The jewel of southeast Mexico, Cancun offers both exhilarating fiestas and a dose of Mayan culture. There is delicious food to try and beaches to stroll before taking a dip in the gentle waves that stay warm year-round. Although known for its nightlife and club scene, Cancun is steeped in history and its beaches offer plenty of opportunity to relax and soak up sunshine. You can swim or snorkel in one of the many cenotes, beautiful caves that often look like open caverns. Be sure to see the Lagoon of Love. Legend says whoever bathes in its waters becomes a mermaid in their dreams. For deeper dives, the famous Underwater Museum of Art is a unique display of 500 coral-covered sculptures. Take it in on a glass-bottom boat tour or scuba dive to get up close.
Xcaret Park has plenty to see, do, and explore. Be an ecotourist and swim underground rivers, visit the butterfly pavilion, and discover Mayan ruins. The ruins of Chichén Itzá — one of the new seven wonders of the world — was a religious and ceremonial site. The Museo Maya de Cancún in Zona Hotelera, a world-class museum with more than 400 artifacts on display and its adjoining San Miguelito archaeological site, are perfect for a day of ruin-hopping. To the south lies the El Rey Ruins, known for its small temple and several ceremonial platforms.
North of Cancun Centro, Isla Blanca, with its long stretch coastline, is a peaceful spot. Thatch-roofed restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood are dotted about. Sample innovative regional dishes drawn from Caribbean and indigenous Mayan recipes as you watch the sunset from the soft sand.
There is a bus that stops frequently within downtown Cancun, as well as Boulevard Kukulcan, where many hotels are situated. Fares are far cheaper than taking a taxi. Regional buses can be taken to the Chichén Itzá ruins and nearby towns.
Chichén Itzá is located near the small town of Piste. Bus services connect to the international airports at Mérida (under two hours) and Cancun (two-and-a-half hours). Other archaeological sites can be found in El Rey and you can visit the museum in Zona Hotelera.
Akumal Bay has the second-largest reef in the world and turtles can be spotted swimming in its waters. You can arrange excursions or go snorkeling at a nearby cenote to see these beautiful creatures.
Cancun is known for its nightlife. You can choose between chic cocktail bars like Amarula, which features an outdoor patio, or experience the ultimate fiesta at Coco Bongo, where acrobats, live bands, and world-class DJs perform while you dance the night away.
Marquesitas are thin dough, cooked and filled with a sweet sauce. You will find them at most street-food stalls. Sopa de lima is a popular local dish made with plenty of spice. Traditional Mexican margaritas are also a must.