After talking about it for what seemed like an eternity, some of my university friends and I headed to Mexico for a week of fun and relaxation at the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort. It was an amazing week and was more easy and fun than I could have imagined!
The Grand Sirenis is a huge resort about 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, and an hour south of the airport in Cancun. It’s located on an inlet of the Caribbean sea, and boasts some pretty amazing snorkeling right at the resort.
We spent the first few days sitting on the beach, where we went swimming and/or snorkelling most mornings and played volleyball most afternoons. The weather was cooler than we expected for a late January visit, especially at night. I wore a sweater or jacket every evening, and wished I’d had a few more options.
We also tried our hand at archery, which was fun but involved a lot of waiting since we could only go one at a time.
At the end of the week there was a lot of wind, which meant the red flags were flying at the beach and we couldn’t go in the ocean. We stayed by the pool those days, which seemed to be what everyone at the resort decided, since the pool was busier those days.
Two of us made up a scavenger hunt that we all participated in, and included:
I think it goes without saying that people in the resort probably thought we were a little bit crazy, but we didn’t care because it was fun!
We also tried our hand at beer pong and foox, an “extreme” version of foosball with two balls, and took many trips through the lazy river.
We spent one morning snorkeling at Akumel, where there are plenty of sea turtles. While I understand it used to be free, it’s not free anymore. In order to go out into the coral, a $10 for rental equipment and guide is required, and I thought it was very worthwhile. We got to see some of the cool wildlife in the inlet, including a barracuda and plenty of sea turtles, and when we told him where we were staying, our guide said we could go on a little excursion on our own from the resort. Plus, the guides make sure that everyone is following the rules around the coral and wildlife, making sure that they will be there for others to enjoy.
We went on the homemade excursion the next day, and it was perfect. The route takes you through the Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach Resort to the nightclub, which we playfully (and with reason) named the poo poo bar, along the rocky beach to an unnamed (as far as I can tell) inlet where the fresh water from the land mixes with the saltwater from the ocean. It makes for some interesting snorkeling, though I spent a lot of time thinking there was something wrong with my mask.
The buffet at the Grand Sirenis was fine, but we were all a little sick of it by day 3. We were
lucky smart to have our three a-la-carte restaurant reservations at the end of the week, followed by a plan to go into Playa del Carmen for dinner on our last night.
On our final night, we went out to Playa del Carmen for an authentic Mexican meal at La Cueva del Chango, a small, cozy restaurant a little bit off the beaten path. Our server was excellent and made some fantastic recommendations both for food and drinks. I would highly recommend going if you`re ever in the area!
After a short, futile walk into some slightly sketchy parts of town to find some karaoke, we ended up at a small bar, Caiman Tugurio for some drinks and live music. We then continued along 10 Av. Norte, through some loud party areas to the beachside bar and restaurant Fusion, where we sat on the beach and enjoyed more live music. It was the perfect way to end a great week!
The next day proved to be a long one. While we still had a beautiful sunny day, our plane from Toronto was seriously delayed due to a snowstorm, so we spent the majority of the day in the Cancun airport. When we finally boarded, it was directly from the tarmac, since there were no gates available.
Although it was a less than stellar end to a perfect week. I wouldn`t have changed a thing.