Mexico with Michelle
Travel Diary: Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico from April 15 to 22, 2015
Day 1: Arrival into Cancun
I arrived into Cancun in the afternoon with a private transfer from the airport and made it to my hotel at the Grand Oasis Cancun. This hotel is a great standard hotel if you’re looking to have a good jump off point to explore the Hotel Zone and Cancun. I enjoyed the view outside from the balcony and the hot sun! The beach stretches a long way and I jumped in some waves.
Day 2: Chichen Itza
Now, I may be a weirdo, but when I am on vacation it’s never to relax. I go away to go sightseeing as much as possible and interact with the local culture. This is why on my second day of vacation I had a 5:40am pick up to Chichen Itza. I booked excursions with Bamba Experience who are really great in finding the best and most inexpensive company to do day tours with. This tour although it was early, I was there with only a few others, about 6, Americans. We got to Chichen Itza right at 8 am right as the place opened. I was literally the first tourist of the day to enter the grounds. I got some really great pictures and our tour guide took us all around explaining about the significance of the area to the Mayan people. I would definitely recommend this early morning tour, because as 11 am came around, not only did it get hot, but then crowds of people arrived in bus loads with their headsets. I was very happy that I was in a small group that went early in the morning.
Day 3: Isla Mujeres
This day I got up early, not as early as the day prior mind you, and I took a taxi to the other side of the Hotel Zone to Temptations resort. The temptations resort is an adults-only hotel and the beach here is great, the water is much calmer than the beach at the Grand Oasis Cancun. From here I got on a catamaran with other travellers, some from UK, Eastern Europe, New Jersey and there was actually two guys from New Brunswick there as well (being that I’m from Nova Scotia this was very exciting to me!). The boat trip was a little bit rough as there was big waves. The Maritimers were fine while the UK bunch were feeling a little queasy. When we stopped to go snorkeling I was happy to be in the water. I snorkeled over the underwater museum and it was pretty incredible. The water here is not super clear so it’s all about seeing those underwater statues.
After snorkeling we kept on sailing to Isla Mujeres. I adored this island, it was very calm, peaceful, had lots of shops. We were fed a lovely lunch along with some drinks and I shared some beers with the two guys from New Brunswick on the beach there.
That night from the resort I met up with a group of people traveling from New York. One of the guys actually spoke Spanish which definitely proves helpful. I went out to a bar in Cancun called ‘The City’. When I heard the group say that we’re going to ‘the city’ I thought that meant downtown Cancun, but it was actually the name of the place. Now lots of bars in Cancun what they do is charge a cover charge that gives you access to an open bar, or you can get table service for more. The bar was very busy and it was a lot of fun. I didn’t have any trouble, never felt that it was unsafe, and I actually stumbled upon 3 guys from Toronto that had been on my Air Canada flight.
Day 4: Transfer to Playa del Carmen
Today I didn’t have anything planned besides taking a private transfer from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. This private transfer cost $50 USD, or you can take the bus. I didn’t want to fuss with the bus and paid for this convenience.
When I got to the Paradisus La Perla in Playa del Carmen it was beautiful! The hotel is very well appointed, lots of sitting areas and it was very relaxing. I thought that I would be put up in a Junior Suite but I had actually been upgraded to a ‘One Bedroom Master Suite’. This room is actually bigger than my apartment by over 200 sq ft. I made my reservations at the hotels for the week and awaited my friend Hilaria to come. My friend Hilaria (aka Hillary) lives in Campeche which is about a 5 hour drive from Cancun. She arrived just in time for a fantastic meal at the hotel with me. That night we decided to go out in Playa del Carmen to Coco Bongo as this was Saturday night and my 29th birthday was the next day. Coco Bongo is a bar with a stage up in the sky in which there is a show. There are lots of costumes, dancing, acrobatic performances that are truly amazing. One thing that you notice about this place is that it’s as if you’re all part of the same group all having the same experience at this bar. I am very glad I went out here for my birthday. After Coco Bongo Hilaria and I went across to the street to a local salsa bar called La Salsanera and we danced the night away amongst the locals.
Day 5: Relax on Birthday Sunday
As you might expect from being out all night for two nights in a row and turning 29 this was a day to relax, enjoy the restaurants of the hotel and sit by the pool.
Day 6: Xel-ha
From doing some training with the Xcaret theme parks I was able to get tickets for Hilaria and I to enjoy one of the parks. I decided on Xel-ha as I knew there was water activities and ziplining (in retrospect I probably should have gone to Xplor as they are the more adventurous park with higher ziplines!). The snorkeling here was really fantastic though as the water was very calm and clear. There was lots of fish to be seen by the rocks. We also went tubing down the river which was very fun. The park grounds were beautiful and this is a great park for families to take their kids snorkeling, swim with dolphins, see manatees, etc.
Day 7: Tulum
Today we went out to the ruins of Tulum. From my previous correspondence with Bamba Experience and with Hilaria it became very clear to me that locals really enjoy Tulum. It’s an area that they say cannot be missed. From this I assumed that the locals really enjoyed the ruins, but what they really mean is the ruins but also the town and the surrounding area. The ruins are great to see, and the history there is vast. What I was surprised about was this area of Tulum called Boca Paila. It is an area that is near the beach and it has many boutique hotels, wellness resorts, spa resorts, retreats and even two camping grounds. It is an area that you find many European tourists and people riding their bikes everywhere. It is an area that is not overrun by big all-inclusive resorts and has a certain charm to it. Apparently at night you can see people walking around with flashlights from the main area of town as there are no street lights. I could definitely see myself staying in an area like this while in Mexico.
That night, Hilaria was nice enough to drive me back to my hotel in Playa del Carmen before she headed home even though it was out of her way.
Day 8: Leave Mexico for Canada
I had a late flight that day so I met with the Sales Director of the Paradisus La Perla for a site inspection. For those who aren’t travel agents, essentially it is a tour of the hotel. He took me into the Royal Service area, I saw other room types, all the restaurants, the kids club at the neighbouring sister hotel, and learned about all the little touches that makes the hotel unique. I was able to lock my bag up for the day and hang around the pool until I had to leave for my flight that night.
One thing that I did not mention is the restaurants at this resort. The food here was absolutely incredible from the Mexican restaurant ‘Mole’, to the Argentinian steak house ‘The Grill’, the Asian fusion restaurant ‘Bana’ and more. Hilaria and I were definitely spoiled from the food at this resort. It is the best food I’ve ever had.
I was very sad to leave Mexico and can’t wait to go back – perhaps on a tour to see more of the country. Something like ‘Explore Mexico and Guatemala’ with Intrepid Travel.
June 12, 2015