The big wedding day finally came and went! On 02.24.2018, I married the love of my life, Alriah Pereira…now Hunt. All of the wedding planning came to fruition and we had a great time in Tulum, Mexico with our family and friends, celebrating our big day. Friday, most of us went to Casa Cenote to check out the crystal clear water and freshwater fish swimming amongst the mangrove roots. The wedding the next day went mostly as planned, and everybody had a great time… It started raining after the ceremony and some of us got wet while taking photos, but we were blessed by a beautiful rainbow, which we feel that that was a sign from God that Uma (Alriah’s Mama) was there with us in spirit. We enjoyed a good variety of tacos and drinks at dinner, while being enchanted by our reception playlist, consisting of a selection of ska, reggae, tropical house, and easy listening tunes. This is a great playlist that we are saving for future hang-outs and chill sessions. After dinner, we all danced the night away on the small wooden dance floor. I would write more about the wedding events but this blog post is about the honeymoon adventure that followed!
The next morning, it was time to begin our adventure, which we would be traveling further south into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere at a small resort called Mukan. Alriah and I had a shuttle set up at 1:30 PM departing from ZAMAS, which was great because we wanted to just relax after a very busy day…getting married! We had breakfast with Alriah’s Dad (Mannu), sister (Rene), and brother (Amon). My cousin Jake also joined. We said goodbye to family and friends as their shuttles departed for the Cancun airport. Mannu and Rene were staying an additional day so we all decided to go check out a cool little shop/Hotel called Azulik that my brother (Parker) and sister-in-law (Emily) told us about. This place was fancy and was intricately designed with plants, water pools, expensive clothes, wood wick patterns, swings, and mirrors. It reminded me of Rivendale from Lord of the Rings. We took some unique photos and definitely just browsed (everything there was super expensive!).
We were definitely just browsing! After that, we went and got some smoothies and kombucha tea, and ran into Parker and Emily again, since the smoothie shop was a part of their hotel. Shortly after, we all said our goodbyes, before Alriah and I met our shuttle at ZAMAS to take us to our honeymoon destination!
The shuttle was very comfortable and after about an hour, we arrived at a dock where a boat was waiting for us. This was the first time we saw the lagoon and it was beautiful to our eyes. Here’s Alriah about to step onboard the boat…
The water color is one that I have never seen before. Super clear with a greenish-tannish hue to it, very unique to this region. Check it out below…This makes for a neat iPhone home screen background.
We had 2 guys that guided the boat, one of them manned the motor while the other stood up front to spot out any obstacles just in case so we wouldn’t run into them if they were in our path. We noticed that he had very large feet…gorilla-sized. I guess this helps with the balance of standing at the front while the boat bounces around in the waves. Impressive! When we got to a narrow passageway between mangrove trees, we slowed down and then spotted a baby crocodile to our left. It was small and non-threatening, but it was the first of several forms of wildlife we would see during our honeymoon. Check out this video of boat-ride entrance into the Sian Ka’an…
Entering the Sian Ka’an – Crocodile Spotting
After about 1.5 hours, we approached the lagoon dock for Mukan resort and and there waiting for us was the hotel host, Beatriz, and one of the waiters, Manuel. And I’ll add here that everybody to this point was very friendly and that would continue for the rest of the stay.We were able to pick out a drink from the ice bucket and then Beatriz gave us the tour. The resort was like a paradise! There was sand almost everywhere with plants sporadically growing in some places and thoughtfully preserved and protected in other places. The resort had the feel of a tropical Zen garden. Beatriz stated that all of the plants were natural and were not planted, but with the way the resort was planned, it appeared that some of them were. I really liked how the resort was organized, so that it felt like you were in a manicured environment but still enjoying the natural essence of the beach. There were many coconut palm trees and smaller shrub-form palms.
