Cancun, Mexico – April 2013
It’s our one year wedding anniversary and so we settled on a relaxing beach trip! Mayne’s parents gave us timeshare points for a free hotel (Westin Lagunamar in Cancun), so the price was right too (thanks Mom & Jim!!).
The Westin was incredible – perfect views, good location, amazing pool (biggest I have ever swam in) and a wade up tiki bar which was pricey but fun. They also had these semi-submerged recliners along the edge of the pool (they were made of concrete and tile) that we all loved. Resorts usually aren’t our style but for a beach and for free it was perfect. They also didn’t bother to give us the timeshare spiel since it wasn’t our timeshare.
I don’t have pictures but we visited Xel-Ha “eco-park” in our first couple days. The price of admission was steep (Approximately $90) but still cheaper than Disneyworld or a similar US park. The park is part of a string of parks in the area managed by the same company and in the theme of “eco-park”, where as much as possible of the natural environment is incorporated into the building of the park. This one had a big lagoon full of colorful fish, an underground cave system, short ziplines, an isolated beach, and cruise-ship like buffet spread. The best part for some was the unlimited alcohol (you could clearly tell those people who came with the intention to wring every penny out of that deal!). All in all it was an awesome experience and I definitely recommend.
A few days later Noodles and Jose joined us! We hung out a bit in Cancun and then hit the next eco-park – Xplor. Similar to Xel-Ha but more “adventure” activities like zip-lining, atv driving, slow rafting, etc. The ziplines were the highlight, the longest stretch between two towers taking a couple minutes and crossing an interstate! The credibility of the “eco-park” term pretty much dissolved with this park as thousands of tourists rumbling through the jungles in smog-belching ATVs does not compute with preserving the environment. Not sure I would go to Xplor again unless it was a package deal.
Two more spots we checked out on days trips were Isla Mujeres – a short ferry ride from Cancun – and Playa del Carmen – about an hour south by bus. Both were lovely and much more relaxed and less touristy then Cancun. We rented a golf cart to drive around Mujeres at a top speed of 15mph, stopping for some delicious grilled fish and a number of low-key tourist sites. In Cancun, we enjoyed a ramble down the main avenue in town, relaxed on the beach for a bit, had some delicious tacos, and ambled through a very chill vacation rental community called Playacar. We’ve already decided this is where we’d like to come back to. Food is delicious and reasonably priced and there are far fewer noisy american tourists and far more relaxed European and mexicans.
In review – we won’t stay in Cancun again (expensive, super touristy, ugly in places), but we will definitely come back for Playa del Carmen and some of the eco-parks and other adventures there are to be had down that direction. We are also very keen to visit Merida, a couple hours west of Cancun, to see why so many expats are moving there (according to house hunters international TV show).