WHERE TO EAT
It’s pretty obvious, you eat Mexican food in Mexico. But before you drown yourself in flautas, mole and margaritas—note that both Marriott properties offer a variety of internationally flavored dining options that are favorites for locals and visitors alike. Standouts are Sasi Thai at CasaMagna and Gustino at JW Marriott that stay true to their respective Thai and Italian traditions with authentic preparation and chic decor. Gustino’s in particular, with a candlelight display in the center of the restaurant, is probably one of the most romantic destinations on the island if you’d like to make special plans.
Located just down the road from the hotels is La Habichuela Sunset, which faces the lagoon on the opposite coast of Cancun. Whether you choose to eat indoors or out, it’s contemporary Mayan and Caribbean inspired decor and menu shouldn’t be missed. The garden dining area, right on the docks of the lagoon tends to be the preferred place for most guests as it features Mayan inspired stonework immediate access to the water.
If you are a street food adventurer, jump in a cab and head downtown Cancun to El Parque de las Palapas. This particular area serves as the main square for Cancun and is full of locals attending mass at the island’s main Catholic church, spending time with their children as they take their turns driving rentable Power Wheels minicars and watching elderly couples dance to classic tunes in the center of the square. No matter what, everyone is eating from one of the many vendors selling savory and sweet Mexican/Yucatecan snacks like marquesitas, churros, and my new obsession—esquites. Take boiled corn, add mayo, queso fresco, lime juice and chiles and you have the creamiest cup of corn goodness in life. Also, don’t miss your chance to experience local helado flavors such as corn and cheese. Local artisans are also available for some authentic goods to bring back home.
There you have it, in four short days I managed to defy my own expectations, put my phone down (most of the time), make some new friends and truly relax. No matter how you choose to do Cancun, be sure to step beyond the sombreros and cheap tequila shots to explore the city and create an experience that will make you want to return again and again.
TIPS & TRICKS
At press time, the exchange rate for Mexico is about 12 pesos to one US dollar. Most prices are listed in pesos and if you ask, you may be able to receive monies back in dollars, but don’t count on it. Try to spend in pesos to avoid street exchange rates.
Tipping expectations are the same as they are here in the U.S., in addition to customary pesos for live performances at more casual restaurants and on ferries and mass transportation.
When in the market, take a look at all of the vendors first and then barter. Everything is negotiable.
While Spanish is the national language of Mexico, you will hear plenty of English—but don’t count on it. Take a few hours to try to memorize typical greetings and pleasantries, as well as numerical amounts for shopping. Don’t worry about mispronouncing anything, folks will respect you trying to speak their language!
So are you ready to leave yet? If you are interested in checking out all of my recommendations, do it Parlour style—with a good deal inspired by my Return of The Vacation getaway:
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