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Riviera Cancun, Mexico

Riviera Cancun, Mexico

Cancún (Spanish pronunciation: [kaŋˈkun]) is a city in southeastern Mexico, located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, and is one of the easternmost points in Mexico. Cancún is located just north of Mexico's Caribbean coast resort band known as the Riviera Maya. There are two possible translations of Cancún, based on the Mayan pronunciation kaan kun. The first translation is "nest of snakes." The second version is "place of the gold snake."

Powdery white sand and a Caribbean sea the color of blue Curaçao -- believe the brochures about Cancún. No matter how high-rise this city gets with all-inclusive megaresorts and supermalls, it's the beach that puts it on the map -- and no hurricane or other natural disaster has been able to sweep it away. Get up from your poolside lounge and discover why millions flock to this sun-drenched destination.

Cancun Airport International (CUN) is one of the busiest airports in the Caribbean and the point of entry to the "Mundo Maya". Major international airlines as well as charter airlines have direct or connecting flights to Cancun every day. Now more than ever, Cancun Airport International is easily accessible from almost every major city in the world.

MAIN TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

  • Chichen Itza Explore the most important archaeological zone and ancient capital of the Mayan Empire on a full day guided tour from Cancun.
  • Museo Subacuático de Arte Built to divert divers away from deteriorating coral reefs, this one-of-a-kind aquatic museum features 403 life-size sculptures in the waters of Cancún and Isla Mujeres. The artificial reefs are submerged at a depth of 28ft, making them ideal for snorkelers and first-time divers. Organise dives through diving outfits; Scuba Cancún, which does several tours to the sculpture gardens, is recommended. The underwater museum is a creation of British-born sculptor Jason de Caires
  • Maya Museum honors the ancient roots that make up the destination’s Mayan culture
  • Beaches: Playa Tortuga (Turtle Beach), Playa Langosta (Lobster Beach), Playa Linda (Pretty Beach), and Playa Las Perlas (Beach of the Pearls) are some of the public beaches. At most beaches, you can rent a sailboard and take lessons, ride a parasail, or partake in a variety of watersports. There's a small but beautiful portion of public beach on Playa Caracol, by the Xcaret Terminal. It faces the calm waters of Bahía de Mujeres.
  • Scuba & Snorkeling: Known for its shallow reefs, dazzling color, and diversity of life, Cancún is one of the best places in the world for beginning scuba diving. Punta Nizuc is the northern tip of the Gran Arrecife Maya (Great Mesoamerican Reef), the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. In addition to the sea life along this reef system, several sunken boats add a variety of dive options. Inland, a series of caverns and cenotes (wellsprings) are fascinating venues for the more experienced diver. Drift diving is the norm here, with popular dives going to the reefs at El Garrafón and the Caves of the Sleeping Sharks.

HISTORY

As documented in the earliest colonial sources, the island of Cancún was originally known to its Maya inhabitants as Nizuc (Yucatec Maya) meaning either "promontory" or "point of grass". In the years after the Conquest, much of the population died off or left as a result of disease, warfare, piracy, and famines, leaving only small settlements on Isla Mujeres and Cozumel Island.

The name Cancún, Cancum or Cankun first appears on 18th century maps. The meaning of Cancún is unknown, and it is also unknown whether the name is of Maya origin. If it is of Maya origin, possible translations include "Place/Seat/Throne of the Snake" or "Enchanted Snake". Snake iconography was prevalent at the pre-Columbian site of Nizuc.

When development was started on January 23, 1970, Isla Cancún had only three residents, caretakers of the coconut plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla Mujeres, and there were only 117 people living in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing village and military base.

Due to the reluctance of investors to bet on an unknown area, the Mexican government had to finance the first nine hotels. The first hotel financed was the Hyatt Cancún Caribe, but the first hotel actually built was the Playa Blanca, which later became a Blue Bay hotel, and is now Temptation Resort. At the time it was an elite destination, famous for its virgin white sand beaches.

The city began as a tourism project in 1974 as an Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR (Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, National Fund for Tourism Development), formerly known as INFRATUR. Since then, it has undergone a comprehensive transformation from being a fisherman's island surrounded by virgin forest and undiscovered shores to being one of the two most well-known Mexican resort areas, along with Acapulco.

Cancún embodies Caribbean splendor and the exotic joys of Mexico, but even a Western traveler feeling apprehensive about visiting foreign soil will feel completely at ease here. English is spoken and dollars accepted; roads are well paved and lawns manicured. One astonishing statistic suggests that more Americans travel to Cancún than to any other foreign destination in the world. Indeed, almost three million people visit annually -- most of them on their first trip to Mexico.

 

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