This time I want to share with you my experiences while exploring Cancun, in the Mayan Riviera. An amazing destiny for those who want to mix up good beaches, with nightlife, and some adventure.
Though it is clearly prepared for tourists, it also shows the Mexican culture in almost every aspect, being the mayan culture the most impressive and good exposed, since it is the “entrance to the mayan world” as it is called.
When it comes to choosing a hotel, options are just too many. It depends mostly on how much is intended to spend, including or not the all-inclusive services. A good advice is to make sure it has an easy access to the beach. Most of them have a private area just for their guests. Though almost all of them do have it, some hostels or cheaper options are located in downtown, not having this facility. So, considering the beach access, just choose according to which kind of service you want to receive. Almost all of them include breakfast. Some of them have an apart hotel service, others a full all-inclusive service, but they sure have a good bar, perfect for a Margarita.
Cancun’s commercial area it’s mainly its whole downtown. Most of the malls, restaurants, night clubs and gift shops are located in two of the biggest avenues. There is a wide option of food and drinks, including some international restaurants, with Italian, Argentinean or Brazilian food. It also offers many shows in nightclubs or casinos. A good option to try some Mexican tortillas or burritos is going to the little food stores close to the beach, where Mexican people use to go. It is always said that the best place to try local food, is where the local people eat. So, if you find yourself surrounded by… maybe workers during their break, you may be in the right place.
When it comes to buying gifts, every mall has lots of gift shops, but once again, it is better to walk down the outdoor fair, el Mercado Coral Negro, where the price is cheaper, the people is more active, and it is possible to try some tequila shots. What to buy depends on every person, but the musts, include: Tequila, Xtabentún (liquor), silver jewelry, Huipiles (dresses) Guayaberas (shirts), hammocks, hats and handcrafted dolls. Maybe a tiny mariachi hat too. One advice, get ready to be constantly called out by sellers, receive offers and bargain.
Beaches in Cancun are just astonishing. 22 km of white sand and crystalline water, perfect for surf, paddle boarding, jet skiing or just swimming and relaxing. You will find yourself surrounded by options of boat trips, snorkeling, scuba diving or parasailing. Most of the trips take you to Isla Mujeres or Cozumel Island, two beautiful touristic destinations. Snorkeling is totally worthy, since the clear water shows perfectly all the different species of fishes, corals and turtles. There is also an underwater museum, with some sunken statues to appreciate, as well as a sunken boat. If you are into swimming, it is the best experience. The trip lasts a couple of hours, in which you visit different parts of the island, take a swim, and take pictures. All the equipment is provided by its crew, as well as the beer! Cozumel is perfect for wandering and appreciating all its products. Perfect place to eat a tortilla or an ice cream – there are some really weird flavors, mixing salted and sweet, like mango with chili- and do some gift shopping. There is a huge variety of products, from handmade goods, to perfumes and silver jewelry.
Clearly the most famous attraction of all Cancun, it’s related with one of the biggest empires of the Latin American history: The Mayan Empire. In these national parks you can appreciate some of the biggest constructions from that time, as well as having the chance of visiting an actual Mayan village, where you can eat some typical food, or buy some unique handmade gifts – My recommendation is a handmade silver necklace with your name written in Mayan language. Best gift ever. – During the tour, all the buildings and it´s meanings are explained. Chichen Itza possesses the most famous picture, the Kukulkán Temple, El caracol (another construction) and the field where the famous Juego de Pelota was played – an ancient sport in wich the loser team was sacrificed – . In Cobá it is also possible to reach the top of some of the temples. Although the stairs are tiny and long, it is totally worth the climbing. It is also possible to do it by bike.
There is also a chance of taking a dip in a Cenote, a huge water well with cold water, with a huge percentage of limestone, very important in Mayan religion. It is said that there are 10.000 Cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula. The feeling of swimming there is far beyond what words can explain, and taking the chance of jumping into its water makes it even better. The highest jumps are among 10 or 15 meter high.
Tulum is far beyond my favorite Mayan city. Located by the beach, it has smaller constructions, yet quite fascinating. The weather is nice, with the sea breeze constantly waving the trees. The tour is not pretty big, and you can do it by yourself, taking a look at the maps all over the place. It is pretty easy to imagine and visualize the Mayan lifestyle. There are perfect spots for photography and viewpoints to admire the beauty of its temples. Its beach is also super nice and quiet, and it’s pretty contrasting with the impressive temples of Chichen Itza. I found Tulum more relaxing.
Other must in the agenda it´s the Mujeres Island, and of course the Themed parks, like Xcaret. But I will tell you about them in part two.
Greetings from Mexico!