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Exploring a Caribbean Wonderland
 
 

Cancun certainly offers an unending list of activities and experiences for our visitors.  There is something new to do in each new visit, and something to look forward to do in one’s next visit. Below we have described a few things – this list is not exhaustive as there are several other things one may do.

Cancun has wide walkways for those who like to run, skate, bike or stroll in the great green outdoors.  The main walkway is the length of the hotel zone (22 kilometers), ideal during the day or during the night as it is well lit.  There are also several 18 holes golf courses for the golf lovers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Mayan Heritage
 
 

Cancun is about 33 years old, but long before the modern world discovered its natural riches, the ancient Maya called it home.

There are several archaeological sites in the area.  In the hotel zone of Cancun one may find the “Ruinas del Rey”.  This is a small site that dates back to the 13th century.  There are also other ceremonial sites like Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum.  These, among other sites, continue to amaze visitors and are not that far from the city.  One may take a tour, rent a vehicle or take the bus to explore the various sites.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Activities
 
 

Cancun’s perfectly manicured pedestrian path, which traces the ocean side of the hotel zone, is beautiful by day and well lit by night. It is perfect for a morning jog or a leisurely walk. Consider renting inline skates or bikes and explore all 22 kilometers (14 miles) of it. Mopeds and buggies are also available for rent if you want to take a scenic, self-guided tour down Kukulcan Boulevard. In addition, golf lovers do not have to take a vacation from the green; there are several pro-designed courses in and around Cancun for a challenging 18-hole game.

 
 
 
 
 
 
El Centro (Downtown Cancun)
 
 

El Centro is full of fascinating experiences, often not visible to the naked eye of a tourist. A few amazed me and captured my imagination.

A self-guided tour is the best way to experience downtown, either by public bus-which is much cheaper-or by a taxi. You can easily take a bus downtown from the Hotel Zone.

Enjoy a tour of the downtown on your own – by bus or taxi and then return to certain locations to walk around and to sit and enjoy.  There are fascinating and unique experiences to be lived in the downtown area.  There are frequent buses from the down town area to the hotel zone and vice versa.  Ask around for the free presentations, concerts and public events at the Parque de las Palapas (Palapas Park).  The Palapas Park is Cancun’s oldest and main park that is found just a few steps away from the Avenida Tulum.  One can experience part of the “Mexican daily life” by visiting Market 28 and/or Market 23.  These markets are packed full of handcrafters, woodworkers, jewelers, bakers, and butchers, among others.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Buen Provecho
 
 
Buen provecho is a phrase that you will hear at the beginning of each meal. It means “good appetite”. And a good appetite is needed in order to enjoy the delicious food of the regional kitchen. Cancun has a lot to offer, including the delicious dishes that are prepared by chefs that are internationally well known. Some of the chefs are recognized in Italy, Argentina and Japan, as well as Mexico. Yucatecan cuisine is a cuisine that is highly recommended while visiting the area.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Isla Contoy
 
 
This small island is a delight for bird watchers and those who simply enjoy tropical habitats. Isla Contoy is accessible by ferry and is home to more than 100 species of sea birds. The government protects the entire island. Enjoy such exotic species as the double-crested cormorant and the roseate spoonbill. Pack a lunch.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Isla Mujeres
 
 

The perfect respite for the traveler looking to get away from it all: Isla Mujeres is a small, but beautiful, shard of an island. It is a short ferry ride from Cancun and offers a retreat from endless activity. Not surprisingly, it also is a wonderful venue for some of the area's most succulent seafood. Of course, it also offers beautiful seascapes and great places to dive. Along Playa Norte is the best beach with shallow, calm water.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Riviera Maya
 
 

Not very long ago, the entire eastern flank of the Yucatan peninsula was a virgin beach, its long stretches of white sand overlooked by nothing more ambitious than a coconut palm. Times have changed and progress has touched the Riviera Maya, today’s name for the 160-kilometer (100-mile) corridor from Cancun to Tulum.

For most of us, a piece of heaven on earth includes a combination of sand, sun and fun, and the Riviera Maya, with its talcum-powder beaches, underground rivers, archaeological sites and turquoise sea, suits most visions.
Just 52 kilometers south of Cancun’s international airport is Playa del Carmen, an old fishing village now turned to a main attraction. Playa del Carmen has been experiencing an amazing development. It is now, along with Cancun one of the most important and sophisticated destinations.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Playa del Carmen
 
