South of Cancun, stretching 480 km along the Yucatan shore, is the area known as Riviera Maya. This area is home to eco-adventure parks, extensive cave systems, jungle-cloaked cenotes, wildlife unique to the area, Xcaret, Xel-ha, the world’s second longest reef system, and amazing Caribbean beaches. If you like adventure, you can explore enormous underground labyrinths, including Rio Secreto, swim and dive in their cenotes, or take an exhilarating zip-line jungle canopy tour. If you want to relax, there’s no better place than the beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya.
Cancun not only offers the best beaches in Mexico but also tops most of the Caribbean destinations because of the array of activities it offers; it is truly the best of both worlds – Mexico and the Caribbean, with unequaled cultural treasures, natural beauty, infinite activities and American-style conveniences.
Together Cancun and Puerto Morelos feature an amazing array of accommodations from the most affordable to the very best in luxury. There are about 140 hotels in Cancun with more than 28,000 rooms and 380 restaurants and their hospitality staff is among the best-trained in the Caribbean with most personnel fluent in English
Cancun is comprised of three distinct but integrated areas: the City of Cancun, a fast-growing city of more than 600,000 people, popular for shopping, dining, and less expensive accommodations; the ecological reserve with lovely lagoons, mangroves, wildlife and exotic vegetation; and the resort zone island.
Downtown Cancun, also referred to as Zona Centro, is located in the mainland, City of Cancun area, where you can find inexpensive lodging options, restaurants, banks, and shopping. It is concentrated in an area of about twenty square blocks and is only minutes away from the Hotel Zone. There is no beachfront, however, many properties have beach club agreements with beach hotels.
Nature and adventure – Cancun offers one of the most diverse ecological regions. Despite its growth, Cancun’s resort zone has preserved areas and sanctuaries that are thriving ecologically. Laguna Nichupte, which borders the resort zone, is rich in water flow, fish, crocodiles, shellfish, and mangrove vegetation. The landscape of Cancun encourages the growth of many delicate, exotic and fascinating flora and fauna. Nature lovers can experience the all the region has to offer in day-trips to the wildlife refuge on Isla Contoy, the beauty of Isla Mujeres, the world’s largest nesting colony for the American flamingo at Rio Lagartos, Holbox island, estuaries, biosphere reserves, forests, caves, and cenotes.
The advantage of traveling on your own is the flexibility to see multiple sites in one day; distances from Cancun to most of the activities in the region, are between 20 minutes to 2 hours. Travel time from the hotel zone to Tulum is about two hours, with numerous traffic signals around Playa del Carmen.
Restaurants – Cancun has more than 200 restaurant choices, an unparalleled variety in the Caribbean. Dining locations tend to be in the following three areas, Hotel restaurants, Cancun Island, and Cancun city. If you want to savor some of the regional Yucatecan cuisines, you can find in the hotel zone, La Casa de las Margaritas at La Isla Mall, offering traditional contemporary Mexican cuisine, with live Mariachi, Marimba and Harp music. Hacienda El Mortero, a replica of a 17th-century hacienda, serves Mexican cuisine and features a live band. For authentic Yucatecan dining, hit Labna, located downtown and featuring live music and dance performances. All regional specialties are offered including, Lime Soup, poc-chuc, and chicken or pork pibil. La Habichuela Restaurant is located downtown and is known for its romantic gardens and unique Mexican food, an example of that is their dish Cocobichuela, or lobster and shrimp in curry sauce, served in a coconut shell and topped with fruit. Their flaming tableside dessert selection is alone worth the trip.
Nightlife – Cancun truly sparkles at night with a multitude of options from dinner cruises to nightclubs to live shows an array of music including American disco, live jazz, and Latin flavor for those wanting to “salsa” the night away.
As the number one Mexican destination and only one developed for tourism, if you are looking for a vacation with a unique experience, there is one thing for sure, Cancun has it!
Official Cancun tourist website – http://cancun.travel/en/
All about Cancun – www.cancunmx.com
Cancun online – www.cancun.com
Cancun Tips – www.cancuntips.com.mx
Puerto Morelos – http://www.puertomorelos.com.mx/
Isla Contoy – http://www.islacontoy.org/
Rio Lagartos: World’s largest nesting colony of pink flamingos – http://www.riolagartos.com/
Garrafon Ref. Park – http://www.garrafon.com/
Isla Holbox – http://www.holboxisland.com/
SelvÃ¡tica outdoor adventure – http://www.selvatica.com.mx/
Rio Secreto (The Secret River, Mayan underworld live natural museum) – www.alltournative.com
La Casa de las Margaritas Restaurant â Reservations, Cooking Classes, Tequila tasting. – http://www.lacasadelasmargaritas.com/esp/inicio.html
La Habichuela Restaurant – http://www.lahabichuela.com/english/index_content.html
LabnÃ¡ Restaurant – http://www.labna.com/
Cozumel (back to list)
Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico’s YucatÃ¡n Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen. It is a popular tourist destination renowned for its scuba diving. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.
The majority of the population live in the town of San Miguel (pop. 90,000), which is on the western shore. It is an extraordinarily friendly Mayan/Mexican community that has been able to keep its own customs and cultural identity. The rest of the island is low, flat, and has dense vegetation.
