Last month big sister was here for another visit. I really wanted her to see Isla Mujeres, so we went on the Royal Garrafon VIP Tour which is run by Dolphin Discovery.
Garrafon Park is located on the southern end of Isla Mujeres, close to Punta Sur, the southernmost point of the island and the highest point on the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s also the first place the sun touches the country of Mexico each morning.
The park is built into the side of the island, and the views are absolutely spectacular. It was really windy the day we went, so we didn’t go snorkeling or kayaking, and since I had done the zipline before, I didn’t do that either. But the good thing about Garrafon Park is that it is a place where you can spend the day relaxing and taking in the breathtaking views.
The boat ride to Isla Mujeres is always wonderful.
I really wanted the kids to see Punta Sur, and the Mayan Ruin that is there, so we headed there as soon as we got to Garrafon. It was really beautiful, but it was much farther than I thought and really, really hot outside. There is a bike tour, so that might be a better option next time.
When we got back to the park we went directly to the VIP deck. There is an indoor lounge, a small deck with a pool and a larger deck that is only for adults.
The view from the adults only deck…
Bebé wanted to hang out in the larger infinity pool downstairs so we spent most of our time there.
I am so proud of myself, I totally photoshopped a guy out of this picture…
There is a buffet restaurant that is included with the tour, but we decided to eat at the snack bar, which serves hamburgers, hot dogs, wings, and the like (also included).
Then Bebé spotted the bungee trampoline. We spent about an hour here!
It was a little hazy, maybe because it was so windy, but here is a view of the zip lines. They are the only ones in the area that take you over the Caribbean Sea.
The Royal Garrafon VIP Tour is a convenient way for vacationers to see a little of Isla Mujeres. Oh and there is beer on the boat ride back to Cancun… score!
A couple of weeks ago Bebé and I spent 3 glorious nights at the Moon Palace Golf & Spa All Inclusive Beach Resort. Oh how I have grown to love all inclusive resorts!
To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the Moon Palace. It’s huge… three full all inclusive resorts in one. But…
it was spectacular!
The Moon Palace is made up of the Sunrise, Nizuc and Grand sections. We stayed in the Grand section, which is much smaller and quieter than the other two. It was the perfect place to go back to after a busy day and/or fun evening.
However, when we weren’t in our HUGE room, we spent most of our time at Nizuc and Sunrise. It is a lovely walk along the beach (there’s a boardwalk) during the day between sections. We would walk to Nizuc, spend awhile there, and then continue on to Sunrise.
The Grand’s pool
Photo by Bebé
A dramatic pose??
Bebé and I both LOVED the waterslide at Nizuc. He is no longer afraid of big waterslides and went down at least 50 times.
Can you see him in the water near the bottom of the slide?
Bebé loves to play basketball, but the pool was too deep for him to stand, so the activities staff moved it so he could shoot baskets for awhile. I found the Moon Palace staff to be friendly, helpful and courteous. They always went out of their way to help, for instance, in the a la carte restaurants they would bring Bebé chicken nuggets (yes, yes I know, I am a horrible mother) even though they weren’t on the menu.
The FlowRider, a surfing machine (for lack of a better description) is in the Sunrise section. I was pretty sure Bebé was not going to try it, the water is very powerful, but after watching for 10-15 minutes, he wanted to know if he could do it. Again, the activities staff were awesome and helped him so he could try both the boogie and surf boards. (I didn’t post the video of the first time he tried it where he was kind of terrified and half yelling, “Mom! Mom!”)
The Sunrise section also has this little waterpark for kids…
The Playrooms or kids clubs were so cool. I should know because we spent hours in them. There is a very large one at Nizuc and a smaller one at Sunrise. There is also a teens club called Wired.
Each night (after a nap) we would get all dressed up, go to a nice dinner (gotta go a la carte all the way, really yummy) and go to a show. Bebé loves a show! The first night we saw the circus show, the second night Michael Jackson, and the third night traditional Mexican dancing (which Bebé chose over the fire show). All of the performances were really professional.
The second night I didn’t feel like going straight back to the room after the show, so we hung out in the lobby bar of Nizuc and I drank wine and Bebé played with his tablet and ate chips (again, crappy mom). It was so much fun and he is so spoiled. The lobby bars are surprisingly lively and it’s fun to spend time in them.
