Exciting Excursions in Cancun

Apr 18, 2016

by Sarah Smith ‘16
Edited for content and length

My Junior Journey trip to Cancun, Mexico was a luxurious, exciting, relaxing, and thrilling week of adventure. When our bus pulled up outside of the Moon Palace Resort, I was amazed by its sheer size and beauty. I knew we would be staying at a nice place, but I was not aware of how nice it actually was!

The Resort

 We were greeted with roses and wet towels to cool off after our long journey to the resort. When we went into the lobby to check in, we passed by a variety of hors d’oeuvres and dessert choices to snack on while we waited. We hadn’t made it past the check-in desk, and we were already feeling the luxury of the place!

Sarah Smith holding a squirrel monkey.

We were treated extremely well at the resort and all of the employees who worked there were residents of Cancun who seemed to thoroughly love their jobs. They were always asking if there was anything they could get for us, and they were always in great spirits and friendly. It made me hope that I can be as joyful as them about my job one day.

The variety of restaurants was one of the best parts of the resort for me. We went to a seafood place, an Italian restaurant, a buffet, a Mexican restaurant, and a Brazilian restaurant that brought us nine different types of meat to try.

That night, after exploring the half-mile long resort for a few hours and taking a dip in one of the many pools, our group met in the main lobby to sign up for excursions for the week. We decided to swim with dolphins, visit Isla Mujeres, see the Mayan ruins of Tulum, go zip lining through the forest, go on a speed boat called the “Aqua Twister,” and to go jet-skiing through the Mexican jungle. At that point I knew that I was in for an excitement-packed week in Mexico!

Touring Mexico

Each excursion was its own unique experience. Swimming with dolphins was thrilling, and our group got to interact with two dolphins by ourselves for over an hour! Isla Mujeres was beautiful, and we got a more legitimate taste of Mexican culture when we took a ferry to visit the beach on the other side of the island. Vendor carts selling hand-made artifacts lined the streets.

Visiting the ruins of Tulum was another experience where we got to dive into the culture of Mexico. We took a 90-minute bus ride through the country, where we saw different terrains and got outside of the tourist-centered portions of Mexico. In the beautiful ruins of Tulum, we got to dive into the ancient Mayan culture with a tour guide who explained everything there was to know about the fascinating ancient Mayans, and about the dying Mayan culture that still exists in Mexico today.

Our tour guide was so evidently passionate about his Mayan heritage that it made the whole group hang on his every word. It was clear to me that this wasn’t just his job, but teaching foreigners about his heritage was his passion and he was very proud of his Mayan background. It made me wonder what it would be like if everyone in the United States had that same level of pride in their heritage and their backgrounds. How different would our culture be?

Boat Ride

The tour group on a boat ride.

Our trip to the water-sports area was the most thrilling day for me. We went on a speedboat called the “Aqua Twister.” I had no idea what to expect that day. When we got onto the boat they strapped us in with shoulder straps similar to those on a roller coaster and I knew I was in for an exciting day.

The boat sped through the Mexican bay and came to sudden halts, twisting and turning and drenching its passengers with the salty water. While it was frightening at first, I quickly warmed up to the thrilling ride and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We topped the day off with a 90-minute jet-skiing tour through the jungle. Each of us got to drive jet skis at high speeds on a windy day with large waves. It was an experience that was both nerve-wracking and scenic, and I was extremely glad we went!


Overall, my experience in Cancun, Mexico was more than I imagined it would be. It was a perfect balance of luxury and thrill, and I would certainly go there again one day if I have the chance! Five tips I would give to anyone who plans on visiting Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico are:

  1. Go on the excursions! Visit Isla Mujeres, swim with dolphins, and go on crazy boat rides through the jungle!
  2. Try every restaurant at the resort, even if it means eating two dinners. Also, try foods you don’t usually eat. Even if raw fish scares you, try it! It’s all about the experiences.
  3. Spend a day at the pool. While there is so much to do in Cancun, a nice, relaxing day at the pool on the resort is just as valuable as a thrilling day of exploring.
  4. Experience the culture. Visit the Mayan ruins, learn the ancient culture at either Chichen Itza or Tulum. Look out the windows on your bus ride and see what Mexico looks like outside of the tourism-focused areas.
  5. Talk to the employees. You can learn so much about Mexico and other cultures by hearing the stories of the waiters and other workers at the resort. It will make you appreciate your life more than before you left!