For Thanksgiving this past year (wow that feels weird to say) my parents wanted to take a trip somewhere new with the family. This was to be one of our last big hurrahs before everyone started having kids and moving away, etc. A place my mom had received a TON of recommendations for was Cancun, Mexico. So I am going to tell you all about our trip, what we did, where we stayed, and what I thought about the whole experience.
Now my family has been to Mexico a few times, but it has always been through a cruise, we have never actually stayed there so this was a new experience for all of us. This was also our first time using an all inclusive that we booked through a travel agency.
As some of you may know, if you follow me on Instagram, we actually missed our flight to Cancun haha. We then had to come back hours later and catch a flight at 11 p.m. to New York city, there we had a there hour lay over and then flew to Mexico and finally got to our hotel around two in the afternoon. To say that it was an exhausting 24 hours would definitely be an understatement. But we were in Cancun at last and after an hour long check in we were finally able to go to the beach!
Our family stayed at the Viva Wyndham Maya in Playa Del Carmen (right next to Cancun). Playa Del Carmen is a lot safer than Cancun and we felt extremely safe at our hotel. Safety is always a concern when you travel to parts of Mexico so you always need to be aware of who is around you, your surroundings and make smart arrangements when leaving your resort.
Our resort was like a mini village. Within the gates (which had massive security, cameras and guards with guns) were homes, a grocery store, a gas station, a shopping center, and other hotels as well. It was like a little community.
Now I feel awful because I totally spaced taking pictures, I think one of the main reasons I did not take pictures is because I actually did not like our resort very much. We shared a room with my sister and her husband and the room was not the best. It had the bare minimum and didn’t feel very nice for what we paid for. They kept it very clean which was very much appreciated. However the beds were the most uncomfortable beds I have ever slept on and the sheets felt like paper, and were just as thin.
Something that is also hard about traveling to Mexico is the water. At our hotel we were told we couldn’t even brush our teeth with the water. We also stopped having ice in our drinks as well because it started making some of us feel sick. You can also get really sick if you accidentally drink the ocean water too, so definitely don’t do that.
They had a lot of amenities though and a lot of food options. They had a two fresh water pools, one looked out at the ocean (we never swam in the pools because there were too many people and we prefer the ocean). They had a stage and had different performances every night. They had a gym and a bar that you could get all kinds of drinks, smoothies anything you wanted all day and it was like a two minute walk from the beach.
Across from the bar was an area that had things like pizza, fries, fruit, etc. Just a random assortment of food that you could have whatever you wanted through out the day. They had a dining hall where we had breakfast every morning which had buffet style food, and we also had dinner there two of the nights. They then have a couple of restaurants that you have to book reservations for before your stay at the resort. We went to their Mediterranean and Italian restaurant (they had like 6 different restaurants to choose from). The food was okay, I didn’t personally enjoy most of the food throughout the trip.
KOBA, CHICHEN ITZA, & A CENOTE
Our first full day in Cancun was on Wednesday and we actually had a tour this day. Now this was hands down my absolute favorite part of our whole trip. I am definitly a history buff, I love going to museums, historical sites and learning new things about different cultures. So this might not be for everyone, but I would highly suggest you go see at least one of the many amazing historical sites if you visit Cancun.
We had to get up early for our tour, we left right at 8 a.m. because all the historical sites are at least an hour away from where we were staying. We did our tour through LDS Tours Cancun. As some of you may know, my family and I are LDS (mormon) and if you are as well, YOU MUST book your tour through this company! As I said earlier, this was my favorite part of the whole trip and that is largely due to Carlos (the owner of LDS Tours Cancun) and how awesome he was. He is extremely knowledgable, and was able to tell us so much about the culture, the history, and how everything relates to the Book of Mormon (it was seriously mind blowing).
For our tour Carlos personalized it a little bit for us and we headed to our first destination, Koba. Now Koba was awesome because it is a lot more interactive than Chichen Itza was. Chichen Itza is obviously amazing because it is one of the 7 Wonders of the World, however, Koba is a must see because 80% of is it is in a shaded forest (Chichen Itza has no trees) and you actually get to climb one of the ruins.
At Koba it is also a lot bigger and we actually got to ride bikes from site to site and it was so nice to not have to walk in that humidity. It seriously was so hot guys and Carlos was the best because he made sure we all had lots of water because you will get sick from the heat and humidity if you aren’t drink enough (I know because I got super sick after climbing the ruin haha).
Climbing the ruin was so amazing, it was very high and I do not like heights but it is totally doable. The steps are very step and slick and a lot of people actually came down the ruin on their butts! But the view form the top was totally worth it.
Right after Koba we had lunch at a restaurant down the street and then headed on our way to Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the World! I was so excited to be able to say I had finally visited one of the Wonders of the World. It took a little over an hour to get to Chichen Itza from Koba. Because we choose to do Koba first we actually got to see Chichen Itza when it was not super busy (most people see Chichen Itza in the morning or late afternoon because that is when it is cooler because there is literally no trees anywhere so it can get very hot).
