I had the joy of traveling to Cancun for a quick vacation in November. Now Cancun usually brings to mind wild college spring breakers, so I figured I was going to have a pretty vanilla vacation experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find that besides being a gorgeous resort town, Cancun has lots of culture and adventurous activities to offer beyond the beach. I highly recommend it for a great couples or family getaway.
Here are my top five Cancun experiences:
1. Swimming in an underground cenote - A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole created by the collapse of limestone bedrock; the collapse exposes groundwater underneath. There are over 30,000 cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula. Words and pictures really don't do this one justice. I had such a great time paddling around in the cool water, marveling at the cave and laughing with my travelmates.
2. Learning about Mayan culture - Our tour guide Tino shared how his wife asked to see his Mayan birth certificate when he proposed...because Mayan birth certificates explain your personality and would show if they would be compatible. He also schooled us on the mathematical, astrology and architecture dominance of the Mayans, and how a lot of their contributions to those fields were lost when they were colonized by Spain. As a West African, it was really interesting to hear about the impact of colonization on their society.
3. Exploring Chichen Itza ruins - Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayan people. It draws tens of thousands of visitors daily, and for good reason. Visit to experience more of the technological brilliance of the Mayans, see their intricate stone carvings and learn about the grisly prize for winning an ancient Mayan ball game.
4. Ziplining through the forest - The views, the views, the views! The heights were scary (20 - 40 feet up) but think of it as a 2 for 1 where you get to see the forest from a birds eye view (literally) and conquer your fear of heights. The package we booked also included a cenote trip (see picture above) and ATV ride, so it was a great adventure.
5. Savoring street side churros - We went to the city of Valladolid for some quick local shopping and architecture, but fresh streetside churros were the highlight of the visit. I've had a few churros in the States, but they all pale in comparison to the hot, perfectly chewy ones I had in Valladolid. If you ever see an old lady, frying up some churros street side, get yourself one!
Source: Grub Street
Have you traveled to Cancun recently? What was your favorite experience?
Side note: In the weeks leading up to the trip I was a little worried about security and reports of tourists disappearing permanently. Fortunately, after talking to a few friends and some googling, I found that the Cancun is pretty safe if you stick with official tours and avoid going off the resort alone at night (aka common sense).