Different people have different styles of travel. For some, an adventure wandering around a new place and discovering hidden treasures might be just the thing. For others, however, hanging out by the pool sipping cocktails might be just what the doctor ordered. I usually fall solidly on the adventure side of things, but when an opportunity to travel presents itself, I take it. So it was that I found myself spending a week at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun.
I’ve actually been to Cancun several times owing to the fact that my parents have had a timeshare there since I was a child. I have happy memories of Christmas spent snorkeling and climbing the pyramid at Chichen Itza rather than gathering around the tree.
On this particular occasion, I was there to celebrate a friend’s college graduation and my parents had so kindly gifted us the timeshare for the week.
I’ve you’ve never been to an all-inclusive, it’s kind of fun. You get a bracelet that you wear for the duration of your stay. The bracelet allows you to use the full facilities of the resort while you’re there. This means eating at all the restaurants, drinking at all the bars, use of all the facilities, and even borrowing equipment like kayaks and boogie boards from the resort rental counter. You get to spend a week just lounging around the resort and generally doing whatever you want without worrying about how much money you are spending over your budget or even having to worry about carrying around your wallet.
The downside to an all-inclusive is that I find in some ways it restricts you from spending too much time outside of the resort. You pay an all-inclusive fee which covers everything, so if you end up leaving the resort to eat at a restaurant in town, that has an extra cost associated with it.
The place I always stay when I go to Cancun is the Solaris. They have two properties in Cancun that are right next to each other and your all inclusive fee includes the full use of all facilities, restaurants, bars, etc. at both the Royal Solaris and the GR Caribe. Since I’m using my parents’ timeshare when I go there, I’m usually in the Caribe, which has a very beautiful Spanish tile look and full apartments. Of course, I don’t really end up using the kitchen since the all inclusive fee includes several restaurants, buffets, poolside grill, and snack areas. However, it’s nice to be in an apartment rather than a regular hotel room.
On this particular trip, we had a group of people so it was nice to all be able to hang out together and enjoy our time.
At the end of the row of hotels next to Club Med, just a short walk down the beach from our resort, there is access immediately offshore to one of the most incredible reefs you’ve ever seen, so make sure to bring your snorkel gear if you go to Cancun! We went several times during our trip as it was so easy to just walk down the beach and jump right in where we were able to view beautiful tropical fish, awesome brain coral formations, fan coral, and more. I’ve snorkeled all over Southern California, the Great Barrier Reef, and Hawaii and I can tell you that the reef in Cancun is an absolutely world class amazing reef that can go head to head with any other reef in the world. This is a must-do. You can buy a full set of snorkel gear for less than $45, so it’s worth it to get some before you go.
Cancun is on a peninsula, and on one side is the beautiful, warm, Caribbean water. On the other side is a lagoon. My hotel and many others had things like kayaks, windsurfing and peddle boats available as part of the all-inclusive package. The lagoon is a fun place to paddle around so definitely look into getting out on the water when you’re there. The coolest thing to me was the row of giant iguanas that were staring at me as I walked down the boardwalk to the lagoon dock.
During out trip, we went on several outings outside of the resort, which I highly recommend if you’re going to be in the area. The first outing was to the World Heritage site at Chichen Itza to see the ancient city and the famous Kukulkan Pyramid. This is something you should absolutely do if you’re visiting Cancun. It’s a long trip by bus, but this amazing site is absolutely worth seeing. You’ll explore the vast archaeological site and learn about ancient Mayan society. Prepare yourself: Chichen Itza is deep in the jungle and it’s quite hot there so make sure to bring a lot of water, a big hat, and sunscreen to protect you from the sun.
On the Chichen Itza tour, we also stopped for about an hour at the Sacred Blue Cenote at Ik’kil. I highly recommend you pick a tour that stops that the sinkhole because it’s one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been in my life and I’ll never forget it. The cenote is an otherworldly sinkhole that you can swim in. It’s an incredible opportunity and such a fascinating place. You’re not going to want to miss it.
Another day, we decided to take the bus to Xel-Ha. This is one of the most beautiful places in all the Riviera Maya and is widely regarded as a natural wonder. This is an amazing place to snorkel and see beautiful colored fish and diverse marine life. There are hammocks to relax in the shade, restaurants, and you can even even float down a gorgeous river in an inner tube.
Another place you might consider visiting for the day is Tulum. Located near Xel-Ha, the Tulum ruins are a popular destination for people who want to learn about Mayan culture while at the same time viewing a beautiful Caribbean beach. Spend some time touring the ruins, relaxing and the beach, and swimming in the crystal clear waters.
If you’re still looking for adventure, might I suggest Isla Mujeres? This is an absolutely stunning island off the coast of Cancun that you can visit for the day. It features beautiful beaches, awesome snorkeling, and even a sea turtle sanctuary.
Lastly, we spent an evening at the crazy touristy wonderland that is Señor Frogs. It’s one of those places that doesn’t seem to have any rules, where people dance and sing like they just don’t care, and where, although it’s clearly a tourist trap, it’s a fun tourist trap, so lighten up and enjoy it!
Most importantly, when you visit Cancun, you should give in to the touristy environment and just enjoy the experience. It’s a different kind of travel, and that’s ok. It’s a beautiful place and you’re going to love it.