The Yucatán Peninsula, which contains the picturesque city of Cancún and the famed Riviera Maya, is a one-of-a-kind vacation destination that welcomes more visitors than any other part of México. It’s a place where ancient Mayan ruins, high-end retail districts and gorgeous resorts blend seamlessly with soft, white-sand beaches warmed by the sun and lush jungles teeming with flora and fauna. That’s why when you visit this extraordinary region, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in a tropical vacation right at your fingertips. Get ready to swim, play, relax, explore and shop!
Swim… The primary draw of the Yucatán Peninsula is its long Caribbean coast; the band of shoreline from Cancún south to Tulum is the Riviera Maya. Cancún’s endless array of watersports is sure to delight, no matter your age! Scuba-diving, snorkeling and sport-fishing — it’s all here. You can even charter a sailboat for a day on the sea or a romantic sunset cruise. Be sure to visit Xel-Ha, considered the largest natural aquarium in the world; this major attraction is a premier site for snorkeling, swimming with the dolphins, taking Snuba® lessons and even walking underwater! The Great Mayan Reef, just off the coasts of Cancún and the Riviera Maya, stretches more than 620 miles from Cabo Catoche at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula south along Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. This stunning sub-marine jewel offers snorkeling and diving opportunities, with locations like Cozumel Island and the Palancar Reef flush with fish, crabs, lobster, mollusks, sea cucumbers and starfish.
Play… After exploring the broad depths of the ocean — from splashing on the shallow shores to deep-water dives — spend some time interacting with Méxican culture at Xcaret, one of the most spectacular theme parks in the world. Xcaret Is a majestic archaeological area with stage shows acting out Méxican history, a coral reef aquarium, butterfly pavilion, and underground rivers, beaches and natural pools. If you’re looking for adventure, Cancún offers some of the longest zip lines in Latin America. You can also go mountain biking or drive through the jungle in open-top Jeeps. For a slower pace of activity, hit the course — renowned championship golf courses dot the Yucatán Peninsula, beckoning golfers of all handicaps! Enjoy swinging your clubs in some most beautiful natural settings imaginable on courses that meet the highest standards set by professional golf tournaments and expert golfers.
Relax… Cancún is one of the premier spa destinations in the world, with more than 30 stunning spa resorts waiting to transport your mind, body and spirit to a nirvana of pure bliss. Spa treatments here combine native herbs and plants with ancient Mayan healing rituals and the latest stress-reducing advancements. Try a traditional Temazcal steam bath or a full-body massage on the beach overlooking the turquoise blue waters. Indulge in a thalassotherapy treatment and relax as expert therapists provide natural body wraps made with local plants and flowers. Your ultimate spa experience in México, however, has to include a traditional Mayan massage. This massage is designed to balance you fully, enormously benefiting your immune system and circulation.
Explore… Cancún’s Mayan culture is considered by many as its crowning glory. The aura of mystery and majesty still lingers around the Mayan archaeological sites and pre-Hispanic ruins, including Chichén Itzá, Uxmal and Tulum. Within the state of Yucatán, the northern portion of the peninsula and Campeche, the landscape is covered with crumbling haciendas and the stark ruins of ancient cities. This is the world of the present-day Maya, where life moves slowly in simple villages bordered by rock walls and cornfields. Elsewhere on the peninsula, the Gulf Coast state of Tabasco was once home to the Olmec, the mother culture of Mesoamerica. At Villahermosa's Parque-Museo La Venta, you can see the impressive 40-ton carved rock heads the Olmec left behind. In Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas is more in the mold of a provincial colonial town, surrounded by villages home to an array of craftspeople. In the eastern lowland jungles of Chiapas lie the classic Maya ruins of Palenque; deeper in are the ruins of Yaxchilán and Bonampak.
Shop… As one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, Cancún boasts an impressive selection of retail opportunities. You’ll find everything from ultra-chic designer stores and brand-name retailers to flea markets and souvenir shops selling local handcrafts. Plus, shopping in Cancún is duty-free, so you can grab some real bargains on items like cosmetics and jewelry. La Isla Village in the Hotel Zone features more than 150 shops under a giant canopy with a series of canals and small bridges designed to create a Venetian look. Kukulcan Plaza and Luxury Avenue, also in the Hotel Zone, boast more than 250 shops and boutiques in exclusive, luxurious surroundings. There are many specialty restaurants, bars and cafés here, as well as a bowling alley. Mercado 28, meanwhile, is a huge flea market in the heart of downtown Cancún. It’s the perfect place to find souvenirs, Méxican handcrafts and silver.
For fun and adventure, traveling back in time while enjoying rich, contemporary comforts, or just relaxing in a tropical paradise, Cancún and the Riviera Maya can’t be beat.