We settled into our room and then made it back to the restaurant to have some delicious quesadillas, super fresh guacamole, and cocktails, where we met Pablo. Pablo asked us what we wanted for dinner and we enthusiastically said “lobster”. I had never had it before, besides in a quesadilla at a Dallas restaurant. We were then introduced to Charlie who is the groundskeeper, and snorkeling/fishing guru for the resort. He said that he was going out snorkeling and if he caught a lobster, he would bring it back and the kitchen would cook it for us. After enjoying relaxing at the restaurant and checking out the beach, we went back to the room to get dressed for dinner. We got to dinner which was candle-lit and under the stars, and guess what! the new waiter Luis said that lobster was on the menu! Way to go, Charlie! The lobster was delicious, and one of the best meals I had ever had. Here’s a picture of the meal…
We went up to the rooftop after dinner and had a chance to view the stars. I saw a shooting star but Alriah wasn’t looking at that portion of the sky at the time. I promised her that it was awesome. It was a great conclusion to the first arrival day to Mukan and we still had 3 entire days ahead of us…
The next day we did a whole lotta relaxing! We chose to have breaki (Alriah loves to call breakfast “breaki”) by the beach in a table by the sand. Something something new I that have never tried was on the menu…a dish called chilliquilles. They are like nachos for breakfast with shredded chicken. What was even better was the artisan bread with jam, which was great fuel to start the day. Breakfast was really fun this morning. Luis came by and showed me how to get coconuts out of the palm trees, using 2 methods. The first method is with a blade at the end of a long pole. The second method, which is more fun, is to climb the tree and twist it off. I like climbing! Next time, I will climb further down before jumping off. That sand is soft but it is still a hard landing, even at 6+ feet and cushioning the blow by bending my legs. After breaki, we decided to walk along the beach and check out a fishing spot at the edge point of a cove, which was supposed to be calmer. The waves were crashing in on the main beach. As we walked along the beach, there was a lot of trash along the beach. It is a sad reality that in such a remote and beautiful place like Mukan, there is still a lot of trash that washes ashore and collects, when it is not being consistently maintained. Mukan does a great job of keeping the beach clean within the grounds of the resort, and we could see that it is a lot of work. The guys that worked for Mukan were even burying the mounds of seaweed that washed onto the beach. The seaweed wasn’t a bother to us since it is just a part of nature, but we appreciated their hard work. Now, when we reached the point in the beach, there was a shallow sandbar that I tried my hand at fishing. I didn’t catch anything but it was nice being out in the water. Here’s Alriah and I enjoying the beach…seaweed and all!
After a little while, we went back to spend some time indoors and then went to have lunch at the lagoon dock. I think we had quesadillas, guacamole, and ceviche (the Mukan staple). It was so relaxing out there by the water and our server Luis made some awesome mixed drinks. His margarita creation with Pescadores ale was so refreshing, and the best one I have ever had. From the dock, there were a lot of fish hanging out by the posts. There were puffer fish, needle fish, and another cool-looking pearly white fish that I do not know the name of. I decided to wade in the water and cast out with my saltwater fishing rod and reel. No luck! So I decided to catch the fish via underwater GoPro video. It was easy to walk up close to them in the crystal clear water and get a good look.
The Mukan Lagoon Dock
After we had relaxed for a while, Alriah and I paddled out in the tandem kayak. We did this even though Pablo said to watch out for the crocodiles! We didn’t see a crocodile but saw a big barracuda or bonefish. I wasn’t quite sure but it was big, however, it did not bite my swimbait lure. I think that the moss green braided line was too visible in the clear water. Next time, I will bring some clear fishing line. Since I didn’t have any luck fishing, I asked Alriah if she would want to go fly fishing with a guide the next day. She encouraged me that that was a great idea so we booked a half day guided trip for the next day. She is such an amazing wife that encourages me to “go for it” when it is an activity I love, even though there is a cost associated with it. We just relaxed for the rest of the day in preparation for the next day’s fishing trip. I was so excited! We got dressed up for a romantic dinner at the roof top. I wore my olive green Cambodian dress shirt and Alriah wore a stunning dress. Another server named Irving presented the menu to us and we enjoyed relaxing in the comfortable weather and ocean breeze.
