Cancun is an exotic paradise resting at the tip of the Yucatan peninsula. These resplendent shores off the Gulf of Mexico enjoy well over 200 days of sunshine each year, creating an environment that is as ideal for enjoying active pursuits as it is for lounging on the beach with a cool glass.
This well-developed coastal retreat is divided into two main areas. The most frequently visited by international tourists is known as the Hotel Zone, a thin, boomerang shaped island spanning 14 miles in the Caribbean Sea. The mainland is dominated by residential neighborhoods, housing most of the 450,000 people that call Cancun their home.
The region as a whole is most noted for its consistent weather and crystal clear turquoise waters as well as its powdery white sand. Laying claim to a rich cultural tapestry as well as ample contemporary appeal, Cancun has long stood as the most popular tourist destination in all of Mexico.
The focus on providing a safe and positive experience for tourists has been substantially bolstered in the last few years. Municipal police and private peacekeeping forces keep a vigilant eye on the Hotel Zone along with Playa del Carmen, and the national Navy patrols the beaches in a partnership with federal police.
Due in large part to these targeted efforts, there is little crime in areas most appealing to the typical visitor. Still, as with any destination, travelers should make themselves at least somewhat familiar with their surroundings when venturing into town as well as minimizing display of valuable items to avoid drawing undesirable attention.
Cancun has one of the most complete transportation systems of any tourist destination in the country. To support the highly active nightlife scene, the public buses in the city run around the clock, serving most neighborhoods with regular service. Visitors who wish to explore the nearby ruins or surrounding areas such as Tulum or Chichen Itza may want to consider renting a car, as bus lines are concentrated within city limits.
Taxis are another readily available mode of transportation for visitors. They are available directly outside the front door of every hotel, and also patrol the streets to provide added accessibility for pedestrians. The separation between the two main areas of Cancun and the island locations of several local attractions makes ferries a necessity for travel as well, with schedules and routes available online.
Points of Interest
More than perhaps any destination in the country, Cancun is designed to cater to the interests of international tourism. One of the most appealing points of interest for families is AquaWorld, a fully featured water park offering a range of activities including waverunner rides and windsurfing as well as an underwater exploration vehicle that offers memorable views of the marine environment through oversized windows.
The Cancun Convention Center is another popular entertainment option. Here, visitors can experience a wide variety of performing art events as well as concerts, live shows, and art exhibitions. Cancun is also home to a number of familiar establishments from abroad, including Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café.
From tourists looking for leisurely daytime escapes to visitors seeking out an unforgettable nightlife experience, Cancun delivers something for practically everyone that arrives on its shores. The island of Cancun envelops a beautiful lagoon, making it a prime destination for snorkeling and scuba diving as well as surface-level activities such as sunset sailing.
Cancun has plenty to offer for thrill-seekers as well. Water-skiing and paddleboarding are staple pursuits in the area, treating the adventurous to a palette of marine colors ranging from seafoam green near the shores to deep indigo at the horizon. Many clubs and bars in the city are open through the early hours of the morning, giving partiers all the time they need to celebrate a life well lived.
The region provides an array of opportunities for guests to take in a cultural experience. The city’s main plaza is home to dozens of food carts turning out cuisines from around the world, a community of vendors offering handcrafted souvenirs, and a large stage where traditional presentations and contemporary events are regularly showcased. Shoppers can also spend an afternoon in the kaleidoscopic maze of the city’s Market 28.
Around the city proper, even more interest awaits. The area was once a stronghold of the Mayan civilization, and their impact persists to this day in the form of archeological sites. Nearby islands such as Cozumel and Isla Mujeres also present a look at the region’s history, and make outstanding daytime excursions.
Spring is an especially active time in Cancun. While the holiday is typically more subdued in most Mexican locales, the diverse international population of Cancun makes the city’s Cinco de Mayo celebration one of the liveliest in the country. Each year on the date, tourists and locals come together to create a massive citywide party complete with costumes, themed decorations, and special events such as concerts and a food festival.
The region is also one of the world’s foremost fishing destinations, and with May and June offering perfect fishing weather the area is a natural site for the annual International Fishing Tournament. Here, anglers from around the world set out in search of the record-breaking sailfish, dorado, and mahi-mahi for which the area is known, and days usually culminate in a fish fry on the shores of the city that is open to the public.
While Cancun has earned a reputation for some of the most polished accommodations anywhere in Mexico, the area offers windows into an engaging cultural experience as well. Combining traditional touches with modern amenities, Cancun offers a look into both the country’s history and future.