Cancun: Romance Mayan Style

Cancun, where the beach meets the beautiful resorts  (Corel)

Cancun is a skinny barrier-island paradise with every imaginable amenity at the tip of your fingers. Complement that with 12 miles of bright white beaches, turquoise waters, sprawling beachfront resorts, top-quality international restaurants, bustling shopping districts, and hopping nightclubs and you've got the ultimate in fiesta.

Cancun satisfies whether your vacation pleasure is about activity or relaxation. Leisurely strolls along the shore can go on for hours, or you can spend an entire day snorkeling, parasailing, or jet skiing. And that's just for beginners. Serious water-sports enthusiasts will be happy to find that windsurfing, scuba diving, and sailing are all on Cancun's diverse activity menu.

But while conventional wisdom paints Cancun as a party town, it ignores the simple elegance. And for the personification of this side of the town, let's face it—we're talking the Ritz. Word of the Ritz-Carlton Cancun (Retomo del Ray #36) has spread throughout the continents, attracting clientele less spring break and more break (or own) the bank. Every room comes with a private balcony, an ocean view, and enough European antiques to make you think you're in St. Tropez. Couples can even rent out beach villas and spend the day getting massaged and pampered at the water's edge.

Further down Boulevard Kukulcan, Cancun's version of Main Street, is the JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa (Blvd. Kukulcan Km 14.5, Lote 40-A). The rooms range in prices to accommodate nearly every budget, while the service and amenities, some have suggested, surpass five-star caliber.

Whatever your vacationer's stripes, you absolutely must visit the ninth-century Mayan temples of Tulum, located 97 miles outside of Cancun, for a taste of ancient Mexico. The stunning temple complex on the shores of the Caribbean was once a major Mayan trading center and is now one of Mexico's most-visited attractions. Go for your cultural quotient, sure, but get there early if you want to indulge in some time-traveling together time before the hordes descend!

For another off-the-beach day trip, consider the ride to La Isla Mujeres, a quaint island anchored about an hour's boat ride east of Cancun whose name means "the Island of Women." Whatever, you'll only have eyes for each other in this chilled-out paradise. Not nearly as crowded or commercial as Cancun proper, this island is a simple and pleasurable getaway from your getaway.

So what's left? After you've enjoyed siesta or worked up an appetite shopping in downtown's various marketplaces, you'll want to sample some of Cancun's delicious cuisine. And when you do, you'll have to head straight to La Habichuela (Margaritas 25, +52.998.884.3158, The restaurant's international food, décor, garden, and ambience all get rave reviews and contribute generously to a Michelin-worthy side of romance.

Once the sun has set and the dessert plates cleared, brace yourself for a night on the town, should that be your fancy. After dark, Cancun turns into one massive nightclub. Electric dancing goes on at Coco Bongo (Blvd. Kukulcan Km 9.5 Num. 30, +52.998.8.835061, With fantastic shows (on stage and in the air) and great music, this is Cancun's best after-dark venue. But while sensual sizzle on the dance floor is one option, another is retreating to the beach for a moonlit stroll. Or return to the comfort of your hotel and imbibe the vivaciousness of the one you're with.

Published: 24 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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