This is our guide to enjoy and experience Riviera Maya to it’s full potential. Each place shown here was specifically chosen for you to have a unique experience as a local…
- Island of Cozumel
- Snorkel Adventure Have a wonderful experience snorkeling around the island on different reefs enjoying the beautiful weather.
- Soliman Bay
- The Restaurant @ Hotel Jashita This is a small eco-friendly hotel located in front of a beautiful bay with delicious Mediterranean food.
- Beach and Cenote This is a unique beach which is totally deserted. It is a very relaxing place with a cenote within a 5 minute walking distance from the beach.
- Akumal (Sea Turtles)
- La Buena Vida A nice and laid back ocean front restaurant that serves Mexican food in a mellow environment. A great to place spend a day relaxing.
- Xpuha (beaches)
Parks and Tours
- This park has a bit of everything from rivers, caves, and museums to a unique night show that highlights the best of Mexican culture.
- This park is great if you like to snorkel as most of it’s activities are dedicated to water sports and adventures.
- This park is perfect if you are looking for a little adrenaline rush. Here, you’ll find park activities that are more extreme such as cliff diving and ATVs.
- All Tour Native
- You can enjoy a different kind of tour with All Tour Native– it is a company we highly recommend. Each tour has a bit of a cultural side– from architectural ruins to snorkeling and zip-lining each experience includes a Mayan ceremony and a bit of education.
- Feeling adventurous? Renting a car is a great way to experience Playa del Carmen and beyond as a local. We can help you decide what to do and map out your perfect day without the hassle of a group tour.
- Jardin Eden
- Enjoy yourself in this outdoor cenote. It is a great place if you wish to feel relaxed and calm.
- Cenote Azul
- This best cenote for families. Here you can enjoy many rock pools with shallow water where kids can play safely.
- Very refreshing and usually pretty quiet.
- Papaya Playa
- A laid back hotel that offers great food, great service and a unique view.
- La Zebra
- Have a calm lunch in front of the beach. This is a family friendly restaurant but offers late night salsa lessons every Sunday.
- Casa Jaguar
- This wonderful restaurant is located in the middle of the jungle and offers a culinary adventure.
- Gitano Tulum
- A Mexican restaurant that is great if you wish to have a wonderful night full of great music.
- An exclusive and small restaurant with all-natural cuisine.
- Coqui Coqui
- A unique property that makes it’s own perfume and scents. Enjoy the beautiful beachfront with a romantic massage.
- Puerto Morelos
- This is a very small fishing town filled with local artisans, restaurants and more.
- Puerto Aventuras
- A very small town with a nice stretch of beach.
- A typical Mexican town, rich in culture with authentic local restaurants and a beautiful plaza to stroll around.
- This town is filled with authentic Mexican architecture from the houses to the main shopping streets.
- Tulum Ruins
- This archeological ruin is located in front of the beach, a unique and breathtaking view.
- Coba Ruins
- Rent a bike and wander around getting to know these ruins that are located inside the jungle.
- Muyil Ruins
- This archeological site is very small but surrounded by lots of small towns and cenotes.
- Chichen Itza
- One of the seven wonders of the world– we highly recommend getting to know this capital city of the Mayan World.
We are happy to share this beautiful article, first published on chiccollection.com. We believe it is a lovely explanation of our story and we are honored to share it with you all.
As you wander into Hotel La Semilla Mexico, stopping at the front desk, you may notice a discrete message that displays on the desktop of the computer there. It says, ‘There is beauty in simplicity.’ For this quaint, boutique hotel, one block from the azure shores of Playa del Carmen, the significance of this phrase is striking. As you peer around the vintage inspired décor and whitewash walls, the absence of vibrant colors and noise is so calming and surprisingly distant from the party that rages on just a few blocks away.
It Started with a Dream
Hotel La Semilla Mexico is a retreat. It was carefully constructed and conceptualized by its owners, couple Alexis Schärer and Angie Rodriguez. The story of Hotel La Semilla Mexico is a love story and the passion they have for each other translates into the passion they have for the hotel they created. In their vision, La Semilla would be a place to call home. But what differentiates La Semilla from other sleepy bed and breakfast type hotels is that here, you are greeted with five-star service and impeccable attention to detail that all stem from the strong hospitality background the couple shares.
