A leisurely 10-minute drive from downtown Cancun will bring you to the fishing village, Puerto Juarez. A few hotels are beginning to put down stakes on the outskirts of town, but as you drive farther along the waterfront passing the small marina, you will find the local beach and fishing harbour.
Children with brightly coloured clothing run up and down the beach, frolicking in the ocean; the water is packed with local families enjoying some time off. There are a handful of other tourists, like us, who are quite easy to spot. The public beach area is groomed, but to the right is the fishing dock and the shore is lined with boats back from their morning excursions.
Seagulls, huge pelicans and other water birds hover everywhere, on top of boats and wooden markers. A walk down the small pier allows you a better look at the pelicans gathered in a weighted down fishing boat in four pelicans fighting over a fish while others have gathered on nearby boats or posts to watch in hopes of benefitting from the fight.
From this vantage you have a clear view of the ramshackle shacks patched together with a motley of scrap, each with people eating outside. There are a couple of restaurants that appear to have a more established feel to them, with numerous tables and chairs set up under tarp roofs. Festive Mexican music emanates from them, as they compete for attention.
Locals pack all of the restaurants, from the little shacks with four or five fishermen sitting outside sipping cervesa’s and eating their catch, to the two larger restaurants. Following a local fisherman into the Restaurant Y Cockteleria, we are taken back into the rustic kitchen where we pick our fish out of the ice, caught fresh that morning.
A live singer croons as we wait for our meal, enjoying the ambiance. The occasional vendor still comes by to ask if we’re interested in cotton candy, pork rinds or fresh fruit. There is nothing like sitting outside, salt water breezes kissing your skin, toes in the sand, cool drink sweating on the table and the mouth-watering smell of garlic and lime emanating from our fresh deep-fried grouper as it is brought out to us.
Story and photos by Tania Moffat
One of the best meals in Mexico. Yum.