Poised at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is the northern-most city on the shores of the Mexican Caribbean. It’s hard to believe that little more than 40 years ago this vacation paradise was a skinny finger of jungle-choked land that pointed south from the mainland. Before 1971 there weren’t even roads cut through the dense jungle to the tiny fishing village that would become the heart of today’s Cancun. When development hit Cancun, it hit big.
Cancun today is the number one travel destination in Mexico. Carved from the jungle for the modern tourist, is it any wonder it’s surpassed Acapulco, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in popularity? English is widely spoken here, signage is in both Spanish and English, and every shop, restaurant, or tourist attraction within a hundred miles accepts American currency, and ATMs are plentiful and trustworthy. Hotels claim you can even drink the water from the tap, although most hotels still provide guests with free bottled water. Downtown Cancun has its Hardrock Café, its Starbucks and McDonalds. The Plaza La Isla shopping mall could be downtown Anywhere, USA. Simply put, Americans feel comfortable here.
The isle of Cancun, a finger of land 18 miles long and less than a quarter-mile wide, has water on each side. This means that most every hotel room along the island’s hotel zone has a water view. Some rooms face the turquoise Caribbean and others face the sapphire blue Nichupté Lagoon. Water views and water activities literally surround Cancun. Along Avenue Kukulcan, the main route through the hotel zone, you’ll find every brand of hotel, from the Ritz-Carlton to the Holiday Inn, in addition to dozens of condo rentals and timeshares.
One of the most attractive trends in Mexico tourism is the all-inclusive resorts that operate like cruise ships on land. Cruise enthusiasts claim it’s having all of their activities covered in a single fee that attracts them; guests don’t have to pull out their wallet every time they buy a drink at the pool or lunch in the oceanfront café. All-inclusive resorts offer this same type of service, the feeling of being spoiled and pampered right from the minute you’re greeted at the airport, swept to your hotel in an air conditioned van, and you enter your room to find a chilled bottle of champagne waiting and unlimited access to the mini-bar.
All-inclusive resorts charge a flat-fee per person, per day, which includes 24-hour room service and unlimited dining at all of the resort’s restaurants, snack bars, and nightclubs. Most resorts offer special packages that include airport pick-up/drop-off and even tours of the area surrounding Cancun. Many people enjoy the many activities offered at all-inclusive resort so much, however, they rarely venture off the property to see what else is out and about Cancun.
Americans traveling to Mexico now need a passport, but no visa is required for stays of less than 180 days.