Palenque is a quaint Mexican city with a long cultural history in the center of the Yucatan peninsula. Most people visit Palenque to experience its magnificent Myan ruins, myself included but I was also pleased to find an array of other experiences while visiting and actually wish I had planned more time there.
Palenque is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Cozumel that you will rarely run into a typical tourist. The travelers here are mostly local Mexicans and backpackers. I stayed in the Canada district of town that has tree lined cobble stone streets dotted with hotels, hostels, and small restaurants. It’s a charming section of town and you can easily walk 5 minutes to the center of town where things are a bit more lively.
One must do/see activity while in Palenque is the Aqua Azul and Miso Ha falls. I booked a day tour, mostly wanting to see Aqua Azul as the pictures I’d seen and the posters around town made it look like a unbelievable color of blue. Miso Ha was also included in the package and I’m glad it was.
The drive takes you over winding roads through the mountain jungles. The views from the drive alone are enough to make the trip!
When you arrive at Miso Ha, you’ll find a few shops (more tables with merchandise really) and a small restaurant serving fresh mango and other fruit. It’s just a short walk down to the falls where you can actually walk around behind the fall and up to a cave that goes into the mountain. For about 50 pesos you can have the use of a flashlight to explore.
Aqua Azul gets its name from the bright blue color of the water. It’s almost an icy looking blue that even with my new fancy camera still doesn’t photo as beautifully as it shows in person. When you first arrive, it’s quite the tourist scene with shops, restaurants, and vendors all over. Once you wade through the people and reach the water, it will be hard to resist the urge to jump right in. I did a little research before the trip and learned that if you follow the falls up, you can avoid the crowds and it keeps getting more beautiful. Aqua Azul is more than one waterfall, it’s the river itself so you can follow it up the hills and past numerous falls before picking the spot to jump in. I was with a tour group and met a couple from Belgium and a couple from France. We all found a nice swimming hole at the top of the falls with only a few other people around (and a lifeguard who seemed more like he was just hanging out on his inner tube). The water is pretty cold but after hiking for 15 minutes or so to the top, it was very refreshing.