Cancun is in southeast Mexico, on the Caribbean Sea. It is a very popular spring and summer tourist destination. The origin of the name Cancún is unknown. Though Mayan tribes live here, it is not for sure that the name originates from Mayan culture.
There are, however, several small Mayan vestiges in Cancun. For example, El Rey is in the Hotel Zone, and you’ll find El Meco just outside of the city on the Punta Sam road.
Most popular sites including Coba and Muyil, Pole (now known as Xcaret), Kohunlich, Kinichna, Dzibanche, Oxtankah, Tulum, and Chacchoben are in both the Riviera Maya and the Grand Costa Maya. Chichen Itza is in the neighboring Yucatan state.
Things To Do In Cancun
Right in the middle of the hotel zone, this small but modern aquarium lets you get up close and personal with aquatic life. You can pet rays, nurse sharks, touch starfish, etc. There is also a chance to swim with captive dolphins in a large pool. US$15 basic admissions.
Water and Sand
Cancun is possibly best known for its beautiful turquoise waters and powdery white beaches.
Isla Contoy is about 30 km (19 mi) north of Isla Mujeres and apart from its natural beauty, it is considered to be the most important nesting place for seabirds in the Mexican Caribbean with more than 150 different species.
Ocean and Beaches
For the more advanced swimmers, the edge of the open ocean can make for a challenging and fun swimming experience. For less advanced swimmers or those with little ones, pick a resort facing Isla Mujeres for a gentle and relaxing aquatic experience.
Be aware that the island becomes extremely hot during the day and there are few if any opportunities to cool off. The sand found here is ground up coral and doesn’t get hot as you might expect.
The beaches are absolutely gorgeous and the water is crystal clear and warm. Spending the day on the beaches of Cancun is not only an opportunity to relax but to shop as well. Many of the native people of Cancun make a living by selling different items to the tourists on the beach.
There are a variety of items to be purchased from these vendors, items such as sarongs, jewelry, seashells and more. However, as in the markets, you have to be willing to bargain to get the right prices.
Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park located about 76 km (46 mi) south of Cancun and less than 7 km (4 mi) south of Playa del Carmen, in the Riviera Maya. Here you can admire tropical flora and fauna typical of the region as well as different expressions of the Mayan culture.
In its facilities, you can find an archaeological site, snorkeling in underground rivers, beach, butterfly pavilion, orchid greenhouse, regional fauna breeding farm, Mayan village, jaguar island, among others. For additional cost visitors can swim with captive dolphins; enjoy the Temascal and Spa services.
At night you can admire the unique night show “Xcaret México Espectacular” which features a variety of performances from ancient Mayan culture to traditional Mexican music and dances. Admission US$80.
Bird watching at the airport
It may sound odd, but because the airport is basically carved out of a large block of forest, there are all kinds of birds and animals around, especially early in the morning. Look for the Mexican agoutis (large forest rodents) grazing on the lawns next to the forest.
Swim with Dolphins
Wet N Wild, Delphinus Dreams, and Dolphin Discovery offers dolphin experiences. You can swim with dolphins. Beware, most of these places will not allow cameras and they will charge a high price for photos. You should always discuss the terms and conditions and what’s available in the package before signing up for any tour.
Experience some of the most beautiful parts of Cancun in a self-drive jeep safari. Tour prices usually include an experienced guide, and the chance to swim or snorkel in underground caves, explore Mayan ruins and visit a jungle reserve.
Exciting water tour. Choose either a jet ski or two person jet boat for a trip through the lagoon out to snorkel on the reef. Popular tours are the Jungle Tour and the Sailing Quest (Catamarans).
The Lobster Dinner Cruise
Take a trip out on the calm lagoon on a beautiful boat with friends you have not met yet. The staff allows you to take part in the fun or settle back and watch the sunset. Steak and lobster are cooked on the boat and is extra tasty when eaten out on the high seas.
New in Cancun with the First Division team “Potros de Hierro (Iron Colts) of Cancun”. The Atlante team, now based in Cancun, has a brand new stadium downtown.
