De-Stressing on the Beaches of Cancun

The month of January was pretty rough on me. Life was great, but I had tons of extra work at my office job, plus my usual freelance blogging work. I was working a lot at home after office hours, and I was tired.

Just last week, Jorge started teaching high school math for the first time. (YAY!) He loves giving classes, but writing up his lesson plans took up many, many hours of his time.

To escape the stress of Monday through Friday, we decided to spend Saturday goofing around. One of my favorite things about living in Cancun is that on any given weekend, I can just let loose, escape and pretend like I’m a tourist. We spent most of the afternoon at Delfines Beach (where I took my pelican photos), which has the brightest blue water in all of Cancun, even if the waves are a little rough. There were parasailers on the ocean, kids flying kites on the beach… it’s as if the beach knew I wanted to take pictures of it!

*Note: I didn’t edit the colors of the ocean. That’s God’s artwork, not mine!*

The best photo of the day goes to this one of Jorge.

Hottest math teacher ever.

Pelicans on Vacation

Little known fact about me: I am obsessed with pelicans.

I’m not exactly sure why… I think it’s because they love the beach as much as I do, they have a huge wingspan and they do some pretty cool dives.

Imagine my joy this past weekend when Jorge and I came across some pelicans on the beach in Cancun. They even stopped to pose for me! Check out our photo shoot:

More beach pics to come later this week!

The First Cancun Beach Day of 2013

I was lucky enough to have January 1 off from work, so I begged Jorge to go to the Hotel Zone with me. After our trip to Virginia for Christmas, warm weather was sounding pretty good!

I brought along my brand new camera (a Nikon 1 J1, Christmas present from Jorge) to experiment. It’s been difficult getting used to the angles because of the wider frame, but by the end of the afternoon the photos were improving.

Forum Beach: I guess everyone else in the city had the day off because this beach was packed!

Chac Mool Beach: This lesser-known beach was a lot quieter. The photos were taken around sunset, so they’re not as bright but still beautiful. I didn’t even stage the footprint photos… everything was already there. 🙂 Perfect.

I’m loving the lighting and colors on this new camera. Everything I see with my eye is exactly what shows up on the camera without needing to do any manual adjustments. (My previous camera had a hard time with bright sunlight and evening light, so this was a welcome change.)

I’d been wanting a more professional camera for awhile and was lusting after some of the larger cameras with the changeable lenses. However, I went on a tour with other bloggers recently and saw everyone else carrying around a big camera bag, which made me realize I DIDN’T want that. I looked around online for more portable options and found the Nikon 1, which has the lenses I want but it’s still about the same size as my point-and-shoot. Perfect for taking more “fancy” pictures while still being small enough to just throw it in my purse!

I got the sexy red one.

I feel like a real blogger now.

Playa del Carmen’s Bright Green Beaches

This week is Playa del Carmen Week here on the blog, and boy do I have tons of pictures for you guys!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Playa del Carmen (or “Playa”, as the locals call it) is located in the middle of the Riviera Maya, a 1 hour drive down the coastal highway from Cancun. The island of Cozumel, a popular dive destination, is set just off the coast of Playa del Carmen.

Jorge and I took the ADO bus down to Playa del Carmen on Friday evening for a 2-night stay with Xperience hotels, which was lovely! I’ll be blogging all about our trip throughout the week, with hotel reviews, restaurant reviews and more.

Let’s brighten up Monday with some beach photos, shall we?

 

Wah Wah Beach Club

We had lunch Saturday afternoon at Wah Wah Beach Club, located by the southern end of Playa’s main pedestrian street, Quinta Avenida. It was a bright and sunny day, but on the horizon there were heavy storm clouds over the island of Cozumel. In some of these shots, you can even see the curtains of rain way off in the distance.

(click to enlarge)

 

Mamita’s Beach Club

Jorge and I spent Sunday morning at Mamita’s, Playa del Carmen’s most well-known beach club, located at Calle 28 near the northern end of Quinta Avenida. It was a beautiful, beautiful day with tons of fluffy clouds!

squinting into the sun!

