Our favorite vacation in 2017 was Cancun, Mexico!
Aayush was asked to stay back for some last minute work in Toronto, so the first 4 days I bunked in the Mezcal hostel in Cancun with strangers who eventually became my travel buddies and the last 4 days of the trip Aayush and I were in this gorgeous resort by the beach Villa del Palmar. So Cancun itself is beautiful but is super westernized. There's a hotel zone which is built like The strip in Vegas, and has these high end clubs you can party in. Be wary of random cabs though, and you'll find some creeps lurking in corners trying to sell you drugs. There will be some prostitutes too. Just don't engage and stay amongst yourselves.
We spent several evenings chilling at the resort's pool and private beach, but here are the places we went to ( took local buses/ ferries to all of them, did not rent a car):-
1. Tulum : small town two hours from Cancun by bus, we rented bikes and rode all over the island. The beaches are serene and the food and markets are authentic Mexican.
2. Xcaret: This is a water and amusement park,we bought the tickets through our resort and spent all day here. Although man-made, it is nothing short of stunning. Very organized, you can also choose to swim through the entire park to go from one exhibit to the other. There are tons of activities, snorkeling, an underwater walk, cultural performances, animal exhibits.
3. Isla mujeres: I went here twice, that's how much I was in awe of this place! A 12 km stretch of island with Playa Norte ( north beach) as the north point and Punta sur( and the south point, cliff). You can rent scooters or golf carts to ride all over the island, making stops along the way. There's viewpoints where you can see giant turtles and some with a fantastic view of the sunset. There' s a plethora of good restaurants and tiny markets.
We found several good sea food and Mexican restaurants, but our favorite has to be Flamingoes! The owner gave us royal treatment and personally dropped us back to our resort!
This was a very relaxing trip for us, as we spent most days sunbathing at the beach, but if you want to explore more there are several other amazing options - Playa del Carmen, chichen itza, Valladolid are all half to full day excursions if you make Cancun your base. Safety is a big concern in any city, as it is in Cancun. Resorts are generally affordable and safer choices over Airbnbs and if you're staying in a hostel it's better to check out the highest rated ones on the app @Hostelworld.
So get those swimsuits and sunscreens out and have a blast!