Cancun's beautiful beaches and innumerable fun spots make it a go-to destination for tourists and business people; Cancun played host to more than 5 million visitors last year. In 2015, business tourism in Cancun increased by 100 percent and now accounts for one-fifth of its tourist trade.
The tropical climate is hot and humid throughout the year. Late June is the hottest time of the year and the water stays quite warm all year long. Summer and autumn can bring hurricanes, so trip insurance might alleviate some of the disappointment of a cancelled vacation.
Cancun history obscures the actual origin of the name Cancun; it may have been Mayan. However, the island's reputation as a resort began in January, 1970. This was at the behest of the Mexican president, who wanted to make a tourist mecca that would outshine Acapulco.
Since investors were reluctant to invest in this remote and relatively unknown island, the Mexican government financed the first several hotels, one of which was the Hyatt Cancun Caribe. In 1974, the first hotel opened and currently, there are more than 300 hotels on the island. Cancun can provide lodging for more than 24,000 people and lodging is available in every price range.
© f. ermert - Aerial View of Cancun Beaches
The Cancun Project had a master plan with three construction objectives:
In 1974, Cancun became a project in the National Fund for Tourism Development and has since transformed from being an obscure fishing village to one of Mexico's most famous resorts.
© f. ermert - Hotels Lined Up on Cancun Beach
Cancun has one of the largest reef systems in the world, comprised of about 25 percent of the world's sea life. Extending for more than 600 miles, the Great Maya Reef is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. More than 500 species of sea life and 65 varieties of coral are known to inhabit the Great Maya Reef. Unfortunately, tourism is damaging this incredible habitat so it has become protected by international law.
© Thomas Wiborg - Turtle Swimming in the Mesoamerican Reef
Aquaworld Cancun provides scuba lessons as well as diving trips, fishing, parasailing, swimming with the sharks or dolphins, and many more activities for visitors of all ages.
Xel-Ha Park has the largest natural aquarium in the world, and the most beautiful, according to some. Activities include swimming, exploring Mayan ruins, kite flying, bike riding, relaxing in the seaside hammocks, and more. Xel-Ha has a children's area and a buffet restaurant.
© Tommy Chang - View of Xel-Ha Park
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Chichen Itza has the largest Mayan ruins in the area and dates back to 750 A.D. Its variety of architectural styles indicate that it was inhabited by many different types of people. The Chichen Itza Light and Sound Show Tour is not to be missed, and children of all ages will surely be delighted by the Captain Hook Tour.
© Paul Simpson - Chichen Itza
Isla Mujeres, or Isle of Women, is a great destination for shopping or relaxing, with its peaceful beaches and relaxed ambiance. Boating, windsurfing, sunbathing, shopping, or dining, offer spectacular entertainment and is great for families on a budget. The Catamaran Tour and the Tortugranja, or Turtle Farm, will delight the youngsters and the adults, and golfing aficionados are sure to love the spectacular golf courses.
© Alistair Edmondson - Cliffs on Isla Mujeres
Playa Tortugas provides some of the best beaches in the area and the water is much calmer than some of the beaches, making it ideal for rafting. The many area restaurants provide cuisine for all tastes. Considered a hangout for locals, Playa Tortugas has excellent shopping and street entertainment. Playa Tortugas is free, which can be a boon for those on a budget.
© Shinya Suzuki - Playa Tortugas, Cancun
The Interactive Aquarium, located in La Isla Shopping Center, is a great family destination with touch tanks, shark feeding, and swims with the dolphins. Educational and fun, the younger set can be impressed by the sea dwellers. The Interactive Aquarium accepts only pesos or credit cards, no American dollars, and special attractions can cost extra.
© Liz Brooks - Fish at the Interactive Aquarium
Additional family friendly attractions in Cancun include:
Those without children might enjoy visiting the Cenotes and enjoying some scuba diving among the spectacular sea life that is native to the area. The Reef and Shipwreck Snorkeling Tour, lasting approximately four hours, provides a boat tour and guided diving among shipwrecks and colorful sea creatures.
Xcaret at Night provides afternoon access to Xcaret's many natural attractions, and nightfall provides traditional dances, music, costumes and more, at the Gran Tlachco Theater. Traditional Mexican folkloric entertainment is enthralling and provides a musical history of the country.
© Beth and Anth - Xcaret at Night
Those with an interest in archaeology might enjoy Viator's exclusive tour of the Tulum ruins with a professional archaeologist. This tour lasts all day and isn't recommended for young children.
© Greg Willis - Ruins at Tulum
Cirque du Soleil provides an incredible dinner theater experience, complete with champagne, while watching their show about an alchemist and his daughter. The tale is tailored to the history of Cancun; transportation to the show is provided.
© Don Voaklander - Cirque du Soleil Act
Cancun is famous for its pristine beaches and crystal clear turquoise water. Some areas have calmer water than others, which might be a factor for those intending to dive or raft.
Some of the best beaches for diving or snorkeling include:
© Mitchel - Half Moon Bay Beach
Additional beautiful beaches in Cancun include:
© Stephen Rees - Puerto Morelos Beach
Peak tourist season in Cancun is from December through April and the airfare and accommodation rates are the most expensive during those months. Those wanting to visit Cancun on a budget can visit from May through November at a substantially reduced rate.
Accommodations are structured toward the tourist trade and are in proximity to the buses, restaurants, and the resort hotels. For a vacation with more local than commercial flavor, Merida is a good option, with ample and excellent accommodations.
© Lucy Nieto - View of Merida
The Cancun International Airport is the second busiest airport in Mexico and has links to many major airlines in the Americas, as well as the UK and many European carriers. Luggage carriers are outside and can get luggage from the carousel to the transport.
Taxicabs, sedans, vans, or SUV's can provide transportation from the airport to the hotel or other accommodation. City taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport and one who tries to do that may not be legitimate.
Buses operate regularly between downtown and the airport and are the safest and most cost-effective method of transportation. A taxicab from the airport to a hotel can be prohibitively expensive; a better alternative is a bus from the airport to the bus station and then a taxi from the bus station to the hotel.
© kitty meets goat - Bus from Cancun Airport
Autobuses de Oriente and AutoCentro are the two main bus services in Cancun. Both operate on a regular schedule and charter service is available. Buses are best for traveling within the city, they are inexpensive and provide regular, frequent service. If a bus is full, it may be best to wait for the next one due to pickpocketing concerns. Buses aren't equipped with air conditioning or padded seats, and drivers may speak limited English.
Taxi service is available but more expensive than buses and there may be several passengers on board. Cars are expensive to rent and somewhat unpredictable. Mechanical malfunctions may necessitate a bribe if the driver is stopped by police. Additional insurance will probably be required.
© Shinya Suzuki - Cabs in Cancun
Cancun offers some spectacular hotels in all price ranges. Some of the highest ranked resort and spa facilities include:
© Shutter Runner - Live Aqua Resort Cancun
For those on a more limited budget, the following lodgings, all rated four out of five stars, may be appealing:
© Andrea Lee - Omni Resort Cancun
Cancun offers some unique experiences, especially for those who veer from the traditional tourist fare.
© Michael Klotz - Frigatebird on Isla Contoy