It was the first time that Lucy or I had been to Cancun and we couldn’t wait. In typical British style it had rained the whole week before hand so all we could think about was getting on that plane and leaving grey old London far behind.
We flew from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic departing at the civilised time of midday. A quick check on the weather app for Cancun before boarding and I could see that it would be 28C and sunny every day, perfect! Two in-flight movies, a tasty lunch and a quick power nap later and we touched down in Mexico at 4pm local time. After a painless whisk through passport control we jumped into a taxi and headed for the Hotel Zone, just 25 minutes from the airport.
Our home for the next 7 nights would be the uber cool Melia all-inclusive resort ME Cancun. From the moment our taxi pulled up to the entrance we were made to feel like VIP’s with beautiful members of staff in designer gear beckoning us in. The whole place had an artsy European feel about it with marble floors and water features at every turn; but the property also had an unmistakably Mexican charm about it.
Our room was a very stylish ‘Aura’ suite. Kitted out with state of the art mod cons and an unbelievably comfortable king size bed, it was the perfect base for our holiday. One of the things I loved most about it was the seriously generous mini bar; over flowing with cold beers, wine and just about every type of spirit you could imagine; and not just miniatures, I am talking full size tequila bottles!
We had opted for a cost effective all-inclusive package, which I initially had had some reservations about. The 1980’s preconception of tired looking all-inclusive buffets and watered down drinks lurked at the back of my mind but I couldn’t have been more wrong. With 7 stunning restaurants and bars offering a choice of Thai, Mexican, Mediterranean and more, we were truly spoilt for choice. Each restaurant had its own unique style and mouth-watering Al a carte menu offering the best in local and international cuisine. It was clear from the off that ME Cancun sources only the best and freshest ingredients and that there is some serious talent in the kitchens. Lucy’s favourite eatery was Silk, a sophisticated Pan-Asian restaurant serving exquisite fish and meats with a Latin American twist. My favourite was the less formal, but no less charming, Water Grill where I was served lobster and champagne (for a small surcharge) right next to the beach under Caribbean moonlight.
ME Cancun is the perfect resort for just sitting by the pool or lying on the beach under the sun kissed skies. With a swim up pool bar, direct beach access with loungers, onsite water sports and a full waiter service as part of the all-inclusive package, it is easy to see why some guests choose to stay on site for their whole holiday. We opted for parasailing, one of the highlights of our trip. At 300 ft above the sea it is not only an exhilarating experience but it also provides an incredible view overlooking Cancun and the Caribbean Sea. But as tempting as it was to stay at our hotel for the whole week, Lucy insisted that we should go and explore so she went ahead and booked us on two excursions with the help of our delightful hotel concierge.
The Xplor adventure park lies about one hour south of Cancun’s Hotel Zone and is like no theme park I have ever been to. Set in jungle, the park’s main attractions are a series of white-knuckle ziplines. At nearly 100ft above the jungle canopy visitors zip from tree top to tree top at speeds of 30mph; certainly not for the faint hearted! As well as ziplines, Xplor offers a very cool driving experience. With Lucy behind the wheel we raced through caves, over bridges and splashed through water in an open top 4×4’s; it is the closest thing you can get to being in Jurassic park without being chased by a T-Rex! But perhaps our biggest surprise at Xplor was the underground river. Set in ancient caves visitors are able to swim or paddle alongside beautiful rock formations that have taken literally millions of years to form. We chose the rafting option and could have spent hours exploring the winding channels and mysterious passages. With all these activities you would have thought that we would have spent all day queuing, but not a bit of it. What a great day, I could not recommend this place enough!
For something less adrenaline-charged but a little more cultural, the next day we set off on a tour with local company Alltournative. Our driver for the day was Saul, the most enthusiastic and cheerful Mexican I have ever had the pleasure to meet! Saul loved his job and clearly took delight in guiding us to some of the most fascinating sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. Our first stop was Pac-Chen, a traditional Mayan Village about an hour’s drive from our hotel. It was here that we were blessed by an authentic Mayan Shaman before taking a tour of a traditional Mayan home. The villagers could not have made us more welcome and it genuinely felt like we had taken in trip back in time. Next was the village of Chimuch where we learnt Mayan phrases and we were given the opportunity to jump from 15ft into a Cenote (a natural sinkhole surrounded by ancient limestone). Lucy decided to sit this one and instead chose to take a picture of me making the leap. Splashing down into the cool natural waters could not have been more refreshing and is an experience that I will never forget. Then it was time for lunch. Cooked in front of us by a Mayan family we were treated to authentic and delicious dishes of meats, vegetables and spices cooked in traditional ovens. Over lunch Saul told us about Mayan myths and legends and how his company is working with local families to preserve this unique way of life.
Our final stop that day was Cobá, a majestic archaeological site dating back to the 9th Century. Set in thick jungle, the area is home to some of the oldest and most important Mayan treasures in the region, the most impressive of which is the colossal Nohoch Mul pyramid. Unlike similar nearby structures visitors are permitted to climb to the summit. The ascent to the top is not for those with a nervous disposition or for those that are scared of heights, but it sure is worth it! The view from the top is one of the most impressive I have ever seen, at 138ft high it is possible to see for 20 miles in each direction; truly stunning.
Cancun really is the ideal destination for those wanting a perfect beach holiday with impeccable service. But what surprised us it just how much there is on offer beyond this. Whether it’s adventure, culture, dinning or nightlife, Cancun has it all. We only scratched the surface so can’t wait to go back!