average temperature in Cancún is 27° C (80°
F) with more than 240 days of sunshine, and rain is rare,
with late August through early October being the rainy season.
The beaches are almost 100 percent limestone; the porous
quality of the limestone makes for cool sand even under
the intense tropical sun. Cancún is divided into
two parts: The narrow 23-kilometer-long (14-mile) island
section (Cancún Island) is lined with modern beachfront
hotels surrounded by the Bahía de Mujeres (Bay of
Women), the Caribbean Sea, and the Nichupte and Bojorquez
lagoons. The mainland downtown commercial section (Cancún
City), connected to the island by two bridges, has broad
avenues lined with whitewashed shops, restaurants, and hotels.
In the early 1950s Cancún was an almost unpopulated
and undeveloped island just off the Caribbean Sea coast
of the Yucatán peninsula, home to three caretakers
of a coconut plantation and small Pre-Columbian ruins of
the Maya civilization. The government of Mexico decided
to develop a tourist resort on Cancún, which was
originally financed by a USD $27 million loan from the International
Development Bank. A causeway was built to link Cancún
to the mainland, and an international airport was built,
along with what was at first a model city for workers, complete
with housing, schools and medical facilities. On the opposite
side of the island from the Caribbean Sea is Nichupte Lagoon,
which is used for boat and snorkelling tours of the area.
of Cancún started in 1970 and grew rapidly in the
1980s. Unfortunately, the original very sensible master
plan was repeatedly modified and, on the mainland, often
ignored. According to long-time resident Jules Siegel (author
of the "Cancún User's Guide" and translator
of Fernando Martí's "Cancún, Fantasy
of Bankers"), municipal authorities have struggled
to provide public services for the constant influx of people,
as well as to control squatters and irregular developments,
which now occupy an estimated ten to fifteen percent of
the mainland area on the fringes of the city, he says.
Despite initial skepticism that forced the Mexican government
to finance the first eight hotels, Cancún soon attracted
investors from all over the world, but approximately 70%
of the Hotel Zone properties are owned by Mexicans, many
of them local residents, Siegel says. The figure is close
to 100% for the mainland. Some observers believe that the
resort is foreign-owned because they are confused by the
hotel operating companies, which are international companies
that supply administration and marketing services. They
do not usually own the hotels themselves. Even outlets of
restaurant chains such as McDonald's and Domino's Pizza
city has grown rapidly over the past thirty years to become
a city of approximately 500,000 residents, covering the
former island and the nearby mainland. There are actually
very few true 'cancunenses' (people originally from Cancún)
because of the rate at which the resort and its service
areas grew. Most people living here are from mainland Mexico
and a growing number are from the rest of America and Europe.
In Cancún there are about 140 hotels with 24,000
rooms and 380 restaurants. Four million visitors arrive
each year in an average of 190 flights daily. The hotel
zone is one of the most exclusive internationally, with
upmarket restaurants, bars, and the like which have catered
for quite a number of the rich and famous. The hotel zone
tends to be rather expensive as it is aimed at visitors
and relies on the all inclusive hotels to keep them all
in this area allowing prices to soar. Downtown is home to
less expensive places to shop like Walmart, Comercial Mexicana
and Soriana, not to mention several flea markets like the
one in the hotel zone.
Around March and April, Cancún experiences a flood
of college students (usually from the United States) who
travel to Cancún to party. For just about all of
these students, drinking alcohol is usually the reason why
they come to Cancún. The drinking age in Mexico is
18; while in the United States, it is 21.
Downtown Cancún gives us a different aspect. There
are also many clubs for all types of people, including gay
clubs like Karamba or Glow, but the hotels are more accessible
to all types of travelers, including some with lower rates.
International brands in Downtown area are Radisson Hacienda
Cancún, Best Western Plaza Caribe, Oasis America.
Cancún's hotel zone also has an interactive aquarium
where visitors can see the marine diversity of the area,
swim with dolphins and feed sharks. Here and there in the
hotel zone are some ancient ruins.
The main language in Cancún is Spanish, although
English is widely spoken throughout the tourist areas. Mayan
dialects are also spoken between some workers and people
born in the Yucatán peninsula.