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Cancún see + do

Cancún is Mexico's number-one tourism moneymaker, thanks to its proximity to chilly East Coast cities and the preponderance of familiar franchises that make U.S. tourists feel right at home. It's all about easy access to warm breezes and the crystal blue Caribbean Sea. Most visitors stick to the Zona Hotelera, a skinny 14-mile-long manmade sampler of Everyman's dream vacation setting. Sunbathing, swimming, shopping, and lazing about are the main activities, and attractions sans a commercial aspect are nearly nonexistent. The Mayan temples at El Rey and El Meco (and the stained glass dome at Kukulcán Plaza) add a slight historical perspective to the scene. Mostly, businesses are constantly racing to raise their hip quotient and stay ahead of the competition.

The best physical activities take place in the lagoons, where active types paddle kayaks and race about on WaveRunners. Travel agencies offer tours to the cenotes and coral reefs south of Cancún in the Riviera Maya—diving and snorkeling are far better there than at Cancún's few loved-to-death reefs. Day trips to Isla Mujeres include decent fish-spotting at Parque Garrafón, along with the chance to tootle about the island in a golf cart.

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Archaeological Sites, Cancún

Long before modern pyramids rose beside the sea, the Maya built temples and homes beside the Caribbean, using the region as a stopover for traders and pilgrims...more

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Beaches, Cancún

Celebrations worthy of a World Cup victory rocked the city when Cancún's beaches reopened in April 2006. Shortly after Hurricane Wilma struck, a Belgian...more

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Bullfights, Cancún

OK, so it's not exactly Madrid or even Mexico City, but Cancún's small bullfighting ring, in the El Centro section of town, holds bullfights on...more

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Eco-Tours, Cancún

Motorboats, WaveRunners, and Jet Skis zoom about the lagoons on the Hotel Zone's western shores, defying any definition of an eco-tour. But if you kayak into...more

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Geological Wonders near Cancún

The Yucatán is one of the flattest places on earth—an area with almost no peaks or hills to accent its tropical terrain. As a result, the region's...more

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Golf, Cancún

Cancún has a surprisingly large number of golf courses packed into the narrow strip of the Zona Hotelera. Cancún Golf Club at Pok-ta-Pok was designed...more

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Isla Mujeres, Isla Mujeres

Just five miles long and no wider than a city block at each tip, tiny Isla is the antithesis of Cancún. The island's many small hotels weather most...more

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Shopping, Cancún

Vegas-style shopping centers have become the most exciting attractions on land in the Zona Hotelera. Though exceedingly splashy and often stuffed with the same...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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