Beach Life in Cancun
After exploring the markets of Cancun, our next goal was to enjoy the blue waters the Caribbean Sea has to offer!
In case you are new here, we are Will and Katy. We are a travel couple that is traveling around the world. We are on year two of our travel adventures where we try and visit as many states as possible during our time in Mexico.
In the morning we took a local bus near our apartment to the Hotel Zone of Cancun. We took the bus further past the central Hotel Zone area towards the end of the strip and stopped at Playa Delfines. This was one of the few public beaches I had found in my research. The road and sidewalk was elevated with a higher view of the water. As we looked over the railing down the sand dune, the blue water below was stunning! To our left we noticed a Cancun letter sign, with a few people waiting to take their photo, so we decided to jump in line to take a photo.
After, we headed down toward the water. We looked around and saw that there were restrooms, a playground for children, and straw umbrellas that were free for public use! I saw hotels in the distance, but none right by us. It was hard to imagine that we could find a quiet spot along the beach, but we did. We enjoyed laying in the sand and swimming in the water. A couple of vendors walked by offering drinks and fresh fruit cut up. It was a relaxing time, but there was a bit of sargassum around which made the water murkier. We were also getting hungry. With no stores or restaurants nearby we decided it was time to head out and find a new spot!
We began making our way north on Blvd Kukulcan. We walked almost 2 miles before finding a convenience store. We stopped in to get snacks and more water, then continued on our way. Hotel after hotel is all we saw. No access to the beach. Until we saw a road that curved and we thought to go down that road to see where it led. There were cars parked along this road, so we figured there must have been some kind of beach access. We followed the bend in the road. It didn’t seem to lead anywhere. Until a man walked out of an opening next to the yellow wall along the sidewalk.
“Can we get to the beach that way?” I asked him.
“Yes! And it’s beautiful!” He replied.
Wonderful! It seemed like we found a hidden beach. We walked through the opening, up a sand dune and when we looked out into the sea, the water was even bluer than earlier in the day. In addition, very little sargassum. We walked down to the water and found a spot to hang out. There was a hotel to our right and a hotel to our left, but in between was an open space that was open for public use. We spent about an hour there, swimming and laying out. The water amazed me. It was so clear we were able to see a few big fish swimming by! This was a beach we would most definitely come back to. The only downside was there weren’t public bathrooms, but it was closer to convenience stores and public areas.
After drying off we continued our way toward the Hotel Zone. We were still hungry so we stopped by a taco stand that had food. We got two fish burritos. However they were small and overpriced, and the flavor wasn't even that good. We decided we would just wait to get affordable food when we got back to town! We explored two malls. First an indoor mall, Luxury Avenue Cancun, and then an outdoor mall, La Isla Cancun Shopping Village. The Luxury mall had a cool art area filled with unique and colorful animal sculptures. This mall felt like one of the fancy malls in Boca Raton, Florida. The outdoor shopping village was lined with tons of well-known brands and colorful storefronts. After a short walk through both, we decided we had seen enough in this area. It was time to head back to Cancun Centro to go eat a proper meal.
We took the bus and got off near the Parque de las Palapas. Earlier in the week we were looking for dinner and came across this park filled with so many food options! Street carts with savory and sweet options. Stalls of street food. Tables to eat. Locals all gathered around enjoying the evening. This is where we decided to return to grab dinner almost every night during our stay in Cancun. Each night we would order a couple of new dishes, enjoy them and then walk around and see what everyone was up to.
Other afternoons and evenings we would explore other parts around the Centro. There was a nearby mall, Plaza Las Americas, which we explored and had great options in its food court as well. One afternoon we walked over to the Malecón Tajamar which was a perfect area for walking, jogging, and riding bikes. It was a palm-lined promenade overlooking an inlet. It seemed a little underdeveloped, but that’s what made it such a quiet tranquil place to explore.
