Feet in the sand
Cancún offers a full 22 km of fine white sands and turquoise ocean, almost all open to the public. The most popular are in the Zona Hotelera, like Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol, the former ideal for water sports, snorkelling and bungee jumping, the latter a perfect oasis for escaping from frenetic tourism.
Playa Delfines is another place absolutely not to be missed, where you can take a photo souvenir of the giant Cancún city sign and take a tour to view the dolphins. One of the liveliest beaches is Playa Chac Mool, while Puerto Morelos, a small fishing village between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, boasts a splendid coral reef only 500 metres from the coast.
The beauties of this place are not always visible on the surface; you have to go and seek them in the most hidden of places. For example, you have to plunge into the water between Cancún and Isla Mujeres to see the Musa (Underwater Art Museum), offering the most famous submarine sculpture museum in the entire world.
Built to minimise the impact of tourism on the coral reef, the museum offers a unique chance to snorkel among more than 400 sculptures on a natural scale. It would be unforgivable to visit the Yucatan and not see the cenotes, majestic underwater caves of incomparable beauty; also not to be missed are the Cenote Tres Bocas, near Puerto Morelos, the Cenote Azul and the Cenote Jardin del Eden, in the vicinity of Playa del Carmen.
On the Maya trail
The resorts and luxury hotels have not covered the traces of the Maya culture, still visible thanks to the two archaeological sites of great historical interest situated in the heart of the Zona Hotelera: Yamil Lu'um and El Rey, where the remains of temples and ceremonial plinths rise up.
The same zone also houses the Maya Museum, while the El Meco site is located at only 8 km from the centre Cancún can perhaps offer only a taste of this ancient culture, but by travelling about 200km inland you can visit the majestic complex of Chitchén Itzá, one of Seven Wonders of the World.
For history enthusiasts who still don’t want to give up on the sea life, Tulum is the ideal place: here the archaeological site, with the imposing El Castillo (castle), directly faces onto the beach.
Even those “suffering” from shopping addition will be spoilt for choice by the daunting choice of shops and artisan markets. There are numerous shopping malls along the Zona Hotelera, some directly facing the sea, like the popular Forum, which has its own exclusive beach club, Plaza Kukulcan, and Luxory Avenue, a parade of luxury brands; not to forget the Isla Shopping Village, a very atmospheric mall, crossed by canals and bridges.
Those in search of artisan products are spoilt for choice, from the Casa del Arte Popular Mexicano, a marvellous shop-museum, to the very popular Mercado Coral Negro, where you can buy the emblematic sombrero, or sample the xtabentun, an aniseed-flavoured spirit local to the Yucatán. Lastly, it is worth your time to make for the centre of Cancún just to wander among the stalls of the Mercado 28, which sell lovely hand-made souvenirs.
Real Mexican cuisine is so varied and set in tradition as to be recognised by Unesco World Heritage. Strong and powerful flavours, with confident use of spices and chilli, are a prime feature of local dishes, including arroz (rice), frijoles (beans) and the unmissable tortilla (cornflour flatbreads), which are the mainstays of many dishes. The passion of the Mexicans for spicy food is only equalled by their sauces, served up in numerous variants, from the best-known, guacamole, perfect for nachos, to mole, to the emblematic chili sauce.
To become immersed in local flavours, take a trip to the El Centro zone, in particular the Parque de las Palapas, or the area around the Mercado 28, where you will discover street food benches and charming local restaurants. Many resorts and bars have a water-purification system but, for greater safety, it is strongly recommended always to drink bottled water.
A true paradise for snorkelling enthusiasts, this small island facing Cancún can offer crystal-clear water and an outstanding seabed, perfect for the appreciation of marine fauna and flora. Playa Norte, situated in the north of the island, is listed among the most lovely beaches in the world, while in the south, in the environs of the Parque Garrafón, there is a splendid coral reef populated by thousands of tropical fish.
For the bravest, in the summer months Isla Mujeres offers the opportunity of swimming with whale sharks, while Tortugranja, on the west coast, is a foundation for the protection of marine turtles: the ticket price not only pays for a view of the animals living in the free state but also means you contribute to the protection of this precious species.
Livin’ la vida loca
One of the main reasons for visiting Cancún is its crazy nightlife, not by chance the preferred location for students on their spring break: the bars and beach clubs make sure that pleasure is to be had any time you like Cancún’s nightlife hotspot is the Forum By the Sea, which boasts a concentration of the best-known clubs in all the Maya Riviera, and includes the celebrated Coco Bongo, the Mandala and the Hard Rock.
While the Grand Mambo Café unleashes rumba and salsa rhythms all night long, as a contrast the Casa del Habana can supply you with the best mojitos around and a great selection of Cuban cigars.
Though Mexico is generally considered to be an “at risk” country, in particular in terms of delinquency and organised crime, Cancún is a relatively safe zone; however it is not advisable to wander into isolated areas and we recommend staying in the more frequented areas.
To enter Mexico you need a passport with a residual validity of at least six months from the time of entry to the country; a tourist visa is not required for visits of less than 90 days.
On arrival, a form has to be filled in (Forma Migratoria), which can be obtained from the local authorities, the main airports and the various airline companies. An airport tax is also payable, usually included in the cost of the airline ticket.
For more information visit our web site http://www.inm.gob.mx/
The Cancún climate is tropical and therefore features sunny days with an average temperature of around 27°C throughout the year, with a humid and rainy season from May to October and a cooler and relatively drier season from November to April.
The best time to visit the city is from February to the end of May, because of the pleasant temperatures, not yet affected by summer humidity, and the numerous sun-kissed days.
TipsCancún is an all-day part, but there are events of international renown throughout the year: the most important is the Carnevale, which takes place in February/March, at the same time as the Inception Music Festival, at the height of the spring break.
From the end of October to November there are the Festival del Jazz and the Wine and Food Festival, one of the most important culinary events in the Caribbean.
Cancún is a fine example of a perfect marriage between white sands, uncontaminated nature and luxury resort. In recent decades, this Mexican city grew from a tiny fishing village, to be transformed into a true Caribbean paradise for tourists. Each year millions of people disembark onto the Yucatán peninsula, attracted by the Maya whose this land this was, and desirous of swimming with the dolphins and exploring evocative submerged museums, as well as visiting the many bars and beach clubs from which Latino music floats with the rhythms of the night.