarpon. We move back out to the front side and head south, then west into Chetumal Bay. Huge, huge endless flats. It's been almost 7 months since I last cast a fly rod and I'm not exactly "honed in". It helps to be on target when your bone fishing. They spook easily. Also the fish are not quite pouncing on my flies like I thought. We get quite a few follows but not too many bites, as we change flies all AM. I catch a couple and miss a few other hits but the fish just don't seem to be really on it.
After lunch, we get a few more, but it never really get's hot, considering how many fish we encounter during the day. Andres shrugs and says "somedays they all want to eat and somedays not so much." Thanks for making me feel better, but I think if I had got in a few days of any fishing prior, I may have been a little more on the game. Maybe hooked some of the soft grabs and short hits that went on all day. Lesson learned! Have your sh*t together when you go out there!! Your guide will appreciate it too.
Still a great day on the flats with at least a half dozen fish to hand. Amazing backcountry, and good company. Thanks Andres!!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my wife decided to see what there was to see, up the Xcalak beach road. So... she took one of the bikes from CC and rode north for about an hour, checking out the homes and resorts. Rode back, and then decides that was not enough, so she went for a run too. I ask her if she swam out to the reef and back to complete the triathlon. She gives me one of those looks and says the beach was calling. So.... a beach chair under a shady palm with a book. NICE!
We walk 5 minutes down the road from CC and have a drink at Tierra Maya where we meet the owner Dr Dave. They have wine that Deb likes, so we decide we'll do dinner too. The Maya Grill. Great Choice! Grilled fish is so good! Grouper and snapper. Another excellent meal and drinks. Dr Dave is pretty entertaining too. Walk back to CC, to the roof for stars and a night cap. Yeah! I can get used to this!
Continued...........https://picasaweb.google.com/1048449289 ... directlink


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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 10:34 pm 
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Great starting of a wonderful stay. Love that Casa Carolina.
Thanks

