Cancún & Isla Mujeres, Mexico
21.02.2011 - 27.02.2011
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One place I never thought I’d visit any time soon was Cancún, Mexico.
Mexico, yes! But not necessarily Cancún. Why? Well, it was never high on my “List of Places” to go, I didn’t really know much about the place except it was a top ‘Spring Break’ location and I suppose living on an island, I was lucky enough to have access to the beach, just a drive away.
But when one of my best friends from school in Florida invited me to join her and some of her friends on a trip, I jumped to the opportunity. After all, what better way to add another place to my “Been to List”, than spend it with some awesome friends!
NORTH AMERICA: United States (FL**, CA, DC, GA, IL, MA, MN, NC, NJ, NY, SC, VA, WI), Canada (Toronto, Montreal), Mexico (Cancún, Isla Mujeres)
* * Lived there for University
My friends were arriving for a long weekend, so I decided to take the opportunity to visit some more of the area, by arriving a couple days before and leaving a couple days after their scheduled trip. I started reading up “things to do” for the visit, but as I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I wanted to do for my ‘extra’ days, decided to see what was available or see what the recommendations from the hotel were, and choose when I was there.
I arrived early evening via Miami to the International Airport in Cancún and got a Shared Shuttle to the Best Western Hotel Plaza Kokai in downtown Cancún.
[I am proud to say I didn’t get swindled into any schemes or time-shares or tours, as I got warned about these salespersons ‘waiting’ as you come out of the customs area. They all were wearing Blue shirts, but working for different companies and I suppose all working on commission.]
As the hotel was in the downtown, the shuttle driver dropped of visitors along the Cancún Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) at various hotels, before dropping me off at my hotel. I was scheduled to be staying in the downtown for the first two nights of my trip, before meeting my friends where we had decided on staying along the Cancún Hotel Zone. Driving along the Hotel Zone, I got to see the ‘famous’ or infamous sites, like Señor Frog's as well as admire the beauty of the place and the excitement all around.
View from Hotel Room
After checking in and freshening up, I decided to take a ‘night stroll to explore the city’, as I was excited about being in a new country.
With a local city map as my guide, I walked through the city, sometimes empty streets, sometimes along the highway, sometimes taking a ‘wrong turn’, where I found the ‘Walmart’, a Burger King, a lot of ‘book-your-tours-here’ booths. I also found a supermarket/grocery store, where I was able to pick up some water and cookies, as a vital supply. The hotel would provide two bottles of water, but as a ‘just-in-case’, I was now prepared. Yes, that was a warning I was given – don’t drink the water. The city felt very safe, and the people very friendly. No one’s really bothering you, yet saying hello as you pass by. You however really do get the feel that even in the downtown, it is catering for the tourists.
The next day I excitedly awoke, for what was in store. Along my evening stroll, in the spur of the moment, I braved one of the “book-your-tours-here” booths and booked a day tour with the “Islander” tour company, to ‘Isla Mujeres’. Otherwise known as the Island of Women, this is a little island off the coast of Cancún, was sacred to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, the goddess of childbirth and medicine. The Spanish named it based on the many images of goddesses that were visible around, when they arrived on the island. I had read a little about the island, so was very excited to be getting the opportunity to visit.
The weather was perfect. Lovely sun and breezes to ensure the experiences would be great. We took a boat (named “Caribbean Princess”) across to the island and I must say, pictures really don’t do justice as to how perfect the different shades of blue of the sea, blend together.
Beautiful Shades of Blue
First view of Isla Mujeres
The tour I decided on was a semi-inclusive one, where lunch and non-alcoholic drinks were included. Included in the tour was a delicious buffet lunch, with such varieties and different flavours. An optional city ‘walking tour’ was also available to be able to explore and enjoy some of the history of the island. For additional prices, there were options of other activities, like renting a golf cart, snorkelling, swimming with dolphins and visiting the turtle farm. There was also the option of just the day trip, with no food/drinks included and another option of an all-inclusive one, with all food and all kinds of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
I decided on lounging along the seashore, swimming in the ocean and playing volleyball with some of the other passengers, for the morning portion of the trip. In the afternoon, I joined the walking tour of the island, where we heard the history of the island and little stories about the different areas as well as admired the colour houses, hotels and restaurants throughout the walk. The center of the island/town is a small market place; really nice, very colourful stuff and full of friendly people, but taken over by other visiting tourists.
Looking up of the trees
Weather station on beach
Vibrant colourful buildings
The Pier - Isla Mujeres
Mermaid statue on The Pier - Isla Mujeres
I’m very happy I took the ‘risk’ with this tour. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. The tour attendants were very pleasant and willing to help, and even had planned entertainment (games, etc.) on the boat ride back to shore.
The next day I checked out of the downtown Cancún hotel, met up with my friends, checked into the Krystal Cancún Beach Resort. This resort had both the option of all-inclusive and not all-inclusive. When I booked the hotel, I decided that I would book the first two days as all-inclusive and decide on the rest of days. I guess because I don’t drink, I’ve never thought an all-inclusive package (or even party an all-inclusive) would benefit me. Plus, I don’t like the idea of going to a new country, and not eating/tasting the local meals available. I want to experience the experience
The grounds were gorgeous. The view from my room was amazing, facing the Caribbean Sea (twelfth floor)! We met up in the evening and decided to go out to a local ‘Mexican’ outdoor restaurant named “Mextreme”. The evening was cool and clear as we walked to the restaurant. It was lovely being with old friends and making new ones; catching up on everything.
Loved the name of this store we passed!!
Throughout our time together, one of the things we did was organised to spend the day on a Yacht and do some snorkelling. The waters were rough however, so the snorkelling was cancelled, but the day trip and the company was still great.
Views from the Yacht
My friends left to head back home and I decided that I'd travel downwards to enjoy some more beauty and history of this interesting Peninsular. Next Stop: Tulum, Mexico