A well-known resort city that is almost a rite of passage for many college spring-breakers, Cancun is also a popular destination for family vacations, educational groups, and more. Stick to the resort side of the city, otherwise known as Zona Hotelera, to take advantage of the beachfront, all-inclusive vacation packages or head towards El Centro, the traditional downtown area and home to the city’s vibrant native culture. Set on the intense blue and turquoise water of the Caribbean, this Yucatan cosmopolitan destination draws in visitors for its natural beauty, relaxed atmosphere, and abundance of attractions which make for a fun-filled vacation.
The beaches of Cancun are second to none and span the city’s entire coast. If you gravitate toward larger crowds, head to beaches like Playa Tortugas or Playa Langosta where the natural beauty, crystal clear warm water, and sugary soft sand are magnets for beach-goers. Other beaches, which are less crowded, offer unimpeded views of the sea and surroundings with a more relaxed atmosphere.
Cancun, like many other cities in the Yucatan, is ripe with history and fascinating landmarks including Yamil Lu’um, also known as the Scorpion’s Temple. This ancient ceremonial facility is located directly in town in a park-like area preserving the Mayan structure used between 1200 and 1500 AD. The Mayan Temple devoted to the moon and fertility goddess Ixchel is also located here in Cancun. Stop by and learn how the Spanish explorer Cordoba ‘discovered’ the temple in 1517 during one of his expeditions and view the remaining artifacts that have been excavated. If you don’t mind a day trip, the fabulously intact Mayan landmark of Chichen Itza lies only 2 hours away from Cancun and would make for an excellent and bucket-list worthy stop.
The crystal clear waters of the Caribbean make Cancun an incredible site for diving excursions. Off the coast, you will find a plethora of wildlife from sharks to stingrays, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and all the fish you can imagine swimming about the colorful reefs and underwater architecture like the sea cave Sistema Dos Ojos. Also make sure you visit Cancun’s Underwater Museum, one of two Yucatan destinations featuring hundreds of concrete sculptures in a man-made reef under the calm blue waves, accessible only by scuba and snorkeling.
Cancun’s cultural and tourist influence make it a great destination for those who don’t speak Spanish but still want the traditional Mexican flair. While you can dine in the resorts’ fine establishments, there are also many exciting and tasty restaurants to be found such as La Destileria, Cancun’s most famous Mexican eatery, and Julia Mia, a contemporary yet traditional Mexican establishment.