Traveling with a big family or group of pals can present a multitude of fuckery. Family dynamics, strong opinions, indifference, sunburns, upset bellies, food likes/dislikes, and sleepy people can make portions of a trip challenging. I'm here to tell you, we just went to Cancun with all of these things, and had the most lovely time, AND I had a bladder infection. It was a dream.
The temperature is pretty darn perfect along this coastline, we stayed at the Royal Cancun Resorts courtesy of my Dad and Jan. They have a timeshare option that they graciously invited us to enjoy with them. Upon arrival the kids each got their own room key (which doubled as a payment card for resort purchases), you can imagine where this led. We lost a few of those 12 cards along the way, but a kid wasn't responsible every time.
We were spoiled by the swim up bar, comfy beach chairs, beach cocktail service, game and snorkel check out (which was free), fresh beach towels whenever the need arose (if you spill in the taxi van you have to use your own towel to clean the floor), tiny market full of weird treasures and snacks, THE BUFFET, an Italian restaurant, 3 swimming pools, kayaks, SUPs, a dock stretching out into that magical turquoise water and cozy beds to retire to. It wasn't roughin' it. I thought we'd make use of our kitchen, but we really never did. We served a random assortment of weird superhero cereal and refilled our Bubba Kegs & No Prob Llama, but that was about the extent of our "food" prep. The resort buffet was just so friggin' easy, how could we pass it up? The kids especially loved it, ice cream, healthy juice, and unlimited pastries at the end of each meal. It was an exciting array of foods we don't get to eat everyday, and really, who doesn't love a tamale for breakfast, on the beach?
We found a delightful taxi driver named Rolando. Here is his contact info 011-52-998-118-1995. You'll enjoy 80's music videos (on repeat) while you travel together, should you choose him.
We paid him to chill with us on one of our adventure days. There are resort buses that can take you from one end of resort land to the other, but they'll stop frequently, so make a taxi driver friend, if you can, they'll have some inside info to share.
We visited Tulúm, an ancient Mayan walled city that borders the Caribbean Sea on the Yucatán Peninsula. We opted out of the line to enter the ruins, but took the bait and ponied up for a guided hour long tour. It was so worth it! It was only, in total, approximately $80 for all 12 of us, this wasn't much different than the regular entry fee. Kids are generally less expensive, so always be sure to ask, or you're likely to get charged an adult rate - ask everywhere you go! The ocean side of the wall is protected by sea cliffs and a giant reef that was nearly impossible to cross. If you have some time to explore the beach here, it is beautiful. On the southwest and northwest corners are big ancient watchtowers (covered in iguanas). My favorite building was the Temple of the Frescoes. You can't enter this structure anymore, but the art carved into the rock intended to honor the sun, midwifery, bodies and the changing seasons spoke to me.
We got to enter and exit through the rock walls on opposite ends, so we saw most of the structures. I'm glad we went here early in the day, it was cooler. Bring water and sunscreen, everywhere you go. Rolando had a cooler of water for us in his 12 person taxi van, he's really the best, you should probably give him a ring.
Cenotes Casa Tortuga
We taxied a few short minutes to one of the many cenotes in/around Tulúm. We went to Cenotes Casa Tortuga, I'm not sure why we chose this particular one, but I'm glad we did. This excursion was around 400 pesos per person, and this time, age didn't matter. We each were equipped with a life jacket and goggles, in hind site it would have been fun to remove the life jacket (if you can swim) and have a snorkel too.
Watch our Youtube video for more images and tiny videos. We left our resort around 10am to set out on this adventure and easily snuck both Tulum and the Cenotes into our day.
Our north shore resort was convenient walking distance to a ferry that took us to Isla Mujeres, in about 20 minutes. We chatted with the ferry company and ended up renting 3 golf carts (each perfect for 4 people) before we departed. Isla Mujeres (Women Island) was much more down to earth than the resort side of the gulf. The rental carts could tote us from one end of the island to the other in 30 minutes or so, assuming your tire didn't fall off. There are plenty of places to rent golf carts on the island. I think we paid approximately $45 per cart for the entire day. Beware of hourly rentals, you're bound to get somewhere you don't want to leave in a hurry. If you're looking for some quality souvenir shopping, this island is the perfect spot. Remember to barter, it is expected. And the food, find a nook near the water where you can dig your feet in the sand while you eat some seafood. And, do yourself a favor, hit up a churro stand en route to where-ever your day is taking you. We made a pit-stop for some beverages to fill those golf cart drink holders at a tiny grocery + some weird potato chips. My favorite thing about traveling is always the food. I gravitate toward labels I can't comprehend (entirely) and the strangest things on the menu. Tastes of other cultures are our connectors, like art.
Garrafon Beach on Isla Mujeres is where we stopped to snork and dork for a wee spell. We probably could've lived on that beach, to be honest. A couple we chatted with had rented an airbnb right there, which is what I'd likely do the next time we visit. Just hop that ferry, and go live on Women Island for a week! PS fish like weird chips too, + the snorkeling mask and a phone sac underwater, you won't regret the experience.
While you relax on the beach during the day you're approached by people selling kitschy Mexican treasures, which I'm a real sucker for. One of the things I wasn't anticipating, was the desire my kids would have to parasail. They both ended up going for it, each with a different cousin. It was $50 per kiddo, which sounds steep, but I reminded them you only live once, right? My sister and I were aboard the boat with Gus and Alice. Memories flooded of the time we jumped out of an airplane together 20 years ago. The feeling was similar, only this time, I wasn't 21 and I was watching my kids soar 300 feet above the ocean. Shane rode along in the boat while Simon and Oliver sailed. Simon spotted a shark. Gus spotted a sea turtle. Superman has never been my favorite superhero but we instilled loads of trust in him this particular day.