Bleary-eyed, shattered, and mostly numb, we stumble off the overnight bus we took to get from Belize to Cancun, Mexico. It was a long, cold, dull, sleep-deprivation-chamber-on-wheels, and we’re just done. First priority – sleep.

Cancun, we love your beautiful beaches, we want to explore your crystal clear cenotes, and we definitely want to party.

After we nap.

Today’s Itinerary

  • Catch up on some sleep at out luxury Cancun resort
  • Scuba dive an underwater art museum
  • Dive into Cancun’s nightlife

O blessed sleep, where art thou?

We arrive in Playa de Carmen somewhere around five in the morning. Fortunately, we’ve arranged for a local car to pick us up, because after crossing the border into Mexico at 11 PM and another unscheduled stop at midnight, coupled with bumpy roads and overly friendly passengers, we’re experiencing a coma of sorts.

Just picking up our luggage from underneath the bus takes a herculean effort, and where does this strap go? Do all these buckles have to be done up? Why am I sitting on the ground?

Helpfully, not all of us are completely catatonic and, although it’s a small miracle, soon we’re bundled into the car and pulling up into our resort.

In this state, it all seems like a bit of a dream. Everything is dark and quiet, and without paying too much attention we’re in a warm bed and fast asleep.

At midday, we awake to this.

White Sand Beach Cancun

White Sand Beach Cancun. Photo by adpowers, CC License

We must be dreaming

Several weeks ago, when it became clear just how painful the bus ride from Belize to Cancun was going to be, we elected to spend a couple of days in a resort recuperating (yes, it’s a hard life).

That decision has paid many dividends.

We decided to stay at the the Dreams Resort in Cancun, midway between Cancun and Playa de Carmen. Reluctantly opening the curtains, eyes shielded from the midday sun, we are greeted by vistas like this.

Beautiful white sand beaches stretch along the coast. There’s a pleasant ocean breeze coming in off the Gulf, and the lick of white racing up and down the line of the sand shows us where we should be – in the water.

And we’ve got something special planned.

There’s time for a quick brunch and then we’re in a taxi into Cancun, to arrive at the Scuba Cancun Dive Centre ( Blvd Kukulcan Km 5, Zona Hotelera, 77500, Cancún).

We’re going to get us some culture and visit an underwater art gallery.

An underwater art gallery, you say?

There are words in the English language that go together. ‘Bacon’ and ‘eggs’, ‘sea’ and ‘sand’, ‘endless’ and ‘vacation’ (well, those two should). Some words that don’t really belong together are ‘underwater’ and ‘art gallery’. Yet here we are.

This is an incredibly ambitious project with an interesting goal at heart – to drive people away from visiting coral reefs. With around 750,000 tourists visiting local coral reefs, as the artist explained in this National Geographic interview;

That puts a lot of pressure on the existing reefs…So part of this project is to actually discharge those people away from the natural reefs and bring them to an area of artificial reefs.

The project, which features statues made by Mexican artist Jason deCaires Taylor, began in 2009 and will ultimately ‘exhibit’ 400 sculptures.

Watching this video (embedded below), we can only feel how eerie this must have felt. Those statues, clean and solid, don’t belong there under the water.

They stand their, eyes closed, awaiting their fates? Contemplating the infinite? Praying for salvation?

Underwater Art Museum

Underwater Art Museum. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor – visit www.jasondecairestaylor.com for more incredible pictures. Reproduced here with permission of the artist.

The contrast between the bright colours of the fish and natural coral formations oppose the grey, solid humanity that the statues convey. But over time, the power of nature to transform and adapt becomes apparent, as life, ever-growing, explores the surfaces made by man and makes them its own. The sculptures become a part of the reef, previously ravaged by storms, supporting life where previously there was none.

From Life to Art to Reef

Silent Evolution. Amazing photo series by Jason deCaires Taylor – visit www.jasondecairestaylor.com for more incredible pictures. Reproduced here with permission of the artist.

Around 30 feet underwater, we’re taken on a scuba tour of the underwater art gallery. Down on the ocean floor, amongst these people frozen in time, is a truly unforgettable experience.

Scuba Dive Tour of the Underwater Art Gallery

Caffeine up, people. It’s time to party.

The easiest thing to do right now would be fall asleep on the beach or to crawl back into the luxurious bed at our Cancun resort. We deserve it – that bus ride was pretty bad.

Photo by A. Strakey, Licensed under CC.

Photo by A. Strakey, Licensed under CC.

But buckle up people – grab your Red Bull, grab your double espresso, gulp down those No Doze – stay awake! For tonight – we party in Cancun.

Photo by cezzie901, Licensed under CC.

Coco Bongo – looks tame by day, but by night…Photo by cezzie901, Licensed under CC.

Frommer’s said “you have to experience it to believe it”

Coco Bongo Spiderman

Coco Bongo Spiderman. Photo by Abeeeer, CC License

As they said in ancient Rome – linea longa, bonum festum (don’t quote us on that).

With that principle in mind, Coco Bongo is the place to go if you want to experience the craziness and sheer audacity of the party scene in Cancun.

Frommer’s, in their review, said “you have to experience it to believe it”. A madcap remix of incoherent popular cliches like Austin Powers and Spiderman, combined with pyrotechnics, lightshows, smoke machines, and dancing everywhere possible – take their advice.

Photo by Vitor D'Agnoluzzo, Licensed under CC.

Photo by Vitor D’Agnoluzzo, Licensed under CC.

Photo by Vitor D'Agnoluzzo, Licensed under CC.

Photo by Vitor D’Agnoluzzo, Licensed under CC.

We’re still trying to wrap our head around it.

Coco Bongo Beetlejuice!

Coco Bongo Beetlejuice! Photo by Abeeeer, CC License