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

Author Topic: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread  (Read 509165 times)

Offline ar

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3120 on: January 07, 2021, 10:53:03 AM »
I see there is no more Uber in Cancun..

Any convenient alternative option?

Offline solls108

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3121 on: January 07, 2021, 10:58:52 AM »
I see there is no more Uber in Cancun..

Any convenient alternative option?
Read up, there is a jewish driver who you can whatsapp and he can even bring you kosher food! It is a few messages up

Offline Banillareloads

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3122 on: January 07, 2021, 12:16:36 PM »
Any recent dp with the chezchaya promo still working?
As per dm with her, no promo in 2021 :(
Guess they built up their brand with the frum clientele and don't need her anymore...
« Last Edit: January 07, 2021, 02:03:34 PM by Banillareloads »

Offline Nac

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3123 on: January 07, 2021, 02:00:45 PM »
Anyone have contact info for the falafel place thatís supposed to be next to chabad?

Offline jcgldr

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3124 on: January 07, 2021, 11:25:30 PM »
Just got back from cancun was there from sunday thru Thursday
We stayed at jw marriott after people here strongly recommended over westin lagunamar and it was great. Its very fresh and new rooms view is breathtaking and the service is great.
The pool area is very nice and spacious and although there was quite a few people there it was calm and you can have your corner for yourself. And the service at the beach and pool are also great
We had breakfast every day delivered by a guy vladimir (mentioned above) for 250 pesos from dag dag and the daily breakfast was very tasty with a unique touch. But i had to call to dag dag first to make my order and i had to call numerous times till he picked up and on monday it took him 2 and half hours!! Till it got ready but thankfully our angel vladimir waited out till it was ready and delivered it to us
At night we ate at ember its a very nice place and pretty good service, the food quality varies. We had tacos and something else the first night and it was very dry the steak was fine and desert of hot chocolate souffle seemed out of the microwave
The second night we had lamb on the bone and although it was pretty good it was very hard to cut off the bone and they didn't give a knife till i asked and on the edge of the bone there was still lamb fur...
The third and forth night were better brisket was excellent and the lamb tacos were great i also had the bbk chicken which was also great
We didn't rent a car vladimir picked us up coming and way back we took a car from the hotel and for dinner we took the bus every night it comes very frequently and is only 12 pesos per person which is less then 75 cent
Overall was a very nice experience the caribbean ocean is something else compared to anything in USA so we didn't even do any activities and we enjoyed every moment of it
One issue i had at the airport to fly back they rold me i need the paper they handed out on the fliggt in anx i i don't have it i have to go to the immigration desk and pay 35 Dollars for each person to fill out the form so i had no choice and paid 70 dollars so beware to save it from the incoming flight
Also weird thing there is smoking lounges in the airport but its within restaurants and there is a minimum fee to go in there i guess thats mexican style...
« Last Edit: January 07, 2021, 11:44:25 PM by jcgldr »

Offline Nac

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3125 on: January 08, 2021, 11:53:15 AM »
Anyone know how to turn the led light of on a bartech mini fridge?

Offline Eli53div

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3126 on: January 08, 2021, 12:45:14 PM »
Just got back from cancun was there from sunday thru Thursday
We stayed at jw marriott after people here strongly recommended over westin lagunamar and it was great. Its very fresh and new rooms view is breathtaking and the service is great.
The pool area is very nice and spacious and although there was quite a few people there it was calm and you can have your corner for yourself. And the service at the beach and pool are also great
We had breakfast every day delivered by a guy vladimir (mentioned above) for 250 pesos from dag dag and the daily breakfast was very tasty with a unique touch. But i had to call to dag dag first to make my order and i had to call numerous times till he picked up and on monday it took him 2 and half hours!! Till it got ready but thankfully our angel vladimir waited out till it was ready and delivered it to us
At night we ate at ember its a very nice place and pretty good service, the food quality varies. We had tacos and something else the first night and it was very dry the steak was fine and desert of hot chocolate souffle seemed out of the microwave
The second night we had lamb on the bone and although it was pretty good it was very hard to cut off the bone and they didn't give a knife till i asked and on the edge of the bone there was still lamb fur...
The third and forth night were better brisket was excellent and the lamb tacos were great i also had the bbk chicken which was also great
We didn't rent a car vladimir picked us up coming and way back we took a car from the hotel and for dinner we took the bus every night it comes very frequently and is only 12 pesos per person which is less then 75 cent
Overall was a very nice experience the caribbean ocean is something else compared to anything in USA so we didn't even do any activities and we enjoyed every moment of it
One issue i had at the airport to fly back they rold me i need the paper they handed out on the fliggt in anx i i don't have it i have to go to the immigration desk and pay 35 Dollars for each person to fill out the form so i had no choice and paid 70 dollars so beware to save it from the incoming flight
Also weird thing there is smoking lounges in the airport but its within restaurants and there is a minimum fee to go in there i guess thats mexican style...
Thanks for the review.
Do i need pesos for the restaurants and locals or usd is fine? where do i change usd to mxn?

Offline jcgldr

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3127 on: January 08, 2021, 01:15:43 PM »
I think you need pesos i used credit cards
Actually my driver took USD

Offline flyer1836

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3128 on: January 08, 2021, 05:14:04 PM »
Yes, everyone be careful
when arriving in cancun you need to fill out Customs & Immigration form. you can fill out online before the flight or once you arrive
I filled out online, and printed out... they keep of the forms and give back the form PER Person and they say dont loose it

When leaving cancun they require 1 of those papers PER PERSON, so we left it in the passport
when leaving cancun if you dont have this paper, there is a charge, i see it is $35.

also, when leaving cancun you must fill out the health delcaration form. this is before the security check
there was a lot of confusion as they would not hand out the paper version and said go back to your airline and get the paper
they wanted everyone to go online and fill out and then your QR code is proof you filled it out.
problem is with this many people in a conjested area, WIFI did not work.

I recommend everyone fill out this form at your hotel the day of departure (must be filled out the day of your flight, not earlier)
then screenshot the QR code to your phone home page.

http://afac.hostingerapp.com/

 

Offline zagguru

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3129 on: January 09, 2021, 06:50:51 PM »
I was in cancun for the week and i used him to pick us up from the airport. He took 35 Dollars which is not a bargain but he offered to bring us food
 he delivered us breakfast from dag dag and he was always helpful and went beyond to help us
For example he waited one day at dag dag almost two hours for my food to get ready!!!
 Those who visited dag dag will know that this wait is routine if there is more then five people...
Also he is not israeli he is a Cuban jew and loves to talk but breaks his teeth and my mind to put out a sentence

Yup he is great. Always helpful. Someone should add him to the Wiki

Offline Shua

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3130 on: January 09, 2021, 07:49:21 PM »
Yup he is great. Always helpful. Someone should add him to the Wiki

I messaged him but he is based in Cancun proper not Playa del Carmen. SO while that helps with transport from the airport, it doesnt help if I want to go to to a restaurant. Does anyone have a driver if I am based in Mayakoba? @damaxer91?

Offline ethana

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3131 on: January 09, 2021, 08:18:49 PM »
Is chabad in playa doing shabbos meals?

Offline YoelFried

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3132 on: January 09, 2021, 08:36:57 PM »
Is chabad in playa doing shabbos meals?
Yes

Offline solls108

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3133 on: January 10, 2021, 12:35:32 AM »
Is there nice snorkeling near hyatt ziva? What are some day trips for adults? Will prob go to isla mujeres

Offline world2see

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3134 on: January 10, 2021, 11:32:53 AM »
Any mid winter shabbos minyanim happening?