After I exhausted the resort’s supply of white wine, I had a margarita.
My Bebé is really fun to go on vacation with (most of the time, let’s be honest he is five and has his moments).
Almost forgot, one of the best things about the resort is the cafe they have in both the Nizuc and Sunrise sections (the one is Nizuc is better) where you can get pastries, cookies (get the plain ones, they are to die for), ice cream, coffee, sandwiches, crepes… to eat there or to go. HEAVEN.
Feel like staying at the Moon Palace now? Yeah you totally should!!
I have lived in Cancun for 14 years, and I have always wanted to dine at La Habichuela, a legendary restaurant in downtown Cancun that has been open since 1977.
The owner, Armando Pezzoti, opened the restaurant in what was once his home. It’s almost as old as Cancun is!
I finally got the chance to dine at La Habichuela, and I’m happy to share that it was worth the wait. This Cancun dining institution lived up to it’s stellar reputation. The restaurant is located on Calle Margaritas in Parque las Palapas.
La Habichuela is known for it’s cuisine, service and ambiance, and it delivers on all three counts. The garden is so charming!
Ordering a margarita is a must. Please don’t order a frozen one. A margarita should be enjoyed on the rocks with a salt rim.
The food was incredible. Really. The dishes, based on family recipes, are prepared with tender care and incorporate Mexican and Mayan ingredients, some of which have been used for thousands of years and have rich histories in Mexican culture. The service is attentive yet not annoying.
There are so many wonderful choices. It would be a good idea to dine with a lot of friends and share. The Cocobichuela (entree, lobster and shrimp in curry sauce served in a coconut with rice and tropical fruits) and the Kukulcan Pyramid (dessert, drool) should not be missed.
Of course if you’re not on the mood for a chocolate pyramid, they offer loads of other scrumptious desserts.
La Habichuela actually invented the Mayan coffee, which I missed this time, but I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll try it at La Habichuela Sunset, located in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. Can’t wait!
I want to thank my amiga @CancunCanuck for this photo, and for suffering through this experience with me.
We’ve been to Xcaret countless times, but it never gets old. The park is huge and you’d have to spend a few days in a row there to really take advantage of all it has to offer.
I really wanted Bebé’s big sister (she has been here for an extended visit, her first time outside of Cuba) to see Xcaret , especially the new night show, Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, and since she is leaving to return to Cuba soon, we went last Saturday.
After walking through the tempting gift shop (seriously they have the cutest stuff in there) we took the customary arrival picture. Notice the flamingos and parrots in the background.
Since I now know the park pretty well now, and we arrived in the afternoon and didn’t plan on doing any of the (awesome) water activities, I knew we wanted to hit the aquarium first, but not before we took some pictures on the ancient Mayan structures that are part of the park.
When we arrived at the aquarium, they were starting a “swim with the sharks” session and Bebé was loving it, so we hung around there for awhile and then headed inside.
Next we visited the sea turtles. They are sooo big. Really mindblowing.
On our way to the cemetary, we stopped by the beach area. I have never been able to take advantage of this part of Xcaret. It is really beautiful.
Then we took a nice hike through the jungle on the stone paths (one must wear comfortable walking shoes to Xcaret) to my favorite part of the park, the cemetary. This is almost a pyramid-type structure, with seven levels for the days of the week. There are 365 graves that symbolize each day of the year, and at the main entrance the staircase has 52 steps representing each week of the year.
Then we headed to the Mayan Village, just steps away, and got a good seat for the Dance of the Mayan Village, which is truly stunning.
It was now about 5:30pm, and there was so much more to see! After the Dance of the Mayan Village we saw the equestrian show, and went 80 meters up in the scenic tower, something Bebé and I had never done before. Then it was time to get our snacks and seats for Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.
And it certainly is spectacular, breathtaking, awe-inspiring. We hadn’t seen the new version of the show yet, which has been infused with hi-tech elements, but not in a way that takes away from the beauty of the show.
The show begins with the entire audience holding lit candles, including Bebé. Love his face here.
Most of my photos of the show were unshareable, so I’ll share a few of Xcaret’s pictures.
