Cancun extends over a strip of land which snakes between the Nitchupte lagoon and the transparent waters of the Caribbean Sea. On this coastal strip 12 and a half miles long, nearly thirty thousand hotel rooms are on offer.
Today, local authorities in this seaside resort, built in the 1970s, fight against the polluting effects of the tanning products from the hordes of bathers!
So, be aware that if you give in to the incomparable beauty of these turquoise waters and heat of this tropical paradise for Americans, you will find a relatively banal setting of an international seaside resort; in short if you travel to Cancun, you'll soon see it's a fairly tasteless and characterless world. To have a pleasant walk, however, go to Tulum Avenue in the historic district of the city.
If you are tired of Cancun and the bustling of tourists, get aboard a trimaran for 30 minutes to get to Isla Mujeres, a small island which offers you sightseeing opportunities for a day. To book, most hotels leave the management of excursions in the region to travel agencies; they all have information and sales offices within the hotels. You can start by a day of diving in the lagoon of Cancun, but do not miss the Palancar reef that lies off the island of Cozumel, the largest in Mexico.
The Cancun region has the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. So beneath the surface of the water you must set off on a discovery of the territory. Many hotels offer free introductory courses in diving in the swimming pool and contract out the courses under PADI certification.
To the west of Cancun, in central Yucatan, you reach the archeological site of Chichen Itza, one of the leading cities in the 'new empire' of the Maya founded in 987.
Another site, Tulum, whose faÁade on one of the main buildings from the 12th and 13th centuries on a cliff overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Combine this visit with a swim in the lagoon of Xel-Ha, a real natural pool, much frequented, where the fresh water sources and warm currents of the sea mix together. In all, plan a day including two hours and a half by car to visit Xel-Ha. If you like swimming in rivers (the famous cenotes dug in the limestone ground ) and the crystal clear waters of the lagoons, in the middle of tropical birds and brightly coloured butterflies, do not miss Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park an hour's drive away.
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Go swimming in the famous ?cenotes', tunnels with cavities filled with freshwater. Specialised companies in fair tourism offer daily trips accompanied by Tyrolean descents, which are very impressive in the jungle.
To the west of Cancun after 2 and a half hours by car, you reach the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, one of the leading cities of the Mayan empire founded in 987. Do not hesitate to climb the 91 steps of the main pyramid to enjoy the wonderful view over the surrounding jungle. Also, go to see the site of Tulum and Xcaret ecological park.
It is better to bring small change, the nuevo peso (N$), and U.S. dollars in small notes. Small shops, taxis and street vendors can rarely change large notes. There are notes of 20, 50 and 100 N$.
Some tours offer a ?meeting of the Maya people'. Though it is true that you see the descendants of the pre-Columbian civilization, the term ?meet' is often misused. Due to a lack of time, there is no time to start a conversation. Sometimes, meals are not shared with the inhabitants. Find out before leaving!
The cuisine of the Yucatan peninsula is mainly composed of dishes made from corn (tortillas), a wide variety of meat, seasoned with chilli (not as spicy in hotels) or coriander. The shellfish is excellent. The grouper is the fish that you most often find at a good price in restaurants.
The hammocks of Yucatan, finely woven nylon or cotton, are comfortable. You will find different sizes costing between £10 and £17 apiece. Avoid other rough materials which can be rough on the skin. Corsages, shawls ( ?rebosos'), masks and leather sandals are commonly found on the markets. Silver is fashioned with various styles and motifs.
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