Another afternoon we went back to our "hidden beach," San Miguelito. We went for an afternoon swim. We had brought dinner and drinks with us and stayed out there for golden hour. I enjoyed how the golden rays hit the water in just the perfect way. Right before sunset we packed our things and went to look for a spot to watch the sunset. The horizon is on the east, we had to find an opening towards the intercoastal which was on the west. No more than 10 minutes later we found an opening next to a restaurant. There was a little wall that we sat on to watch the sunset. Even a local came up and set up his tripod to capture a time-lapse of the sunset.
One last place we had a desire to explore was Isla Mujeres. It is an island just off the coast of Mexico. We planned to take the ferry over for a quick day trip. There are two ferry ports, one near the Hotel Zone and another in Puerto Juarez. We decided to walk to Puerto Juarez and take the ferry from there. We wanted to stop at Mercado 23 and get some fresh tamales for lunch before boarding, but when we arrived our tamale vendor, whom we had previously bought from, was not there! Was she a figment of our imagination? Did we get that lucky on our first day in Cancun to stumble upon fresh tamales? Disappointed, we walked around the market looking for another option for lunch. We ended up settling for empanadas. Don't get me wrong, they were great, it's just we had an expectation of eating tamales. We grabbed a couple to go and continued on our way to the port. We enjoyed the walk there, it was an area of Cancun we had yet to explore. It seemed like this was where all the locals truly lived; we saw no other tourists in that area.
When we made it to the port we bought our ferry tickets and made our way onto the ferry. We sat on the top deck with the sun shining down on us. As we began to sail out, a gentleman welcomed everyone and began playing the flute. He entertained everyone by singing covers of songs as we all enjoyed the cruise over to Isla Mujeres. The water was 3 shades of blue. Clear and bright! Other boats and ferries were cruising along the water. It was a perfect day to be out on the water. After a quick 20 minutes, we arrived at the port in Isla Mujeres.
We stepped out onto the streets and it was packed with people! I don’t think I'd seen this many people at one location in a long time. We made our way through the crowds of people, off the main road to a quieter road heading in the direction of the water. We stopped into an OXXO to pick up some snacks and drinks and finally made it out to the coast. We were just east of Playa Norte, the most popular beach on the island. We managed to find an open spot, set our bags down, and rushed into the water. That water, just like all the water we’ve seen so far was crystal clear. It felt so refreshing on a hot day.
After a couple of hours out in the water, we decided it was time to go find food and explore the island a little more. I had found an affordable burrito place on Google Maps we wanted to try, but when we arrived at the location it was too late. It had just closed 30 minutes before we got there. We found a food stand right next to it and settled for a mushroom burger. We continued exploring, walking the streets, and taking in the sites. We had every intention of exploring further south of the island, but I had been dealing with sunscreen and sand in my eye. It had gotten aggravated when we were in the water. I was hoping after being out of the water it would settle down, but it didn’t. We found a spot on the east side of the island to sit for a little bit. We sat on a half wall that overlooked the water. I just sat there with my eyes closed, letting it rest. It was very soothing and relaxing. The waves were crashing against the rocks below. There were very few people on this side. It was peaceful.
After about 30 minutes my eye was less aggravated so we kept on exploring. We walked down some of the streets seeing what was around. We popped into a store, grabbed some more drinks and snacks, and found a new beach to go hang out at. The beach we ended up at was closer to the cruise port with massive palm trees lining the sand and sidewalk. After enjoying the sites for an hour we decided we wanted to be on the ferry while the sun was going down. We made it onto the ferry and enjoyed a nice sunset cruise back to the mainland. The ferry was packed, so many people probably had the same idea we had.
We took a colectivo, which is a small minivan, back into town. We stopped at the Centro, got dinner at our favorite spot, and called it a night.
Overall we enjoyed Cancun more than we thought we would. We thought it would have been full of tourists and partying. But really, that’s just in the Hotel Zone. And we didn’t even go to the area with all the bars and restaurants. We saw a lot and had our first taste of Mexican food. We’re ready for our next destination in the state of Quintana Roo.
Until next time... What could possibly be next?