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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 8:18 am 
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Thursday
Day 5
I get up early and brew up some tea. Head up to (you guessed it) the roof deck to watch the sun emerge from the sea. After our CC breakfast with Caroline's awesome hot muffins and breads (by the way Caroline, I could have eaten twice as many as I did, I guess one has to show some control) we pack up a cooler with, corn tortillas, avocado, salsa, rice, beans, chicken and beers. Friends of friends live about 5K north of CC so we thought we'd swing by and say hi. We plan on exploring and snorkeling up north anyway so we swing into their casa. It is an excellent visit! Marty and Vicki tell us to come to the house anytime and use the kayaks. We appreciate it, but with their kids visiting (2 different families with kids) we decide they already have plenty on their plate and leave them be. Next time you guys! Love your casa!
Hop in the car and drive up by Casa del Sol and Mia Maya. Marty said it would be an excellent spot to snorkel off the beach and do lunch. We grab our cooler, fins and masks and set up by the water. We do a couple hour snorkel thru some colorful coral and many species of fish. Good call! We do an awesome beach lunch of chicken taco's and beer. Something to be said about bringing the restaurant to the beach.
We move on after lunch and head north to check out the Rio Hauch. (I'd like to kayak up it sometime with my fly rod. Another time I suppose) We somehow end up on an overgrown, jungly, dead end road and turn around. The resort or village near the Rio seems deserted and looks like all the new construction is heading towards disrepair. Almost like an abandoned project. The bridge is gone so there is no going any further. I look at a few possible fishing sites on our return towards town and decide to drive to XTC divers to see if they have a boat available for a snorkel trip the next day." Oh yeah! We're in!" Got a plan for tomorrow AM. Back to CC for showers and Happy hour.
We walk the road about 15 mins towards town and come to a fishing and diving resort called Costa de Cocos. Dinner here tonite. It was OK, but not as good as Toby's, Carribe or Maya Grill. More of an Americanized menu. Maybe it wasn't their best nite. We walk back home and do a short sit on the roof deck. I think we're very tired kids. I don't think we've made it to 10 pm 1 nite, except our 1st in Tulum. Not exactly night club material, are we.
Friday
Day 6
You know the routine. Tea and sunrise. A usual stellar breakfast with Bill and Caroline, (I usually learn something new every morning. They know an awful lot about these parts) And now off for a snorkel with XTC. Our boat shows up and off we go. Moy ( I hope that's how it spelled) takes us inside the mangroves at the Belize/Mexico border. We watch a manatee surface and dive for a while and then move outside to 3 different snorkel sites. One is a dive site called La Posa. It can have large schools of tarpon in the cut when it's rough. No tarpon today, but a very large sea turtle and 2 very large grouper make an appearance in this deep cut at the edge of the reef. Strong surges and waves make this a little more than the usual tranquil snorkel spot. The fish seem to be larger around here too. It's pretty cool looking down into the 30ft deep wall on the outside of the reef. It's a great day snorkeling and we thank Moy for showing us his watery neighborhood. We go back to CC make lunch and relax.
After lunch. "let's take the double kayak out to the coral head and then way out to the reef edge" We visit the little turtle for a while and then paddle way out along the barrier reef, stopping to snorkel a few spots. All day in the sun is taking it's toll so we paddle back for afternoon shade and cocktails. While at the dock, I see 4 permit swimming around, happy and unconcerned. "Oh god! Where's my freaking fly rod." What an opportunity that would have been. Right from the dock.
Dinner at the Carribe in town. Freddy makes us a whole fish with all the fixins and his tasty Mojitos. Love this place! Back home to the roof deck.
You may notice the absence of any mention of the Leaky Palapa. That would be, because they decided to close the nite before we got to Xcalak. Thanks very much! So, no reviews on this one.
Saturday
Day 7
Caroline had told me Captain Victor was available Saturday and would I care to book him for 1 more day of fly fishing? Ummm...Let's see. How often am I in this neighborhood. "Si, Si, Si, Capn Victor, Si!!" Twist my arm!
We head of the dock at 7:30 AM and go deep into some really hidden mangrove bays near the Belize border. I spook the first few fish with poor casting and then finally get a nice bonefish to eat. Way fun trying to land a supersonic fish in a smaller confined area. Yee Haw!! We find fish all AM and then a bunch more in the afternoon. Super day on the flats! I feel much more tuned in than I did on the first day. Chetumal Bay backcountry was so cool! 8 hours went way to fast. Thanks Victor you are the master. I Highly recommend his guide service.
Deb just took the day off and relaxed. Mexican beach bum. I think you're allowed to do that around here. Toby's for dinner, grilled fish fillets and grouper tacos. OH BABY!!
We went up on the roof before dinner and got a killer sunset. God, I love the views from that roof!
Sunday
Day 8
Our last full day at CC. Wah!! Yesterday, I had asked Caroline when I got back from fishing, if she could radio XTC for 1 more snorkeling day. " No problem you're in." Ask Caroline or Bob for most anything and they make it happen. They are amazing hosts.
A young couple staying in the room next door takes us up on our invitation and joins us for our last boat snorkel trip. "Yes Moy again!" We do 2 sites to the north of CC that are loaded with fish and healthy coral. Then 1 more attempt at La Posa for a chance at the large tarpon schools. It was really surging and wavy, less than perfect visibility and again, No tarpon. You can't control nature. Moy takes us to one more spot near Tierra Maya and then back to the dock. Another great day on the water.
After lunch we take the kayaks out to the barrier reef and tool around, then ride the wind and waves right back to the dock. Happy hour cocktails and a few rooftop pictures, and it's off to our last dinner in Xcalak. We choose the Maya Grill because it's good, and only 5 mins walk away. Grilled grouper fillets and a "special ceviche" made it a great finale meal. Do you think we ate enough fish???? We take our time walking back. It's a classic star nite on the roof. I'm going to miss this place. :cry:
continued.........


