One month ago, Camille and I found ourselves, for the four hundredth time in a week since we’d arrived stateside from our Costa Rica and Panama travels, on the phone retelling- for the four hundredth time, no doubt- all of our favorite Central American adventures. They ranged from stories of torrential tropical downpours on secluded beaches to Mardi Gras-style all night dancing bashes to painting our toes on our one full size bed in a shack in the middle of the jungle while trying- quite unsuccessfully- to stream an episode of The Bachelor.
By the end of the conversation, all of our dramatic cooing about ‘those amazing days’ left us high on nostalgia. We craved another adventure. In a matter of three days Camille had designed us an itinerary with travel and accommodation costs that barely reached what I spent to live at home in Seattle, with rent, a car, a Target habit, and all that jazz. The plan: Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica once more.
So here we are.
We touched down in Cancun on Tuesday at noontime. Expectations of meeting Las Vegas on the beach were all we’d packed. Those and a carry on full of sundresses and flip flops and bug repellent.
And what I’ve discovered about this crazy beach metropolis is this: yes, it is absolutely a tropical Las Vegas with high rise resorts and clubs and all manner of show. But that aside, lovely in its own wild right, Cancun is stunning. Beaches with sand like pure baking flour. Water so turquoise, so teal, I’d thought my sunglasses had photoshop. That water is transparent all the way through. So clear that I feel confident I’d be able to spot my fallen earring without straining my eyes. I’d call the whole place pure paradise if it weren’t so developed, so touristy. Truly, it’s bliss.
We spent our first two nights at Hostel Quetzal in the downtown section of Cancun. For $25 each, we had a private air conditioned room with two twin beds, a bathroom, and a balcony.
Our stay included breakfast and dinner as well. But the real find here was the people. In a matter of hours Camille and I had a group of friends to go out with at night. The best part about hostels, other than their unbeatably low prices, is the travelers you meet. They’re interesting, eager, and outgoing. Perfect companions for adventuring.
On day one, after beach bumming it for four hours in the blazing sun, we headed to a swanky beach club, Playa Cabana, for a massive pool party.
$45 dollars per person for all night spent outside in beautiful tiled pools, smack dab on the ocean, with music and unlimited cocktails. Very fun with the only snafu being Camille’s now-sprained foot from a spill on slippery stairs.
She’s a trooper, still busting moves on the dance floor every night since.
On day two, we explored more of the white sand beaches and then glammed ourselves to head to what is called the best night club in North America- Coco Bongo. There, you dance and watch a Cirque du Soleil quality show with the best array of music- oldies, new Pop, hip hop, classic Beatles hits, and show tunes. Camille about died when songs from Chicago were performed. All the while, it’s open bar. The entire experience, $55 per person, was outright fantastic. The performances, the acrobatics, the lighting and music and dancing- worth every penny for nearly four hours of hysteria.
I took away from Cancun that it was much better than what I anticipated. It’s clean and stunning, and while I do think it’s worth a trip simply for the immaculate beaches, it’s more a place I’d recommend going if you want the crazy nightlife as well.
If you travel this way, and Cancun isn’t your speed or style, Isla Mujeres may be. This is where we traveled next, a thirty minute ferry ride from Cancun.
I am certain I’ve never seen any place more exquisite. It’s small- perhaps 8km in all, fairly quaint, and the beaches are postcards.
If I thought Cancun was wonderful, this place has eclipsed it. Camille and I have fallen deeply in love with the island. In less than twenty four hours here, we’ve committed to returning many more times. There’s a quieter, less raucous nightlife with even better beaches than Cancun.
The place we’re staying- Hotel Maria del Mar- costs roughly $45 a night for a room with two double beds, air conditioning, and breakfast. After walking through the town yesterday afternoon, Camille and I have decided this hotel is in the best location- directly on the beach and five minutes of walking to shops and restaurants.
We will spend three days here before heading to Tulum, Mexico. Posts to come will share all the delicious street food we’re grubbing, typical breakfasts in Mexico, and how we try to eat healthfully while traveling.
I hope you’re having a great week
Have you been to Mexico? Where are your favorite beaches and places to stay?