Upon arriving to Cancun, I made my way to the Cancun Island—the hotel strip and central touristy area of Cancun. I was interested in seeing the 25 kilometres of beaches that Cancun offers. After walking 10 kilometres of beaches, I enjoyed an afternoon of swimming and snorkelling. After I had enough of the touristy Cancun, I made my way back to real Cancun where I went to the Cancun market and explored the various plazas in the area for a true cultural experience. Authentic Cancun had more to offer me than the very Americanized touristy Cancun Island strip. I didn’t leave North America to experience an area similar to home; I wanted to emerge myself in a completely new culture and lifestyle. After one night in Mexico, I still did not know where I would be going next, but I knew that I needed to make my way out of Cancun and to some place off the beaten path. I did exactly that.
As a planner, I surprised myself in Mexico. I wasn’t planning everything in advance, but rather taking everything day by day. Mexico changed my perspective on life and helped me appreciate the moment, while being spontaneous and open to change. After departing Cancun, I made my way down the coast by local bus to a small fishing village named Puerto Morelos, between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Puerto Morelos was a breath of fresh air. Without all the hustle and bustle of Cancun, I was able to truly relax, appreciate the beautiful beaches, nibble on authentic food, snorkel under Mexico’s warm sun, and explore the town’s small botanical garden. After a day in Puerto Morelos, I made my way down to Playa del Carmen, a popular (and semi-touristy) beach town popular for its cobble stone streets, restaurants, and lively ambiance. As much as I liked the cute shops, the loungers on the beach, and the booming music in the distance, I still preferred Puerto Morelos where I could get lost in the silence. There is something special about being with yourself, while not surrounded by people and able to collect your thoughts to the sound of rolling waves in the background.
Must do’s in the province of Quintana Roo:
-Hike some of the 25 kilometres of beaches along the Cancun Island Strip
– Mayan Ruins: Chichen Itza
-Swim in a cenote
– Drive through Mayan villages
– Eat typical Mayan Food
-Explore the small fishing village of Puerto Morelos
-Visit the island of Cozumel (take a ferry from Playa del Carmen and snorkel in one of the top rated reefs in the world).
-Mayan Ruins: Coba- Rent a bike and explore some of the 105 kilometres of jungle covered ruins. If you get lucky, you might just see some crocs and iguanas in their natural habitat.
-Kayak in the turquoise waters of Playa del Carmen
-Stay on Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women)- the sunsets are out of this world
-Swim with whale sharks
-Visit Isla Contoy- A bird sanctuary
The province of Quintana Roo introduced me to amazing off shore snorkel spots where I would see incredible colourful schools of fish, sting rays, barracuda, and amazing coral. My first couple weeks in Mexico had me swimming with whale sharks, visiting animal sanctuaries, a turtle sanctuary, seeing lighthouses, ruins, riding on the back of a scooter, taking in cultural spots, and seeing the best beaches and sunsets that I had ever seen at that point in my life. I was in a place which allowed me to completely be myself, while finding parts of myself that were once masked and hidden.
I learned that traveling alone can be rewarding and enlightening. I was able to go where I wanted to go, stay for as long as I wanted to stay, and do exactly what I wanted to do without any compromise, while still meeting amazing people along the way. I was able to get an incredible amount done in a short amount of time as a hyperactive traveler, yet still had time to relax on the beach every day (yes, that’s a priority of mine when I’m traveling to a turquoise destination). My Mexican travel journey changed the way I looked at life. I realized then that is so much more to life and that I’m up for the challenge of finding those things.
To be continued…