Mexico What To Do
We traveled to Mexico few month ago, and here are some ideas of what to do in Mexico. So we started our trip by flying to
Here we stayed for like a week and visited quite a lot of beaches...
once a refuge for pirates, is today a pretty big, fast-paced city, catering primarily to the American tourist. The Zona Hotelera is an area with huge all-inclusive hotels, shopping malls and discos. Cancun town is where the locals live, and to be honest, it is not very pretty. The market, Mercado 28, is the best place in the region for deals on Mexican handicrafts. Bartering mandatory. Every spring a well-renowned Jazz Festival is arranged in Cancun.
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Let's start with some nightlife bars/clubs you shouldn't miss
Partying nightlife and people in Cancun is just like Vegas a lot of American tourists, so actually you feel here like in America, if you fancy a totally exotic place, try to go to Playa del Carmen....
Batacha & Azucar - Located at the Camino and Hyatt hotels respectively, these 2 clubs heat up the night with live salsa music.
Cat's - Cancun meets the Caribbean with live reggae bands and no cover charge.
Christine - Offers a more sophisticated dressing code and a fabulous light show.
Daddy'O and Daddy Rock - A hip-hop, hard rock combo offering late night dancing and plenty of fun.
La Boom - Late-night partying and dancing culminate in one of the area's largest bikini contests.
Senor Frogs - An internationally known restaurant and bar with a unique mix of casual dining and a wall-to-wall party atmosphere.
So you came all the way to Mexico to spend your precious time at the beach right? here are some of my recommendations:
The northern beaches are located north of the hotel zone and face the Isla Mujeres. The Isla Mujeres protects those beaches from the large waves and makes them a wonderful place for the children to play or to practice your favorite water sport like jet skiing.
Here are some of the northen beaches we actually visited, all of them are very clean and are open to the public.
Playa Las Perlas is the first beach you come to and it's a wonderful beach for all types of fun under the sun. You can venture off to Isla Mujeres from a shuttle or enjoy many restaurants and bars that dot the area.
Playa Linda offers dive tours and has a shuttle The submarine that you can take to Isla Mujeres. Many visitors love this beach and the adventure of traveling by submarine to the Isla Mujeres for a nice day trip.
Playa Langosta is the beach you want to visit if you love water sports such as diving or snorkeling tours. There are many restaurants and bars also located along this beach. This is a great beach to also enjoy a relaxing swim.
Another great beach for all types of swimming and water sports is the Playa Tortugas. You can also find a dock for shuttles going to Isla Mujeres and for the diving and snorkeling tours.
The Playa Caracol is a great beach for the entire family. The children will love the shallow flat sandy seabed where they can play in the water and build many sand castles. This beach is usually the most crowded but also has plenty of activities that the family will enjoy.
Playa Juventud, Km 3 (in front of Villas Juveniles youth hostel). One of the less-known beaches, this one is a swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving mecca.
Located in the hotel zone here you will find beaches on sides, the lagoon side and the sea side. Every hotel along this zone has a beach front view.
The eastern beaches do not have the protection from Isla Mujeres so they are open to the Caribbean Sea,
as a result the waters are unpredictable, have breezier conditions and crashing waves here I recommend to get your camera out and be ready to take
some amazing photos!
Cancun hotel beaches and the marinas use colored warning flags so you will always know what the condition of the sea is like.
Before you venture off into the water; pay attention to these warning flags and all local signs regarding the tides and the undertow currents,
the most placid-looking surf can cloak deadly currents.
Playa Ballenas is one of the most popular beaches along this strip where everyone enjoys all types of water sports, swimming,
tube rides, sand volleyball, para sailing and, as with all these beaches, people watching.
Chac Mool, Gaviota Azul & Playa Marlin - The higher wind speeds of these 3 beauties are perfect for sailboarding and para sailing.
Punta Nizuc & Playa Delfines - In addition to incredible sand and surf, these two beaches offer an awe-inspiring view.
A nice beach that has some actual Mayan ruins is the San Miguelito, so you can also experience some wonderful history as you enjoy the sun.
