A TRIP TO MEXICO: THE HIGHS AND THE LOWS
It’s kinda like a travel version of saying: “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?”.
The land of guacamole, beautifully high temperatures and artsy candy skulls. Mexico wasn’t even on my travel to-do list until about two years ago when I noticed a lot of travel bloggers heading to Tulum & Playa Del Carmen for the yogi/bohemian style culture and the drop dead gorgeous beaches. It’s a pretty damn cool place!
The Riviera Maya (The Caribbean Coast where top destinations such as Cancun, Playa Del Carmen & Tulum reside) is incredibly beautiful. Like, the most unbelievably gorgeous beach side views I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. That Caribbean water is so warm you can bathe in it for hours on end without getting cold, the colour is a vibrant aqua that doesn’t even need to be enhanced on VSCO & you can literally still see your feet when you’re swimming out so far that you can’t even touch the bottom. Dreamy dreamy dreaaaamy.
Due to the economic state of Mexico, they rely on tourism to stay afloat. Meaning that the people are absolutely lovely in the touristy areas, as someone is always trying to make a dollar off you one way or another, weather it’s by dancing and singing on a ferry ride for a tip or wandering around with a huge ass Python (Holy crap those things can fuck right off) to pop over your shoulder for, yup, a big tip.
That’s totally fine, it’s how the world goes round. I just really want to unveil my Mexican experience to you guys in a way that it truthful, and the truth is, Mexico is beautiful and wonderful, and it is also really. damn. scary.
I’ll start with the good news!
We stayed in a safe, awesome resort called Grand Oasis in Cancun. The resort is BEAUTIFUL, pool bars, night clubs, spas, not to mention it’s all inclusive of your food and alcohol, we had a really awesome time staying here and for anyone who’s after the luxury of a beach side resort but is still wanting something budget friendly, it’s the perfect option – they also have beach parties every single day starting at 2 pm so it’s never a boring place to hang out!
From Cancun, the number one must do is a day trip out to Isla Mujeres. It’s a $ 1 USD (They take USD or Mexican Peso’s) bus ride from the hotel strip to the ferry terminal and a half an hour ferry ride for $23 USD return – Mexico is CHEAP. We hired a golf cart for the day (everybody drives around in golf carts, so fun!) and had one of the best days of our trip! You can drive around the island within half an hour and there is plenty to do so ensure that you get yourself to the island early so that you can leave just before dark.
In one day, we managed to:
- Wander around the markets and shops – I bought the funkiest hand painted sugar candy skull!
- Visit a turtle sanctuary (such a highlight!)
- Go to lunch at Oscar’s Mexican Grill (The BEST Mexican food we had! Really cheap and also amazing cocktails)
- Finish the beautiful day off at Garafon Natural Reef Park. HOLY WOW. THIS PLACE. Easily the highlight of our trip, this place is just magic. The pics say it all? Don’t they? We snorkelled, kayaked, ziplined over the ocean and hung out for the afternoon just taking in how beautiful this place was – we were all just so blown away. A definite must do on the Island, you could even spend half a day here!
Garafon Reef Park
On another one of our activity days, we did a tour with our resort out to Tulum to check out the area, visit the Mayan ruins (A MUST DO! Learning about the Mayan history is super interesting) and to spend the remainder of the day at another snorkel park called Xel-Ha! This place was so earthy and beautiful and even though the weather we had on this day consisted of pouring rain, we had an absolute blast. The park is basically a huge salt water lagoon that is linked up to the ocean, however at the ocean entrance a big net blocks off an unwanted sea creatures, just allowing for the cute colourful fish and stingrays to wander through. We saw rainbow fish, DORY and the boys even saw a stingray! The park is also all inclusive of food and alcohol so it makes for a really fun day – there’s also a flying fox/zip lining area where you can literally hang onto a zip line bar and zip line until you eventually fall into the water. So much fun!
Xel-Ha Snorkel Park
As I mentioned, the activities are great, the food is delicious and the weather and beach combo is 10/10.
However, the Instagram pics you see of all the positives certainly do not showcase all of the evil and corruption that currently lingers in Mexico. Before I travelled there, I was aware that areas such as Mexico City and Tijuana were no go zones. The general murder rate in Mexico is three times the size of the US. I had no idea that the Riviera Maya (even though it is the safest of areas in the country) is still incredibly dangerous and full of violence for its own reasons.
Behind all of the resorts and the funky beach parties is the harsh reality that even in Cancun, Tulum & Playa Del Carmen there are drug cartel gangs causing violence in the areas, a corrupt police force roaming the area on military vehicles with cops hanging off the back holding machine guns (this is just casually during the day!) and the way too common and ongoing issue of kidnapping. Kidnapping’s take place in daylight hours in the most innocent of places however mostly occur in bars and nightclubs. They prey on tourists, and hold you hostage until someone at home transfers a sum of money into the person’s bank account and or force you to an ATM to withdraw all of your money.
I’m not even joking, this is currently Cancun’s biggest issue. It’s terrifying.
We didn’t spend any time in central Cancun or explored any of its clubs and nightlife and I’m totally aware that as long as you’re being careful and you stick with a large group – you’ll be fine. However, the word of mouth and the articles that pop up in google only tell the truth, and travellers need to take extra extra extra caution when in any area of Mexico. Do not walk anywhere on your own, especially at night time.
Another thing to keep note of if you’re travelling to Mexico: be incredibly careful of where you go to get spa treatments, especially massages. Two friends in our group decided to go and grab a cheap massage in Playa Del Carmen and ended up paying for something that they weren’t prepared for. After laying down for their massage, their masseuse waved her hands over their faces with what seemed to be some kind of fragrance, and after that, they both woke up, unable to move and had no recollection of what had happened during the massage. After their bodies managed to snap out of what seemed to be some kind of drugging, they were pretty relieved to leave with their belongings (cleverly hidden) without anything being stolen (we’re convinced these people use their massage business to steal from tourists).
Anyway, they were both totally okay but it was certainly a wakeup call for both them and us as their friends to be a little bit more wary with our decisions made in this country to ensure our safety and our belongings!
Mexico is made up of both light and darkness. In my opinion, the light is 100% worth experiencing as long as you are aware of the darkness and maintain some awareness of the country you are travelling in because it really is worlds away from the beautiful, safe haven we are so lucky to live in here in New Zealand.
As always, if anyone has any questions regarding my travel to Mexico or any in need of any further recommendations please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or DM me on Instagram!