Topic Wiki

Trip Reports:
Mikeoracle, Dan, JayR, lunatic, mgoldhammer18, Markus, mtag17, sam28, stooges44 (mini), Mootkim, @Yehuda, @besttaylor


General information:
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To get a grasp of where you are, Cancun is located on the edge of Mexico that wraps around the Gulf of Mexico and separates it from the Caribbean Sea. As you can see here, Cancun is fairly close to Cuba and really not that far from Florida.


                    The greater Cancun area includes the Zona Hotelera (translation not needed) in the north, which is a strip of land separated from the mainland by a lagoon and packed with hotel after hotel in a similar fashion to Miami Beach. In this thread, when people refer to Cancun, they are usually referring to this area. A ferry ride away is the island of Isla Mujeres. Below Cancun on the map, you'll see the airport in red. The area south of Cancun is known as Riviera Maya which contains many resort areas including Playa del Carmen, and within Playa is Mayakoba. A ferry ride away is the island of Cozumel.


Cancun hotels and Kosher restaurants map.

Getting there:
From NYC, award tickets have about $30 in taxes/fees on the outbound and $50 on the return. You can fly nonstop with: (cheapest way to book)

AA - Book with BA
B6 - Book with B6
DL - Book with DL
F9
UA

Airport Lounges
Mera Lounge - Accessible with Priority Pass except between 12:30 and 16:30 (not nice lounge).
Aeromexico Lounge

Airport security / food restrictions covered in the Kosher Food section below. Wifi at Cancun Airport Business Center - Network: businesst3 Password: businesst3.


Getting around:
Some people rent cars, others seem strongly averse to car rental due to many reports of being pulled over for speeding. Those reports often conclude with being able to give the cop ~$20 to avoid the ticket.

If you plan on only staying in Zona Hotelera, you don't need to rent a car. You can stay at the top of the strip (Hyatt Ziva, IC, Aloft) and be within walking distance to Chabad and the restaurants, or you can stay further down the strip and take the convenient bus up and down for MEX12 (currently about $0.65USD); drivers happily make change, at least from small peso bills. Reports that they will also take a $1 bill but won't give change. Taxis outside the strip to Walmart or Costco shouldn't be too expensive either. To get to/from the airport, you can book a private shuttle (see below). If you plan on going outside the Zone to activities with a tour, you can usually pay extra for transportation, but if you plan on going out on your own schedule, you'll want to rent a car.

If you plan on staying in Playa del Carmen, you'll likely want to rent a car, although it's possible to avoid it by taking the express nonstop ADO Bus which runs every 30 minutes (216 Pesos) or an airport shuttle (see below) there and staying at the Grand Hyatt which is within walking distance of Chabad and the restaurants or at the Fairmont/Andaz and having Chabad deliver food to you. Same advice for activities above applies here - go with a tour and pay for transportation or go out on your own and just rent a car.

If you plan on staying in Mayakoba, you will likely need to drive back and forth to Playa del Carmen for food/davening and taxis can get pricey so you may want to consider renting a car for the 15 minute drive each way. Most restaurants deliver to the hotels in Mayakoba for a small fee if you are just interested in staying in.

There are several companies that offer private shuttles to/from the airport and your hotel that have positive DDF reviews. Best to book in advance so you can pay with a credit card. The airport arrivals area is known to be packed with pushy taxi drivers dressed very formally to trick you into using them, but stay strong and go past them to find your ride at the pickup spot. (Prices to Zona Hotelera):

Canada Transfers: $55 RT (if you choose to pay in CAD, currently you'll only pay about $50).
USA Transfers: $55 RT for 3 people; $65 RT for 7 people.
Happy Shuttle: $53 RT. No DDF reviews, but Google reviews are positive.

Car rentals can be relatively cheap, and many hotels have free parking, but liability insurance is mandatory (you should be able to use for CC for collision insurance), and they won't allow you to use your car insurance from back home, so that can jack up the price. Make sure to have your reservation quote with you as some reported that the rental agents tried raising the price in person. And remember, keep to the speed limit.


