Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cancun
Situated on a 21km/13mi-long, 400 m (440 yd)-wide, L-shaped island off the north coast of Yucatán, Cancún is a purpose-built luxury resort with an excellent tourist infrastructure. Having been built up from virtually nothing in little more than a decade, the large holiday centre lies fringed by glorious white sand beaches and coral banks, its reputation further enhanced by an equable subtropical climate relatively free from rain. The tourist area is linked by causeway to the mainland on which the modern city of Cancún now stands.
Originally occupied by an old Mayan settlement, this lovely subtropical location first came to the notice of two explorers, Stephens and Catherwood, in 1843, being given the name Can-cune (Mayan: "pot at the end of the rainbow"). By the time the project to build a new city was mooted in 1970, only about 100 Maya still lived here, eking out a livelihood from fishing and gathering chicle. The site was computer-selected as the most favourable for an international holiday centre, to be built as a joint venture between the Mexican government and private enterprise. Construction proceeded to a systematic plan and was completed just a few years ago. In 1995 the 22,000 hotel bed resort was Mexico's biggest foreign currency earner, its more than 2.5 million holidaymakers accounting for 20 per cent of total revenue. In September 1988 hurricane "Gilbert" had wreaked considerable havoc here. In recent years the palm trees on the Yucatán coast have been severely reduced in number by a disease which made its appearance during the last century.
The still infant city of Cancún (Ciudad de Cancún), conceived, as it were, in a test-tube, complete with all facilities such as shops, restaurants and hotels, has virtually no sights to speak of. Unfortunately during the season it becomes very crowded and noisy.
How to get there
By air internal flights from Mexico City (about 2 hours), Mérida and Monterrey; international flights from various U.S. and European airports including Zürich, London and Paris; by bus from Mexico City (about 24 hours).