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Local Cancun: An Insider's Secret Tips

by CatherineGordon September 2013 - last edited July 2014 by Chantelle

Casa de los Vendados | Cancun

From dining at a family restaurant in Isla Mujeres to exploring a private art collection in Valladolid, there’s a whole lot on offer in Cancun for the curious traveller. Take a look at some of our favourite local Cancun experiences hidden behind closed doors…

Pure Bliss Yoga, Tulum

Pure Bliss Yoga | Cancun

Yoga classes on the beach in Tulum © Richelle Morgan


With its long beaches and laid-back vibe, Tulum is the perfect place to unwind. Give your body an indulgent treat with a private yoga class on the beach or under a palapa. Richelle Morgan of Pure Bliss Yoga offers individual 90-minute classes for US$65/£40. ‘I love to play and encourage my clients to use their mats as their own private playground.’ says Richelle.

Casa de los Venados, Valladolid

Casa de los Venados | Cancun

A glimpse inside Casa de los Venados, with Mexican textiles, paintings and sculptures © Casa de los Venados


Near the main zócalo in the colonial city of Valladolid you'll find the hacienda-style home of John and Dorianne Venator. Among the biggest Mexican folk art collection in the world are clay figures from Oaxaca and papier-mâché sculptures from Mexico City. Casa de los Venados opens its doors for a daily 10am tour with the US$5 donation going to local charities.

Co.Cos, Playa Del Carmen

Coty Villareal | Cancun

Chef Coty Villarreal from Co.Cos, Playa Del Carmen, preparing a meal for her private chef service © Coty Villarreal 


Renting a holiday home in chic Playa Del Carmen? There’s a private chef service you should know about. Coty Villarreal of Co.Cos will come to your house and cook Mexican, Mediterranean and South-East Asian dishes. ‘The food tastes better when you know who you are cooking for,’ says Coty. A three-course dinner starts from US$50/£30 per head. Coty’s favourite dish to cook is fish and shrimps in achiote with rice and xnipec sauce.

Nizuc Resort & Spa

Nizuc Resort & Spa

The private pool in a suite at the Nizuc Resort & Spa © Nizuc


Big hotels in Cancun are not usually where you find seclusion. But with its suites with private pools, the new Nizuc Resort and Spa will satisfy those looking for a more refined experience. The décor is easy on the eye, with natural woods and muted tones. Request a butler to unpack your bags or opt for a private dinner on the beach. Rooms start from US$380/£235 per night.

Limón, Isla Mujeres

Limon | Cancun

The garden at Limón restaurant, Isla Mujeres © Limón

Get off the beaten track and hunt down this restaurant in Isla Mujeres, a small island 20 minutes by ferry from Cancun. Housed in a family home, Limón has a garden popular with diners looking for tranquility. The menu is a fusion of Mexican and international cuisine and the speciality is lobster cooked in butter with cheese, cream and nutmeg. Main courses start from US$10/£6.20. ‘People tell us that eating here is like dining at a friend’s house,' says Sergio. Tel: (+52 1) 998 130 1924

El Rey Polo Country Club, Puerto Morelos

El Rey Polo | Cancun

Professional polo instructor Manolo Calvo giving a polo lesson © El Rey Polo Country Club


Tucked away in the jungle near the sleepy town of Puerto Morelos, is the El Rey Polo Country Club, the only outdoor polo field in the Mexican Caribbean. Here you can try a private polo lesson (costing US$80/£50 for a 90-minute session) from a pro instructor. Learn how to manoeuvre a pony plus basic polo strokes. ‘It's a very enjoyable experience due to the unique beauty of the jungle setting,’ says Events Sports Director Octavio Munguia.

El Portico de la Candelaria, Merida

El Portico de la Candelaria | Cancun

The private pool at El Portico de la Candelaria, Merida © Pim Schalkwijk


Situated in the shade of giant ceiba trees, this 18th-century three-bedroom holiday rental in the cultural city of Merida is stuffed with Mexican crafts. Owned by Urbano Rentals; a team of two designers from New York, El Pórtico is dripping with style, from the antique wood beamed ceilings to the oversized glass-tiled tub. The house will set you back from US$400/£248 a night in low season. Guests can relax in the courtyard with its fountain and orchid garden, or cool off in the private pool.

Header image © Casa de los Venados

Written by Catherine Gordon

Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to Cancun from London Gatwick. Book your flight today.

Have you visited any of these local haunts near Cancun? Where are your favourite secret locations in the region?


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About the author: CatherineGordon

Catherine Gordon

British freelance journalist Catherine Gordon is based in Cancun, Mexico. She writes about Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan for newspapers, magazines and online media. She specialises in travel, culture, health, luxury, water sports and off-the-beaten-track city guides. Her website can be viewed at www.catherinegordon.net