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Cancun Attractions

  • Chichen Itza

    Chichen Itza

    The Mayan people are most well known for their advanced knowledge and brilliance regarding astrology, as well as for their incredible resilience. The stone remnants of their civilisation can be found spread throughout Mexico and Central America. Chichen Itza, with its famous pyramids and temples, is the Yucatan's most visited ancient Mayan site, set in the jungle and said to have been inhabited for more than 2,000 years. It was the centre of political, economic and military power, and controlled trade in the region. The main attraction at Chichen Itza is the Pyramid of Kukulkan (the plumed serpent god), or El Castillo, a grand pyramid topped by a temple that dominates the site and has been declared one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Each side has a stairway and the top affords excellent views over the area. Inside the pyramid is a smaller pyramid, the inner sanctum, containing one of the greatest finds on the site, the brilliant red jaguar throne with jade spots, inlaid eyes and real jaguar teeth. Unfortunately it is no longer permitted for visitors to climb to the top of the pyramid. During the spring and autumn equinoxes (21 March and 21 September) an exceptional spectacle occurs, lasting for a few hours, that leaves crowds open-mouthed with wonder as the rippling shadows form the illusion of a snake slithering down the staircase. The shadows seem attached to the great serpent's heads at the foot of the main stairway. Another building of interest is El Caracol (The Giant Conch Snail), an observatory with slits in the dome aligned with certain astronomical appearances at specific dates. On the far side of the site, reached by a causeway, is the Sacred Cenote, a huge natural well into which human sacrifices and other offerings were thrown to please the gods. Many other temples, platforms and an impressive ball court, are components of the ancient city, a site of enormous proportions, featuring many columns and intricate carvings, statues and reliefs. Visitors should bring drinking water, sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes.

  • Isla Mujeres

    Isla Mujeres

    Located just a short ferry ride from the resort, Isla Mujeres is a stunning island with quiet villages and beautiful views that make for a great excursion from Cancun. The calm atmosphere is a relaxing break from the bustle of Cancun's busy beaches, and Isla Mujeres offers some excellent restaurants serving freshly-caught seafood. Hidalgo Street in El Centro is the main dining, shopping and entertainment area. Popular activities on Isla Mujeres include lounging on the pretty beaches, swimming with dolphins, snorkelling and scuba diving, exploring the remarkable Underwater Sculpture Museum, swimming with sharks, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking. The most popular beaches are on the north and west sides of Isla. Playa Norte (North Beach) is the most famous beach, offering all sorts of diversions, while on the west side Playa Paraiso, Playa Lancheros and Playa Indios are slightly more secluded and better for those wanting to avoid crowds. The eastern shore is rocky and ruggedly beautiful, but generally too dangerous for swimming. Visitors should also be careful swimming on Playa Norte, which sometimes has strong currents. While Isla Mujeres is a popular and rewarding day trip from Cancun, there is little to entice tourists to stay the night.

  • Wet n Wild Cancun

    Wet n Wild Cancun

    The Wet'n Wild Waterpark in Cancun is supposedly the best waterpark in Latin America, but visitors should not expect world-class facilities and tourists from the US will be disappointed if they compare the park to American equivalents. It is a simple waterpark, in a lovely location, which is seldom crowded, and could provide a few fun hours for families travelling with kids. The park works in conjunction with a splendid dolphinarium which is a very popular attraction in Cancun; visitors can watch the dolphins in action at dolphin shows and arrange to swim with them, which is an incredible experience by all accounts. Many resorts in Cancun offer joint packages to the waterpark and dolphinarium. Attractions at the waterpark include a wave pool, a lazy river, a kiddies pool, bumper boats, and four or five waterslides including the Twister, the Kamikaze and the Bubble Space Bowl. There are also plenty of beach loungers for those who just want to relax in the sun. Tickets are quite pricey considering the size of the park but the entry cost includes unlimited beverages, ice-cream, snacks and meals. There are small extra charges for things like tubes, towels, lockers and photographs taken by the park. There are lifeguards on duty and medical attention on standby.

  • Museo Maya

    Museo Maya

    The largest structure built by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) since 1987, Cancun's new archaeological museum, the Museo Maya, opened to the public in late 2012 after six years of work. The building is new, modern and air-conditioned and a visit can be a welcome relief from the heat outside. The museum consists of three large exhibition halls and additional venues for temporary exhibitions, and houses about 350 Mayan artefacts discovered in the region. Artefacts include things like carvings, pottery, weapons, tools, ritual objects and burial masks, and one of the highlights is the 14,000-year-old skeletal remains found in Tulum's underwater caves, which greet visitors as they enter. Unfortunately, most of the information is only in Spanish, although videos tend to have English subtitles. The museum is enclosed by lovely landscaped grounds and nestled within are some fascinating Mayan ruins, including a small pyramid; this site, called the San Miguelito Archaeological Site, is possibly the best part of a trip to the museum. The surrounding tropical gardens are home to many lizards, who seem to enjoy the ruins! The Museo Maya is conveniently located in the Zona Hoteleira, and is a good place for tourists to gain some insight into the Mayan culture.

  • Cancun Beaches

    Cancun Beaches

    Cancun is famous for its powdery white sand, which magically seems to resist getting too hot under the often sweltering Mexican sun. The coast is built up - this is the country's most popular beach resort destination after all - and those wanting wild and secluded beaches may be disappointed; however, for watersports, people watching, luxurious sun lounging, clear blue water, good beach bars and restaurants, and well-developed tourist facilities Cancun is unbeatable. Some of the most popular beaches on the northern stretch of Mujeres Bay include: Playa Langosta, Playa Las Perlas and Playa Tortugas, which get good waves and have extensive facilities for watersports and beach games, as well as numerous bars and restaurants; Playa Linda, which has a dock that is the launching point for various submarine, boat and dive tours and the main shuttle to Isla Mujeres; and Playa Caracol and Punta Cancun, which are excellent beaches for family fun, with shallow, calm waters and good facilities. On the east side the beaches tend to be breezier and have rougher surf: Chac Mool, Playa Marlin, Gaviota Azul and Playa Ballenas are ideal for parasailing, windsurfing and other wind-reliant watersports; Punta Nizuc and Playa Delfines are beautiful beaches perfect for a day of sand and surf; and San Miguelito boasts some small Mayan ruins, adding a cultural aspect to the beach scene. Those wanting to scuba dive will find wonderful dive sites between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, where reefs like El Tunel, Grampin, Chuchos, Largo and many more provide colourful and exciting underwater worlds. The Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) is also a fantastic option for divers.

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