Hidden Worlds Cenote Adventure Park, Tulum
Situated on the most extensive system of underwater caves and caverns on Earth, the park is home to some of the most stunningly beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, as featured in the critically acclaimed 2001 IMAX movie, Journey Into Amazing Caves, the 2005 Hollywood movie, The Cave, and the award-winning 2007 BBC Planet Earth television series. Enjoy zip lines, the world’s only SkyCycle, and snorkel tours in the most pristine cenotes in the area.
Punta Este Marina
Drive your own boat through the lagoon in the Jungle Tour and snorkel on the reef. Diving lessons and dive trips to the best dive spots in Cancun such as underwater museum.
Cancun Yachts Club
Yacht rentals in Cancun. exclusives luxury yachts for rentals tours in all the Cancun areas, snorkeling, diving, swimming the most save water activities on the yacht.
Exotic Rides Mexico
Driving experiences in some of the most exotic and luxurious cars in the world, race them on a private racetrack in Cancun.
Scuba dive with the most professional team in the area. Competitive prices and a wide catalog of diving programs.
Diving Center Cancun
Professional PADI certified scuba diving company provides PADI Diving certifications. Location is Boulevard Kukulcan, Km 3.2, Zona Hotelera, Marina Chac Chic.
When shopping in Cancun, you can either go into the downtown area or the hotel zone. Downtown is much cheaper, but the Hotel Zone has brand-name goods.
Bring your haggling skills and get ready for a vast shopping experience in any of the city markets in downtown Cancun. Great buys can be found, so stick to your price resolve. The prices are fixed in the (American style) malls and in the shops selling the brand-name goods which are comparable to those in the U.S. and Europe for the similar products.
One rule of thumb is to buy at 20-30% of the quoted price. For example, if a Mayan calendar pendant is offered to you at the discounted rate of $75, it’s actually probably worth about $25ish. The salespeople will insist that it’s worth much but stand your ground. If a salesperson agrees to your offer too quickly, you’re probably paying too much. In addition, a number of people have reported difficulty obtaining refunds.
Cancun’s nightlife is unlike any other destination on Earth. If you are a night person, this is your place to shine. The day doesn’t start until 11 am breakfast anyways.
Note: The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18.
The Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) is a huge venue and gets top entertainers and DJs. It’s no surprise to see Vegas like shows organized while you are busy sipping your piña colada. The clubs here can be expensive and may charge high covers ranging from US$20–60 per person.
The good news is the cover can include an open bar. But, again as with anything in life, you must confirm before buying the tickets.
Drink and Dance
You may find yourself dancing in a conga line, laughing your cares away and speaking whatever Español you managed to pick up. A must for the first timers, and always good fun for returners also. Coco Bongo’s entertainment includes a show, complete with girls swinging from the ceilings.
Most of the Hotel Zone venues listed below are located in Punta Cancun, between Km 9 and 10, in the area surrounding Hotel Krystal, Cancun Convention Center and the Grand Fiesta Americana.
What To Pack For Cancun
The beach city of Cancun can be a luxurious trip to Mexico. It has Pristine white beaches coupled with azure blue Caribbean waters which are home to diverse marine life. You can soak in the tropical sun, or dive into the deep blue waters.
To enjoy your trip, you need to keep in mind what to pack for Cancun. If you do not have what you require, then how can you possibly enjoy. We list out a few must-pack things for Cancun.
A Comfy Wardrobe
You know what it feels like on Long Island beach? Triple the intensity of the sun. That is the amount of heat you will experience here.
A swimsuit is without any doubt the first thing you should slip in your bag. Next is light and comfortable dresses (summer dresses) which you can wear throughout the day.
Walking shoes and sandals are easy to wear and comfy. To top off your look, crown yourself with a stylish Boonie hat (cheap and easy to pack). Sunglasses are not enough to compete with the heat here; a hat will up your style quotient as well as protect you from the sun.
