Monica Tagum looked around at the lush jungle scenery rushing by, her view from the Yucatan’s Carr Federal 307 highway encumbered only by her husband’s helmeted head. While many honeymooners experience this part of Mexico on their way to the Mayan ruins of Tulum, most do so in the air-conditioned comfort of a tour van or rental car. For the Tagum’s honeymoon in Cancun, though, something more adventurous was in order: a scooter. It would be a moment she’ll never forget.
“You’re riding with your arms around your husband, what could be better for a honeymoon?”
Monica and Anthony had plenty of these memorable moments during their June 2013 weeklong honeymoon in Mexico, where they spent four days at GR Solaris in Cancun and three days at Acanto Boutique Hotel down the road in Playa del Carmen.
But before Monica was trusting her new husband to navigate the Mexican highway, she trusted her groomsmen to book her honeymoon – literally.
“We mentioned both Mexico and Hawaii and one day my brother just bought us the plane tickets to Cancun,” Monica said. “Decision made!”
In addition to the plane tickets, the generous groomsmen also booked the couple’s stay at GR Solaris and an excursion to nature park Xel Ha. Thankfully, Monica and Anthony’s trust in their friends and family worked out.
“The GR Solaris was great because it was all-inclusive,” Monica said. “Beers were waiting for us in our fridge when we got there, all the room service you can order, and our backyard was the beach. This place was simple, easy and relaxing – just what we needed after the wedding!”
Having the beach so close to the hotel paid off, when on their first night there they stumbled upon a turtle laying her eggs in the sand. That was just the beginning of this charmed Cancun honeymoon. The couple spent the first four days of their trip laying on the beach, swimming in the pool, and checking out the Cancun nightlife – albeit with mixed results.
“Our first afternoon out in downtown Cancun we were lured into buying tickets for the Coco Bongo Show,” Monica said. “It was advertised as a type of Las Vegas show with open bar and impersonators of people like Lady Gaga and Beetlejuice. There was very little standing room and it was the typical tourist spot with servers pouring cheap tequila down your throat. Needless to say, we left early.”
The couple had much better luck bar hopping in the hotel zone and dancing at Mandala Cancun Nightclub, but after four days of beach lounging and dancing ’till dawn, Monica and Anthony headed a half-hour south of Cancun to Playa del Carmen.
“We wanted to end our honeymoon with some adventure,” Monica said. “We found the Acanto Boutique Hotel on Groupon and decided to give it a shot.”
It was in Playa del Carmen where Monica and Anthony rented that fateful scooter (for about $30 a day) and hit the road.
“The Thursday we arrived we took a ferry to Cozumel and rented a scooter to visit some Mayan Ruins,” Monica said. “Friday we traveled 30 minutes south on our little scooter to the adventure park Xel-Ha. Saturday we took the same highway south down to [nearby] Tulum. We spent the day exploring Mayan Ruins and came back a little early to enjoy a romantic dinner for our last night of our honeymoon.”
Of all their scooter excursions, Monica and Anthony’s favorite was their trek to Xel-Ha, a natural aquarium park with a massive lagoon for snorkeling.
“We spent the day walking around the park in our bathing suits and tried zip lining, cliff dives, cave swimming – everything!” Monica said. “We also did the Sea Trek Tour where we put on huge helmets and walked around touching dolphins as they swam by us. That’s now crossed off my bucket list!”
Monica and Anthony were able to experience two very different environments during their honeymoon in Mexico: the large all-inclusive in Cancun and the smaller hotel in Playa del Carmen. It’s a plan many honeymooners opt for and one Monica said she wouldn’t have done any other way.
“We had a good mix of relaxation and adventure,” Monica said. “I think Anthony liked Cancun more — he enjoyed the relaxation and convenience of the GR Solaris. We really didn’t have to leave the resort, not to mention all the workers spoke English. Once we arrived in Playa del Carmen, I was in charge of communicating (being the only one who speaks Spanish) and it was a little harder to figure out activities. But those activities were the most fun!”
For couples trying to decide between the two experiences, Monica offers some advice.
“I would highly recommend an all-inclusive resort for those unfamiliar with Mexico and who are looking for peace and quiet,” she said. “The GR Solaris seemed like more of a family resort with lots of kid activities available but for those really looking for privacy, there are tons of adult only resorts available. Those who want to try something more local should definitely visit Playa del Carmen. It was a beautiful little city with so much to do around it.”
And as for the hotels themselves, the couple said both rooms were perfectly nice, and while the GR Solaris was set up more for families the Acanto was quiet and perfect for honeymooners. But the biggest difference was in the food.
“Since GR Solaris was all-inclusive the food was endless but also mediocre, but they did have a fancy restaurant called Marco Polo … we spent the evening trying frog legs and snails, that was fun!” Monica said. “The food that was more memorable was in Playa del Carmen. Since the hotel we stayed at was not all-inclusive, we were forced to venture out and try the local food. Our ultimate favorite meal, which we ate several times, was a local taco stand right by our hotel called Yo Amo Tacos. Our ultimate favorite was the chorizo tacos. Anthony later asked for a ‘chorizo breakfast burrito’ even though it wasn’t on the menu and they did it!”
The couple’s final tip for anyone planning a honeymoon in Cancun or Playa del Carmen: “Rent a scooter!”
Planning a trip to Cancun? Get more advice here with our 42 Tips for a Cancun Honeymoon.
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