Friday, May 29, 2009

Too many things to do in Cancun!

Last Friday the phone rang in the middle of the afternoon. It was my mom, which at first led me to the "What's wrong????" question as usually the parents don't call until evening. Luckily it was good news, great news in fact, my parents had booked their flight to Cancun for a visit! I was so excited and we started discussing all the things we could do. And this is where things get tough. There are TOO many things in Cancun and Quintana Roo, too many options, what's a girl to do??

I've lost count of the number of visits my parents have made, but we always manage to show them something new. They've been to Isla Mujeres, Isla Blanca, Cancun of course, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum and Merida. This year I am torn, not sure where we should take them. I think I've settled on a place and I change my mind, then change it back again, the options are limitless and I can't seem to focus. Here are some of the places I've been considering.....

Taxi on Isla Holbox

1. Isla Holbox- I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this island off the north end of Quintana Roo. We went for the first time last year and were enamored. It's isolated and far from overdeveloped, just a few palapa style hotels, no huge resorts. Everyone travels by golf cart, even the taxis are golf carts, the feeling is very laid back and the beach is absolutely stunning. I'm desperate to return to this little piece of paradise, particularly as it's whale shark season and that's one of my "Must Do Before I Die" things, I NEED to swim with the whale sharks. There are no banks on the island, not much of anything really, a perfect place to get away from it all and surround yourself with the beautiful things in life. I think my parents would love it, thus, top of my list.

Laguna Bacalar photo courtesy of Rivergirl

2. Laguna Bacalar- We have never visited Bacalar, but it is a really intriguing prospect. The "lagoon of seven colours" is located just north of the state capital Chetumal, about three hours south of Cancun. It's fairly undiscovered by tourists but the photos I've seen are spectacular. Hotels are small bed and breakfast type affairs and are very reasonably priced (I've seen a few for less than $50 USD a night). There is an old fort in Bacalar and there are several Mayan ruin sites nearby. Canoeing, kayaking and snorkeling are popular activities and it just looks like a nice, tranquil place to hang out. It's one of the places that I haven't seen in Quintana Roo and I think it would be fun to discover all it has to offer with my parents.

The Cathedral in Valladolid
photo courtesy of Yucatan Living

3. Valladolid- Leaving Quintana Roo and entering the neighbouring state of Yucatan, Valladolid takes you back in time. The colonial architecture and historical buildings, combined with nearby ruins and cenotes make this a very appealing destination. It's yet another place that we have not had a chance to see. My parents loved Merida, so I think they would defintely enjoy Valladolid. My big concern is that it's summer time, July, and the temperatures will be soaring. I'm keeping this on the list, but I think it might be best to leave it for a trip when the weather won't melt us.

Those are probably the top three (at this moment in time), though I've considered several other places. As much as I like adventure and "roughing" it a little, there's a little piece of me that thinks it might be nice to just hang out at some all inclusive hotel in the Riviera Maya, eating and drinking to our hearts' content while Max plays in the kid's club. I haven't shut that option down yet, even though it's not normally my style, it's got a lot of appeal in these hot months! Who can argue against a cute waiter serving me cold cold drinks in a pineapple and bringing me fresh towels?

So, what's your vote? Where would you take the whole fam damily?


Theresa in Mèrida said...

I vote for Bacalar. I haven't been there yet, but I want to go. Some of my friends have been and it just sounds nice.

KfromMichigan said...

I've not been to Holbox, but I do like Valladolid. Hard to pick just one! Dive to the Golf side is an option too.

Islagringo said...

No question. Isla Holbox hands down. I have heard that the price for whalesharking this year is $180 USD per person, no matter where you leave from. Ouch.

Sue said...

I guess I vote for Laguna Bacalar simply because of the time of year, or Holbox if they can handle the heat - at least you'd be near a beach. Valladolid will be hot, we were there in August several years ago. We went to Ek Balam and Cenote Ceci, meandered around town. Not that much to see/do there (I was hoping for tours of colonial homes) - a weekend would be plenty. You didn't mention Puerto Aventuras - not sure how it looks now after the last couple of years of storms, and maybe you count it as part of Playa del Carmen anyway? Whatever you choose, I hope you all have a great time, that is one thing I so hope I get to do one day - show my dad around my little part of Mexico.

