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Article originally published in the May-October 2018 edition of the Atmosphere magazine. Read the latest edition here.
What makes Transat employees expert vacationers? Follow three of our intrepid travelers down south as they take you to their favorite spots and immerse you into the local culture.
Five must-see and must-dos around Cancun, Mexico
Hayla: Flight director at Air Transat
The Culture lover: Never misses an opportunity on her layovers to discover the authentic side of a destination
- Dip your toes in the waters of Tulum Beach. Rent a bike and ride the beach strip with a boho feel, lined with boutiques and pop-up shops that look like they belong on Pinterest. Then explore the nearby Maya ruins on a cliff overlooking the sea and search
for clues to one of history’s most fascinating mysteries: whatever happened
to the civilization that lived there?
- Feel the ancient glory of the Maya at the archaeological site of Coba. Its Nohoch Mul temple is the only pyramid in the region you can still climb: 120 steep steps separate you from spectacular jungle views.
- See your reflection in the crystal-clear waters of the Gran Cenote of Tulum. The Maya considered cenotes sacred, and it’s easy to see why. Float in its mysterious caves, snorkel with fish or dive nine metres down to explore its natural aquarium.
- See Mexico’s true colors in Valladolid, a small colonial city with pastel-hued facades. Discover the charming cafés and boutiques along Calzada de los Frailes: find a table under the palapa on the back terrace at Taberna de los Frailes and enjoy a traditional Maya lime soup.
- Dine and tan in Tulum. Order the fish taco at the beachside Taqueria La Eufemia, top it the way you want it at their salsa bar and enjoy it with your toes in the sand. For contemporary Mexican fare, head to the jungly Casa Jaguar and dig into their tostadas de atún (tuna toasts).
Five must-see and must-dos around Cartagena, Colombia
Leanne: Flight attendant at Air Transat
The Foodie: Has a real appetite for tasting local dishes while travelling.
- Dine like a local at Taqueria Municipal. Famous chef Alejandro Ramirez Gomez cooks up delicious Mexican cuisine with Colombian accents. Try the sea bass and passion fruit tiradito, a typical South American dish of raw marinated fish.
- See food differently at Mistura. Located in a charming interior courtyard, this trendy little restaurant specializes in seafood. The octopus ceviche and the Peruvian tiradito are exquisite.
- Looking for a quick meal? Pick up some fresh and delicious ceviche at El Gramo Cevicheria Express, and walk and eat while you continue to explore the city.
- Explore the Bazurto Market in the trendy Getsemaní neighbour- hood. Bazurto is a must for any adventur- er with a taste for fresh fruit—try the avocados and mangoes—and exotic discoveries, like granadilla and parrotfish. Cultural immersion guaranteed.
- Have a cup of joe at Café Época. Colombian coffee is one of the most sought-after in the world. See what all the hype is about at the laid-back Café Época. Order your java like a Colombian: tinto (black) or con leche (with milk).
Five must-see and must-dos around Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Christopher: Corporate affairs coordinator at Air Transat
The outdoor enthusiast: Lived in the Dominican Republic for two years and often ventured off the beaten path.
- Hike up the 1,249- meter high Diego de Ocampo. Stop on the way to eat mangoes and guavas. Extra points if you can spot the green Hispaniolan parrot in the jungle. At the top, you will be greeted by applauding Dominicans celebrating their ascent with rum and, of course, merengue.
- Ride the wind in Cabarete. The big waves and winds are perfect for surfing and kitesurfing… and falling off your paddle board. Stay for happy hour on the beach and watch the lanterns in the palms light up.
- Experience baseball fever in Santiago. Join 18,000 Dominicans as they sing, dance, drink and eat while cheering on their Cibao Eagles at the Cibao Stadium. Watching the fans is just as entertaining as the game.
- Dive into the waterfalls of Damajagua. Twenty- seven to be exact. Jump off them, if you dare, some are eight meters high!, or hurtle down their natural slides at full speed. Hang tight to your swimsuit.
- Bike the malecón of Puerto Plata. Start your own cycling gastronomic tour between the huts that line this beachfront promenade. Wash down the delicious empanadas with a jugo de chinola, a Dominican favorite made from passion fruit.