Things to do in Cancun (After you Leave)
There may be many things to do in Cancun, however this post is about what there is to out of Cancun. You will be flying into Cancun to access the Yucatan Peninsular and that is far as this post goes. Cancun has an ideal airport!
1. Leave Cancun
Warning! The following tips are for the hearty traveller. If you listen and believe everything you hear about Mexico, stay in your resort and do not take the following advice. This will take you out of your hotel, hire a car, be on your own without a guide and follow a less trodden path. Be warned or be inspired! If you are looking for things to do in Cancun then stop reading now.
As you can tell this post is going to be about Mexico, more specifically the Yucatan peninsular and offer you some valuable tips on what to do in 2 weeks. Especially relevant if you are not into package holiday resorts and would prefer a mix of DIY travel with the odd holiday rental thrown in!
To put our trip in context I am traveller at heart, as is my wife (we met in travel), we decided not to opt for the resort and find our own way in to Mexican life and get off the beaten track. Almost forgot to mention, we are travelling with our 1 year old son, therefore the following tips would suit a single, couple or a small family who would find this information useful.
2. Visit Playa del Carmel – Soak up some sun, relax
We started our trip in Playa del Carmel for my cousins wedding, it was stunning and so was the resort my mother kindly paid for us to stay in, love you Mum! We stayed here in the Mahekal Beach Resort for 4 nights. It was sublime and so was the wedding. There are many airbnbs here, but you will struggle for shade on the beach in the town if you are not staying in a resort
Ok this post is more about what happened after the resort. So lets crack on, but first here are a few pics:
3. Hire a Car
Bonus Tip Hire a Car This is must in Mexico. I cannot imagine what it would be like to rely on public transport for your mini travel in Mexico. We hired a VW polo, here called a Gol, for $340 for 10 days! What a bargain only $34 USD per day!! I recommend these guys http://www.america-carrental.com
4. Drive to Tulum
After chatting to some locals we were given a tip to go to a lagoon called Bacalar. We decided that this would fit with our plan and we could do a circle around the peninsular, this was our rough idea. It was a 3.5 hour drive from Playa de Carmel, however with a 1pm checkout and our car not being ready we were not on the road until 3.30pm.
TIP Don’t pay $15USD a day for Sat Nav – Buy a $550MX (£22) 3GB of data sim card and stick it in your smart phone. You get Google Maps and out of trouble in an emergency! We used TelCel operator the biggest in Mexico.
Our intention was to see the sunset and enjoy the Mayan ruins at Tulum, the only Maya port still in tact, but when we arrived the ruins close at 4pm. A minor setback, so instead we took a sunset boat tour, (not recommended as didn’t see much and the snorkelling was not great!) but the bonus was we got to stay stay in this place: http://vptulum.com/ My goodness what a treat for $180USD we had a beach front eco cabanna. It was/is paradise.
5. Check out Bacalar Lagoon
After a morning sunrise on a beautiful beach we had breakfast and hit the road, Tulum to Bacalar is 3 hours.
TIP With toddler plan drives around Naps!
The attraction at Bacalar is the Lake, array of colours is simply breathtaking. Blues, turquoises and sea green are forever changing with the sky through out the day. It is mystical and not even mentioned in the Lonely Planet, at least the one I found which was probably out of date. It is true that Bacalar is known by locals and backpackers, but with only 1 airbnb available it is a relatively new destination, that must be set to change! Our host in our first guesthouse (recommended on a budget) Casa Caracol, was from Mexico city, meaning money is pouring in to this location. We found it on booking.com which has to be said is an invaluable tool when on the hop.
TIP If you are looking for somewhere to stay and you are near the hotel Don’t book on Booking.com check availability and go and negotiate on the door – you can save up to 30%
6. Jump into an 800m Sink Hole ‘Cenote’
Another attraction is ‘Cenote Azul’. Right beside Casa Caracol, it is an 800m sinkhole which is loaded with Mayan culture and beliefs. The whole of the Yucatan peninsular is like a giant Swiss cheese which used to be part of North Africa a few genersations ago. Having been pushed up by seismic shifts there are now numerous freshwater ‘cenotes’ scattered across the peninsular. The feeling you get when jumping in is quite spooky knowing there is 800m below you in this rich blue water where ancient traditions occurred within Mayan cultures!
After been caught in a tropical rainstorm we got in our car and headed off to find another place to stay that evening. With our trusty phone and data, my wife found a small resort of stunning cabanas further north up the lake in our direction of Merida, our next destination. It was stating £108 on google / booking.com so we thought to just arrive and see what negotiating we could do.
Ours second night in Kuuch Kaanil Villas Eco-romanticas Bacalar
We arrived and there was no one there. We had to go through the jungle to the lakeside, presented with a sign midway that said ‘Do not feed the Jaguars’ we proceeded cautiously down a very narrow dirt road off the highway and finally found our place. Hmmm no one here, faded sign, maybe we should turn around and carry on. My wife went into the reception whilst I looked after sleeping baby and returned saying no one could be found with exception of a cook who spoke no English. I called a number I found in the reception, after some difficulty with speaking (my spannish is not great) I was told to wait. Finally after waiting 10mins we were about to leave and the cook appeared with a pen and pad. She gestured to follow, we had a look , not bad quite basic but charming and negotiated a nightly stay with breakfast for £72. It would have been £108 on booking.com.
Here are some photos of the place:
Stay tuned for Part 2..
where in the next post I will go through Merida and our Airbnb, Chichen Itza, Uzmal, Pink Flamingoes and the gleaming Holbox Island with another airbnb!
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