Angie and Alexis met while both working at Hotel Plaza Athénée in New York City, and it was love at first sight for the pair. From the beginning of their relationship, they dreamed of owning a hotel one day — a hotel near the water. Little did they know the twists and turns of life would lead them to Playa del Carmen to open their vision of the perfect boutique hotel.
Alexis grew up in a hotel lifestyle. He comes from a long lineage of hoteliers, and his father was a general manager for several properties, which afforded the family to live in hotels for most of Alexis’ life. This enabled him to develop a keen eye for detail, an intimate knowledge of the guest experience, and a strong affection for hospitality; all of these things he beautifully translated into the fibers of Hotel La Semilla Mexico.
When Alexis met Angie, they began fantasizing about the hotel they could have one day. During the couple’s journeys around the world together, they would always file away details they admired of places they visited: souvenirs, photographs, and journals filled with notes. Many years after leaving New York, Angie, being Mexican herself, developed a strong desire to return home and without much trouble convinced Alexis to move their growing family to Playa del Carmen. They both began working in hotels in the area until one day Alexis knew the time had come to take a risk and begin to fulfill their dreams of becoming hoteliers themselves.
Road Bumps Along the Way
The road to open Hotel La Semilla Mexico was not the smoothest. Angie’s father — well versed in finance and accounting — offered to assist the two in the development of the business plan, but tragically passed away during the beginning stages of the project. The path of departing from the stability of working in big brand hotels was scary for Angie and Alexis, who had two children at the time. But the troubled waters didn’t deter them from moving forward. When they were searching for a space to build the hotel, Alexis pointed to an apartment building and said to the realtor, ‘I would like a building like that.’ As luck would have it, that very building had gone on the market that same morning. And so the project began.
Angie, with a keen eye for design, resolved that all the furnishings in the hotel should be restored and repurposed antiques. They spent months scouring markets across Mexico City to assemble the authentic look and feel of the property; the inspiration being the old fashion haciendas of Mexico that provide a real feeling of home. This homeliness aura is among the finest qualities of Hotel La Semilla Mexico. Staying there is like being home, but better. The fragrance of fresh white lilies that welcome you as you ascend the staircase to find your room, the small packet of chocolates that welcomes you on your bed, telling you that chocolate was once only consumed by kings during Mayan times and the fresh breakfast of eggs, croissants, and homemade passion fruit jam — all of these signal that you are somewhere comfortable and very special.
As Alexis and I speak of their adventures in creating Hotel La Semilla Mexico, it is clear that he has achieved the success he has always dreamed of with the property. For him, he defines success as, ‘doing something well and with passion,’ but having enough freedom to spend with your family. In this, while he has plans to expand to Tulum with a second property next year, he and Angie wish to go no further.
‘The idea is to create a lifestyle, so this is why we choose to go into business for ourselves.’
The lifestyle both Alexis and Angie have is one that would make anyone envious, and their story of success serves as a reminder that anything is possible with hard work, passion, and the right types of priorities.
Isn’t it beautiful how we get a chance to reinvent ourselves every 365 days? At Hotel La Semilla, we are always excited to shed our skin from last year and emerge as a better version of ourselves in anticipation for everything that lies ahead. For this reason, we find it helpful to set an intention or purpose for the upcoming year. In our opinion, part of the process is a proclamation of what you intend to do. Our goal for 2016 is to expand the vision we have for our hotel and the community we’ve developed. For this reason, we have started this blog as an outlet to share our dreams, ideas, and action with you all.
For those of you that do not know, the Spanish word Semilla, means seed. This word is one we hold near and dear to our hearts. To us, a seed is something that you nurture and love—something that blossoms right before your eyes into something more beautiful and extraordinary than you could have ever imagined. They represent the things you are most passionate about. Hotel La Semilla is the seed that we’ve nurtured for many years. Long before this small hotel was even an idea, we were preparing and driving ourselves onto a path that has ultimately led us here. We are living our dream and seeing our precious seed thriving—and for that, we are filled with gratitude everyday.
“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”
– Thomas Merton
But as human beings, we have a few seeds to cultivate and the process of finding those seeds is an internal journey we must all face. A long time ago, when creating the personality of Hotel La Semilla, we went on this journey to discover our most core values and find a way to live lives that nurture these values. In this, we try to focus on community/family, nature, and self – these are our seeds and have become the pillars we live by. We wake up every day with the intention of giving thanks to our community, to nature, and to ourselves—what a gift it is to be alive. In the upcoming year, our aim is to share our seeds and inspire others into action. We hope you will continue on this journey with us.
