A once marshy island in an almost forgotten region of the Caribbean, Cancun was a string of sand dunes in the shape of a number "7". The coast along the Yucatan peninsula was a mix of marshes, jungle and beaches, but with the Cancun Project in the 1970s, the area burst onto the radar and started attracting travellers to take flights to Cancun.
Today, its white-sand beaches, crystal-clear seas and nightlife make it a popular destination for spring breakers as well as couples and families.
Cancun is perfectly located for ecotourism and adventure holidays. More than 20 per cent of the land in Quintana Roo is protected making the area ideal for kayaking, hiking, snorkelling with whale sharks, zip lining, rapelling or diving. The resort may be less than 40 years old but there are traces of the once mighty Mayan civilisation. Ruins and archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Tulum and Coba are all within easy reach.
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Cancun gets more than 250 sunny days per year. Summers in Cancun are hot and wet. The hottest weather is experienced between mid-May and August. Temperatures can hit 34 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit). Hurricane season starts in June and runs through November. Winters are balmy with temperatures between 22 and 32 degrees (71-89F).
When to fly to Cancun
Most travellers visit Cancun between mid-December and March.
Early December and April are good times to seek flights and accommodations. There are usually fewer visitors and the weather is still good.
May to November is the low season.
Getting around Cancun
It’s easy to walk around Cancun. And if your vacation has made you too relaxed to walk, you can always get a taxi. Be aware that prices are supposed to be set by zone. The reality is that locals pay far less than tourists, and guests at expensive hotels are always charged more. One popular way to get around the city is by bus. To get from the mainland to the beaches along Avenida Tulum you can take route 1 and 2. Route 8 buses are for Puerto Juarez/Punta Sam, where you can catch a ferry to Isla Mujeres. Pick up a route 8 bus on the east side of Avenida Tulum. They run between 6am and midnight every day. Watch out for private buses that go the same places, but charge a higher fee. For a little more adventure, you can rent a moped for around $30 each day, but be safe and wear your helmet.
Cancun insider information
- The Museo Nacional de Antropología exhibits Mayan culture's rich history. On display are jewellery, masks, skulls and a hieroglyphic stairway that dates all the way back to the 6th century.
- The bullfight is one of Mexico’s oldest traditions. Visit the Plaza de Toros on Wednesday at 3.30 for the Mexican folkloric show and bullfight. There's also a Mexican rodeo at the plaza.
- Take a cruise while you dine: the pirate ship Captain Hook plies the waters of Cancun's bay and the Columbus sails the Nichupte lagoon.
- The Continental Villas Plaza is the venue for folkloric ballet. The Ballet Folklorico Nacional de Mexico-Aztlan performs authentic traditional dance in full costume.
- A couple of the best-known party tours are the Party Hopper Tour, which offers eight hours of open bar with national drinks in different nightclubs and the seven-hour Señor Frog’s bar leaping tour.