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London style journalist Catherine Gordon relocated to Cancun when she fell in love with a local. Here’s her pick of the best-kept local secrets

Endless beaches, ice-cold Micheladas – what’s not to love about Mexico? Four years ago, I moved from London to live on the island of Isla Mujeres, when I married my Mexican scuba dive instructor and decided not to go home. Cancun may be known as the ultimate resort location for youthful pleasure-seekers, but has a down-home side I love even more.

The Isla Artist’s Fair in the main square on Isla Mujeres offers a glimpse of island life as residents get together in the zocolo to show off their handmade creations from beaded jewellery to papier-mâché sculptures. Organised by Tiffany, who runs the nearby Barlito café, the fair includes musicians, recycled art and my favourite, a cupcake stall. The fair takes place on the first Thursday of every month from 4 to 7pm.

Coco Beach Organic Market in super-chic Playa Del Carmen is the place to spend your morning if you want to sample local oranges, fresh chia juice or home-baked chili bread. But it’s not just for foodies – there are also plenty of handicrafts, including handmade soft toys and jewellery. Every Friday, 9-11am, Les Alizes Condominiums, Av CTM (Calle 46) and Calle Flamingo (behind The Elements and across from the police substation). Email lifeisgood@alizesplaya.com for more info.

All that shopping will probably have worked up an appetite. For authentic Mexican home-style cooking, seek out the new no-frills eatery El Sabor de Mexico, in Puerto Morelos, a quiet seaside town where we love to spend our weekends. The owner, Jin from Veracruz, serves up delicious tacos, enchiladas, tamales and mole, a speciality of Oaxaca. Open daily, 7am to 11pm, Av Javier Rojo Gomez, Puerto Morelos. Contact Jin at  jinceballos@gmail.com.

You can’t leave Cancun, especially at this time of year, without getting your groove on. If you want a big night out on New Year’s Eve, one of the Riviera Maya’s biggest dance events, Dance Paradise, is in Playa on December 31

Photo by Getty Images

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