Exploring the Parks of Cancun Mexico

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Apart from the white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters of the Hotel Zone in Cancun, what could you possibly want to do in your down time? If you plan on spending any length of time in the city, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the local haunts, and there’s no better way to do that than by exploring the parks of the mainland.

When most people hear “parks in Cancun”, their instant reaction is the theme parks that line the highway south of the city along the way to Tulum: Xcaret, Xplor and the like. And while those Disneylandesque attractions certainly have their appeal, the city parks and plazas are what bring the Mexican culture to life in the downtown district. It’s at these local hotspots where the culture truly comes alive and gives you a chance to explore the festive nature of the Mexican people.

Most of the parks are fairly empty during the daytime hours. You’ll find the random few hanging out underneath the shade trees during the heat of the afternoon, or passing through on their way to work, but if you really want to see what’s going on you have to come after the sun goes down. Especially on the weekends.

Mexico is still a mostly cash-based society, which is why the local parks continue to thrive as they do. This isn’t an X-Box or Playstation culture; rather, families still spend their free time going out and doing things, spending their hard-earned cash on activities for the kids and the carnival-like atmosphere that springs into place once nightfall comes and the temperature cools down.

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Parque Las Palapas is the main park in the heart of downtown Cancun, also known as the zocalo. It’s also the busiest, and during the daytime hours the food stalls stay open with antojitos for any random person passing by. On weeknights it’s the same, but Friday, Saturday and Sunday is when you want to be here, because that’s when it transforms into a carnival of food vendors, local artists and performers and beyond.

From local bands and school groups on the main stage, to the Mayan vendors selling clothing in the wheeled-carts on the outskirts, to the ice-cream vendors, the children’s playground, the mimes and clowns and beyond, there is always something to see here. And during official festival days, like Independence Day and Mother’s Day or Halloween/Day of the Dead and the like, the zocalo is shoulder-to-shoulder packed with local families.



Just around the corner past the church is the Parque del Artesano, or Hippy Park to the locals. It’s a mostly dreadlock-and-patchouli crowd that make up the vendors here, but if you are into hand-crafted clothing, pipes, incense or street piercings and tattoos and recreational, under-the-table stuff, this is the place you want to come.

Slightly down from there is the Parque Bohemia, also known as the Salsa Park due to the fact that every Sunday there is a gathering of salsa enthusiasts who take up around the gazebo and spend the evening hours dancing away. During the weekday afternoons and evenings you’ll also find local students using the park as one of the primary practicing areas for their own dance presentations.

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If the market scene isn’t to your liking and you just want to get away from it all and kick back with nature for a few hours, the Parque Urbano Kabah is across the street from Costco. With outdoor exercise equipment as well as jogging and walking paths plus plenty of local flora and fauna, you can get a taste of nature even within the city landscape. Bear in mind that the park is only open from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m., and there aren’t any vendors inside, so bring plenty of water or a pack lunch if you want to have a picnic or spend more than a couple of hours wandering around.

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There are dozens of other parks spread throughout the overall urban sprawl that makes up Cancun, such as the Jardin del Arte and the Parque Folklorico just south of Las Palapas, and most of them share the same aspects of the Parque Las Palapas in the sense that during the daytime hours not much is going on, but at night they transform into open markets and carnivals with activities for the kids and numerous street vendors.

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The big difference you’ll note between here and many other countries of the world is that the Mexican culture is all about getting out of the house in the evening hours and enjoying  festivities with friends and families, not staying indoors and logged into the Internet or a console game. Cristina can tell you that if there’s one thing Mexicans enjoy more than anything else, it’s beers and festivals at the local park, any chance they get.

If you really want to blend in and experience Cancun the way the locals do, you’ll be spending most of your downtime at the parks of the city as opposed to some random nightclub. The real culture is here.

You’re Invited: TBEX Cancun Opening Night Event at Xcaret

UPDATE:  The shuttle will be leaving from the Cancun Convention Center at 5 pm and from Moon Palace at 5:30 pm.