We know that living a purposeful life is not always easy. Our daily lives do a wonderful job of setting us off course—and distractions are everywhere. However, we invite you to the first step in being more aware and present. We invite you to decide what your seeds are and write them down. What are the two or three things you find the most joy and peace doing or thinking about? During the year, we will be sharing the different ways that we nurture our seeds. We hope that you can cultivate your seeds along with us and share them with our community.
Never stop dreaming…
With Love and Gratitude,
Alexis and Angie
This is our guide to enjoy and experience Playa del Carmen to it’s full potential. Each place shown here was specifically chosen for you to have a unique experience as a local. A few years ago, Playa del Carmen was a very small town, which became a unique destination rich in history and culture.
Brief History of Playa del Carmen
In it’s earliest days, Playa del Carmen was inhabited by the Mayan culture. It later spent time developing as a fishing area before growing to become the tourist destination we know today. Before the early 1900’s, Playa del Carmen started becoming more popular in the international community. In the midst of commercialization, Playa del Carmen’s local government has tried to keep the city’s reputation as a small, charming fishing area—making it perfect for travelers who want a comfortable and fun-filled vacation.
Our property, located in Calle 38, was once a remote area of Playa del Carmen; however, it is now in the middle of the trendiest part of town, next to the famous restaurant La Cueva de Chango, surrounded by cenotes, a Mayan ruin and jungle. Our neighborhood became a sanctuary for intellectuals, artists and other bohemian misfits and non-conformists from around the world.
Today it is considered, perhaps, the most charming neighborhood in Playa del Carmen, a vibrant blend of creative residents, lively bars, restaurants and unique small shops.
Los Aguachilies– A wide selection of Mexican sea food and Mexican-Caribbean taste. Calle 34 Nte, DOWNTOWN, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R
Almirante Pech– A Mexican restaurant with great atmosphere. A wonderful spot to have a fancy dinner with a loved one. 5ª Av Esq C/30 esquina Calle 30, Calle Quinta Avenida, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Il Baretto – A restaurant that serves Italian and Mediterranean food right at your table. Calle Quinta Avenida, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Cenacolo– A cozy Italian restaurant that serves Italian food and fresh, handmade pasta. Calle Quinta Avenida, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Kampai – This Japanese restaurant has some of the best sushi in town with a unique gourmet cuisine. Quinta Avenida LOC-3 Mz 71 Lt1, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Wok Playa – This is the perfect little spot if you are craving authentic noodles or curry freshly prepared.
Oh La La– A really wonderful little restaurant with very good food and personal service (reservation needed) Calle 14 Norte Bis #147, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
La Cocina (Hyatt)– Experience a Mexican and Caribbean style restaurant in a laid back environment.
El Fogon– Get a taste of Authentic Mexican tacos where every local eats from time to time. Av Constituyentes, DOWNTOWN, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
El Pirata– Restaurant/ Fish Market with fresh sea food prepared at the very moment. 40 Avenida Nte., Zazil-ha, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Art and Culture
Nuestra Señora Del Carmen Church– It is simple, plain but architecturally very beautiful, take your time to see a monumental building here in Playa. 15 Avenida esq. Calle 12 Norte s/n, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Art Gallery 5th Ave- Walk down on 5th Avenue to admire different artists who show their work and so many different styles of art (Thursday evenings). 20th Street between 5th Av. & 10th Av., Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Live Music Bars and Restaurants
Fusion– A unique restaurant with live music and different shows during the night. 6th street and the beach, Playa del Carmen 77710,Mexico
Fah Bar– Late night dinner with a round of drinks listening to classics and fun music. 5a avenida between calle 8 y 10 norte Col. Centro 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo Mexico
Playacar Beach- A beautiful beach where you can relax on your own to enjoy the sun and the ocean.
Kool and Mamitas Beach Club- If you’re looking for a beach to mingle and meet people from all over, these are the hot spot in anyone’s book.
Mahekal Resort- Enjoy a day in this beautiful beach resort just down the street from our home.
Canibal Royal- Enjoy yourself next to the ocean listening to music having lunch and a few drinks.
Zenzi- The atmosphere of good vibes and peace; a great lively place to make friends and enjoy the day.
