Hidden Cancun - Beyond All-Inclusive Resorts

Memories are the most sacred things we can have in life - and most memories are preserved through pictures and stories. Pictures show us how we once were and how we things and thoughts that once went through our heads at that moment.

I write this article at a time when the COVID strain of Omicron has become prevalent and the pandemic is nearing almost 2 years in March 2022. Locked down with restrictions for so long, many of us have had a greater appreciation for things that we might not have before. Appreciation for life, for love for culture and for all the things that we should be able to do should not be taken away from us. Even as we remain in this hybrid model of work and school, we still have the choice to be happy everyday and to find meaning in the everyday.

I have always thought that Cancun was simply known for its beaches and an easy getaway for those seeking a sun getaway, but there is more that meets the eye in this city.

Cancun, formerly known as the notorious party city for college students, actually has many things to offer besides tequila, nightclubs and partying. Formerly an unexplored area, Cancun today is one of the top growing cities in Mexico for tourism and business as well, harbouring many all-inclusive resorts in its hotel zone and other areas. Be sure to check on the beaches and take advantage of everything that your all-inclusive resort has to offer, including the many sport activities and views from the backyard.

Top Recommendations when near Cancun:

1.Chichén Itzá

It would be a shame if you came to Cancun and didn't visit the famous Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonder of the new world and one of the archeological marvels of the old world, coined on July 7, 2007. The term Chichén Itzá means - at the 'the mouth at the well of Itza."

The Mayans believed that Itzá meant water magicians, and harnessed the importance of water in their cultural and religious ceremonies. Around a 2 hour bus ride from Cancun, Chichen Itzá is a must see when you are in the Yucatan Pennisula or around that area, as it would be a shame to just stay in the resort for the entire duration of your vacation. Actually located in near the region of Valladolid, this colonial town is a must see to understand the values and culture of the ancient Mayans. Take a popular tour with TripAdvisor, and book ahead of time to risk being disappointed, as you get plenty of rest on the bus, while also having the opportunity to see all the tourist sites. With pre-Columbian style architecture and 4 visible cenotes (water holes), it has been speculated the human sacrifices where made by the Mayans at the location among others. Divided into Old Chichen and Chichen Itzá, there are many Mayan Ruins for you to explore, some including ancient temples and artifacts. Along the path, be prepared to see many street vendors and bargain your way for the best souvenirs.

2. Swimming in the Cenotes - The popular trip also takes to the famous cenotes which are around 600,located throughout this region of the Yucatan Penisula. Cenotes are not only culturally and historically relevant in Mayan history, but today they are become a major tourist attraction that infuses restaurants as well as many shops around time. There are over 1000 cenotes located in the Chichen Itza area, symbolizing the importance of duality : life and death, and they provided the necessary fresh water to to the people of that time. Located deep into the water, Cenotes are natural deep water sinkholes that are fed by the filtration of natural rainwater from the environment. This allure attracts millions of tourists each year to swim in its natural waters and rejuvenate. Be careful as you descend down the steps of the scared cent, often extending when before surface level. Some people choose to dive off the cliff of the cenote; but there is also another option where you can walk down the steps, similar to a swimming pool.

3. Isla Mujeres - This small island located approximately 6km of the coast of Cancun is famous for its water sports, most importantly snorkelling and discovering ancient Mayan vestiges along the way as you snorkel in the relatively calm waters of the Caribbean. Be careful when snorkelling, however, as the water from the Caribbean Sea is largely salt water, so be careful whether to inhale it or not. Isla Mujeres is a relaxed beach town with many street vendors, all-inclusive buffet restaurants and lots of Mexican tequila. Taking a Catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres is not to be missed, as views of Cancun and Isla Mujeres leave you breathless on an open air experience leaves you breathless. The town itself is a laid back beach town, great for shopping for local souvenirs and taking picturesque photoshoots.

4. La Isla Shopping Mall - This is one of Cancun's largest shopping malls and is home to International and local brands. This region of Cancun is under development heavily due to the influence of international investment and is central to the growth of the tourism industry. It is a popular open -air dining facility with restaurants as well as a lively atmosphere. Here, one can feel Cancun's international presence on the fashion scene, from local Mexican brands to harnessing the culture of established international brands embellished in modern architecture throughout the mall. With palm trees and warm air surrounding you all throughout, you are bound to be in an energetic atmosphere.

5. Zona Hotelera

If you truly want to experience the liveliness of Mexican culture, then for sure head to the Zona Hotelera and check out all the bars, clubs and other venues that eagerly welcome you. Cancun is known for its lively nightlife and this region is a testament to that. For me, it did remind me a bit of Kao San Road in Thailand, where the hotel hosts would be competing for your attention, nevertheless, for first comers to Cancun, it is definitely worth checking out.For nightlife, be sure to check out the region near the Coco Bongo club, where many restaurants such as Senior Frogs will bring a lively atmosphere to your table. I remember distinctly how a little boy celebrated his birthday with a tequila shot as hosts helped him celebrate on the main stage and the balloons and celebratory nature in the open air restaurant/bar.

Chelsea Reviews: 4/5

Even though travelling during the pandemic can be challenging, Cancun was a great escape from the reality of the pandemic that still endures even during pandemic times. Mexican culture and the people are very friendly and open, something that endures despite that changes the world continues to endure. If your ever looking for a warm, friendly atmosphere to escape the mundaneness of daily life, then Cancun is definitely an option for you, forever and always. Come here for the unlimited Pina coladas and leave satisfied and ready to take on the world and your routine when you come back.

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