Cancún has 200-plus days of sun a year and a temperature that averages 80F. With these statistics, it isn't hard to understand why it is Mexico's top tourist destination. Located on the tip of the Yucatan peninsula, its beaches are unparalleled, broad expanses of gleaming white sand stretched out beside the clear blue-green waters of the Caribbean.
Over 700 years ago, Cancún was home to the great Mayan civilization. Today, this exotic paradise joins the ancient past to the present as one of the world's most modern and exciting resort areas.
A wide range of restaurants, vivacious night life, a variety of shopping opportunities, and the overall tropical atmosphere draw over two million visitors a year.
The hotel zone, which is what most tourists think of as Cancún, is a fourteen mile long, thin island shaped like a "7." To the North is the Caribbean Sea with wide open beaches and strong waves. To the west the shore is buffeted by Isla Mujeres (Isle of Women), causing calmer waters. To the south, between the island and the mainland is the Nichupte Lagoon which is perfect for all water sports. It is this island that was created specifically for its present purpose, as the ideal vacation destination in a totally natural tropical setting accompanied by all the amenities of life in the 21st century.
Mainland Cancún has a much different ambience than the hotel zone, because it is an area of permanent residence for some 450,000 people. It offers markets instead of malls, and street vendors and outdoor cafes rather than air-conditioned restaurants. Downtown Cancún has little of the glamor of the hotel zone, but is a fast growing and interesting city to visit.
Visitors who are nostalgic for their home cities will be comforted to know that the developers of Cancún included businesses such as Outback Steakhouse, Dunkin' Donuts, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, McDonalds, WalMart and Blockbuster.
The whole family is welcome and appreciated in Cancún. Much thought and preparation has gone into developing attractions that will be of interest to family members of all ages. AquaWorld is one such facility. It offers wave runners, water skiing, windsurfing, catamarans, paddle boats, sailboats, kayaks, floats and boogie boards. There is even a sub sea explorer craft with large glass windows built into the sides for underwater viewing of fish, coral formations, turtles, and other marine life. There is no excuse not to have fun! Children will also enjoy time spent at Xcaret, the waterside theme park.
The Cancún Convention Center is the site of a variety of performing arts events, as well as displays of paintings and sculpture. Cancún has a wide choice of nighttime entertainment. Most of the hotels on the island have discos where dancing continues through the night into the early morning hours. Ballet Folklórico de Mexico performs nightly at the Continental Villas Plaza Hotel. Latin music is performed live at several clubs and attracts people of all ages. Rock 'n roll oldies bring crowds of dancers to Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café. Comedy acts and romantic dinner cruises round out the nighttime offerings.
Holidays and fiestas provide additional reasons to celebrate the beauty and joy of time spent in Cancún. In the church plaza, intricate dances passed down from family to family since ancient times, continue for hours. Dancers dress in symbolic costumes of vivid colors. Some villages even offer a bullfight as part of the festivities. However, in the Yucatan, both the bull and the matador are required to end the contest unharmed. Live music accompanies the performance. In the end, the bull is untied and returns to his rural home.
There is never a season of the year that isn't just the right time to step back from life's hectic pace and visit Cancún. A world apart awaits the visitor to this majestic land of incomparable beauty.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.