If you’ve been to Mexico some, you’ve probably been to Cancun. But if you’re thinking of going to Mexico for the first time, and Cancun is what you have in mind, just know that Cancun reflects the made for tourism side of Mexico you wouldn’t normally see. That’s OK if it is your first trip here. There are a ton a fine beaches and crazy things to do. We know you’ll have fun and want to come back and see more of the Mexico that makes it the wonderful country it is.
Cancún (pronounced can-koon) is a city on the coast in beautiful Quintana Roo, Mexico’s easternmost state. It’s that part you see sticking out to the east when looking at a map of the Yucatan. Today, it’s a world renowned tourist resort destination with modern beach front hotels jutting out in the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women). Cancún also borders the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte and Bojorquez lagoons. The mainland downtown commercial section (Cancún City), connected to the island by two bridges, has broad avenues lined with whitewashed shops, restaurants, and hotels.
But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the early ’50s, Cancún was a small island home to three caretakers of a coconut plantation and small Pre-Columbian ruins of the Maya civilization. Then the government of Mexico decided to develop a tourist resort, which was originally financed by a USD $27 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. A causeway was built linking Cancún to the mainland, and around the same time Cancún International Airport was built.
The Mexican government built what was at first a model city for workers, complete with housing, schools and medical facilities.
Cancún started developing in 1970 and took off in the 1980s. The original master plan was repeatedly modified and, on the mainland, often ignored. Despite initial skepticism that forced the Mexican government to finance the first eight hotels, Cancún soon attracted investors from all over the world. Approximately 70% of the Hotel Zone properties are owned by Mexicans, many of them local residents but the figure is close to 100% for the mainland.
Cancún was heavily damaged by Hurricane Wilma, which hit the area on October 22, 2005. All the hotels/resorts are open for business though some are still in the process of restoring guest services such as spas, restaurants, gift shops, business centers, etc. Check with your travel agent.
Cancún boasts about 140 hotels with 24,000 rooms and 380 restaurants. Around 4 million visitors arrive each year on an average of 190 flights daily. The hotel zone is one of the most exclusive internationally, with upmarket restaurants, bars, and the like which have catered for quite a number of the rich and famous. The opposite side of the island from the Caribbean Sea is the Nichupte Lagoon, which is used for boat and snorkeling tours of the area.
If you can, venture to downtown Cancún for a more cultural aspect. You’ll find cuban/salsa type bars/restaurants. And one tip; the hotels are much cheaper here, than on the strip. Don’t know where to stay? Find Cancun resort bargains at Best Caribbean Resorts.
We’ll take a look at those fantastic beaches in Cancún on our next update!