- February 2017
- 5 days
- 3 People
Day 1: Cancun
Day 2: Isla Mujeres
Day 3: Cancun
Day 4: Chichen Itza & Cenote Zaci
Day 5: Cancun
On this trip, I used Cancun as a base for activities and day trips. I arrived in Cancun at 11:30 pm and took a taxi to my hostel, Hostel Natura. The taxi ride cost $680 MXN ($33 USD) and took about 25 minutes to reach from the airport.
I decided to have my first Mexican meal at Restaurante Natura, located directly below my hostel, before meeting a friend at the beach.
We spent the morning catching up and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and crystal blue water. While walking along the shore, we came across a small jetty that was perfect for pictures. After a couple poses, a local gave me his seal of approval, and I reciprocated the gesture.
After the beach, we walked around the busy hotel zone, passing a small market, food stands, shopping plazas, the clubs, and the many tour company booths. We went down a small side street and grabbed some fresh fruit smoothies before walking back to the hostel.
That night we hopped on a bus to Crazy Hot Coyote to catch a burlesque show. Unfortunately, the host informed us that the show wasn’t running, but we decided to get a quick drink anyway. Being the only two customers, we were able to truly enjoy the atmosphere of the venue. The plush couches, and red & black leather chairs fit into the “luxurious speakeasy” feeling of the room.
After our drinks, we decided to make it an early night in preparation for the next day’s adventure.
We arrived at the Playa Tortuga ferry dock and purchased two tickets for the 9:00 am UltraMar Ferry costing a little less than $20 US for each ticket.
Sitting in the open top, we were able to watch the water splash against the vessel as we listened to a local musician sing songs that were specifically chosen for the enjoyment of the tourists.
After 15 minutes, we docked and arrived on Isla Mujeres. Once through the ferry dock, one panoramic view of the main street would give you an eye full of shops, stands, restaurants, and the beach. Directly across the street there is a scooter and golf cart rental shop that cost us $700 MXN ($35 US) to rent a golf cart from 9am-5pm.
We immediately made our way to the south side of the island, driving through residential areas, construction, and short stretches of untouched forest. After about 20-30 minutes we reached Punta Sur (South Point.) There you can park the cart and pay $30 MXN ($1.50 US) to enter the Sculpture Garden, admire the small mayan ruins and walk around the cliffs. There are also steps that bring you down the cliffs, almost to the level of the water, and offer opportunities for stunning photography.
After Punta Sur, we drove around for a bit before hunger got the best of us and we ended up stopping at a small corner restaurant with incredible homemade dishes.
On our drive, we came across a hilltop church and a large graveyard. Each loved one was laid to rest above ground in colorful tombs adorned with offerings of flowers, candles, pictures, and even some personal belongings. All the graves faced out toward the turquoise waters as a small, natural looking church perched in solidarity at the top of the hill.
After driving more of the coastal road, we decided to head back North to the main town. We dropped off our cart around 2:30 pm and explored the shops on the main street. We grabbed some ice cream, and a mixed drink “to go,” before boarding the ferry back to the mainland.
After taking some time to relax, we followed the directions of the hostel staff to the Jardin del Arte. Housed in a small park along the lagoon, the Jardin del Arte offered spaces for local businesses to pitch tents and sell their products as part of a small market. Taking a stroll through the market, you could find homemade crafts, house decor, smoothies, food tents, glass blowing, jewelry, skin care, and homemade mexican candies.
We walked up and down a few times, looking at almost every tent and stand available before watching a local dance school’s performance on a small stage at the tail end of the market. At around 10:00 pm the vendors packed up and grills were turned off. We spent the rest of the night at the hostel swinging in the roof-top hammocks.
I spent the morning relaxing (and treating my sunburn) before we ended up renting a car for an afternoon trip to Puerto Morales.
We drove for about 45 minutes before reaching the small town and enjoying a walk around the square.
Finding ourselves out on one of the empty docks, we watched as men and boys fished with string, poles, and even a line tied to an empty soda bottle. We finished the trip with the sun setting over the dock and a fresh seafood meal at one of the beach-side restaurants.
After arriving back in Cancun, and taking into consideration my friend’s late night work schedule, we decided to make the 2.5 hour drive to Chichen Itza around 3:00 am when the adrenaline was at its peak!
Once we got further away from the Hotel Zone, I noticed we were the only vehicle on the road besides passing cargo trucks. In between falling asleep and re-adjusting for comfort in the small back seat, I took advantage of the pitch black, cloudless sky and gazed at the stars.
We arrived at Chichen Itza around 6:00 am only to realize it wouldn’t open until 8:00am. We drove back about 5 minutes into a small neighboring town to find an Oxxo (Mexico’s 7-11.) We parked and slept for the next two hours before returning to the Chichen Itza entrance.
Once in the site, we walked around the massive Mayan structures stopping to take pictures and browse through the tables of trinkets, carvings, and clothing lining the walk ways.
We spent a good 2 hours wandering through all the pathways and ruins before returning to the car. With a cloudless sky and the sun bearing down, we were sweaty and ready for a swim in a cenote.
We drove 20 minutes to Valladolid where we admired the scenic town before stopping at Cenote Zaci.
We swam around the clear blue waters, eventually summoning up the courage to jump from some of the jutting rock walkways and let the fish nip at our feet.
The cenote is attached to a restaurant that requires a $30 MXN ($1.50 US) deposit/payment per person to enter. The money is used as a promise to eat at the restaurant after the cenote. If you keep your promise, the deposit is used toward the full bill. If you break your promise, the deposit turns into a payment and is not returned. We kept our promise, and enjoyed a meal before driving back to Cancun.
Once back in Cancun, we had a little over an hour before we needed to meet our reservations for a performance at the Oasis Pyramid that included a number of acts with contortion, acrobatics, aerialists, dancers, and singers all performing within an hour.
In tradition, we ended the night on the hostel’s rooftop, swaying in the hammocks, talking with a friendly couple from Montreal, and going through photos from the past 4 days.
I checked out of my hostel right at 12:00 pm and had a late brunch before being dropped off at the airport for my return flight.