Twinnie and I loved being with you every second and we are so sad to leave. You took care of us and gave us great memories. Out of all our trips, this was the most legendary as Barney would say in “How I Met Your Mother.” Even with intense rain, wind, and a few language barriers, we still love you and cannot wait to be reunited.
Every time Lisa and I travel together, we always have stories. I feel like we are the modern-day version of Thelma and Louise at times because some of these things I swear only happen to us. But thank you for keeping us safe and dealing with my attempts to communicate in Espanol.
CANCUN, MEXICO RECAP:
Enough of the sentimental stuff, in all reality Cancun was amazing. We were able to do almost everything we wanted and we had a blast. And the best part, if you plan ahead you can do it on a budget.
Plus it makes everything so much easier when you head to a foreign country. Of course there are always a few hiccups.
Here is the recap of our trip, adventures, and my recommendations since I did so much research, why make you reinvent the wheel. You will also see me mention about tipping a lot. This is their living, so if you go on the tour, tip well. For tours, I usually tip $15-$20. Also, don’t worry about getting sick off of the food. Ironically, I ate there without an issue, but the only days I got sick was when we were in Cancun and the only food near us was American chain restaurants…I got sick from Chili’s and Hard Rock Café.
This time we split our time between Isla Mujeres (Island of the Women) and the hotel zone in Cancun. A little bit of logistics is required, but it is still worth it. Here are some pics from the trip.
Tips for the Airport Passports and Customs:
- When you depart to any foreign country, remember when you get to the gate to go to get the OK docs stamp. If you do not have this, they send you back over.
- Keep a pen close by to fill out your emigration form on the plane.
- On the form, there are 3 sections. Most people only fill out the top portion because the second portion says official use. If you see the bottom, it is where you declare for your family.
- When you go through customs, they will give you a piece of the emigration paper that you need to keep with you to get back to the US. No paper, no flight. Just kidding, but one of the passengers lost the ticket and had to pay $30 for a new one.
- Here is how I keep mine. I have a passport cover where I have my passport, a few credit cards, and I stick the paper in the pocket so I always have it when I get to the airport. I know it will never get lost because it never leaves the room.
Prearrange your shuttle:
Most shuttles can cost anywhere from $20-$36 one way. I booked our shuttle through Cancun Discounts for $12 one-way. It costs a little bit more because we had to buy two one-way tickets versus a round-trip, but it was only $24 plus tip and only 8 people in the van. I know people have asked before, I am not a tipping etiquette expert, but I always give a $1 for each piece of luggage including your carry-on and $1 for you, which usually ends up being $3-$5 each time. If they do something extra special, I give more.
The reason I suggest booking ahead is because when you head out, there are just swarms of people asking if you want to get a ride. It can be overwhelming and you never know the cost. By booking ahead of time, you know where to go and someone is usually waiting with your name.
This island is only 5 miles long, but it is beautiful. We had so much fun here. Also, the whole island is safe, the people are friendly, it is tranquil and not commercialized, and we were told that there is zero crime on there. You will need to fact check this, but it makes sense. Apparently the last murder happened many years ago and the guy escaped to Cancun and the police where just waiting for him on the other side.
Ferry to Isla Mujeres
There are 3 ports that you can take to Isla Mujeres. There are also two different ferries. If you go, always ask the driver to take you to the Ultramar, it is bright yellow. The other one is super slow. On the boat, someone always sings to you on the top. Make sure you have a few dollars ready to tip him. It is the only way they make a living and they are actually really good. The boats run every 30 minutes and the last boat to the hotel zone is 5:30 PM. If you feel like you want to stay later, go to the Puerto Juarez dock. Those run much later and you can catch a taxi back into town.
A round-trip ticket is only $12. For more information, click here.
Recommended Tour Guide:
I booked everything ahead of time with Mariel from Isla Mujeres Trips. She is absolutely amazing. She is extremely responsive, her prices are one of the bests that I have found and she really cares about her customers. I asked a bazillion questions and she always answered them. I was so impressed I brought her a gift from the states, she asked for Yankee Candles.
I booked every tour I could through her and it’s worth it because if something happens, the one tour company has all of the information in one place and has the ability to make changes. The day before I arrived I checked in with her and told her what time I was expected to arrive on the island. She had the golf cart waiting and she knew it was my dream to swim with the Whale Sharks; she looked at the weather for me each day. Unfortunately, it was windy, so she had me change around a few tours for a better chance to go out.
