Cancun, Mexico: For All Sorts of Reasons, A Perfect Paradise
What can I say about Cancun that hasn’t already been said? It’s known for spring break when throngs of American college students hit the beaches for the sort of partying that Mom and Dad don’t ever hear about. But once they go back to campus, this tropical Paradise returns to being a fantastic destination for travelers of all types. You want romance, family fun, ecotourism, historical tours - Cancun has it all! It’s a terrific destination any time of year.
My friend, Melody, and I wanted a getaway to the tropics for relaxation and a chance to do nothing at all! No men, kids, or work – just two women friends of a certain age. As the northeast was getting pounded by the white stuff, we planned to yak, nap, and swim. OK, there was also mention of wanting to spend some time at a swim up bar!
Our criteria were simple – since we’d be arriving from different airports, we wanted direct flights from Denver and Hartford; reliably fantastic weather was a must, and no rental car required. WE also didn't want to be afraid of what some in the US fear about our friendly neighbor to the South. Cancun fit the bill on all counts!
It’s a great spot for families because of the entertainment and organized activities, and the prices are reasonable. The rooms were clean and the staff very friendly, but this is not a luxurious hotel. The facility is old and would benefit from some updating. There are steep ramps leading to the elevators which made it difficult to assist my friend who at times requires a wheel chair.
There are five on-site restaurants; the Seaside Grill and the Himitsu Japanese restaurant soon became our favorites. Virtually everyone speaks English, prices are quoted in US dollars and most of the guests are American or Canadian. Many guests are repeat visitors – always a good sign.
Someone gets seasick each time out – fortunately it wasn’t either one of us, but for the two women who were ill it was distressing to watch. The crew cannot dispense medication so consider taking something before departure if you suffer from motion sickness. It’s a couple of hours to reach Isla Contoy and the waves can be rough.
Once there, you’ll find a practically deserted island with wide beaches and crystal clear water. There’s a small museum and research center hosting the biologists who are there for short research stints.
It’s worth climbing to the top of the observatory tower next to the museum. The view is fantastic and you’ll realize this is a bird paradise. Flocks of large and small birds seem to hover over the forest and fill the sky everywhere you look. More than a hundred fifty species reside or migrate through - crown pelicans, frigates, and cormorants are common sightings.
There’s a thatched hut on the water from which you can watch the birds close up without disturbing them. It’s fascinating, but don’t forget to look down into the water to see the fish. If bird watching is your primary interest, talk with Kolumbus Tours about a custom designed trip.
Snorkel gear is provided. There wasn’t much to observe when we were there…one big starfish and dozens of friendly stingrays approaching while we stood in the water. After your explorations, return to the ship for al fresco dining of grilled fish and vegetables prepared by the crew.
Kissed by Nuk
If you were a kid in the 1960s you must have spent time lying in front of the TV each week watching everyone’s favorite Dolphin. I met Flipper in Cancun.
I jumped into the water and moved to the middle of the pool, just as the trainer instructed. Soon two beady eyes approached. I braced myself for something….unsure what…. and was thrilled when the dolphin rose out of the water and planted a kiss on my cheek. My newest friend, Nuk, is a ten year old bottlenose dolphin. His name means “big” in the Mayan language. When you go to Cancun…. swimming with the dolphins is a must!
Dolphins are extremely intelligent and scientists have researched them for years. They clearly communicate with each other and are able to learn visual and auditory messages. Luisa, a Delphinus trainer told me it is the dolphins who train her rather than the other way around. A love of the animals is a must and a strong trust develops between each trainer and the dolphin she works with.
Most of these dolphins were born in captivity, the result of a very successful breeding program at Delphinus. The company has been recognized for their medical research and record number of live dolphin births. Like humans, the baby dolphin emerges from the mother’s womb. Unlike humans, however, the baby immediately has complete mobility! Look at the Delphinus website for an impressive video of a close up, live dolphin birth.
More than tacos and tortillas
Our last evening in Cancun we wanted Mexican cuisine. Mocambo was recommended by so many people that we called and made a reservation.
We sampled tequila and mescal from shot glasses as Manager Carlos Cruz explained how they differ and are made. They looked similar in their impressive bottles. Mezcal is made from roasted agave plant, and often has a smoky flavor. Tequila, the liquor used in margaritas, is only made from steamed blue agave plant.
Now it’s May, 2011 and I’m in New England with Spring in the air but I’m dreaming of Cancun. Each morning I see their daily post on Facebook. Today’s, accompanied by an inviting photo, says ”I think I know what you need.” Yes, Cancun, you do!
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