Mexico has got to be one of the best adventures I ever had! I went in Spring of 2015. I never blogged about it then because I was seriously having way too much fun to even find my phone…I was probably also nose high in foam in a pool somewhere about to drown after my tenth free cocktail of the day! But this trip is engraved on my memory, heart and in one million photos I took!
However, since then people are always asking me to tell them about my trip, as they plan theirs so I thought it was time I did my top tips for things to do whilst in Cancun Mexico!
We stayed in a resort and spent half our time out on trips exploring and half relaxing! I’m sure there’s more rustic ways to do it but if you want FUN, LUXURY, ADVENTURE, SUN AND GREAT FOOD this blog will be a great base for planning your trip!
1. WHERE TO STAY: I would advise NOT to stay in Cancun. Unless your going for a real party time and want to be near the clubs and bars! Cancun is rammed so if your a family I would avoid the American Spring Break.
Riveria Maya near Cancun is much classier and more beautiful yet your not far from Cancun if you want to go there for trips or a night out. It is also near to Playa Del Carmen which is bustling with lovely restaurants and nightlife.
We stayed at H10 Adults Only Resort! Obviously no good for families but would highly recommend for couples young and old! It everything you could want from an all inclusive hotel. The best part about this resort along with incredible restaurants was all the wildlife roaming around. Wild Deer being a highlight, my parents always made such a big deal of seeing a deer if we were ever lucky enough to spot one on our Scottish journeys and so waking up to one on my balcony was very special.
Our family stay at The Marvel Residence Luxury Resort but that’s top end so it depends on your budget. On a lower budget with kids I know the Riu hotels are still luxurious but more affordable and The Hard Rock Hotel is supposed to be very cool.
Lots of options and there’s always a good all inclusive deal to be had! Apparently Spring is the best time to go as it’s hot but not unbearable like the summer!
If you have a big family and are on a budget then perhaps something different…I have some family friends who stayed in an air B and B and had a private beach! Because they have 3 children and it’s almost impossible to get rooms that caters for them all they found this was a cheaper and also cooler option! I think they got a deal with the air B and B where they also got to eat at a local resort too! So perks of half board but in a private villa.
2. XPLOR! If anyone asks me what was the BEST thing you did in Mexico I would say XPLOR! That’s why half of my blog is about the place!
It’s one massive adventure jungle for adults and children alike! However check the height restriction for the little ones! When you arrive at the centre of XPLOR there is a huge ceramic heart that actually beats!
This heartbeat is supposed to help you find your way back to the centre! All the paths go from the heart to the different activities! This is your base for the day, lockers to leave your belongings so you can wonder round in your swim gear! There’s 4 main things I can remember doing that I loved!i would recommend getting some swim shoes! This means you can walk around in them but also swim too! Flip flops are gonna be lost forever in the water.
We did this in the day but you can also do the Amphibious Vehicles at night time. Infact, its a whole different experience at night and they call it XPLOR FEUGO we didn’t do this but they were setting up as we were leaving! I personally wanted to experience it in the day as the views were awesome over the trees! At night this is where the jungle comes alive and fire lights your way for fun in the dark!
ZIPWIRES: I’ve zipwired many times before…on my PGL holidays as a kid in the U.K….in France and also in Vang Vieng, Laos Asia but XPLOR was my best experience yet!
This is because we could zip wire together on the same line and also because a lot of the lines go into a waterfall at the end! The first time I did that I squealed in delight and adrenaline as I saw it approaching and then flew through the curtain of water and into a cave! What a rush!
There’s also a hammock splash where you sit on a hammock sling and zip wire down into a river, your not strapped in to this one so hold on tight!
THE AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLES: Mike LOVED THIS! A proper boys thing! It was like I had given him a bucket of man power when I handed him the wheel! He was like a kid when they open their first bike on Xmas morning!
So there’s Mike pretending to be Michael Schumacher and me screaming as we hit the tracks, through the caves and Cenotes getting soaked as we drove through waterfalls and underground rivers. I took over just before the Burma Bridge…Mike wasn’t so confident at this point! But I didn’t kill either of us just crashed into a wall in the cave…luckily they are made for a bit of destruction!
STALACTITE RIVER SWIM: This was cool! You wear a life jacket and flippers for the swim so you can swim or just float along as you discover an underground river that nature has created under the earth! I don’t think you need to be a very confident swimmer as you wear a life jacket but it gets a bit tiring after a while a sirs quote a long swim. There was lots of young children doing it with their families.
The fab thing about this experience is that throughout your time on the different activities you can press the yellow photo button that you find dotted around and pose for photos!
In your helmet there is a photo chip so you can take your helmet at the end of the day to the photo points near the exit and see all your pics! This means you don’t have to worry about carrying round a camera and dropping it in the water, which if your as clumsy as me you would do! Also, if your photo obsessed (also like me) it’s a great way to capture your day. However a GOPRO would be brilliant at XPLOR especially to get real adventure videos as you soar through the treetops!
