CEC 2013 Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Hotel Grand Coral Ballroom Chichen Itza and Tulum Isla Contoy Isla Mujeres Ruinas del Rey Cozumel and Hel-Ha Kayaking and Windsurfing Tres rios and Actun Chen





There are plenty of attractions in the Cancún area. The following are among the most remarkable of them:



Actum Chen: About an hour from Cancun on the road to the ruins of Tulum is Actun Chen, a cave embellished by an underground river. The main cave with a magnificent vault, has been illuminated and supplied with paths for easy walking and viewing of stalactites, stalagmites and natural sculptures. Trained guides provide historical and geological narrative. Outside the cave, trails through tropical jungle vegetation reveal local wildlife from white-tailed deer and iguana to spider monkeys and wild turkeys.



Cancun Kayaking and Windsurfing: Cancun’s waters are ideal for kayak and windsurfing enjoyment. For calmer waters, the Nichupté Lagoon, or the northern end of Cancun Island provide protection. Jet skiing, parasailing and regular sailing are also popular.



Cancun Nightlife: By night, Cancun wakes up to the beat of discos, cantinas, bars and nightclubs. The Ballet Folklorico with lavish costumes and traditional dances performs in various locations. Laser-lighted dance clubs cover everything from rock and reggae to salsa, typically opening at around 10 p.m. and pulsating until dawn. Cancun’s modern-day cantinas mostly are bar/restaurants heavy on atmospheric ambiance.



Cancun Shopping Malls: Boulevard Kukulcán has a wide variety of shopping options for visitors. Flamingo Plaza has a variety of international restaurants and boutiques, along with Pat O’Brien’s, Outback Steakhouse and Planet Hollywood. Plaza Kukulcán, Cancun's largest shopping mall, has more than 300 shops with movie theaters, restaurants and a bowling alley. Forum by the Sea, with exclusive international shops, has dining and dancing including the Hard Rock Café.



Chichen Itza and Tulum: The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum, are among Mexico’s most photographed attractions. They mesmerize as silent temples to one of the world’s oldest, most mysterious cultures. Chichen Itza, among Mexico’s largest ruins, dates to 600 AD, and is anchored by the dramatic Kulkulkan pyramid. Two cenotes (wells) within the city are Xtoloc, where first inhabitants settled, and the Sacred or Sacrificial Well, honoring the god Chac, where children, young girls, and warriors were thrown into deep waters after being purified at the temazcal (steam bath). Sacred Well exploration has yielded human skulls and bones, along with jade beads, rings and sandals of gilded copper, gold bells, and embossed gold disks. Other notable Chichen Itza monuments are the Chichanchob (Red House) with a red border around its portico; the two-room Akab Dzib (meaning “obscure writing”); the Nunnery and Nunnery Annex (for female priests); the Caracol (observatory); the Temple of the Phalluses; the Temple of the Warriors, and the Group of the Thousand Columns plaza. At the Ball Court (tlachtli), solid rubber balls were propelled using the hip, where anyone shooting a ball through one of the stone hoops was considered a winner, worthy of sacrifice. Walls decorated in low relief depict elegantly dressed ball players witnessing the beheading of a teammate. Tulum, a much smaller walled city nearer Cancun to the south, is the only major Mexican ruin next to the sea, with a spectacular drop-off overlooking azure waters.



Cozumel: Cozumel, which is considered by many to be the “diving capital of Mexico” is an island some 40 miles south of Cancun’s Hotel Zone and can be accessed by frequent shuttles or by ferry from Playa del Carmen.



Day Cruises: Day cruises to Cozumel and elsewhere from the docks at Playa del Carmen near Cancun are plentiful. A Caribbean Fun day cruise goes to Isla Mujeres, from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tropical Cruiser sails to Isla Mujeres and El Garrafon Beach. The Treasure Island Cruise leaves at 8 a.m. for swimming, snorkeling or shopping and includes lunch. Sunshine Cruise, incuding a buffet lunch, goes to Isla Mujeres through the lagoon, allowing snorkeling and swimming amid giant sea turtles.



Diving and Fishing: Waters surrounding Cancun are legendary for clarity and submerged diversity, with snorkeling right off the beach or scuba dive/snorkeling over the "Mayan Reef" on Mexico's Caribbean. Famed dive spots such as Palancar, El Bajito, Manchones and Chitales are all nearby. At the Cave of the Sleeping Sharks, divers can sometimes "pet" these little charmers. Isla Mujeres may well be the area’s most scenic place for diving and snorkeling. Deep sea fishing for marlin, sailfish, tuna and dorado is popular during the respective seasons.



Isla Contoy: This small uninhabited island, 25 miles north of Cancun and just under 20 miles north of Isla Mujeres (from where day trips depart), is a refuge for birds, marine and animal life.



Isla Mujeres: This charming island about six miles from Cancun has three excellent beaches, the most popular being Playa de los Cocos in the north end, with calm waters and assorted water sports. Secluded Playa Lancheros, at the southern end, has live turtle pens and a separate swimming area. Playa Garrafon, a national underwater park, is ideal for snorkeling. Banderas, Cuervones and Manchones are reefs for experienced divers.



Ruinas del Rey: This small archaeological site is notable for the unusual architecture of its two main plazas bounded by two streets. The majority of Mayan cities had one plaza and few streets. This site may have been a royal burial ground.



Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: This reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site with more than a million acres, divides almost equally among wetlands, tropical forest and marine systems. Friends of Sian Ka’an is a non-profit organization operating biologist-escorted tours from Cancun that help the biosphere concept support itself via low-impact tourism.



Tres Rios: About 25 miles from Cancun, Tres Rios stretches inland from a pristine white sand beach, encompassing subtropical jungle and mangroves, covering 370 acres and offering a prime selection of pools where the area's underground rivers come to the surface. Only in Tres Rios are these “cenotes” at ground level, found in the shallow rivers heading to the sea. Visitors can walk or bicycle through the jungle, canoe down the river, kayak in the sea, ride horseback along the beach, snorkel in the river or on the park's outstanding section of the Great Mayan Reef. Also awaiting are hammocks and space to build sandcastles.



Xcaret: This 250-acre ecological theme park along the coastline, Xcaret features an underground river for swimming and a Dolphinarium where visitors can swim with the dolphins.



Xel-Ha: Billed as the world’s largest natural aquarium, Xel-Ha is a collage of inlets, lagoons, sinkholes and caves where visitors can snorkel, swim, sunbathe, take a stroll or discover other charms of what was once a playground for the ancients.



Xpu-Ha Eco-Park: This 90-plus acre private park has only 3 percent of its land developed for access roads, baths and showers, two snack bars, and a seaside restaurant, La Palapa. Ranked among the most diverse environments in North America, Xpu-Ha is a sanctuary for rare birds and for protected species such as crocodiles, sea turtles, native deer and snakes. Walks along nature trails are led by expert guides, providing insights on vegetation, fauna and geological features. Sunbathing areas, space for soccer and volleyball, and rental shops for snorkel or scuba diving are also provided.





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