Cancun: Top Attractions

Sitting pretty in Cancun  (Nadine Markova/courtesy, Mexico Tourism)

The Ritz-Carlton Cancun
Catering to romantics and luxury connoisseurs, this Ritz is one of Cancun's most glamorous resorts. Spend the day getting pampered by the lush treatments found at the Kayanta Spa, and then wind down with a private dinner for two on the beach. Specialized spa treatments include water rituals and facials inspired by pre-Columbian cultures. Rooms, although slightly bland, are modern and jam-packed with top-drawer amenities.

Le Meridien Cancun Resort and Spa
Artistic and elegant, this resort has a distinctive European flair. The three unified swimming pools are reason enough to visit, as their deep-blue waters contrast perfectly with the turquoise ocean just steps away. Spacious marble bathrooms, attentive service, and modern luxury are just a few top-notch trademarks. Don't miss the 15,000-square-foot European-style spa.

Hotel Villa Rolandi
Located on an island across from mainland Cancun, this exclusive resort is accessible only by private yacht. The hotel is filled with vast public areas stacked with marble pillars and Tikul stone floors. Quiet and secluded, it's perfect for a romantic getaway. Various fishing and diving tours can be arranged, or you can relax with a massage or swim in the lovely cascade pool. Private in-room Jacuzzis, ocean views, and elaborate marble bathrooms are hallmarks of the 20 suites.

Club Grill
The only restaurant in Mexico to hold AAA's coveted Five Diamond award, the Club Grill offers international fare in an elegant, English club-like atmosphere. At once elegant and casual, the Grill seduces with live jazz and piano music that complement a menu of fresh seafood and prime meats. The wine list is extensive.

Aioli
A Four Diamond award-winning Mediterranean restaurant at the Le Meridien, Aioli offers spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, an extensive wine list, and specialties from the South of France. In the morning, it's hard to deny buttery croissants and mouthwatering breads. If you only have one or two meals left in this lifetime, have one here.

Scuba Dive off the Great Mesoamerican Reef
Renowned for its brilliant colors, diverse sea life, and shallow reefs, Cancun is one of the world's best places for beginner scuba divers. Head to Punta Nizuc, which comprises the northern tip of the Great Mesoamerican Reef, the western hemisphere's largest. Besides checking out the astonishing sea life, you can also dive amid sunken boats.
Scuba Cancun: 998.849.7508, www.scubacancun.com.mx

The Golf Club at Moon Palace
Moon Palace Resort boasts the area's first Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. The par-72 course features a dynamic layout that requires golfers to navigate native Mayan vegetation, wetlands, and bunkers. Hole 17 is one of the course's most notable: a 141-yard par 3, it plays to an island green and offers no room to bail out. It also gets hearts pumping at the mere thought of making a hole-in-one.

Helicopter Tour to Chichen Itza
Located 115 miles west of Cancun, Chichen Itza is a bit too far for a comfortable day trip by car. But don't despair; you can reach these spectacular Mayan ruins via a small charte helicopter. Once at the ruins, a five-hour visit includes a private tour with guides who'll discuss historical and cultural background and offer a chance to climb El Castillo (a well preserved, albeit rebuilt pyramid). Visit a sacred cenote where ancient sacrifices to the gods were made.
Additional Info: www.aerosaab.com

Wildlife Reserve at Isla Contoy
The most significant habitat for migrating and resident sea birds in Mexico, this pristine wildlife preserve north of Isla Mujeres is riddled with mangroves, lagoons, coral, and beaches to which flocks of pelicans, frigates, double-crested cormorants, and boobies (among dozens of other species) gravitate. Also beloved by nesting sea turtles, the reserve is only open to 200 visitors daily. Ask your hotel concierge to recommend a tour company in town (there are many).

Shopping
Cancun consumerism is alive and well; in fact, shopping is a top activity when your skin just can't take any more sun. Head to tree-lined Avenida Tulum for open-air handcraft markets and for UltraFemme (998-884-1402), specializing in imported jewelry and other luxury goods. Then head to the Plaza Kukulcan (998-885-2200, www.kukulcanplaza.com) for famed Taxco silver goods and Guatemalan textiles, before stopping at Plaza Caracol (998-883-1038) for high-end crystal and jewelry. La Isla Shopping Village (998-883-5025) is a fun place to wander and window shop.

Published: 25 Apr 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Cancun

$720
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#1
Le Blanc Spa Resort Adults Only All Inclusive
$325-$428
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#2
Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort and Spa
$420-$495
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#3
Sun Palace Couples Only - All Inclusive
$462-$601
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#4
Live Aqua Cancun - All Inclusive Adults Only

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