Stay in an ice hotel, attend a winter festival and wander through an ice castle.
The amenities at the Occidental Cozumel resort include an on-site dive shop offering diving and snorkelling tours. Put on a t-shirt or long-sleeved rash guard (sunscreen harms the reef) and head out for an excursion that stops at several prime locations along the Palancar Reef. Watch for parrotfish, stingrays and sea turtles as you glide across the surface of the Caribbean.
Natural wonders await you on the mainland, too. Among the regional highlights are the numerous cenotes (deep, freshwater-filled sinkholes). One popular and accessible example is Gran Cenote, just outside the town of Tulum. Arrive early to beat the crowds and swim or snorkel the brilliantly blue and chilly waters. Divers will want to book a tour to go deep into the cenote’s underground caves, considered sacred by the Mayan people of the region.
To go off the beaten path, arrange a tour to the 6,520-square-kilometre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, south of Tulum Beach. Mexico Kan Tours runs daylong adventures that include snorkelling, swimming and viewing of wildlife such as sea turtles, sea stars, frigate birds, cormorants and pelicans.
[A version of the article appears in the October 2015 edition of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated.]
Experience a Sacred Mayan Journey in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera
Each spring, local residents, many of Maya descent, recreate a sacred journey from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel in Mexico's Mayan Riviera. The purpose of the ancient pilgrimage was to bring offerings to Ixchel, the goddess of fertility and medicine.