The next morning, we had breaki at the dock fairly early and waited on the boat to arrive. While eating the delicious meal, we spotted a spotted eagle ray hanging out right by the dock. Wow!
Shortly after, the boat showed up and we were ready for action. I was wearing my Simms fishing shirt and hat that Alriah got me for Christmas, and Alriah was wearing her Simms fishing shirt which looks so cute on her. We had 2 guides for the day and the captain was named Francisco. We soon realized that they did not bring the fly fishing equipment so the next stop was to go to Punta Allen and pick up the rods. They brought in 2 rod & reels, and I used one with a Habit reel. I was surprised at how nice the gear was. It was a 6 or 7 weight. We started off fishing in the shallows of the lagoon and I was at the front of the boat casting. We hardly saw any fish movement but we did see a flock of flamingos. I didn’t even know that there were flamingos in this part of Mexico.
Since, we weren’t catching anything, Francisco decided to take us to the Caribbean side and fish the shallow grassy flats at the beach past the lighthouse. It was a long and bumpy ride but we were glad to finally arrive and get in the water and relieve ourselves. Alriah was such a trooper to hold it for that long. Bladders full + bumpy ride = no bueno!
The strategy now was to slowly wade in the shallows and sight-fish for bonefish. Alriah wasn’t fishing but walked nearby with the GoPro camera, and she had fun doing that. Now, my polarized glasses were getting foggy and ruined from the saltwater, since they were a fairly cheap (but comfortable) pair by Abaco, so I was glad to have Francisco next to me helping me spot the bonefish. Fly fishing in saltwater flats is a lot different than fly fishing in the mountains. You have to be stealthy in these situations and make quick short casts. The bonefish move so quickly that you only have a few seconds to get your fly out to them before they’re gone. The fly he set me up with was a brown muddler minnow type. At first, I could tell that Francisco was getting a little frustrated because I was missing some opportunities since I was not used to this quick method and also holding so much line out in my left hand. Soon enough though, Francisco said “cast” and I could see some movement in the water…he quickly said “strip, strip” for me to I strip the fly line with my left hand, making the fly swim in the water, and then “BOOM” I was hooked on to my first ever bonefish. Francisco was trying to help with instructions but I let him know that “I got this!” I am quite familiar with fighting a fish on the fly rod, but really appreciated him showing me how to hook one. Right away after being hooked, the bonefish would pull hard and relentless for about 30+ seconds at a time. I would let it run with the line when it was pulling hard so that it wouldn’t break the line, but after a little while, it would let up and I would have the chance to reel it in some. These guys fight so hard for their size! This process went on for about 6 minutes and then I landed the fish. I know that it was about 6 minutes because Alriah videoed the whole thing! It was quite slippery and sleek, and it was a little bit of a wrestle to grab the fish. Once I had it in my hands, I realized that it was even neater looking in person, displaying a shiny silver color with bands along its back, with a long pointed mouth. Alriah cheered me on for catching my first bonefish and took some photos. A few minutes later, I caught another bonefish which was a little bit bigger…another great fight! The fishing then slowed down and we went back to the boat to eat our sandwiches and enjoy some cold Pescadores ales! We both fished for a little bit at the nearby reef with my casting rod & reel, and even saw a shark! We were glad to be in the boat at that point for sure! We didn’t catch anything at the reef but it was worth a shot. After cruising around the reef for a little longer, it was time to head back. We enjoyed being out in the boat and our guides did a great job. It wasn’t just a fishing trip, but it was also a wildlife viewing tour. We saw a manta ray, flamingos, bonefish, osprey eagles, and a shark…traveling from both lagoon to beach to reef water environments.
