Isla Mujeres Artist Fair

 

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The Isla Mujeres Artist Fair is on the first Thursday of every month from 4pm to 7pm in the Zocalo (town square) on Isla Mujeres. Local artists, food vendors, musicians & Isla’s non-profits celebrate the creative arts with locals, tourists, foreign residents & our neighbors from Cancun.

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Top Three Casinos in Cancun

 

dubai palace casino

If you’re planning a trip to the Mexican Caribbean, try going to different casinos in Cancun, one of the newest additions to the endless things to do while on vacation. In the past, there were local gambling laws that prevented different casinos from opening up in Cancun.

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The BEST Snorkeling in Cancun

 

Well, actually the best snorkeling is not in Cancun at all.  It is just south of Cancun, about a 30 minute drive, to the little town of Puerto Morelos. Here the reef is very close to the shore and very shallow, which makes for perfect snorkeling conditions.

Trina Snorkeling on the reef

Trina Snorkeling on the reef

I’ve snorkeled in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Akumal countless times over the years and I have to say yesterday I had THE BEST snorkel experience. I met with the boat owner who introduced me to our guide, Paz. Paz is very passionate about the ocean, sea life, snorkeling, and he made sure that everyone on the boat had good time. He gave personalized attention to each snorkeler, ensuring that everyone was comfortable in the water and that they could see the amazing underwater world that he so loves.

All of the snorkel boats in Puerto Morelos are the 8-12 passenger panga boats. I like being in smaller groups when snorkeling, so this worked out well for me. They have to use the smaller boats because the large boats cannot get close to the coral reef. Once in the boat, Paz fitted each person with snorkel gear and gave us instructions about the coral, safety, and general snorkeling etiquette.

Coral Reef in Puerto Morelos

Coral Reef in Puerto Morelos

The boat ride from the dock to the reef only took us less than 10 minutes. When we reached the reef there were 5-6 other boats there with snorkelers in the water. Paz said that we would avoid the others by swimming against the current for a few minutes then drifting back along the reef. This worked out very well for all of us.

I was amazed at the sea life we saw and the condition of the coral reef. It is so vibrant and alive! The schools of fish are brilliantly painted by mother nature and I felt thankful to be in her presence. We saw fish of every size and shape and color, one fish in particular caught Paz’s attention because it literally sparkled! I don’t think the photos do it justice, you have to see it for yourself.

Fish on sandy area by the reef

Fish on sandy area by the reef

We snorkeled for almost 2 hours on the reef in Puerto Morelos. I was so impressed with this snorkel trip that I am adding it to my list of featured tours.While taking underwater photos we came upon an angel ray. This was the highlight of the trip. I was able to follow it at a pretty slow pace for several minutes. Just amazing.

So the video quality is terrible, but about half way through is where I started following the ray. I’m sorry about that, I will try to get better quality underwater video soon.

 

 

If you have your own transportation to Puerto Morelos, the snorkeling is only $49 per person. If you are staying in Cancun it is just $50 for round trip transportation (1-10 people). Book your Snorkel Trip today!

 

 

Orphanage in Cancun Finds Support from Expat living in Cancun

 

I was first introduced to the orphanage in Cancun, called Casa Hogar Para Niños Esperanza, which means “House of Hope for Children” by my friend TJ Carter. TJ is an expat living in Cancun. He has become increasingly involved with the orphanage and raising funds for their needs. He helps with organizing events for the kids, day-to-day medical and educational needs along with finding sponsors for weekly grocery shopping trips.

casa-hogarTJ has started a group of like-minded people eager to help the less-fortunate kids, which he is calling FOCH for Friends of Casa Hogar. On the website and facebook group, TJ has inspired many other to become involved. His ongoing mission is to provide food, clothing, education, love & cultural entertainment to these kids. His work is much needed since the orphanage receives ZERO government funding.

Sponsors and the kids from Casa Hogar recently went on a field trip to Crococun Zoo and as you can imagine the kids LOVED it. Check out the photos here.

Friends of Casa Hogar are looking for sponsors for the weekly grocery trips and for monetary pledges. To find out more about Casa Hogar and how you can help, please visit http://www.friendsofcasahogar.org/ or on Facebook here.

Shopping in Cancun: Guide to Cancun’s Shopping Malls & Markets

 

In addition to the crazy nightlife, pristine beaches and turquoise Caribbean water, Cancun also offers some great shopping too. Shopping in CancunWhether you want to shop in Cancun’s Hotel Zone or if you prefer the downtown markets, this guide will help you in your shopping journey.

In the hotel zone be prepared for higher prices and high-end stores. There are a few places to buy souvenirs in the hotel zone, however the prices are about double for the same items in the downtown markets.