The Opening Night Event for TBEX Cancun will be held at Xcaret on September 11th, giving attendees an opportunity to experience some of the traditions and culture of Mexico.


Xcaret Mexico Espectacular tells the story of Mexico´s history from pre-Hispanic times and up to modern day, showcasing a country with an enduring ancient blend of culture and traditions.

More than 300 actors with original costumes are displayed in a spectacular setting, an atmosphere of light and color showing typical dances, performances of Mexico’s history, legends and all the festivities of the country’s different cultural regions. This tribute to our host country is full of joy, magic and tradition, and is accompanied by the representative music that includes the Mariachi.

The schedule of events is as follows:

  • 5 pm – Buses to Xcaret will depart from Cancun Convention Center
  • 5:30 pm – Buses to Xcaret will depart from Moon Palace
  • 7-9 pm – Xcaret Mexico Espectacular show and dinner at the Grand Tlachco
  • 9 pm – Networking cocktails
  • 9:30 pm – Buses start departing to return to Moon Palace and Cancun Convention Center

You will need your registration badge for admission to the evening event. We will have badge pick up available at Xcaret if you have not had the opportunity to pick it up before the opening night event.

A very big thanks to our host Xcaret for inviting us to share in the joy and pride of their country.

RSVP here, please.

TBEX Cancun Shuttle Schedule

Moon Palace overview

For those TBEX Cancun attendees who are not staying at the Moon Palace Resort, our sponsor, Best Day, has arranged a shuttle that will provide transportation to and from a few more areas. If you aren’t staying at one of the locations below, we recommend that you connect with other attendees at your hotel and take a cab to the nearest shuttle stop.

Shuttles will run from the following locations:

  • Cancun Convention
  • Ibis Hotel
  • Marriott Casa Magna Hotel

The shuttles will drop off at the Sunrise Tower at Moon Palace. The Moon Palace Arena (our meeting venue) is a short walk away. Shuttles will pick up from this same location for the return trip.

Shuttle Schedule

Thursday, September 11                

  • 5:00 pm – Shuttle from Cancun Convention Center to Opening Reception at Xcaret (more info on the opening reception coming soon)
  • 5:30 pm – Shuttle from Moon Palace to Opening Reception at Xcaret
  • 9:30 pm – Shuttles will return to Moon Palace and Cancun Convention Center from Opening Reception

Friday, September 12

  • 8:30 am – Shuttle departs Ibis Hotel (located Downtown)
  • 8:30 am – Shuttle departs Cancun Convention Center (located on the Hotel Zone)
  • 8:30 am – Shuttle departs Marriott Casa Magna Hotel (located on the Hotel Zone)
  • 6:00 pm – Shuttle departs to Hotel Zone from Moon Palace
  • 10:15 pm – Last shuttle departure to Hotel Zone from Moon Palace (after Expedia party)

Saturday, September 13

  • 8:30 am – Shuttle departs Ibis Hotel (located Downtown)
  • 8:30 am – Shuttle Cancun Convention Center (located on the Hotel Zone)
  • 8:30 am – Shuttle departs Marriott Hotel (located on the Hotel Zone)
  • 6:30 pm –  Shuttle departs to Hotel Zone from Moon Palace
  • TBA – We’re working on getting an additional shuttle later in the evening so you can enjoy a last night of celebration and networking with fellow attendees. We’ll update the schedule when it’s confirmed.

For Airport Shuttles, Taxis, and Excursions, see the Concierge Desk found outside Ballroom C at the Moon Palace Arena.

Travel Massive Party at TBEX Cancun

Travel Massive is coming to Cancun!

Travel Massive, a long time TBEX Media Partner, is hosting a casual event the evening of September 10th at  Tacos Caminero, a great local mexican restaurant located in the Hotel Zone at KM 9.5. Travel Blog Success will cover your first drink! Stop by to meet and mingle with TBEX attendees before the conference kicks off!

