If you get to Cancun at the right time of year (mid February to mid March, you'll have to check for the exact dates because they change yearly), you can get to see the Cancun Carnaval. This is the largest annual festival in Cancun. There are giant parties downtown where locals listen to 3 days of different music and dance most of the night away. Events happen over more than 10 days. Most vacationers aren't aware it's even going on because it's away from the Hotel Zone. I didn't get to hang out through this one, but we drove past the floats as they were setting up. The cab driver told us it's the most fun event of the year. These girls ran over to pose for the camera and I was lucky to get a shot 'cause we were moving so fast.
Want to see how the locals live in Cancun?
Many of the hotel workers live in the Puerto Juarez neighbourhood, 5 minutes north of downtown Cancun. There's a few small local restaurants, churches, a local beach called "Playa Del Nino", and a ferry terminal to Isla Mujeres. Not much shopping here, and it gets more residential the further you go across from the terminal. Some of the tiny metal shack apartments can show you the reality of poverty in Cancun.
Most of the neighbourhood was in ruins because of an El Nino storm a few years ago, but they've slowly started rebuilding. Most impressive is a new tall white spire with a restaurant on top (shaped kind of like a lighthouse).
Directions: North of downtown Cancun on Avenida Bonampak.
Playa Del Nino is a local public beach about 10 minutes north of downtown Cancun in the Puerto Juarez neighbourhood. It is a little further up the road past the ferry terminal.
On a very hot Saturday or Sunday it can be swarming with locals swimming, sunbathing, playing guitars, fishing, and having picnics. A local's idea of beach weather and a tourist's are two different things, so even when it's hot for us it may still be cool for them and the beach may be empty. It's busier in summer.
There are a few rustic beach restaurants (specializing in seafood) where you can order food or sit and have a drink. I'd be very careful eating anything in these restaurants, they're definitely not meant for a tourist's stomach. These places are also bars in the evening.
I think it's named after an "El Nino" storm which ravaged this area and destroyed lots of buildings several years ago. Translated literally it means "Beach of the Boy."
This is the closest we got to really experiencing Mexican culture while in Cancun. Parque Las Palapas is located near La Habichuela. It's a traditional plaza where locals gather to play music, relax, eat and converse. There is a small ferris wheel and carousel for children to ride. Local vendors sell churros and fried bananas. And the best thing is there's rarely a tourist in sight. To get away from it all even if just for a moment take the time to visit this little gem in the heart of downtown Cancun.
By pure coincidence, one of our sons-in-law had been in Cozumel a few days before our arrival, taking part in a diver refresher course with his other buddies in Canada's air force Search & Rescue teams. We were fortunate enough to have a visit from Kevin and his buddy Dan on our second day in Cancun - staying up late to pontificate on life in general. Because they had booked a rental car to drive up from Cozumel, we had a very interesting tour of the 'outback' sections of Cancun. It is a far cry from what you see in the tourist part of town! Row after row of streets with no signs and only the most basic of shelters - it reminded us of some scenes from Africa that we had experienced many years before. There are almost 1 million people living near Cancun because, as one of our guides said, they know they can make a lot more money off the tourists than they can by fishing or farming!
Local wildlife.I went all-inclusive,but i did have a few meals out to sample some Mexican food.Do not just stick to burgers and chips,try some proper Mexican food and drink some time during your hol.Do try a hot chile and do try Tequila.Food is safe in Cancun,fruit and salad and cold food is fine.I eat this food and was not ill at all.The water is not ok to drink,so buy bottled water.I enjoyed burrito(a flour tortilla wrapped around beans,meat or fish).I had this several times and it is very tasty.Pollo is chicken and a must try is a salsa,very hot(tomatoes,onions,hot peppers).Be careful though,it is scorching.
I found the Mexican lagers very nice and my favourite was Corona .Of course try all the cocktails at your hotel.The corn tortillas that you get with most meals were nice also and i enjoyed rolling them up and putting alittle salsa in them.You can get any type of food you fancy in Cancun.Chips,pizza,indian,chinese,Mexican,burgers,italian,american.
Tequila is taken straight and is served in a long thin glass called caballito.Tequila comes in white,or aged and old.You can also combine Tequila with salt and lime .Put a pinch of salt between your thumb and index finger and in the other hand,take a slice of lime.Put both in your mouth and then drink the tequila.
RENT A JET SKI
If you are looking for fun, try one of these water motorcycles. It's easy (you learn in 5 minutes), fun, and safe (you fall to the water and there's no sharks... at least there weren't when I went!!)