Gluay Maai Thai– A great, laidback restaurant that serves Thai food. Calle 38 Nte., Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
La Piola– An Italian restaurant right in front of our hotel. They are well-known for their wide selection of pizzas. Via Plaza 38, Avenida 38 Norte, Lote 2, Local-1, Playa del Carmen Centro, 77710 Q.R.
Cocotte Citta– A very small but good French restaurant (cash only). Calle 38 Nte., Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Regina– A Mexican fonda that serves great meals and seafood. Calle 38 Nte., Zazil-ha, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R
La Cueva Del Chango– One of the 1st restaurants in Playa del Carmen, very popular and unique. Av 38 Norte Mz. 4 Lote 3, Zazil-ha, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Alamo Sakahua- A great tree located just down the road. It is more than 18 meters high.
Milos– This restaurant provides authentic Greek cuisine prepared by their Greek Chef. Calle 38 Norte Mz 8 Lt 2, Centro, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
El Campeon- This is our typical local market similar to the ones that you would find on every corner around Mexico.
DAC– All natural store, well-known for their wide organic selection. 30 Avenida Nte. LB, Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Troupe– One of the most well-known shops in Playa, with all 100% 1st quality and handmade items. L 2 B, Calle Quinta Avenida 101, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Jula Luma- Get an outfit and dress like a local, this boutique has a great section of Playa-style goods. MZA 152 LTE 2, Calle Quinta Avenida, Solidaridad, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Casa Ines – Find many treasures from all over Mexico from blown glass, paintings, to pottery.
Biuriful Boutique – Tropical and authentic wear, perfect to go along with a calm and relaxing vibe.
Night Clubs and Bars
Santanera– 3 floors with different types of music from a blue techno room to a lounge area with a view. Calle 10 Norte , Mz 29, Lote 1, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Diablito– A great bar right in the middle of all the clubs—a great place to start your night and meet people. Calle 12 S/N, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
(Looking for late night fun? Visit 12th street where most of the clubs and bars are located.)
Travel has played a big roll in our lives for many years. We believe passionately that travel and immersing oneself in other cultures broadens the mind and the vision… This is why we are sharing this section to promote local culture, artists, hidden places, and many other tips to encourage our guest, friends, family and fans to travel and explore the universe.
The foundations of our brand have always been rooted in the values we have kept throughout our lives. When we created our business, we knew that the philosophy of our company had to reflect the way in which we choose to live our lives (and yes, it is a choice). Early on in the process of creating Hotel La Semilla, we began playing around with the symbols in nature that remind us of our values. Of course we love the symbolic power of The Seed (or La Semilla in Spanish) but another image that kept reappearing to us was the almighty Root. The Root became one of the center pillars of our brand because it reminds us of an important lesson in business and in life; “Change your leaves but keep your Roots in tact.” To us, this means that while trends and preferences may change the core of what you believe should always remain constant.
People are not one thing. There is a beautiful duality to the human condition. We are parents and we are lovers, we are friends and we are competitors. It is through this journey of being and learning that the ways in which we play out these roles morph with age and experience. We should never stop learning but while our façades may change through the years and interests or even political views, there are those core ideas that remain the same—and these are your Roots.
In this never-ending cycle of life, we find ourselves always looking to improve. We want to be better listeners, have less stress in our lives, or show the people we love our appreciation. However, too often we get swept up in the sea of life and bogged down by the small tasks and petty “to do’s” that we forget about our Roots in exchange for moving with the tide– regardless of where it brings us. Living this way is unproductive and damaging for our souls and is the reason that stepping outside of yourself frequently helps to keep your ship on course.
Getting back in touch with ourselves and the things we hold most dear is so important for staying grounded—and what better time to reflect upon these ideas then during your vacation. On vacation, you can revert back to your ideal self. You can voice your opinion and unleash your passions. We can be whomever you want to be when you’re out of your normal routine.
So how can we hold on to this ‘ideal self’? We think a good place to start is meditation or quiet reflection. Have you ever just flopped on the beach or spent hours in bed during a holiday? We think these vacation behaviors are wonderful opportunities for reconnecting with your Roots and evaluating your life. At Hotel La Semilla, our best ideas and most meaningful personal breakthroughs have been stumbled upon after hours of dreaming away on our terrace or swinging in the hammock. We believe that us humans don’t give ourselves enough time to just be. During vacation we may remember to do this—but certainly not in our real lives. We challenge you to create a time of inner reflection, where you can begin to tune out the external noise and being to focus on the deepest parts of your consciousness. While some people like meditation, we have found that nature walks and free journal writing can also be incredible effective.
