Cancun’s main ‘hotel zone’ is spread out along a 20km stretch of beach, flanked by a peaceful inland lagoon. The resort has shopping malls and plenty of places to eat and drink, as well as several good nightclubs. An intoxicating mix of the old and the new, the rustic and the sophisticated, and American standards combined with Spanish influence. Lying on the Eastern Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is Cancun, Mexico’s premier holiday resort, a bustling and chic resort with modern, American-style hotels of a high standard, a multitude of restaurants, soft sandy beaches, and plenty of sports both on land and water. Resorts along the Mayan Riviera have a more relaxed feel while south of Cancun lies the resort of Playa del Carmen with its laid back atmosphere, excellent white sand beach and great variety of restaurants and bars. Nightlife is low key compared to Cancun. The area has many historical sites including Tulum and Chichen Itza, 130 miles from Cancun, one of the most important archaeological sites and capital of the Mayan civilization. Merida is a Spanish colonial city and the cultural capital of the Yucatan region. The main reason for visiting Cancun is to relax on the beautiful white sand beach or go diving to see the coral life. Isla Mujeres, a 25-minute boat ride from Cancun, has good snorkelling and beaches and great diving sites including Los Manchones, La Bandera, Cuevones and the Sleeping Shark Caves. A visit to the island of Cozumel is also well worth a visit.
If you want a lesson in how to get things right, first time, take your Mexico holiday in Cancun. Giving the Caribbean a run for its money, Cancun holidays offer paradise, without the price tag. A generation ago, this sublime spot was a forlorn place – a spur of sand overlooking a muddy lagoon at the edge of the rainforest. Now it’s a billion dollar plus tourism industry, leading the way in showing Central America how to raise its stakes and attract wealthy Americans, fun-loving Europeans and sleek cruise liners, with their all-important holiday dollars. Not to mention the fact that Cancun weddings are becoming increasingly popular.
Make no mistake, when the Mexican tourist authority wanted to create a tourist resort to rival Florida they left nothing to chance – ensuring that Mexico holidays were every bit as good as the best of the Caribbean. Twenty years later, this lonely spur, shaped like a number seven, arching out from the mainland at the old market town of Cancun, is transformed.
Cancun holidays enjoy the saltwater and freshwater activities. The lagoon is clean and fresh, the sand is sieved and sparkly, and the spur of land is now one swift and straight avenue of designer malls, watersports clubs, dolphin shows and sherbert-coloured hotel complexes, each more eye-catching than the last.
There’s not a lot of subtlety here – the international hotel brands jostle each other for attention, creating powder pink castles of ostentatious luxury – replete with complex pool systems, swim-up bars, private stretches of beach (don’t worry, there’s plenty to go round) and all manner of pampering opportunities.
If the Hotel Zone (the name they give to this spur of land) looks daunting in its seemingly never-ending length, don’t worry, it’s all conveniently broken down into sections, each section having enough late night bars, shopping villages, cinemas and waterparks to keep you from wandering too far. But do. Wander all the way into Cancun’s old town (past the largest Mexican flag we’ve ever seen) and explore the taverns, markets and (cheaper) shops of the real Cancun.
And don’t forget to delve deep into the rain forest for three hours to gasp in amazement at the Chichen Itza complex, the Mayan city only rediscovered a century ago, when an explorer spotted the pinnacle of the Pyramid of Kukulcan poking out from the undergrowth which had reclaimed this once mighty city and seat of Mayan power.
A dazzling white vision, rising from the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, Cancun is every bit as good as the travel brochures proclaim – and the main reason Mexico holidays – and Cancun holidays in particular have become so popular so quickly. And, with its mix of world-class resort hotels, fine beaches, excellent facilities, and fascinating cultural history, it’s not hard to see why this resort easily gives Florida a run for its money.
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