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.

Shared vs. Private Airport Transfers: Which option is right for you?

If you are traveling to Cancun or the Mayan Riviera, you’ll need to get yourself from the Cancun International Airport to your Resort, Hotel, villa, or rental casa. There are several modes of transportation to choose from and I’ll outline the pros and cons of each one here.

Transportation included in your vacation package. Check with your Travel Agent or, if you booked it yourself, check your travel documents. Many vacation packages are sold with shared transportation to the hotel included. This is handy, but be prepared for possibly longer wait times at the airport. Also, you’ll have no say-so in the pickup time at the resort so you may end up at the airport 3+ hours before flight time.

ADO busBuses. The bus company is called ADO. Plan on extended wait times for the bus to arrive and then to fill to maximum capacity. This option is better suited for more seasoned travelers. The bus will take you to the Downtown Bus depot. From there, you’ll need a taxi to your hotel. The Bus costs about $4 to the depot, then a taxi will cost you about $10 to the Cancun Hotel Zone for $3 to Downtown Cancun hotels. This is a great option if you are staying in a downtown Cancun hotel.

Shared Transportation. This is a great option if you are traveling by yourself or if you are looking to save some money. The vehicles are 10 passenger vans with luggage space. Rates are per person in US Dollars.

Prices per person in US Dollars

Transfer Location One Way Round Trip Click to Book
Cancun Hotel Zone or Downtown $9 $17 Book Here
Gran Puerto Juarez Ferry Dock $9 $17 Book Here
Playa Mujeres $9 $17 Book Here
Bahia Petempich $23 $45 Book Here
Puerto Morelos $23 $45 Book Here
Playa Paraiso $23 $45 Book Here
Playa del Carmen $23 $45 Book Here
Puerto Aventuras $28 $55 Book Here
Akumal $35 $70 Book Here
Gran Bahia Principe $35 $70 Book Here
Tulum $35 $70 Book Here

Keep in mind the total cost for your airport transfers and make sure to compare the total cost for shared vs. private transportation, especially if you have more than 2 people in your group.

Taxis at the Cancun Airport.  There are taxis at the Cancun Airport available for you, but this is our least recommended transportation. First, the cost is usually the same for ONE WAY as private transfer is for ROUND TRIP. Plan on spending $60 USD for one way to Cancun hotels. Second, these drivers are not as secure and trustworthy as private drivers. For instance, you forget your cell phone, purse, backpack or other item in the taxi (happens ALL THE TIME), well, you are just out of luck.

Renting a car. This can be handy if you are staying in the Riviera Maya and you are a good driver. Be prepared for extremely aggressive driving in Cancun. This is not an option I recommend at all. Traffic is a mess, police purposely pull over rental cars for bribes, parking (especially in Cancun and Playa del Carmen) is a real bugger, and if you are in an accident the process here is MUCH DIFFERENT than back home and will surely eat up a lot of your vacation time.

If you do decide to rent a car, be sure to get the full-coverage insurance.  There are many car rental agencies at the airport. It’s best to book online in advance and go with an internationally known company. You can read more about car rentals here.

Private Airport Transfers.  I have saved the best for last. Of course, this is the transportation that I recommend not just because it’s what I do, but also because it is the best and I firmly believe that. CARM Tours & Transfers offers safe and reliable transportation from the airport to all hotels, villas, and rental properties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.  Our door-to-door service is fast and hassle-free. I love selling a service I can stand behind 100%.

