On the easternmost tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, the crown jewel of Riviera Maya basks in shimmering turquoise waters, the hot Caribbean sun, and the glory of being named the top international travel destination of 2012, according to Orbitz.com.
But besides the white sand beaches, swaying palm trees and bottomless margaritas that make Caribbean getaways irresistible, what makes Cancun different?
Maybe it’s the Underwater Museum, a series of 400 sculptures off the coast of Isla de Mujeres where scuba divers and snorkelers can swim down to visit. Or perhaps it’s the world-famous cuisine, a unique blend of Mexican and Caribbean flavors that includes dishes like Poc-Chuc, an orange-marinated grilled pork wrapped in corn tortillas with a spicy onion sauce. It could be the adventure that awaits, because where else can you have the opportunity to swim alongside sharks and head to a hot dance club in the course of an evening?
The title will mean a new beginning for Cancun, appropriately coinciding with the closing of the traditional Mayan calendar. Recent renovations on the Hotel Zone seashore have brought over a billion gallons of new white sand to the already pristine beaches for travelers to enjoy.
But the classic and somewhat quirky elements of a Cancun vacation still remain. For example, a visit to the airport in the morning might mean you’ll see tropical birds and Mexican agoutis (large forest mammals) wandering outside. You can take a self-drive Jeep safari through the jungle, and cheer alongside the locals at a football game downtown. And as always, there’s nothing like the prospect of swimming with dolphins to entice the kids.
You already know Cancun as a tropical getaway with Vegas-quality nightlife and Caribbean-quality beaches. It’s time to start taking advantage of what regular visitors to the city have discovered: that there’s much, much more to it than having a Corona on the sand. But that’s not so bad, either.