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 8:50 am 
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You are do such a nice job of taking me back to Xcalak... It has beef far too long since I visited.
Thank you and NO never enough fresh fish.. smile
Oh, what kind of Tea do you drink? Do you two have face book pages?

https://www.facebook.com/Bill.n.Tulsa

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bill-in- ... 3887164494

https://www.facebook.com/xcalak.tv.messageboard?ref=ts

Thanks for the great report and memories

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"Find the Magic" in the Riviera Maya & the Costa Maya"
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 8:21 pm 
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I'm a big green tea drinker. Any good antioxidant tea is on my list. I do two rounds a morning in my 20 oz tea cup. 40 oz of hot liquid thru anyones body should thoroughly clean one out every day. Otherwise I probably abuse my poor body with occasional alcohol and red meat. The Varieties of life.
By the way, that habanero spice has really livened up my sweet and smoky rib rub. Every time I open the jar it makes me sneeze. It is the real McCoy.
My wife is a face booker not me.


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:16 pm 
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Happy you kind the Habanero powder good...
Thanks again
bill in tulsa

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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 6:49 pm 
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Monday
Day 9
My last Xcalak sunrise, and it's a beauty. My morning sanctuary, on the roof deck, is about to change to a beach in Tulum. We have breakfast with Bill and Caroline and another couple. The couple's enthusiasm for a possible trip out to Chinchorro Atoll helps break the slightly melancholy mood I'm feeling.( We had our shot to go out to Chinchorro with a group from Mexico City one morning and declined. The weather was a little unsettled that morning, and it turns out they had a very bumpy ride in the rain for at least half way out there (2 hrs). The return trip was a pounder too. A few of them said the boat ride "not fun". It's still on our list though.) We pack up our stuff and load the car, for the next part of the journey. It's time to say goodbye to Bob and Caroline and this wonderful spot on the "Costa Maya". It's easy to see why people love this place and why they return. Once we make the turn out of Xcalak, and the road goes from sand to pavement, we're ready for our trip up to Tulum.
We make a quick stop to checkout the cruise ship port of Mahahual, about 35-40 miles north of Xcalak. I hear you do not want to be here when a cruise ship is in. Pretty mellow place right now though. More coast line to explore in the future.
We need gas, so our next stop is Felipe Carrillo Puerto. We also need to pick up some Habanero spice for the man who runs this website, at very same Pemex gas station in FCP. We fill up the tank and then walk over to talk to the spice ladies. They are thrilled we are getting 5 large jars of spice. We also get some cut up fruit from them too. We have huge smiles on our faces after dealing with these happy, cheerful ladies.
Back to the drive. We should get into Tulum about lunch time and El Camello Jr is on our list for seafood. We pull in around 12:30 and it is jammed. They find us about the last 2 chairs available, and we share a 6 top table with another couple. Mixed ceviche, I must have it!!!! A medium order of ceviche and 2 grilled fish tacos each and we're in business. It is huge! We will never finish all this food. Everyone around starts talking to us. " You picked the best place Amigo's" "Freshest fish in town" "Best ceviche" "Hangin with the locals Amigo" Wow! great food and what fun. We take our left overs, stop for a bottle of Bacardi Anejo Rum and head for our beach cabana at Tita Tulum on the south end of Ziggy beach. We unload our stuff, throw on bathing suits and head straight for that gorgeous blue water. Our room is huge and closest to the beach. Thanks to 1 of the forums for picking that one.
We walk the beach to get our bearings on other resorts and hotels, as our friends will be showing up the next day at Cabanas and La Zebra. We are right between the two. The development on this stretch of beach is mind boggling since I'd seen it 5-6 years earlier. A lot of the little camping resorts are gone. It doesn't quite have that Robinson Crusoe feel anymore. Still beautiful beach though. We go back to our place, make up some drinks, and munch on the rest of the ceviche, chips and salsa on our lovely beach porch. We had ideas about eating at the Thai restaurant up near the ruins (Mezzanine), but the thought of driving nixed that. We ended up walking the beach to Zebra and having dinner right at the bar. Well presented and very tasty, but add a couple hundred pesos compared to Xcalak restaurants. We walk the beach back to our 1st nite at Tita Tulum. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day!
Tuesday
Day 10
Lovely sunrise on the Tulum beach. My only complaint is I can't get hot water for my tea until 7:30 am. I'm an early riser! I want my tea early. I'm at the mercy of the restaurant kitchen, as there is no coffee maker or electric plug ins in our unit. OK I'm over it. Moving on...
We decide to go into Tulum pueblo and check out the shops for the morning. We wander the streets and I laugh at how passive some vendors are, and how aggressive others can be.
How to make sure I won't come in or buy? Be loud and aggressive, I really love that. We spend all morning meandering around until lunch time. OK, enough of this nonsense. Let's go back to El Camello Jr, get some lunch to go, and sit on our world class beach deck. "Amigos,Ceviche and fish tacos (what else?)"
Yay! We're back at the beach with cold cerveza and the best fish in Tulum. Didn't I mention earlier, about bringing the restaurant to the beach. Heavenly!!
I'm thinking, I wonder if those guys have checked in at Zebra yet. Let's take a walk in that direction and see what's up. I walk out towards the beach and low and behold, 2 guys with coolie cups looking very familiar. "Can I offer you guys a refresher? Perhaps a dark rum and pineapple? A hammock, some ceviche? All of the above?" And..So we meet. By evening we're with 4 other couples, all friends back in Colorado. Dinner at Zebra, and everyone is pretty lit. Many shots of tequila and many mojitos and much food. One Crazy night! The walk back to our cabana on the beach, is kinda ZIGGY. I wonder if that is how the beach got it's name. No doubt! Nighty night!!
Day 11
Wednesday
Really pretty sunrise! Perfect orb emerging from the sea. Glad I like to get up early. We get invited to do breakfast at Cabana's. Most excellent! Oh well! Our trip is over. So after breakfast we pack up and then walk over to Zebra to say goodbye to all. (They're all staying until Sunday). I'm not sure we'd have been able to handle all that fun for 4 more days. Really? NOT REALLY. But I'll stick to that excuse.
Drive to Cancun, drop the car at Easyway and go to the airport. No cops, no muss, no fuss. Fly into Denver, get our car at the hotel. Uh Oh! Battery's dead. You'd think someone would have jumper cables. Like us. Nope. 2 hrs later AAA gets us going. SO....... Not doing this 3 1/2 hr drive at 11:30 pm. Let's get on the other side of town.
We get a room at La Quinta on the westside of Denver in Golden. That way the traffic won't be an issue when we head away and up into the mountains.
Day 12
Thursday
We drive home. Party over! Adios Xcalak ! Adios Tulum! Bueno Aventura!!!!


