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Cancun, Mexico, which was recently ranked as one of the top destinations for Spring Breakers in 2014, is synonymous with spring break, and more Americans travel to Cancun than any other locations in the world. While this area definitely sees its fair share of spring breakers, there is more to Cancun than bikini-clad college coeds. There are also historic sites that can't be missed, restaurants you have to try, and numerous places to just relax and enjoy a break from your hectic life back home.
Cancun is located along the northern edge of the Mexican Caribbean, in the state of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula. Cancun is divided into two parts; a thin stretch of land known as Cancun Island, which is 14 miles long and separated from the mainland by Nichupte Lagoon. The mainland of Cancun ranges from flat cities in the north to lush jungle lands as one moves further south.
...world's second largest barrier reef...
The jungles of Cancun can keep the area very hot, and residents are no stranger to baring a humid, 100 degree days in the Yucatan. Closer to the coast, where ocean breezes provide cool reprieve, average temperatures range from a low of 74 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to a high of 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Ocean waters reflect these temperatures, averaging between 78 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Rain is rare, with only an average of 16 inches of rain falling per year.
The beaches of Cancun are split into two categories: calm and rough. The calmer waters are located on the north side, where vacationers can enjoy a relaxed swim. This is the best place to go if you are an inexperienced swimmer, or if you are traveling with young children. The east side of Cancun's coast is where the rougher surf provides swimmers with an opportunity for boogie boarding and body surfing.
If snorkeling is what you're interested in, know that while there are plenty of places to snorkel, the immediate shores of Cancun do not offer the best opportunity to see a variety of marine life. With that in mind, snorkeling can still be a lot of fun, especially in Puerto Moreles and Cozumel. If learning about marine life is what you're really after, the world's second largest barrier reef is located not far from the coast. It runs all the way to Belize and beyond, and several facilities, such as Aquaworld, provide tours.
Cancun is surrounded by the mysterious and intriguing Mayan Ruins. There are seven locations within close proximity to Cancun, and a visitor could easily spend their entire vacation just exploring the ruins. A tour of any one, however, is an eye-opening experience that can't be missed. Tulum is perhaps the most visited of the ruins, but if you choose only one to see, it should be Chichen Itza because it is perhaps the most historically important of the seven. Unfortunately, Chichen Itza is approximately two hours away from Cancun, but, there are some all-inclusive tour companies that provide luxury transportation from Cancun to the ruins, meals, and highly educated tour guides. The front desk of your hotel should be able to direct you to such guides when you check in. Click here for all-inclusive hotels in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean.
While on the subject of tours, it is important to mention that there are numerous tours – and types of tours – that can be taken in Cancun. Glass bottom boat tours allow you to glimpse what life is like under water without getting wet, helicopter tours offer guests the chance to take in the magnificent landscape from above, and walking tours help you to learn about Cancun's culture and history while remaining further inland. For a special treat, try a Breathing Bubble tour. Instead of learning to scuba dive, Breathing Bubble tour participants navigate the oceans aboard an underwater scooter while wearing a pressurized helmet that allows you to breath normally.
...great deals on one-of-a-kind items...
Shopping can be done in three different arenas. Open air markets, downtown malls, and hotel zone malls. Open air markets are the best place to go for souvenirs, traditional Mexican items, and handmade wares. Prices are not set in stone at the mercados, so bargaining can help you to get great deals on one-of-a-kind items. The downtown and hotel zone malls are the more traditional mall set-ups, featuring name brand clothing and shoe stores, movie theaters, and restaurants. Haggling is not encouraged at these shopping centers.
As the sun sets, Cancun does not begin to ready itself for bed as many other locations may. Instead, the city is just gearing up for a long night of partying. Discos, bars, clubs, and cocktail cruises are open for business, and they see a lot of business. In Cancun, the partying begins not long after the sun goes down, and continues on until just before dawn. Because drinking alcohol is legal at age 18, Cancun draws an especially large college crowd during spring break, but the partying continues to go on all year round. Read more about Cancun's nightlife here.
Even if you aren't planning on partying the night away, dinner time is a great time to experience another important part of Cancun's culture: the food. Cancun is extremely Americanized and most restaurants serve international cuisine and more Tex-Mex than traditional Mexican cuisine. Real Mexican fare typically has a base of rice and beans, corn and chile. Look for such dishes as Papadzules (hard boiled egg stuffed tortillas topped with a pumpkin sauce), tamales, and pescado tikik-chik (fish marinated, wrapped in palm frond and grilled over an open flame). Click here for restaurants by cuisine.
Cancun doesn't discriminate, and sees its fair share of vacationers from every walk of life. From those who want to relax on the beaches and explore the ruins, to those who prefer to sleep all day and party all night. Whether traveling alone, with family, or with friends, there is plenty to see and do in Cancun.
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