Prices per VEHICLE in US Dollars (one way / round trip)

Transfer Location 1-2 ppl 3-5 ppl 6-10 ppl Click to Book
Cancun Hotel Zone or Downtown $35 / $55 $40 / $65  $45 / $75 Book Here
Gran Puerto Juarez Ferry Dock $35 / $60 $40 / $65  $45 / $75  Book Here
Playa Mujeres $45 / $70 $55 / $80  $65 / $95  Book Here
Bahia Petempich $40 / $65 $45 / $70  $50 / $80 Book Here
Puerto Morelos $40 / $65 $50 / $80  $55 / $85 Book Here
Playa Paraiso $50 / $80 $55 / $95  $65 / $105 Book Here
Playa del Carmen & Playacar $60 / $105 $65 / $115  $70 / $120 Book Here
Puerto Aventuras & Xpu Ha $65 / $120 $70 / $125  $75 / $135 Book Here
Akumal $75 / $135 $85 / $155  $90 / $165 Book Here
Bahia Principe, Soliman Bay, Tankah $80 / $140 $90 / $165  $95 / $170 Book Here
Tulum $85 / $150 $90 / $170  $100 / $180 Book Here

Not sure which location your hotel is in? Just start typing in your hotel name here, click the hotel name and it will take you to the right  location to book your airport transfers.

arrival-terminal-2

CARM Tours & Transfers also offers transportation to areas further out. We can take you to MeridaChichen Itza or Valladolid, Chiquila ferry dock (the ferry that takes you to Isla Holbox), Mahahual or Bacalar, Sian Ka’an Biosphere or Punta Allen.

We will track your flight and we’ll be waiting outside the airport terminal with your name on the sign. Here I am after arriving to terminal 2 from JFK last year.

You can watch the video of getting through the Cancun Airport, however I have to apologize for the screaming child in the background. Life Happens ♥.

If you have any questions about which option is right for you, just give me a call, shoot me an email or hop on live chat. I’m happy to answer all of your questions.

Pet-Friendly Transportation in Cancun

My dog Bailey at the beach

My dog Bailey at the beach

 

Here at CARM Tours & Transfers, we offer a pet-friendly transportation service. It is recommended that you keep your pet in it’s carrier or crate while in the vehicle for everyone’s safety.

We can handle any size or number of pets in our private transportation vehicles. Book your Cancun Airport Transfers with pets here.

 

Mexico Dept. of Agriculture Requirements

  • If the pet is under 3 months of age, it requires a Health Certificate
  • If the pet is older than 3 months of age, it requires a Health Certificate and Vaccination card, specifying the application of rabies vaccine with a validity no longer than 1 year. These documents must be presented in original and copy.
  • It is very important to assure that the documents match with your pet data (age, breed, color, sec., etc.) and in this way avoid problems in the procedure of entering Mexico.
  • The HEALTH CERTIFICATE must be showed in headed paper with the printed Professional License or Photocopy of the medical Veterinary License who issues the certificate. WITH THE DATE no older than 5 DAYS, including the health status of the pet and that it HAS BEEN TREATED AGAINST ENDOPARASITES and ECTOPARASITES within 6 months prior to your trip and that it is free from any internal and external parasite.
  • Your pet will be physically reviewed by Official Personnal from Agriculture and Livestock Production Health from SAGARPA, and if coming from a country with presence of foot and mouth disease or from zones in risk, a prophylactic treatment will be given to your pet, free of charge.
  • The import of one or two pets is free. No animal bedding or similar products is allowed.

Note from former traveler to Cancun:

Now, we had had my dog’s health and vaccination records with us which stated that the vet had supplied external parasite medication. The Health certificate, however, did not specifically state that she was “free from parasites”. And, the inspector wanted not only that on the certificate, but also the specific medication given – eg, Frontline. It was a real hangup and we spent an hour in customs before we were able to move on, with a finger wagging from them and a warning for ‘next time’.

Information courtesy of www.DogFriendly.com

Tips for bringing your pet to the hotel

  • In the Lobby: Make sure to ask if pets are allowed in the lobby as even some pet-friendly hotels still do now allow them to be in the lobby.
  • In the Room: Never leave your dog alone in the hotel room. The #1 reason that a hotel chooses to not allow dogs is because people leave them alone in the room. Even well-trained dogs can cause damage inside the room or they bark or scare the housekeepers.
  • Use the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and use the deadbolt to guard against frightening the housekeeping staff.
  • Take your dog as far away as possible from the hotel and landscaped areas around the hotel. Some hotels even have a designated pet walk area.

Book your Cancun Airport Transfers with pets here.