I love Cancun. It’s warm, sunny, the people are friendly and it’s a quick flight from Austin. Cancun has a reputation for being a spring break party town, but that really isn’t the case for most of the year. After Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to visit; the crowds are light, it’s the beginning of the dry season, and the weather is a perfect 82 degrees and sunny. I suppose you can go anywhere and party hard, but I’m more into going to sleep early, waking up early, and getting a light workout in before relaxing poolside with a drink in hand. After all, is there a more rewarding mimosa than a post workout mimosa? Of course there isn’t.
The coast of Cancun is lined with hotels that range from no frills, to all-inclusive to luxury resorts. If relaxing on the resort is your thing, Hyatt Zilara is an adults only all-inclusive with spectacular sunrises and food and drink options that are a notch above others I’ve been. They have a fun lobby band, with a lead singer with killer thighs turning out a mix of American classics and Mexican music to put you in the vacation mood. When she shakes her bootie, conga lines break out. If you are a fan of the Chase Sapphire credit card, like I am, you know that you can transfer your points on a 1:1 basis with their travel partners, which include Southwest and Hyatt. Save up some points, and this vacation can be practically free.
You can’t go to Cancun without seeing some of the ancient Mayan towns. Chichen Itza is an amazing experience, with incredible architecture and history. If you take a tour, you will be provided transportation and a tour guide, but this proves to be a very long day. There are hours spent waiting around and sales opportunities for everything from tequila with your picture on it to Mexican knick-knacks. We wished we had taken the suggestion from one of our fellow pool goers to hire a taxi driver to take us personally, give us a tour and take us back to the hotel. It probably would have taken about half the time, and when on vacation, every precious hour counts.
For me, a Caribbean vacation needs to be a mix of soaking in the sun and exploring all the city has to offer. That usually means opting out of an all-inclusive, because experiencing some of the local culture is what makes the best memories. After all, a lot of Caribbean beaches look very similar! One stay at the Ritz Carlton, we enjoyed spectacular drinks and service, although pricier than other hotels in the area. There are tons of restaurant options in the hotel zone, La Habichuela was a standout, with great outdoor ambiance and great food.
One of the best meals I’ve had in my life was at a seafood restaurant named Mar-Bella. This tiny restaurant, perched atop a convenience store in the port town of Puerto Juarez, was a true gem. There was no menu, just a board listing their fresh catch, ordered by the kilo and prepared to your liking. We raved for months about the grilled octopus salad and giant prawns. It is truly not to be missed.
Bottom line: no matter your travel style, Cancun’s sunny weather and beautiful beaches are reason enough for a visit.