Cancun Hotel Zone Shopping

  • Plaza KukulcanKukulcan Plaza at KM 13 This shopping plaza holds stores such as Hugo Boss, Harley Davidson, Señor Frogs Store, ENVY, & Oakley. On one end of the mall is ‘Luxury Avenue’, an ultra-high-end shopping plaza and contains Ultrafemme, Burberry, Coach, Fendi, Cartier & Louis Vuitton just to name a few. There are also several restaurants including Ruth´s Chris Steak House and Tequila Grill.
  • Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5. This is one of my favorites because the stores are a little more trendy and there is more to see and do here. Plaza La Isla Shopping CenterStores include Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, Bvlgari, Nine West, Ultrafemme, Deportes Martí, Sunglass Island, Guess, Diesel, Envy, Máximo Dutti, Liverpool, SOHO, United Colors of Benetton and Sr. Frog’s Boutique. Plaza La Isla also has some of the best restaurants in Cancun including The Elefanta, Thai Lounge, La Madonna, Italianni’s, Chili’s, Johnny Rockets, Hooters, & Planet Hollywood. Here you can also take in a movie or go through the Interactive Aquarium.
  • Forum by the Sea at KM 9 Plaza Forum by the Seais a large multilevel plaza with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment which transforms into the Party Center hub at night featuring CocoBongo and many other famous clubs. This plaza is more for restaurants than for shopping, featuring Cambalache, Carlos n’ Charlie’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Chili’s and more. Here you may see locals with animals like monkeys and bobcats. Please do not pay to have your picture taken with these wild animals. There is an ongoing campaign to stop the abuse of these animals and you can help by refusing to give the handlers your money.
  • Coral Negro Flea Market at KM 9.5. Coral Negro Flea MarketThere is store after store after store, mostly selling the same souvenir t-shirts, shot glasses, sunglasses, sand-in-a-bottle, starfish lamps and many other trinkets to take home with you. Be prepared to barter for the best price or buy two and save money. Some folks really enjoy this little dance to get a discount…try walking away from a salesperson and the price usually drops in half.

Cancun Downtown Shopping

We offer a Shopping tour to take you to any of the above plazas or any of the malls are markets in Downtown Cancun. Price is by the hour and it is very flexible.

  • Plaza Las Americas & Malecon Mall – Tulum Ave. Downtown Cancun. maleconThe original mall is Plaza Las Americas. In the past couple of years the Malecon was built on, making this new merged mall the BEST shopping in downtown Cancun. Plaza Las Americas has stores such as Liverpool, Sears, Sanborn’s, VIPS, YAK & Sports Book, Dorian’s, Chedraui Grocery Store, Zara, Bershka, Lob, Martí, Mixup, Mundo deportivo, Shasa, C&A, Versalles, Ultrafemme, Zingara, Sunglass Island, Furor, Hang Ten and more. Malecon is partially indoors and partially open air and contains clothing stores, jewelry shops, and shoe stores. There are also book stores, furniture stores, home furnishings stores, a music store, and large Mexican department stores. The open air section has a Starbucks, food kiosks, a carousel and other activities for children. Restaurants include California Pizza Kitchen, Chili’s, McDonalds (with a McCafe) and Hooters. On Sundays the mall is packed with locals.
  • Market 28. In my opinion this is the best place to do your souvenir shopping in Cancun. The prices are cheaper than the hotel zone for the EXACT same items. Handmade jewelry, t-shirts, beach bags, hammocks can all be bought at bargain prices.
    You can also find local vanilla and hot sauces at Market 28. The restaurants have a much more local flair and feature seafood and cold beer. On most days you’ll hear the xylophone players in the center of the market.
  • Market 23. Market 23This is much more for locals than for tourists visiting Cancun. Very little English is spoken at Market 23 and some days it smells quite funky. You’ll find vegetables, spices, trinkets, counterfeit or copied DVDs, and chicharon (deep fried pig skin). Market 23 is truly a Mexican market with incense & flowers, candles and religious dolls. The souvenirs at Market 23 are much more traditional than the mass-produced items at the tourist markets. Tip: It would be helpful to have a Spanish speaker with you to get the most out of the experience.

Flea Markets

If you REALLY want to get into downtown Cancun, check out the flea markets, called tiangues (pronounced tee-ON-gays). I know of two tiangues located on the street called Lopez Portillo, but I have heard of several others as well. At the flea markets you will find everything that is left in hotel rooms after tourists leave: suntan lotions, vanilla, hot sauce, cell phones & chargers, clothes & toiletries. Everything at the tiangues is VERY CHEAP. Look a little further into the markets and you’ll find girls painting flowers on customer’s toes, handmade curtains, clothes and so much more. You’ll need to be quite adventurous to visit one of the tiangues. It is one of my favorite things in Cancun.

