Learn more about this great destination and what it has to offer. Choose a section below for information on the area, including history and transportation details.
The area's tourism industry underwent rapid growth during the 1980s, made possible by enthusiastic foreign investment. Large hotels began to flourish - offering complete services and amenities, abounding in luxury and exclusivity. This also applied to shopping centers, which started incorporating some of the finest boutiques, jewelers and restaurants. These factors boosted the area's status. Already considered a paradise of sun and sea for the color of its waters, the delicate beauty of its powdered sand beaches and the exuberant vegetation of its ecological reserves, Cancún was still improving its reputation.
Cancún can be divided into three main areas: The Hotel District, the Town and the Ecological Reserve, blessed with incredible lakes and mangrove swamps.
The Hotel District is comprised of the so-called gran turismo hotels (four-and five-star luxury hotels). Hotels and shopping centers are distributed along the main Boulevard Kuculkán, which runs the length of the 21-kilometer (13-mile) island. This district undoubtedly generates the greatest revenue and has the greatest economic impact on the nation, as compared to the rest of the state. This area is where the trendiest, most popular discos, the finest international restaurants and the largest entertainment venues are situated.
Town of Cancún
The Town of Cancún changes the scenery, albeit not too drastically. Peaceful provincial life here is more picturesque, folkloric and the simplicity of some of the shops provides a stark contrast to the million-dollar hotel chains. Restaurants in this district serve typical local food and snacks, providing a real opportunity to taste some genuine homemade Mexican dishes. There are also a lot of shopping opportunities in town. For additional entertainment, theaters and cinemas are located on the main streets.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Last, but certainly not least, the third district is in the
Archaeological sites can be found in the vicinity, extending towards the four cardinal points. Structures tell the history of the settlements of the Mayan people on this peninsula, and just about every rock reveals traces of the historical and cultural legacy which these inhabitants left behind.
Cancún combines the elegance and gamut of entertainment choices in its Hotel District, the traditions and serenity of its pueblo, and the natural beauty of its ecological reserve, coral reef and history of its peoples. From a city brimming with all of this, what else could you ask for?
The Rivera Maya lies in the Southern part of the Mexican Republic, the Eastern area of the Peninsula of Yucatán, and on the Caribbean shoreline. It is called the Mayan Riviera due to the influence the pre-Hispanic civilization exerted throughout the region, extending from Punta Brava to Punta Allen. The Northern coast boasts an impressive development of its tourist infrastructure, while the Southern shore is dotted with small picturesque villages surrounded by unspoiled beaches. Gran Arrecife Maya, the world's second largest barrier reef is found off these shores and along with the tropical forests of exotic vegetation and mangroves, they constitute a veritable window into the biodiversity of Mexican wildlife species. The South is also well known for its underground rivers, sacred reservoirs, deep-sea caves and caverns.
The Mayans were the original inhabitants of this peninsula. Advanced in the sciences, their civilization is recognized for the intelligence and precision of their calculations as well as the complexity of their religious rites. The peninsula was an important center of commercial and religious activity during the post-classical period, which dates from approximately 1000 CE to 1500 CE. The
With the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519, the principal Mayan cities, such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal had already been abandoned. The wars and conquests of other peoples, harsh climate and the dangers of the tropical forest, combined with the frequent threat of hurricanes, made it difficult for the civilization to prosper.
In 1967 the Mexican Government recognized the importance of the tourist industry as an active ingredient in the country's economy. Given its natural beauty, which would tempt any traveler, this paradise was poised as a strong candidate for foreign investment towards the development of a hotel and entertainment infrastructure. The Palacio Maya and Club Med were the first hotels built in the 1970s, both blessed with exaggerated exclusivity.
Considered a strong tourist attraction during the 1990s, it wasn't until that decade in which Cancún experienced significant growth with the construction of hotels, American-style shopping centers and an array of entertainment facilities.
Cancún is presently divided into three districts: The town of Cancún, with a population of approximately 300,000 and a simple, practical infrastructure; the Ecological Reserve with its incredible lakes, rain-forests and mangroves; and the Hotel Zone, an island of hotels and shopping centers.
There are over 26,800 hotel rooms available, 200 restaurants, and several hundred shops in the city while paved and dirt roads enable access to the tropical forest.
Many facets of Cancun combine to offer the natural attributes of a Caribbean paradise framed within the vestiges of one of the most advanced and intelligent civilizations of the ancient world.
Cancun International Airport sits a mere nine miles southwest from downtown and just 15.5 kilometers (six miles) from the Hotel Zone. More than 80 flights arrive daily making it the busiest airport in Quintana Roo. It is divided into two terminals (1 and 2).
Cancun International Airport (CUN) +52 998 886 0028 http://www.asur.com.mx/wwwIn/b_aeropuertos/fsCancun.html/
Terminal 2 handles all domestic and international flights from such main airlines such as:
Aeromexico (+1 800 257 6639 / http://www.aeromexico.com/) British Airways (+1 800 247 9297 / http://www.ba.com/)
Terminal 1 is considerably smaller and houses charter companies like:
Allegro (+1 877 443 7585 / http://www.allegroair.net/) Sun Country (+1 800 359 5786 / http://www.suncountry.com/)
Shuttle buses connect the two terminals and depart from the main entrances every 10 minutes. An info booth is situated in terminal 2 near the main entrance. Restaurants including a load of fast food joints and shopping outlets are also scattered about both terminals. Business facilities are available in the FBO Building, which resides next to terminal 1. Short-term lots are located adjacent to both terminals.
Upon arrival, it is highly recommended to refrain from changing your money at the airport. The exchange rates border on criminal. Wait to get into downtown or in the Hotel Zone for a much better exchange rate at one of the local banks.
From the Airport
Rental car companies are located in terminal one and include:
Alamo (+52 998 886 0448/ +1 800 462 5266 http://www.alamo.com/) Avis (+52 998 886 0221/ +1 800 230 4898 / http://www.avis.com/) Budget (+1 800 527 0700/ http://rent.drivebudget.com/) Hertz (+1 800 654 3131/ http://www.hertz.com/) National (+52 998 886 0153/ http://www.nationalcar.com/) Payless (+1 800 729 5377/ http://www.paylesscarrental.com/) Thrifty (+1 800 847 4389/ http://www.thrifty.com/)
Shuttles and Taxis
GreenLine (http://greenlinetaxicancun.com/es/home.html) offer transportation from the airport. Hotels often have a car service that are reliable and affordable, check with your hotel to see if one is available. A great example of a Hotel Car Service is
The main bus terminal (+52 998 884 8073) is located downtown at the corners of Avenida Uxmal and Avenida Tulum and is open 24 hours a day. Though small it is divided into two halves. The east section handles first class passengers on the Autotransportes del Oriente (+52 998 884 8073), while the west section caters to second-class passengers on the Autotransportes del Caribe (+52 998 884 4804). The ADO (http://www.ado.com.mx/wadod/compra.jsp) is a public bus that goes to the airport and drops passengers off downtown.
Route 180 begins at the Texas border and winds all the way through Mexico before approaching Cancún from the west. Route 307 pokes up from the south and provides easy access to the ruins of Tulum and to the ferries to Cozumel in Playa de Carmen. Kukulcán Boulevard bisects the Hotel Zone's 22.5-kilometer (14-mile) stretch of island and can be reached by two bridges from downtown.
Public buses run non-stop from 6a-Mid between downtown and the hotel zone. Stops are frequent and service most major hotels. Rides only cost on average six pesos (USD60 cents).
Taxis can pick you up in front of all hotels. However, before entering, agree on a price, for the cab drivers are notorious for jacking up their rates without warning or precedence. To aid in your negotiating skills, all the hotels post taxi fare rates so as to provide a basis on what to expect to pay. Rates within the hotel zone average USD7.
Rental Cars & Mopeds
Rental cars are unnecessary if you plan on staying within the Hotel Zone and downtown. If you do drive, be forewarned that driving along the Hotel Zone can be a nightmare of speed bumps, pedestrians, and inordinately strict policemen who have a reputation for targeting tourists. Downtown, with its collection of traffic circles, poorly marked one-way streets, and potholes, is even worse. If you do rent be sure to purchase Mexican car rental insurance. Rentals average USD 25 a day. Due to the high accident rate, however, they are not recommended, especially since no insurance is offered.
Boats to Isla Mujeres leave every half hour (7:30a-7:30p) just north of Cancún from Puerto Juarez. Rides last 30 minutes and cost USD4. Caribbean Express (+52 998 877 0254) and Caribbean Miss (+52 998 877 0253) both offer air conditioning and bar service. Ferries to Cozumel (+52 998 872 1722) depart from Playa de Carmen, 67.5 kilometers (42 miles) south, every hour from 5a-11p and last approximately 45 minutes.
For visits to the Mayan ruins in Tulum (130 kilometers/81 miles) or Chichen Itzá (203 kilometers/126 miles) consider a tour bus. Mayaland Tours (+52 998 887 2450) enjoys an outstanding reputation and features air-conditioned buses.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., is not responsible or liable for any errors or inaccuracies with respect to the information contained on this page.
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