Sun rays are harsh in Cancun. They might not just kiss your skin but burn it down. If you do not want red rashes all over your bikini-clad body, take sunscreen with you.
That too, not any sunscreen but something with higher SPF (Sun Bum SPF 50). Every time you dip in water, do not forget to reapply it. Skin of your lips is ten times more sensitive than your face. Put your lip balm consistently, to avoid dry and chapped lips.
Nobody wants to get sick while traveling. Just one wrong move and your trip might change from heaven to hell. We are talking about water.
Yep, you read it correctly. You will not want to risk your health on it. The water here is not safe unless it is from a bottle of restaurants. Listen to our advice and pack some bottles with you. If you have less immunity, then use bottled water to brush your teeth as well.
While talking about safety and health, how can we forget about insects? Mosquitoes can play havoc in a tropical climate. Buy the best insect repellent in the market, because you are going to need it. Spray it inside your hostel or hotel room before you go to bed. Word of precaution- do follow the instructions on it and get some ventilation in your room. Otherwise, you will end up suffocating in the gas.
You will get pesos in Mexico, but tipping in dollars here can make a beloved traveler. Bring one’s notes which are helpful while you tip.
There is no way around it; you do not want to forget it. May it is in the restaurant or parking lot, US dollars will be helpful.
Travelling takes you strange and beautiful places. You will have no idea what food tastes like there. But we guess you know what Mexican food is like.
Immodium or peptol Bismol will help keep your stomach happy. Traveling is for indulging yourself in food and fun. If you have packed these, you will have a worry-free vacay.
If you are in Cancun, you will go snorkeling. Your hotels might offer you masks and snorkels. But if are paranoid, then you will need to bring your mask and snorkel. You do not want to invite germs. Pack wise, stay safe.
From December to April Cancun is loaded with tourists. Hotels will be full. Do not be a surprise to hear noises. For relaxing, you need to shut out the outside noise with your earplugs.
Besides earplugs bring pens, plastic bags, portable chargers with you.
Cancun Safety Tips
It is strongly recommended that you buy bottled water. Bottled water, depending on size, typically costs 30-50 pesos (US$2.75-4.55).
Otherwise, do not drink the water unless your hotel has a water purification system. Most of the resorts in Cancun have purified water at all of the facilities located inside the resorts including the bars and restaurants. The upper-scale restaurants usually have purified water as well, but the water outside of these areas is not safe to drink.
The sun’s UV rays are extremely strong in Cancun, even on cloudy days, and will burn any exposed skin on most persons from northern climates within a few minutes. Sunscreens that may be adequate elsewhere may not be sufficient in Cancun.
Because Cancun has powerful waves, do not assume your sunscreen layer will remain intact. Always apply a fresh layer of sunscreen after taking a dip in the ocean.
The ocean currents in Cancun, depending on the season you visit, can be strong. While the currents may not be strong enough to pull you under, keep your guard up at all times. Look for the colored flags that are planted on the beach as well as ask your hotel’s concierge or a lifeguard (if one is available).
As a rule of thumb, if you’re not a strong swimmer (or a non-swimmer) it is best to stick to the hotel’s pool for water fun. Remember, beaches in Mexico are Federal Zones with no lifeguards on duty, lifeguards may only be found on the beaches at the hotels.
Cancun is a place where the weather can change in a matter of minutes rather than hours. As in most tropical places, rain storms will start quickly and leave as quickly as it came. When a storm lingers, use caution in the water; especially when lightning is present.
Most important lesson: nothing is free. If someone comes up to you and says you want a shot of tequila? Come on its fun. This means you have not negotiated the price.
“Tourist information” is another word for a sales representative. If someone is offering you a “free” tour to anyplace or at a discount, it means they are trying to sell you sell you something (you most likely won’t want or don’t want.
Don’t use ATMs out of the banks
There are ATMs all over Cancun. Use only ones that are inside banks or your hotel. Pharmacies, stores, gas stations are to be avoided. You will become a victim of identity theft or you will find big charges for the commission of using them.