Matt Swift said...

My vote is Isla Holbox. Calm, sand, and beach. That's all Canadians need.

Valladolid was interesting too, but I still vote for #1...

Elke said...

Isla Holbox has my vote, too. Never been there, intending to go there next time we're DRIVING (yeah - not flying - driving!!!) to PDC and then ferry on to Cozumel. We're also planning to see Jonna & Mimi on that trip, either in Merida or Akumal - wherever they are. I'm in Melaque for 2 weeks, flew down last Saturday, driving my Rodeo back to Colorado so we can bring in the new(er) SUV on our FINAL moving trip down early July.
WE HAVE ARRIVED - almost - permanently.
ISLA HILBOX - takes lotsa photos, please!


Rum Runner said...

We would love to say Isla Holbox but we don't want any more people going there and loving it like we did!

Amanda said...

Isla Holbox. There's a reason it was listed first. Go there! :)

Gaelyn said...

Isla Holbox gets my vote. You should swim with the whale sharks while your parents are visiting. Then just in case you get eaten, they'll know first hand. Just kidding, LOL. The first two places both sound delightful. Too hot for the last choice.

Paul said...

Isla Holbox is number 1 but Bacalar is a close second. Plus it is quite a bit cheaper.

ElleCancun said...

I'm going to say Holbox as well :) This way it will feel like a real vacation... You know??

Valladolid is amazing, but you can do that another time... Let me reassure you - VERY hott this time of year! 40 above! No breeze...

Yay for family!!!

Louise said...

I've been noticing that you've said so many amazing things about Isla Holbox that I'd love to try to visit when my daughter and I are in Cancun next week. Can you give me an idea how long would it take to get there from Cancun? We'll be flying in on the 6th ... I can hardly wait! Keep the sun shining and the water blue!

Jorge said...

It takes like 2 hours to get to Holbox from Cancun driving. Once you get to Chiquila you will catch the ferry(sort of) to Holbox.

My vote goes for all. We never get tired of one place.

Canucka's slave.

norm said...

Last time down Linda and I went to Calakmul, down off RT.186, it was always one of those ruins that you could not get to with out a JEEP, now there is a great paved road. The place is very big as ruins go and set in old growth trees, an eco zone filled with native animals, it took my breath away. Think Tikal without the masses of people. Bacalar is on the way so you could do both. There are plenty of places to stay in the area both high dollar and cheap.

minshap said...

How neat that your parents are coming and would be up for any kind of special event trip you suggest! All the options sound wonderful to me (even the easy lazy-way trip!), and Holbox is one on my own list!! As for Valladolid, if you do go there whenever, you would HAVE TO SEE the cenote in Dzit Nup... it's one of those places that takes your breath away when you see it for the first time. Not a place you can stay long at though as it's in a cave.

Michele in Playa said...

A boat captain friend of ours says the Golden Rays are passing by Holbox right now. That would be reason alone to go!!

Carlos Ponce-Meléndez said...

I feel guilty because I have been reading you blog for some time but I have never accnogleged it, mea culpa. The true is that I read you blog and I enjoy it. It very weel crafted and fun. Therefore I feel I have the obligation to make a contribution to you question and my vote goes to Vallalodid. The reason is simple, you parents are from Canada and Vallalodid is a different culture. The beach and animals can be seen in a zoo or acuarium but peopele with different ideas, dresses, meals, etc? So go and enjoy Vallalodid.

CancunCanuck said...

Theresa- Thanks, Bacalar has so many appealing things about it, thus, I am torn!

KfromMichigan- Oh sure, remind me of another option, lol! The gulf side of the Yucatan is certainly a great choice, but sheesh, I'm trying to narrow it down here, teehee. :)

IslaGringo- Zoiks, $180? That's a big cachinga for a group of adults and a wee monkey who is too small to do it. The cheapest I've seen is $110, but when we were on the island they were offering deals, $90 was the least expensive we found. Might be different this year with the crisis, thanks for the heads up! Hugs to you my friend.

Sue- Puerto Aventuras is on the "all inclusive lazy trip" list, a few good resorts out there. I think beach is totally necessary in the heat!

