Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Go to Mexico!

It's been over a week since I left Mexico. It was a fantastic trip! With all my heart, I recommend people to choose Mexico as a vacation spot, especially if you've never been there before.

This trip took us to great diving waters, fantastic beaches and hidden local gems throughout Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan peninsula. If you're looking to have a relaxing vacation whilst experiencing the Mexico away from the beaten path, but like to enjoy the organization and amenities that popular tourist destinations have to offer, I would recommend you to follow in mine and Theres' footsteps.

We arrived Cozumel Airport from Houston. When we booked our tickets, the difference in price between flying to/from Cozumel and Cancun were so vast, it made sense to fly to Cozumel. We then took the public ferry to Playa del Carmen, walked a few blocks to the bus station and took an ADO bus to Tulum.

Arriving Tulum, we grabbed a cab from the bus station to Zamas Hotel. All the taxis we took in Tulum had a set rate from the beach to/from the town (50 pesos). No room for haggling, but also no risk to be taken advantage of. The hotel was wonderful, with rustic, yet clean and pretty, bungalows on the beach. This was our vacation splurge. If you want to live on the beach, you pay the price for living on the beach. But it was worth every penny. Also, the hotel restaurant was great! We tried a bunch of different ones by the beach, but we kept returning to ours.

We did most of our diving in Tulum, with MexiDivers dive shop. They were so nice and the location of the dive shop was perfect if you stayed at our hotel. It was literally right across the street. The days we were not diving we made our way to downtown Tulum. It's where you can find the really good food for a steal! I ate ceviches  almost everyday in Tulum (downtown and at our hotel)!

After Tulum we made our way to Cozumel. We took the trusted ADO bus back to Playa del Carmen and then the ferry back to Cozumel's only city, San Miguel. Most people choose to stay in Playa del Carmen and only do day visits to Cozumel. If you're looking for great nightlife, it would be a wise choice. But if you're like us, who wanted great diving, good food and relaxation, go to Cozumel! Our days on the island turned out to be our favorite part of the trip.

We chose to stay away from the harbor, big hotels and cruise ships. Instead we lived at Hotel Casita de Maya, just next to the airport. It's about a 30 min walk from the town center, and the surroundings are not the prettiest. However, the hotel was really nice and cosy, only had four rooms in total. The owner and the staff made our stay unforgettable. Within a three block radius, we ate the trips best meal at La Perlita restaurant and we fell in love with one of my all time favorite restaurant, Diego's. We had two meals down by the harbor and hotel zone, but it was heavily overpriced and didn't taste that great.

If you're a diver or enjoy snorkeling, Cozumel is a must! Clear waters, colorful corals and more fishes than you can count! Our hotel recommended Dive Blue dive shop and the recommendation was spot on. The staff was super friendly, it was well organized and we had the best dive of the trip.

After Cozumel, we made our way to our final destination of the trip, Cancun. We knew Cancun was the tourist mecca of Mexico and that we would run into other tourist rather than experiencing Mexico. To our surprise, we were completely wrong! Why? Because we chose to live in the city and not in the Hotel Zone. Sure, you can find Walmart, Costco and Home Depot in Cancun city, but unless you go there, it's nothing you notice.

The Hotel Zone however, is a whole other story! We paid a visit when we went diving, and OMG, it could have been Mexico, Las Vegas or Disney World! If you enjoy your everyday life in the US, but want to stretch the dollar and enjoy the sun, the Hotel Zone in Cancun should be a perfect fit. If you, like us, wanted good and cheap Mexican food, communicate with body language rather than English and experience something different from what you already know, you can certainly find that in Cancun, as long as you stay away from the Hotel Zone. When looking for a hotel in the city, try to stay close to Tulum Avenue and the ADO bus stop. This will put you in close proximity to all public transportations.

During our stay in Cancun we did a day trip to Isla Mujeres. Once there we rented a golf-cart that took us around the island. We took the Ultramar ferry and it was very convenient. On our way back, we looked into grabbing a cab back to our hotel in the city. They wanted $20! By then, we had been in Mexico long enough to know when someone is trying to rip us off. Instead we walked across the street and found a somewhat questionable minivan/bus, but they only wanted $0.45 cent per person. The bus stop was a only a block from our hotel so it worked out perfect!

In summary, go to Mexico! The people are so very friendly, the food is fantastic, the climate is perfect and I can't wait to go back. As a final note, I leave you with a few photos from the trip.

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