A country that is full of culture, friendly people, great food and gorgeous landscapes. Popular holiday destination for Americans, however for us Europeans it’s not exactly near enough for a ‘weekend away’. However I can fully reassure you, even from my short trip, it is definitely worth the 10 hour flight.
Our destination was the east coast city of Cancun, a famous destination for college ‘spring break-ers’. However we decided to visit middle of April to avoid the alcohol infused rush. Aside from the buzzing night life the city is known for its beautiful Caribbean Sea beaches, high-end hotels and a traditional Mexican city centre (El Centro). It is also located closely to ancient Mayan ruins which contain fascinating culture (blog post on these details will be coming soon). From relaxing on the beach with a cocktail to adrenaline activities, there is so much Cancun has to offer.
Hotel – we were lucky enough to be staying at the Grand Fiesta American Coral Beach Resort which lived up to its name…GRAND! Just look at the beautiful open lobby! There is a bar at the back looking out onto the pool where a band plays Jazz every night. Heavenly!
Our room was a Junior Ocean Front view with a king-sized bed, big bathroom and sofa area plus a great view of the pools and beach from our balcony.
It is a costly hotel so we did only dine in there once for their breakfast buffet but oh. my. god. it was sssooo worth it. I wish so much that I had my camera on me to help feed your imagination (however you may have wanted to eat the screen so safety first right). All round the service was amazing and the hotel was pure luxury!
What we did in Cancun:
Parasailing – we booked online with Parasail Cancun, costing $60 per person (around £40) and the reception was quite easy to find (Boulevard Kukulkan Km 6.5. Playa Tortugas, Zona Hotelera, Cancún) near the beach and opposite an Oxxo (convenience store). We were 240 feet up in the air for around 15 minutes which gave us some awesome views over the Zona Hotelera part of Cancun.
I do recommend taking your own cameras up with you as it is cheaper than the photos the company sell (although these are great quality). Be warned that they might ‘dunk’ you in the sea at the very end, defiantly wakes you up!
Jungle Boat Tours – we booked through Jungle Tour Cancun where they offer a discounted online price reduced down from $60 to $45 per person (around £30) however there is an extra $10 per person to cover the dock fee and Ocean National Park tax, this needs to be paid for in cash when you arrive. After safety and driving instructions, your guide shows you to your 2-man boat (yes, you become a captain and drive it yourself, its awesome).
You will then follow him through Laguna Nichupté to a reef where you are given snorkels to swim with the many fish surrounding you. There are some very confident ones who will literally swim at your face!
A really fun trip, it has the adrenaline and wildlife snorkelling. Would highly recommend to anyone travelling to Cancun!
Exploring Isla Mujeras – after a lazy morning we caught the bus (information below) to Puerto Juarez to catch a ferry to the beautiful beaches of Isla Mujeras. The Ultramar ferries leave around every half an hour and cost around 140 pesos (about £6) per person for a return ticket.
After a short ride over, we went to pick up our ride for the day. With loads of tourists visiting every day and the island being run on a one way system, a golf buggy is the best way to get around. However its quite hard to reserve one ahead of your visit so try and get there early in the day to get the most for your money, shop around for a good price as well. We just picked at random and got ours for a few hours for $50, it didn’t have much horsepower but it was a fun way to travel around (watch out for the speed bumps!).
We stopped at Tortugranja which is a Turtle Farm located down on the southern end of the island. For $3 you can walk around and see quite a few different turtles, a nice little visit and it was fun feeding them as well!
We also headed towards the most southern point of the island called Casa Amerilla. To travel to the very tip you have to pay a fee to enter as the area holds many art sculptures however you don’t need to go in to appreciate the view.
Ferries run till reasonably late (check times here) so you can’t miss visiting this beautiful island and relaxing on the beach before heading back to the lively coast of Cancun.
Scuba Diving – to celebrate my 21st birthday we had to do something extra awesome. So my boyfriend booked us into a day course for First Time Divers with Scuba Total Cancun. We caught the bus there and were given 2 hours of training as well as safety procedures and a swim in the pool to get use to the equipment. After a small bite to eat we headed out on the boat towards the MUSA, an underwater museum. D was a lot more confident than me and as I was going down to the sea floor I was very nervous however I kept calm and was soon immersed into the awesome underwater world and wildlife. We swam around, admiring the art for about 25/30 minutes before resurfacing as a group.
Our course included another dive to a reef near by but unfortunately conditions were quite rough and sea sickness was hard to deal with so we headed back to dry land. Massive thank you to our brilliant instructor Aldo for opening our eyes to the amazing world of scuba diving! We will definitely will be diving again soon!
Unfortunately our 5 night/4 day stay was far to short for us to do everything we wanted to but we did have one of the best holidays EVER! Here are some other activities that we wish we had time to do:
- Experience the nightlife – it is meant to be ‘better than Vegas’ but we didn’t have enough time to find out, would anyone report back to me please!?
- Explore El Centro – my friend Jess, who was working in the area, told us that the markets and authentic restaurants are great to visit!
- Xel-Ha Park – an ecotourism park full of activites and wildlife
- Xcaret – also has a lot of activities and would be a fun family day trip
- Visit Isla Contoy and other surrounding beaches (for example Playa Delfines or Playa Chac Mool)
- Wet’n’Wild Cancun – just because we’re still kids at heart
- Sistema Dos Ojos – cool cave for another awesome scuba diving opportunity
In addition to this there are many opportunities to swim with dolphins, which is a dream of mine, however I disagree with them being in captivity so we avoided it.
Buses – took us a while to figure out but they are brilliant for travelling around. There are bus stops everywhere but travelling from Zona Hotelera (where most hotels are based) we travelled on the R1 or R2 to get to everywhere we needed to go, just get on on the right side of the road for the correct direction. So much cheaper than taxis as it only cost 11 peso per person for each way (about 40p!).
Eating – along Blvd. Kukulcan there is the main Cancun strip which is full of American Cuisine restaurants. They are all very lively at night so if you want a quiet dinner I would recommend eating here for lunch instead. Señor Frogs was definitely our favourite. Prices are ok for a main meal and drink. However we also found Mocambo’s which specialises in seafood and it was delicious. I recommend the Mayan Fish, even thinking about it makes my mouth water! We did go for a ‘fancier’ meal to Thai (located in La Isla shopping mall) however if you want a good seat, book in advance and don’t be late! The food and the view is worth it however the price is high, definitely consider it ‘fine dining’.
Tips – take a mixture of pesos and american dollars to spend. Food is mostly in pesos but activities are dollars. A tip is kinda expected for everything really, for example the guys in charge of the parasailing boat did ask us. They aren’t pushy about it but be aware that it is the norm.
Can’t wait to return to Cancun (hopefully soon) and explore more of Mexico in the future!
Hasta pronto Méjico!
Did we miss out on anything in Cancun? Where else shall I visit in Mexico? I would love to hear your recommendations!
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