Thanks to our amazing sponsor, Travel Blog Success. They’ll be giving away one free membership during the event.

Date:  Setember 10th

Time:  7-10 pm

RSVP here. Space is limited.

About Travel Massive:  Travel Massive connects thousands of people around the world to meet, learn, and collaborate in the online travel industry. We are a worldwide community of locally organized events for travel & tourism companies, travel bloggers, startups, and travel media to connect and share globally. Travel Massive has now grown to more than 50+ cities and has become the largest, free, and open travel industry event in the world. Our goal is to unearth the travel industry in every city through locally organized events that connect people and share our ideas globally. View our website for chapter information & upcoming events.

TBEX Cancun Party: More Selfies in More Places Sponsored by Expedia


After a long day of top notch educational programming, an exhausting session of speed networking, and countless hours spent in coversations with new friends and old, you’re going to want to kick back and relax with a little food, a little beverage and a gorgeous view.

We enthusiastically present More Selfies in More Places, our Friday evening party at TBEX Cancun, hosted by our global partner Expedia.

expedia party

Here are the details (in case you can’t read the graphic):

Date:  September 12th (Friday)

Time:  7-10 pm

Location:  Moonlight Terrace at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort

All registered TBEX attendes are invited to this Friday night fiesta. Please RSVP here.

Will we see YOU there?


Special Offer on Airport Transfers for TBEX Cancun Attendees

Best Day


We’ve just been notified that you MUST make reservations in advance, whether for a private van or shared transportation. Cancun Airport Authority has a strict policy that prohibits Best Day from accepting payment at the airport for ground transportation. To make your reservation call 1-800-593-6259 and request the TBEX rate.


In just a little over a week, travel bloggers and representatives of the travel and tourism industry will be flying into Cancun International Airport for TBEX North America 2014. With the support of TBEX Cancun sponsor Best Day, we have arranged a deeply discounted price on ground transportation for TBEX attendees.

The reduced rate will be available for ground transportation to and from the airpot and hotels located in the Hotel Zone.

The one-way rates are:

  • Private van for 7 Passengers: $84 USD per van
  • Private van for 9 Passengers:  $106 USD per van
  • Shared transportation: $20 USD per person

Private vans should be resered in advanced by calling Best Day at 1-800-593-6259 and requesting the TBEX rate. This makes sense if you know the arrival times of your friends and colleagues, and can bring the price down as low as $11-12/person, depending on van size.

For shared transportation, no reservations is required.

photo (1)To take advantage of this great discount, you’ll need to go to the Best Day desk at the Cancun Airport. After you arrive at the airport, and process through customs and immigrations, you will proceed out of the secure area into the lobbyof the international arrivals. Ignore all the drivers shouting for your business, proceed to the Best Day desk and tell them you’re attending TBEX. Their friendly staff will get you fixed right up.

If you don’t see a Best Day desk inside, step outside and find someone holding this sign and they’ll help you out.

Best Day will have a desk at the Moon Palace Arena, our conference venue, and you can make arrangements there for a departure shuttle. You do not need to purchase round trip transportation to take advantage of this great discount.

If you’re staying in the Cancun area for awhile, and have interest in transportation for other explorations, Best Day is offering other discounts for TBEX attendees. These can also be booked at the desk at the Moon Palace Arena.

More TBEX Cancun Speakers Added

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As we’re heading into the countdown for TBEX Cancun, it’s time to announce our most recent speaker additions. Check out the full list of TBEX Cancun speakers and the complete schedule. We’re all looking forward to seeing you there!

Amie O’Shaughnessy

Amie O’Shaughnessy is the Managing Editor of Ciao Bambino, a popular family travel planning website. She is a longtime authoritative and well-respected voice in the online travel community and runs a multi-author blog powered by a team of family travel experts who provide credible tips on everything from ranch vacations and luxury beach resorts, to European villa rentals, to the best of US cities with kids, to Disney, to family-focused adventure travel.

