Miles of beaches, turquoise sea, the second largest reef in the world, cenotes, amusement parks and Mayan sites are just a few of the special features that can be discovered on Caribbean coast of Mexico. The coast stretches all the way down to Belize and is the most popular holiday destination in all of Mexico.
Cancún was a former fishing village until the early 1970´s. Inspired by the popularity Acapulco, the government decided to start a major deveopment project in cooperation with several private investors. The ideal conditions were in place: beautiful beaches, lots of sun and enough space for enormous construction projects and future growth. The success was even greater than expected.
The Cancun hotel zone, the Zona Hotelera, is legendary and can be admired in its entirety by taxi, bus or on a bike ride. There are large-scale hotels, amusement parks, restaurants, shopping malls and tropical gardens stretching along 20 km!
Playa del Carmen is slightly more relaxed than Cancun. the hotel complexes in town are not as large as those in Cancun, but the city is growing steadily. Stay in this beach town if you are looking for relaxation on the sandy beach, shopping opportunities and daytrips to the surrounding area or snorkeling and scuba diving adventures. 5th Avenida or Quinta Avenida is gthe heart of the city, with countless bars, discos, cafes, shopping and entertainment options. Since it is on the coast, the seafood is fresh and spectacular. The restaurant options in Cancun and Playa del Carmen can be very touristy with international chains and cuisine ranging from Chinese restaurants to the popular fast food chains.
Things are pretty quiet in Tulum, The city itself is not directly on the ocean and has been spared by hotel complexes. The accommodations along the hotel zone are very eco-chic. Many are stylish boutique hotels right on the beach in the form of cabañas (beach bungalows or huts). Defintiely visit the archaeological site of Tulum which is uniquely located on top of a cliff with stunning views of the ocean. The well-preserved complex is lined with palm trees and there is a white sandy beach underneath where you can enjoy a dip in the turquoise water. The most popular buildings are El Castillo, the tallest building in the site, the two-story Templo des las Pinturas with pretty decorative murals, and the Templo del Díos Descendente with an interesting relief above the door and the Templo del Díos del Viento with fantsastic views over the complex and the ocean.
You can also go on great diving and snorkeling trips in the area, not only in the beautiful reefs off the coast, but also in the mysterious cenotes that can be found in the region. If you don’t want to dive or snorkel, you can just use the cenotes for a refreshing dip. The Grand Cenote, for example, is less than four kilometers west of Tulum and is ideal for a refreshing cool down, and the open Cenote Azul is not too far from Tulum.
Bacalar is a small village with about 10,000 inhabitants. The fortress San Felipe was built by the Spaniards on a hill in the 18th century to protect them from pillaging pirates. It is fortified by cannons because at that time the city was an important trade and commercial center. Many goods were shipped from here to Spain which naturally attracted all sorts of shady characters. Today you can visit a small museum on the history of the region in the fortress. From the top you have a wonderful view of the lagoon, which glitters in the sun in a variety of shades of blue and turquoise. At the northern end, the fresh water lagoon is pefect for swimming.
This beautiful island is only a few kilometers off the coast and is very easy to reach from Cancún. It is 8 kilometers long and at its widest point only 800 meters and can therefore be explored very easily by bike or golf cart. There are beautiful beaches and the island is popular for its hidden diving and snorkeling spots. The best beaches are on the north and west ends of the island, the east side is exposed to the sea and there are dangerous currents. According to legend, the island got its name (Island of Women) because women used to wait on the island while their pirate husbands went pillaging on the mainland. Another explanation is the discovery of female clay figures by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Today, it is a popular holiday destination to enjoy the relaxed Caribbean flair of the island. There are ruins to discover at the southern tip of the island as well as a turtle farm with small turtles which are raised here until they are about a year old and can be released.
Isla Holbox is a beautiful piece of paradise on the northeastern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. The island offers miles of pristine beaches and a magical underwater world. It is part of the Yum Balam nature reserve and home to many different animal and plant species. There are dolphins, flamingoes and even whale sharks between June and August. The island is largely unknown and therefore ideal to spend a few quiet and relaxing days. The streets are made of white sand and with the exception of a few golf carts, there is hardly any traffic. Most residents make a living from fishing and you can enjoy excellent seafood and fish. However, mosquitoes can be a problem, especially during the rainy season.
Cozumel is the largest island in Mexico and very popular for diving and snorkeling; There are more than 100 first class diving spots around the island. The visibility is good all year round and the underwater world is very diverse. San Miguel de Cozumel is the only city on the island. At the Museo de la Isla de Cozumel you can learn a lot about the history, geology and nature of the island. A few kilometers further south is the Chankanaab Nature Reserve with a spectacular beach and a great lagoon where turtles and iguanas frolic. At the southern tip there is another Nature Reserve, the Parque Punta Sur, where you can visit a pretty lighthouse. There are also three beautiful lagoons that are home to crocodiles and other exotic animals. The east coast is absolutely picturesque, unfortunately swimming is not recommended here because of dangerous underwater currents! At the northern tip there are a few interesting Mayan ruins to discover, including El Castillo Real and Aguada Grande.