Cancun is a resort on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is considered one of the best resorts in the world. Here is the most interesting diving, because the Mesoamerican barrier reef with the richest animal life is just next door. The surrounding area of Cancun has interesting natural attractions: wild areas of jungle, mangrove forested lagoons, sandy shores – the place of sea turtle clutches.
In the city and its surroundings are the remains of ancient Mayan structures. And besides all of this in and around Cancun a lot of resort attractions: amusement rides, water parks, dolphinariums, nightclubs and places for good shopping.
Top 10 attractions in Cancun
San Miguelito and the May Cultural Museum
The entire history of the Yucatan and this coast is related to the culture and history of the Maya. It is a mysterious civilization that has been known since the 2nd millennium B.C. Around the 8th-10th centuries A.D. it reached its peak, but by the time Europeans arrived, for mysterious reasons it had fallen into decline and most Mayan cities were abandoned. There are several Mayan cities around Cancun, and in the city itself there are two areas of excavation, where you can see the ruins of this time.
Next to one of these sites, in the San Miguelito area, is the Mayan Cultural Museum. It is divided into two levels. The first is the area of the excavations themselves. The foundations of about 40 buildings have been preserved, including a small temple in the form of a stepped pyramid. The second level is a closed exhibition, where you can see the findings. Most are from the most famous Mayan center on the Yucatan, Chichen Itza, but there are also finds from Cancur itself.
El Rey Ruins
The second open archaeological museum of Mayan culture, located right on the territory of Cancun. The settlement itself dates back to the ninth century B.C., but the remains of the surviving structures – and there are more than 47 – belong to a later period, the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. After the 16th century, the ruins were home to many pirates.
The best preserved are the remains of the pyramidal temples and public buildings, and in some places, there are even traces of paintings. They are called “Royal”: one of the main finds here is a ceremonial skull and mask, which probably belonged to the local ruler. But in general there are only foundations, so it is a quiet and peaceful place, which is more of a reflection on the eternal than serves informational purposes.
The main attraction here is a colony of large iguanas that bask on these rocks, aren’t too afraid of tourists and are always willing to come close if they’re treated to some delicious fresh fruit.
Herradura is Mexico’s leading tequila producer. It was founded in 1870 when a blue agave plantation was found on the mountain slopes of the Sierra Madre.
The word “Herradura” itself means “horseshoe,” and bottles of their products are decorated with this sign. It is said that the founder of the production, Feliciano Romo, wandering around Mexico looking for a place for a new plantation, saw a horseshoe shining brightly in the sun and decided it was a good sign. That’s how he named his plantation and the drink itself.
A museum dedicated to tequila appeared in Cancun in 2010. It is called “sensory” because you can taste and smell tequila in different stages of production, from simple agave juice to the noble strong drink. People are told about the modern tequila production and the old technologies, the white oak barrels, where the most expensive tequilas are kept, are shown, and, of course, there is a store where you can buy the products of the company.
The island is located near the city of Cancun – it can be reached by sea, or if you live in Cancun, then by ferry, which runs every half hour. It is named so not because only women are allowed in here, but because the Spaniards have been found here a lot of Mayan statuettes depicting the female deity – Ish-Chel, whose cult flourished along the coast.
There is an old Mexican cemetery worth a visit. On the one hand, it’s creepy, but on the other hand, Mexico is a country with a very special aesthetic of death, so the cemetery could well be considered a landmark.
The island has great beaches, several dive clubs, a maritime museum, and several areas with mangroves and nesting birds.
Museum of Mexican Folk Art
Bright colors, inconceivable ornaments, spontaneity and cheerfulness, Catholicism and voodoo beliefs are all woven together in Mexican art, and you can see it all in this museum.
Especially striking are the many dolls made especially for the Day of the Dead, which is widely celebrated in Mexico and incorporates many pre-Columbian representations: skeletons dressed as women. Such dolls are called “Katrina,” or sometimes simply and directly, “Santa Muerte,” the Holy Death.
Another type of traditional Mexican art is clay “Trees of Life.” These are large clay panels, usually brightly painted, with many figures. Originally these “trees” were created on classic biblical subjects, but now you can see any theme.
The most interesting diving site around Cancun opened in 2010. This is a lot of underwater sculptures: mostly human figures, but there are also cars and pets. Purely technically, these statues made of special “marine” concrete are the basis for the future coral colony, and many of them have holes inside, where fish can swim freely. The project aims to promote the idea of coral conservation. But it’s actually broader than that.
The author of the figures was Jason Taylor, and his surrealistic project also has a philosophical meaning, chilling the viewer to the ancient Atlantis and reminding of the many forgotten and swallowed by the waters of history civilizations of the past. Isn’t that the future that awaits us as well? There is a fat man with a beer at the TV, a girl with flower pots, a few portrait sculptures – and all this is gradually turning into coral. You can visit the museum either by diving in the water or by using a boat with a transparent bottom.
Aktun Chen National Park
A large national park located south of Cancun. There is a rollercoaster that leads down the slope of the rainforest, the duration of the trip on it is more than an hour. From above you can watch the life of the park’s inhabitants: birds, monkeys, wild boars and deer grazing below.
But most importantly, what many tourists come here for is a trip to the numerous caves and cenotes. Cenotes are usually lakes of fresh water, so they were important to the inhabitants of the dry Yucatan and were revered as holy places by the Mayans. The park’s water-filled karst cenotes are accessible to the public and can be explored by snorkeling and scuba diving. The cave system stretches along the entire coast and is considered one of the longest in the world.
Ventura Park Cancun
Ventura Park Cancun is the main amusement and adventure park in Cancun. The entertainment is for all tastes, and the area is so large that there is enough room for everyone. There is a large water park called Wet’n Wild with an extreme speed-racing zone and a large children’s zone with shallow pools, a slow river, a wave pool and small slides. There is a whole climbing area, a great multi-level rope park with walkways and suspension bridges. There is an amusement zone with traditional roller coasters of different kinds, arcade area, carting for kids, an opportunity to play laser tag and much more. As the main highlight offer a not cheap, but the most unique entertainment – a flight over the coast in a hot-air balloon. Food and drinks at the park are included in the ticket price.
Dolphinarium in Ventura Park Cancun
This is one of the largest dolphinariums in Mexico. It has several versions of show programs, a shorter one so that the youngest spectators don’t get tired, and a longer one for adults. There are several huge pools where you can swim with the dolphins after the show and take unique pictures. The guides give detailed information on how to behave with the animals, so that they perform tricks on your behalf – it is for the swimming with dolphins that visitors flock here, not for the shows themselves. In addition to the dolphins, there is also a shark feeding show, as well as seals and sea lions, you can also interact with them.
Next to the dolphinarium is a large oceanarium that showcases the marine inhabitants of this coast – mostly, of course, the colorful population of coral reefs.
Mercado Market 28
The most interesting place for shopping in Cancun is the huge market that sells everything that can be sold in Mexico. One part is the flea market, where they sell all kinds of vintage and antiques. Another part is a place of quite traditional souvenirs (sometimes Chinese, but still mostly of local origin), and the third is a food market with exotic foods and fruits. The place is largely designed for tourists: cards are almost nowhere to take, but pay with dollars – no problem.
The most important souvenirs from Mexico, of which there is an abundance – obsidian products, obsidian knives and obsidian stones for massage. You can buy traditional men’s shirts guayabero, and women’s dresses-terno, capes, capes, as well as silverware – the metal is abundant in the country and the jewelry is relatively inexpensive.