Once you’ve begun to tune into the deepest parts of yourself, the trick is to pay attention to the messages your body is giving you. For many of us, this is the most difficult part and where we like to become a little more proactive. We ask ourselves; in what way can I change my life for the better? What actionable steps can I take in order to make my life feel more fulfilled and rich? Here is how we hone in on our desires and work to change our lives—we hope you find this helpful:
- List your main desire—what do you want to change in your life? Write it down and say it out loud to everyone who will listen. This will help make you accountable for reaching your dream.
- Break it down into actionable steps. For example, if you want to be healthier, why not start with some simple meal planning, fitting a 20-minute walk into you daily routine or just cutting one small thing from your diet? We found that starting anywhere is a good start.
- Set some achievable goals with dates: Things seem scarier when they are big but if you decide on a very small step to work on and set dates or milestones you’ll see how easy it can be to change your habits.
- Schedule “meditation moments”: Always be listening to yourself. This is the most important thing. Your life starts with your own happiness and health. Make yourself a priority. This isn’t selfish—it is essential. You can give more when you feel taken care of yourself. Even just 5 minutes each day of cleansing breaths or quiet reflection can make all the difference.
The last bit of advice we would like to expel on this topic is this: don’t take yourself too seriously. If we were focused on making everything in our lives and businesses perfect, we would be paralyzed by stress. The most we can do is to be true to ourselves and hold on tightly to our Roots. As long as you set yourself on a path that leads towards positivity and gratitude you will get to a more enriched state of mind.
A London-dwelling ex-fashion editor, one man on a mission to inspire clothes with personality, and a stunning German fashion blogger all graced the sandy-steps of Hotel La Semilla these months. We are always honored to welcome extremely fashionable and enormously creative bloggers from around the world to stay with us. Every time we collaborate with bloggers it is incredible to see how their perspective and personality infuse into the photos and stories they share. Below is a collection of some of our favorite images we hope will inspire your next Mexican trip to Playa Del Carmen.
- Fashion Me Now // Lucy Williams ( On Instagram @elsewhere)
2. Your Mirror Style // Lorenzo Liverani
3. Ohh Couture//Leonie Hanne
It is early morning; you have woken up sooner than expected. You quickly brew a cup of coffee and retire to a quiet place. What do you hear? Do you notice how different the world seems before the day begins?
If you’ve spent time at Hotel La Semilla, you’d know that we have a humble garden terrace filled with palm trees, vegetation and happy little black birds that take baths in our fountain. In the morning, before guests have woken and rumbled down the stairs for breakfast, our terrace is the most peaceful place on earth. It is a place where nature envelops you—a place where you can spend thirty minutes watching the clouds and feel as if only a second had passed. In this terrace, I feel calmer; I am at peace. My body is relaxed and my breath is steady and deep. Any stress or anxiety looming around my mind is quelled. This is how nature makes me feel in this place.
Our relationship with nature is a powerful and important force, yet it is often something we dismiss. We take for granted the rising sun and the chirping birds, the flowing tide and the whispering wind. The earth gives us gifts everyday and these gifts affect us greatly, not only emotionally but physically as well—even if we don’t notice.
The healing power of nature is very dynamic. It can affect us in many ways. There have been studies that show how fresh air and an ocean breeze can lower blood pressure or how patients recovering from surgery recuperate twice as fast when given a room with a view. All this we know. We understand that our bodies feel better outside. We know that human beings are meant to be in the wild. That we evolved in nature for millions of years before developing agriculture only 10,000 years ago. So why do we let days pass without connecting with nature? Connecting with the earth is connecting with our inner selves, after all.
There are so many distractions and excuses not to take time to appreciate nature, but if you are interested in making in an effort to reconnect, Dr Tim Brieske, a core member of the Chopra Center medical staff, has some beautiful suggestions he shares in an article called, “Healing Through Nature.”
Suggestion 1: Establish a meditation practice. Quieting the mind, intellect, and ego in a state of restful awareness allows you to enter the realm of soul, beyond thought and form. As your practice matures, your level of consciousness will expand and you’ll have an experiential knowledge that you’re an inseparable part of the universe. You will start to become more aware of the opportunities and lessons the universe is presenting. In addition, you become more open to healing – in whatever forms that may take.
