Discover the Hidden Gems in the Riviera Maya & Cancun, Mexico with Kelly McLaughlin

Kelly McLaughlin

In today’s episode I talk to Kelly McLaughlin. She is a Canadian woman who arrived in Mexico back in 2003 for a two-week vacation, and hasn’t left since. She’s a writer and social media personality known as Cancun Canuck. Through her blog and social network, she shares her love of Mexico by sharing her unique personal tales. If she is not online she’s probably underwater, climbing a pyramid, or getting into some sort of shenanigans with her adventuresome son, Max. Kelly also has five rescue cats, which in no way implies she is single, except she is!

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What do you find special beyond the proverbial Cancun hotel zone?

Cancun is known as the Las Vegas of Mexico. There are many places that are hidden gems within the hotel zone that only locals pretty much know about. Rio Nizuc, which is a little corner of Cancun that has been there forever. The restaurant doesn’t have electricity. This is a rustic place where you can go to have a nice cold one, order some ceviche, and even grab your pole and fish.

The Wet’n Wild is still open and is in the process of partnering with another company. They will be doing expansions and possibly changing their name in the near future.

Has Punta Sam been developed for the tourists?

There is development there now; however, there are still secret places there as well. Punta Sam is located ten miles north of Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The shore faces Isla Mujeres to the north east and the archeological sites of El Meco and El Cerrito are on the southwest side. Punta Sam is a tranquil beachfront that offers varieties of food and shopping. You need to check out a restaurant called Las Jaibas, this is another place you can go fishing, get ice cold refreshments, and chow down on some great food.

Kelly McLaughlin and Kay Walten

Do you have any fun spots in the Riviera Maya?

The Riviera Maya extends along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Puerto Morelos to the Slan Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. This place was once home of small fishing villages. The Riviera Maya has been developed into a tourist area now. One of the secret places to check out here is the Jardin del Eden, where there are cliffs you can jump off of. There is also a cavern that has many interesting fish. Xpu-Ha has some glamping. This place costs about 400 pesos (about $25.00 USD). You don’t need to bring a tent, but make sure to leave your valuables at home.

Have you been to EK Balam in the Archeological site area? 

This place is easily accessible from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Kelly says you need to hire a local guide. The tour guides have been around for a long time. You are hearing the history from the family members themselves. She says this is nothing short of spectacular. You have to eat the longaniza, the best sausage you will ever sink your teeth into.

Kelly went to a ranch in EK’ Balam and visited a little place called Genesis Eco Retreat. There, she discovered a Canadian journalist named Lee who was from Kelly’s home town. Lee invited Kelly and Max to her ranch in the jungle. There were cenotes in the ranch and a spiral down cave, which is where the cows were hanging out.

Visit Kelly’s blog

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