*So I did not have GPS, so I had to go find her shop on foot. You all know how bad I am with directions, so it took some time to find it. I had to ask 5 people in Spanish because not as many people spoke English and no one really knew. To go to her shop, get off the ferry, cross the street by Senor Frogs. Keep walking down the alley until you hit Hildalgo. There should be a huge open area with a church on your right and a delicious green Gelato/Coffee Shop on your left. FYI this shop has amazing gelato, the owner is from Italy. Take a left and go down about 3 streets and she should be the second shop on the left.
Since it is a small island, most of the hotels are smaller. There are a few really nice ones, but they are pricey since most are bed and breakfasts. I got our hotel off Hotwire for $36 a night plus tax. Our hotel was Villas Coco Resort.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say it is a 6 because of the service. I think the front desk guy hated us or found us really entertaining, we do not know which. He was the one that spoke English, but I am pretty sure he was always like ugh these girls with their questions ALL the time. So as a lesson, when we really needed to ask something, only a Spanish-speaking worker was at the front desk. I was trying to ask how to check out and get a taxi, it was a sight.
Here is the conversation:
- Me: Hola, pregunta.
- Senor: Si?
- Me: Salida de hotel 5:30 AM. Persona aqui?
- Senor: Noche. Si and pointed to the hours on the sign of their office hours. (He kept thinking I was checking out that night and I forgot how to say morning)
- Me: No, manana. No noche. 5:30 AM.
- Senor: Looks at me and shakes his head. We were stumped. So I had to do hand gestures.
- Me: Salida de hotel cuando el sol and I pointed up. Then I said, 5:30 y buenos dias and did the sleeping gesture and the waking up gesture which in my language saying Exit the hotel when the sun goes up. That did not work, so I said 5:30 and good morning.
- Senor: Oh, 5:30 A.M! I was so excited. I told him Neccessito reservation por taxi: Seis.
- When he said OK! I have never been happier in my life.
The hotel is tucked inside the island about 15 minutes from downtown via golf cart, but it was close to the turtle farm, Sea Life Discovery and other attractions. The room was very clean and spacious, especially the bathroom. They also had a person keeping watch from 7 AM to 11 PM, so it was safe. They had a mini fridge along with a sink. They even gave us breakfast, which was fruit and toast.
Overall, I would recommend this place. If you plan on being on the beach most of the time, I would suggest getting one closer to town so you are walking distance to the beach and you can use the golf cart to get around or a taxi.
I arrived early in order to check into the hotel, get our tours in place, and pick up our sexy ride around the island…a golf cart.
Lisa and I did not have cell service, so I had texted her instructions beforehand how to get to the island and had to wait for her to come. The problem was she was supposed to arrive around 5:30-6 PM. She did not get there until 7 PM. My biggest fear was that she got lost somewhere or got on the wrong shuttle.
The workers there told me that there was no way the shuttle would drop her at any other place. They thought I was crazy and made up an imaginary friend, so when she arrived I said see…Mi Amiga aqui! I knew the boat came every 30 minutes, so I wandered in between. When she finally came, it was so funny because she saw me for a second and wondered where I was. We both were taking pictures of this rainbow.
Again proof that we are twins.
Our transportation around the island was a golf cart. It is about $47-$50 a day to rent and you must have your driver’s license to do so. When she arrived and I took her to the golf cart, she pointed to a guy and said is he our driver. I looked at her and said, no me! She was busting up laughing.
Tortugranja (Turtle Farm)
The turtle farm is the best! When we run across people we tell all of them to go there. The admission is only $3 plus $2 for turtle food. I would include about $5-$10 for tip as well. The place is run on fees and donations. It is a turtle sanctuary where they take care of turtles until they are released and some of the older turtles are kept there because they cannot survive in the wild.
All of the workers speak very little English, but they are so nice. I introduced Lisa and me, after that we got the VIP tour. I sort of felt bad for all the other tourists because they did not get to experience what we did. When you first enter, there are about 5 pools with large turtles and an aquarium. I asked the guy if we could hold the Tortugas, which I did by holding my hands together and saying tocar Tortugas?
He took us to a secret place and we got to hold every type of turtles from babies to ones that are a few years old. He also took my hand and had me hold the big sea turtle, but it almost bit my hand off.
The guy in the picture is one of the workers; he dug up these baby turtles and let us hold it.
So within 5 seconds of their life, they were already introduced to the power of a selfie. And just like me, my turtle was raising his hand to say pick me for this picture opportunity!