Photo: Xcaret Park
Photo: Xcaret Park
Photo: Xcaret Park
Photo: Xcaret Park
The show is over two hours long and incorporates some 300 dancers and actors. It inspires chills, laughs, and sometimes tears, and filled me with pride for my adopted country.
Another one bites the dust! My friend and fellow Mexico travel blogger / social media chica Miss (soon to be Mrs.) Jessica Seba aka @MexicanatheartJ is gettin’ hitched! (Well actually she got hitched on Saturday.)
Can you think of a better place to have a Bachelorette Party than in Cancun on a luxury yacht? I can’t!
So last Saturday Jessica and some of her craziest female (and one male) family members and friends, including yours truly and my mommy, boarded the Sea Horse of Sunset Marina Admiral Yacht Club & Marina for a 4 hour cruise. The first order of the day? Mimosas!
We were a little worried about the weather… it wasn’t that ideal clear day that you’re hoping for when you have outdoor plans, but we got lucky and it didn’t rain. Plus, no sunburn!
We made our way through Nichupte Lagoon and once we got out onto the Caribbean the games began. I must admit, I don’t normally like games at these event-type parties but I really enjoyed them. Jessica’s cousin did a super job.
Dirty cherades was especially fun. @CancunCanuck shows us here… two (dirty) words!
Had never played the toilet paper wedding dress game before! And my team won!
Photo: Jessica Seba
The boat was full of social media chicas, so there were a lot of selfies taken… here is @CancunGringa looking gorgeous!
And here I am with @BeccaMex…
We spent most of the time anchored at the northern end of Isla Mujeres. The island is so very beautiful, even on a cloudy day.
Some of the girls (and the boy) went swimming… here are @CancunGringa and @MarhuBarreto enjoying the clear, shallow water.
4 hours gave us plenty of time to just hang out and chat too, and of course take lots of pictures and shots… a lot of shots.
@CancunCancun & @MarhuBaretto
@CancunGringa, The Bachelorette @MexicanatHeartJ & @CancunCanuck (and her drink) and I.
@CancunCanuck & @MexicanatHeartJ
When it was time to head back the music got louder and so did we. Bye Isla Mujeres!
It is really difficult to dance on a moving yacht.
I haven’t laughed so hard or taken so many shots in long time. I noticed that in @CancunGringa’s post about the Bachelorette Party, she mentioned that she napped the rest of the day. Some of us had to go home and take care of our kids. But well, she’s pregnant so I’ll have my revenge. 😀
Congratulations Jessica! Thanks for including us in your special celebration!
It’s something that a lot of us think about, but don’t like to talk about… getting older and how to look younger. I am part of the generation of sun worshipers… in fact, I used to drench myself in baby oil and lie on a metallic silver blanket every chance I got. I also smoked for years. It’s like I was intentionally trying to cause wrinkles!
I am trying to accept getting older, to grow old gracefully, but there are just some things that are unacceptable. For the most part I can handle the smile lines around my eyes, and my face isn’t that saggy… yet. But it seems like overnight I developed lines around my mouth that were making me really self-conscious. Others probably didn’t notice them… yet. But I could imagine what they were going to turn into if I didn’t do something about them.
I spoke to a friend about it, and it turned out that she has a friend who is a very well-respected (in all of Mexico, not just Cancun) physician who specializes in aesthetic medicine.
Medicial tourism is becoming very popular in Cancun. Many vacationers come from Canada and the U.S. and while they’re here they, you know, get a little something done. Whether it’s a dental procedure or a cosmetic procedure, they have time to rest and recover, and well, if they choose, the whole thing can remain a secret.
That’s where Med Spa Cancun comes in. Turns out my friend’s friend, Jenny Loria, has been the medical director of Med Spa Cancun, located in The Royal Sands resort at km. 13.5 in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, for 7 years. She has been named by Allergan (makers of Botox, Juvederm, etc.) among the 5 best aesthetic doctors in Mexico. She is also one of Allergan’s speakers and trainers in their “Allergan Academy” Training Seminars. She normally assists at 3 worldwide seminars per year, which are held in different parts of Mexico, USA and Europe.
This lady, my friends, knows her stuff. And her work is natural and subtle too, no fish lips here!
So I figured, if I am going to do anything, I should do it at Med Spa Cancun.
