Van life in Quintana Roo

We wanted to experience Mexico in a unique way. Traveling is a wonderful experience, but it’s another level of adventure to travel and live on the road in a van. A road trip in a camper van is one of the most magical experience you can live. You’ll get to live only in a van. You’ll live with more intensity a sunset on a mountain, a thunderstorm in the middle of the night, or a coffee with a view of the sea.

We had many road trips, in many awesome places like Jordan, Greece, Tenerife, Sri Lanka, Romania, Portugal and many others. It’s a fact that a road trip is great anywhere in the world, but a road trip in Quintana Roo is next level.

Everything was absolutely amazing, the warm weather, the landscapes, the breakfast in the middle of the jungle with doggies around us. Being able to spend the night wherever you want it’s something that gives you a sense of freedom that you don’t experience every day. I slept on a beach in my childhood, when I was going on vacation with my family, but in the middle of the jungle was the first time.

renting the van

We saw the van while we were walking in Tulum and then we randomly met the owner at the entrance to a beach while he was taking photos with the van and we didn’t think twice to start the rental procedure. The owner was very nice, providing all the information we needed, giving us even tips to where we can have the best sleepover, where are the best and safest campgrounds, witch roads are best for driving the van (driving changes a lot in a van, it’s much slower than a normal car). And this is how we started our adventure with Azulita.

van life

b e a u t i f u l r o a d s

Quintana Roo has so many stunningly beautiful spots and the van gave us the opportunity to find even more hidden gems, because the best way to explore this dazzling place is doing a road trip and it’s also the most beautiful way to escape from the busy beaches of Tulum.

Have you fallen in love with a cliff overlooking the beach, or did you liked a beautiful little field of flowers? In a van you have the complete freedom to stop, stay or go whenever you want. Usually, we don’t stop on the road with a normal car, but this time was different. When we liked a place, we found a safe corner to park the van and we stoped. Just like that!

We stopped at so many cute spots, but I don’t have the name of each place or road because we didn’t had signal in many areas and I also want to wake up in you the desire of adventure, to make you want to go in search of wonderful places. That is the beauty of a road trip, to search that perfect place, to find all of the sudden a little piece of Heaven.

A lovely morning in the van at a wonderful spot we found
All you can see around is pure nature

c a m p g r o u n d s

I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the nicest campgrounds I’ve seen anywhere in the world. During our trip with Azulita we slept in two National Parks, both being part of some of the biggest National Parks in the area. In the area of Quintana Roo are plenty of campervan parks at a good price, lots of campgrounds come fully provisioned with multiple hot water showers and restrooms, huge areas of barbecues and the best of all, you will enjoy some of the most spectacular and unique spots of nature. If you chose to stay overnight in one of these parks you have nothing to worry about because all the parks had surveillance and not even for one second I felt unsafe.

b e r e s p e c t f u l o f n a t u r e

The ones who know me a little bit are aware of how much I love and respect nature and my deepest hope is for everybody to do the same. I highly encourage you to be respectful to wild places. I am deeply worried about what is going on with our beloved planet. It’s our responsibility to keep it clean. Here, we don’t live only people, but millions of species. They deserve to enjoy life us much as people do. So no mater which place you visit, try to only enjoy the environment and “leave no trace”. Be respectful of our home Planet!

SLEEP IN THE JUNGLE WITH JAGUARS

Is there anything as great as spending the night in the middle of nature? We picked up our own version of paradise. To me, being surrounded by pure and untouched nature dotted with wild animals, where you can breath quality fresh air provided by the trees.. this is the real luxury, not staying at an overpriced hotel full of noisy people and 0 intimacy.

I grew up hiking, sleeping at the beach in a tent, but this was my first time sleeping in the jungle. I loved the freedom to choose where we will wake up next morning and I consider myself very lucky to have experienced to wake up and the first thing to see is the forest and the first rays of sun spoiling my face. An actual privilege. When you get to a random place to spend the night, who knows what beautiful sunrises or landscapes will be awaiting in the morning? It was absolutely amazing to be surprised by the view.

getting there

It was not easy to find the entrance to this place, but the road to here was dazzling. It was almost sunset when we leaved the main road and entered into the jungle. It was an unpaved road , it just rained and there where some small lakes. All the way until the entrance of the park, we were greeted by exotic birds and bats, the view was impressive.. light rays coming through the trees, it was so green… the bats dancing like they where playing a show for us. I felt like I was literally dreaming.

It was a half an hour drive, but with the Kombi, driving is slower than with a normal car. But that is the beauty of road tripping in a Kombi, you enjoy better the landscapes and the moment, you are not in a rush anymore. It felt like we were the only ones there but it was not like that, once in a while we met people coming back from having picnic or biking. It seems that locals spend their free days or important days of their lives here. They make celebrations here and I don’t blame them. But we where super lucky and we had this huge place only to ourselves.

sleeping spot

Five minutes drive from the entrance it was this spot. We parked the car and we started to explore the area as we had only 40 minutes left of daytime. The surroundings were impressive, a huge lagoon dotted with little islands, exotic birds singing, cute doggies following us, only the thought we could see a jaguar made us the happiest people on Earth. Close to our van it as a little pond, it was the view while we had dinner.

entrance fee

We payed 100 pesos per night. You have to park the van in a specific area, very close to a bar, the showers, bathrooms and the entrance (5 minutes drive). It was very safe to sleep there, they have somebody checking the area all the time. The surveillance guy was very nice and helpful.