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 7:07 pm 
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Thanks, yep all good things come to an end for the time being... Happy Happy....

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:34 pm 
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Glad to hear how wonderful your trip turned out!
Every report that I read, that includes more than a few days in Xcalak, has the same "recurring theme" (to quote you).
In everyone's writing, regardless of style, there is always a sense of ease that comes through. I have called it 'ultra-relaxation' before, but it is very hard to describe.
People who have experienced it (really, FELT IT) get it! People who have not, cannot comprehend. It's that simple!!
I've been away for a while and last night I returned from a fantastic 12 day fishing trip in Northwest Manitoba - today I read your trip report.
In MB, we had great weather, I caught monster pike (3 over 20 lbs. and truly countless in the high teens), lake trout and my biggest walleye ever 31.5 inches - Northern lights, loons calling, black bear in camp, wolves and moose - Great trip!...the FEELING doesn't compare.
Your report has inspired me to finish mine...even though there are only a few readers. Let's face it. :wink: WE GET IT!!
The place is blessed.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:33 am 
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Jeff, I really appreciated having your trip reports. They were a great help to me, since we were just about on the same program. Deb and I snorkeled and had lunch on the beach right at your rental house 1 day. Not a bad place to hang in splendid beach isolation, if you like that sort of thing. Oh yeah.
Next time I think we may need twice as much time. Got to see Bacalar, the beaches north of Mahahual, and all the ruin sites in the area. Besides I really need to work the beaches with my fly rod next time. So much potential.
I totally agree with you about special places. Thank god most people love "the all inclusives" and leave these little gems to the few adventurous folk who don't mind going a little out of the way. These are the places I will always strive for.
Sounds like your Canada trip was awesome.
Yeah, finish your report. I look forward to reading the rest of the journey.


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