Rainy Day Guide: 6 Great Activities to do in Cancun when it Rains

 

The most common concern that travelers have when planning their vacation to Cancun is regarding the weather. Will it rain? What is there to do on rainy days in Cancun?

If your vacation dates are between December and April, you won’t have much to worry about. This is not hurricane season and these are the driest months of the year. When it does rain, it is usually at night or for a brief afternoon shower. Rain will rarely interrupt plans during this time of year.

We start seeing more rainfall in May and more full days of rain instead of just a quick shower. Hurricane season (June to November) sees the highest amount of rainfall and tropical depressions can increase these amounts.

rainfall-cancunmap
Rainfall data courtesy of CancunMap.com

So…what is there to do in this sunshine-dependent vacation spot when it is raining? Here are some of my favorite things.

1. Visit a cenote.

cenote
Cenotes are unique to the Yucatan peninsula and there are many in the Mayan Riviera to see. They are similar to sink holes or caverns with fresh, cold water and stalactite and stalagmite formations. the weather really doesn’t affect you while you are swimming or exploring in a cenote, but when you exit you’ll be cold so be prepared with towels and dry clothes.

2. Snorkeling.

SNORKELING

Yes, snorkeling in the ocean. You are already wet, why not jump in the warm ocean? The visibility will be less then when the sun is shining, however on the plus side, there will be far fewer people. Of course this is not recommended if it is storming with lightning.

3. SubSee Submarines.

Subsee Cancun and CozumelThere is one in Cancun and one in Cozumel. These are great for the whole family to be able to see the ocean floor from the safety of the submarine. Again, visibility may be slightly diminished. Discounts on SubSee Cancun and SubSee Cozumel.

4. Museum.

Mayan-Museum30Cancun now has a Mayan Museum in the hotel zone. It is only about $5 per person and a great way to learn about the culture. Read more about the “Museo Maya” here.

5. Aquarium. Inside of Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5 in the hotel zone is the Interactive Aquarium. For only $10 USD you can tour the 13 aquarium tanks and see rays, pirahnas, moray eels, jellyfish, seahorses, scorpion fish and coral. It’s not a large aquarium but it is fun to see.

6. Shopping.  Cancun has several malls for you to get your shopping fix. In the hotel zone be prepared for higher prices and high-end stores. See more info about each mall here.

  • Kukulcan Plaza at KM 13 Higher-end stores like Hugo Boss, Harley Davidson & Oakley. On one end of the mall is Luxury Avenue and containsBurberry, Coach, Fendi, Cartier & Louis Vuitton.
  • Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5. This is one of my favorites because the stores are more trendy and there is more to see and do here. Stores include Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West, Guess, Diesel, Envy. Here you can also take in a movie or go through the Interactive Aquarium (see #5 above).
  • Forum by the Sea at KM 9 is a large multilevel plaza with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment which transforms into the Party Center hub at night.
  • Plaza Las Americas & Malecon Americas Mall in downtown Cancun. This is a large mall filled with trendy and affordable stores. It is quite close to the hotel zone and very modern.

CARM offers a shopping trip you can buy by the hour here. You can see the full list of by tours offered by CARM Tours & Transfers here.

Tip: Avoid going further into downtown Cancun if it is a full day of rain. The flooding in downtown is extreme and the driving techniques are terrible.

Isla Mujeres day trip on the Lupita Catamaran

 

One of our goals is to actually GO on all of the tours we sell at CARM Tours & Transfers. This week we joined the catamaran “La Lupita” on their day trip from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. We had a wonderful time. You can book the catamaran Lupita for only $53 USD here.

Turquoise waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres We checked in at Cancun Bay Resort & Marina, located at KM 3.5 in the Cancun Hotel Zone. Check in was fast so we had about 30 minutes at the palapa before the start of the tour. This worked out well since we had skipped breakfast and the palapa sold croissants and bottled water. We split one of each which cost us $36 pesos (~about $3 USD).Lupita Catamaran

At 10:00 AM we boarded the Lupita catamaran and headed to Isla Mujeres. With the sail raised it took us about an hour to get to the island. We were all given snorkel gear and jumped in the ocean at “El Farito” reef, which means “little lighthouse”. We saw tons of fish including the biggest barracuda I have EVER seen. Amazing. The snorkel guide had a sandwich baggie filled with something the fish really liked so we were surrounded by a school of brightly colored fishes. Large parrot fish, small trigger fish and lots that I could not identify.

snorkeling Isla Mujeres CatamaranBy 11:00 AM we were back on the boat, heading over to the island. Our first stop was at Isla Contoy dock. We had 1 hour free time on the island to shop, rent a golf cart, or hang out at the bars/restaurants. We skipped the golf carts and just walked around a bit, then ended up at the Isla Contoy dock bar where we watched an English fellow eat a scorpion pickled in Tequila. Good times!

