Cancun in January - must see? Don't do? Tour recommendations?
December 12, 2016 9:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm taking myself to Cancun for my birthday in January. I'll be traveling alone. I want this vacation to be very easy and stress-free.

Here is my plan so far:

Day 0: fly in to Cancun at 9 pm, go directly to my hotel (a resort in the north end of the hotel zone.)
Question: should I take a taxi from the airport, or book a shuttle? Do I need to be concerned about safety considering I'll be a solo late-20s white female?

Day 1: day-trip to Isla Mujeres. Take the ferry, rent a bicycle, explore the island, go to the turtle sanctuary, see the ruins at the south end of the island, eat a bunch of tacos, lay on the beach and drink and read before heading back to my hotel.
Question: bicycle rental shop recommendations? Taco recommendations? Are the public beaches good or will I have to find a beach club? Anything else on the island that I can't miss?

Day 2: Tulum (quick version), cenotes, and Sian Ka'an biosphere. I want to take some pictures of Tulum and the coast, hike and swim in a cenote, and take a guided boat tour around Sian Ka'an to see as much animals and jungle as possible.
Question: tour company/guide recommendations? Cenote recommendations? I am NOT renting a car by the way.

Day 3: take a guided tour to Chichen Itza & Valladolid. This will last pretty much all day as far as I can tell.
Question: same as above - any specific tour guide/company recommendations?

Day 4: explore Cancun? Sit by the pool? I will have a few hours before my 3 p.m. flight back.
Question: is there anything in Cancun worth seeing? Breakfast recommendations? Or should I just soak up another few hours of sun?

Please feel free to chime in with any other miscellaneous suggestions, feedback, warnings, etc.

Thank you!
posted by ohsnapdragon to Travel & Transportation around CancĂșn, Mexico (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Cenote rec: Dos Ojos.

Book the trip with a dive shop.... you can ask about tagging along with a dive trip and snorkel in the 2 pools there while they dive. This probably wouldn't mesh well with a Tulum trip though. In my experience these tours run at the same time so unless you found a group that did a custom tour with just this trip for you, it isn't likely you're going to find an existing tour to fulfill both these requests.

Since you are going to Chichen Itza, I'd probably skip Tulum and do the cenote snorkeling only.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 9:42 AM on December 12, 2016

Can only speak to Sian Ka'an but we did a kayaking bird-watching tour with Yucatan Outdoors and loved it. Very cool people and one of my favorite things we did on that trip.
posted by lovableiago at 10:43 AM on December 12, 2016

When I flew into Cancun to go to Isla Mujeres there were vans that would take people to the various hotels, then the ferry dock. It was cheap and easy, didn't require a reservation, and felt a little more official than a taxi. We took a taxi back to the airport and had zero problems, but there were others having arguments with their cabs. If you're pleasant and polite, you should be fine.
posted by ldthomps at 11:18 AM on December 12, 2016

Sorry I can't recall the outfit's name but we did an underground cenote snorkel tour that was among the major highlights of the trip, recommend looking for one of those.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:00 PM on December 12, 2016

I stayed a few nights in Valladolid and wouldn't rate it as special enough to warrant being tacked on to your Chichen Itza trip. I mean, it was OK as a base but nothing amazing. Depends on how much Spanish colonial domestic architecture you've seen, I guess. If possible, you might do better to combine Chichen Itza + Cenotes, or just do a half day and rest for the other half.

I think Tulum is still worth a trip. The complex isn't a patch on Chichen Itza, but the setting above the ocean makes it worth it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:00 PM on December 12, 2016

Cancun sucks. Isla Mujeres and Tulum are awesome. If I were flying in and out of Cancun on a four day trip, I would try to spend at least one night on the Isla and one in Tulum and as little time in Cancun as possible.

EDIT: Oh and Sian Ka'an is amazing and the boat tour is well worth your time. But if you try to see Tulum and Sian Ka'an in one day starting and ending in Cancun.... That's a mistake.
posted by 256 at 2:04 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I agree with 256 that spending more time in Tulum or Isla is vastly preferable over Cancun. Cancun is pretty awful in a lot of ways that are important to me. The Tulum beaches are pristine and don't smell like diesel fuel from jet skis and little tour boats.

You can rent a bike in Tulum and get to several cenotes easily. I vote for staying overnight there if possible so you can take it all in before or after your boat tour.

I'll be in Isla in December, and I'm looking forward to spending only enough time in Cancun to get from the airport to the ferry dock and back.
posted by ananci at 3:16 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the input everyone. I've already booked the place in Cancun, but I'm not too worried about it since I'll be spending most of my time out and about anyway.

As usual, I wanted to do too much in the time I had, so I've narrowed it down. I know I'll be back - I'm thinking a few days in Mexico would make a great Jan/Feb tradition. So this time around I'm doing Tulum, Akumal, a bunch of cenotes, and spending a day on Isla Mujeres.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 12:57 PM on December 14, 2016

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