If you ever wonder where great seaside resorts meet fun and entertainment at low cost with lots of booze and delicious meals – look no further- head straight to Mexico. While this is one of the most controversial countries in terms of politics, economy, crime and welfare, the first thing you will notice is the great tropical weather and while Mexicans may not all live up to the healthy minimum, they all seem very happy and quite content with what they have and enjoy life to the maximum. Mexico and its happy-go-lucky inhabitants maintain an air of relaxed and easy-going life style, briefly interrupted by a hurricane or a drug cartel war, only to regain composure quickly and prepare for the next lavish fiesta followed by a well deserved siesta….
Both the West and the East coasts of Mexico have been attracting Americans and international tourists for decades and the ever growing cruise ship industry delivered passengers by the hundreds of thousands all over the Mexican coast. While most major cruise lines have recently deserted the beautiful Western Baja Californian coast due to political, health and criminal issues, the Caribbean coast of Mexico is still going strong and gravitates Spring Breakers, large Families, Honeymooners and Singles, all united by the common goal to have an inexpensive but very exhilarated holiday.
Amongst my favorite ports and their spectacular resorts will always be Cabo San Lucas (favorite amongst Hollywood celebrities), Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Cancun and Cozumel, however there are plenty small gems like Mazatlan, Xtapa and Zihoataneho which are equally attractive- they remind me of how simple and yet rewarding life used to be in my own country- living in a small community where everyone knows and helps each other making ends meet and offer hospitality to strangers.
Mexico boasts some of the best All Inclusive Resorts, no less than 4 or 5 stars, where you can spend your entire holiday without once stepping out of the property- you will be stuffed with yummy delicacies, pampered by some of the best massages, relaxed in spacious villas, lured to swim in a sparkly ocean and extravagant pools, fed the famous Mexican beer and Mojitos non-stop. Best of all, you can indulge in some salsa and guacamole without the need to get off your comfortable lounge chair and have your siesta feeling the breeze in the luxury of a cabana adjourned with white linen and flowers.
The music and food are everywhere. Even if you are not the biggest fan of salsa (both the dance and the food), you will be soon seduced by the overall party atmosphere and whether you like it or not, your Happy Feet will spontaneously join the dancing crowd. Don’t be shocked if you discover that your waist line has increased a notch or two- the food is wholesome and fresh, not to mention you loose count on the beer consumption quickly. The seafood, fruit and vegetables are mostly organic and freshly picked, simple and oh, so delicious. The Mexicans (and the tourists) love their tacos, burritos and sizzling fajitas with shrimp, beef or chicken, melting quesedias with fresh salsa, beens and guacamole, stuffed Pablano peppers, spicy cheesy jalapenos, hot empanadas, mouth watering ceviche and enchiladas. The shrimp, oysters, calamari, octopus, mahi-maji, tuna and snapper are commonly offered in different home made style dishes and there seems to be an endless variety of Mexican beer, my top favorite being Sol, Dos Equis and Corona. The tequila is freely poured from sun rise to sun-set for those who don’t mind the hangover and the cocktails will keep you happily dancing and singing along with the ever present Mariachi Bands.
Above: a brief stop at the “Thirsty Cougar” in Cozumel
The weather in Mexico is always on the tropical side, however during the summer it may become quite hot and humid , so make sure you are close to the ocean with an ice cold drink in hand, to avoid sizzling under the sun. In the winter, it is not uncommon to have spontaneous rain showers, briefly cooling off the over heated and overly exhilarated tourists.
While I have enjoyed the Mexican seaside resorts and their relaxed life style for years, making lots of friends along the way, just recently I discovered a new little gem in Cozumel- the so called Money Bar. As the name suggests, the main activity in the area is associated with cocktails tasting at a traditional restaurant, right on the beach. The property is located not far from the port and features a gorgeous Colonial style building offering luxury condos for sale or rent, featuring a massive swimming pool and spacious relaxation areas. On the beach, you can have a comfortable lounge chair and all sorts of water sports are available on the spot. While the place is not that big or even well known, I became quickly addicted to the natural beauty, inexpensive amenities and prompt friendly service. This is not your typical touristy place- there are no crowds, no deafening music, no fuss- just a quiet little oasis with all the comfort and convenience of an exclusive resort. Working on the ship, I can only afford 2 to 4 hours ashore, so when I found out that the Money Bar was only 10 min away by bike, I was presented with a great opportunity – to add some physical activity to my beach routine, as well as enjoy a delicious lunch in a place with no noisy tourists. A pretty coral reef, not even 5 feet from the shore, provided an extra bonus – snorkeling proved to be very rewarding, as the variety of fish was amazing. If you are up for it, you can rent a kayak or a paddle board, or if you feel like having some breeze in your hair- join a catamaran sailing or even fishing trips. After a great deal of work out – a traditional Mexican lunch is in order, but the day would not be complete without a relaxing massage in a cabana on the beach, performed by the friendly therapist Carmen.
What can I say: Life is Good at the Money Bar!
While in Cozumel, you can try something different as well. If you are a cruise ship passenger, aside from the Mayan ruins and the various Beach Breaks, you will be offered a tour called “Salsa and Salsa” . You will be taken to a nice beach front resort, where in groups you will be taught how to prepare various types of salsas and guacamole, simultaneously fed small delicacies and unlimited amounts of Margaritas, which you will have the honor to prepare yourself.
Finally, when you are good and ready (understand happily motivated:-) you will be invited to dance Salsa and see what the big deal is all about. While it may seem easy at first, it becomes increasingly challenging to keep up with a partner who has clearly lost all his hip bones. I am not sure how much anyone remembers at the end, but one thing is for sure- you will find the whole experience hilarious and fondly remember it as the day you were the star in “Dirty Dancing”.
Is there Golf in Cozumel? You bet there is! The Cozumel Country Club offers and 18 hole picturesque golf course, most of which is in a good shape. There are some areas that need attention, but seems when in season it is also in a better shape. The vibrant vegetation, pretty lakes with water lilies and interesting hazards including alligators add to the charm of this course carved in the lush Cozumel island jungle. Also a home of a bird sanctuary, bird watching tours are also offered.