If you have read my Dominican Republic blog you will already know how much I love a RIU hotel, but the reason we stayed at the Riu Palace Macao in the Dominican Republic was because I already had my eyes on another RIU in Cancun, Mexico: The RIU Palace Peninsula. I had to wait another year to visit this stunning hotel as Mexican prices are significantly higher than Domincan hotels, but it was worth the wait! I think what drew me to this hotel was its unique shape and how modern and clean it looks.
This holiday was made really special by the people we met out there. We got speaking to lots of other couples during our two weeks, but none more than Sophie, James, Amy and Gary. Amy and Gary were on their honeymoon in one of the resort's villas and Sophie and James got engaged on our second night there! I had only met Sophie that day but I was over the moon for her. Funnily enough she had commented on my engagement ring that day and Tom told me, once back in our room, that James mentioned to him and Gary that he was proposing to Sophie that evening, at sunset on the beach. I immediately found out what time sunset was and kept looking out from our balcony but sadly didn't manage to see the special moment. When we saw them after our dinner her smile said it all!! That night the hotel was hosting a beach party with fire dancers, a great way to celebrate their engagement!
Cancun has been 'Americanised' but as I grew up going to America every year (thanks mum and dad!!) I was only happy to hear this. While traveling through Cancun you will notice a lot of American restaurants, and if you visit the shopping outlets these are very much the same as the ones in the States. We visited the La Isla Shopping Village a couple of times as it was so easy to get to from our hotel on the local bus (I will tell you more about the buses later...you'll see why). There was a good range of shops and restaurants here, as well as a luxury section with the likes of Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, D&G, etc. But to keep the boys happy before we led them to that part, we popped by a restaurant you may well of heard of....HOOTERS! Sorry to any guys reading this as I haven't included any photos of the lovely ladies working there (and they really are lovely), but this is because I need to show you how amazing the food they serve is! I was so shocked...see below.
La Isla Shopping Village also has an aquarium that we visited on our second trip to the 'village'. Thanks to the dolphin show it is just about worth the entrance price. I would only really pay to go in if you time it with one of the shows.
One thing I do wish is that we had taken more spending money for the nightlife in Cancun. I'm not a huge clubbing person but out there it is more like a party and a show, they really go all out to keep you entertained and I just wish we could have got more involved in that side of the city. We did however go to Coco Bongos, the most well known club in Cancun, and for good reason. We booked the golden package which got you in the seated area and all-inclusive drinks (on selected drinks) all night. Now I can not stress enough the 'drinks all night' part, our waiter would bring us another round of drinks after we'd had about two sips of our current one, amazing service but I couldn't keep up! The club itself is pretty awesome but I am glad we were in the area with seats, not that we sat at all but you had more space rather than being crushed on a very hot and sweaty dance floor. The shows they put on were great, think Las Vegas show costumes and loads of tongue-in-cheek, over the top tribute acts. One word of warning is that they constantly have guys in costumes walking round to take a picture with...then trying to charge you for the prints and they can be quite persistent.
So I mentioned the buses earlier and said I would talk a bit more about these. The local buses in Cancun are an excellent way to get around, they’re really cheap and very fast…so fast that sometimes they don’t actually stop when you’re getting on or off! Our hotel rep did tell us about this during our welcome meeting on the first day, if my memory is correct I think he referred to them as formula 1 drivers, I can agree with that! There are bus stops all over Cancun and you will probably never wait long for one, maybe a couple of minutes max. The drivers get paid per passenger and because of this they will often pull up as soon as they see tourist looking folk walking along the path and if you flag them down 9 times out of 10 they will stop for you like a taxi. Like I say, you really won’t wait long. If you’re worried about not knowing your way around and that you’ll miss your stop, don’t worry just tell the driver where you want to get off and he’ll give you a shout when you get to your destination.
Me, Tom, Gary and Amy went to Xplor during our second week in Cancun. I had read about the different ‘X’ parks when planning our holiday and was really looking forward to going to Xplor. What attracted me to here was the zip lining, something that I always think is such a great idea until I’m all harnessed up and about to let go of solid ground…
There’s loads of activities to do at Xplor:
We booked ‘Xplor Fire’ which is basically the park’s evening option. We had a bus transfer to and from the park, arriving around 6pm and leaving at 11:30pm, giving plenty of time to walk around the spectacular underground park, do all the activities, have dinner and do some extra exploring. We went to the park during their off-peak season and the park was empty! We spoke to one of the staff who told us that they had 400 guests for that entire day and that during peak times they will have over 2000 guests every day! I’m so happy that we went for the Fire version of the excursion as the park looked stunning in the dark, light up by bamboo torches. It also meant that on the highest zip-line you hurtled through a huge ring of fire which, needless to say, was a pretty awesome feeling.
With admission you get a locker for 2 and all the equipment you need (helmet, life jacket, etc.). Keep your helmet on while walking around the underground parts of the park as there are stalactites everywhere that are very easy to walk in to!! Your helmet also has a chip in it that links up to the park’s photo system and displays the photos that are taken of you during the activities. I would recommend wearing the kind of shoes you wear to a water park, comfortable clothes (shorts and a t-shirt/vest), swimsuit and take clothes to change in to for your journey home. Insect repellent is also good to have for this excursion to avoid being bitten all over.
There is also the Xcaret park which we did not visit but also looks really good, you can check it out here.
We struggled with using our new waterproof camera so I have added the above promo images to give a better illustration of the beauty of the park...and height of the zip-lines!!
If you are traveling to Mexico one thing to be aware of is the departure tax. When you arrive at the airport proceed to the check-in desk, this is where you will pay your departure tax. But make sure you have the correct change as card payments are not accepted. The current cost is around 900 Mexican Peso's – $65 (approx.), which is around £45.00. This is quite common for South American and countries in the Caribbean. Aruba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica have a similar tax.
One Year Countdown!
The end of this holiday marked a very important date for me...exactly one year until our wedding day! So, as sad as I was to leave this crazy paradise, I was SO excited to continue with wedding planning and start the real countdown.