It seems like just yesterday that I was on vacation on the beautiful beaches of Cancún! This was my family’s first time in Mexico (technically, I visited Cozumel two years ago on my Caribbean cruise, but this was our first time actually staying and exploring!) I know I’ve been lagging on editing pictures and posts, but in my defense I took A TON of photos and videos and every time I look at them I suffer from post-vacay depression. Anyway, today I am finally sharing my second Mexico travel guide for where to eat, stay, and play in Cancún!
La Destileria the first restaurant that the Westin concierge recommended and is about a 10 minute walk away from the hotel. Our waiter even served us a round of drinks on the house when we mentioned that we were staying at the Westin! My sister and I shared the Queso Frito en Salsa Verde (fried cheese in green salsa) and a side of rice and it remains one of my favorite meals throughout the trip!
Hacienda Sisal is just a little bit further down the street from La Destileria (around a 15 min walk from the Westin.) I was especially excited for this restaurant when I found out that they serve veggie enchiladas! The ambiance was so beautiful, especially at sunset and I really wanted to sit outside, but my sister and I didn’t want to risk getting any more bug bites
ICE CREAM AT CHICHEN ITZA
After surviving the heat of Chichen Itza, my sister and I were more than ready for ice cream. This was honestly the BEST mango and coconut ice cream I’ve ever had… who would have thought it would be in the little smoothie shop here?
I am a little biased because this is where we have a connected time share, but I can honestly say that I LOVED staying at the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas (normally around $296 /night). First of all, the pool area is absolutely amazing. It overlooks the ocean and also has bar stools inside the pool – which means that you can sip on piña coladas all day long without ever leaving the water! My family and I stayed in a one bedroom villa with a gorgeous view of the pool and beach. It also had a kitchen so we were able to cook a few meals ourselves and save a little bit of money on eating out.
The pools, rooms and lobby had free wi-fi for SPG Members which was a convenient amenity, but I tried my best to only use it only for snapchat and to share a few Instagram pictures. One of my favorite parts of vacation is being able to disconnect and enjoy where I’m at, which I made an important priority during this trip.
Isla Mujeres was one of my favorite days of the trip. Rent a golf cart, explore the cliffs of Punta Sur, and stop for popsicles downtown… Those are just a few fun activities this island has to offer! Check out my full travel guide of fun activities HERE.
LA ISLA FASHION HARBOUR MALL
This mall was literally right across the street from the Westin. If you’re looking to shop, Fashion Harbour is home to a bunch of stores such as Nike, Zara and Sunglass Hut, in addition to many restaurants and an aquarium. My sister convinced us to get fish therapy at Sea of Life, which was an incredibly strange sensation but memorable experience that made our feet extremely soft and smooth. Whenever we needed to cool off, we visited Starbucks for piña coco frappuccinos and Häagen-Dazs for waffle sundaes.
I had multiple people recommend that we visit Xcaret, which if you didn’t know is an eco-archaeological park packed full of fun water activities and exhibits. The park is well known for its underground rivers, which I actually hadn’t heard of before but swimming through it was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. There are three different ones that you can explore: Blue River, Maya River or Manatee River but eventually they all combine together into one. After swimming, we explored the natural pools by the beach and then headed to lunch at La Laguna where I found the cutest coconut cups ever! We took a tour here and had the option of leaving at 4:40 or 9:40 back to the hotel (about an hour away.) Unfortunately by the end of the day we were all too tired to stay for the dinner show, but I hope to go back again someday to see it because everyone says it’s absolutely incredible!
Chichen may be three hours away from Cancún, but these ruins are worth the drive and heat stroke! After doing a bit of research, we booked a two-day tour with Cancún Adventure for $166.40 US / person, which included both of the basic packages at Chichen Itza and Xcaret (many tours can be over $100 each if your purchase separately.) The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza, also known as “El Castillo” (the castle), is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World for a good reason. It was such an amazing experience to be in the midst of this archeological wonder and able to admire the ancient architecture as well as learn more about the history of its people. We had a tour guide with us for the first 1.45 hrs, then we had a little over an hour to explore on our own and take some photos. Make sure to pack sunscreen, water, and your camera – and if you want to bring in a GoPro or any other video camera, make sure you pay the extra fee before entering the site.
CENOTE IK KIL
Who knows what a cenote is? Basically, a cenote (pronounced say-NO-tay) is a natural sinkhole created where a cave ceiling has collapsed. From above, it looks like huge hole in the earth surrounded by long strands of green vegetation. Once you venture down the steps, you have the option to swim around freely or climb up a few more stairs and jump straight in! Cenote Ik Kil was a part of the two-day tour on the same day as Chichen Itza. The itinerary led me to believe that we would be visiting AFTER Chichen Itza (which I probably would have preferred, considering how hot Chichen was!) but it was still an amazing experience. Our tour ended up running late so we had a little less time here, but ideally you would get 50 min to swim in the cenote and 1.15 hrs to eat at the buffet lunch. Although it was a bit crowded with tourists, we all had a blast jumping into the refreshingly cold water.
Have you ever stayed in Cancún before? Please share your experiences or other recommendations in the comments!