So of course, Lisa and I always have a story. When we got turtle food, Lisa was so excited to feed it. She not only fed them some food, but also her phone. I grabbed the closest guy and the only thing I knew how to say was ayuadame (help me) which I learned from Dora the Explorer. He came and got it for Lisa.
Here is the phone in the water: Here is the guy who saved the phone:
Here is Lisa showing the guy who gave us the VIP tour her phone. He just shook his head.
Here is Lisa trying to clean it up, but she was such a good sport. She was smiling and laughing the whole time.
If you go, please check it out. Here is the website.
Sea Life Discovery and a secret love affair
Click here for the website.
When they say once in a lifetime experience, this is totally it. We had the best time. We booked the sea life discovery plus package where you can swim with the manatees, sea lions, nurse shark, and dolphins. It was worth every penny.
When we got there, the first thing we did was get rice for Lisa’s phone. We had to improvise and use the bag from the turtle food.
Here is Lisa and Carlos who got her rice. We were extremely lucky. We were the only two people with the sea-lion and manatee, so we had all the time in the world. We loved both of them. They were so cute, but both Lisa and I loved the manatees. They are vegetarian and so sweet.
Here is the story for this activity: My Lover as Lisa calls him
There are 3 stations in front of the lockers. I went to the first one and asked for a towel. He said, anything you need beautiful lady, but towels are 2 stations down. I handle pictures. He asked for our names and after that, Lisa jokes because he basically followed us around and took care of everything for us when we got our pictures. He took care of the DVDs, escorted us to pay, and of course it would not be complete without a few awkward moments. We wanted to negotiate a deal to get our pictures together for the dolphins. It was really expensive, but he said free for a picture of you and me. Once we got our pictures, he came and looked at the pictures and said this picture was beautiful, but it would be better if I was right there. Jose actually asked me out that night, but I told him we had to shower and clean up. And because my name was on my DVD, he found me on FB and…I denied.
The whole day if I asked him anything, he was like anything you need, anything you want Lisa got nominated the night before for the ALS Downtown. He could not even find a bucket for us. He said I will get you anything else, I said, what I need is a bucket with ice water. He totally failed. FYI: We wanted so badly to have the dolphins jumping in the background of our video. We asked the managers if it was possible. It was pretty funny, even with all our charms, they said no it would scare the dolphins.
*Story of the Day
In the morning, we got out of the hotel and the golf cart did not start. We had to ask the guy at the front desk. Of course as soon as he came, he just tapped the gas a few times and it worked. Then I get in cart and try to it does not work again. I think he must have been watching us because after watching us struggle just a little bit longer, he came back over and pressed it again. He must have been shaking his head at these dumb American girls who have no idea how to even work a golf cart and we screamed when we saw a crab.
First off, if you do not know what a whale shark is, they are amazing. Here you go.
All of you know how obsessed I am with these animals. Well, sadly, I want to say I totally was able to swim with them, but Mother Nature had other plans. The wind was so strong the whole time we were there that the harbor shut down. I was so bummed, I tried to convince Mariel that there was no wind even though it was blowing really hard and the skies looked dark. This just means I have to come back.
Click here for information.
You can rent a little umbrella with 2 chairs for $15 a day.
Pictures speak 1000 words.
Punta Sur & Ixchel Temple
This had a great view, but we did not see the temple. It costs $3 and people used to pray for good fertility there, but it’s tiny! I don’t even think my butt would fit in it
Click here for information.
Floating Bottle Island
Here is the link.
This is a must see. Richard, the guy living there used to be a carpenter in England. He one day got inspiration to come to Isla Mujeres and build this island out of plastic bottles.
We had no idea to expect, but he’s made it an entire home by himself. He even has running water, solar panels to get electricity, and a solar oven. He has a guest room. He asks for about a $5 donation per person.
Here is the link.
There isn’t much here. You can get some food, a drink, and the reason we went there is to take a picture with a shark. Well a nurse shark.
I remember I did it last time I was in Cancun and the shark was much smaller and also much calmer. This one is much wilder, larger, and I made it mad!
*Story of the Day
Golf Cart Adventure
This was probably the one time during the trip that I was nervous. We had to return the golf cart by 9 PM and it was a must because Mariel kept my driver’s license and we had to leave for the ferry at 6 AM the next day. So our plan was to return the golf cart, eat dinner, and take a taxi back.
We are on our way to downtown and all of a sudden the golf cart stops. Both of our first reaction was crap. I tried to turn it on a few times and it still did not work. So I got out and looked around. Unfortunately, it was a pretty desolate road. I start walking down a road where I see lights. Lisa is slowly following me.