Where to stay:
Cancun
Westin Lagunamar - Cat. 6 Marriott. (low season/high season) for a studio room. Studios can be booked with points online but one-bedroom suites require PUTPAC. Seems you can get 1BR suite for 1.5K more SPG per night. Some have been able to get complimentary upgrade from studio to 1BR without difficulty, but YMMV. There is no recorded history of anyone getting upgrade from 1BR to 2BR villa, as a 2BR is really a 1BR connected to a studio (essentially 2 paying rooms, so hotel won't do that). The 1BR suite is ~1,000 SF, so almost twice the size of the studio, and has expanded kitchen, with  full-size fridge, full-size cook-top, microwave and dishwasher (but no oven). The 1BR suites have W/D (not sure about the studios). shiframeir - Best value, huge resort with lots of heated pools during winter and big slide, lots to do and good kids club.
Hyatt Zilara - 25K Hyatt (all inclusive, adults only). Lots of rave reviews in the thread.
Hyatt Ziva - 25K Hyatt (all inclusive, family friendly, 1 tower is adults only). Beautiful resort hotel+spa, excellent service, great for adults and kids, right next to Red Heifer restaurant and Ember Grill and 5 minute walk to Chabad and Dag Dag restaurant, separate water playground by kids club zone, next to ferry to Isla Mujeres, has water sports and dolphins on premises.
Ritz Carlton - Cat. 6 Marriott.
JW Marriott - Cat. 6 Marriott. Great service, beautiful hotel, pool and beach.
Marriott - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).
Intercontinental Presidente - 25-30K IHG. Derived from shiframeir - Great location for Shabbos, close to Chabad, nice big lobby to chill in the afternoon, lots of first floor rooms (no steps needed), decent pools (one adults only, one family, felt a little cool might not be heated), really great service.
Aloft - Cat. 3 Marriott. shiframeir - pretty lousy though very cheap and close to Chabad and Dag Dag, pool on roof is small and not heated, rooms are interesting but a bit dingy, bathroom uses glass sliding door without much sound protection :) zow - I'm not as negative about it as shiframeir. It is very cheap, but a great location. Not a luxurious place to hangout, but if you're going to be out and about, it's good value.[/i] Cheapest option for 1 night.
Westin - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).. Mixed reviews, general opinion is not as nice as Lagunamar, but not a bad option. (Old will rumor to be torn down soon...)
Canopy by Hilton - 60-70K Hilton.

Playa del Carmen
Grand Hyatt - 25K Hyatt.
Hilton All Inclusive - 60-70K Hilton.
The Fives (Curio Collection) - 25-35K Hilton. Very nice rooftop pool with great views of the city and the ocean.
Hotel La Semilla - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).
Thompson Main House - 12K Hyatt. Right on the corner of 5th and easy walking distance to all Kosher restaurants and Chabad's. Full access to facilities at nearby Beach House too.
Thompson Beach House - 20K Hyatt. On the beach is the draw here. I would personally stay in Main house and just walk over here 5 minutes to use the beach.

Mayakoba
Fairmont - Covered in Dan's TR (top of wiki).
Andaz - 25K Hyatt.
Rosewood - Non-points hotel considered to be the most luxurious in the area.
Banyan Tree - Non-points hotel with all rooms being private villas with private pool. Many travel agents can get you an upgrade. "Chef Chaya" special hotel.

Cozumel
InterContinental Presidente - 40K IHG.
Westin - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).

Kosher Food/Restaurants:
WARNING: Lots of food gets confiscated at airport security. Meat, random cheeses (some make it through, some don't) and un-packaged foods are not allowed. Snacks are okay. You will be asked to push a button, if the light turns red, they will go through all your bags for food; if it turns green, you can officially go free, but there are enough reports of being pulled to the side anyway and searched for food - hypothesized due to "looking Jewish", but plenty who look Jewish have reported getting green and going free as well.

Cancun
Chabad Kosher Cancun - fleishig takeout food with a very timely delivery option run by the Rabbi Mendel Druk and family. They also offer Shabbos meals on premises for $25 a meal ($15 kids) or delivered to your hotel. There is supposedly a sit-down restaurant coming soon. Reports are that the food is really good and restaurant quality and comes with very timely delivery. Detailed review here. There is an additional menu for Yeshiva week here.
Falafel stand - located right outside Chabad and under their supervision. 
Kosher Luxus/Red Heifer - fleishig, Israeli-style restaurant under the supervision of Rav Yosef Maleh and the only real eat-in restaurant with delivery also available and a nice outdoor eating area overlooking the lagoon. People seem to either love or hate this place, very mixed reviews. You can eat Shabbos meals here or get delivery to your hotel with a hot plate. Some reviews and pics on GKRF, suggest getting apps/drinks/desserts over steaks and to always call before going to see whats available/what they ran out of. Be sure to confirm that the meat is from Mexico City and not a local supplier. (Source that this is an issue?) As of Aug 2018 they don't take AMEX - Closed as of December 2020.
Garden Beach - milchig, breakfast section of Red Heifer open 8am-2pm. - Closed as of December 2020.
Dag Dag - homey, milchig and fish restaurant, covered in Dan's TR, zow - fish and chips were very good, as was the pizza, but also has mixed reviews in taste, long wait times and randomly being closed. The owner is a little eccentric, but nice, and if you order in advance, it's not too bad. Was/Is (?) under supervision of Rabbi Mendel Druk of Chabad of Cancun.
Ember Grill - Meat restaurant down the block from Hyatt Ziva and across from Red Heifer. Very quick service and pretty good food.

