Cancun, Mexico –
Travel stories from travelling to Mexico:
Caribbean blue, crazy bus drives, the most delicious tacos and amazing beaches
This series of travel stories from Mexico starts from Cancun, Mexico, which is the first stop of our 3 month Lazy Road Trip – Central America. We reach it in the late afternoon on the first Sunday of November 2017. The 10h flight from Paris is relatively calm considering that we slept during most of it.
Travelling to Cancun and some weird things about it
Mexico greets us with a fine. In an old-fashioned Bulgarian manner we decide to take more cigarettes than the allowed amount. The duty free limit is 10 packs of cigarettes or 200 grams tobacco. On everything above we pay 550% tax, so for 2 packs of cigarettes and 1 tobacco we pay 30€. C’est la vie, as they say.
Important! When travelling to Mexico, either don’t import more than allowed cigarettes or just pass by with confidence the customs officers at the airport in Cancun, Mexico. Or don’t smoke!
How to get from Cancun airport to the city by public transport
Catch 22: All of the tourists have transfers to their luxurious hotels in Cancun, for us is the local bus. There is no exchange office or ATM at the new terminal 4 at Cancun Airport. The bus ticket counter doesn’t accept EUR and we still don’t have USD. They send us directly to the bus to take it to terminal 2 and get money from there. At the bus station there is another lady who tells us that there is no way to board without a ticket. She lists different acceptable currencies and luckily EUR is one of them. Finally, we are proud owners of two bus tickets to downtown Cancun.
Important! If you plan travelling to Mexico, keep in mind that USD is the king here and you better get some in advance.
Where to stay in Cancun, Mexico
It’s 7pm and outside is pitch dark but even the smallest side street in the city center of Cancun has a street lamp.
After a short walk from the bus station, we get to La Morena – our home for the next 3 days. After a tiny mishap with the rooms we finally get to our small double room with shower, terrace and a tiny lizard. Unfortunately, there is no hot water but… is this the most important thing on earth!?
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It’s about time for cold beer! Long live the ATMs!
There is a small store a street away from the hostel but as we reach it the fridge is closed with cardboard. After a bright smile and a bit of broken Spanish we got 2 beers. We are in Mexico, though!
Important! From Monday to Saturday alcoholic drinks are sold until 9pm and Sunday until 2pm.
Where is the best taco in Cancun (and probably in whole Mexico)
Next to the hostel we mark two small stands with tacos in a back street. Why do we decide exactly on those 2? Because all of the shabby tables and chairs are full of locals. If you plan travelling to Cancun, definitely stop by and have the best taco there! It’s closed during the day but the magic happens in the evenings.
Important! The tacos in Cancun are located on Punta Nicchehabi, a bit after the corner of Av. Yaxchilán. Always eat where the locals do!
The next day starts with breakfast in the hostel. The guests are from all over the world, the hosts bring fresh fruits and eggs … with a taste of Real eggs from very happy chickens! The coffee is the biggest disappointment, it’s pseudo americano. But we have beer!
How to go from the city center of Cancun to the beach Playa Delfines by public transport
We put our swimming suits, 30 SPF sun cream, flip-flops and off to the beach. Tsveti, of course, already has checked which bus and from where we need to take.
Important! To go from the city center of Cancun to the beach area take R1 towards Zona Hoteliera, running on the main street.
For our surprise there are no bus stations. You just need to wave the driver and the bus stops. If he sees confused tourists, he just stops and picks them up. The bus stops every 10 meters, so the trip takes around an hour. Worst than the traffic is only the bus driver who thinks he is an undiscovered Vettel. It’s a bumpy trip! Thank god we didn’t have a huge breakfast!
After the horror ride we arrive at Playa Delfines which is at the very end of the beach stretch. It’s one of the few public beaches you can go. The coast is full of huge hotels and resorts. After taking off the bus, we are faced with the spectacular never ending bluest-blue Caribbean sea. It’s a breathtaking view!
Where to have some cheap drinks on Playa Delfines in Cancun, Mexico
Walking down the beach we stumble across small stand for drinks which is 50% cheaper then the one right at the beginning of the beach. We grab a cold beer and a cocktail and the owner José urges us to go and use the sun beds. We don’t need anything else!
The bad thing about those places is that it gets dark really early. Heading back to the bus we see a fenced area where couple of people are working. After an explanation we figure out that it’s for nesting of sea turtles. Another thing we notice from the signs on the beach is that we can find many and not so friendly animals here. Good we missed them.
On the way to the bus we are hoping that the driver this morning just had a bad day and that’s why he was trying to kill us all. For unknown reasons this time we are overtaking all of the other buses on the road and the goal is to pick up as much as possible passengers. Feels like a strange computer game from the 90s.
Important! If there is no place to sit on the public bus in Cancun, just don’t get on!
Finally we reach something familiar and decide to quit the game, it’s way better to walk. We find a place to eat, there are 3 small restaurants next to each other. All of them have one person to get customers and different loud music. The anti-rhythm from the mixed Latino music we ignore with more beers.
The night in Mexico is sweaty, humid and loud. You can’t sleep from the heat and the birds are really loud, it feels like you are in a jungle. The time difference takes it’s toll and we go to bed really early.
Where to exchange money in Cancun, Mexico
The next day the weather is amazing and we have a lot to do.
The first mission: to find where to money exchange in Cancun and turn our EUR into USD and Mexican pesos. When travelling to Mexico, it’s quite important to have USD, you can pay almost everywhere with them. On top of that, if you pay for accommodation in USD it’s a bit cheaper because of the exchange rate. After stopping by couple of banks, all of the employees there suggest to go to an exchange office.
Important! The chain Money exchange San Jose has the best rates.
Where to buy bus tickets in Cancun, Mexico
The second mission: to buy tickets to Chiquila, from there we will get the ferry to the picturesque island Holbox. At the bus station we buy tickets with the main bus company ADO. There is also another company but way slower. We get the tickets to Chiquila and also a return but this time to Playa del Carmen where we will go 3 days later.
Important! There is no bus ticket counter in Chiquila. Buy your return tickets before you go! But, there is an ADO agent selling tickets on the parking lot. Also if you want to use a collectivo, there is one waiting to be filled up and go to Playa del Carmen. You should be fast from the boat, though, it gets full quite fast.
Important! Tickets for the 30 min. ferry ride to Holbox you can buy for 140 pesos (~6€) directly in Chiquila. There are boats every 30 minuets from 5:30am till 8:00pm. The two companies operating are “9 Hermanos” and “Holbox Express”.
The rest of the day we spent on the beach and in restaurants. Real tourists!
For the last night of the stay in Cancun we finish off with our favorite tacos and a beer in hand. Somehow we manage to squeeze the clothes back in the backpacks and off to bed.
Important! When you prepare you baggage take out everything you think you need for the trip, after, split it in half – this is what you actually need. Trust me!
Our travel stories from travelling to Mexico continue with our next stop on this Lazy Road Trip Central America – Holbox, Mexico: Travel stories from travelling to Mexico!