I’m going to start this by being flat-out honest and letting you know that Cancun has never been the top of my list of places that I must see before I die. Of course everything I’ve heard about the place has sounded really nice, and all the pictures that I’ve seen have looked stunningly beautiful and inviting.
However, I think the fact that it’s a popular spring break destination for US high school and college students is what has cheapened my image of the place over the years. I’ve never been a big fan of the “party-till-you-puke” (and/or end up dead) spring break thing, and it’s the primary reason why I naturally stay away from places cater to that kind of crowd.
Daytona Beach Florida gives off that same kind of vibe to me (whether it deserves it or not), and I’ve yet to step foot in that town. No offense to anyone who lives there of course…
But now that the trip is over and I’m sitting here at home writing this trip report, there’s a lot I’ve got to say about Cancun. Some of it good, some of it bad, but overall the biggest point I want to make is that Cancun wasn’t really what I expected it would be.
What exactly is Cancun like, anyway?
Sure, there were plenty of palm trees and lots of beautiful beaches, just as advertised, but it didn’t really have the feeling I was expecting. I realize that’s super vague way to sum everything up, so allow me to explain…
Cancun is not the party town I thought it was
As I was stepping out of the airport and into a taxi, I began mentally preparing myself having to deal with all the drunk American tourists crawling around on all fours, screaming obscenities into the wind, and puking uncontrollably all over the place.
I have a vivid imagination don’t I? And while I actually did see some of that in certain spots, it wasn’t like it was happening all over the place.
Most of the tourists (who were Mexican by the way), were courteous and friendly – and most importantly, very well-behaved.
The wildest parties that I saw were contained to individual bars or boats away from the general masses, so not having to deal with that kind of crowd (if you’re not feeling up to it) is a huge plus in my opinion.
Cancun is exactly the party town I thought it was
Wait…what? Am I contradicting myself by saying the exact opposite of what I just wrote above? Absolutely not. I think it’s important to expand further on the point I made about the party spots being very localized and sheltered from everything else, that’s all.
While it is true that there isn’t a party on every corner, the parties that I did see were some of the craziest in loudest I’ve seen in a very long time. At least not since my college days! Ahh, to be young again…
For example, there was a large party boat floating around in the bay right outside my window on both nights of my stay which was both highly annoying and highly entertaining at the same time.
Annoying because it was a party boat with loud music and obnoxious DJs right outside my patio window, but entertaining because it looked like one heck of a good time.
Imagine being downwind of high-intensity Mariachi music mixed by a hyperactive Mexican DJ blasting over the loudspeakers just a few hundred feet off your patio when all you want to do is just sit and relax and listen to the crashing waves, and you can understand exactly what I was dealing with.
Good God. Couldn’t they have sailed a little bit further out to sea so as not to annoy all the boring old white tourists such as myself?
Cancun is more beautiful than I thought it would be
Have you ever looked at a travel poster for a tropical beach destination and thought that it looked far too good to be true? I’ve seen a lot of pictures of Cancun over the years that made me have those kinds of thoughts, so I’ve always been a bit skeptical as to what the place really looked like.
Long story short, now that I’ve seen the place with my own eyes, I can vouch for the authenticity of all those ridiculously good-looking travel posters.
That’s not fake news ladies and gentlemen – palm trees, white sandy beaches, and beautiful sparkling-clean turquoise water is abundant in Cancun and you never have to go far to find any of it.
I’d go as far as to say that this was probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been – once I got away from the tourist spots, that is. There’s a reason why people flock to Cancun, and I’m now a believer.
Cancun is growing into a very large metropolis
For some reason or another I was totally expecting Cancun to be contained to a very small area with one centralized street with the typical (cheesy) tourist shops. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Cancun is actually a very large city, very spread out, extending well beyond just the tourist spots and hotel zones.
Every cheap American chain restaurant/brand you can think of (I’m talking about you, Applebee’s and Krispy Kreme) is well-represented here and to be honest there were times when I just lost my train of thought for a moment and felt like I had been instantly teleported back to Florida.
I’m serious – I’ll bet you could drop anyone there blindfolded, right in the heart of a really dense area, and they’d have to think really hard for a moment or two about whether or not they are actually in South Florida or Mexico.
For this reason alone, I wish I could’ve seen this place 30 or 40 years ago. I’ll bet it was real nice (and actually a bit Mexican).
I’ll bet you’re just dying to know whether or not I would ever visit Cancun again (voluntarily)
The answer is, without hesitation, yes. Despite the few negative comments above, I really like Cancun! However, in order for me to go back and enjoy myself to the fullest, it would have to be far away from the hotel zones or the main part of town.
Give me a quiet villa in a remote resort far from the hectic activity of central Cancun (plus a margarita) and I’d be very happy gringo. As a matter fact, I’ve actually started looking into something like that already for a future trip. As long as I don’t see – or hear – one party boat, it’s sure to be one heck of a good time.
2 thoughts on “Cancun was nothing like I expected it would be. Let me explain…”
I’ve had the exact same thoughts about visiting Cancun…overly-touristy, overly party-y….which I’ve always been frustrated at because Cancun appears to be very affordable from start-to-finish. Glad to know someone with similar predispositions had a good time.
You’re completely right about Cancun being affordable. Prices of everything (including hotels and food) were quite reasonable actually, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m looking forward to going back someday. If you’ve never been there, I’d highly recommend giving it a shot. Stay away from all the tourist spots, and you’re likely to have a very good time.