There are several box stores / groceries with Kosher items:
Costco - cheese (large cream cheese box "Raskas Queso Crema" is Cholov Stam, Natural and Kosher is Cholov Yisroe), hummus, salmon spread, lox, PB and J, bread (Star K), milk (both shelf stable "La La" brand, as well as Kirkland brand - not sure which Hechscher) and mantequilla/butter (OU).
Sam's Club - breads ("New York Deli and Bagel") and other essentials.
Walmart - cereal, milk, eggs, avocados, drinks and many other things you need like pans and spatulas.
Chedraui Selecto - near Chabad, has frozen bagels, cereals, tuna, one Kosher meat product and many other products.
Minimart in Westin Lagunamar - bunch of imported Kosher items (La LA milk is under KA Kosher), but sometimes runs out. They have beer at about $1/bottle.
Erupea - has 1 or 2 Kosher wines.
Soriana - many Kosher items.
Random stores - many have OU snacks from America.

Playa
Chabad of Playa del Carmen - fleishig food delivery run by Rabbi Mendel Goldberg, a DDF member, that's really good, restaurant quality. Contact them for an updated menu with more choices than listed on website. They also host Shabbos meals for free, but ask for donations (they say it costs them $40/$20 adult/kid per meal).
Alternate Chabad of Playa - (AKA bootleg, yellow flag version...) is run by Rabbi Chaim Brod and has an in-house restaurant located at Avenida 20, entre Calle 6B y Calle 8. They have a Hebrew website.
Hotel 770 - fleishig restaurant, grocery and hotel under Rabbi Chaim Brod's supervision. Calle 10 Norte Bis. - Closed as of December 2020.
Menfis - Israeli restaurant, review, under Rabbi Chaim Brod's supervision. Calle 14 Norte, Entre 5a y 10. - Closed as of December 2020.
Mas Pan - dairy restaurant serving pizza, sandwiches and paninis, under ??? supervision.
Yummy Kosher - Calle 6 Norte S/N entre 5ta Avenida y calle 10, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico - Is this place closed?
Moshe Cube - Israeli/Sfardi food - highly recommend, accepted credit card which is very convenient. Avenida Constituyentes lote 01, mz 079
Platinum Grill - Israeli food - better than most Israeli places I've tried in NYC, "Mercado de la 10", calle 6 y Av 15, Centro 77710. It's located as part of a small strip mall/shopping center.
The Green Village Eco Boutique Hotel - Calle 20 #145, between Avenida 10 and Avenida 15, Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, 77720, Mexico.
Yala - Calle 10 Nte Mz 30, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico. - Closed as of December 2020.

Cozumel
Jerusalem - Nice fleshig place with good food and quick service, under Chabad of Cozumel - R. David Caplin and R. Shalom Peleg (yellow flag). Calle 10 North and Av. and General Rafeal, second floor.
Cafe Rimon - milchig restaurant also under Chabad of Cozumel (yellow flag). Calle 4 North and Av. and General Rafeal.
Chocolatte - milchig cafe under ???.
Falafel Sombrero - falafel place under Chabad of Cozumel (yellow flag).

Isla Mujeres
Cafe Maya - [Currently closed for renovations] milchig restaurant, under some Chabad (R Druk of Cancun vouches apparently), cash only, but bring pesos as it's much cheaper here than USD. Food is excellent and prices here are very reasonable, so long as you pay in pesos. Family of 5 can feast on paninis, pasta and pizza, with soft drinks/coffees, easily under $50USD. Pictures of store and food (scroll down). Directions: two blocks straight ahead (5 min walk) when you exit the ferry terminal (Calle Bravo?), then make a left when you hit the end (on Av Guerrero) go another block, and it's a few stores down the next block on the left side. Reviews on yelp, TripAdvisor.
Chabad downstairs - falafel and pizza
Chabad upstairs - meat restaurant

Hechsherim: (Beneath each logo is the site that recommends them.)
   
