What is Cancun?
Even if you don’t know much about Cancun, the sound of the name itself is enough to trigger that “tropical vacation response” in anyone. Say it slowly: Cancuuuun. Can’t you practically taste the margaritas, feel the warm ocean breeze and see the turquoise water sparkle in the sun?
The city was nonexistent before the 1970s and is actually the result of careful planning by Mexico’s tourism board. They were very successful in making it into one of the most premier resort cities in the world.
Cancun sits perched at the very end of the Yucatan Peninsula – it’s so far out in the Gulf of Mexico that when you look at a map it almost looks as if it’s trying to touch Cuba with the very tips of its fingers.
Its location also means that Cancun’s neighbors across the Gulf are places like Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, making it a convenient destination for short getaways if you happen to live in America, particularly the South. As many as 4 million Americans visit Cancun each year.
Something for Everyone
While the common thread here is definitely a beautiful tropical vacation, not everyone pictures the “perfect vacation” the same way. Some people want to build sand castles with their kids, some want to go exploring the Mayan ruins, some want to relax and be pampered, or party their heads off, or have the best romantic getaway of their lives.
Cancun may be relatively small, but there is something here for everyone.
If you’re on a honeymoon, or if you are tired of the rat race and want to keep the romance alive, Cancun has a surprising amount of adult only resorts and activities.
Most of the resorts are all-inclusive, and if you so desire you don’t even have to leave the compound. There is the ocean view, the pool, and restaurants as well as romantic activities like the famous sensual couples massage at Temptation resort in Cancun, where the minimum age is 21 (spring breakers beware). Here, the vacationers are more mature, but don’t confuse that with “old” or “no fun”. They simply prefer other types of parties than the ravey and crazy all-nighters that happen in the Party Zone.
A great benefit of an adult-only resort is leaving the unleashed college partiers and families behind luxurious walls, and enjoying each other in peace while having access to 24hr cocktail bars at the same time.
You will be pampered and be well looked after. Of course, if you prefer to break free from the confines of the all inclusive resort you can escape and do all the other things that can be done here – the nature tours, snorkeling, touring surrounding areas.
There are tons of tours and excursions to choose from. Explore underwater museums on a dive, take a day trip to Chichen Itza Mayan ruins, romantic dinner for two on a sunset cruise (or a pirate ship if you’re so inclined!). Or sign on for a sailing tour and spend your day out at sea. The possibilities are just as endless as the different types of couples that come to visit Cancun.
The Nature Scene
This doesn’t get mentioned often enough when talking about Cancun. This popular tourist spot is also home to the second largest coral reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. You don’t have to be a diver to see it – take your snorkeling gear and get ready to see some amazing wildlife!
If you want something more than “just snorkeling” there are many tours where you can experience swimming with sharks. Whale sharks that is – these gentle giants can be found anywhere near the equator, but in Cancun, they like to hang out by the Isla de Mujeres. They love the Yucatan Peninsula and congregate here, which pretty much guarantees that you will encounter them on any snorkeling adventure you book.
Aside from the aquatic wildlife, there are also tours that you can go to in the jungle, the beautiful gigantic mangroves, and UNESCO recognized wildlife sanctuaries. This is your chance to see flamingos, turtles, iguanas, many kinds of parrots and other birds.
The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve will take a full day to explore. Crystal Caves are a complex of some of the largest and most beautiful caves in the world. The Rio Secreto or the “Secret River” got its name from being hidden underground – you can still go snorkeling here though. This underground wonderland is accessible by guide only.
The Party Scene
We left the most famous for the last. Cancun is known most for its crazy spring breakers and the party scene. This is where a lot of American teenagers come to let loose and experience freedom, often their first vacation far away from home.
It may spell trouble but it also spells a lot of fun, discovery and all night partying. Cancun was transformed from a fishing village into a tourist resort largely to cater to this crowd. Because it was all planned out, Cancun has many “zones”, like the “Hotel Zone”. The “Party Zone” is known as Punta Cancun.
Punta Cancun is often described as one gigantic club after the sun sets. A bit like Vegas, the fun doesn’t stop here, no matter what day of the week it is, but spring is the busiest and popular time of them all.
Clubs here aren’t just clubs – they may feel a bit more like being inside a concert mixed with a circus and Broadway.
Established clubs like the Coco Bongo keep guests entertained with dance and acrobatic shows, luchadores, confetti, foam parties – the works! The City is a club that can take on up to 5,000 people! That very well be the whole population of a small town. It hosts big performers like Snoop Dog and 50 Cent. In fact, those performers know how to party and are regulars.
A lot of clubs offer VIP packages for under 300 USD, which a lot of people take advantage of – when you’re on your first spring break it’s time to splurge! (Or second, or third…) You can make sure you have safe transportation back to your hotel ahead of time, and often it’s included in your package.
If you don’t want to spend your whole evening in one club, or if you want to explore your options on the first night, there are pub crawls and organized club tours where you can explore a few clubs in a row. The greatest thing about them – they will transport you back to your hotel safely and take care of you while you party.
A Place Designed for Fun
Because Cancun was made with tourists in mind, everything here is made to cater to your heart’s desires. The Hotel Zone is a very large 13 mile sandy stretch along the coast and is safe for tourists. No matter what your idea of “fun” is, you can find it here – unless the only vacation idea you find appealing is a snow-covered cabin in the middle of the tundra, of course. Every once and again, nobody can say “no” to a bit of fun in the sun!