Caroline Michaud

Caroline Michaud is Director of Public Relations for Preferred Hotel Group. She is responsible for developing and executing the company’s corporate media relations strategy across all regions and optimizing coverage of Preferred Hotel Group, its programs, and its member hotels in media outlets across the Americas. In addition, Caroline manages the company’s relationships with key family travel bloggers, designing both non-paid ongoing engagement programs and sponsored campaign tactics to successfully increase awareness for Preferred Hotel Group’s innovative Preferred Family program and drive increased traffic to its dedicated website (www.PreferredFamily.com).

David Lee

David Lee is the Co-Founder of Travel Blog Success, a leading online course and community to educate travelers on how to build, promote and make money from their blogs. He turned a 20-month dream trip around the world into a new career as a blogger and author. He’s traveled to more than 50 countries across six continents, founded two popular blogs, GoBackpacking.com and MedellínLiving.com, and written several books. David is based in Medellín, Colombia.

Dorian Nunez

Dorian Nuñez is a native of Ambergris Caye, Belize, and runs the Ambergris Today newspaper on the island. For 15 years, Ambergris Today has been informing the community and visitors on the happenings of Ambergris Caye, the number one tourist destination in Belize, and on the country as a whole. Keeping ahead of the fast development of the tourism industry in the country, Ambergris Today was the first newspaper in Belize to fully integrate itself online, providing daily, on demand news articles and promoting tourism in the country and region, with featured articles and blogs about travel, food and adventure.

Enid Hwang

Enid Hwang has been the Community Manager at Pinterest since 2011, when she was the sixth person on the team. In the past few years, she’s had her hand in virtually every non-engineering aspect of Pinterest, from launching new features to expanding the company internationally. Currently, her focus is working with power Pinners, bloggers and influencers to get more out of Pinterest and help spread the love.

Erin De Santiago

Erin is a freelance writer and blogger based primarily in Belize. She’s traveled to 60 countries and lived in Asia, Europe, and now Central America. Erin is a Certified Specialist in Wine (CSW) and covers a wide range of topics – including Belize, culinary travel, and international Disney Theme Parks. She is AFAR’s Belize Expert, wrote the AFAR Guide to Belize, and was the primary author for Belize’s official visitor magazine in 2013. Erin is the publisher of Our Tasty Travels blog, has a new Belize destination site launching soon, and writes for other publications like Viator and Roam Right.

Gregor Perotto

Gregor Perotto is head of corporate marketing at DocuSign. He sets strategy and leads execution for corporate and marketing communications; public, media, and analyst relations; brand and reputation management; social media; and employee engagement and internal communications. Gregor has helped the company accelerate growth to more than 40 million users across 188 countries and earn recognition as a ‘Next Big Thing’ by the Wall Street Journal, “The New Sexy” by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and top rankings in independent third party research reports, including Forrester, Gartner, OmBud, G2 Crowd, and Aragon Research.

Jade Broadus

Jade Broadus is a writer, videographer, creative director and social media manager working with InsideOut Media, Expedia, About.com, Bedandbreakfast.com and AOL Travel. Currently she is the social media and marketing manager at TravelMindset.com. Creating an online influencer network, TravelMindset.com connects tourism boards and travel brands with influencers to create compelling, authentic and unique storytelling with large scale social media experiences. Campaigns include #MakeSummerLast with Tennessee Tourism & #PCBeachBucketList with Panama City Beach, Florida. When she’s not traveling, she is one part of the blogging duo at Vagabond3.com, creating travel videos geared towards the adventure traveler.

Jeffrey DeKorte

Jeff DeKorte is Vice President of Digital Marketing at Royal Caribbean International. Throughout his career he has led digital marketing and eCommerce efforts for well known brands including US Airways, AOL and Rand McNally. His passion is finding ways to use technology to connect businesses and customers, specifically in the travel industry. He is a graduate of Lehigh University and received his MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He also studied at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. A native of the New York area and long-time resident of Washington, DC, he currently resides in Miami Beach, FL.

Jessica Skelton

Jessica manages social media and content marketing for TripIt, the world’s highest-rated travel organizing app from Concur. She has spent the last six years of her career launching social media and content marketing programs for consumer travel brands, including Room 77 and TravelMuse. Jessica loves to travel and try new foods, and most recently visited Japan, Hong Kong, and Macau. She currently lives in San Francisco, California, with her boyfriend and beloved pet cat.

Jyl Johnson Pattee

Jyl Johnson Pattee is the founder of Mom It Forward Media and Family Forward Events and sits on the Mom Advisory Council for ONE.org. She was the co-founder of the evo Conference (2010-12), was on the founding board of the Social Media Club of Salt Lake City (2010-11), was named one of Parent Magazine’s Top 10 Power Moms, and is on Babble’s list of Top Twitter Moms. An award-winning copywriter and former designer of corporate training programs, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two boys; loves cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

Kelly McLaughlin

Kelly McLaughlin is a Canadian woman who has been living in Mexico since 2003. Her blogging and social media journey began in 2007 with her blog “A Canuck in Cancun”, chronicles of life as an adventurous ex-pat mom. She is an ambassador for all things Mexico, having worked for the Mexican federal tourism board and as one of the founders of the monthly #mexchat Twitter party. It’s all about the amor (and the fiesta of course!)

Lisa Schwartz

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Lisa Schwartz attended Concordia University where she studied Journalism and Communications before realizing public relations was her true calling. Schwartz began her PR career in New York City, learning the ropes of the entertainment and lifestyle industries. Heading south to Los Angeles next, Schwartz represented major entertainment brands such as Paramount Digital Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, Lionsgate and Hulu, among others. In December 2011, Schwartz made another career move and joined Diamond Public Relations in Miami, a boutique luxury travel and tourism PR firm that represents hotels, resorts and destinations around the world.

Teresa Villarreal

Teresa has an impressive background in tourism, working for both public and private sectors. Before joining Newlink, Teresa held the position of Director of the Mexico Tourism Board, where she designed strategies to drive tourism to Mexican destinations. She also represented Mexico during trade events and fairs throughout North America and was a liaison between cruise industry leaders and Mexican ports. Teresa also served as cultural attaché at the Consulate General of Mexico. As the leader of Newlink’s Tourism practice, Teresa applies her industry knowledge to develop cutting-edge, communications programs for clients including hotels, online tour operators, destinations and airlines.

Register Today!

More Spaces Available on Cancun FAM trips


There have been quite a few new TBEX Cancun regisrations in the last few days, and we’ve heard that some of you have missed out on the opportunity to apply for one of the great post-event FAM trips around the Cancun area.

Our FAM trips hosts have advised that there are a few spots left, and they are willing to accommodate some last minute applications. Priority will be given to last minute registrants, but we do realize that travel bloggers travel, and that means that you may have been traveling – and without internet access – to the application time frame.

Don’t put it off again – applications will close on Thursday at midnight, Pacific Time. Invitations will be extend to invited bloggers on Friday.

For more information and to apply for a FAM trip click here.



TBEX Cancun FAM Trip Update



We have a new itinerary to add to the list of post-TBEX FAM trips, and if you enjoy tequila and mezcal, you’ll love it.

The Cancun Culinary Experience FAM gives you a chance to taste the best of what the region has to offer. Check out the details and apply today.

The addition of this new itinerary will result in some changes in the deadlines for these trips:  The FAM trip application deadline has been extended to Sunday, August 24th, midnight Pacific Time. Bloggers will be notified on Tuesday, August 26th.

You must be registered for TBEX Cancun to be eligible to participate in the FAM trips. You can register here.