Med Spa Cancun offers:
Visia Facial Analysis (complexion evaluation)
Thermage (skin tightening and cellulite reduction)
Fractional CO2 laser (reverse premature aging)
Botox (wrinkle reducer)
Juviderm/Restylane (filler & lip enhancer)
Vycross (long lasting filler)
Microdermabrasion (skin condition improvment)
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (skin rejuvination)
Mesotherapy (cellulite and reduction treatment)
Dzugan Physio Logic (a new logical approach to health)
Because Med Spa Cancun offers reasonable prices and is located in a resort, they have a lot of repeat customers that return year after year. They also serve guests of other hotels and locals as well.
Who wouldn’t love a place that has a Botox Christmas tree?
Oh, are you wondering if I got a little something done??? Well I probably wouldn’t be posting about Med Spa Cancun if I didn’t, but I’ll never tell. A lady never reveals her secrets. 😉
Med Spa Phone: 52 (998) 881 0100 ext. 65906
Med Spa Website: www.medspacancun.com
And here’s a little more info about Jenny…
Dr. Jenny Loría Muñoz M.D., Director of Aesthetic Services
Dr. Loría graduated as a medical surgeon from the University del Mayab in Mérida, Yucatán. After completing her internship at the Ignacio Garcia Tellez IMSS Hospital in Mérida and her Social Service requirement in Playa del Carmen, Dr. Loría worked as a Medical Director in a Spa and a Laser Clinic and has taken advanced courses in Thalassotherapy, Medical Aesthetic, Cosmetic Laser therapies and Anti-aging medicine. She also has diplomas in Anti-Aging Medicine and Aesthetic medicine from SCMME (Sociedad Científica Mexicana de Medicina Estética/Mexican Society of Aesthetic Medicine, endorsed by the National Autonomous University of Mexico and UIME) and Spa Administration from La Salle University. Dr. Loría specializes in minimally invasive aesthetic and cosmetic procedures with expertise in Thermage, Botox, Platelets Rich in Plasma, IPL Photo Rejuvenation, Laser Collagen Enhancement and Acne Treatment, Microdermabrasion, Laser Vein Removal, Mesotherapy and SmartLipo. She is U.S.-certified for all FDA-approved treatments. She speaks fluent English and Spanish.
Bebé and I recently stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya again, for four glorious nights! Without recounting every minute of our visit, I’d like to share what we love about this rockin’ resort, located just south of Playa del Carmen in Puerto Aventuras.
The kayaks, the snorkeling, it’s all included, and located in a tranquil, protected, turquoise blue cove.
Someone offered to take a picture of us when we were kayaking. #thanks
It doesn’t get much better than this.
It’s huge, features a big swim-up pool bar and waterslide, and has many different sections, so you can choose between peace and quiet and lots of activity.
The kids club has a full schedule of activities, meals and shows all day. There are daily activities in the pool and beach areas. The night shows are thoroughly entertaining. Karaoke with a live band was just one of the highlights. Bebé made me sing and I chose Bob Marley.
There is a variety of restaurants, not to mention the buffet, room service and the serve yourself snack bar by the pool. In addition, they will grant special requests, for instance, chicken nuggets in the Asian restaurant.
They were building the Agave Veranda during our visit, can’t wait to see how it turns out! (Don’t know if she’d like it but I loved this Frida mural.)
And if all that isn’t enough, the new Music Lab is a unique program unlike anything offered by other resorts. Guests can film a music video, learn to DJ or play in a rock band. Professionals help with the process and the best equipment is utilized. In the evening, participants show off their new skills in the Sun Bar. It’s hard to believe, but there is not an extra charge for Music Lab.
The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is a super cool choice for a modern family vacation.
Once again Xcaret’s Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte was a joyful, colorful, creepy, rousing success. Bebé and I attended on Saturday. Each year a different Mexican state is showcased. This year it was Michoacan. The Festival features some 250 exhibits which include theater productions; musical, dance and multidisciplinary performances; audiovisual presentations; a Catholic mass; children’s activities; expositions and exhibitions; a parade (which takes place on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen); and traditional Day of the Dead food.