CRC                    CRC & KosherQuest
   
KosherQuest & Chabad of Cancun          KosherQuest

Chabad of Cancun             

KosherQuest & Chabad of Cancun

Via email to @Yehuda, Rabbi Eidlitz from KosherQuest recommended Rabbi Mendel Druk of Chabad of Cancun.

Shabbos and Minyanim:
Chabad - has Minyanim during busy seasons, but check with them to confirm (they are really great, give a nice donation!). They also offer meals, see Kosher section.
Kosher Luxus / Red Heifer - offers meals, see Kosher section, and may have Minyanim, check with them.
Westin Lagunamar - check with the Chabad Rabbi whether there has been a Minyan recently, but enough Jews have timeshares at Lagunamar and come for winter break that they seem to have a Minyan during winter break outside by the BBQs (Fuego) all the way on the south of the hotel (by the last pool to the right coming out of lobby towards fountains).


Activities:
Ferry to Isla Mujeres - small island off the coast near Cancun, rent a golf cart to go around the island - can get carts by walking left or right for a few minutes after you exit the port and get a decent rate; shiframeir got 2 fast carts for afternoon for $70 total going left (right has mixed reviews on speed), get some Kosher food, visit Garaffon Reef Park, Turtle Farm, Playa Norte, Dolphin Discovery, Shark Beach.
Xplor - 5 activity course / theme park of swimming and kayaking in a cave, jeeping in the jungle, ziplining high in the air over trees, and ziplining on a hammock into water; highly recommend, night version is cheaper and offers ziplining through ring of fire. Can save money by booking online a couple of weeks in advance.
Xel Ha - theme park (for older kids and adults)
Xcaret - theme park, one reviewer spoke to people that went who said it was waste of time & very costly.
Boka del Puma - theme park, cheaper option to Xplor.
Selvatica - ziplining and biking, Alma's LDS tour includes this and Mayan ruins.
Emotions Jungle Night - another theme park.
Jungle Tour - motor boat tour through lagoon to an area where you snorkel, recommended.
Mayan Ruins - Chichen Itza - most famous, Tulum, Coba - only one you can still climb.
Cenotes - natural pools/caves to go swimming in; Ik Kil - near Chichen Itza, Sistema dos Ojos.
BOB - Breathing Observation Bubble, underwater scuba-like contraption, highly recommended.
Ferry to Cozumel - larger island off the coast of Playa del Carmen, with an Intercontinental and Kosher food.
La Isla Mall - has an aquarium, dolphin show and Haagen Dazs.
Mayakoba Lagoon - boat tour and biking, hotels in Mayakoba provide this.
Swim with Whale Sharks - June, July and August, one company with high review is Whale Shark Daddy.
Cancun Underwater Museum
Zoo Crococun
5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen - shopping street.
Wet and Wild
Scuba Diving - one company with a high review is Squalodivers.
Hummer Tours - fun way to see more of Mexico.
Isla Contoy - small island north of Isla Mujeres.
Secret Beach/Pool - found by Suave, location here.


Random:
Electricity - US plugs and voltage
« Last edited by yuds70 on April 29, 2021, 12:32:06 AM »

Author Topic: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread  (Read 522649 times)

Offline ethana

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3315 on: January 26, 2021, 10:37:16 PM »
Just got back to NY from CUN. Definitely are checking all forms at least twice regarding Covid tests but with enough time the process is smooth.

Offline KSMH

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3316 on: January 27, 2021, 01:32:17 AM »
Just got back to NY from CUN. Definitely are checking all forms at least twice regarding Covid tests but with enough time the process is smooth.
Are they checking in NY or only before boarding?
Always praying for delayed baggage.

Offline ethana

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3317 on: January 27, 2021, 06:13:21 AM »
In ny just the quarantine contact info

Offline mochjas

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3318 on: January 27, 2021, 03:32:40 PM »
Anyone know what drinks are kosher at Hyatt ziva from the bars? Non alcoholic like smoothies etc.

Offline flaggie

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3319 on: January 27, 2021, 04:06:52 PM »
Donít know, however keep in mind Coke and Sprite in Mexico are NOT certified KOSHER!

