Traveling is my favorite hobby, and searching for a perfect summer vacation can be a complicated subject when one has to consider the location, the favorite activities for all family members and most of all in today’s economy, the cost of the whole adventure. A couple of weeks ago, my family enjoyed two glorious weeks in one of our most favorite vacation spots, which is not only a splendid choice for the summer months, but it is a place that can offer wonderful weather and a taste of paradise all year long… Cancun!
It is incredible to think that four decades ago, this marvel of tourism, blessed with the beautiful shores of the Caribbean on one side and the Nichupte Lagoon on the other, was nothing more than a deserted area on the northeastern edge of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula; an unappreciated group of sand dunes, marshes, virgin jungles and unexplored beaches. Home to the native Mayans, the name Cancun (originally written Kankun) means “nest of snakes” in the Mayan language. The exploitation of its tourist potential which lead to the glory it boasts today, started with the decision of the Mexican government to construct a series of hotels, shopping centers, a golf course and a marina; the project started in 1970, followed by the building of the residential zone which expanded to the actual city of Cancun, the construction of the airport and the highway connecting it to the mainland. From then on, the boom of tourist related business attracted many investors, from Mexico, Europe and the world, expanding and refining itself to become a world leader in vacation destinations.
Today, there are over 32,000 hotel rooms to cater to all types of visitors, from luxury resorts that offer the convenience of the all-inclusive packages, hotels catering to businessmen in the downtown area, romantic boutique hotels, to the most economic rooms for those on a restricted budget. The marvel of vacationing in Cancun is that, no matter where you are staying, the lap of luxury or a budget inn, you are surrounded by the most beautiful natural environment, powdery sand beaches, crystalline water with the most amazing shades of blue and turquoise, warm, inviting weather for the most part of the year, and the warmth of the Mexican culture that embraces travellers with an every day “fiesta” attitude. Tourists come to Cancun for many reasons, some of them being the aquatic activities within the natural wonders in its coastal waters. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef begins near its shores and continues along the length of the Riviera Maya southward to Guatemala and is the second longest in the world, offering a visual feast for the avid diver or snorkeler. For those searching to learn more about the history of the Mayas, there are many sources and vestiges of the life and heritage of this magnificent culture within close proximity of the city. Sites like Cobá, Tulum and Chichén Itzá offer visitors a glimpse of this civilization’s history, ruins of their magnificent architecture, their insightful knowledge of astronomy and calendar making, scientific discoveries and more.
This past vacation was, as all others throughout the past years, a great success. With so many great places to visit and sophisticated luxurious resorts to chose from, we are loyal customers of one chain of resorts which was actually one of the pioneer builders in the coastal area of Cancun, Oasis Resorts. The Grand Oasis, which I call our home away from home, is a first class resort set on a beautiful stretch of the beach, with great location and offering the best options to any visitor. Built in the traditional pyramid shapes are a group of buildings with the Grand, being the central and tallest of the entire complex, and topped with a glass cupola that lets in natural light over a central jungle style garden with waterfall fountains and a distinctive curtain of hanging tropical plants from all surrounding balconies. This central area is the site where nightly elaborate Las Vegas style shows are presented to all Oasis guests. All 613 rooms in the Grand Oasis offer either ocean or lagoon view and they are all tastefully decorated, filled with style and comfort, taking into consideration the smallest details to make your stay as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. The beauty of this hotel, its groomed gardens, one of the longest river-shaped pools in all of Cancun, and the all-inclusive options that include 18 restaurants, 14 bars, two beach clubs and a night club/disco, are only paralleled by the great service provided by the professional and attentive staff. This makes Oasis a perfect option when choosing acomodations; their properties scattered throughout Cancun, give travellers options for any style of vacation, from family, to adult only and much more. From our arrival, to our departure, we were surrounded by comfort, attentive, professional staff willing to help with any situation, wonderful delicacies in all restaurant areas, a fun relaxing environment and a general positive experience to make this yet another dream vacation.
