Zoe Goldstein, 64, Sydney
What inspired you to go to Mexico?
My sister had always wanted to go to the Caribbean, but sadly she passed away in February. As Riviera Maya lies on the Mexican coast overlooking the Caribbean sea, we went as a celebration of her life.
What's it like there?
It's on the north-east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The whole area is covered in powder-soft beaches, tropical jungles and ancient ruins.
Where did you stay?
We booked timeshare properties in a resort which cost $540 for two weeks of extravagant accommodation. The beds were plush and the bathrooms were so lovely it felt like they were fit for royalty! But we didn't spend much time there as we were too busy exploring.
Was there a language barrier?
It helps if you can speak a little Spanish. Mexicans are very friendly and will correct you if you say something wrong. They're really helpful and are proud of their language.
How did you get around?
We hired a car, which we used when we weren't on tours. We took a ferry to the island of Cozumel, where in a moment of madness we hired a scooter. Even though we'd never ridden one before the vendor simply handed over the keys and said 'Off you go!' We had a great time riding around - it was fun, exciting and absolutely terrifying all at the same time.
What tours did you take?
We took a tour to Chichen Itza, a large archaeological site. There, we took a stone staircase to a cenote - a huge naturally formed well - where we went swimming. After the dip we enjoyed a delicious traditional Yucat buffet lunch, which consists of meat skewers, ribs and empanadas. But visiting Xel-Ha and Tulum was definitely the highlight of our trip.
Why was that?
The marine park at Xel-Ha is remarkable. It's the largest natural aquarium in the world and you could easily spend days there. Besides swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, you can also pay extra to swim with dolphins and manatees. Tulum is one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans, so being able to see the ruins still standing on the tall cliffs today was amazing.
The sea looks so clear, did you do any other snorkelling?
We did, at both Isla Mujeres and Akumal. Both places are close to the coast and easily accessible by ferry boats. We hired gear on the beach and were instantly surrounded by schools of tropical fish. It was absolutely beautiful!
What about shopping?
The Fifth Avenue markets in Playa Del Carmen seem to go on forever and are stocked with silver, ceramics, carvings, clothing and souvenirs. It's lovely, but the experience can become a little overwhelming as the vendors are keen to tempt you into their stores.