Almost two years before, when we were returning from Bozeman, we had a stop in Salt Lake City. Delta offered us $400 flight vouchers each if we opted to take a later flight that day. We couldn’t turn it down. We weren’t sure where to go or when, so we sat on our tickets for almost the whole year we had them. Finally, we decided that we would just go back to Cancun, as it would be an affordable option.
We both wanted to learn how to scuba dive, and since our first time in Cancun was a little bit of a hot mess, we thought it would be a great opportunity for a redo. We also thought it would be a great place to learn to dive considering how much we loved our initial snorkeling trip (read about it and more here) . So in February we packed our bags and headed down south back to the Mayan coast. We were staying at Villa del Palmar Cancun. I knew it was going to a ways from the airport, and a little ways from the main drag, so we rented a car so that way we would be able to drive ourselves to and from our scuba lessons. What I didn’t realize was how secluded our resort actually would be. I had done the research, I studied google maps… However, realistically, it just didn’t compare to real life.
Our hotel was great. It was clean, had delicious food, and wasn’t hosting water aerobics or having kid’s pool parties. The beach was delightfully sandy and the wading and swimming area of the beach was comfortable (the last hotel was really rocky, you couldn’t go in at all). The only problem was that it was rather distant from the main hotel strip which was where our scuba lessons were.
We had a 3 day scuba course scheduled with Scuba Diving Cancun (FACT: they are very highly ranked at a 4.9/5.0). We had a really fun instructor named Alejandro. He was great at keeping us calm and walking us through everything we needed to know. It’s safe to say that we definitely learned a lot from him, and would have him take us out on other diving excursions whenever we go back.
The dive training were surprising exhausting, but so amazing! Training in the pool made it seem so simple. After a few laps around the pool, and going over standard practices, we headed to the boat. We were in the ocean in the first day in our scuba gear. It was surprisingly unnerving at first. I found that I was having to truly focus on my breathing, and calm myself down.
The few days we were there the ocean was fairly rough. In other words, we were experiencing slight sea sickness and getting pushed around by the currents. They were great conditions for training, I truly believe that it made us better divers from the start. (Also, because this was scuba training, we did not take any photos or videos)
The first 2 days were intense. We’d be at the dive area around 9AM, and were done around 3PM. Although it doesn’t seem that long… It is a pretty exhausting activity. When we were finished we would head back to our hotel, shower, get cleaned up, and head for food, as our only really meal during the day was granola bars. Early dinners were officially our thing. Evenings got quite cool, with the coastal breeze, so TIP: Bring a light jacket or sweater.
We had a day off after our two days of diving instruction… It gave us a moment to relax, so we laid on the beach & just hung out together. It also gave us the time we needed to complete our work book & all the quizzes. We ate massive plates of Mexican food and had a couple cocktails. It was my kind of heaven.
On the fourth day, and our last day there, we headed back to the Scuba facility to do our final review of all the quizzes, and finalize all documents for our certification. It was pretty easy, and felt like a weight was lifted once it was done. We passed with flying colors and were able to celebrate! (That’s the fun of doing it with a buddy, I suppose.)
We got back in the car and continued on down the main drag to see what gems we could find. Once we found an intriguing area (don’t ask me where), we found a place to park and took the town by foot. We wandered in and out of small markets, and past large restaurants/bars, that you know are packed with tourists as part of the wild nightlife. We however, wanted tacos… and good tacos. We found a small joint, that looked adequate, and it more than was. The tacos had great flavor and were simple (TIP: that’s how you know they are good – less is more), and their chips & salsa were AMAZING… sometimes, I dream about them. The sad thing is that I don’t know what it was called, nor do I remember exactly what it was near…. but I can taste the chips and salsa, and slushiest rum-a-rita…. Perfect on that hot Cancun day. TIP: Take note of the places you enjoy!!!
From there we continued, we found a great souvenir shop… It was huge with tons of options for any type of consumer…. Shot glasses, Guatemalan embroidered items, Mexican blankets, and snacks… and let’s not forget the tequila.
Eventually, we made our way down to the beach, and the site was truly something to behold. The jewel tone waters looked positively scrumptious…. like a tangy candy that you can’t wait to consume. After about a half hour on the beach, and the sun starting to change Brad’s skin color to pink, we decided it was time to turn back. It was hot, Brad was burning, and we had a decent drive still ahead. However, we still hadn’t had enough. We got back in the car, but continued to drive down the main road to see what else we could find. We quickly began to pass by the final hotels on the strip, and found various tourist attractions, but none that we were inclined to enjoy. Instead, we began to hunt for a quiet gem of private beach…. We found one very quiet beach, and although the water looked inviting, the beach was covered in rotting kelp, and there were a ton of bugs. So after that experience, we did call it quits. We headed back to our hotel for the rest of the evening.
We had good a good meal, and got our last ice cream cones from the shop, and just hung out on the resort grounds. We walked the beach, and sat by the pool. We enjoyed each others company as the sun set and the temperature cooled to the point where I was wrapping myself in the beach towel laying on the lounge chairs.
Eventually, though, it was time to head back to our room to pack. We had to be at the airport around 7AM, and had close to a 40 minute drive there. It’s safe to say that we were in bed at a decent hour.
1) Maps can be misleading
2) Always bring Dramamine when heading out on boats
3) Motion sickness becomes more real, the older you get.
4) Take more pictures, of everything… restaurants… activities, food… everything! Document it for when you go back!