Tuesday, March 10

Cancun Mexico

Our first trip to Mexico
Relatives called me a couple days ago to tell me that they’re invited to a destination wedding in Cancun, Mexico.  I’m so excited for them.  We have visited Cancun, Mexico both during the Christmas Holidays and during Spring break.  Their call got my husband and I reminiscing about our trips to Mexico and going through all our old photos.  

What a beautiful country it is!  On all our trips, we chose to stay at All-inclusive Hotels.  All-inclusive means the meals and drinks are included in the price.

There are dozens and dozens of hotels to choose from, all in the same area with pricing ranging from affordable/moderate to over the top expensive.  It’s best to shop around for the best deal.
On our first trip to Mexico, and because we had never visited, we booked the trip with a travel agent. After that I booked the trips myself on line.  To find a good hotel,  make sure to read Hotel reviews from people who have actually stayed there.

Our hotel swimming pool next to the ocean
Here are a few suggestions you might want to consider when traveling to Mexico (or other trips too).

Travel Tips:

  • The best deal for the money is to book the flight and All-inclusive hotel together. Food and beverages are safe to consume at your hotel and in the tourist areas but to play it safe it is best not to drink anything except bottled or canned beverages when touring the county side.
  • When packing, you may consider only taking carry on luggage.  If you are someone who’s bags have never been lost then by all means check your bags.  I for one just never wanted to take the chance of beginning my vacation with lost luggage.  Packing light and only having a carry on bag also means no wait lines in baggage claims!
  • Also, there is no need to take valuables with you. If they're not essential, they're probably better off left at home. This will not only make for lighter bags but also greater ease of mind when travelling.  It is best not to show any indicators of wealth such as jewelry, watches or high end cameras. Stay aware of your surrounding and avoid being isolated or away from your group when touring.
  • Speaking of thieves, carry only the cash you need for the moment in your pocket or purse. Carry your passport, credit card and extra money inside your clothes in a money-belt, or leave them in your hotel's safe. When you need to get something out of your money belt do it in a private place.  Exercise particular caution when in crowds, markets or on public transportation. You may also want to ask your hotel manager or another knowledgeable person if there are some areas of the city you should avoid.
  • Scan your passport and travel documents and then e-mail them to yourself. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen you can easily access copies from your e-mail.
  • A bad sunburn early in your trip can make you uncomfortable for the duration. The sun is very strong in Mexico, so use sunscreen on any exposed skin, even if you're not on the beach. Remember, you can get a sunburn even on an overcast day.  I’m am against tanning booths, but because we are from the Midwest and have really light skin during the winter months, we go to tanning 2 to 3 times before travelling to a tropical region.

Beautiful plant and flowers are abundant 

Now let’s go enjoy Mexico!

Mexico has beautiful beaches, amazing sunsets, friendly (and beautiful people) and great food.  

What to Do:
Many hotels offer shows right on the property for example on our trips, during the Christmas holiday there was a live re-enacted naivety scene and on spring break, a show of traditional Spanish dancers.  If you prefer not to swim in the ocean, all hotels have swimming pools, and most more than one.
Group sight seeing tours, water sports, day trips and deep sea fishing, etc., all can be booked right from your hotel. Or just relax, have an adult beverage and enjoy the white sandy beaches right out your hotel!
You may see one of these on your trip!!

Mayan Ruins:  Chichen Itza
We like touring historical sites so have visited two of the major Mayan ruins so far in Mexico.  The first is Chichen Itza (rhymes with chicken pizza).  You can book the group tour from your hotel and the tour bus comes right to the front steps of the hotel to pick you up.  
Chichen Itza was created by people called the Itzles in 445 BC. But 800 years later, the city was empty.  The Maya name "Chichen Itza" means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."

On many tours, lunch is included.  Our first stop was a small village to visit an under ground waterfall and pool.  While there a local would dive off the cliff for tips.  There were also local venders selling wares and many small children begging for money.  We had been pre-warned about the kids so brought along extra $1.00 bills. 
Next was lunch of authentic Mexican food with lots of beans, fresh fruits and vegetables and meat. 

Chichen Itza, The El Castillo or Kukulkan Pyramid

Finally we arrived at the ruins, which are absolutely breathtaking.  The El Castillo (or Kukulkan Pyramid) is possibly the best known construction at the Chichen Itza site.  The pyramid has a square-base and is a stepped pyramid that is approximately 75 feet tall. It was built for astronomical purposes and during the vernal equinox (March 20) and the autumnal equinox (September 21) at about 3pm the sunlight bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid's main stairway. 

My son and daughter descending the pyramid

The sophisticated Mayan calendar is incorporated in the architecture of this pyramid. The number of steps on each of the four sides is 91, adding up to 364, which together with the top platform equals the number of days in a year.
At the time we visited, tourists could climb to the top, without railings or any safety features I might add.  It was a little scary, (very) but I did make it on the second attempt.  The view from the top was well worth the climb.  Coming down was even scarier as it’s a very steep incline.  I used the “scoot-on-the-butt” method of climbing down!  I have heard that recently tourists are no longer permitted to climb the Pyramid.

Once I got to the top of the Pyramid I took this shot of The Temple of Warriors

Ring in the Great Ball Court, Chichen Itza

The Mayans were great sportsmen and built huge ball courts to play their games. The Great Ball Court of Chichén Itzá is 545 feet long and 225 feet wide overall. 
After walking around the ruin, you can walk down to the pool where human sacrifices were held!

Another Tour we have taken while in Mexico is a Mayan ruins called Tulum.
Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayas; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise. 

