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Cancun: Vegas on the Beach

The first thing that struck me about what we know as “Cancun” is that there are about a hundred thousand foreign tourists here. It reminds me of the Vegas strip in that it’s comprised of one long 16 kilometer road with mega-hotel after mega-hotel lining the beach. And I mean M-E-G-A. Like, absolutely massive. 800 to 1000 rooms massive. If that’s hard to picture, one of these hotels would take up at least twenty city blocks in NYC. Based on the acres, I figured out that our resort would take up about sixty New York city blocks. No, really.


There’s the airport, then there’s one big highway, and nothing anywhere but huge hotels and luxury shopping malls. If you go in a big circle around the “Hotel Zone”, you’ll pass exactly ninety-eight hotels (yeah, 98), any of which make the MGM Grand or Bellagio in Vegas look small. And that’s not including all the other mega-hotels on the way to Tulum (the other way down that highway I mentioned).

We’ve been here for several days already, so I’ll give you a quick rundown:

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re in Cancun because Mike’s generous friend Parker gave us a week here as a wedding gift. You might say it’s a long way to go to basically end up in a place just like America. Butttt…. it’s 80 degrees here, while it’s freezing back in NY. That alone makes me happy to be here.

The resort itself is pretty cool. When you first walk in, you’re struck by the sight of a gorgeous sushi restaurant in the middle of the center pyramid (the hotel’s made up of five giant pyramids with trees in the middle), with water (+koi fish) and man-made jungle all around the tables. Pretty striking.

First thing we did was get dinner at the resort. The “best” restaurant at the Paradisus is called Tempo. After our ordeal at the airport, we were pretty exhausted and hungry, but the food at Tempo lifted our spirits. There wasn’t much that was vegan on the menu, but we were told that the chef would be happy to whip something vegan up anyway. To say we were impressed with his culinary creativity is an understatement. It was a truly fabulous meal. A bit on the pricy side (ok, a lot on that side), but it was on-par with some of the best NYC restaurants.


The resort has about ten restaurants, and all but a couple look really inviting and interesting. The next night we tried Blue Agave, their Mexican cuisine spot. It’s more of a family restaurant (actually, the resort is pretty family-friendly in general), but we had some yummy dishes and got to listen to the Mariachi band. They were surprisingly good.

Cancun has pretty much every chain restaurant (from Ruth’s Chris to Outback) and store (from Cartier to Zara) you’re used to in the US, so if you wanted, you could go to a different restaurant every night for months. Actually, you could really just come here without a bag and within a few hours buy everything you could ever need. Our suite at Paradisus has a kitchenette in it, so we went to the only grocery store tonight (it’s called Superama Walmart) and picked up some almond milk and oatmeal, since some oatmeal (for two) and a plate of fruit adds up to about $40 US on the room service menu.


Earlier today I took a two-hour scuba diving course in the pool at the resort to get certified. Tonight I’m supposed to finish my written exam quiz, and then we’re getting up at the crack of dawn to do an actual dive. I’m a bit scared, to be honest. I know it’ll be super fun once I’m used to it, but since I’m not yet, it still feels a bit scary and claustrophobic underwater in all that gear. I’ll get over it.

Update: the dive was a lot easier than I’d anticipated. I was super nervous, but I got over it when I saw all the fish and turtles. It was definitely worth powering through, because now I can go diving all over the world and have intimate experiences with tons of interesting fish.

Happy New Year! Love, Hilary

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