Top 10 Things To Do In Cancun

A top ten guide to the attractions of Cancun, Mexico.

Cancun, Mexico. The name conjures images of rocking gently in a hammock overlooking the Caribbean sipping something icy. It can also conjure up thoughts of wild, crazy revelers during Spring Break. Both are true.

Cancun lies on the tip of the Yucatan peninsula on the east coast of Mexico, due south of Florida, just north of Cozumel on the Caribbean coast. As with most tropical paradise spots, there's plenty to do in Cancun; here's a list of the top ten in no particular order:

1. Swim with dolphins

Get to know these wonderful creatures up close and personal. Cancun is the perfect place to interact with dolphins.

On Isla Mujeres, you can swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery. Here you'll have one hour sessions which include class time and swim time. In Cancun, the Parque Nizuc offers dolphin swims but also is a full service water park which includes water slides, rides, and a variety of swimming pools. You can even go snorkeling with tropical fish, rays and tame sharks.

2. Get wet

Aquaworld in Cancun offers miles of sparkling white beaches and water that's just too good to avoid. Scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and even jungle tours on 2-seater boats. From Aquaworld, you can charter a fishing boat for full-day trips with an open bar. And the Bubblemaker Program is great for kids 8-11 as they learn underwater breathing skills.

3. Soak in the sun

The best beaches in Cancun are pretty much occupied by the big hotels. However, they are public property so they are not restricted to hotel guests. Just stroll through the lobby and head for the beach.

If you're looking to swim, be aware that the open Caribbean has some pretty severe undertows. However, the water of Mujeres Bay are calm and great for swimming. Make sure you're familiar with the pennant system - and check the flags at the beach before going into the water. Green means go. Also, keep in mind that storms move very fast in this part of the world. If you see storm clouds gathering on the horizon, get out of the water and head for cover.

At most of the beaches in Cancun, you can sailboard, parasail, and take part in a wide variety of other water sports.

4. See the Mayan ruins

There are many ruins in the near vicinity of Cancun. Just south of Cancun, surrounded by the Hilton Cancun golf course is Ruinas del Rey. These are ruins of a small Mayan fishing village and you can still see the platforms of several small temples.

Bigger, more impressive ruins at Tulum, Cobá, or Chichén Itzá are really day trips from Cancun. Two-day excursions are even better.

Tulum (which means wall) is surrounded on three sides by a wall. Tulum's two most amazing structures are the Castle and the Temple of the Wind. Between them lies Tulum Cove, a small inlet that served as a port in Mayan times. Now it's a nice place to swim on a hot day.

The ruins of Chichen-Itza are spectacular. Chichen-Itza was the capital of the ancient Mayan culture. See the magnificent pyramid of Kukulkan (75 feet high), the Temple of the Warriors, and the Ball Court. Don't miss the Sacred Well, where the Mayans performed human sacrifices to the gods.



5. Xcaret

Xcaret is advertised as an "eco-archaeological theme park." Here you'll see the amazing local flora and fauna as well as learn about the history and culture of the ancient Mayans. There is a wild bird breeding aviary, a nursery for tiny sea turtles and a fine aquarium. There are authentic ruins for exploring as well. After the sun goes down, the park offers a performance of Mexican dance, music and drama.

6. Bullfights

Olé! If you've got the stomach for it in Cancun you can see the tradition of bullfighting with all its majestic finery and all its gore. Before the actual fighting, there are performances with dancers in colorful costumes, fabulous music

When the bullfighting starts, the numero uno matador enters the ring along with his matador and picador (mounted on horses) helpers. The bull emerges ready to do battle, not knowing that the fight is rigged. On his way to being stabbed to death by the matadors and picadors, he will challenge the matador to a duel. The matador does his best, aided by the traditional red cape to control the bull and the bull does his best to kill the matador.

That's bullfighting. Not for the weak stomach or those who abhor violence. But for those who are into it, bullfighting is an exciting spectacle. Olé!

7. Go Clubbing

Cancun has a fabulous selection of clubs and bars, including Pat O'Brien's famous New Orleans franchise. If you haven't had a POB hurricane - well, just do it. One of the most popular hot spots in Cancun is La Boom. Live shows and DJs. This mega club is renown for it's live shows, DJ's and light shows.

8. Shopping

Duty free! The largest of the duty free shops is UltraFemme, which specializes in European jewelry, perfume and cosmetics.

Cancun is not the best place in Mexico to buy handmade Mexican items as they are more expensive here since they are not locally made. But if you're into malls, Cancun's got your number - nearly as big and fancy as those in the U.S.

Check out the Plaza Flamingo (home of the Planet Hollywood Cancun), Plaza Caracol (home of Cartier, Guess and Senor Frog clothing), Maya Fair Plaza (with it's open-air eateries), and Forum by the Sea (where you'll find Levi's Tommy Hilfiger and even Harley Davidson as well as the Hard Rock Cafe).

La Isla Shopping Village is an open-air mall that looks like a small village. Small canals wend their way through the village. There's an interactive aquarium (swim with dolphins) a first-run movie theater and a huge variety of shops and restaurants.

9. Horses on the beach....

South of Cancun about 30 miles is Rancho Loma Bonita where you can rent horses, ride through swamps to the beach and even take breaks to swim and sunbathe. Many of the beaches in the Caribbean do not allow horses, so this is the place to go to canter along the edge of the surf.

10. Get married

Cancun is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. But it's also a great place to get married. There are a number of companies that specialize in taking care of all the details for you. Use a reputable one to avoid any questions of legalities. Then relax and enjoy a romantic wedding on the beach.

Of course, Cancun also offers great diving, deep-sea fishing, golfing and tennis, jet-skiing. So, call for tickets, pack your bags and escape. You'll have a ball.

© High Speed Ventures 2011