It all started in 1967 when the Mexican government (recognizing the importance of tourism to the country's economic future), began a detailed search to pinpoint ideal sites for touristic development. Cancun emerged as the government's top candidate.
Construction got underway in 1974, with resort and municipal infrastructure taking top priority. Cancun wandered into the 1980's as a relatively small and undiscovered resort with a dozen or so
hotels. This all changed when a building boom in the mid-1980's vaulted Cancun into the global tourism arena as a first class resort.
From ruins to riches, Cancun has it all. In fact it's hard to imagine a site better endowed with natural, archaeological and man-made attractions. Technically an island, Cancun's hotel zone is a 14 mile long slender ribbon of sand, shaped like the number "seven". Its stunning beaches must be seen to be believed: silky smooth sugar-white sand, lapped by the turquoise and emerald waters of the Caribbean.
Cancun is comprised of three distinct but integrated areas: the City of
Cancun (a boomtown of 250,000+ people, popular for shopping, dining and less expensive accommodations), the ecological reserve (lovely lagoons and mangroves) and the hotel zone (a resort island). Development is designed around an ecologically-sensitive master plan.
The area's history is rich with Mayan influence. It has been periodically occupied for hundreds of years. Stone temples uncovered during the resort's construction date back to the 12th century. Further inland are magnificent ancient cities and ceremonial centers. Over 200 archaeological sites, some wonderfully restored, others still shrouded with tangled jungle vegetation are scattered within a few hours drive from Cancun. The region's fascinating and friendly Mayan culture has survived despite tourism's rapid encroachment.
As for visitor facilities, Cancun offers an exotic, tropical island setting buoyed by
modern comforts and conveniences. A well-planned layout and infrastructure give the destination a polished appearance. There are over 20,000 hotel rooms and some 250 restaurants.
Shopping is top notch, with over a dozen American-style shopping malls. Dining options include every imaginable fast food chain along with gourmet seafood, Asian, Caribbean, American and Mexican specialties. And of course, outdoor recreation (watersports, in particular) is first rate.
For adventure seekers Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula abound with sight-seeing treasures. Stretching 300 miles to the south along the Yucatan's eastern flank is the Mayan Riviera. This scenic and unspoiled coastal zone is emerging as one of Mexico's newest resort areas. Several new all-inclusive properties have opened, and there is still plenty of off-the-beaten-path exploring. Dozens of remote coves and deserted
stretches of jungle-lined white sand beach are easy to reach. There are also dozens of archaeological sites here, ranging from magnificent, fully-restored ancient cities to unexcavated, ceremonial centers.
Cancun succeeds in combining the best of Mexico and the Caribbean into one tidy package.