Posted 29 Jan, 2014 | 10 Comments
Posted in: Our Story

As we packed our bags for Cancun, Mexico, we had perma-grins on our faces. We were off to the beach! Finally, after 2 years of zero beach time (apart from that couple of days at Lake Issyk-Kol in Kyrgyzstan), we were going to be spending at least 10 months on beautiful white sandy shores!

Packing our bags for Mexico
Packing Day!

Since Cancun is known for being the party place for North Americans, we were a tiny bit unsure of what we would find when travelling here.

Visions of half-naked 20 year olds partying until the wee hours came to mind. Not that this is a bad thing, but as we get older, we’re looking for more of a chilled out scene. There are endless things to do in Cancun, with a little something for everyone. 

cancun beach
Just another day in paradise

As it turns out, there are a few different sides to Cancun and a couple of different areas.

At the Zona Hotelera (hotel zone consisting of mainly resorts) you have the families, couples and other solo travelers who are here on the all-inclusive, one week vacation at the resorts.

They’re looking for full relaxation from their jobs back home. Then you have the solo travellers, or young groups of friends who are looking to drink and dance all night long at the discos, sleep on beach lounge chairs during the day, and repeat.

cancun beach
One of the party areas in the Hotel Zone, complete with bars, resorts and bungee jumping!

Lastly, you have the people staying in the centro (center) of town who are travelling around the region for weeks or months.

This is the category we fall into. These travellers are in Cancun to eat food from hole-in-the-wall eateries, have a couple of margaritas, mingle with the local people, go to the beach with a packed lunch and take the local bus around town, before moving on to their next destination.

tortilleria making mexico
A tortilleria machine. The freshly made corn tortilla shells are amazing

Whichever category you fall into, you’ll find something you like in Cancun!

Our hotel room is north of the center of town, which means we’re away from the loud bars and in an area that is very authentic.

When we want to go to the beach, we walk down the street, past the small homes, the corner markets and the 5 or so sleeping dogs, until we arrive at the bus stop. We hop on the R1 or R2 bus, which costs 9.5 pesos ($0.71), and make our way to the water.

dog in cancun
Not a care in the world

We’ve discovered a great supermarket which has everything we could want or need. We’ve been taking the bus there on our way to the beach to stock up on lunch for the day, and have made fantastic picnics of roasted chicken, apples, oranges, tortilla chips and freshly made guacamole with cream cheese, diced onions, tomatoes and a few squeezes of lime juice …and of course, Corona beer!

Trying to prepare this feast from scratch with the wind gusting and sand blowing everywhere has proved to be quite the challenge, one which we’ve happily accepted.

guacamole in mexico
We love making guacamole. Making it here in Mexico was extra special!

There’s an awesome market here spanning a few blocks, filled with everything you could imagine. One section has fresh fish, chicken and pork, another has brightly coloured piñatas and another area is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s a whole street dedicated to small restaurants serving up full meals, or just snacks and drinks.

cactus in mexico
Carefully cutting cactus

We’ve eaten at one of the restaurants in the market and were so happy with what we ordered!

The tang, spiciness, and seasoning of the Yucatan style grilled chicken was out of this world and the Mexican eggs with refried beans and rice was superb.

As a bonus, we were also given a stack of freshly pressed corn tortillas and a basket of tortilla chips with green salsa. The portion sizes were fit for two people and the prices were very affordable at $3 – $5 / meal. Eating is definitely one of the top things to do in Mexico!

food in mexico
Yucatan styled chicken was so delicious

Our evenings have been spent searching for the perfect little place to have dinner. Usually, it’s a small restaurant with a few tables serving up traditional food.

Eating Mexican food has been the highlight of our day. Even when we’re in the middle of eating a quesadilla, we’re talking about where and what we want to eat next.

Instead of doing pub crawls, we do food crawls! We want to sample anything and everything this flavourful country has to offer. The food is fresh, spicy and nothing like what we consider to be Mexican food back in Canada.

mexican restaurant
A hole-in-the-wall restaurant, with no English menus…some great food here!

We’ve been enjoying our holiday down-time here in Cancun and were fortunate enough to meet up with our travel buddy, Bernie! This is the 7th country we’ve met him in and it was great to share another adventure with such a like-minded friend.

margaritas in mexico
Goodbye margaritas with Bernie…it was definitely a Happy Hour

After six days of eating everything in sight, going to the powder white beaches many times, drinking numerous beers, visiting the market and wandering around our neighbourhood, it’s time to move on.

Hasta luego Cancun! It’s been a blast.

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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10 thoughts on “Travelling Cancun: There’s A Little Something For Everyone

  1. I went to Cancun with my family about 12 years ago and found it to be a complete cultural vacuum and had never since considered it a place worth going back to. Now I realise that’s probably just because I was staying in the zona hotelera, where the only Mexicans seemed to be people working in the resorts who were surprised that I spoke Spanish, and more so that I was European!

  2. There are definitely many other places in Mexico that have more culture available and that aren’t overly touristed/westernized. But if you’re just staying in the Hotel Zone, then for sure you’ll only see Mexicans who are working at the resorts. If you want to go to Cancun to just party and chill out on the beach, then that’s fine too…but for us, we wanted to see a little more 🙂

    The beaches there are awesome!


  3. Yep, it makes it much more creamy! Back home, we sometimes put in a bit of sour cream, but we couldn’t find any when shopping here…cream cheese did the trick.

  4. All that food looks amazing! Thanks for showing an entirely different side of Cancun outside of the resorts.

  5. Thanks Vanessa 🙂 It’s true, Cancun may not be the most culture filled area in the Yucatan Peninsula, but it does have lots to offer outside of the resorts 🙂

  6. I had the impression that Cancun was the place for party animals too, but glad to hear there’s another side to it 🙂 Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful stay, and am very envious of your food crawls!

  7. Ya, there definitely is the party atmosphere, but we found there was more to Cancun than just that 🙂

    Food crawls have been amazing! Cheers.

  8. I would love to have the recipe of the styled chicken Yucatan. I am very fond of the chicken dish.

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