Once in a Lifetime: Cancun

By: Katie Manning

January 10, 2013

If you want something to boast about on the return from your Cancun adventure other than a tan, then here is a very good place to start. Our favourite Cancun experiences show the most extraordinary aspects of the city and have given us some truly unforgettable memories.

Get a Temazcal

Get a Temezcal | Cancun
A Mayan Temezcal © westinresort

We’re always keen to practice a bit of the local lingo, so we were delighted to learn the Ancient Aztec Náhuatl word temazcal stands for “˜house of steam’. A Mayan Temazcal is a pre-Hispanic style steam bath that uses traditional healing methods to encourage deep relaxation, introspection and reflection – what’s not to love? Under the expert guide of a Xaman you hear native songs, breathe in the copal and aromatic herbs infused with the steam, all of which combine to create a magical and therapeutic ambiance.

Cook up some Mexican grub

Mexican cooking | Cancun
Ingredients at the Little Mexican Cooking School © Kathi Littwin

If you fancy wowing you friends back home with some fabulous Mexican cooking skills, we love The Little Mexican Cooking School. Based in Puerto Morelos, the little colonial gem is gradually teaching more and more people how to add some Mexican spice to their home cooking. The day-long classes start with a light breakfast and full on Mexican comida fuerte (hearty lunch), complete with festive drinks. We loved learning the traditions and culture of these foods and drinks, as well as the methods in which to make them. Avenida Rojo Gomez 768, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo 77589

Cancun’s Underwater Museum

Cancun Underwater Museum | Cancun
Underwater Museum © Visit Mexico

We can attest that the Mexican Caribbean is one of the best places in the world to submerge yourself in beautiful and clear waters. One better – these sumptuous, crystal waters are home to one of the largest underwater museums on the planet. Divers and snorkelers can admire more than 400 original sculptures in depths ranging from 9 to 20 feet. The artist behind the project, Jason deCaires Taylor, offers a contemporary and cultural view of how the Mayan people have evolved throughout the years in “The Silent Evolution”.

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Swimming with Whale Sharks | Cancun
Swimming with Whale Sharks © Visit Mexico

If you fancy swimming alongside a shark whose mouth is five feet wide when open, we obviously recommend swimming with whale sharks. Luckily for us, these are known as the gentle giants of the ocean – they’re the largest fish in the world measuring up to 40 feet and weighing up to 15 tons. We reckon the best time to swim with whale sharks is May to September, and we prefer the islands of Hollbox and Contoy as swimming spots.

Experience the Mayan Culture

Chichen Itza | Cancun
Chichen Itza © Visit Mexico

We think the Mayan culture is incredible, and a must to experience when visiting Cancun. To get our fix, we head straight to Chichen Itza! The Mayan civilization was among the original cultures of the New World and spanned more than 3,000 years. The Mayans lived mainly on the Yucatan Peninsula and Mayan culture is known for its spectacular art, impressive architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems, which were all way ahead of their time. We’re always wowed by the dramatic and easily recognisable stepped pyramids at Chichen Itza, which not long ago was named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning

Categories: Our Places