Back on the boat for the trip to the beach club for lunch at 1:00 PM. The buffet was good food, as good as most all-inclusive resorts. Drinks here are not included, so be sure to bring some cash. We went back for seconds, then hit the lounge chairs. I loved this part of the day, so relaxing. There were hammocks in the shade and lounge chairs. We cooled off in the ocean, then just relaxed some more.

Isla Mujeres CatamaranWe boarded the boat about 3:00 PM to head back to Cancun. Just before we got there the captain set anchor and put up the spinnaker. The spinnaker is like para sailing, except you are anchored. The video shows it better than I can describe it. It is not very easy, however it looked well worth the effort.

The Lupita catamaran docked back in Cancun at 4:45 PM. I have to say that for only $53 per person, this was a fabulous day on the water, on the island, and it is a great value. This tour is not for the party crowd. The music was current, yet not so loud as to blast your eardrums. The crew was accommodating, yet no one was telling me to put my hands in the air and scream. For us (upper-30-something-couple) it was the perfect day getaway without some 19-year-old throwing up on my shoes.

For more information and to book your day trip to Isla Mujeres on the catamaran Lupita for only $53 USD, CLICK HERE TO BOOK THE TOUR.

Whale Shark season officially begins May 15, 2013

 

Snorkel with Whale SharksIn Cancun we have the unique opportunity to snorkel with Whale Sharks when they migrate through our area from mid-May until mid-September every year. For the 2013 season, tours begin May 15th.

Whale Sharks are not actually “sharks”. They feed on plankton and they have no teeth. The average adult whale shark is 32 feet long and weights 9 tons.

Tours leave from Puerto Juarez, just 10 minutes north of Cancun. The boats are small and usually only hold 8-10 passengers. It takes 45 minutes to 90 minutes to get to where the whale sharks are swimming in the ocean. Once there, we take turns snorkeling beside these giant fish.

The tour costs $179 per person. You should be a good swimmer for this tour since you are out in the ocean. Every time we have gone out to see the Whale Sharks we also see lots of sea turtles and manta rays too. You can book your Whale Shark Snorkel here.

New attractions in Cancun: Flyboard & Jetpack

 

There are 2 new and ultra-adventure activities in Cancun: The Flyboard and the Jetpack. Both use the same idea of water propulsion to lift a person into the air and across the water using Personal Water Craft (PWC) propulsion.

Flyboard
The Flyboard straps your feet onto a board much like a snowboard and your arms are strapped onto hand jets. The hose is connected to a JetSki that provides the water pressure. You maneuver by shifting your weight on the board and using the hand jets.

flyboard cancun

There are 6 locations to try the Flyboarding experience in Cancun or the Riviera Maya:

  1. Temptation Resort- Albatros Marina Blvd. Kukulcan Km 3.5 Hotel Zone
  2. Hotel Presidente Intercontinental- Marina Coco Tours‎ Blvd. Kukulcan Km 7.5 Hotel Zone
  3. Royal Resorts- Thomas More Travel Blvd. Kukulcan Km 16 Hotel Zone
  4. Kool Beach Club- Dani Sailing 28 Norte Mza 10, Lote 8 Centro, Playa del Carmen
  5. Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya- Marina Hotel Valentin Carretera Federal 307 Km 311, North Playa del Carmen (Playa Paraiso)
  6. The Royal Playa del Carmen Beach Hotel Constituyentes 2 Playa del Carmen

Basic Flight 20 minutes flight time for $100 USD, or you can upgrade to the Premium for $150 and get a full HD video of your flight. You will learn the basics of Flyboard flight with your Certified Flight Instructor. Book Now

Requirements: Minimum age 18 years, be a good swimmer and not have fear of heights, obviously.

Jetpack

Much like the Flyboard, the Jetpack attaches a water hose to a jetski with the equipment needed for water propulsion. A flexible water supply hose delivers power to the jetpack with pressurized water.

jetpack cancun

Jetpack is located at Plaza La Isla Mall Blvd Kukulcan, KM 12.5 Cancun Hotel Zone

Price is $149 for the Basic 20 minutes or upgrade to the 30 minute Premium for $199.Book Now

You must be 18 years of age to fly, however 16 or 17 year olds may fly with written consent from a parent or guardian.
Height requirement: between 5 feet and 6 feet 6 inches tall and a maximum waist of 46 inches. You must also be a good swimmer.