 
Playa del Carmen is located only 53 kilometers south of Cancun.  Previously it was a fishermen’s village but now it is a city where you can find everything you might need within walking distance: hotels, bars, shopping centers, restaurants, cultural centers and recreation centers.  Playa del Carmen is the ideal place for those that are looking to enjoy the Mexican Caribbean in an enchanting and friendly place.  It is a tropical location.  The temperature generally averages 26° Celsius and 30° Celsius in the summer.  The main rainy months are September and October.  Throughout the area one can find archaeological sites, golf courses, jungle tours and nature parks.  Aquatic sports are also an excellent option.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Puerto Morelos
 
 
Puerto Morelos is located only 30 kilometers south of Cancun.  It is small town that is bustling with everyday fishermen activity.  It is originally a fisherman’s village and most of the town inhabitants continue to earn their living from the fishing.  The beach is what is expected of this part of the Mexican Caribbean: soft and inviting.  The Bohemia life is a characteristic of this village
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cozumel
 
 
The largest island of Mexico, Cozumel, offers more beautiful sand, seascapes, beaches and dense jungle.  Great reefs can be found and due to their shallowness, those that are beginners in snorkeling can certainly enjoy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tulum
 
 
Among Maya ruins, Tulum, which lies some 131 kilometers (80 miles) south of Cancun on a newly completed four-lane highway is unique in two respects: It is the only known walled Maya city and the only one facing the Caribbean. The city dates from 1200 to 1400 A.D. Its principal structure, the pyramid known as the castle, sits on top of a bluff overlooking the sea and the partially reconstructed city.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Xcaret
 
 

Situated on the Mayan Riviera, Xcaret is the only place where Mexico’s nature and culture can be experienced at its best. This park was developed in compliance with the environment’s characteristics. Here, you will find the most intimate secrets of the Caribbean, rainforest and Mayan Culture. You will also find majestic places, such as the beach, inlet and natural streams. You will be able to swim through underground rivers, visit the coral reef aquarium, bat cave, manatees’ lagoon, archaeological sites and far more. All of the water and recreational activities will help you enjoy and experience the day to its utmost.

You should take into account that Xcaret offers a sunset show called “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular” which is full of mysticism, traditions, legends and history.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Xel-ha
 
 
Xel-ha means “the place where the waters are born” and certainly, there is no other place in the world like Xel-ha.  Xel-ha is an ecological park that promotes the preservation of many species.  It is certainly an ecological universe in itself and paradise to snorkel among the jungle, next to the ocean.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kantenah
 
 
One of the most fascinating and quiet beaches in the Riviera Maya: Kantenah is an ideal place for relaxation and reflexion surrounded by palm trees and with one of the most beautiful scenarios in the Mexican Caribbean.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chemuyil
 
 
Chemuyil is a bay with white sand that is surrounded by the jungle.  The shallow waters make this beach ideal for the children to enjoy.  Camping here is possible.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Akumal
 
 

Only 37 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen one can find the small town of Akumal that is a favorite for those that are looking for peace and quietness.  Akumal means “the land of the turtles” in honor of the turtles that visit the place every May and June.  Here one may also find many underground caves and tunnels.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Caverns and Cenotes
 
 

Experience the mystery and discover the history of the caverns, caves, cenotes and underground tunnels.  The flat geography of the rocky soil of the Yucatan peninsula is scattered with a series of labyrinths, caves, underground tunnels and cenotes (large natural wells that are created by the collapsing of the roofs of the caverns).  Rain water is absorbed by the porous ground and filters through to the underground water system of underground tunnels that interconnect to each other and to the cenotes.

These natural wells (cenotes) have been the only water source for the Yucatan peninsula for millions of years because one will not find a single natural surface river on the peninsula.  The main ceremonial centers of the Mayan culture, as well as the towns, were built beside these cenotes.  These underground systems came to be during the last glacial age, about 10,000 years ago.  The cave explorers and archeologists are still studying and trying to untangle what remains of this unknown territory.

An hour south of Cancun one may find an area that is a delight to the nature lovers: Aktun Chen.  Aktun Chen is a section of virgin jungle that has 600 meters of recently discovered caves and tunnel system.

The caves Balancanche, only fifteen kilometers east of Chichen Itza, offer another intriguing connection to the past.  Here one may see a vast cave with interconnecting tunnels that span hundreds of meters till these tunnels end in a natural pool.

Another interesting phenomenon is the Dzitnup cenote.  It is located in the outskirts of the colonial city Valladolid (about 2 hours driving west from the city of Cancun).  This is one of the most impressive natural caves of this type.

Nohoch Nah Chin (the great house of the birds) has been recently recognized internationally as the largest underwater cave in the world.  Divers have been able to break world records as they explored more than 46 kilometers of the cave system that has yet to be charted.  This cave system, with interconnecting tunnels, is located just a few kilometers from Akumal, approximately 105 kilometers south of Cancun.
 
 
 
     
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