Offline Banillareloads

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3320 on: January 27, 2021, 04:40:37 PM »
Donít know, however keep in mind Coke and Sprite in Mexico are NOT certified KOSHER!
Are you sure? Chabad sent me a diet coke with my order

Offline ethana

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3321 on: January 27, 2021, 04:42:14 PM »
All the restaurants serve it. Best coke I ever had

Offline flaggie

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3322 on: January 27, 2021, 04:49:06 PM »
https://www.crcweb.org/beverage_list.php

According to CRC itís Not Certified Kosher.

Offline mochjas

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3323 on: January 27, 2021, 05:06:08 PM »
Donít know, however keep in mind Coke and Sprite in Mexico are NOT certified KOSHER!
per R Druk coke and Diet Coke are ok

Offline flaggie

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3324 on: January 27, 2021, 05:11:40 PM »
Thatís comforting. Being that I drank it before I knew it was questionable.

Offline Joel

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3325 on: January 27, 2021, 05:15:28 PM »
per R Druk coke and Diet Coke are ok
+1 he sells it himself

Offline Joel

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3326 on: January 27, 2021, 05:16:46 PM »
Anyone know what drinks are kosher at Hyatt ziva from the bars? Non alcoholic like smoothies etc.
Some of the bars know how to prepare a kosher cocktail with kosher ingredients they have. AYLOR


Offline mochjas

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3327 on: January 27, 2021, 05:24:09 PM »
Some of the bars know how to prepare a kosher cocktail with kosher ingredients they have. AYLOR
what are some of the kosher ingredients?

Offline Joel

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3328 on: January 27, 2021, 05:32:44 PM »
what are some of the kosher ingredients?
They had coconut milk and juice that were kosher.

Offline chff

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3329 on: January 27, 2021, 10:02:40 PM »
Just returned from Banyan Tree, let me add my notes

- Forms:
1) Immigration form (per person), either fill out the form they give on the plane, or fill out online, print & sign (keep the portion they give back for your return flight).
2) Customs form (per family), either fill out the form they give on the plane, or fill out online, print & sign < No one actually asked me for this form
3) COVID form (per person), for the return flight I had to fill out and show the QR at security

- Bringing food into Mexico:
I have heard from everyone, "they stop every jew" "they take everything" etc etc, so I decided to simply follow the rules (as crazy as that sounds). After digging thru the Mexico's government's website I found this and packed accordingly. I was waived thru but one women saw me and ran after me and called me back. Asked if I had food and I said yes, she tells me to open my luggage. I opened the first and told her thats only clothing, she gave a glance and closed it (hint > there is where you hide the good stuff), I opened my duffel bag which had a cooler within, she goes right away to that and skips whatever was in the duffel, takes my bottle of frozen milk, and with a magnifying glass looks for the coveted word "pasteurized" (ignoring the fact that the milk was 2 months past expiration), yougourts no issues, and took away a pack of "Dried salami". I argued with the paper that dried beef is allowed, first they were shocked that I had that and thats in English, but said the package doesnt say beef (Kosher Grocery - pls fix the label) but "made an exception" and gave it back to me.

AA hates infants with a passion.

Used Canada Transfers, paid per way & USD (yes I know that costed me an extra $14), but did so to pay via PayPal and got my amex credit. Very happy with their service.

BT very nice, great service (boy did I drive them nuts :-X). I had the Bliss Pool Villa, the room only has a small fridge, but they gave me a cooler and plenty of ice. They didnt really make a mention of Ember when I checked in.

When checking in you are told you need to wear a mask in the public area, but after check-in no one cares. (Besides at breakfast at the buffet area) 

Ate first night by Ember, food ok, very overpriced and limited menu. (Ember has a Mashgich women on site). The Menu & setup needs improvment, like Shabbos morning they were setup but NO ONE came.
Breakfast by the Kosher setup, bought along my own pan (and there is many leftover from previous guests). (Again Shabbos morning they setup the egg station and no one came)
Shabbos food I ordered from Moshe Cube, not happy the way it was packaged (no kashurs seal, fish leaking ontop of chicken). Got stuck warming up the food, managed to get it warmed up in the hotel kitchen.

Asked a dayan about carrying within the villa, and was told it's fine.

Thoughtout shabbos they kept on bringing water (in addtion of getting a case Friday).

Ordered a babysitter thru the hotel, (expensive), was a very good babysitter and spoke a very good english.