Cancun, Mexico

If you’ve seen my Instagram or Facebook feed the last few weeks, you know that I recently had the opportunity to visit Cancun, Mexico. Today I’m sharing the highlights of my trip, and a few thoughts on visiting Mexico.

Cancun, Mexico - Things to do, Places to Go! #mexico #travel #vacation

Mexico. A place that stirs mixed feelings in any group of people.

For some, thoughts of past vacations, all-inclusive resorts, margaritas, and lively mariachi bands come to mind. For others, apprehensions about street violence, international travel, or contaminated water brood within.

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Visiting Cancun, Mexico - Things to do, Places to Go! #mexico #travel #vacation

After my visit to Cancun, Mexico, I discovered most of the things I believed about Mexico, or Cancun specifically, were not exactly true. I made many wonderful discoveries that I can’t wait to share with you today.

Travel Cancun, Mexico - Things to do, Places to Go! #mexico #travel #vacation

The first two days of my trip were spent learning about Mexican Tourism at  Tianguis Turistico, Mexico’s annual tourism event. I met representatives from all over Mexico that were eager to share what their region has to offer.

Then I spent another two and a half days experiencing Cancun, one of those days exploring all by myself.

Visit Cancun, Mexico - Things to do, Places to Go! #mexico #travel #vacation

But first let me explain something…

Travel makes my heart burst with delight.

We all have that thing that makes us feel sublimely happy every single time we think about it or do it.

Experiencing new places, foods, and cultures. Meeting new people who speak differently, think differently than me. Wondering about those people… their day to day life, who they are, and what they’ve done to bring them to the very moment which we meet. Seeing different parts of the world, in creation and architecture. Embracing color, texture, flavor and music in everything around me, as if my life depends on it.

That is what travel does for me.

It makes me feel sharply alive and in tune with the world around me. It makes me feel relaxed even in surrounding chaos. It makes me look up from my daily tasks and breathe in the world.

Visiting Cancun offered no less than this very thing, a deep awareness of the beauty around me.

Cancun, Mexico - Things to do, Places to Go! #mexico #travel #vacation

Initially upon receiving an invite to visit, I was very excited at the chance to quench my sense of wanderlust. Then I started thinking about things I’d heard about Cancun over the years and began to wonder if this was really the place for me to visit.

Images of Girls Gone Wild and drunken college kids filled my mind. …Believe it or not, that’s not really my scene.

Yet from my first cab ride from the airport, I began to notice that my reservations were unmerited. There were luxury hotels and family attractions in every direction. There were clean sidewalks and easy access points to transportation all along the road to my hotel. There were pristine beaches lining the roads, with water so vividly aqua, I could barely take my eyes off it.

What had I been missing all these years?

Going to Cancun, Mexico - Things to do, Places to Go! #mexico #travel #vacation

I checked into my hotel, the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach, which was a lovely hotel located right at the tip of Cancun, facing out toward Isla Mujeres.

Running in front of the white sand beach below the hotel is the second largest coral reef in the world, the Great Mesoamerican Reef. (Second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.) This amazing reef provides a home for a plethora of sea creatures and fish, making it a marvelous place to snorkel and scuba dive.

Map of Cancun, Mexico

Another interesting fact about the reef is that the pieces of coral that have broken off and worn down over time have created the gloriously white fine sand that runs along the coast. It’s the softest sand you’d ever want to sink your feet into.

The white sand and dazzling aqua water are completely breath-taking.

We’ve been to dozens and dozens of beaches throughout the continental US, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and various places around the world. The only other beach I can remember being this beautiful is off a remote island in Thailand.

Amazing Cancun, Mexico - Things to do, Places to Go! #mexico #travel #vacation

I went up to my room, which happened to be very spacious and clean, and made a beeline for the balcony.

Cancun Mexico - Hotels #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

I happen to judge all hotels by what I can see from my balcony…

Thankfully all 602 rooms at the Fiesta American have an ocean view.

A+.

The View - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

The crazy thing about Cancun is that even though the main drag is bustling and lined with hotels, behind each hotel is a private paradise. You don’t hear any street noise, just the wind and the waves.

Cancun Mexico Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

I walked the famous Forum Beach, which is directly across the street along the lagoon…

I swam in the warm gently waves.

Had a massage on a beach daybed.

And was generally spoiled beyond measure.

Beach Day Bed - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

Friends Amanda, Julie and I went on a sunset-scapade down the beach searching for the perfect Mexican sunset shot.

Sunset - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

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Sunset - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

We visited several other opulent hotels and spectacular beaches…

Rosewood Mayakoba Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

We ate Mexican pastries, ceviche, chilaquiles, mole dishes, and various tacos until we were filled to the brim, but ridiculously happy. We even ate some sushi, just for kicks.

