Cancún – love it or hate it. Or be confused like me?
After 2 amazing days in the Island of Holbox where you can walk it through bare-foot in an hour, I went to the absolutely opposite place – Cancún. For the last years, together with Acapulco, Cancún has been the most famous beach destination in Mexico. Many people come here for honeymoon, spring break, 2 week holidays or just the weekend.
The same as the whole Mexico, Cancún is a place of the extremes. There are two different Cancúns – one is the centre where the locals live, the second one is the hotel zone for the tourists. Mostly, the tourists never even get out of the hotel zone to visit the centre or other parts of Cancún. Fortunately, I could see more from Cancún than a normal tourist does. It was because I used couchsurfing there and the guys I stayed over, live outside the centre, so to get to the hotel zone, I got to know the suburbs and the centre on the way.
My two days out of three in Cancún I spent with a Canadian friend I met on the way from Holbox island . And thanks to my walking obsession, I made him to see more of Cancún too, as we walked half of the hotel zone to get to the centre – in a day we walked approx. 17 km through Cancún.
In Europe, when someone says Mexico, most of the people are like Yeah, Cancun. It is extremely famous over there. And for the Canadians and the U.S. people as well. They come here mostly between December and March when it is winter time in their home countries. Cancún is not just white sand beach and different layers of turquoise sea water where you find yourself staring at its colours for hours and still cannot believe this kind of water can exist. Cancún is much more, Avenida Kukulcán – hotel zone is 22 km of the hotels at the beach, then many famous discoteques and clubs (Coco Bongo), restaurants, shopping centres (e.g. Plaza La Isla, Kukulcán, Las Américas), markets (Flea market, Market 28 in the centre). You can get to the island Isla Mujeres which lies in the Mujeres Bay just next to Cancún.
You can find it very expensive somewhere, than pretty cheap in other places. But do not expect any history in Cancún, no historical buildings to visit. Why? Cancún is a very young town, it was built just some 30 years ago. It was built as a touristic place for tourists. In the disco zone I felt like somewhere in the U.S. Maybe that is why the U.S. people and the Europeans love Cancún. They need distraction, fun, huge clubs, great restaurants and going shopping after the beach.
But on the other hand, from many Mexican people I have heard they do not like Cancún. There are many who even say they hate Cancún. I keep on asking everyone about their opinion and those who hate Cancún find it too Americanised, they say it is not a real Mexico. I mean, I do understand both points of view.
Myself, I am still kind of confused about Cancún. Before my trip to Mexico started, I thought I was going to love Cancún as all the foreigners. Once in Mexico, listening to the negative opinion of many Mexicans about it, I did not know what to think. Now, after I have visited it personally, I stay confused. There are things I love about Cancún, there is no such a place in the world, the lagoon Nichupté, the sea, the hotel zone, the centre, just look at the map of Cancún and you will know what I mean. And for me it was the first time in my life I have seen the sea of that unbelievably stunning colour like in Cancún. So I guess, I more love Cancún than hate it. Definitely.
However, for my biggest surprise, it is impossible to get even a bottle of water, or any food at the beach. If you are not a guest at one of the hotels, without a bracelet you can’t enter the hotel, not even from the Kukulcán Avenue to the beach, nor from the beach back to the road where the shopping malls, restaurants and shops are. You have to pass or only through your hotel, or through a public entrance. Which means, at least half an hour walking to find an entrance. In the half of the hotel zone we walked, there were just 3 public entrances (all together there should be 9). Basically just to get some water, we had to walk an hour to find an entrance and then a shop at the street.
The hotels at the beach do have restaurants and some of them grocery shops as well, but they did not let us enter. The weird thing I have never seen anywhere in my life before, is that the hotels are built so close to each other there is actually no space to walk through in between, or they touch the each other walls or there are fences saying PRIVATE PROPERTY, PASS WILL BE FINED and there is no way to cross through there.
But, as everything happens for a reason, after we couldn’t get any breakfast at the beach, and after we walked an hour to the closest shopping centre La Isla, we finally found a restaurant where they serve fruit salads. I was angry and kind of disappointed of Cancún during that hour, but once we sat and ordered our breakfast at 12 (which is the time when I would eat my third meal of the day already back home, not just the first) I was the happiest ever. We were just one floor above the aquarium with the dolphins and sharks, and the people were swimming and playing with the dolphins. I was staring with my mouth open, yes, the same way like men stare at me I was looking at the dolphins, I just love them! It made up my day.
The boom of Cancún started in the 80’s when Acapulco tourism started to decay. During the last 30 years, Cancún survived some hurricanes after which the buildings had to be reconstructed. Cancún survived as well the swine flu when people stopped coming here for a while. Cancún is now trying to survive the economic crisis. I bet it is not easy for the people there. They all live from the tourism, some live there, some come for a couple of months only. There are high and low seasons, with lower prices during the low seasons. Let’s see how Cancún (kaan kun – nest of the snakes in Maya) becomes even bigger and will attract more and more people.