Perfect for an Active Winter Getaway
Contributing Travel Editor
The sun sets over calming waters lapping at the crescent-shaped beach.
A full day of heat and time spent playing in the refreshing Caribbean Sea is about to shift to night, with its warm breezes and brilliant shining moon.
Such is the daily rhythm of Cancun, and we smile broadly as we set out for our evening meal. This is just what we needed. Winter has just arrived back home in New Jersey, but here we are, enjoying a romantic week of fabulous Mexican food and adventurous activities in the great outdoors in the Yucatan Peninsula.
The main resort area of Cancun is the Hotel Zone, and this is where you can find a range of resorts, from all-inclusive luxury properties to more budget friendly options. All offer the convenience and ideal location on beautiful strips of beach right in the heart of the action. Average water temperature hovers around 80 degrees throughout the entire year -- yes, even in winter.
I come with my wife to escape the cold and to recharge from our hectic day-to-day lives back in the northeastern U.S. Cancun is a resort city on the Yucatan Peninsula, and weather isn't the only thing that is warm in this region. The people are unfailingly friendly and eagerly help us with our continuing attempts to master Spanish.
Most of these tutoring sessions occur as we order our meals at one of the hundreds of restaurants serving our favorite style of cuisine. We would travel here just for the salsas!
Our resort in the heart of the city is merely a launching point for all the other activities that we enjoy during our winter getaways in Cancun. Transportation is cheap and easy to use, and we take the bus (it's about $1 per trip) to downtown for shopping and the best dining options. Go to the food stalls at Parque Las Palapas and eat authentic fresh-prepared foods alongside residents out grabbing their daily lunches. You can fill up on tacos, tamales and so much more for astonishingly low prices.
All along the peninsula you also can find tons of outdoors activities to enjoy. It's worth a day to explore the fascinating Mayan ruin sites of Coba and Tulum. Coba is a huge place and an archaeological wonder that remains largely unexcavated amid the dense jungle. Wide roads shaded by huge trees feed to the centerpiece of the destination: Nohoch Mol. The giant pyramid rises 137 feet and is the highest on the Yucatan Peninsula. You can ascend the 120 steps (careful, they are slippery from centuries of use) to see for miles above the jungle canopy. Coba also has many other structures – temples, sports arenas, and residences -- that help tell the tale of daily life.
Tulum is among the most famous ruins in the region, and it is interesting to tour the site. But make sure to go down to spend time at the beach, which is a secret gem of the property and offers incredible swimming and views back up the hill to the ruins.
Another unique activity is swimming in cenotes. These are sacred underground swimming holes formed by natural sinkhole in the limestone bedrock throughout the region. We were blessed by a shaman in a ceremony, before we descended by rappelling line to the cool waters.
We also have explored the lakes in kayaks and ziplined through the trees. The Yucatan Peninsula is truly an outdoor haven.
Cancun sits just across the water from the charming Isla Mujeres. You can reach the island with a quick ferry ride and settle in to the slower pace of life (it's a great spot for diving and snorkeling). The island is four and half miles long and not even a half-mile wide, and like many other visitors, we rent a golf cart to tool around from end to end of the strip, stopping for snorkeling or chips, guacamole and beers as the mood strikes.
Then, we return to our resort on the main island in time for a couples massage as the sun sets once again in this paradise.
John Roberts is a fitness-focused travel writer and operator of the website: