Hi guys! I’m so excited to FINALLY be sharing this post with you. I’ve been wanting to write a post about what I did when I went to Cancun and Tulum back in October 2018. I’ve put together a master list of all the activities I did & sights I saw! I’ve even included some things that I had planned to do, but didn’t get around to doing while I was there – which just gives me an excuse to go back!
This trip was extra special because it was my first solo trip and I got to take it with my best friend Leyanna. Leyanna has been to Mexico many times – it’s her favorite country. We decided to go for our 5 day fall break because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do a senior spring break trip due to a project deadline.
Let’s get into it.
Leyanna found an insanely good deal on our flight through Spirit airlines (lol) while she was casually surfing the internet. Round-trip tickets to Cancun were only $300 out of Detroit. We impulsively bought our tickets and booked an AirBNB because the deal was too good to pass up. At the time, fall break was in roughly a month so we did not have too much time to extensively plan our trip. Since we were flying with Spirit we were only allowed to bring a personal item on the flight with us. We graciously accepted the backpacking challenge and I managed to fit everything I needed into my 28 liter backpack.
1 Don’t sleep the night before – I tried my best to not sleep the night before. My flight out of Detroit left at 6 AM and then my layover flight from Ft. Lauderdale left around 9 AM. I slept the entire way to Ft. Lauderdale and most of the way to Cancun. We were scheduled to land in Cancun around noon. My goal was to sleep as much as I could on the plane so I would be ready to go as soon as we landed!
2 Pack your backpack wisely, it’s all you get – I packed:
*Bonus tip: Leyanna and I wished we would have brought a microfiber towel with us. They dry quickly and hardly take up any room in your bag. We borrowed towels from our AirBNB and they took forever to dry because of the humidity.
3 Get a Neck Pillow – It’ll make the flight so much more comfortable.
4 Bring an Empty, Refillable Water Bottle – This has to be empty while going through TSA/Security, but once you’re in the airport you will be able to fill them up at a drinking fountain in the airport. It’s important to stay hydrated while on the flight and this is also convenient to have when traveling around in Mexico in general.
We spent 3 days and 4 nights in Cancun, MX. We decided to stay in an AirBNB in the heart of downtown Cancun rather than in an all-inclusive resort in the hotel zone. We really wanted the cultural experience since both Leyanna and I are obsessed with Hispanic culture. We did not rent a car for this trip so we strategically picked an AirBNB that was only a 10-15 minute walk from the ADO bus station. We had our own little studio apartment and it had a private balcony with a hammock.
The reason why this part of the trip was so fun is because we lived like the locals. Everyday we woke up early to go down to the local market and get fresh baked Concha bread for breakfast. We didn’t have a planned itinerary since we booked everything last minute, so we just spent our days exploring and seeing where the day took us. We ate at Parque Las Palapas for almost every meal of the day. It is this amazing park that had a bunch of different food vendors and at night the entire park would come to life. There was music, dancing, lights, live performances, pop-up shops, great food, and tons of people. Most nights we would wander down there and all of the surrounding side streets to find hole in the wall restaurants and bars. It was only a 5-10 minute walk from our AirBNB!
We also stumbled upon two local markets while we were wandering about the city. The first one was about a 15 minute walk from our AirBNB. It was called Mercado 24 and it was a small farmers market that sold local foods, art, clothes, souvenirs, trinkets, etc. The next one we found was called Mercado 28 and it was about a 20-30 minute walk from our AirBNB. It was essentially the same thing as Mercado 24, but it was so much bigger and we had such a fun time spending the day wandering through it and chatting with locals.
We also decided to dedicate a day to take a bus over to the hotel zone and have a beach day. We rented lounge chairs and soaked up as much of the sun as we could!
To Recap, Must-Do’s in Cancun:
• Parque Las Palapas
• Mercado 24
• Mercado 28
• Beach day
• Eat concha bread
The only planned part of our trip was the decision to take a day trip over to Tulum since it was only a 2 hour bus ride away. I really wanted to go to Tulum and pushed for it since it was a part of Mexico that Leyanna had not been yet and I wanted to see a cenote. We left around 7 AM so we could be in Tulum early enough to get pictures before all of the popular cenotes got too crowded. Plus, we wanted to get the most out of our day since we had to be on the last bus back to Cancun by 9 PM.
Tulum was much more lush than Cancun and definitely had a less touristy vibe. As soon as we got off our bus, we took a taxi to Gran Cenote. This was the only time we needed a taxi driver. That cenote was just too far to walk to.You can also rent bikes to get around Tulum as well! Leyanna ended up doing this when she went back to Tulum in March 2019.
Things I’d recommend to do in Tulum:
1 Eat at Chimpaneca!! Best. Tacos. Ever. Seriously. And they are 10 pesos.
2 Snorkel in Gran Cenote!! – I think the entrance fee was like MX$180 and MX$80 to rent the snorkel mask. Tulum has so many Cenotes you can pick from pending on the activities you want to do, so be sure to research which ones you want to check out!
3 Tulum Ruins
4 Rent a bike and explore the city
5 Tequila tasting
6 Raw Love Tulum – A vegan cafe in Tulum that is very Instagrammable. We did not end up getting to do this, but the next time I’m in Mexico I plan on staying in Tulum and will definitely be eating here.
And that’s it!!
If you have any questions or want me to link anything, I am happy to help! Safe travels.