All inclusive resorts have their benefits, but they aren’t totally my thing. I like to be on my own timeline, go where I want to, but most importantly I like to shop locally, enjoy the local entertainment and cook some of my own meals now and then. Buffet for every breakfast and lunch can really get boring after a while and often isn’t overly authentic to the destination you chose.

This past March, I went to Puerto Morelos for the second time. It is about 25 minutes from the Cancun airport and the all inclusive resorts in Cancun and about the same distance to the city (where all of the all-inclusive hotels are). It is close enough to that you can venture into the city when you feel like it, but far enough away that you get a more intimate feel.

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely night life. A short walk into town and you are along a strip of restaurants that offer live music and great entertainment. I saw flamenco dancers and even Mayan dancers that sang and danced in the streets while lighting fires ablaze.

Like the all-inclusive hotels, there are excursions offered by many of the local businesses. This trip, I went to the Yucatan to see these beautiful cenotes with stalagmites and stalactites grown from every inch until the cave opens up into the freshest, clearest body of water filled with nutrients I have seen. An hour in the water here could make any problem go away. To get to the cenotes, we walked through the bush, where we were treated to stories about the different types of trees, berries and plants. Many of the plants have natural healing powers like the Ek’ Balam shrub, (Croton flavens L.), which can be used like a liquid bandage similar to Second Skin that we have here.

One thing to note here is that it is good to come prepared. I foolishly wore flip flops which were not the best when climbing down to get to the cenotes. Also, the cenotes in many areas are dark. The travel guide did have some flashlights, but not enough for everyone. One gentleman in the group had a flashlight headband. Not sure how expensive they are, but it looked like the perfect accessory to let you see while keeping your hands free. Like anywhere you go when it is hot, bring water! There was some water provided, but only you know how much you will need, so it is good to have extra.

On the way home from the cenotes, we were taken to have lunch with a traditional Yucatan family. We were taught how to make proper tortillas (although I will say the grandmother had no problem making fun of our abilities), then sat down to fresh cold beers and a beautiful spread.

Lunch is always better when you help make it!

Lunch is always better when you help make it!

Another fun excursion was when I went snorkelling. Puerto Morelos is actually home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef. I had never been snorkelling before and was fortunate enough to go with a group with lots of experience and a positive attitude. Once you get past the strangeness of not breathing out of your nose and knowing you can breathe underwater, you get to see some of the most beautiful fish and reefs this world has to offer.

If you are already with a good group of people, it is absolutely worth it and I think only about $20 or $25 per person.

What are some of the best vacation spots you’ve found? I love to see new places and experience new things, so comment and let me know where you’ve been!