The Punta Nizuc beach is where several exclusive hotels and resorts line the coast. The beach is kept clean and manicured.
There is one secluded beach located at the Camino Real Hotel. You can find it at the southern tip of the Peninsula. The only way to this quiet beach is by going through the property of the Camino Real Hotel. This beach is federal property. There are no restaurants or noise, just a great place to relax and enjoy the beach. The beach is always very clean and manicured on a daily basis.
As you can see Cancun is loaded with one beach after another. You will enjoy visiting every beach and taking in all the sites that Cancun has to offer.
If diving is your pleasure, the waters off the coast of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel make for an irresistible 1 or 2-day side trip.
Take the daily bus to Playa del Carmen, and catch the hourly ferry to Cozumel for the perfect dip.
You can also swim with dolphin in Isla Mjueres or Cozumel Island.
From Cancun, we took a ferry to Isla Mujeres. This slow little Caribbean island makes a nice day trip out of Playa, if you start early. It is a good place to go snorkeling and hang out on the beach. There is a national park, El Garrafon, and a small town with some hotels and shopping. The name means the Island of Women, for the statues of the goddess Ixchel that the first conquistadors found there.
A great place for water enthusiast's. If you enjoy snorkeling, swimming or diving, or if your passion is deep-sea fishing, jet skiing, or just riding
wave runners, you’ll definitely find the buzz you’re seeking. And if water sports is not your thing, then you’ll enjoy sightseeing and exploring Isla Mujeres, flying in the sky-rider, visiting
Cozumel or just dining on a sunset cruise.
AquaWorld offers kayaks, sunfish, hobby-waves and paddle-boats, as well as diving and snorkeling gear and life vests.
My favorite attractions was the Jungle Tour We had so much fun! Each couple gets their own speed boat. You drive through the jungle to the preserved coral reef. The lead boat driver
and guide even take you through the water to where the greatest schools of fish are and you get to snorkel around a huge variety of fish. I would recommend going early in the morning to avoid the hot sun. It's a great adventure for all
A more natural getaway is
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
This 1.5-million-acre coastal reserve includes rain forest, wetlands, savannas , coral reefs, mangroves, fresh and salt water lagoons, cenotes, sand dunes and wetlands. Over 100 species of mammals live here, such as deer, possum, peccaries and jaguars. There used to be monkeys, but they disappeared after hurricane Roxanne. An amazing diversity of birds, both permanent and migratory, can be spotted here, including herons, egrets, pelicans and cranes. About 350 species have been counted. Furthermore there are around 30 Mayan sites in the area, including an ancient 24 km long man-made canal, connecting the old trading post Muyil with Boca Paila on the coast.
There are many tours you can do over there, I suggest to read carefully the reviews about the tour operators, as some
people are happy with their choice and some just not.
In my experience, taking a tour is terrible... The best experience is driving for yourself (the road is really terrible graveled and bumpy but it's part of the adventure)
from Tulum to Punta Allen, spend the night there. There is a nice, little, cute hotel in town. At midnight,
all the lights are shut down and you can watch the stars. In the morning take a walk along the town, and go to the Laguna Negra by your own feet...
If you see that the sea is calm, take the a boat tour directly from the office of the "Cooperativa de Pescadores",
In your way back, stop at the Puente de Boca Paila to watch the sun going to sleep...
If you don't like too much adventure or you have only one day, better choose the Community tours, you can find them at the center of Tulum,
they can take you to the Muyil Mayan Ruins, along the lagoon, and you can swim in a real natural river... Very nice!!
I don't know why everybody take tours... tours are awful!! they make you run too fast and you can't enjoy yourself!!
Another nice place is
We woke up early morning and got to the beach at 5:00 A.M down at the beach we were watching the glorious sunrise the best
thing is that nobody was there, so we felt like it was our own private beach. Also we didn't have to
queue to see the ruins as we were there at 8:00 the opening time, when we left at 10:00 we saw a massive queue...
So my private recommendation is to wake up early morning to watch the sunrise it's incredible!!