Ruins at Tulum

The Mayan ruins tower over the sea in Tulum. The formerly walled city's archaeological sites are incredibly well preserved.
Just north of the Castillo is a pathway that leads down to a sandy beach and the multi-hued Caribbean. For visual drama, a walk along the beach provides ample opportunity for photographs. 

My daughter headed to the beach at Tulum

Walking and swimming on the beach at Tulum

The walk is an adventure into, around and under nooks and crannies carved out of the cliffs. Each turn you take brings a new, secluded stretch of the Caribbean. Swimming around Mayan ruins is just an amazing experience.

Birdman at Tulum

Tulum is also situated right next to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – with great hiking for those who want to experience jungle wildlife living amidst pristine rain-forests and Mayan ruins.

Scuba Diving:
The waters around Cancun are crystal clear and great for scuba diving.  My husband and daughter are the divers in the family and usually go on a dive whenever we’re on vacation. The dive they did in Cancun is one of their favorites.

Leaving for Scuba Diving

Isla Mujeres (Island Touring):
A great day trip is to Isla Mujeres (Island of Women)
Isla Mujeres is an island in the Mexican Caribbean Sea, located eight miles off of the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, near Cancun Mexico.  A ferry takes you to the island and once there you can rent a golf cart and spend the day exploring the island, swimming and enjoying a beautiful sunset before heading back to the main land.

Isla Mujeres (Island of Women)

My daughter swimming, at Isla Mujeres in a private cove

There are many shops (and restaurants) in the Cancun area to pick up souvenirs or purchase local art work within walking distance of the hotels.
Bargaining and bartering are common activities in Mexico, especially at markets and craft shops.  Never accept the first price you're offered, but be realistic with your counter offers so as to not offend the shop owner or artist. If you offend them, they may just refuse to sell to you.

Bull Fights:
We also spent an evening at a Bull fight!  It was a huge well preformed show with Spanish dancers, horseback riders doing rodeo and rope tricks, more Spanish dancers and even chicken fights. Of course the show ended with a bull fighter and a bull.
Spanish dancers at the Bull Fights

Show performers at the Bull Fight

Speed Boats:
If you need more adventure, try a speed boat tour around the coast line.  We had two speed boats between the four of us.  A lead boat and guide took us at top speeds through the water, around and through a mangrove forest and ended with snorkeling while anchored out in the ocean,  before heading back to land. 

My son and husband in the boat in front of us!  Take a speed boat out for fun!
You can also go on a horseback riding trip on the beach, ride ATV’s through the jungle, golf, get a massage, water ski, visit a volcano and many other adventures.

Learn a Little Spanish:
Thank goodness my daughter Alexis is a good linguist.  She picks up different languages easily and does much of our translating.  Below are easy words and phases to learn that you will (or should) use often while in Mexico. A little bit of Spanish goes a long way! Try your hardest to speak as much Spanish as you can with the locals and it will get you a lot further than simply trying to get them to understand our English.  Remember, you’re in their country now.

Useful Phases:

Hello - hola - (OH lah)
Good Bye –Adios- (a di os)
Please - Por favor -(POR fah-VOHR)
Thank you - Gracias -(GRAH-see-ahss)
Your welcome - De nada  -(de na-da)
Can you help me? - Puede ayudarme? - (PWEH-dhe ah-yoo-dh-AHR-meh)
I don't understand - No comprende - (Noh kohm-PREHN-dho)
Where is...? - Donde esta...? - (DHOHN-dheh ehs-TAH)
How far? - A que distancia? - (Ah kay dhees-Tan-syah)
How much is it?  - Cuanto cuesta? - (KWAHN-toh KWEH-stah)
Bathroom – Bano or el bano - (Ba-nyo or el bon yo)
Beer – Cerveza
Coca Cola  - Coca
Water – Aqua – (ah gua)
Yes – Si – (see)
No – no – (noh)

Sunset and white sandy beaches

Mexico is a beautiful country with lots of culture, friendly people, beautiful architecture and interesting things to see and do.  For a great trip to Mexico you just need a little understanding of Spanish, are able to keep an open mind, and be willing to try new things and meet new and crazy (in a good way) people.    Have fun and enjoy your vacation!


 Walking on the beach

Waiting to go Scuba diving

Taking the ferry to the Island

Having fun at dinner!


Anonymous said...

I already spent a half an hour to reading your blog posts, and now need another cup of coffee. Thanks for sharing your travel adventures! I can visit the places through you, haha

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...


Anonymous said...

Awesome post, I enjoyed it. Please post more like this, I can take little vacations just by reading about your trips! Joyce Reece

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...


Anonymous said...

Good day! Great info on the Cancun area! I enjoy your blog and look forward to new posts. Renaldo

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Renaldo, we have enjoyed our vacations there and glad that came across in the blog post. Thanks for stopping by!

Anastasio Canté said...

Hello Elizabeth Ohio,
I really enjoy your post. It seems you had enjoyed lots of beautiful moments in your whole Mexico tour. On coming holiday my family planning for Mexico trip and already started booking basic requirements as booking Private Vehicle from transport agency as Dtourscancun, hotels, etc. Your post will be helping us for having a great trip in Mexico.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Anastasio: So glad the post on Cancun helped with planning your vacation. It's such a beautiful country and friendly people, I'm sure you will have a great time!

Anonymous said...

Me alegro mucho de que mi ciudad de Cancún fue sede de su destino para vacacionar!!! un saludo y vuelvan pronto! (I am very happy that my city of Cancun hosted their vacation destination !!! a greeting and return soon!)

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thank you! We love visiting Mexico and enjoy the food, people, and beautiful countryside. We will be back!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Really impressed by visiting your amazing blog. I found your all the images posted quite interesting and are really mind blowing. Thanks for making this precious post and you are doing a great job with this kind blog.
Sunder Bisht

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks Sunder!