The Maya are believed to have first settled Cozumel by the early part of the 1st millennium AD, but older Preclassic Olmec artifacts have been found on the island as well. The island was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya Moon Goddess, and the temples here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility. There are a number of ruins on the island, most from the Post-Classic period. The largest Maya ruins on the island were bulldozed to make way for an airplane runway during World War II. The ruins of San Gervasio are located approximately at the center of the island and are the largest remaining ruins.
Scuba diving – In 1959, Jacques Cousteau discovered the extent and beauty of Palancar, the coral reefs at the south of Cozumel and publicized it as one of the best places to go scuba diving in the world. Scuba diving is still Cozumel’s primary draw, mainly due to the healthy coral reef, and is one of the top 5 destinations in the world for this sport. These coral reefs are protected from the open ocean by the island’s natural geography. In 1996, the government of Mexico also established the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, forbidding anyone from touching or removing any marine life within the park boundaries.
Festival of El Cedral – To this day a historic festival is held in the small town of El Cedral, in the south of Cozumel Island at the end of April. This annual event is said to have been started over 150 years ago by Casimiro CÃ¡rdenas.
CÃ¡rdenas was one of a group that fled to the island from the village of Saban, on the mainland, after an attack during the War of the Castes. The attackers killed many other villagers, but CÃ¡rdenas survived whilst clutching a small wooden cross.
Legend has it that CÃ¡rdenas vowed to start an annual festival wherever he settled, to honor the religious power of this crucifix. Today, the original Holy Cross Festival forms part of the wider Festival of El Cedral, which includes fairs, traditional feasts, rodeos, bullfights, music and competitions. The celebrations last about 5 days in all and are held every year at the end of April or beginning of May.
All inclusive private beach in Cozumel – http://www.isla-pasion.com/
Chankanaab National Park, Punta Sur Lighthouse, San Gervasio Mayan site, Island Museum – http://www.cozumelparks.com/
Discover Mexico â Newest park in Cozumel offering tourists a unique Mexican experience. http://www.discovermexico.org/
Playa Uvas â the closest beach to the piers – http://www.playauvas.com/
Casa Mission â Mexican restaurant in a beautiful ranch from the henequen industry era – http://www.missioncoz.com/ing/index.shtml
Restaurant La Veranda – Mexican and Caribbean Food in a unique setting – http://www.restaurantelaveranda.com
Panchoâs Backyard â Mexican food and live Marimba – http://www.panchosbackyard.com/
Real State Listing in Cozumel – http://www.cozumelliving.com/
Cozumel information for locals, semi-locals, and those thinking to move to Cozumel – http://www.cozumelmycozumel.com/
Xel-HÃ¡ (back to list)
Xel-HÃ¡ is an archaeological site of the Maya civilization from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica located on the eastern coastline of the YucatÃ¡n Peninsula, in the present-day state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The etymology of the site’s name comes from Yukatek Maya, combining the roots xel (“spring”) and ha’ (“water”). The site of Xel-HÃ¡ is located south of the modern township of Playa del Carmen.
The evidence is inconclusive concerning a founding date for Xel-HÃ¡, but it was occupied by the 1st Century and active during Classic and Post-classic times, with most of the buildings being rebuilt in the Late Post-classic. It was probably not fully abandoned until the 19th Century. A stela (ancient stone pillar) with an Early-Classic date of (AD 564) from Xel-HÃ¡ was discovered in 1841 by Stephens and Catherwood.
Xel-HÃ¡ Water Park is a commercial water theme park situated within Riviera Maya along Highway 307. It is approximately 240 km (149 mi) to the north of Chetumal and 122 km (76 mi) south of Cancun. The park is named after the archaeological site of Xel-HÃ¡, part of which is located within the lands leased to the park. The Maya site of Tulum is nearby about 13 km (8 mi) to the south.
The “Path of Consciousness” at Xel-HÃ¡ Water Park
Feel the nature! Xel-HÃ¡ Water Park is centered on the natural inlet and turquoise lagoon that forms with the flow of the river through rocks mixing salty waters with fresh underground water currents surrounded by an exuberant jungle.
The inlet of Xel-HÃ¡ is a unique natural aquarium inhabited by hundreds of species of tropical fish and abundant flora. In the park there is also a turtle reserve, where the life cycle of the white loggerhead turtles is studied. The turtles come to nest from April through November, where 20,000 baby turtles are set free annually.
A shark fence extends across the lagoon’s entrance, and the public is permitted to swim and snorkel in the lagoon. Underwater the limestone has been eroded into a myriad of small caves and grottos.
A variety of aquatic-based activities are offered by the theme park, including snorkeling, scuba diving, tank-less diving (snuba), walking underwater (sea trek) and ‘swimming with the dolphins’.
In order to protect the beauty of this ecological area, Xel-ha and the other parks along the Riviera Maya require tourist to use only biodegradable sunscreen. If you are swimming in the cenotes or underground rivers, you’ll be asked to do it without any lotions or creams on your skin at all. You can purchase the sunscreen at the parks, gift shops or order them online.
Xel-ha Waterpark – www.xel-ha.com
Biodegradable sunscreen and tanning oils – http://www.caribbean-sol.com/