Cancun is still the No. 1 top desired destination for AMERICAN vacation abroad, with the help of affordable airline tickets from the States, 14 miles of beachfronts, and carnival-style nightlife that transforms the Z-shaped islet off the Yucatan Peninsula in to a 24-hour party scene for university students pretty much every Spring Break. But if you presume this former Mayan trading city is only a sloppy boozefest on the beach front, you have not experienced the real Cancun. 3 must-see spots intended for first-timers in Cancun: Sun, Sand, and Waves at Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines The coastlines of Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines deliver the full-spectrum of the Cancun beach scene: Playa Tortugas is a joyful party beach with calm, tranquil water including bungalow restaurants/bars below the palms; Playa Delfines is simply an escapist beach with white sand for tourists planning to avoid the herds (and possibly get a few waves). Day Trip to the Mayan Ruins Integrated into the downtown area, the plaza ruins of El Ray help remind people of the city’s ancient history as a Mayan trading port and give the urban layout an uniquely mythic appearance (and a kitschy cache to bankroll tourist dollars). But for a much more immersive experience, take a day trip drive into Riviera Maya to the beachfront ruins of Tulum and the jungle temples of Coba (they’re significantly less crowded and closer compared to Chichen Itza). Coco Bongo It would 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 extravagance to outrageous proportions– a massive 1,800-person club along with nightly trapeze acts, rock-star impersonators, a rainbow blitz of wandering spotlights, and hundreds of partiers moving to DJ-spun favorites on any kind of platform they are able to climb up onto. Isla Mujeres This small isle off the coast of Cancun is a peaceful getaway from the madness of the mainland. The palm-shaded oceanfronts are superb for laying out under the sun’s rays right after an intimate lunch at one of the island’s restaurants, and the glowing blue water seems made for an afternoon swim. Dipping Into the Cenotes The rain forest of the Yucatan peninsula creates an one-of-a-kind experience for vacationers searching for adventure in the form of sunken cenotes– subterranean rivers and lakes that you can access via rappelling into caves. Underwater Museum of Art Sure, Cancun and the Riviera Maya feature a lot of offshore dive sites. But in case your tank skills are up to par, some of the coolest spots to scuba dive is the Underwater Museum of Art, designed by British artist Jason de Caires Taylor, which, true to its name, is an underwater museum of sculptures exhibited at the bottom of the ocean. Brand-new to diving? Not a problem. Scuba Cancun can set you up with a newcomer’s diving course and after that a museum dive for $80.
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Photo credit: Soledad Brother via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND