While many travelers from all over the world today are avoiding the troubled border between the United States and Mexico, the latter nation’s wildly popular international tropical playgrounds remain active and enticing to the savvy visitor. This is certainly true when it comes to Cancun, which, along with Acapulco, makes up the most popular tourist destination in Mexico. Cancun sits on the northeast coast of the state of Quintana Roo in far southern Mexico and is well over 1,500 miles from Mexico City.
Designation as a major international tourist site did not come randomly or organically to Cancun. Instead, the Mexican government inspired by international development authorities decided to transform what was then a sleepy fisherman’s village surrounded by virgin forest into a tourism mecca. The plan worked and in addition to being one of the most popular Latin American tourist destinations, Cancun’s successful re-visioning and development has been lauded by entities such as the World Tourism Organization.
Perhaps ironically, Cancun’s historic significance is linked directly to its role in tourism, having been a little-visited site during much of the European influenced history of the Yucatan region. However, years before that the island was home to some of the Maya people who were early inhabitants of the region. The name ‘Cancun’ is believed to have been derived from the Mayan tongue although that remains unclear. Today, not only is Cancun a gateway to many Maya ruins and historic sites; but visitors are very likely to hear native local residents conversing in Mayan.
Access to Maya history is just one appeal of Cancun. It’s water sports and activities are considered some of the best in the hemisphere, resorts and nightlife abound, and the city has a keenly developed cuisine representative of fascinating cultural influences. Modern Cancun is a well-rounded international playground.
Getting There and Around
Cancun is connected by Cancun International Airport to airlines from around the world. Once in Cancun, the easiest ways to get around are buses and taxis. A regularly scheduled bus zips between the airport and downtown and from downtown, buses are available to virtually anywhere. Still it takes time to learn to use Mexican public transit so cabs can be the wisest choice. Taxis are ubiquitous but rates can be a tricky negotiation. Check your hotel for a chart of traditional rates and for recommendations on taxis.
Most hotels, resorts and attractions in the city are located within Cancun’s Hotel Zone. Since the town really only grew up around the contemporary tourism market, there is little historic about the city itself and most visitors have little inclination to visit outside the Hotel Zone, except to visit specific restaurants, clubs or sh