Ah, Cancun — the famous destination for young spring breakers. The Vegas for students with beachfront strips of glamorous over-the-top hotels, decorated clubs, Mexican cuisine, and endless souvenir shopping.
Split between two main sections, the Hotel Zone, and the downtown core (El Centro), Cancun has an instant reputation for endless parties, an intriguing nightlife, and lost inhibitions.
If you never ventured down to Mexico during your post-secondary years, is it too late after the age of 30? Should you skip the dream and hit up another tropical spot, or give it a go? I decided to travel down and experience Cancun first hand, here are my personal pros and cons.
In my wise old age of early 30s, I am more aware of scams. I know a good deal when I see one, and I know when someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes.
In Mexico, the biggest scams are the taxi prices, the mass-produced souvenirs, and the overpriced Americanized food. Would I have been so observant at 23? Nah. I’d have spent all my hard-earned dollars without haggling. Nowadays, I’m a bit smarter and more attached to my money. For example, I ditched the cabs and opted to take buses (R1 to be exact. More on this in the Pros).
Culture: There are some ancient Mayan archaeological sites hidden between high-rise hotels, though you really need to research to find them (or visit some that are hours away). Had I not looked ahead, I would assume my options were strictly beaches, tequila tastings or shopping malls.
It’s very tourist-oriented. If you want a more authentic experience, you have to leave the Hotel Zone. It is a higher safety risk, so just be smart about it.
For us aged folks, we come alive during the day when the sun is out and the coffee is downed. Luckily, I had read that the party life in Cancun surpasses Vegas. However, I think all the youngins were in bed nursing their hangovers or hiding from the overpowering sun.
There were no day beach parties to be found. No resort foam celebrations. Rarely any music blasting during the day. Lame. Don’t they realize that after age 30, I’ve developed a bedtime? Maybe it’s just not as happening in July?
The overall price of the trip is misleading when your purchase a flight and hotel. In order to occupy your time, there are very few interesting free activities to do, and with the activities priced in American dollars, doing one or two excursions a day for a week can add up, often more than the flight to get there.
You can check off your bucket list and swim (or deep dive) with whale sharks. Cancun is famous for this activity, and I would highly recommend it. Jump into the ocean (after a rocky boat ride) and swim with the largest fish in the sea.
Be smart when choosing your tours. Aim to pick a tour that leaves as early as possible and minimizes tour group size (I recommend Mexico Whale Shark or find one that have less than 10 people).
As we were departing from the whale sharks, there were over 90 boats following a handful of the whale sharks and turning it into a complete gong show.
That aside, underwater it feels like just you and this massive docile shark. Stay tuned to my YouTube channel, Mellie Telly for a video on this soon! If this is not your jam, there are numerous land based tour packages, such as Jungle tours, Mayan Temples, and off-roading.
If you are saving a few bucks, it’s super easy to navigate. The bus system is simple in the Hotel Zone (or getting there from just outside). You can go South or North, and it runs every 5 minutes, so no need to run after the bus in the hot sun.
The best part, they feel safe and travel almost as fast as taxis.
Tacos. Need I say more? Yes? Well then. Holy Guacamole they are everywhere. If you love them, you are in luck. I’m a huge fan; my own wedding was a taco party. This is likely my biggest pro.
If you can make it past your bedtime, part with a good chunk of change and drink all night long, then spend one night at Coco Bongo. It’s a show mixed with a club, and a party. It has acrobats, impersonators, actors, musicians, dancers, and unlimited drinks. It is the heart of the party scene and a good time.
But you will need to spend at least $70 American per person to get in. The best price can be obtained at the small activity offices scattered throughout the city and even include a skip the line pass, and a free gift!
If you can look past the tourist attractions, the excessive amount of seaweed this year on the beaches, and the safety warnings (27 people were abducted from a call center a week before our arrival), then go for it.
What Cancun does not lack is an endless beautiful beach, a romantic lagoon walk, and a gorgeous calming sunset. And really, does our age actually define us and where we travel? You decide.