A jungle full of jaguars who are too shy to make an appearance

r e s c u e d d o g g i e

The doggie you see in the photo above was rescued by the owner of the park. You might think it was people who left him without a paw (we were thinking the same), but no.. it was a jaguar. He has been attacked by a jaguar a few years ago, the owner found him on time and took him to the vet where he payed for all the interventions he needed to be rescued and since then the doggie is his and well cared. At night they get the dogs in the little house you’ll see when you enter in the park and in the day time they are left free to play around.

s p o t t i n g t h e j a g u a r s

Don’t worry about meeting a jaguar because they are very hard to be seen and I’m pretty sure if you are super mega lucky to see one, they will run away. The changes to see them increase at night, especially after midnight. We stayed awaken until late at night to see one, because one of the main reasons we wanted to sleep in the middle of the jungle was to see a jaguar, but there was no such luck. This National Park has many jaguars, but they are very hard to be seen and rarely have been spotted by the people who came there almost every day.

I am sure that we’ve been very close to one of them, we just didn’t see him and oh my.. how much I want to see one. I have been literally around the world in search of jaguars, hiking in many jungles and until today I have never seen not one in his natural habitat. Maybe next time.

Morning stretches, coffee and pure nature

stargazing in the jungle

Camping over night in the jungle is a special experience that very few people get to achieve. It is an adventure in itself giving you unique memories that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

But to observe the beauty of the night sky in one of the most beautiful jungle, where you can only hear the crickets singing, it’s a wonderful experience. Living in a city it gives us comfort but it takes from us something more valuable, the fresh air and closure with nature. To me, living moments like this makes me feel privileged and I know this as the real luxury.

The air above the forest is clean and free of any pollution, so there you can enjoy the splendour of the Milky Way. And that is not the only thing you get to see. The more you watch the sky, more amazing things appear. Incoming meteors regularly paint streaks across the sky, the space dust, fabulous constellations. All that make you dream of how would it be if you could travel to space, how would it feel, what you could discover. And then the forever question… where the Universe ends?

Beautiful moments at dusk with the doggies

b y t h e s e a

Having breakfast, lunch or dinner at the beach, in this lost place with no noise.. just silence, it’s fabulous. We found this campground in front of a white sandy beach on a secluded bay 15 minutes from Tulum city. This was one of the few gems in Quintana Roo that allowed campfires on the sand. But things had changed after somebody bought the land to built a fancy hotel. We payed 240 pesos to enter in this area, but it was an exception, because nobody can step on that land, not if they will not pay to stay at their hotel when it will be ready, so.. good bay camping in a van. How sad!

snorkel and swim

Here get ready to be blown away by the most breathtaking corals you can see which are just meters from the shore! The place can’t be more perfect, the van parked a few meters from the shore, a nice cup of coffee after a great snorkel, the warm breeze, the smell of nature and complete silence. This is the best therapy.

The water is calm and perfect for paddle boarding too. Just make sure you bring a paddle table with you. If you want to make some deep jungle explorations you can try to do some bushwalking. Wherever you go you’ll be spoiled with panoramic views of the bays!

flying drone

I mentioned in the previous post about Tulum that flying the drone in Mexico was a little bit weird and it was actually a challenge. It’s not prohibited but you can’t fly it peacefully neither. Anyway, at this beach it was ok, we had no problems, nobody was around, only 2 workers who had no problem with us flying the drone.

Sometimes the police saw us flying it and never said nothing. But they are not the problem, only some crazy people with too much money who think they rule the world. And I said many times that we are very respectful when we fly the drone. What you have to know is that if you are on a public beach and flying the drone is not prohibited than is ok to fly.

The views from above were splendid as you can see in the photos

PUNTA LAGUNA

We stayed in this fabulous place for a night and it was a very unique experience. The river was right in front of the van and with all the vegetation around us the place looked something straight out of a postcard! I couldn’t believe I have slept in such a piece of Heaven. We arrived late at night because the way from Tulum in our slow van took us longer than we thought.

It was all dark and a perfect silence, it was quite peaceful, the only thing you could see was the stars, so dark it was, somehow it gave me chills.. too much darkness, but the place is safe, I didn’t feel like that because I felt unsafe. The truth is being in the middle of the jungle and all dark it’s pretty impressive and that is the beauty of Mother Nature. When we woke up was magical. The trees, the lake, the smell… This is a once in a lifetime experience that cannot be done everywhere and highly recommend you to try at least once.

sleeping spot

The parking is very close to the main entrance, but right near the river. Here you have showers, toilets, you can use the kayaks. If you want you can bring your own food, with I recommend you if you want to experience the van life, but ver close to the National Park there are plenty of restaurants where you can eat.

entrance fee

The parking fee is a little bit pricey, you have to pay 350 pesos per night and need to book in advance. This is a National Park and it opens at 8 AM so by then you have to leave, because after 8 AM visitors start to come. It is obviously pretty safe to sleep here, the place has surveillance.

a n i g h t i n t h e j u n g l e w i t h t h e m o n k e y s

Right at this spot where we have slept, early in the morning are coming the monkeys. They come here almost every morning to get food from the visitors. But the morning we’ve been there they didn’t show up. I guess this is another reason to come back. You can expect to see the spider monkey and the howler monkey, but other animals may appear as well.

van life

van essentials

When you’re so far from the city where there are no supermarkets you have to bring plenty of food with you. We lived in the van for only 5 days and we didn’t needed to much, but here are some of the van essentials we had:

  • GPS tracker (this is a life saver)
  • first aid kit
  • portable coffee maker and travel mug
  • towels
  • lantern
  • dishes
  • water

thoughts about living in a van

Whether you’re preparing for van life, short or long road trip, this is a unique and wonderful experience that it’s totally worth it. I had been lucky enough to do my first road trip in a van in one of the most beautiful place on Earth and couldn’t be more grateful. Sleeping in a car might make you feel vulnerable, but I felt totally safe. We chose very well the locations to sleep. If you take precautions it’s very hard for something bad to happen. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment area.

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