La Catrina (a Day of the Dead icon) is always there to greet visitors at the main entrance…
Each year I have more fun getting into the spirit of the event, so I bought a new traditional blouse and put festive flowers in my hair. I planned to get my make-up done at the Ultrafemme stand, where they were doing gorgeous intricate work, but alas, the line was looong, too long to wait in with a 5 year old. So we smeared on some paint from one of the stands they have throughout the park. For the first time ever Bebé wanted his face painted.
Normally we go to the cemetary first, before it gets crowded, but since it was Saturday, there was already a long line, so we headed to check out the altars.
We went to three performances this year, a record for us. The first one was about a family of “calaveras” or skeletons, in other words, a family of dead people. Then we went to see a performance by a Michocan dance troupe and then the Game of Life, a story and performance of an ancient Mayan ball game. The only good picture I got of the performances was this one, of the dance troupe. Both of us loved all of the performances, or shows as Bebé calls them, that we saw.
It is important to note that the traditional Day of the Dead food at the festival is absolutely delicious and reasonably priced. I should know. I ate a lot of it.
And just for fun, I wanted to share a few of Xcaret’s gorgeous pictures…
The drive to Xcaret is kind of long from Cancun, especially on the way back late at night, but we might have to attend the Festival two days next year!
Dia de Muertos aka Day of the Dead, is my favorite Mexican holiday. Before I moved to Mexico my entire experience with Day of the Dead consisted of an ex-boyfriend giving me a sugar skull, and when I first moved to Mexico the whole thing seemed a bit creepy, you know, with all the skeletons and children dressed as dead people.
However after attending Xcaret Park’s Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte a few times, I have discovered the joy and beauty of Dia de Muertos. This is not a celebration of death, but of life and the eternal soul. On November 1 and 2 each year Mexicans remember their beloved that have passed by erecting altars in their homes and visiting the cemetary to decorate gravesites, often spending the entire night there.
Each year I visit Mercado 23 (Market 23) in downtown Cancun to buy dulces (candy) and Bebé’s Halloween costume (Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in Cancun each year). This year I bought a little face paint for the festival as well.
And of course, I take lots of pictures.
I just love these! #tinyfood
Halloween is present at Market 23 as well.
Sweet homemade deliciousness!
I always wonder what they do with the leftover goodies.
Marigolds, the official flower of Dia de Muertos.
Mark my words, one of these years, I am going to create altar in our home! (I may have said this last year as well.)
I would also like to share our Halloween/Day of the Dead pumpkin. I was pretty proud of it, but it was rotten and moldy in less than a week. #tropicalproblems
Bebé’s Halloween costume… it cost a pretty penny but it’s handmade.
A lovely animated feature film about Day of the Dead was released this month. It’s well worth seeing it in the theater.
Last but not least, this colorful, animated short will make you fall in love with Dia de Muertos too! Grab a tissue!
Stay tuned for the post about this year’s Xcaret festival!
I cannot believe it, but my “baby”, Bebé, is five years old!
Like good gringos, we had a party at McDonald’s to celebrate. They have a private area for birthday parties and they provide music and “party girls” (for lack of better words) to lead games. Bebé was thrilled to be the star of the show and thoroughly enjoyed himself.
In case you didn’t know, birthday parties have “themes” nowadays, and Bebé chose Captain America as his theme. (My “theme” was generally a homemade sheet cake and my grandparents coming over for dinner. I was actually going to make a sheet cake but I was terrified there wouldn’t be enough to go around.)
About 20 kids came, and believe it or not, the party was small and humble compared to what a lot of people in Cancun do. It is not uncommon for a middle class family to rent a “jardin”, an outdoor party facility that has a pool, and pay for catering, a bounce house, shows and entertainment, candy tables and if you’re lucky, beer for the parents.
Guests always receive a gift bag. In this case I gave away little toys instead of candy, which is the norm, because well, I figure they already get candy from the piñata.
Speaking of the piñata, this is what we put in it, the necklaces were a total rip-off but a real hit!
Bebé asked for black balloons (!!!???) but I told them multicolored would be great. I love balloons!
Doesn’t he look miserable?
In Mexico it is customary for the birthday boy or girl (or man or woman) to take a “mordida” or bite of the cake after “Las Mañanitas”, the local version of Happy Birthday is sung. Generally someone shoves their face into is as well but we got lucky and nobody did that to Bebé.
Of course Papi was there too. I think everyone enjoyed themselves, most importantly Bebé.