DH and I along with our two boys 14 & 9 were in for an adventure!
Overall…. We are thrilled that we rented a car. We think we would have been miserable feeling stuck in the hotel zone. We enjoyed getting a little lost in Cancun, that’s how we found interesting things. We wanted to explore the region. We were prepared to get pulled over, we drove the speed limit and we don’t drink – so really no problem. We didn’t get pulled over, but decided that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had.
We loved the CasaMagna. We were really glad we had a luxurious (but not stuffy) base. We paid with Marriott points, and got upgraded to a lovely oceanview room. It was a little small for the four of us. However, considering it was FREE.... No complaints. We didn’t like that they had no coffee in the room. That is a problem for me! Overall, the coffee throughout the trip was pretty poor. Even Starbucks seemed weaker than normal. The beach was not great though. For those who come just for the beach, this could be a problem. Our #1 priority was a comfortable base – so we were happy.
We did not really like the food we chose in the hotel zone. We loved the food in Cancun. It was worth the drive. Here are the details….
Day 1 - What a long day! We arrived in Cancun from San Francisco @ 7:30, after a 4 hour layover in Dallas. The price you pay for a cheap fare! Oh well, we felt it was worth it. When we arrived the guy from Cancun Rent a Car was right outside waiting. He brought us to the office with no problem. It seemed to take a while and then the time share guy started in…. We actually liked him and decided to go to see his pitch in the AM.
We arrived at the Marriot CasaMagna at about 9:30. We checked in and wanted to grab a bite. We ate at the Thai food on property. I would skip that in the future. (It wasn’t bad really, just not great and very expensive).
Day 2 – We get up and get ready to go to the time share presentation. None of us wants to go, but we’re hungry and not sure where we would eat otherwise. Did I mention that they were giving us $200 cash + r/t tickets on the ferry to Isla Mujares? In addition it was starting to rain like crazy. The breakfast was weak, they let us go after 90 minutes without a hard sell (note – we said all along, we weren’t buying). Considering it was raining like mad AND we made over $200 for 90 minutes, I felt really good about it. After we left, we decided to find Wal-Mart to get some water and snacks for our room.
We loved Wal-Mart! I don’t like it much here, but in Cancun I sure had a great time. We went back to the hotel, and swam for a while then got ready for dinner. We went back in to town to La Parilla. I had the Mole, boys had chicken tacos, DH had tortilla soup and something I don’t remember. The boys and DH will eat those items 7 out of 8 days! We had a nice dinner, great flan for desert. Well, it was our first dessert course, because we had plans for crepes. After we left La Parilla, we went to the Patesteria Crepeteria (I’m sure I’m mangling the spelling!) we had lovely crepes in a nice little restaurant. We would go back to both places.
Day 3 (Thanksgiving) – Got up, ate Wal-Mart breakfast in the room then left town! We had a big agenda for the day! First drive to the Jungle Place, then go to lunch on the beach in Akumal, then catch the ferry to Cozumel, where we would spend the next two nights.
The Jungle Place…. AWESOME!!!! We had such a great time with the spider monkeys. This visit was on my 9 y/o’s list of things to do. He learned so much about the monkeys. One actually started grooming him. Afterward, we went to Akumal, had a nice lunch on the beach. We decided not to snorkel as it was getting late and we still needed to get to Cozumel.
we had a heck of a time finding the ferry to Cozumel in Playa, then finding parking. We figured it out eventually….. Remember all of the rain I wrote about from the previous day??? Well, that was actually a storm that left the ferry ride to Cozumel pretty nasty. They were passing out the little blue bags from the get go. We all held on to our lunch, but not without effort! We arrived in Coz, grabbed a cab to the Presidente. Wow – beautiful property, beautiful room. Could have stayed here a month! We needed dinner so made our way to the restaurant on property – same as at the last hotel…OK, expensive, not really worth it.
Day 4 – woke up in Coz, beautiful!!! The seas were still rough and the wind was blowing, so my big snorkel plans called for plan B. Hang out…. Which we did. However, conditions cleared so we rented a car and drove to Playa Palancar, and went on the snorkel boat.
I didn’t love Playa Palancar as far as the hang out is considered – but we loved Palancar reef. The trip was supposed to be a drift, but we sure seemed to be swimming hard. I would imagine that was also because of the conditions the day prior. My biggest fear was that one of the kids would be stung by a jellyfish. There were lots! No one got stung, so all was well. We saw lots of great stuff on the Palancar reef; I could have given the Columbia a pass. We saw: A young turtle, nurse shark, a great big eel and our dive master saw a lionfish. I have a nice UW camera – which he took, free dove down to the lion fish and got a great shot.
We went back to the hotel, cleaned up and went into town to dinner. We decided on La Parilla Mission. It took us a little while to find, but we were so happy we did. Food was great and cheap – the perfect combo! I had a combo with a chili relleno – mmmmmm awesome! DH’s tortilla soup was to die for. We went to Mega to buy breakfast for the nest AM. LOVED IT – bought bakery items and yogurts for 40 pesos for a family of four. Breakfast at the hotel is more than that!
Day 5 – Woke up, ate our Mega breakfast and said goodbye to El Presidente, waaahhhhh. The conditions were now clear and we could see what we were missing. In the words of the Terminator…. We’ll be back!
We returned the rental car, and raced to the 11:00 AM ferry. MUCH smoother ride this time. No blue bags at all! We picked up our car and started our drive to Tulum. Beautiful ruins. Then we started our Drive to Valladolid. We were hoping to hit Ek Balam today, but it got too late, so we ended up just renting our room for 800 pesos at the El Mason de Marquis. Simple room, nice property, OK food.
Day 6 – Early morning trip to Chichen Itza – WOW, we did this based upon Mexgringa’s advice and were so glad we did. It was just amazing to be there before the throngs of busses. This was truly breathtaking! After we left we went to Ek Balam – a little hard to find, but super great and we could climb it. DH and DS #2 just loved this. My history buff DS#1 got a little freaked out by the height at the top of the main structure, so he beat it out of there. There is a little cenote nearby, so we walked there afterward and DS#2 and DH had a nice swim. It was lovely.
We got onto the toll road and drove back to the Marriott in Cancun. I remember we were starving, but I can’t remember where we ate. I know it wasn’t the hotel (as we hadn’t been happy with the food there). OOOOOhh – It was Rolandi’s Pizza – AWESOME!!! We loved this choice.
Day 7 – We planned to do nothing! We didn’t even make DS#1 leave the room until dinner. DH, DS#2 and I went to Sanborn’s for breakfast. It was great, but I started feeling little stomach flips, so after we came back to the hotel, DH and DS#2 went to the pool, and I hung in the room with DS#1. Ate at a great taco place in town and went to Chederaui (sp?) to by morning breakfast and my foodie souvenirs.
Day 8 – Our last day…… We had breakfast in the room, DS#2 and I went to the pool until Lunch. We went to Mercado 28, ate lunch at el Caj……something, and then wanted to shop. UGH – the aggressiveness of the sales people made me not buy stuff. I had pesos I wanted to spend and I left with very little, because it just wasn’t worth it. I wish someone would train them to be more effective, it would increase their sales I think. After that we dropped of the rental car, ate dinner at the Tequila factory at the mall (didn’t love it – way too Americanized, which surprised me as they are owned by La Parilla), took the bus back to the hotel to pack.
Day 9 – out of the hotel @ 5:00 AM–uneventful flights home…back to life.