If you go to Mexico you can get lost if you dont pay attention. Most is still jungle. Villages and towns are just build somewhere between the trees and animals can even make a mistake and come into your town. When we went to Coba....all we saw most of the way was jungle. You think i am just kidding? Well take a lot at the picture...this one is taken from the plane and as you can see there is a lot of green. So when you leave the beaten path make sure you have a good map or a good guide.
Wanna go on a jungletour...just check out the webpage.
If you can you have to sitt near a window in a plane. And if you are lucky you leave in daytime. Make sure your camera isnt flashing and that it is on mode "landscape".
And then you have to make sure you are sitting on the right site of the plane. This is the result if you do so !
More beach pictures of Cancun on the website below
If you enjoy biking as much as I do, and if there's one day that you really want to take it easy and relax and not take one of those day trips around Cancun, I highly recommend that you bike along the hotel zone....
My friend and I borrowed our bikes and helmets from the hotel (Royal Sunset) since we purchased the all inclusive program. The staff organizes bike tours departing from the hotel, but you can borrow the bike on your own just as long as you take it back to the hotel in 1 piece and before 5 PM. This was my friend's idea, and it was a great one.
There is a bike track starting at the Royal Sunset hotel and all the way to the end of Kukulcan Boulevard (going towards downtown). We rode along this bike track - which I hadn't heard about till now - quite in peace, with a few obstacles in the way, but I must say it's pretty well preserved and you have wonderful sights while riding, such as the lagoon, a few green areas, big luxury houses, magnificent hotels, etc.
If you don't want to lose your breath half way before the end of the Boulevard, you better have a better physical condition than myself, or just take it very easy and ride slowly, there's no rush!! Enjoy the road.... The distance we rode was of about 11 KM one-way (so it was 22 KM. in total). We rode for about 2-2:30 hours.
Important TIP!!! Make sure you take with you a bottle of water (you can always stop and buy one but there aren't that many shops on the way), perhaps a towel (because you will sweat a lot) and rub a good amount of sun block on your skin.... it was a bit cloudy when we made this journey but I was hot and got burnt anyway, so it might be even tougher if you choose to bike-ride on a very hot and sunny day.... Put your sunglasses on, and don't forget to wear your helmet! ;-)
NOW YOU'RE READY TO GO!!! Have Fun
Soon to be converted into another 5 star resort unfortunatly...Mahaual beach is just beyond far of your expectations.... calm water you feel like you are in a pool ,,,hardly no waves at all.. pristine water you can see your feet as well as that turquose color characteric of the region... powder like sand, and what it´s best no big hotels to distroy the view,,, this little village seems to be hold in time as not a lot of people lives there,, if you walk a little bit from the main beach you´ll find yourself and no one elses around, however still massages ,seafood and beer can be found.
As an author of a travel book, What's Cheap and Free In Cancun" I get to visit many, many locations throughout the Cancun area. My absolute favorite is a little place called Paradise Beach in Tulum. This area is off the beaten path and very, very cool.
Located just south of the Tulum ruins, right on the beach, there is a wide, white sandy beach lined with palm trees. A local "bar" whose electricity is provided by a generator and is open from about 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, will rent you a lounge chair for $2.50 a day. Under a beautiful palm tree I find myself looking at the view of the tourquise water and dosing a lot. Bar service is offered by two waiters or you just walk the 10 yards to place your order.
During February of 2006 while visiting Paradise Beach, we saw a famous Argentine model posing for photos. WHAT A VIEW! Certainly this little beach has been a backdrop for many a photo shoot.
La Casita is Children's home for Girls (there is a Boys one near by as well) and if you have kids with you while on vacation IMHO you should take them there with gifts of toys, clothes, school supplies or just cold hard cash and donate to the home. They will give you a tour of the facility and where the children learn and sleep. Not only will you be helping the kids at the home, but you will show your kids about goodwill and how good they have it. It's a humble way of making a point to your kids.
There is a small fishing community off the gulf of Mexico in Isla Holbox. This is a nice place to relax and lose track of time. I spend two days there, but believe me I could have easily spent a month here. Life is so relaxing and so slow with no modern amenities to bother you. Like a fellow backpacker said, 'the island is for swimming, relaxing, swimming, taking a nap, swimming, relaxing, eating, taking a nap... and so on' ... jejeje. If you have the time, you may want to take a boat ride to the equaly beautiufl sourounding islands. Read all about this trip in my travelogue and view the pics as well. Check my Isla Hobox page for more details.
The lovely city of Valladolid serves as an exploration hub to several sites in the area, including Chichen Itza. The city itself has a lovely plaza and several good restaurants. Check my Valladolid page for more details.
Our travel agent told described the accomdations here as luxury but they were a bit less impressive...more
I believe that most everyone that posted positivie comments either on this site or Trip Advisor had...more
The hotel is great and everything went fine on my stay. The staff is friendly, the rooms are...more