The ruins themselves are nice, though on the small side and certainly don't compete with other major ruins.
What sets this place apart is the stunning location overlooking some of the bluest waters I've ever seen.
An incredible view from the ruins and nothing compete with floating in the ideal temperature waters and looking up at the temples.
Another fun thing to do is spend a day at one of the natural eco parks on the Mayan Riviera; Tres Ríos, Xel-Ha and the biggest one, Xcaret. They all have beautiful natural lagoons, perfect for snorkeling. You can also go horseback riding or float down a river on an inner tube. Xcaret has shows throughout the day and night. The night show is quite spectacular, with a Mayan ball game and an awesome dance show. All three parks are great for kids and for young couples like me...
Here we spent a full day, It is an amazing nature preserve with so much to do!!
You can snorkel around the amzing lagoon with load of different fish, bike through the jungle, float on inner-tubes, jump off cliffs, zip-wire, nature walk through a true jungle,
enjoy different musicians, and swim with dolphin and manatees (additional cost involved)
The cool thing about this park is it's so big so it never feels crowded and there are so many little nooks and crannies to hide away and get lost in a day dream.
We noticed that the park actually individually wrapped the snorkel in plastic after being disinfected and the goggles were cleaned also.
We bought the all inclusive entrance so we had free food and drinks, the drinks were served in paper cups, and if you asked the bar tender to make them stronger he would.
They have an assortment of restaurants in the park that you can experience as many times as you want.
Swimming skills are not really required because they make you wear life-vests.
I liked the way they had snorkeling 'stations' all around the lagoon, you could get in or out just about anywhere.
USE the free lockers and don't leave anything on chairs.
Another nice entertainment park we visited was
Xcaret Eco Theme Park
Another wonderful day has gone in this eco theme park. It is a zoo, beach resort, aquarium, and adventure park combined all in one, plus much more. We were impressed by how much this place had to offer, we knew we couldn't see everything. What we loved the most was the lazy canyon river that takes you all the way to the coast. We also liked the aquarium and the zoo. We spent some time close to the beach coast enjoying the natural pools.
The buffet wasn't that impressive, I think theres not a lot of effort going in the food.
We stayed for the night show which is 3 hours long but well worth it. Simply one of the best shows I've seen.
A trip to the Yucatan isn't complete without a visit to one of its mysterious and ancient Mayan ruins.
Located just 2.5 hours drive from Cancun is the area's largest and most noted ruin. While Tulum is a bit smaller.
Chichen Itza is undeniable one of the highlights of Mexico
the main pyramid is just breathtaking.
However the best option would be to rent a car like we did, stay at Valladolid the night,
and drive a 30 minutes drive to Chichen in the morning at 08.30 am, when the ruin opens.
At this time, there are almost no tourist and no vendors which can easily spoil the image.
Its your chance to make the best pictures without any people. The vendors arrive at 9 to 10 am but will be busy for an hour to build their stalls.
The tourist buses pour in between 10 and 11 am - when its getting really hot - and thats your time to leave.
2 hours are enough, especially when you have the place for yourself. Before 11 am, head to the Cenote Ik kil, which is 5 minutes drive from Chichen
and again you will avoid the masses.
Again if you are too scared driving you can always hire a tour operator...
After enjoying a lot in the above activities we made our way to
Playa del Carmen
The European and American-influenced nightlife here is one of the best scenes in Mexico. This town contains an assortment
of clubs and music venues, as well as several beachside bars. Most of the action centers around El Zócalo and La Quinta, but
you can find better deals and lesser known hotspots along the beachside or farther out of town.
Strolling along 5th Avenue, La Quinta, is a popular pastime. Most of the time the street is pedestrian only, with a casual esplanade feeling. Playa's cutest shops and boutiques, offering souvenirs, clothes, handicraft, silver and much more are found here. Open air restaurants creates an over all welcoming ambiance. Stores are usually open 9-10pm with the occasional siesta break great for locals not so good for us :(
We also did a really nice horseback riding...