Matt- So true, Canadians and Holbox are a good mix. :) Valladolid may have to wait for cooler climes.

Elke- I started my life in Mexico in Cozumel, I wish you all the best! Sounds like you are embarking on a great adventure, I hope you share it on your blog. Thanks for your vote, Holbox is coming out on top (like I didn't have a bias, haha).

Rum Runner- Hola and welcome. I know it should really be a secret, but this I just can't keep quiet. But, all of you reading, shhhh, don't tell anyone! :_

Amanda- Ah, ever the linguist, it was written first for a reason. ;-) But

Gaelyn- Ha! Yes, I suppose if I were to be eaten by a shark, I would like my parents to be there. (You make me smile). Beach seems to be winning the poll right now, thanks!

Paul- The expense is certainly a factor for Bacalar being in top three. It's a far cry less expensive than Holbox, and a different kind of lovely.

On Mexican Time- Inland does seem kind of crazy in the summer time, beach is far more appealing. (Are you coming tomorrow to Andalucia? There's a thread on CC, would love to meet you!)

Louise- It's a few hours from Cancun, so not really a day trip, but for oh so many reasons, I love it. I wouldn't want to spend less than 3 days on the trip, 4 would be better. I am doing my "anti rain dance", have a great trip.

Jorge- Thanks sweetie, but sheesh, take a stand, help me out, jiji.

norm- Thanks so much for the tip, you've added another place to my list! Both helpful and frustrating, haha. :) I want to see it all!

minshap- My parents are tremendous, really up for anything. Cenotes in summer are very appealing, fresh and cool and lush. Certainly on "The List".

Michele- Oooh, how fun! Another point for Holbox.

Carlos- Hola y bienvenido! I just read the first story on your blog, lovely, thank you. My parents have been here many times over the years and seen a lot of the places off the beaten track. They did love Merida, I know they would love Valladolid. We'll certainly be there in the future, though I think there is a better time to visit than the depths of summer. Gracias por tu comentario!

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Cancún 4 years ago, I wanted to go on my birthday but no one wanted to go because it was "too far away".
It is on my list of places to visit before I die.

Kelly said...

Isla Holbox sounds fantastic, your pictures were amazing. Also, maybe it's meant to be since it will be shark season!

If you go the all-inclusive route, I just returned from Iberostar Paraiso Maya (upgraded from regular room in Paraiso Lindo to junior suite FOR FREE due to occupancy). It might be bigger than what you're looking for, 5 resorts in one complex with differing prices, but I loved it. The pools were fantastic, and it wasn't TOO far from Puerto Morelos. There were lots of Mexican families, apparently the resort offers day passes.

Holbox still has my vote, though!

Heather said...

1st one, what about the swimming with the dolphins place?

CancunCanuck said...

Dayna- Too far away? Nah, lol. It is a bit of a trek, but road trips are fun! Hope you get to visit one day.

Kelly- Glad you had a great trip and an upgrade, fantastic! My guess is that the Mexican families were "Mexican nationals" on their own vacations, you won't find too many locals who can afford a day pass price (usually about $75 or $100 USD a day), but you will find folks from Mexico City coming down for a week. Hope you'll be back soon!

Heather- We swam at Dreams Cancun, too close to home to be a vacation, haha. It's only about 20 minutes from my house, I wouldn't feel like I was getting away, KWIM? :)

Poofbegone said...

I went to Bacalar and Valladolid. I loved both. Bacalar is great for getting away from it all but if your parents like to browse shops, eat out, and be around people, Valladolid is better. It is very charming. The cenotes are awesome! We rented bicycles and went to the cenotes near Valladolid. Then we took a bus and went to Chichen Itza (or however that is spelled).

As far as I know, there is only one hotel in Bacalar. It is a bit expensive by Mexican standards but the view is great. I think there are vacation rentals in the area. I didn't do any water activities there (just swam) but the water is gorgeous.

Have fun! I hope I get to go to Mexico again soon.

Anna said...

HOLBOX!!!!!!!! Snorkeling with whale sharks was one of my favorite life experiences. Max will pee his pants with excitement. I'm planning a trip with my boyfriend soon if I can drag him off the Island:)

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