Cancun Diversions

Cancun Diversions photo

Cancún sparkles like a gem stone with more shining facets than can be experienced in a lifetime of holidays. Few tropical destinations feature as many vacation diversions.

Action centers around Paseo Kukulcán, a 14-mile landscaped boulevard that winds its way down the middle of the Zona Hotelera or Hotel Zone. At the northern end stands La Ciudad de Cancún, a city of over a half million simply known as Centro. At the other, the beginning of Highway 307 and the beaches of the Riviera Maya. Laguna Nichupté or Nichupté Lagoon hugs the shore of the inland side of the island, shaped like the number seven. Marinas, golf courses, and waterfront restaurants along its shore vie for visitors' attention. The highest concentration of restaurants, shopping malls, and discos exists at the convergence of the arms of the seven, known as Punta Cancún. Here, also, stands the Convention Center.

Cancún's 11 magnificent beaches are its main attraction. The first six with gentle surf — Playas Las Perlas, Juventud, Linda, Langosta, Tortugas, and Caracol — face the Bahía de Mujeres and are the best for swimming. Those on the longer side of the seven facing the open Caribbean — Gaviota Azul, Chac-Mool, Ballenas, Marlin, and Delfines — have broad sands and stronger surf.

For ultimate relaxation during your Cancun holidays, you won't have a hard time finding a spa with all the luxury resorts to be found here. All the major hotels offer the usual spa treatments in plush surroundings.

If you're more adventurous, you can enjoy Cancún under, on, or over the sea. You can see life under the sea without getting wet on a floating submarine tour aboard the Nautibus, a double-keeled boat with transparent panels below the water line. Or you can take the Sub See Explorer, a glass bottom boat with a deep draft and portholes below the water line, allowing you to see marine life underwater.

If you'd rather fly across the surface of the water, you shouldn't miss a chance to waterski on the calm waters of Nichupté Lagoon. Sailboarding, or windsurfing as it's commonly known, is also popular. For shear speed, a 45-minute ride along Cancún's beaches on the Shotover Jet motorboat can't be beat.

Or you may want to see Cancún from high above by being strapped into a colorful parachute, dangling high above the clear waters of the lagoon or sea as you 'fly' behind a speedboat for 10 minutes, then landing on the beach. If you find that a bit too exciting, you can book a scenic helicopter ride to fly over the resort.

Cancún is the ideal place to rent a bike and take an early morning ride along 8.7-mile serpentine bike path, the Cyclopista, that weaves among topiary, trees and flowers, along Paseo Kukulcán from downtown to Punta Cancún. If that's too tame, you can also rent a Harley and cruise Cancún on a Fat Boy, Sportster, or Low Rider.

Every other hotel seems to be cashing in on the golfing craze with putting greens and chip and putt courses. Three championship 18-hole courses, plus two executive, par three courses provide plenty of play.

If you love to shop, you'll discover handicrafts from all over México, plus interesting folk art, jewelry, and souvenirs, plus designer clothes, T-shirts, and hammocks of handwoven cotton, silk, nylon, or sisal, especially at the outdoor Ki-Huic Market downtown.. And for the ultimate touch of home, there's always Walmart.

When it comes to nightlife, Cancún rocks with the best. A variety of clubs throb with the beat of the latest dance music as tanned bodies churn on the dance floor. Most places don't start jumping until after 10 P.M.

If you're not into late night fare, you can take in a folkloric show at the Convention Center or one of several Mexican Fiesta Nights at several of the hotels.

And finally, to show off its Mexican side, Cancún even holds weekly bullfights. Professional matadors fight six bulls every Wednesday afternoon beginning at 3.30 P.M. at the Plaza de Toros downtown to cater to the cruise crowd. Between corridas, Mexican cowboys known as charros, put on a show of horsemanship and rodeo skills. A folkloric dance program begins at 2:30 P.M.

This article is sponsored by TravelBag