Suggestion 2: Each day, consciously awaken. Consciously practice opening your eyes, and other senses, as my colleague Libby says when ending meditation at the Chopra Center, “as if for the first time.” Pretend you are from another part of the universe and everything you are sensing is new. As you practice being a silent witness, do you observe things, both internally and externally, that you haven’t noticed before?
Suggestion 3: Spend some time in a natural environment, preferably outdoors. If you’re unable to go outside, find a position of comfort, close your eyes, and consciously visualize walking in a natural setting.
How much detail can you bring to the experience? Can you visualize yourself healing or healed? How slowly can you take in your surroundings to most fully appreciate everything in your environment? You may want to try a walking meditation, moving as mindfully as possible, with no thought of a destination or goal . . . just walking and paying attention to the world within and the world without.
Suggestion 4: Whether you’re outside or visualizing, become aware of each sense while bringing attention to each of the five elements. For example, you might use your sense of sight to visualize the night sky, searching for stars, planets, and satellites. You could then find yourself watching how the wind moves clouds, branches, and leaves. Watching water move downstream, gently caressing the cobbles lining its bed, may be soothing.
One of my personal favorites is observing sunlight through a prism as the light is resolved into its component wavelengths and the intense beauty of the visible spectrum is revealed. Looking at the earth and its formations through new eyes that appreciate its dynamic nature may be both expansive and grounding.
Spend time contemplating each sense in a similar fashion, treating your ears, nose, mouth, and skin to a wide variety of the sensory delights that nature so abundantly provides.
Suggestion 5: Write about the emotions, feelings, and ideas that come to mind as a result of this exercise. At the Chopra Center we have found journaling to be very useful in the art and process of healing. It gives each of us the opportunity to clarify our thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Suggestion 6: Witness the healing effects of this practice on yourself, community, and planet. Ayurveda teaches us that we are made up of three bodies. The physical body is composed of the environment, our personal body, and life energy. The subtle body is composed of mind, intellect, and ego. The causal body is composed of the personal, collective, and universal soul. Because all aspects of our being are actively interacting with all other aspects of the universe, practices promoting healing extend beyond us, to others in our environment. In this way our actions are like a ripple effect in that the wave of healing energy propagates and others may benefit.
Suggestion 7: Celebrate! Express gratitude for this extraordinary, remarkable privilege of existence.
In the end, it’s all about peace. In order to discover the healing benefits of nature, we must first pay attention. These days we move too fast and function at a level that does not allow us to appreciate the little things. Today would like to challenge you to take a moment to remind your body of it’s humanity and go stop and smell the roses.
Beyond the dense mangrove, down a long dirt road you can find it: Soliman Bay. This is our secret spot, a place where we, as a family, spend lazy Sundays admiring the universe of sea creatures, marine vegetation and small jungle critters. It is a place where we can completely disconnect from our daily routine and reconnect with nature. This is where we will build our next property, Villa La Semilla, and we are so excited to share this magical spot with you all.
Soliman Bay sits just north of Tulum village. The area surrounding Soliman Bay is a secluded, beachfront community made up of private villas and vacation homes with virtually no commercial development. In this tucked away strip of beach, you will find Villa La Semilla hidden between the bay and the mangrove jungle. It is a quiet place where you are quickly transported. Days are spent connecting with nature and enjoying simple pleasures like curling up with a good book in the hammock.
(photo credit @alexandrahstockton via Instagram)
As Riviera Maya is developing rapidly, Soliman Bay remains a quiet retreat where you can admire the nearly virgin landscape in an environment that has been consciously protected from the ware and tear of development.
Although you feel a million miles away at Villa La Semilla, the truth is Soliman Bay is just a short distance (15 minutes by car) from the village of Tulum and 1.5 hours from Cancun Airport. If you are interested in exploring the area, there is much to discover. Tulum is known for it’s wonderful restaurants and nightlife but more excitement awaits discovering the breathtaking Mayan Ruins, pristine beaches, lush jungles and chic boutiques of the hotel zone.
During your stay at Hotel La Semilla in Playa del Carmen, it is inevitable that one will hear whispers about the hidden, crystal clear, natural cenotes of the region. Popular with both tourists and local set alike, cenotes are mineral-rich, natural bodies of water that can be found deep in the Mayan jungles. Cenotes were revered by the Mayan People as mysterious and mythical sites where human beings could directly communicate with the gods. For this reason, some Cenotes were even used as a place for sacrificial offerings. The word Cenote, or ts’onot as used by the Yucatec Maya people of the region, literally means a location with accessible groundwater. These locations can be found both on a superficial level at the earth’s surface, or deep within caves.
