A December 2003 trip
to Cancun by madaunt
Quote: Although famous for fine food, sun tans, and nightlife, Cancun also offers many ways to stay in shape, both mentally and physically.
The tours to Chichen Itza, the ruins at Tulum, and the ancient city and pyramid Nohuch Mul at Coba were all fascinating. These tours cost less than per person and the travel time is under two hours. We also booked tours to the fabulous eco-park at Xcaret and the "world’s most spectacular aquarium" at Xel-Ha. Although there is much to be learned here about the history, natural flora and fauna of Cancun, these excursions are also a lot of fun. You get to be a kid again and everything is new and amazing.
Much as we enjoyed the tours, the best experiences in Cancun are still running on the beach before dawn and swimming any time of the day in the turquoise sea. And after an active day, one of the "best things to do" is definitely taking a siesta in a hammock, with the sound of the waves nearby and the scent of tropical flowers all around.
One caution about expenses: don’t think that your tour price is all-inclusive. There are likely to be additional expenses for souvenir photos, special activities (such as swimming with dolphins), and even food and drink beyond whatever is included in the tour. Take cash, water, and sunscreen, and keep repeating, "It’s only money…"
You might find a bus driver with good English, but you can’t go wrong if you have your destination written in Spanish or else learn the words and practice till you get it right!. We found drivers and passengers were incredibly friendly and eager to assist us.
The buses run about every 10 minutes during the day, but at night, service is less speedy. After midnight, we take a cab and this works out to about a dollar a minute.
The menu features fresh fish, shellfish, and seafood. We have dined here often and we always ask Maximillian (the head waiter) or our server for recommendations. Every course is superb. The breads and nachos are all freshly baked and the salsa is made with locally grown vegetables. The salads are so good that I have sometimes eaten two salads and skipped dessert. (For those who know me, this may be hard to believe but it’s true.) Again, freshness is the key and even the salad dressings are made to order for each table. The shrimp and seafood cocktails are excellent and the main courses are simple and delicious: grilled, broiled, or baked fish with roasted vegetables, steamed rice, or potatoes. All the sauces are delicate and enhance the perfectly cooked fish. And then there are desserts: the choices are usually cake, ice cream, cheesecake, or flan. I definitely vote for the flan but the ice cream is a close second and the cheesecake is irresistible and the cakes are really, really good. You have to plan on several visits to try everything.
Wonderful as the food is, the view is even better. Situated just above the beach and looking directly at the sea, this is a beautiful location. During your lunch, you can watch the sea birds hovering in the air, see the clouds scudding overhead in the brilliant blue sky, or just close your eyes and listen to the waves drifting onto the beach. However, if the weather is very windy or if it rains, Cocoa Beach is closed and diners are relocated to another restaurant.
Cocoa Beach is open for lunch every day from 11am to 4pm. The prices are comparable to a fine restaurant anywhere in North America. Plan on $200 for a multi-course meal with wine for two. (If you are staying in the Grand Oasis and have purchased the all-inclusive plan, lunches at Cocoa Beach are included at no extra cost.)
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 28, 2004
52 988 50867
Attraction | "Cycling Day or Night in Cancun"
Attraction | "Keeping Fit in Cancun"
I also like stretch classes on the beach. The hot sun and sand really warm up the muscles so that flexibility is dramatically increased in a stretch or yoga class on the beach. Many of the hotels have great yoga instructors but my favourite is Oscar Arce at the Grand. He is quite serious in his teaching but also very attentive and supportive. I took one class with him where he had to communicate in French, German, English, Portuguese, and Spanish with the participants. Somehow, he got his message across and we all stretched as if we were made of rubber bands. Oscar also works with children in the Oasis Day Care program. He laughs and teases the kiddies and gets them all very active in games and sports.
Attraction | "Forum by the Sea for Everything!"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 28, 2004
Plaza Forum by the Sea
Boulevard Kukulcan Km 9
Attraction | "See a movie (or a live show) in great style!"
Teatro de Cancun
Blvd Kukulcan Km 6
While we have always been lucky with all-inclusive plans, it is a good idea to check carefully for what is included. For example, we bought a deluxe AI plan at one resort and had access to every bar, restaurant, and entertainment and sports venue. Our friends used a different travel agent and she advised them buy a cheaper AI package that was $98 per person less than ours. When they arrived at the hotel, they found that they were unable to go into the a la carte restaurants and, although their drinks were included at the beach, pool, and sports bars, they had to pay for their drinks in the lobby bar, the disco, and the nightclub. To upgrade to the deluxe AI plan at the hotel cost $185 per person. Obviously, the tour operators can offer economies of scale.
On the other hand, the tour operators often have more clout with the hotels and this can be a great advantage if anything goes wrong. We have travelled with all the major tour operators in Canada. This includes Air Transat, World of Vacations, Sunquest Vacations, Conquest Vacations, and Signature Vacations. We can recommend all of them for service and value. However, when things go wrong—and this happens very rarely—some tour operators are better than others. On a recent trip, we were travelling with Signature Vacations. We had had a long flight and we arrived at night. When we got to the front desk, we were desperate for a shower and hot food and sleep. And then we discovered that the hotel clerk could not find our reservation in his computer system. Nearby was another couple with the same problem. They had arrived an hour earlier and, like us, they had a voucher but their arrival had come as a surprise to the hotel, which had no record of their reservation. They had called their tour operator’s local representative and were waiting for her to help them out. We, however, showed our tickets and voucher package to the clerk who said, "Ah, Signature Vacations. No problema. I will give you a nice room for tonight and contact your representative for you. Tomorrow you can talk to her about your reservation then come and see me about your room." The clerk, with no record of us in his system and simply going on faith because we had Signature Vacations documents, also gave us all-inclusive bracelets.
Within minutes, we were in a spacious oceanfront room. After a quick shower, we were revived enough to have a late dinner in a fine restaurant then we caught the tail end of a live show in the resort’s theatre. Next morning we slept late and when we got up we found a note from our rep saying that she had fixed everything and, if we were satisfied with our room, we could keep it for the rest of our vacation. How delightful! Compare our cheery experience with the other couple: they waited nearly two hours for their rep to arrange a room for the night, they did not get bracelets so they had to explain their situation to waiters in the buffet restaurant, and they had to change rooms the next day.
Vancouver, British Columbia