I notice that there is something that looks like a fire truck. I head over and of course asked “hables English?” He said very little. So again, thank you Dora…I asked for help in Spanish. He came over and said no gasoline. I then looked at him and said de donde gas station? He said 3 Kilometers. First off, ugh…I am so ignorant, but I have no idea how to convert kilometers to miles. So I said, neccesito taxi. I think he must have felt bad, but we pushed the golf cart and he went running into the house and came back with a giant bottle of gas for us.
It was so nice and all we have to say is that we have angels protecting us at all times.
We stayed at the Krystal Grand Punta Cancun Hotel. I got the hotel again on Hotwire for $68 a night in the hotel zone. I did not have that many expectations, but the hotel was very nice. I would recommend it to anyone.
The employees were very nice. The night before Chichen Itza, I realized that I had never gotten a solid confirmation for our pick-up time. My twin watched me run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get a hold of someone to make sure. While she was fast asleep, I was looking up phone numbers, email addresses, anything.
I walked downstairs and the employee said to go back to sleep and wake up at 5:30 AM and they can call them for us. This type of service is why I would go back and recommend them to anyone.
Here is the view
The building was beautiful. The rooms were spacious and clean. Also, it was only about a 5 minute walk to downtown where all the clubs were. Here we are getting our tan on.
Day 4: Tulum and Xel-ha
Tulum was beautiful and it is actually another ruin temple that was created by the Mayans. If you compare the two pictures, many of the ruins look alike.
Tulum is on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is a must see. When we went, it was SO windy that it was really hard to take good pictures. So here is our best. Here is a glimpse of how strong the wind was:
We loved this place. There is so much to do and see. Here is the link for tickets.
We did the half day tour. I would not have done it that way. I would have done Tulum and Coba.
We were extremely rushed at Xel-Ha. I would recommend spending the entire day there. You can do so many things.
Lazy River (Not so lazy river, there is no currents)
And if you wanted…Swimming with the Dolphins
And….You can get married too. Just kidding
*Story of the Day:
Mariel knew how much I wanted to see the whale sharks, so she changed our tours to make sure that we go on a day with the lowest chance of high winds. Unfortunately, that was every day. We were supposed to go swim with the whale sharks and come back around 3 PM. Then we would stay at the beach, check out of the hotel and head over to Cancun to check into the hotel.
Well, plans changed and luckily my Twin is so easy-going. I think Mariel thought we were going to be picked up in a big van, but I told her we had to take the luggage with us. Well, all of us were very surprised when the van did not have a trunk, especially the drivers.
We started the day getting to the ferry at 6 AM. Look how empty it is.
Then we had to take the luggage on the shuttle. The driver took one look at us and was like oh my gosh…these girls.
We actually had to transfer a few times since we went to a few places, the drivers had to transfer our luggage all over the place. Don’t worry, we felt bad, so we tipped them well.
On top of that, we had to take our luggage in Xel-Ha. Again, they had lockers for us because I’m sure we aren’t the only people in this situation, but they could not find the key for the large lockers, so we had to place it behind the information desk.
Day 5: Chichen Itza
This was one of our favorite tours. Chichen Itza is considered one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. The history behind the entire Mayan people and the temple is fascinating. I love this stuff, but even my twin was enthralled and she’s not a big history person.
We booked ours through Amigo Tours and we paid a little more for the early access tour and it was absolutely worth it. I would recommend this company to anyone. Not only is the tour guide really good, but you beat everyone to the place aka you get to take the best pictures!
The tour only has about 17 people and the tour guide is really good. Ours was Freddy.
He gave us a history lesson, which I tried really hard to stay up for, but my eyes were going cross-eyed trying to focus.
We even learned how to do Mayan math, which he called me out to do, but I got a sexy lab partner in the car who helped me out.
I have no idea how, but he already knew I loved selfies, so he nicknamed me selfie girl. Annnddd…here he is jumping into one of my selfies.
*Story of the Day:
The early tour picked us up at 6:15 AM. I had not had my coffee, so when we go into the bus, Allan was there with 5 other guys and he introduced himself. He learned that I loved country and we say y’all. At one point, he said, we want a Linda and Lisa show. I said, if you get me coffee I will give you a show.
Later on, we all became friends and on the tour, Freddy was talking about the sacrifice culture and they called Manny and said they would take his body and eat it. He turned to us and said, “That’s right B&t*hes.” It made our day. At the end of the day as we left the bus, Allan was like she’s my Facebook friend and none of you guys’ and he said the only people who stay at our hotel were celebrities. What can you say…we entertain people everywhere we go.
