The Riviera Maya
Our last 2 days in Mexico we decided to spend them resting in Cancun. After all the previous busy and tiring days, we though the best we should do was to have a well deserved rest in between, before continuing on to Belize for a short stop followed by a busy week in Guatemala and a final resting days in Panama. But from our original thoughts to what the reality unfortunately was, it’s a big difference.
The weather. It really ruined what was meant to be sun, beach and pool for two days. The freezing blizzard happening in North America pushed too much south and while temperatures were not cold in Cancun, we did not get see a ray of sun at all. Thankfully we could enjoy the beach on the first day. Very warm water and nice outside temperature, just big clouds but no rain. Only towards the end of the day it is when the strong wind and heavy rain started. That was the end of our beach time the following day.
In any case, if you plan in coming to Cancun around the same time of the year as we went, be aware that the chances of rain are quite high. Other months of the year are better but then you need to be careful during the hurricane season. It’s kind of a lottery to be honest. We were unfortunate in this occasion.
That you come here I am sure it is because of the pristine turquoise beaches. Hotel, pool and beach, just rest and do nothing else. Cancun offers that perfectly. The choice of resorts is countless and so the choice of activities.
On the other hand there is also a big cultural side. Not in the city itself, but just few kilometres away. With so many Maya cities in the Yucatan region your choice is pretty much unlimited. That’s why almost anyone who come to Cancun spend at least some time on excursions to such places. You can make from Cancun the perfect base to visit the Maya cities nearby. In our case, we selected Merida for the purpose instead but only because of our route.
Apart from the hotel zone along the strip, there is a downtown but do not expect to find colonial buildings like elsewhere in Mexico. There is a good choice of shopping malls either in the hotel zone and downtown, but prices for typical souvenirs like those Maya stone masks are at least four times what we we paid back in Teotihuacan!
For more information about Cancun visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Mexico’s currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN, MEX$ or $). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Cancun
- Beaches Well, there is not even need to mention something as obvious as this. But yes, Cancun offers beautiful white sand beaches. It lies on the second largest barrier reef in the world and the water is turquoise.
- Playa del Carmen This is an alternative option to Cancun. Here you will find a more local tourism than international, more quiet with more modern facilities than Cancun.
- Isla Mujeres Just off the coast from Cancun, frequent boats depart from Punta Cancun. You can enjoy the beach over there or you can get your hotel there instead of Cancun if you prefer something more quiet.
- Tulum South of Cancun around 1 hour bus journey is this Maya archaeological site. One of the most important by the coast. The contrast of the pyramids and constructions with the turquoise sea in the background is a sight on its own.
- Chichen Itza, Uxmal Those are two of the most important archaeological sites from the Maya civilization. Getting there is around 3 hours bus journey. Many other Maya cities are nearer to Cancun. The choice is big.
The international airport is 20km away from the hotel zone. Frequent buses connect it to either downtown and hotel zone. ADO is one of the many bus companies operating this route. You can also take a bus directly to other destinations like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Valladolid, Merida and many more.
Coming by bus from elsewhere in Mexico is easy. Once again, ADO is the principal bus company offering new and comfortable buses. If coming from Merida as we did, there are some frequencies during the day and you can check this on their website. We took the bus at 18.00pm arriving at Cancun main bus station and 22.00pm. The bus station in Cancun is in Calle Pino between Av Tulum & Av Uxmal.
From the bus station you can take either buses R1 or R2. They run through Boulevard Kukulcan passing the whole of the hotel zone strip. A single ticket is 9Mex$. Try to avoid taxis, it does not really make sense moving around by taxi when you have all those very frequent buses everywhere and always at the door of your hotel.
Honestly this must be one of the few cities where hotel suggestion section is not relevant. Having one of the greatest choices of any place you can imagine it is entirely up to you, your likes and budget. There’s for everyone. A good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engines such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms, Ebookers or TUI.
We stayed at a rather modest one. We were not looking for luxury not big facilities. For just 2 nights all we wanted is to have something with pool by the beach. It resulted to be a very nice property with front line room views to the Caribbean. Flamingo Cancun Resort, Kukulcan Boulevard Km 11. The bus stop is literally outside, across the road is the Flamingo Mall, also Outback Steakhouse, Bubba Gump and other restaurants; and 10 minutes walk you have the larger mall Plaza La Isla.