Even writing about how fantastic our eight day trip to Cancun was makes me smile!
Just a week and a half after returning from Chicago and Lake Sinissippi, Jonathan and I set off for Cancun, Mexico. My organization held a conference there and as the manager of student programs, it was absolutely necessary that I attend. 😉 Aside from the beach-y atmosphere, I particularly enjoyed the location because my concentration in college was International History with a focus on Latin American culture and history.
And of course, I enjoyed the planning: the research, the reviews, the mapping out of our days and destinations. I definitely recommend a really great app from iTunes, aptly named “Cancun & Isla Mujeres: Cool Travel.” The app is available offline and provided reviews and itineraries that were extremely helpful.
We had just listened to a comedy sketch where the comedian mocked those who looked at the ocean and said, “The water looks sooooo blue!” Because . . . water always looks blue. But of course, that’s the first thing you think when you see the turquoise waters of Cancun. We left DC at 6 am so as to arrive earlier in the day and were grateful to meet Tony, of Grupo Royale Tours, amidst the cacophony of legal and illegal taxi drivers offering tourists a ride.
At our hotel we experienced the first taste of how many locals will try to cheat tourists when they wouldn’t let Jonathan check into the room, claiming that we’d need to pay $50 more a night for the room. After arguing for quite some time that rooms have flat rates- you aren’t charged extra for a second occupant at any other hotel- a more friendly desk clerk intervened and finally let us check in. This was to be the beginning of a very dissatisfactory stay at the Krystal Cancun, which would receive a terrible review. After a quick nap for Jonathan (I was too excited to sleep!), we caught the Ultramar ferry over to Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun.
(Clicking on any photo will enlarge it. For high-resolution and additional photos, click here.)
By the time we reached Isla Mujeres, we were ravenous and ready for our first taste of Mexican food. We ate lunch at a great little place called Viñales– the seafood and piña coladas were exactly what we needed before we set out to explore the island. Since Isla Mujeres is only about 4 miles long and .4 miles wide, the primary forms of transportation are mopeds and golf carts. Given a choice between the two, we felt a bit safer in a golf cart!
The Canon 60D is heavy enough for me that I need both hands to snap photos, which proved a bit of a challenge as we zoomed around, but it was a wonderful way to see the island. Below are some shots snapped from the moving golf cart.
We arrived somewhat late in the day (about 3 pm), so we didn’t make it to the Tortugranja (Turtle Farm) before it closed, but we did have enough time to drive the entire length of the island and back before sundown.
By the time we reached Punta Sur, it was late in the day and the site was closed. We were greeted by a calm soul of a dog seated in an orange plastic chair (pictured in the wide shot below) and a very friendly store owner who took our photo next to the fertility goddess. After photographing the Mayan ruins from afar, I bought lovely black coral earrings in the shape of a star and we hit the road for the drive back to El Centro.
Although I can’t appreciate the taste of beer, the sight of this cute sign (“Beer So Cold It’ll Make Your Teeth Hurt”) and the tropical decor decor convinced us to stop for a drink at the Villa La Bella. The bartender was friendly and attentive, but by far the best thing about the villa was the swings at the bar! Mental note for a future home!
After our drink, we hopped back in the golf cart and kept our eyes peeled for a spot to have dinner. We came upon the Mango Cafe, which was well-reviewed by both Trip Advisor and my Cancun app. After a stellar parking job by Jonathan (difficulty points!), we headed back to El Centro when we realized that the cafe was closed.
We ended up eating dinner at a cute little place called La Lomita, which was affordable and quite good, and where I fed a vagrant pregnant cat, watched a poodle on a roof, and laughed at an older couple critically observing Jonathan’s parking job.
After La Lomita, I stashed my camera for the night because El Centro emanated such a romantic atmosphere: twinkling lights, cobblestone streets, and live music. We walked for a while, taking in the ambiance and listened to an acoustic guitar performance at Fayne’s before taking the last ferry back to Cancun.
Before we left DC, a coworker mentioned that while Cancun is nice, he and his wife return to Isla Mujeres when they’re looking for a romantic, authentic Mexican getaway. After visiting, I felt the same way. There is so much to do and so many other sights to see: the Tortugranja, the Crayola House (which we couldn’t find due to bad directions on TripAdvisor), Captain Dulche’s Museum, and Hacienda Mundaca, among others.
Next Up: Cancun Trip, Tulum & Xel-Ha