I love how green the water is in Playa. Cancun’s ocean has more of a turquoise blue that I love, but there’s something special about the bright emerald green!

So tell us … What’s your favorite beach?

Sunday at Isla Blanca Beach

Let’s go to the beach -each,

Let’s go get away.

Those are the lyrics I listened to while I packed our backpack for our beach trip yesterday. Nothing works like Nicki Minaj to get me pumped for a day out!

I’ve always heard great things about Isla Blanca, a beautiful spot just up the coast from Cancun. It’s a mostly virgin area, with just a few mansions set along the beach along with 1 or 2 restaurants. The drive from downtown Cancun took about an hour, first passing through Puerto Juarez then heading north along a jungle-lined highway filled with pink flowers. Eventually, the highway turns into a rough, winding path through the jungle that takes you to an almost untouched beach and lagoon.

We parked the car on the side of the road and were immediately greeted by the loud chirping of bugs all around us. I’d never heard bugs that noisy, and it was so cool being in the middle of nowhere.

Spotting the bright turquoise water on the horizon, I knew the trek north would be worth it.

We had arrived before most of the crowds and had our choice of spots on the sand. To lay out our pareos, we had to clear some of the seaweed out of the way. Then, Jorge turned on our iPod speakers and we took in the scenery while listening to some Sugar Ray and reggae.

The water itself was ideal: crystal clear! There were no plants underfoot and the temperature was cool but not too cold. It’s no secret that Jorge and I hate waves, but the waves here were soft enough not to be a problem. We also had some pretty good views of Isla Mujeres and Cancun’s Hotel Zone off in the distance.

After a swim or 2, the blogger in me had the urge to explore. I walked to the nearby lagoon and a bit up the beach, and found tons of beautiful sights!

Taken from the beach, with the lagoon on the horizon

The lagoon

The only negatives of this beach were the large amounts of seaweed on the beach and the lack of shade. Other than that, it was amazing. No beach is perfect, right?

Our little group of friends filled the afternoon with napping, exploring, swimming and snacks before trekking back to Cancun. I loved the untouched feel of Isla Blanca, and I hope to make it back someday.

 

Gringation’s Isla Blanca Tips:

  • Sunscreen. Always.
  • Umbrella. A secluded, untouched beach also means no beach club, so loungers and umbrellas are in short supply. There was lots of jungle, but alas no palm trees for shade. Bringing along your own umbrella is a great idea if you’re not used to a lot of sun.
  • Snacks and several large bottles of water. Again, a secluded beach means hardly any restaurants.
  • Got a well-behaved dog? Bring him along! We saw tons of people with their dogs on this beach, and it looked like so much fun. Just make sure to be near some shade and to supply plenty of fresh water for your pet.
  • Pocket change. There was a bathroom area on our stretch of beach. Cost: $5 pesos
  • Go on a weekday. We went on a Sunday, and tons of locals showed up by early afternoon. Luckily there was still plenty of room right by where we were, but certain areas got quite crowded.

 

Jam-Packed Anniversary Weekend

Yesterday our 2 year wedding anniversary!

Despite the fact that Jorge had to work all day Saturday, It still turned out to be a really great anniversary weekend. Very very late Saturday night, we tried a new little bar in downtown Cancun called The Beer Box, located at Galerias Infinity. It was perfect for a quiet night out, and the service was great.

Jorge may or may not have had 2 1/2 of these pitchers.

They have some $10 peso shots that we made sure to try. They had a blue one with vodka and Bacardi that I loved, along with these mango vodka shots. (I wasn’t a big fan because I hate powdered chile. Hate hate hate.)

Our mango shots, with vodka and powdered chile

Some friends caught up with us later that night, but the bar was preparing to close. Even though we were about to leave, they insisted that we could stay. So the guys had another beer pitcher while the servers took down the tables and mopped up.

Sunday, Jorge and I went to Isla Mujeres for the day. On a whim, Jorge mentioned he wanted to walk around the streets of Isla’s downtown area, something we never do. We were pleasantly surprised.

We saw a new location of one of our favorite Cancun restaurants, Los de Pescado, right by the main square, so we ordered a delicious and cheap lunch of fish tacos and shrimp burritos on their terrace.