After such a long day in the sun, we relaxed at the resort for the rest of the day, enjoying good food, in a tropical atmosphere, with the best company (each other)! We also went to sleep fairly early because the next morning we had planned to view the sunrise at the beach!
The next morning’s alarm went off on my phone but it was no big deal because it was sunrise-at-the-beach time…and it was a spectacle to see! Photo below cheers-ing our morning coffee!
Next plan for the day was yoga before breakfast. Our yoga instructor was a hippy lady from Spain. She was all about the yoga, and when Alriah and I showed up for the 8 o’ clock class, we thought it would be quick, get some stretching in, and then enjoy breakfast. Well she turned the yoga session into almost 2 hours…and after about an hour, we were very stretched and getting hungry! I tried to make hints that I was getting up and about to leave, even dancing to the music, but these hints went over her head. Let’s just say that when yoga finally ended, we went and enjoyed our breakfast more than we would have otherwise. We relaxed more, and Alriah even got a massage, and then we had lunch (more ceviche). We each enjoyed a pina colada and then waited to go snorkeling with Charlie at 4 o’ clock which we set up earlier in the day. Now we realized that it would have been a good idea to wait longer after eating lunch and drinking the pina colada, but we both knew we were good to go and ready, or at least we thought so. Once we got the snorkeling masks and flippers on, we got in the water and started following Charlie. Charlie is one fast swimmer! We swam furiously just to keep up. Once we made it out to the reef, we some some colorful fish and took some GoPro videos.
When we were at the reef, there was a lot of turbulence created from the waves, and we nimbly swam to dodge hitting any of the coral when the waves were going frantic. That was only for a small stretch though, and the water got calmer as we were further out…I guess the waves were breaking against the coral reef just right to create that turbulence. Charlie then saw a conch shell at the bottom and went down to the bottom to put it in his bag. When we all came to the surface, he mentioned that he would bring it back and give it to the chef to cook for us. He had already gotten a lobster for us the first day, and now we were going to enjoy snail ceviche. We kept swimming out, and it was out at a distance from the shore where we were swimming along and Alriah pointed down to a big stingray. She was brave and kept swimming, but I froze above it, only thinking to point the camera at it. I regained my wherewithal and swam further and just yelled “that was a big stingray!” In my muffled underwater voice. Charlie, the snorkeling guru, went down and tapped the ray on the back and it swam off. Here’s the video of this epic footage…
Snorkeling with a BIG Stingray
After this, I mentioned to Alriah that I was tired from all of the swimming and she agreed that it was time to go back. I swam frantically for about 100 yards just to catch up to Charlie and get his attention that it was time to go back. Swimming back was easy since we were just going with the waves. Once we were back, we got ready for dinner at the lagoon dock. It was peaceful and we saw a beautiful sunset but we were tired from snorkeling earlier.
It was very late to eat dinner since it was busy at the hotel that day and it takes a while to eat ceviche. We got our food eventually though and enjoyed it, even though this was probably the 4th or 5th time we had ceviche this trip. We just couldn’t say no because they were so nice to cook up the conch that Charlie retrieved for us. After dinner, it was time to walk back to the room and we zonked out quickly since we were so tired.
The next day was our last day in Mexico for our wonderful honeymoon. We enjoyed breaki, said bye to all of the nice people who worked there.After Beatriz let us know that our boat was ready to take off, we then walked to the lagoon dock to ride the boat back with a new captain named Bomby to the shuttle pick-up point, which would take us to the airport. Bomby even mentioned that he would take us out fly fishing next time we are there, and that he would take us to some great spots for bonefish. I got his contact info for next time.
That morning, we soaked in the tropical environment, sea-to-lagoon that morning, because this was a trip that we will never forget. Alriah captured this awesome photo of the sunrise half-way hiding behind the Mukan wooden sign.
Mukan Resort is highly recommended and they make the stay super special. It’s an investment for sure but worth it! We are ready to go back to Tulum and explore the area some more, maybe making it back to the Sian Ka’an. Until next time!