Cancun is still the No. 1 leading destination for AMERICAN travel to foreign countries, with the help of inexpensive airline tickets from the States, 14 miles of beaches, and carnival-style night life which changes the Z-shaped islet off the Yucatan Peninsula into a 24-hour party scene for college students every Spring Break. But if you imagine this former Mayan trading city is merely a careless boozefest on the beach, you have not experienced the true Cancun. 3 must-see destinations for first-timers in Cancun: Sun, Fine sand, and Waves at Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines The beaches of Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines deliver the full-spectrum of the Cancun beach scene: Playa Tortugas is a festive party beach with calm, tranquil water including bungalow restaurants/bars under the palms; Playa Delfines is an escapist beach with white sand for travelers wishing to get away from the masses (and maybe catch a few waves). Excursion to the Mayan Ruins Integrated into the downtown area, the plaza ruins of El Ray help remind tourists of the city’s early history as a Mayan trading port and provide the urban layout a distinctively mythic appearance (and a kitschy cache to bankroll tourist dollars). However, for a more immersive experience, take a day trip drive down Riviera Maya to the beach front ruins of Tulum and the jungle temples of Coba (they’re much less crowded and even closer compared to Chichen Itza). Coco Bongo It would certainly be a pity to leave Cancun without a peek of the most explosive, extravagant nightclub the party city has to give. Coco Bongo is a temple of excess to ludicrous proportions– a huge 1,800-person club with nightly trapeze acts, rock-star imitators, a rainbow blitz of wandering spotlights, and thousands of partiers moving to DJ-spun hits on virtually any platform these guys can climb onto. Isla Mujeres This tiny isle off the coast of Cancun is definitely a quiet retreat from the madness of the mainland. The palm-shaded coasts are excellent for laying out under the sun after an intimate meal at one of the island’s bistros, and the azure water seems made for an afternoon swim. Dipping Into the Cenotes The rain forest of the Yucatan peninsula builds a distinct experience for tourists trying to find adventure in the form of sunken cenotes– subterranean rivers and lakes that you can access by rappelling into caverns. Underwater Museum of Art Sure, Cancun and the Riviera Maya offer a number of offshore dive sites. However if your tank skills are up to par, one of the coolest spots to scuba dive is the Underwater Museum of Art, constructed by English artist Jason de Caires Taylor, which, true to its name, is an underwater museum of sculptures displayed at the bottom of the ocean. Brand new to diving? Don’t worry. Scuba Cancun can set anyone up with a beginner’s diving course and after that a museum dive for $80.
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Photo credit: Nhoj Leunamme == Jhon Emmanuel via Hotelbee.net / CC BY-NC-ND