10 reason to visit this Mexican resort
By Sandra Scott
Located on the Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea, Cancun is known for its wonderful beaches and fun in the sun.
Cancun was built specifically to lure tourists to what, in 1970, was a remote area of Mexico. The area was perfect due to year-round good weather, blue skies, white sand beaches lined with palm trees, few mosquitos and snakes. Build it and they will come … and they have — in the millions.
1. Beaches: Most of the resorts have direct access to the beach. There’s a sandy beach (playa) perfect for everyone. Some beaches have more waves than others while some of the calmer ones may be best for those with small children. Not all beaches have flags indicating the safety level: green means it is safe for swimming while black means extreme danger. The beaches are found in several locations with the Cancun Hotel Zone claiming the best beaches. Don’t forget the sun screen.
2. Maya Museums: Learn about the area’s rich culture from skeletal remains that date back 14,000 years to modern day including displays of Mayan architecture and art. The museum was built in and around the San Miguelito archeological site, providing a look into Mayan civilization and pre-Columbian culture. Don’t miss the underwater museum with dozens of statues that can be enjoyed by diving or on a glass-bottom boat. There is an eco-aspect to the exhibit. The marine cement promotes reef growth and water fauna.
3. Xcaret: Xcaret is a unique theme park where it is easy to spend the entire day. Visitors can snorkel through an underground river, visit a coral reef aquarium with a sea turtle center, learn about Maya culture at the folk museum, and enjoy water activities on the beach and lagoon. Not to miss is the Mexico Espectacular, a colorful evening extravaganza covering many aspects of Mexican history.
4. Isla Mujeres: Isla Mujeres, The Island of Women, is a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun. While it is touted as a quiet getaway, there are several things to do. Rent a golf cart and drive to Punta Sur at the island’s southernmost tip where an ancient temple honors the Mayan moon goddess. Garrafon Reef Park offers a variety of things to do including snuba, a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving.
5. Chichen Itza: Even though it is a two-hour ride from Cancun it is the island’s most notable archeological site and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was the center of Mayan Civilization. El Castillo, the pyramid-like temple, honored the god Kukulkan. It is no longer permitted to climb the pyramid but there are many other things to see. In the evening there is a sound-and-light show. There are several hotels near the ruins, including The Lodge at Chichen Itza which offer a private entrance to the park.
6. Thrilling: There are many ways to get an adrenaline rush. Xplor, an all-inclusive adventure park, is the most visited zip-line park in the world. It has several other activities including exploring caves and underground rivers Explore the Rio Secreto Nature Reserve outside of Cancun where participants swim and wade in one of the most spectacular underground caves in Mexico. Try parasailing, jet skiing, diving in a cenote, ATV-ing through the jungle, and, the newest activity, fly-boarding.
7. Satisfy your appetite: Mexican cuisine is a mouthwatering mix of indigenous and Hispanic cultures. Enjoy spectacular sunsets and music along with a surf and turf meal on a romantic Spanish galleon dinner cruise. There are several cooking schools, including Yum Cooking Workshop where attendees can learn how to make traditional Mayan meals. It is the perfect family activity that includes tequila and mescal tasting.
8. Unique: Cancun is a popular destination for weddings but even people who are already wed can renew their vows with a traditional Mayan wedding performed by a shaman in the Mayan language. Try a temazcal, a sweat lodge of pre-Hispanic origins. It is overseen by a shaman who controls the heat by tossing water and herbs on the coals. It is supposed to improve health and healing by eliminating toxins, aiding in blood circulation, and toning the skin. It is usually included in a Mayan wedding ceremony but can be enjoyed any time.
9. Tips: Cancun is tourist-friendly and English is widely spoken in the tourist areas. Avoid the hassle of getting a taxi at the airport by preordering an airport-hotel transfer. Avoid booking tours and changing money at the airport. US dollars and credit cards are widely accepted. The best place to exchange money is at a bank and book tours recommended by your hotel. Remember it is customary to bargain when shopping.
10. Ruins: Chichen Itza is the most notable archeological site but Tulum is also popular. For an out-of-the-way archeological site inhabited by more iguanas than people check out the El Rey ruins. Playa del Carmen and the isle of Cozumel are also fun places to visit. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Tulum with an extensive canal system that weaves its way through the mangrove and it is home to a large number of migratory birds, reptiles, and marine life, many of which are on the endangered species list. Party lovers will have no trouble finding places to let loose. Many of the bars feature music in the evenings.
Photo: Cancun’s main attraction: miles of sandy beaches.