An important part of any Cancun vacation, if looking to add excitement to your days, are the many tours to surrounding ecological parks, neighboring cities with Mayan ruins and adventures of all sorts that can include action packed and fun adventures. One tour we took and recommend is with Aquaworld for a visit to Isla Mujeres which includes time for snorkeling, relaxing on a section of the islands white sandy bay beach, lunch and time to explore the downtown area in the afternoon for some shopping for those so inclined. We enjoyed the ride to and from the island, on comfortable large boats where we were offered beverages and the crew played a variety of music to please all tastes. The snorkeling experience was a bit short, but enjoyable and the weather was sunny with calm waves, which allowed for good views of the reef and the abundant tropical fish environment. This followed by a visit to an enclosed area by the dock where visitors are allowed to take photos with Pepe, a friendly six foot nurse shark (for the cost of $2). A couple of relaxing hours at the beach area, with enough shade, sitting at various locations including hammocks, the use of kayaks, clean showers and bathroom facilities, and a nice buffet lunch, with open bar were much appreciated by all. Then the boat ride continued on to the other side of the island for the last stop for those wanting to visit and walk the small streets lined with shops offering a variety of souvenir items and local merchandise. This is a tour to be enjoyed by any group or families, including small children and Aquaworld employees are courteous, professional and make the day a fun experience. Another tour taken and a definite if you are into adventure and adrenaline rushes, with the possibility to also be immersed in the mystery of the Mayan world is the Alltournative tour called The Original Coba Maya Encounter. I had read some very positive reviews prior to our trip, and all that I read came true or was surpassed by our experience. Starting with our driver and tour guide Saul, who is very energetic and charismatic, we started our day with an hour and a half drive to our destination near a Mayan village. The following three and a half hours were action packed with hikes through the jungle, a visit with a Maya shaman for a blessing ritual, swimming in beautiful crystal clear cave cenote (a natural sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath), rappelling, two long and exciting zip lines and finally a well deserved break with a typical Mayan buffet lunch prepared by a group of ladies who remained in the serving area making fresh tortillas over a wood fire stove. Through the entire experience we felt very welcome in the village environment, all members that we met or that worked with our tour, were very friendly and helpful. The tour continued to Cobá, the site of the largest and one of the most important archeological sites from the IX Century, filled with remnants of Mayan temples and the legendary ball game area and Nohoch Muul pyramid (the tallest in the Yucatan Peninsula) and of which I am proud to say I climbed enough steps to make it three quarters of its entirety until my fear of heights kicked in and I stopped my ten year old son from continuing on. Here again we had a very enthusiastic lecture from our guide, learning many details of the time when Cobá was the heart of a booming empire. There is plenty of free time to explore by foot, rent bicycles or have a bike-taxi drive you through the paths to the different pyramid and ruin locations. This was truly a full day and a tour worth the money spent. I would repeat it again in the future and fully recommend it.
In many of the other tours that are available, there are wonderful natural sanctuaries to visit and the opportunity to do things out of the ordinary, swimming with sea rays, dolphins, sharks, swim in underground rivers, snorkel, scuba, submarine tours of the reef. All in all, plenty to do by ground, sea or even air, with the opportunity to fly over the beautiful beaches on a parasail or a Skyrider which offers a more comfortable option of sitting while you are in mid air. With so much to see, so many restaurants and night life to enjoy, the incredible beauty that surrounds you at all time, and the pleasant treatment of our Mexican hosts, Cancun is definitely at the top of my favorite vacation places on earth. It is with a sad heart that I say good bye to this amazing little corner of Mexico, a bit tired, a bit tanned, filled with souvenirs and photos and with a word to say to all that made this vacation possible, GRACIAS!
Thank you to:
Erika Mitzunaga — Director of Public Relations OVC Cancun
Robin Perez — Oasis Plus (800) 44-OASIS • www.oasishotels.com
Aquaworld (877) 730-4054 • www.aquaworld.com.mx
Alltournative (877 437-4990 • www.alltournative.com