The only part of this that we didn’t enjoy was how busy the river was! It did at times feel like you were queuing for a concert but in the water! Perhaps to see a dolphin quartet! With a screaming water treading child next to you. No one wants to be stuck next too that but it feels slightly worse when your in a water tunnel and everything echoes!
Perhaps this is the activity we did at the busiest time of the day so maybe do this first so you can get a more relaxing experience.
PADDLE RAFTS: Loved this! We paddled along in our rafts together surrounded by ancient rock formations in these deep down caverns and caves. They give you paddle gloves that you wear on your hands and these are your oares. It was quiet in the caves and very relaxing.
I must admit I let Mike take the lead with paddling as after a while my arms started to ache! But there was no rush and you can go at your own speed.
Hopefully by the end of the experience you will know the difference between a stalagmite and stalagtite. I must admit the whole thing confused me
3. COCO BONGO: Again…adults only but wow what a night! A chance to dress up and be fabulous…and predrink on more free cocktails! Every time they made us cocktails at the bars at H10 it was like a VIP show! They can’t just pour it into the glass they have to spin it on their head…bounce if off the moon and circle it round the sun before it lands in your glass…tastes better for it tho!
Throughout our first few days we got used too a jolly Mexican man called Pablo walking round the pool with the same happy phrase “YOU GO COCO BONGO??” In the end we heard it so many times that this is how I greeted Mike every morning when he came back from the gym (I know the gym on holiday…what a weirdo) “Morning babe you go coco bongo” Eventually we also greeted Pablo like it too …much too his amusement or maybe annoyance!
TIP: If you ever find even the smallest thing to complain about do it when your all inclusive because they will give you the WORLD! I must admit that I’m the queen blagger as my friends call me and I’m always the ones that gets the freebies and upgrades!
On the first morning I joined Mike at the gym…that was the first and last time of the holiday. Whilst on the bicycle the whole pedal came off whilst still attached to my foot…I mean I was absolutely fine but I COULD of broken my leg or seriously injured my foot…RIGHT? so off I went to reception buckle in hand and… that afternoon we were moving into a honeymoon suite with private hot tub on the balcony! I think I found Mike in there naked a few times after one too many cocktails…he probably thought it was the bed!
BOOM! My best mate bryony and my Mum always die and refuse to know me when I make a complain but WHY not! As long as your polite usually it results in something great! Plus it’s your money your spending! Money you probably worked dam hard for so ENJOY and take every freebie you can! I mean don’t be a moaning Minnie but know your worth!
Ok so I went off topic I have a tendency to get side tracked like Dory when she sees a pretty light in Finding Nemo… back to COCO BINGO…WE BOOKED with Mr You Go Coco Bongo and we went for the VIP package!
There’s 2 Coco Bongos one in Cancun and one in Playa Del Carmen we went to Playa as that’s closer to Riveria Maya. We were told it is also the better one of the two! I’ve heard there also one opened now in Punta Cana Dominican Republic. It’s hard to know what to expect but it was an unreal night. Also fun fact COCO BONGO is the nightclub in the film THE MASK with Jim Carey.
We had a VIP table right on the balcony with a perfect view, so waiter service all night. When they say they put on a show they really do! The night is made up of top class tribute of legends of music plus some comedy too. But there is NOTHING amateur about it. Spider man actually flies!! All backed by super HOT and totally professional dancers with legs twice as long as my whole body.
Lots of dance and everything you can imagine continues to fall from the ceiling throughout the evening! It’s like every number is a grande finale! Balloons…sparkles…confetti you will be covered in the stuff. Somehow I ended up on the stage in front of over ten thousand people but that’s another story…
4. CHICHINITZA: Ok so if your going to Mexico and you want to know about the culture and history of the place you of course have to visit some Mayan ruins and CHICHINITZA, is the big one! This is also now one of the NEW 7 wonders of the world.
I must admit I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had hoped but I can say that was mainly down to the unbearable heat and no shade. I love to experience local culture and emerse myself in learning as much as I can but all I wanted to do was emerse myself in either a fridge or an iceberg. It was scorching and I just couldn’t focus on all the fun facts! I remember seeing the ancient basket ball style court where the winner is sacrificed at the end! Bit shit really…isn’t it. I mean your the winner and then they kill you?
Apparently they believed it a great honour to their gods! That’s as far as I got and then I had to go and sit with the stray dog under the only tree there to cool down from minus one million. Mike was a much better tourist than me that day. I would advise going as early or as late as possible and avoid midday heat.
We bought home a Stone Mayan Calender and a Mayan mask! But two years later realised it had WOOD WORM after suspicious dust kept falling from it weekly!