The Buddy System- If you plan to have a long night out in the strip, take precautions and have a friend with you at all times (even walking to the bathroom). Unsuspecting tipsy tourists can be easy targets for petty robbery.
Near By Attractions
The largest Maya archaeological site in Yucatan, Chichen Itza is often visited on a day trip from Cancun but is rather distant and only a small portion of the site and attractions can be seen this way. If you find the ancient Maya of interest, spend a night at one of the hotels at Chichen so you can avoid having a rushed incomplete visit.
You can take a public bus or a private vehicle, about 2½ hours from Cancun by car. Also, close to the site is a cenote, which is a freshwater sinkhole, where you can swim. The Kukulcán Pyramid, one of the most impressive Maya structures and voted one of the World’s New Seven Wonders, is now closed off to climbing to preserve it from wear.
The only major Maya archaeological site to overlook the Caribbean Sea is only 128 km (80 mi) south of Cancun. Not one of the larger Maya sites, but the seaside location gives it a beautiful setting. Bus services from Cancun run around 2 hr and cost M$60. Tulum has over 60 different structures and is believed to be one of the most important ceremonial sites for the Maya people.
This archaeological zone that dates back more than 7 centuries show the remains of a huge walled city with roads, homes, and businesses by the sea. The major highlight of Tulum is El Castillo which is a large pyramid that sits on a forty-foot cliff. El Castillo is thought to be a part of a series of lighthouses. The architecture is similar to Chichen Itza but on a much smaller scale and you are not allowed to go inside or climb on the pyramids.
A great break from the Cancun tourist traps. This small island is a 20-minute ferry ride from the hotel zone or from Puerto Juárez Federal Dock, located 5 minutes from downtown Cancun. Rent a scooter to get around the island fast and cheap. There is a beautiful ecological water theme park, Garrafon, with splendid vistas on land and a magical underwater world.
A very pretty island and the most inhabited in all of Mexico, it is also an important Caribbean port of call. Chankanaab National Park is located here. Well known for its watersport activities such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, boating, and fishing.
A beautiful site; it was one the largest Maya cities in ancient times, but much is still hidden under lush jungle. It boasts the tallest pyramid of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Nohoch Mul. Muyil boasts a lake surrounded by many Maya constructions.
Valladolid is a small city dating from the Spanish Colonial era with lots of period local charm, between Cancun and Chichen Itza. The selection of hotels and restaurants makes it a nice base for a night or two; it’s a good deal closer to Chichen, and other impressive Maya ruins at Ek Balam are only about 15 minutes north of town.
Despite being a rather young city, Cancun has a memorial monument of its foundation on a replica of the old Airport Control Tower. The original Control Tower was made of wood and, according to major opinions, was the first built structure in the modern history of the city.
This tower was 15 meters high and had a 45-steps staircase. The hurricane damaged the first memorial in 2005. A new version appeared in 2010.
Development as a tourist destination started in 1970. At this time, there were only a few residents. The government financed the first hotels. Now, it is a prosperous resort.
The climate in Cancun is tropical, with consistent hot and humid weather throughout the year, and very warm sea temperatures. You can expect a gentle breeze from the ocean to keep you comfortable. Temperatures reach their peak around May, and you may notice the extreme heat as you travel inland.
Pro-tip: For trips to archeological sites, wear light clothing, stay cool, carry water, and rest often.
Peak season in Cancun tends to run from December to April. Airfare and hotel prices increase dramatically during these times while dropping in the (northern hemisphere) summer and early autumn months. Late June is especially hot, so come prepared or try the offseason. Hurricanes can be a major threat in late (northern hemisphere) summer and autumn.
Cancun has a tropical climate and is also one of the main hurricane impact areas in the Caribbean. The tropical storm season is from May through December. January can also be rather rainy. February through early May is drier, with only occasional rainy days.
The Atlante Futbol Club makes its home here since 2007. The Futbol Club, or F.C., moved here due to the low attendance at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The city is also home to the Tigres de Quintana Roo baseball team.
September 24, 2016 3:04 pm
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