Over the past year, I’ve made it my business to search out the most remote places to take my family so that we could continue to enjoy Yucatán while remaining safe. If I were offering an award for finding the place to have the most remote fun, I’d be receiving it right about now. True story. We have just returned from a crazy adventure at Dzilam de Bravo, a small fishing village on the very edge of the Dzilam de Bravo Reserve on the north coast of Yucatán. Not only was this weekend trip packed full of fun, excitement, and learning; it was also incredibly safe and remote.
If your family loves mucking about on boats, in the sea, and seeing super interesting things then this is the trip for you.
We chose to explore with Sayachuleb, a small eco-cooperative that takes its responsibility to conservation and the area very seriously. It was recommended to begin our tour with lunch at the Fortín de Juan, a restaurant overlooking the calm Gulf of México. Here we ate fabulous seafood (try the shrimp in almond sauce – astounding) while the kids larked about on swings in the shallow water and our guides loaded our bags onto their Lanchas (motorized boats).
Once we set off, our first stop was Xbuyá Ha, an Ojo de Agua (freshwater spring) in the sea. It’s as weird as it sounds. As you approach, you see water bubbling on the surface, which in itself is fascinating. Because the sea is so shallow, everyone can just get off the boat and check out this natural phenomenon for themselves, even the kids. Actually, the fresh water rushes out so fast it’s pretty hard for kids to manage the current, so hold on tight to them. The best way to experience the Ojo de Agua is to dive down to the actual hole in the sea bed and check out the freshwater fish living around it. Children will need to cling to the back of a willing adult to get a good look.
The kids in our group were so excited and all went underwater to check it out multiple times. They’re still talking about the experience; how weird it was and how brave they felt when diving. They’re not wrong. All the adults were fascinated and surprised too.
Once we’d had our fill, we were taken into the mangrove to visit the local cenote, Elepetén, where you can swim and even muck around on the rope swing. The water was an astounding blue and we learned that the water rushing out of the Ojo de Agua actually comes from this cenote.
From here it was back to the Lanchas to speed off to our camping destination, Las Bocas, an area where the estuary and sea meet around 30 km from the village of Dzilam de Bravo. We camped on the beach, with just our guide to keep us company. There was not another human in sight the entire time we were on this beach. It’s rare to feel so free and safe in these troubling times so we were all very aware of how special this was.
The kids played in the shallow, still water as the sun went down while we enjoyed the all-important sunset cocktails (not provided, we took our own ingredients). We walked along the shore, marveling at the starfish, we commented on the animal prints we found on the beach, the kids collected shells, we swam, we laughed, and we all smiled until our faces hurt.
Supper was prepared on an open fire – we cooked sausages for the kids, fresh-caught fish for the adults, and salads prepared at home were added. The kids loved helping collect firewood (ok, ok, I’m lying. We bribed them with marshmallows – that bit they loved).
By 9 pm, the kids were exhausted. The day of swimming, playing, and fresh sea air knocked them out and they actually asked to go to bed (anyone who camps with kids knows that this is highly unusual behavior). Adults followed around 10:30 pm, which was good as the kids, true to annoying form, were awake and chatty by 5:30 am.
The second day was spent chilling on the beach, walking, swimming, playing some more, and exclaiming over the flocks of flamingos flying overhead. On the way back to Dzilam de Bravo we stopped again, at my son’s request, at the Ojo de Agua for one last dive. We also stopped at a sand bank for a quick swim in shallow, beautifully blue water. We were back on shore by 2 pm having had one of the most exciting 24-hour adventures of our lives.
Our guide, Darwin, was wonderful with the kids. He took the kids down with him to see the Ojo de Agua and helped them climb onto the rope swing at the cenote for as long as they wanted. At the end of the day, he took them crocodile spotting too, which won their eternal devotion. He was gentle, patient, and he really helped ensure that the kids got the most out of their experience.
Prices vary depending on how many people are in a group, weather (camping location is dependent on weather), and food requirements.
Restaurante El Fortín de Juan
Tel. (991) 101 8769
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Cassie Pearse for its use in Yucatán Today.
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