We left around noon, and 24 hours later, this was our view. Transportation from the Cancun airport is pretty much a must–you can wade through the vendors as you exit the airport, but you’re going to end up paying the same price as a transport service, so you might as well do it in style. They’ll be waiting for you with your name on a sign, and with Canada Transfers, you can even arrange for a cold beer to be waiting. It was around $53 US round trip, to be personally chauffeured to your hotel.
And check this–we were in the Dallas airport when I realized that we would be getting in so late that we would be taking a chance on the restaurant at our timeshare being closed (9pm). I did not want to call Mexico and I wasn’t sure an email would be read in time, so I went to their site and saw where you could have them call you. Which I did, and arranged for them to also provide a meal for each of us on pickup. Subway sandwiches, $6 US each–problem solved. And the restaurant was closed–crisis averted.
In addition to movies, one of the options for entertainment was flight info. It was fun watching the number of feet change from 0 to 35,000 over the first half hour of the flight (that’s six miles, baby). And the outside temperature was -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thanks to Mapchick, we filled out our tourist forms online before we left the house. This is a real pain when they hand them out on the plane–poor lighting, find the passport, etc. With this link, you can fill it out at your leisure and print it to take with you. We just laughed when we passed everyone from the plane in the terminal, still filling theirs out, and were first in line at Immigration Control.
Second day–City Tour
Since our timeshare has a full kitchen, the first order of business was to hit a grocery store to stock up on food supplies. The taxis charge by zone, and even though Walmart will have pretty much everything, there’s a closer (and cheaper) option. There is a Walmart downtown, but travel to Walmart will cost you about $10 US each way (at least from Coral Mar), but Chedraui stores are just about as good, and one is fairly close, more like $8 each way. These stores are all over Cancun, so one is bound to be closer to you than Walmart.
I decided I would get up early one morning (and only one morning) to see the sunrise. I picked a good one, as you can see.
We’ve taken just about every tour that you can think of, but I had the bright idea to take the City Tour, partially so we could end up at Walmart for our grocery supplies. Bad decision–we didn’t see anything we hadn’t already seen. But we did get to have lunch at one of my favorite spots in Market 28 downtown, El Tejas. Delicious shrimp cocktails are their specialty, and I had one.
The restaurant at Coral Mar is under new management, and for dinner, we decided to try the fried fish tacos–it was a good choice, and was only about $9 US. Between that and the cheese quesadillas appetizer, $6 US, it’s a pretty filling meal for two people. It also came with a delicious (and spicy) habanero salsa.
I’d read about a new restaurant that got pretty good reviews–Pik Nik, so we took a taxi downtown to try it. It’s a small, mostly outdoor seating place, located down an alley. Fortunately, we got there before dark, or I might not have been ready to venture down a side street in a foreign country. But, it was cool, the food was good, and we noticed there was a fair amount of people walking up and down the street by our table. It turned out that down that street is a very popular hangout for the locals–Parque de las Palapas.
It’s a very nice park, and was very crowded, even for a week night. It was very much like a county or state fair here in the US. A wide open space for kids to place–they even had kids riding around in remote control cars (the parents controlled the speed and direction with a remote), a large stage, a small band playing, and lots of food vendors. The most popular was something called a marquesita. It’s a flour cake pressed on a griddle so it’s very thin, then folded into a cone, and ingredients like cheese and chocolate poured down the top.
Fifth day–road trip
After resting a day, we hired a van ($150) from Coral Mar to head down south to Playa and Akumal. Our driver was Gregorio, who was also our driver a couple of years ago when when we went to Xoximilco with Jeanne and Eddie.
I wanted to visit a cenote on the way, and and we tried to enter La Noria cenote, but they wanted 400 pesos ($25 US) for each of us, whereas the price was 200 pesos for native Mexicans. That was a no-go. We also tried Kin Ha. The road was much better, but they also wanted 400, with no special price for Mexicans. Fail.
Around noon, we arrived at Akumal for lunch at La Buena Vida. i had coconut shrimp, and KK had blackened filet,. Both were very good. Next stop, Puerto Adventuras, where we visited a dolphin pool in the middle of town, with a food court and shops arranged all around the water. Then Playa del Carmen, with a walk down 5th Avenue and a quick dip at the beach. Eggs and bacon in the room for dinner.
I talked with Sergio at Lighthouse Marina in Plaza las Isla about speedboats, and he said they could probably do it, and promised to get back with me, but I contacted him later and he said they couldn’t do it. I also tried at Coral Mar’s travel service, but they wanted too much money, $36, just to bring the boat to Coral Mar’s dock. Too bad, as we really enjoyed doing that last trip.
Day 6–La Parrilla
After resting most of the day, we headed into town to visit our favorite restaurant in Cancun–La Parrilla. We split the Tacos al Pastor, which were only so-so. Then to Parque de las Palapas afterward. We saw a neat singer, and there were lots of people in the park-it just has a great atmosphere.
Day 7–Beach time
Our timeshare is not on the beach, but since we’re only a cab ride away from world class beaches, we decided to try a few. First, we tried Playa Linda, but it’s not a public beach Then Playa Longosta-it’s small, has lots of seaweed, and table rental is 200 pesos ($12 US). But they don’t allow in and out, so we left for Forum Beach. It has the same rental price, but they give you wrist bands for in and out. and it’s right next to Forum Mall for food access. You can get a Corona for 25 pesos ($1.50 US), so we really enjoyed it. Stayed about 3 hrs, and then had dinner at Mextreme. I had carnitas, and KK had enchiladas, both were so-so.
Mextreme is our go-to place when we want a good Mexican breakfast. It’s a short walk from Forum Meal. My favorite choice for breakfast is a cherizo omelet.
#8 El grande breakfast
Hacienda el Mortero has a fabulous Sunday brunch (Sunday only), and it was as great as the last time we were there, and cheaper ($17). Coffee and mimosas are included. You’re in a large dining area, with open access to surrounding food stations, such as hot food, soups, desserts, sopes, and eggs (including custom omelets). Sopes are a favorite–they’re small fried tortillas, with a lip around the outside, which you can ask to be filled with other ingredients, like chorizo (Mexican sausage), avacado, beans, etc.
Then we took the bus to the Westin Hotel, which is at the end of the bus line, so we had to pay 50 pesos to get the rest of the way to our destination by taxi, to Restaurant Rio Nizuc. This is an out of the way place where you can watch the small speed boats that people rent to get to a popular snorkeling area. The boats are always part of tour groups, and they’re in a line, because the area by the hotel that they pass through is a small channel, where they have to go through single file. It’s neat, because the channel is also very shallow, and you can walk out 50 or so feet and only be in water up to your knees. You can also sit on outdoor seating, which is very close to the water and you can almost reach out and touch the boats as they zip by.
As far as the restaurant itself, it’s very rustic. And you have to walk off the main road, through a parking area, and along the water’s edge to get there. I’ve never tried the food, but it’s good for a cold beer.
After a long day, we settled for chicken fajitas and a cheeseburger back at our timeshare.
#9–El Mortero for dinner
Since we had such a good time at the brunch yesterday, we decided to try them for dinner–bad move. They did have mariachis, but they didn’t know our favorite song, Grenada, and they only sang for about a half hour. And the food was expensive and not so good. Won’t be going back for dinner.
Got out just in nick of time. KK’s feet swelled up so much on the plane that she had to take her shoes off and couldn’t get them back on. So, she had to walk off the plane barefoot. But other than that little embarrassment, got home safe and sound