One of the world’s leading travel destinations, Cancun offers an endless array of attractions with something for everyone, for the young and young at heart. Its pearly white beaches and turquoise waters are famous and offshore reefs provide plenty of excitement for snorkelers and divers. Water sports fans have a choice of aquatic playgrounds: the Caribbean for fishing, sailing and windsurfing and the huge Nichupte Lagoon for water skiing, kayak and jungle tours. There are several championship golf courses in the local area, upscale shopping centers, fine restaurants and glittering nightlife.
Selected in the late 1960s to be the site of Mexico’s first master-planned resort, from the inauguration of its first hotels in 1974, Cancun has never looked back. It has been the powerhouse of Mexican tourism for over 30 years and it is still going strong.
Cancun is the gateway to a world of natural and historical attractions in the Riviera Maya, the neighboring state of Yucatán and the Mundo Maya or Maya World, and offers you three vacations in one. You can relax on its Caribbean beaches and explore the Mesoamerican Reef, the second longest in the world, or venture inland to discover the wonders of the ancient Mayan civilization. Finally, wherever you go, you’ll experience Mexican hospitality and get a taste of the country’s rich and colorful culture.
A national marine park protects the chain of shallow water reefs in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres and at Punta Nizuc. Easily accessible, they harbor fish such as damsel and angelfish, silverlings and sergeant majors, and are a good place to start exploring the Mesoamerican Reef.
Another attraction for snorkelers and divers is the Cancun Underwater Sculpture Museum, the largest of its kind in the world. The brainchild of British sculptor Jason deCaires-Taylor, it already features more than 400 statues of local people from all walks of life that have been submerged in the vicinity of Manchones and Punta Nizuc reefs. Two more aquatic galleries are planned for Carbonera and Aristos reefs. Apart from their artistic merit, the figures provide a habitat for reef dwellers such as corals, sponges and algae to colonize, in time attracting other creatures such as small fish and crustaceans. For visitors who prefer not to get wet, rides on glass-bottomed boats and semi-submarines and a trip to the Cancun Aquarium offer a glimpse of Caribbean marine life.
Belying its ultramodern architecture, Cancun was actually first inhabited by the ancient Maya and vestiges of their culture still exist in the Hotel Zone at the El Rey and San Miguelito archaeological sites and on the mainland at El Meco.
Visitors can indulge in a spot of island hopping during their Cancun vacation. Four islands, each with their own ambiance and sites of interest await discovery in the Mexican Caribbean. Just a short boat ride across the bay, Isla Mujeres boasts beautiful beaches and coral reefs for snorkeling and diving. Contoy is an island bird sanctuary two hours to the north and Holbox is an island fishing community off the Gulf Coast with pristine beaches and mangrove forests rich in wildlife. Cozumel, Mexico’s largest inhabited island and one of the world’s most popular dive destinations lies to the south and there are ferry services from Playa del Carmen.