If you’re looking to disconnect for a day from your daily grind, look no further! The charming, laid back, beachfront town of Puerto Morelos, will offer you the reprieve you're looking for and so much more. Located only 20 minutes South of the Cancun International Airport, this enchanting community has a little something for everyone. On my first trip, I had to stop to get a few tamales upon disembarking the collectivo (la van) that I spotted out the window to take with me to the beach as I'm admittedly tamal obsessed; especially for the mouthwatering pork and green sauce variety. I seriously have cravings for these delectable morsels of pure yumminess! I make this a kind of ritual now whenever I'm in Puerto.
Coming along the road to the beach by local taxi that connects from the carretera federal (main highway), I was immediately enthralled by the density of the manglar (mangrove swamp) on both sides. The right side revealed at a certain point, just prior to reaching the town of Puerto Morelos, a clearing in the manglar where the sun puts the mysterious swampy water in the spotlight and you begin to wonder about its depth. The creatures that lurk about come to mind and you envision yourself wandering through the swamp in galoshes with suspenders that have built in rubber boots. Of course, who knows how deep it would be and I'm pretty sure at one point you'd be forced to board some kind of a small vessel that would arrive out of nowhere or else be engulfed by the murky waters and eaten alive by crocodiles!
When you reach the charming town of Puerto Morelos, there's something different in the air; a kind of vibe that puts you in a kind of hypnotic trans. There are basically two main streets in town and you can walk from one end to the other in approximately 15 minutes. You'll discover El Zócalo, mini markets, souvenir shops, a dive shop and delicious restaurants in abundance. The stunning waterfront of glistening white sand and translucent water that appears to be something out of a photo shopped picture and then you realize it's very real; no filter necessary and is a sight to behold.
There are an abundance of activities in this enchanting place such as swimming and walking or running on the beach that goes for miles, indulging in grilled prawns that vendors sell on sticks, trying on some cute sundresses that vendors who roam the beach carry in their backpacks while lounging on your beach chair that you've rented from one of the clubs, snorkeling at your own pace or on a tour, kayaking and windsurfing to name a few. I've had some of my best snorkelling experiences here and the colorful coral formations laden with marine life will exceed your expectations. I came face to face with a barracuda once just before sun down who was hanging out quite close to shore which frightened the daylights out of me! I can still see the pointed visage and its beattie eyes that had so much intention behind them that I frantically swam as quickly as I possibly could with my heart pounding out of my chest! I've seen numerous stingrays too that tend to come out after 4 pm. Overall, the calmness of the sea makes it an ideal place for swimming and playing in the waves that seldom become too unruly. Strolling along the main square and riding a bike through this town without vehicular traffic as in Playa del Carmen or Cancun, is an added bonus and a fun thing to do. There’s a fabulous weekly Wednesday market from 8 am to 1 pm located to the west of the town square beside the church on Avenida Tulum. The market offers fresh produce, baked goods, homemade meals and local artisans and the sellers change on a weekly basis. The last time I purchased handmade soap, lip balm and artisan jewelry that have lasted well over a year. Well, maybe not the soap but the jewelry and lip balm sure have!
In addition, there are some marvellous seafood restaurants that align the water front and one of my absolute favourites is called Il Mercadito. It's a curious wooden beach house on stilts that can be accessed via street level or the sand and often hosts random trios and duos of local harpists, singers and guitarists to serenade you as you stare out at the Caribbean Sea. I've brought clients and family members alike here numerous times and have never had any complaints whatsoever. Their ultra potent margaritas are the some of the best I’ve had and served in stainless steel frosty mugs that keep their contents super cold. The jamaica (hibiscus) and tamarindo (tamarind) flavours are my absolute favourite and the seafood platter for sharing that has delectable ahi tuna, octopus, scallops and giant shrimp is out of this world! From a fisherman's daughter's perspective, I give this place two thumbs up!
Another one of my notable favourites is called Punta Corcho which is located in the village, a little further away from the waterfront and offers a beautiful risotto de mariscos (seafood risotto) and a mouthwatering seafood pozole, a kind of soup whose base is made from the grains of corn and usually served with pork or chicken. This version however was something a little out of the ordinary and really good! The view of the water and the village from above is quite spectacular and the ambiance kinda romantic. My date and I both loved the place and will definitely be going back.
The Cafe de Amancia is a perfect chill spot at the end of the day with an americano and a good book. The only annoyance are the gigantic and aggressive mosquitos that come out after 4 pm. I was eaten alive at this place one early evening, even after using a significant amount of repellent and being close to a giant citronella candle that my waiter graciously lit for protection. Word of advice: Bring long pants and long sleeved shirts if you’re going to stay in the late afternoon in to the evening to avoid getting bitten sixty five times and not even realizing it until your home. The margaritas from Il Mercadito must have clearly numbed my senses!
Next week I'll take a real estate tour at Aldea Umm to explore the possibility of buying land in Mexico, something I need to study more in depth. Puerto Morelos, without a doubt would be one of my first personal choices for property investment in Mexico for its laid back, yet vibrant vibe and picturesque beauty. It’s only about a 25 minute ride from the center of Playa del Carmen where you can grab a colectivo (la van) from 2nd street at 20th avenue. This is the cheapest and most reliable form of public transportation. However, if you’re looking for a more comfortable ride, a taxi is the best option that will cost you about 650 pesos ($41.00 CDN), one way. Either way, it’s well worth the trip and I honestly can’t wait to get back there!
By Leah T. Sakata