The eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is internationally renowned for brilliant white sand beaches, top-notch resorts, fun in the sun, and nightlife. Here you’ll find the city of Cancún and the Riviera Maya stretching 75km south down the coast all the way to Tulum. Take your winter getaway here and you’re guaranteed a holiday spent in a modern tropical paradise. But there is more to this area than meets the eye – its history, natural beauty and vibrant sea life give you so much more to experience.
Discover Underwater Beauty
The Mesoamerican Reef System is more than 1,000km of coral reef stretching from the northern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula down the coast to Honduras. It is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and it’s home to endangered sea turtles, more than 500 species of fish, and 60 species of coral. Adjust your mask and wade into the water to behold this awesome natural wonder!
Snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of Cancún and the Mayan Riviera is reason enough to visit this stunning seaside paradise. At many beaches, the sea is calm and an afternoon drift over vibrant reefs can bring you up close to schools of Trumpet fish, Angelfish and Yellow Goatfish. Imagine snorkelling through impossibly clear water while endangered Loggerhead, Hawksbill and Green Turtles swim gracefully past you. Then glide over the reef watching a Manta Ray rest on the sea floor while, in the distance, a Whale shark coasts gently by. Not to worry – the endangered Whale shark is a filter feeder so there’s little to fear in this gentle giant.
A Museum at the Bottom of the Sea
Located in the Cancún National Marine Park is the Cancún Underwater Museum where 500 sculptures have been placed on the ocean floor. This must-see eco-project started in 2008 as a way to provide visiting scuba divers with an alternative underwater attraction to the delicate reef sites. It now sees more than 200,000 visitors each year and it gives the natural reef a well-earned and much-needed break. Many of the sculptures have become habitat to sea life.
Explore Ancient Mayan Ruins
Within the resort region is El Rey Ruins where you can visit dozens of ancient Mayan structures. The Museo Maya de Cancún is home to more than 400 Mayan artefacts and it’s also the entrance to San Miguelito archaeological site. San Miguelito ruins were discovered in the 1950s on what was a coconut ranch. A bit further afield is Chichén Itzá, one of the largest Mayan cities with an impressive step pyramid.
South of Cancún in Riviera Maya are two natural theme parks. Xcaret park pays tribute to Mexican history and culture and is home to a Butterfly Pavilion and Coral Reef Aquarium. Xel-Há lets you snorkel reefs, swim down the lazy river, explore jungle trails and immerse yourself in ancient Mayan history. Both parks are a full-day family adventure with food, fun, entertainment and adventure for all ages.
Cenote – Gateway to Adventure
A day trip south of Cancun will bring you to Playa del Carmen in the Mayan Riviera, where you won’t want to miss a visit to a cenote (pronounced Sen-OH-Tay). These form when limestone bedrock gives way exposing the groundwater beneath. There are 6,000 on the Yucatán Peninsula with a surprising diversity in shape and size. At a few of these sites, scuba divers have discovered important Mayan artefacts and evidence of early humans. Mayans believed some cenotes were gateways to the afterlife, but at Cenote Azul or Cenote Selvatica you’ll find a gateway to zip lines, cliff jumping and two of the most extraordinary natural swimming pools you’ve ever seen.
Cozumel – A Scuba Diver’s Paradise
Just off Playa del Carmen is the small island destination of Cozumel. Here, colourful coral formations along the shallow shores are a scuba diver’s paradise with waving sea fans and towering coral spires. Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park is known for its diverse reef sites. From shallows to deep drop-offs, caves, swim-through tunnels and even a natural underwater amphitheatre – Cozumel is a dream beneath the sea and a peaceful island retreat.
Make your sunshine vacation your own in Cancún and Riviera Maya where ancient history, natural wonder and vibrant sea life can turn your resort holiday into a tropical adventure. With a direct flight from Fredericton International Airport to Cancún and Riviera Maya it’s now even easier to experience everything awesome about this destination! Sunwing direct flights from Fredericton International Airport start February 10, 2020, visit sunwing.ca or call your travel agent today.