We spent most of the time going from each building while Carlos told us the history and the symbolism of everything. I loved this and I loved listening, but it is definitely a lot of standing and listening in the hot sun so maybe not the best for everyone. But definitely a must see if you can make it!
So unfortunately I did not get any pictures of the cenote. At this point in the day I was just so tired and just wanted to focus on filming with our GoPro for the first time (make sure to keep an eye out for our vlog where you can see a lot more of what I am talking about). So I will attach a google picture here so you know what I am talking about at least.
Cenotes are these water holes and they are all over Cancun. They are definitely something that Mexico is known for and they are beautiful. I am also so glad we did this at the end of the day because nothing feels better than going swimming after sweating all day haha. They have lockers and changing rooms just like a pool and you must wash off before you get in the water and they do not allow any sunscreen. They are very protective of the water and I think that is amazing.
They have a fun little stairway on the side where you can jump off and water pours down from the top of the cave where you can swim under. Like I said this is a must after a heavy day of walking and climbing in the sun because then you feel so refreshed when you head back at the end of the day. We had a two hour drive back to our hotel and we all had fun trying to find leopards on the side of the road! Carlos told us they are like deer in the US and you can see them run across the road quite often, we unfortunately did not see one, but it was still the best day of the whole trip!
I just wanted to talk about the beach really quick! I have been to a couple beaches in a couple different places and there were a few things I loved about this beach and a few things I hated. First off, this was the most crowded beach I have ever been too. It was very overwhelming to constantly be surrounded by people and if you didn’t get up early, there was no way you’d have a beach chair for the day. Which is always stressful when your on vacation because you just want to relax and sleep in.
The water however was so nice. I get cold so easy and I always hate going to the beach and it being so hot, but the water is so cold you can’t really stay in that long. This water was amazingly warm and we had a lot of fun swimming. A down side to the beach though was that it was super windy, and the water was very choppy at all times – there was never a break in the wind, not even once. Also the sand there was unbelievably soft. They also had tons of activities you could book through the resort like paddle boards and wind surfing boats.
Another downside also was the amount of people walking around and harassing you to buy stuff. Typically I don’t mind because I understand it’s how they make a living, but I have never had it happen so frequently and while I am at whatever hotel or resort I am staying at. People were constantly asking you to buy things and it got a little tedious when you just wanted to relax.
Okay so this was definitely the second best part of the trip! I am bummed because there aren’t to many pictures I can show of what this park actually looked like because I couldn’t bring my camera, but we did get a lot of video on the GoPro and I can’t wait for our vlog to be done so you can see it all.
This is another thing that Cancun is very well known for and a must do when you are here because it is an opportunity you won’t really get anywhere else. The park we went to is called Xplor and you must check out their website to see what I am talking about. These parks are essentially a Disneyland for the outdoor adventurer.
Essentially it is a giant park full of different activities. You can zip line, drive the amphibious vehicles through a jungle path (you literally feel like your on the Indian Jones ride but you get to drive), paddle through underground rivers on a raft, swim through more and different underground rivers (you can even see live bats!), and ride a hammock zip line into the water. They also have a MASSIVE restaurant (they had the best food we had on the whole trip), smoothie and snack bars everywhere and rest areas where you can relax in a hammock.
Honestly my whole family felt like little kids. You have to wear helmets through out the whole park and definitely wear clothes that are okay to get wet because you will get wet on every single thing you do. We did everything together as a family and then everyone split up to do their favorite parts of the park. Kyle and I loved the jeeps and road them multiple times in a row! We arrived at the park around 9 or 10 and stayed until 5 p.m.
Now they have these parks everywhere, there are tons of different ones you can visit. I really liked the park we went to because of the food and how efficient it was. We never really had to stand in long lines and the park was easy to get around. It was cool too, because their was wildlife everywhere. Iguanas, parrots, and bats where just a few. You literally are in a forest and in deep caves so it feels like such a surreal experience.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
I had an amazing time while in Cancun and my mom put a huge amount of work into planning us an amazing trip. I definitely enjoyed my time there and loved all the things we got to do. However, I am not sure I would book a trip here again. Now I know that hotels can all be different and I am sure there are a lot nicer resorts. My issue was mostly with the food.
Having chronic stomach issues was extremely difficult here and I did get sick a lot. Also the humidity and heat was insanely hard on me as well when I was not eating enough already. The food made everyone in my family sick at least once. I also think that since all of us have been to Hawaii a few times we are kind of spoiled when it comes to beaches. Nothing can compare to the beach in Hawaii and all though this water was a lot warmer the beaches just don’t measure up.
I really did love the history and the fun things we did, but sleeping and eating at our resort was really hard for me. The rest of the family also had similar feelings as I did, although it was fun and we are grateful we had the chance to go, we all would choose a different place other than Mexico for our next beach vacation.