(Photo Credit Your Mirror Style // Lorenzo Liverani)
Cenotes are formed as a result of collapsed porous limestone bedrock. The force of the impact reveals a subterranean aquatic system of fresh water that is filtered by the earth. The result is clear, fresh underground pools that house an ecosystem of tropical fish and vitamin- and-mineral rich algae. For this reason, cenotes are most popular for snorkeling, as you are able to experience the type of underground world only a professional diver would normally have the privilege of experiencing.
For visitors to these cenotes (there are dozens in the region) will appreciate the tucked away, private nature of experience. Many of these cenotes are, in fact, quite hidden and in some cases completely free of other guests during quite times of the year. The most common people to spot are locals from Cancun; this is because most of the prime ocean real estate has been bought up by big chain resorts and the cenotes remain a wonderful alternative for to experience the pristine waters of the region.
It’s obvious to see why the Mayans held the Cenotes in such high regard. Enjoying a day in the Mayan jungle surrounded impressive tropical foliage, birds and indigenous monkey-like creatures called Coatis’, in near isolation, it’s easy to be transported back in time.
(Photo Credit Ohh Couture//Leonie Hanne)
Best Family Friendly, Cenote Azul
Cenotes can be dangerous with small children—most are endlessly deep with little space to wade. For families that want to experience a cenote without the stress of danger—the best place to go is Cenote Azul. The swimming site itself is pretty basic compared to others in the region. You will not find anything fancy but what you will find is a near perfect rock system below the water’s surface that create natural wading pools of shallower waters. For the older kids, there is a spot for jumping off a small cliff, that is relatively safe. There is, of course, a bountiful amount of fish visible to the naked eye from above the surface– and the best thing to do is sit back, relax and let the little guppies nibble at your toes.
Best for Full Service, Cenote Yokdzonot
If you’re looking for a more “luxury” experience in the Mayan Jungle, look no further than Cenote Yokdzonot. Here you will find a collective of local woman running a tight opertion. For a small fee, you’ll have access to changing rooms, bathrooms, a zipline and even a restaurant with decent food. Everything is made to order and the proprietors are generous with the portions. All facilities are clean and the patrons of the cenote are usually local with a few dotted tourists mixed in. If you’re looking for a great place to relax in a convenient location while touring (a short drive from Chichen Itza) Yokdzonot is your spot!
Best for Adventurers, Cenote Dos Ojos
Cenote Dos Ojos is a place for adventurers. The name, “Dos Ojos” literally means “Two Eyes” and refers to the twin pools of water that make up this Cenote. One of the “eyes” are bright and light blue, while the other is dark and mysterious looking. Both pools certainly deserve attention as they are equally beautiful, but it is the darker body of water that sparks curiosity. Visitors of the “dark eye” enter these waters for a truly unique snorkeling experience that is virtually in pitch-blackness. Divers can rent all gear at the site and are given flashlights to explore the dark underground universe. The experience in exhilarating and, at times, frightening. If you’re not interesting in a “black out dive,” another entertaining alternative is to hike through the series of interconnecting caves that surround the Cenotes. Tours are available for those that want more extensive cave searching.
Best for Photographers, Cenote Samula
Well known by photographers around the world, Cenote Samula houses a unique natural spectacle. This Cenote is accessed within a cave you walk down into. Once you find yourself below the earth, your eye immediately is drawn to large ocular opening at the top of the ceiling. It is a breathtaking moment when you see the roots of a great tree spilling down into the cave. The roots have grown, with such power, down to reach the water to stay alive. It’s a poetic and stunning natural visual. For this reason it is a popular spot and tends to feel a little more like a tourist attraction
What to bring (check list)
☐ A small amount of cash; there is usually a small entrance fee or equipment to rent for snorkeling as well as life vests and flashlights
☐ Sturdy shoes: most cenotes are housed within some pretty rugged terrain
☐ Non-toxic sun screen: while more cenotes warn against using sun screen at all in order not to pollute the natural water, there are biodegradable and organic options that can be used.
☐ Leave valuables at home, most time there isn’t a safe place to leave them
☐ Most times, it’s easy to find a taxi or snacks close to a cenote site