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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Where to stay in Cancun, Mexico

My first time in Mexico was the perfect mix of relaxing and adventurous. I got to experience many new things like snorkeling as well as spending time relaxing on the beach, reading my book and drinking by the pool. Visiting Mexico has been somewhere I've wanted to go for a while and was my first trip after getting vaccinated against COVID. To go to Mexico you don't need proof of vaccination to get in or a negative COVID test, but you do need one to get back to the United States. We did a 7-day trip, which my friends had started planning a few months ahead of time.

I took this trip with some friends from school as a post-graduation trip. So we were ready to have some fun, excitement and relaxation as a treat for finishing college in a pandemic.

During our trip to Mexico, we ended up staying in two different places. This wasn't on purpose at all but by the time we were going to book our flights the prices were much cheaper to go two days before we originally planned so we figured why not, we would rather pay for an extra few days than an extra expensive flight.

We first stayed at the Hotel Casa Maya, which was in Cancun's hotel zone. We got a private car to the hotel which cost us about $25 USD each from the Cancun Internation airport, and to save some money you can also schedule the trip back. I found the hotel on Expedia for about $75 USD per night and it had a lot of 4+ star reviews, which made it a great choice for us.

I really enjoyed this hotel! The rooms were pretty standard, nothing over the top but it was

Look at the beach!

nice and clean. The beds were comfy and the bathroom was a good size and clean as well. The best part of the resort was the pool and beach area. There was a giant pool and there were also jacuzzis and hot tubs. The beach was beautiful! The water was clear for the most part and though there's been a lot of seaweed in Cancun lately, the hotel took steps to clean it.

Though it wasn't all-inclusive there were so many good food options around because the location is right near the hotel zone. We were able to get around very easily through taxis for a pretty low cost and when we wanted to save a little more we even tried taking the bus to downtown Cancun, which in a word; HECTIC.

I really enjoyed the stay here! The hotel was nice, the beach was great and the location was amazing. Plus, it was a great value, which made the deal even sweeter.

After a few days there we moved to location numero 2; the All-inclusive, Now Sapphire Resort in Puerto Morales, which is about 30 minutes from the airport and about 40 minutes from downtown Cancun.

The resort was gorgeous to drive up to. It had a tall gate and as soon as we got in everyone who worked there was friendly and helpful. While we were checking in they gave us drinks and snacks to keep us happy, which I obviously was. While we waited for our room to be ready we hung out around the pool area.

The resort has a main pool, which had a swim-up bar, a water park-like area with slides and games, as well as an adult pool which had cabanas and my favorite, a poolside bar.

The experience at the resort was for the most part enjoyable. There were many different activities that the resort had to offer. We did volleyball, Zumba, Water Aerobics, dance parties and sailing off the beach. There were also various shows in the theater and outside in the pool area. Most nights we ate and hung out at the bar. They often had a DJ playing in the main area which turned into a dance party and was a fun way to spend the evening. Though the pools and the resort itself were in great shape, one thing that was extremely disappointing was the condition of the beach.

Beach covered in piles of seaweed

The beach was completely covered in seaweed and smelled like it too! Nothing like the first place we stayed at. We had to leave the resort to have an enjoyable beach day and while that is not completely the fault of the resort, many other hotels and resorts take some steps to get rid of some of the seaweed on the beach, although given the amount maybe it wasn't possible.

Another helpful feature of the resort was the concierges who helped us plan excursions. They helped us to plan a cenote experience and a catamaran experience for the best price and included transportation to and from the hotel which was harder to find online because of the further location of the hotel.

The food on the resort was decent, some was definitely better than others. For breakfast, we went to either the preferred club breakfast restaurant or the buffet. In the restaurant, they had a Mexican breakfast with eggs, fruit and quesadillas as well as some other options. At the buffet, they had to order omelets and some of the days they had made to order crepes. For lunch, they had pasta, pizza, burgers and nachos near the pool area but you could also go into the restaurant for lunch with tacos, sandwiches, and other food.

My favorite dinner restaurant on the resort was of course the Mexican food restaurant and I also really enjoyed the Asian food restaurant. One night we did the hibachi dinner which included lobster, shrimp, tuna, steak and other meat as well as a sushi appetizer and dessert. Besides the hibachi dinner, the Asian restaurant had sushi, which was good and I had pad thai, which was not my favorite. Overall, I did enjoy the food and the all-inclusive also included the drinks so that was a big plus.

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience at Now Sapphire and would recommend it for anyone looking for a nice get-away. One thing to be conscious of is that this is not near the downtown Cancun area if you are looking to go to clubs and the main shopping centers. Other than that it was a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Though Now Sapphire was a more luxurious (and expensive!) experience, for me Hotel Casa Maya would barely edge it out. I enjoyed the beach there much more and the ability to go around downtown Cancun and although the resort food was pretty good the restaurants around Casa Maya were definitely better and pretty affordable as well.

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