It was raining when I went to Cancún, so imagine my bitch face while I was there. By Cancún, I mean the hotel zone. Okay, fine, let’s clear things up a bit, shall we? Cancún is a resort city in Quintana Roo. It used to be THE ultimate beach getaway in all of Mexico, except that along with the white sand and turquoise waters of the Caribbean, its enviable location also lies at the hurricane belt. There was a time in its history when it was ravaged by a hurricane so badly, tourist traffic redirected to Los Cabos at the Pacific Coast for a while.
But Cancún has recovered since then. It is still one of the prime Caribbean beach destinations, ever popular to Europeans, Americans, and Canadians, as evidenced by the constant international traffic its airport receives every day. While it ranks second only to Mexico City’s airport in terms of size, it is actually number one as far as international passenger arrivals are concerned. And no, it’s not totally unheard of for first time tourists in the country to skip the capital in favor of Cancún. DF has no beach, you know.
Look at a map of Quintana Roo and you’ll notice a jut of land extending toward the sea in the form of a giant number seven. That’s the Zona Hotelera. It’s a long highway sandwiched by hotels and malls on both sides. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that said stretch of terrain is walkable. Technically, it is. The road is paved after all. But it will take you a few hours to get from one end to another. Don’t be a cheapskate and take the buses plying the road. They cost no more than MXN10.50 (~PHP27) per way.
Most of the beaches are not accessible unless you stay at one of the hotels, but don’t be sad now. There are two or three public ones that are free for all, and once you get your ass on that white sand, the entire outer edge of the giant seven is yours. The one I went to was called Playa Delfines. I did not see any dolphins, but I definitely enjoyed my short stay there. The area is almost at the tail of the giant seven, so taking the bus is the better option, unless you have a lot of time to spare.
Once you reach the tail of the giant seven, the highway heads back mainland to the airport. That means if you have an early flight the next day, it might be a good idea to book a hotel somewhere at the southern edge of the Zona Hotelera. As for me, my Airbnb place was downtown, which is closer to the northern edge. And so we have come to this question. What should you expect? Well, white sand and different shades of blue!
Like I said, it was raining when I went to the beach. This is perhaps the reason why whenever I try to reminisce about my beach time in Quintana Roo, it’s Tulum’s beaches that automatically come to mind instead of Cancún’s. Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s still the same stretch of the Caribbean Sea. It’s just that the skies were predominantly grey that day so it was rather depressing. The mood did take a turn for the livelier once I reached Playa Delfines, and it felt like I was back in Varadero again!
There is no entrance fee for Playa Delfines. There is a giant CANCUN sign overlooking the stunning blue and white background, but it's always full of camwhores. At least they fall in line and patiently wait for their turn. Yours will eventually come too. There is also a viewing deck where people take selfies. It doesn’t have a solid shade per se, but the trellis does provide some semblance of it, albeit incomplete. This is a non-issue because you can just go down to the beach and invade one of the huts there.
Nobody approached me asking for payment so I suppose those huts are free. After all, this is a public beach. I guess we have the government of Quintana Roo to thank for that. The beach is teeming with hawkers selling food and drinks. Of course, they are overpriced. Everyone’s got to make a living, you know. Hunger is not an issue here either because you can just head to one of the malls and find a resto where you can chill and refuel.
Cancún has a small archaeological zone called El Rey, but I no longer bothered to check it out. I mean, I’ve already been to Tulum the day before. It would’ve just been an underwhelming experience. The main attraction here is the beach. No more. No less. On a sunny day, your panoramic shots will come off as travel brochure-ready. My camera is a cheapo one, yet I am just so amazed with the pictures I took. If yours is better, then imagine how fun it will all be for you.
[CANCUN] Travel Brochure Ready Shots