As a travel lover, but also as a busy editor, I enjoy quick getaways from South Florida that give me the chance to enjoy a destination without sacrificing my time. I admit to be the type of person that rarely takes a solid vacation, but as I saw my vacation days piling up and the year nearing an end, I took the opportunity to travel to Cancun, Mexico for a quick weekend getaway which I hoped would bring me back home to South Florida feeling laid-back and refreshed.
The beauty of traveling to Cancun from South Florida is that the flight is under an hour and 30 minutes, so you will be there quickly after take off. Due to this travel experience, I was inspired to offer my top three tips to enjoying Cancun on the fly, if the time you have there is limited but you still wish to enjoy your vacation and bring back home some unique and fun memories. I was able to pack a lot of great experiences on this quick trip, which proves that you can still have a great time if you don't have the leisure of taking a full week off to go on a vacation.
#1 Don’t be afraid to explore and be local
For the adventurers at heart, Cancun has a lot of it to offer, such as Kantun Chi Eco Park, where you can dive into natural lagoons and even explore an underground cave. For those who love water excursions, Cancun also offers snorkeling, diving adventures and even the chance to drive your own two-person speedboat. Locals love the beach and sun, so I advise spending time outdoors while visiting and enjoying the cool breeze. The beach in Cancun also offers the option of playing outdoor sports by the water, so make sure to bring comfortable shoes and pack your favorite flip flops.
In Cancun, walking and exploring is key around the hotel zone. No matter where you are staying in this zone, there's a variety of transportation options such as a bus that travels up and down the area for an affordable fee or you can tie up those sneakers and go for a stroll. When I had some free time one afternoon, I decided to go for a brisk walk myself and I discovered that Cancun's hotel zone offers diverse shopping options, from luxury to homemade and you'll be sure to pack up a nice souvenir from any of your days spent exploring. I, for one, picked up a dainty woven shawl and fan for my mother in Puerto Rico when I was told that many women in the area enjoy to have a shawl in their purse in case of an ocean chill and a fan in case of a hot day to the constant sunshine. One thing that you will also realize is that locals are truly friendly and eager to let you know about their favorite stops in Cancun.
#2 Stay in the heart of Cancun
Cancun has a beating heart, one filled with a sense of adventure and diverse offerings at every turn. Located on the hotel strip, the CasaMagna Cancun Marriott Resort where I stayed, offers an escape from the hustle and bustle adjacent to the cool ocean breeze. The hotel offers a variety of eateries, such as La Capilla, an Argentine restaurant boasting well-cut chops and a varied tequila and wine list. The hotel also has open-air courtyards that will have you enjoying the breeze of Mexico in no time, even as you walk towards your room. La Isla, located poolside, features fresh ceviche dishes and traditional Mexican bites that you can enjoy while indulging on views of the ocean with a cold lime margarita, with salt. During my stay there, I was able to enjoy quiet walks on the soft white sands of Cancun, I witnessed eager beach volleyball matches by the water between strangers that became friends. One of my favorite memories is that one of just opening the blinds of my balcony and witnessing the sunrise in the wee hours of the morning while the rest of the world seemed to be asleep.
#3 Take a short road trip
Many who come to Cancun love to explore past the hotel district, according to locals and the busy concierge desk. My tour operator while there was Tropical Incentives, who offer hotel and airport pick-up, as well as a variety of off-the-beaten track tours that include excursions and water activities. For those who love a good excursion and want to see what is nearby to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Isla Mujeres are easy trips that you can take that are under an hour away.
Isla Mujeres is a ferry ride away and boasts sparkling beaches, silver jewelry vendors and local dining options featuring fresh seafood and Mexican fare such as beef tacos. During my visit to Isla Mujeres, I purchased my favorite memento from the trip, a sparkly and silver ring from a quaint store owned by a man and his family and to this day I still remember my trip when I wear it. Coming back from Isla Mujeres was also a treat as a local musician played jazzy tunes and strummed a guitar all by himself, entertaining travelers inside the busy boat headed back to Cancun.
Playa Del Carmen’s “La Cueva del Chango” is a local’s hideaway, featuring an outdoor courtyard with fresh Mexican dishes and the nearby shopping district offers fare created by local artisans such as jewelry, elaborate shawls and shirts. During my stroll through Playa Del Carmen, I was able to discover many unique items, such as homemade headbands and colorful key chains, to bring back home to friends and family. Whether you make a day or a few hours of your visit to these adjacent cities, you will come back home having explored the best the Cancun area has to offer in your short but sweet trip filled to the brim with memories.