Here is a very small sampling of what I ate and drank in Cancun… Only dishes consumed in the daylight.

I could never get a great shot of our lavish dinners after dark.

Food in Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

On my last day in Cancun, a new local friend recommended that I take a trip to Isla Mujeres, known as “Woman Island” because early explorers found figurines of a female Mayan deity all over the island when they arrived.

I was alone that day and my friend insisted I would be completely safe taking the ferry over to the island and exploring on my own.

When I got off the ferry, I crossed the street and rented a golf cart. Then I spent the day whizzing down the road looking out over the ocean, stopping at little shops and restaurants, watching zip-liners fly over the water, and exploring Mayan ruins.

Isla Mujeres Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

Here I am in my golf cart… wind-blown, sandy, sunburned, yet having a marvelous time.

Sommer Collier in Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

I caught my eyes swelling up with tears of joy several times that day, while looking out over cliffs and poking through sea caves.

Cliffs of Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

Wanderlust satisfied.

Mayan Ruins - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

Happy tears are never a bad thing.

Sea Caves - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

At the end of the day, I met some friendly fishermen who had just brought in their catch.

Fishing Nets - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

They patiently showed me the varieties of fish they had caught and how to properly clean and grill them.

The perfect ending to a perfect day, for a cook.

Fisherman - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

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Grilling Fish - Cancun Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

My final thought is that Cancun is for everyone.

Not just the spring break college crowd. Not just honeymooners looking for adult-only resorts. Not just for families with children.

There is literally something for everyone.

Picturesque beaches, water sports of every variety, amazing restaurants, hotels that cater to families, private getaways tucked down the coast, swimming with dolphins, zip lines, natural and archeological wonders, bars and clubs, boat rides, nature parks, spectacular shows…

And of course, countless places to lay in the sun (or the shade) and do nothing at all but listen to the waves.

Jet skis - Mexico - Travel Tips #mexico #cancun #vacation #travel

I want to go back.

Correction, I will go back. And probably sooner than later.

I found Cancun and the Mayan Riviera not only safe for travelers and women, but bursting with a life and warmth that I want to experience again and again!

Disclosure: The Mexican Tourism Board hosted me on this trip. I was not required to share any information with you, all opinions are my own.

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15 comments on “Cancun, Mexico

  1. Julie @ Table for Twoposted May 27, 2014 at 6:33 am Reply

    Omg, I cannot keep looking at these pictures. I’m SO wanting to go visit Cancun!!! It’s gorgeous and I love experiencing different cultures and eating new foods. The beauty of travel!!

  2. Rebecca {foodie with family}posted May 27, 2014 at 6:46 am Reply

    Oh Sommer! These photos take my breath away! I’ve never been to Mexico but this makes me want to go!

  3. Barbara @ Barbara Bakesposted May 27, 2014 at 7:02 am Reply

    So fun to read your trip report. Cancun has always been a place on my bucket list.

  4. Tieghanposted May 27, 2014 at 7:03 am Reply

    So beautiful!! What an incredible trip, I am totally jealous and now I feel a serious need to visit as soon as possible! :) Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Livingposted May 27, 2014 at 7:13 am Reply

    What a great trip Sommer – I have to say I’ve never been to Mexico so this post is super helpful in giving an inside view.

  6. marlaposted May 27, 2014 at 8:33 am Reply

    Great post! Think I need a vacation now!!

  7. Liz @ The Lemon Bowlposted May 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm Reply

    Traveling makes my heart burst with delight as well!!! These photos are absolutely stunning – I can’t wait to get back to Mexico one day soon.

  8. Mariaposted May 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm Reply

    Looks like the perfect vacation!

  9. Shainaposted May 27, 2014 at 5:55 pm Reply

    One word: dreamy. It looks like you all had a magnificent time.

  10. Sylvie | Gourmande in the Kitchenposted May 28, 2014 at 3:19 am Reply

    Look at that beautiful blue water, I want to go for a swim!

  11. shelly (cookies and cups)posted May 30, 2014 at 8:49 am Reply

    WHat a fantastic trip and amazing recap! The pictures!

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  13. Sanposted June 23, 2014 at 10:02 am Reply

    I’m mexican and right now I’m living in the Riviera Maya, is such an amazing place, tons of things to do, see, eat and visit so many places, just to name some Holbox (island), Akumal, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Bacalar, you all have to come and see for yourself!! Thanks for the nice review of Mexico, Summer, hopefully you come back soon!! I just want to say something that is part of my believes and that we’re trying to eradicate, please if you come, don’t take pictures with wild animals or go swimming with dolphins, here is plenty of other activities and places that in one week is not enough time to see all. Come back soon!

  14. Shesheposted August 7, 2015 at 10:52 pm Reply

    Awesome trip report… I’m taking my trip soon… Can’t wait to see it live

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