Cancún is a made-to-order resort, built specifically for tourism at the northeastern tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The city was founded on April 20, 1970.
The city receives upwards of three million visitors a year.
DIVING AND SNORKELING
The most popular area for snorkeling and diving is Punta Nizuc, a national marine park. It became a protected area in July 1996 along with the west coast of Isla Mujeres and Punta Cancún. A portion of every tourist dollar supports park monitoring and conservation efforts.
Biologists call this a ‘sacrificial reef,’ because it is visited by thousands each year. Although snorkelers are given instructions on exploring the reef in a way that does not harm them, they often disregard them. On my trip here a tourist wanted ‘just a souvenir. Just a little piece of coral?’ The boat guide managed to discourage him, but imagine this happening not once but tens of thousands of times. It’s amazing the reef is in as good a condition as it is.
WHEN TO GO
High season begins in mid-December and lasts until about May, which is the dry season. During the summer and fall rates are less expensive, but travelers also risk hurricanes and tropical storms.
Baseball fans, check out the Tigres with the sport’s best mascot, Chacho. The season runs March-July.
Soccer team Atlante moved from Mexico City to Cancún to improve its fan support.
One of the natural highlights of the Cancún area is Isla Mujeres (Island of Women). The island is about 500 meters wide and 7.5 kilometers long.
In 1961 Isla Contoy was established as a special biosphere reserve, is one of the most important bird refugees in the Mexican Caribbean. The lack of freshwater supplies have kept the island free of human settlements and have encouraged the survival of the wilderness.
The island has extensive coastline, interior lagoons, and mangrove swamps that are home to 70 species of birds including frigate birds, brown pelicans, and double-crested cormorants. Visitors are charged an entry fee that supports the management of the reserve. The island is just an hour’s boat ride from Cancún.
LOCATION — Cancún is located on the Caribbean in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatán Peninsula.
TRANSPORTATION — Cancún boasts one of the busiest international airports in Mexico, 16 kilometers southwest (10 miles) of the city on Highway 307.
There is frequent bus service to Puerto Morelos (36 kilometers, 22 miles), Tulum (131 kilometers, 81 miles), Mérida and Villahermosa. The central bus station is downtown at the intersection of Calles Tulum and Uxmal.