We enjoyed here an amazing horseback riding as we both really like it, It wasn't too far from Playa only about 15 minutes north, in the jungle along Maroma Beach we hired Rancho Baaxal horseback riding tour. They had daily tours and full moon rides, We chose the day ride and really enjoyed it, the trip starts in the jungle, leads to a gallop on the beach and drinks are provided during a short rest and then back though the jungle.
All along the coast there are little communities, empty beaches and cenotes. If you have your own transport,
just go explore! Buses and colectivos run up and down the coast constantly; just make sure they make stops.
Here are some nice places to visit if you want a change of scenery:
Between Playa and Tulum
A great place to go snorkeling is Paamul, about 15 minutes south of Playa. Paamul is growing from a camping ground to an all-service laid back beach town. RV's are parked here on a yearly basis and many have their own little fence and satellite dish. There is a dive shop and a couple places to eat.
Puerto Aventuras lies about 20 minutes south of Playa. This planned development has a marina, where you can swim with dolphins or rent a fishing boat. The marina is surrounded by shops and restaurants. Puerto Aventuras also has a 9-hole golf course. There's a free museum, CEDAM (Club de Exploraciones y Deportes Acuáticos de México), which displays items found on shipwrecks along the coast. These waters have sunk many ships over the centuries .
Xpu-Ha, a little further down the highway, is a great beach with a couple of restaurants, rooms and cabañas for rent and a dive shop. It's perfect if you want to elude the crowds, but still want some service. Xpu-Ha has seven separate entrances, each with a make-shift sign (X-1, X-2 etc).
Akumal means "place of turtles" in Mayan. During the summer huge turtles make their way up the beach to lay their eggs. It is important to respect the ecology of their nesting grounds. Resorts and small family hotels share the beaches of Akumal. The little community has a store, some nice beach front restaurants and a couple of dive shops. Private villas and condos are plentiful and usually for rent. Yal Ku lagoon in Akumal offers great snorkeling (entrance fee is charged).
Between Playa and Cancun
About halfway to Cancun, or 25 minutes north of Playa, is Puerto Morelos. This slow-paced fishing village has a few seaside restaurants that specialize in fresh seafood. It's a nice little place, with not much to do. The vehicle transporting ferry bound for Cozumel departs from Puerto Morelos. Check the schedule if you plan to cross, as it varies from season to season.
Just before reaching Puerto Morelos there's a Botanical Garden with several habitats of regional and endemic plants, such as the chicle tree (natural rubber). Only a couple of minutes north of Puerto Morelos, you'll find Crococun. This little zoo started out as a breeding station for the Yucatecan crocodile, which is almost extinct (maybe because it tastes like chicken? trust me I've tried). Other kinds of crocodiles are also on display, as well as Yucatecan deer, spiders, monkeys, snakes and other regional animals. This is a great place to bring your kids as you're allowed and encouraged to pet the animals.
A little further from Playa is Valladolid, a nice colonial town with a different ambience than the more Caribbean Playa del Carmen. It makes a great day trip together with Chichén Itzá.
in our stay we also visited
Just across from Playa del Carmen, you can see the island of Cozumel. Although the biggest island in the country,it's smallenough to cover as a nice day trip.The town on the island, San Miguel, lacks the charm and personality of
Playa, but offers some nice restaurants and generic tourist shopping. Cruise ships stop here almost every day of the week,
so prices can be pretty steep. The eating and drinking scene is more focused on the American visitor, like Hard Rock Café and
other franchise establishments. What the island really has going for it is the snorkeling and diving. Cozumel has been a diving destination since the 1960's when Jacques Cousteau made the world aware of the incredible reefs of the area. It is easier to dive and snorkel directly off the beach in Cozumel than in Playa. To get around the island you will have to rent transportation (taxi, car or, more commonly, scooter) we retned a nice scooter that took us all around the island, since there really is no bus service. There are a few small ruins, but none of any real significance. Ferries leave to Cozumel from Playa every hour on the hour (with a couple
of exceptions), starting at 5am. It is a 30 minute ride and a round trip run for about 15 US dollars. Ferries back to Playa also leave every hour on the hour and the last one leaves the island at 10pm.
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