So many diet rules were broken. And it was so worth it.

After lunch, we strolled down Avenida Hidalgo, which was like a smaller, less crazy version of Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen. Jorge and I made a mental note to try some of the restaurants on our next trip.

At the end of Avenida Hidalgo, we walked through to Playa Norte. It was such a hot afternoon that we didn’t even lie out on the sand, like usual. We just dropped our bag on the sand and ran into the ocean.

Then I snapped a few pictures to share on my Facebook page, of course. One of the hazards of being a blogger is constant picture taking, but I controlled myself a little this time.

Jorge had been dying for an ice cream all day, and a quick walk back down Avenida Hidalgo took us to a little gelato shop we’d seen right under Los de Pescado. This shop was called Parad-Ice Cream. So adorable! I wish I’d thought to take a picture, but I was so excited about my Ferrero Rocher and Tiramisu ice cream cone that I totally spaced.

Ice cream in hand, we walked one block over to the boardwalk area, sat on a bench and watched the waves.

Back in Cancun, we spent a few hours with Jorge’s family, got tortas from our favorite food stand and watched 2 episodes of The Mentalist. Definitely a busy and memorable day!

What did you do this weekend?

 

Day Off on Isla Mujeres

 

**I’ve been featured in a guest post at CancunIsSafe.com again!! Check out my Top 5 Tips for Summer Break in Cancun.**

 

Jorge’s work schedule was changed to the evening shift, so I didn’t see him much at all during the week. However, they gave him Sunday off, which is also my day off! Hurray!

There was beautiful weather on Sunday, so we took the ferry over to Isla Mujeres for a much-needed beach day on Playa Norte (North Beach).

Here are the best pics of the day:

On the ferry

On the ferry

Marina

Our palm tree

My question for you today: Have you gotten sunburned yet this year? (’cause I sure did!)

 

Sunday at Cancun’s Playa Delfines

Jorge and I spent Sunday at Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) in Cancun. It has been years since we hung out at the beach in the Hotel Zone! Usually we prefer Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen or Puerto Morelos, but I’m glad we finally came around and decided to enjoy our city for once.

Sunday in Playa del Carmen

This Friday, Jorge and I will have our 1-year wedding anniversary… I know, time flies, right? Since we’re booked up with plans for our friends’ wedding next weekend, we decided to celebrate yesterday by heading down to Playa del Carmen for the day.

We had a late night Saturday (bachelor and bachelorette parties) and didn’t wake up until 12:30 pm! We didn’t arrive in Playa until about 4 in the afternoon… which actually worked out great because we avoided the heat!

After a quick late lunch at Subway, we walked down to the beach. Jorge and I aren’t huge fans of the water in Playa del Carmen (we’re too spoiled from all or trips to Isla Mujeres), but you can’t beat the vibe of Playa! There were acoustic artists and bands playing at the nearby beach clubs, providing us with a great soundtrack to our afternoon.

Once the sun started to go down, we walked up and down Playa’s 5th Avenue (great for people watching!), then decided to try Wicky’s Beach Club for dinner since so many people have recommended it. It had very cool modern design, and a great location set right on the beach. When we sat down and looked at the menu, however, we realized it was a bit out of our price range for the day (embarrassing! although I suspect it’s more affordable at lunchtime), so we just ordered some smoothies. I highly recommend the blackberry smoothie. It blew me away!

Shamed by our lack of cash, Jorge and I decided to go to an old favorite… 100% Natural. This beautiful outdoor restaurant is filled with towering trees and vines, giving it a jungle-like atmosphere. As always, I had to test out my nighttime photography skills. Definitely improving! (sort of)

I had garlic shrimp with veggies (I have never had such fresh, delicious veggies in all my time in Mexico! I’ve never been so happy to see a green bean) with agua de jamaica, while Jorge got some kind of immense and amazing chicken sandwich.

By then it was pretty late, so we walked back to the bus station and made our way back to Cancun. I think I’m the only person in history who has ever been SAD to return to Cancun… what can I say, I love Playa del Carmen!