Cancun is still the No. 1 main holiday destination when it comes to U.S. traveling in foreign countries, due to cheap airfares from the States, 14 miles of shorelines, and carnival-style night life that changes the Z-shaped islet off the Yucatan Peninsula into a 24-hour party scene for university students pretty much every Spring Break. But in case you assume this former Mayan trading city is just a careless boozefest on the beach, you have not experienced the real Cancun. 3 must-see destinations for first-timers in Cancun: Sun, Fine sand, and Waves at Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines The shores of Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines supply the full-spectrum of the Cancun beach scene: Playa Tortugas is a fun party beach with calm, tranquil water along with bungalow restaurants/bars under the palms; Playa Delfines is an escapist beach with white sand for travelers planning to avoid the crowds (and possibly grab a couple of waves). Excursion to the Mayan Ruins Integrated into the downtown area, the plaza ruins of El Ray remind travelers of the city’s early history as a Mayan trading port and provide the urban layout a distinctively mythic look and feel (and a kitschy cache to bankroll tourist dollars). But for a more immersive experience, take a day trip drive into Riviera Maya to the beach front ruins of Tulum and the jungle temples of Coba (they’re far less crowded and closer compared to Chichen Itza). Coco Bongo It would be a pity to leave Cancun without a look of the most wild, amazing nightclub the party city has to feature. Coco Bongo is a temple of extravagance to outrageous 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 dancing to DJ-spun favorites on any platform these guys can climb onto. Isla Mujeres This small isle off the coast of Cancun is definitely a quiet getaway from the madness of the mainland. The palm-shaded oceanfronts are excellent for laying out under the sun’s rays after an intimate meal at one of the island’s bistros, 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 travelers searching for adventure in the form of sunken cenotes– subterranean rivers and lakes in which one can access by rappelling into caverns. Underwater Museum of Art Sure, Cancun and the Riviera Maya offer lots of offshore dive sites. But assuming that your tank skills are up to par, some of the best areas to scuba dive is the Underwater Museum of Art, created by English artist Jason de Caires Taylor, which, true to its name, is an underwater museum of sculptures exhibited at the bottom of the ocean. New to diving? Not a problem. Scuba Cancun are able to set you up with a newbie’s diving session and then a museum dive for $80.
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Photo credit: Julien Sebire via Hotelbee.net / CC BY-NC-SA