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Cancun continues to be the No. 1 leading location for U.S. travel in foreign countries, thanks to low-priced air travels from the States, 14 miles of beaches, and carnival-style night life that transforms the Z-shaped islet off the Yucatan Peninsula in to a 24-hour party scene for university students every Spring Break. But if you imagine this former Mayan trading city is merely a sloppy boozefest on the beach, you haven’t experienced the real Cancun. 3 must-see tourist attractions for first-timers in Cancun: Sunshine, Sand, and Waves at Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines The coasts of Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines offer the full-spectrum of the Cancun beach scene: Playa Tortugas is a festive party beach with calm, tranquil water along with bungalow restaurants/bars under the palms; Playa Delfines is truly an escapist beach with white sand for tourists planning to avoid the masses (and maybe get a couple of waves). Excursion to the Mayan Ruins Integrated into the downtown area, the plaza ruins of El Ray remind people of the city’s ancient history as a Mayan trading port and give the urban layout an uniquely mythic look (and a kitschy cache to bankroll tourist dollars). However, for a more immersive experience, get a day trip drive into Riviera Maya to the beach front ruins of Tulum and the jungle temples of Coba (they’re much less crowded and even closer than Chichen Itza). Coco Bongo It would be a pity to leave Cancun without a glimpse of the most explosive, extreme club the party city has to give. Coco Bongo is a temple of excess to ludicrous proportions– a huge 1,800-person club along with nightly trapeze acts, rock-star impersonators, a rainbow blitz of wandering spotlights, and thousands of partiers moving to DJ-spun favorites on any platform these people are able to climb onto. Isla Mujeres This little island off the coast of Cancun is simply a peaceful escape from the chaos of the mainland. The palm-shaded beaches are fantastic for laying out under the sun shortly after an intimate lunch at one of the island’s restaurants, and the blue water seems made for an afternoon swim. Dipping Into the Cenotes The rain forest of the Yucatan peninsula produces a distinct experience for tourists trying to find adventure in the form of sunken cenotes– subterranean rivers and lakes in which you may access via rappelling into caverns. Underwater Museum of Art Sure, Cancun and the Riviera Maya contain a lot of offshore dive sites. But in the event that your tank skills are up to par, some of the best areas to scuba dive is the Underwater Museum of Art, constructed by British artist Jason de Caires Taylor, which, true to its name, is an underwater museum of sculptures laid out at the bottom of the sea. New to scuba? No problem. Scuba Cancun are able to set you up with a starter’s diving course and after that a museum dive for $80.

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Photo credit: gafas via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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