5. IK KIL CENOTE: The best part of this day for me was visiting the hidden Cenote “Ik Kil” outside Pisté in the Tinúm Municipality, Yucatán, Mexico. It is located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula and is part of the Ik Kil Archeological Park near Chichen Itz,
Our coach stopped there as part of our trip but it’s well worth a visit on its own. We made our way down the steep stone steps, very slippy and wet…so I was either gonna fall in or jump…with big smiles we launched ourselves into the cool water (despite being told not too as we didn’t have enough time!)
Of course we were gonna jump in! Life’s to short not to jump in the beautiful Cenote!! If you want time here then doing it as a combined trip with Chichin itza probably isn’t the way as it’s a flying visit!
We got a few giggles as we got back on the coach dripping water everywhere! I felt like saying “you guys totally missed out by following the rules today” but thought that might have made me look like a bit of a know it all/twat.
It was so beautiful to be deep down in a lagoon like pool with the cave opening high above your head! Everything echoes and it feels like a secret world! What a great place for the locals to cool off…I remember thinking I’ll just never forget that!
6: TULUM: We didn’t manage to make it to TULUM and that’s a regret, but something I would love to do if we ever go back! I think it would be a cooler option for visiting Mayan ruins as it’s near the beach! Where as Chichin itza is out in the middle of what I remembered thinking was quite desert like! Photos of TULUM looks stunning so it’s defo back on my bucket list after talking to lots of people that have visited.
7: JOLLY ROGER PIRATE SHOW
Ok so a MUST MUST if you have kids they will go bonkers for this but also a defo if your an adult who feels like a kid and wants to have some fun! This departs from Cancun! You arrive at the dockside and are greeted by your pirates! They get you into character straight away! They tell you a tale of betrayal and how together you must find the Golden Fleece and their captain to break the curse! The commandary is brilliant along with their comedic character acting. Aboard the ship you are served a three course meal. It’s all BBQ style and very yummy! Plus theres a bar (crucial part of the ship along with the bow and the stern)
They do loads of fun games for the kids and families as you make your way out to the open ocean you are constantly entertained as the sun sets.
Don’t read the next part if you want it remain a surprise and skip to number 8 Continue if your the kind of person who reads the last page of a book first!
Once you are far from shore suddenly the excitements builds as the captain spots a ship in the distance and you are joined by the Golden Fleece. You will enjoy a spectacular battle and witness the clash of swords and acrobatic fights as pirates swing from rope to rope and from ship to ship, the canons roar and the gunpowder explodes!
Of course you win the battle and the celebrations begin….the children don’t notice as the other ship too roars with applause and victory as it sails off into the distance…you just see a smile on the parents faces. The children just see the pure magic.
I mean how cool as a child to be an actual pirate for the night…it was just such a lovely happy evening and we had a great time. As you sale back to shore you are greeted by a wonderful fire work display on another ship and as it’s so dark out at sea it was a spectacular end to the evening.
This was a total surprise to us so perhaps if your organising, keep the details of the trip a secret for the rest of your party as it made it really special!
8: XCARET is more for the nature lovers! A great family day out. It’s a fab place to snorkel and relax! Not quite so adventure based as XPLOR but there is still fun things to do there! Great for families with smaller children.
Highlight of XCARET was the amazing Mayan show where we sat in an outdoor amphitheater the size of a football pitch and ate a 3 course Mexican meal! Very yummy! It was also really cultural and told a tale of Mexico.
We also did a really cool SEA TRECK! Where we walked down onto the Ocean floor with scuba masks on our heads! It was a scary experience to begin with for me. Firstly you have to squeeze your head into this tight hole so you look like an astronaught who forgot to get dressed and then proceed to walk down into the water and onto the sea bed in procession.As soon as your mask hits the water it become very light, but still acts as an anchor to keep you down in the water. Until your fully submerged it feels like having a car on your head. I must admit that although I’m an adrenaline junkie been enclosed in water freaks me out if there’s a chance I might suffocate! I can swim all day and am not scared of what’s in the water just the fear of not being able to breathe! But I did it and beat my fear! I think the thought that I could only breathe through this pipe was the weird bit and kept imagining horror movies where someone squeezed my oxygen pipe…I’m sure I filled Mike with much confidence and you with even more.
Once I focused on all the beautiful things around me I began to chill in the tranquility of the underwater world I started to really enjoy it! A turtle swam past and I touched its shell along with a sting ray and lots of pretty fishes! So overall a new and great experience and I didn’t drown! I would recommend.
AND FINALLY…There’s lots of places that we didnt get to see and visit which friends and family have loved so perhaps check these out! I can’t personally recommend them but I’m sure a bit of research can help you decide if they are for you if the above hasn’t got you super excited for your trip.
Overall Mexico was just a dream holiday! Not really a culture trip apart from the Mayan ruins (I’m sure there much more culture stuff to do if you wanted too we just didn’t) but just such a fun happy trip!
Hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Please drop me a comment if you felt it was helpful and subscribe to keep up with my travel tips and stories