Here is a selfie with my new buddy. We bonded over the need for coffee.
Now I always do this so my Twin and I can remember when we are older. Here are some of our favorite memories and new things we learn about each other even after 4 years and many trips together.
- This is epic
- We have all the time in the world. Me: Twin, we really don’t, our next activity starts at ___.
- This is the life.
- Did you hear that? (As I crack my neck)
- You want lounge chair, drink? No? What about Mexican boyfriend? I’m free.
- T-shirt for you? What about your boyfriend? Ex-Boyfriend? How about a Mayan boyfriend, cheaper than Wal-Mart.
- When Lisa gets hangry…you better get food in her. I felt like a mom, I brought crackers and snacks so that I made sure she wasn’t hungry. She doesn’t function well
- I found out Lisa was raised by her grandma and that she had a brother who died at birth. Who knew?
- She stays up forever! I swear, I’m dead asleep, but even she gets tired at times. She actually fell asleep earlier than me a few nights. I was shocked.
- My Twin does not do well when she’s tired. On one of our tours, she asked for a break. When it’s hot, she does not do well.
- She found out my biggest thing that makes me angry is bad pictures because I take such good ones of everyone and all I ask for is one good pic. So you will see that all our pictures are the same because I take the first picture for her and she copies the angle. Our goal next trip is NOT to fight at all. As long as she copies my pictures and I keep her fed, life is wonderful. As you can tell, our friendship is exactly like we are sisters.
- She has a OCD to make sure her car and door is locked.
- Recording me snoring. Lisa has heard about my snoring, but I woke her up with it and…she recorded me.
- I was so dramatic one night. We wanted to make a collage, but one of the pictures needed to be downloaded, but we had no WiFi, I turn to her and said, “IT CAN’T BE DONE!”
- We made a rule so we would not lose everything. Everything goes in my bag, nothing in our hands.
- Trying to take sexy beach pictures. On Instagram, it looks so much better.
- Mind-reading. The funniest part about our friendship is that we have truly become family. Even though we can’t always be with each other, it’s crazy how we end each other’s thoughts. One time, I asked her to set her alarm, she was making collages on her phone and said later. I could not sleep and a few minutes later I woke up and said Twin did you set the alarm, she said not yet. I was scared she would fall asleep and we would miss our tour, so I turned and started saying, twinnie and she said, I knew you were going to ask me to set it right now.
- There was a salamander in the room, Lisa freaked out and called the front desk guy to get it, but he killed it. She was like I only wanted you to take it away, but he did not speak English. She looks at me and I was like meh.
- One of my favorite moments was when I dropped Lisa off to pick up crackers, sunblock, and eye drops for the beach. 10 minutes later, she comes back out in a different bathing suit along and that’s it. I said, did you grab the crackers, she said, crap I changed, put in eye drops, and charged my phone. 1 out of 3 isn’t bad haha.
- She is obsessed with her phone. That’s why we work so well. I love her for just being her. Being on her phone, taking selfies everywhere, and pictures of random thing, being free, not a worry in the world, and carefree. She doesn’t think about danger, what is happening next, she’s just Lisa. She lives in the moment and so happy in it. It’s very hard to find someone like that these days. Most of us like me, worry about everything and trust me it’s very bad for your heart. Here is her and her phone.
- She loves me for my obsession with coffee and news in the morning. She says I’m such a grown-up.
- One of my favorite things about us is the fact that we NEVER stop talking. The only time we are silent is when we are making collages or on FB.
- On our last night in Isla Mujeres, it rained like crazy. We hid inside a random restaurant and we ran into an older gentleman who Lisa recognized. He used to go to her parent’s restaurant. They say the world is 6 degrees of separation, more like 2, but who knew you would run into someone in Isla Mujeres.
- Twinnie was so sweet to try to get a good picture with the love sign. She was getting so frustrated why the picture turned out blurry, but we finally figured it out. 30 minutes later and probably 50 pictures. We got a good one. Twinnie thank you for doing that, it was so cute.
Adios Cancun! Until 2015, no more wind por favor so I can finally swim with my whale sharks. Please do not make me go to the Atlanta Aquarium to swim with it because I have to by 30. It is not as cool. My twin even said…I cannot believe that is your back-up plan. Swim with Whale Sharks in the ocean vs. an aquarium. #fail.