Animal Welfare is an Important Component of Responsible Travel


Dr. Martha Honey, CREST Co-Director, has been invited to provide the keynote address at TBEX North America, which will be held September 11 – 13, 2014, in Cancun, Mexico. TBEX is the “world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media savvy travel industry professionals.”


Dr. Martha Honey, CREST

Dr. Honey was invited by TBEX following backlash from a number of bloggers and industry professionals over TBEX’s inclusion of captive dolphin tours among the pre-onference tours scheduled by the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau. A number of potential conference participants were understandably irate about the captive dolphin tours, especially those that involved direct interaction with these extremely intelligent and emotional animals. Eco-blogger Bret Love, who is also a speaker at the conference, worked very hard with the Cancun CVB to request that these tours be removed from the schedule, and most were unaware of his effort behind the scenes. See Bret’s excellent blog post on Green Global Travel explaining the situation and, ultimately, the CVB’s agreement to cancel three dolphin tours.

TBEX invited Dr. Honey to speak in order to discuss this issue and, more broadly, what is responsible travel and what should be the role of travel media in responsible travel. Not only will her address provide a platform for this important conversation, but it should be used as an opportunity to drive change for the future. CREST welcomes the opportunity to participate to encourage meaningful dialogue that supports the CREST mission, to promote responsible tourism policies and practices globally so that local communities may thrive and steward their cultural resources and biodiversity.

CREST has been asked by a number of bloggers to issue a statement on our stance on the captive dolphin tours, which we are happy to do. In recent years, CREST collaborated on several projects with the World Animal Project (formerly WSPA) and through this work we are convinced that respecting animal welfare is an important component of responsible travel. Put succinctly, our position is:

CREST believes wildlife belongs in the wild, and animal welfare is an essential component of responsible travel. As a minimum requirement, we believe in the “Five Freedoms” needed by all animals:

  • Sufficient and good quality food and water
  • A suitable living environment
  • An opportunity to exhibit natural behaviors
  • Protection from fear and distress
  • Good health

Check out Born Free UK’s Guide to the 5 Freedoms, which discusses the Five Freedoms in detail and also in context of captive animals.

Dolphins are extremely complex creatures, and we agree with World Animal Protection in that these animals “deserve to live a life free from captivity, where they can properly fulfill their social and behavioral needs.” A tank simply cannot provide them with the space, environment, and social freedom they need to thrive as they would in the wild. As stated by the tour operator Intrepid Travel, a highly respected leader in responsible travel, it is best to view wildlife where it belongs, but if a zoo or aquarium is ever visited, a visitor should make sure the facility adheres to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Code of Ethics before entering. What more, interactions with wild animals should never involve physical contact with people, feeding, or other actions that disturb or alter their natural behavior. These actions often cause extreme distress for the animal and is a health risk for both parties.

Finally, CREST works often in close collaboration and partnership with The Ocean Foundation. On the topic of captive marine animals, President Mark Spalding says, “We have admirable facilities that rescue and when possible rehabilitate and release marine mammals, sea birds and sea turtles. Some of these allow the public to visit and volunteer. And, many have advanced our knowledge of marine wildlife through research during their recovery. But like hospitals for humans, this is not where we want wild animals to spend their entire lives. We prefer to see them in the wild where they thrive.” For more information on the topics of marine mammal research, rehabilitation, and the human relationship with marine mammals, see Mr. Spalding’s blog post following the Southern California Marine Mammal Workshop.

CREST looks forward to discussing this and other issues with both bloggers and media professionals, who have at their fingertips a powerful tool for public education, which can ultimately transform the way the world travels.

Author bio:  The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is a non-profit research institute with offices in Washington, DC and at Stanford University. Founded in 2003, its mission is to promote responsible tourism policies and practices globally so that local communities may thrive and steward their cultural resources and biodiversity. CREST uses policy-oriented research to design, monitor, evaluate, and improve the social and environmental committments of responsible tourism, as well as to promote sustainable practices and principles within the wider tourism industry. It focuses on tourism’s potential as a tool for poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation.