The resort city of Cancun located in southeast Mexico on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is an immensely popular vacation destination. The town, which consists of two distinct zones, the Zona Hotelera (the stretch with hotels and restaurants) and El Centro ( the center of the city ) is fronted by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and has a expanse of powder soft white sand beaches.
Cancun’s many famous beaches such as Tortugas, Langosta, Juventud, Caracol, and others are dotted with hotels of every type. Many of these hotels offer direct access to the beachfront and are hugely popular with vacationers.
While Cancun’s abundant beaches offer various hedonistic delights including a plethora of water sports, the resort city also has some fascinating attractions that are well worth exploring if would like a break from the beach.
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site Chichén Itzá
Chichén Itzá is a sprawling Mayan archeological site accessible via a two and a half hour drive from Cancun. The site once served as the hub of the Mayan civilization. It features fascinating points of interest like El Castillo, a pyramid-like structure that was a temple to the Mayan deity Kukulkan.
It would be best if you planned to visit to Chichén Itzá early in the day as it is always heaving with tourists. For your explorations, you may want to wear comfortable footwear and bring a hat, water, and bug spray to deal with the elements.
Take a Day Trip to Isla Mujeres (or the Island of Women).
Ferries regularly depart for the tranquil island of Isla Mujeres from various points in the Cancun hotel zone. The ferry ride from Cancun to this small, four-mile island is merely 20 minutes long, but once you get here, you feel you are a world away for Isla Mujeres is a sleepy town compared to the always bustling Cancun.
The island offers a few scenic attractions like Punta Sur, an area located on its southern coast, which is home to a Mayan temple dedicated to a moon goddess. Cliffs encircle the temple and offer stunning views across the bay.
Another attraction located in proximity to Punta Sur is Garrafon Reef Park which offers several water sporting activities such as kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling along with a zip line.
Isla Mujeres also serves as a nesting ground for sea turtles, and if you visit between the months of August and October, you will probably have a chance to spot the wondrous sight of turtles coming ashore to nest.
El Rey Ruins
The El Rey Ruins are easily accessible from Cancun’s Hotel Zone as they are situated at the end of the Punta Nizuc stretch of the city. The ruins represent an area that was the center of maritime trade during the Mayan era. The relatively small attraction comprises the remnants of 47 buildings and tombs that date back to 900 AD.
Most of the hotels in Cancun offer tours of the site, which is open from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily. Of particular interest are the colonies of iguanas that reside on the site and provide fantastic photo opportunities for the modern day selfie-loving generation of tourists.
El Meco Archaeological Site
The El Meco Archaeological site is another historic attraction that is worth exploring, as it is easily accessible from Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The Mayans used the area as a hub for trade until the Spanish arrived here in the 16th century.
The main attraction of the El Meco Archaeological site is the El Castillo pyramid-like structure that rises to a height of 12.5 meters and affords stunning views from its summit.
The Maya Museum
If you have an interest in learning more about the history of the Mayan civilization, then you may want to visit the Maya Museum housed in Cancun’s expansive Convention Center. The museum traces the history of the Mayan culture from its origin. The museum offers displays of 350 artifacts including Mayan art and architecture as well as archeological remains.
Cancun Underwater Museum
The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art is a fascinating and unique attraction that was founded by six artists from Mexico and Britain after a storm wreaked havoc on the Cancun National Marine Park in 2009. The museum consists of underwater galleries that feature human figures in a variety of poses. There are 500 such sculptures in the museum. They represent an initiative called ‘art of conservation’ for these figures will eventually form the anchor for coral reefs. If you are not a diver, you can take a tour aboard a glass-bottomed boat to explore this exciting attraction.
Cancun Interactive Aquarium and Urbano Kabah Park
If you are on holiday with your children, then a trip to the Cancun Interactive Aquarium should feature on your ‘must-visit ‘ list. At the aquarium you can don fins and a snorkel and swim around the enclosures that brim with rich marine life of the region. However, the highlight of any aquarium visit in Cancun is the ‘swimming with the dolphins’ experience.
Another family-friendly attraction is the Urbano Kabah Park or the Kabah ecological park. This verdant space features a mile long trail dotted with palm trees and gardens and encompasses a petting zoo and a playground.
Let’s Plan Your Trip to Cancun
Spring Break is right around the corner, followed by summer vacation – but really anytime is perfect to visit Cancun because the weather is nice year round.
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