You Say Rio, I Say Ria... Road Trip Rio Lagartos, Yucatan

The Yuum Ha Boutique Hotel Rio Lagartos
A few weeks back Max and I were invited to the Yuum Ha Boutique Hotel in the sleepy fishing village of Rio Lagartos, Yucatan. This was my second visit to the town, the first was a bit of a pouring rain disaster so I was excited to a) see the flamingos without having to squint through a deluge and b) introduce Max to the magic of the biosphere.

Flamingos. Pretty much self-explanatory

I suppose the first thing we need to get out of the way is the "Rio versus Ria" debate. As soon as I started posting on social media during the trip, I started to receive messages correcting me on the name. As I am a pro and have been doing this for a while now (ahem), I was very deliberate in the words I chose. "Rio Lagartos" is the name of the municipality, the small town on the gulf coast of Yucatan state. "Ria Lagartos" is the name of the biosphere and natural areas. A "ria" is defined as "a long narrow inlet formed by the partial submergence of a river valley", basically another word for "estuary". Therefore, BOTH terms are correct, though most travelers will use "rio" for simplicity. Ok, language lesson done for the day, moving forward.

Cormorant drying his wings

Driving in the Yucatan is really quite easy, the highways are well maintained and the signs are clearly marked. Getting to Rio Lagartos from Cancun we took the "cuota", the toll highway that brought us to Valladolid, then turned off to the straight path through the small pueblitos to the coast. It was tempting to stop in Temozon, famous for smoked meat and longaniza, but I resisted and pushed forward to our destination.

We're so pretty

We were set to meet up with Kristin of What Am I Still Doing in Cancun? and another friend from Isla Mujeres plus their kidlets. Moms and kids weekend, bring it on! As much as I would love a weekend away from being mommy, the truth is that traveling with kids (and Max in particular) is a dynamic way to explore and discover, seeing things through a child's eyes makes everything a little more magical.

Do not try this at home

We got ourselves checked in to Yuum Ha and were really delighted with the accommodations. Warm colours in a cozy room with the most spectacular views, speedy wifi and the oh so necessary in summer air conditioning. Max and I had beat the rest of the convoy so headed off to dinner on our own then back to the hotel to rest up for our Saturday of adventure.

Flamingos run on water to build up speed to fly, Who knew? 

We were up bright and early Saturday and it was a phenomenal weather day. The clear skies over the crystal waters and flocks of birds flying by, the view knocked my socks off as I drank my coffee, I was happy to know I wouldn't spend this particular flamingo adventure under a tarp. We gathered the gang together, had a tasty breakfast and met our capable captain of Rio Lagartos Adventures for the day's explorations.

The view from the Yuum Ha Hotel

Our little "panga" boat brought us to our first stop within a few minutes, a large group of flamingos feeding not far from shore. This is the nesting season, a time when thousands upon thousands of flamingos gather along the Yucatan Shore to "find romance" (they are monogamous creatures) and lay the one egg they will produce in the year. The babies are born white or grey, the pink colour intensifying as they age and eat more of the foods that give them their distinctive hues.

This is where we get the noms 

We ooohed and aaaahed over this first group of flamingos then the boat sped off towards the canals of the biosphere. If I were a professional birder, I would happily list off the exotic species we encountered. As I am but an amateur, I will say "We saw big birds, little birds, all different colour birds, cranes, eagles, cormorants, ducks oh so many birds!" I think the highlight for the kids was meeting a juvenile crocodile who seemed to be friends with our guide, coming up to our boat for a little pat on the head. We enjoyed seeing more large groups of flamingos, the famous pink waters near the "salineras" and of course, the requisite "Mayan bath", slathering ourselves with mineral-rich clay for a natural spa experience. We took a few minutes to enjoy the beach before making our way back to shore. 

Sunset over Rio Lagartos

The rest of the weekend was spent chilling in the solitude and peace of this charming little town. A spin in the golf cart, dinner at Ria Maya and a few sunset beers on the dock while the kids fished. I'm sure the people of the town were rather confused by our little group, two blondes, a Brit and three little kids who look very caucasian but speak Mexican (yes, I mean Mexican, the slang that kids use in Mexico is a very distinctive form of Spanish!) Tourism is somewhat new to the community and tourists are still a bit of a novelty, it is off the beaten path for most travelers but so worth the effort if you can make the time to visit. For a unique experience with nature and a peek into the culture of modern Yucatan, Rio Lagartos is definitely the place.

Big thanks, muchas gracias to Yuum Ha Boutique Hotel and Rio Lagartos Adventures for a fantastic family adventure! See all the photos from the trip here "Rio Lagartos, Yucatan photos".

For incredible Mayan ruins tours in Yucatan!


Anonymous said…

I am doing a project about Mexico, and the lifestyle there. I know you are probably really busy with your kiddo, but if you could take the time to answer a few of my questions that would be really cool!

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Southerner said…
Hi expat mom!

Apologies for contacting you through a comment, but I could find no other way to reach you.

I'm writing on behalf of the editorial team at Women Travel Latin America about our 2017 WTLA Writing Competition.

We are now accepting submissions for the Alone Together anthology, which will be a book of travel writing by women and for women.

We are passionate about empowering women to travel to Latin America. We want to see more women shake off any fears they may have, pack their bags, and explore new areas or revisit the ones that changed their lives in the past.

We are looking for engaging, thought-provoking entries that explore the theme of women traveling in Latin America, whether alone or together.

Share your stories with us; your unexpected triumphs, your moments of laughter or tears, the risks you took, the people you met, and the invisible barriers you broke along the way. Please join us in our goal of showing others that we can, indeed, travel alone - together.

- Victoria

Editor at Women Travel Latin America

Find out how to enter the 2017 Women Travel Latin America writing competition on our website. It’s free to enter and the top prize winner will receive US$100. The 30 top entries will be included in the Alone Together anthology, published by the Bogotá International Press.

Visit our submission tips and guidelines pages for more information:

We look forward to hearing from you!
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