Mexico        Rêve Mexicain en français
North of Quintana Roo
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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view on the hotel zone in CancunA dune and small islands linked by a highway, this is Cancun, a real paradise in the American Way of life.
There are hundreds of hotels and palaces to enjoy. Each hotel is a waterfront property with giant salt and fresh water swimming pools. Lagoons are to be found on one side and the green, blue and purple horizon of the most beautiful ocean in the world is a must to see. The sand is made of reef dust that has accumulated over the centuries. Cancun is the largest tourist place in Mexico and the largest in the world because of its exponential growth in residential and hotel development. Mexican President Etcheverria laid the foundation stone in 1969, at a time when there was only a fishing village with 117 inhabitants who made a living from shark fishing (The sharks there are harmless).

There were almost six millions tourists in 2008, and this number increases every year! For obvious reasons, Year 2009 started well but numbers have seen a decrease in April 2009. However, since year 2011, the number of tourists increase again.

     Right picture : view on the hotel zone in Cancun

With water skiing, diving, sport fishing, tennis and above all, golf : Cancun is a paradise of luxurious offerings. From Cancun, you can visit the whole coast as well as the Pre-Hispanic inland of the state of Quintana Roo. This trading city with its long paseo could make you believe that you are in Nice, Miami or Acapulco : in Cancun you can find just about everything from everywhere in the world. For the record, this tourist destination has been known worldwide since the famous "Summit of Cancun" in 1982 and also because of the many cyclones which have devastated the coast during the past several dozen years. But, all year long, and especially in summer, it is the paradise of sunscreen oils. The temperature has an average fluctuating from 26°C to 35°C (78 to 95°F).

Cancun Cancun is divided into three parts : the sad and unsightly suburb with many of the workers living from the tourism, the old city, and the island of Cancun, a large sandy stripe between the ocean and the lagoons. The 22 kilometer long Kukulcán Boulevard, between the continent and the Island, services the hotel complexes. More than six hundred businesses, restaurants and cafés surround the main boulevards, such as Caracol and Kukulcán.

After six years or work, the Cancun Maya Museum has finally opened its doors (november 2012). Redesigned by the architect Alberto García Lascurain, this institution appears to be the newest space devoted to the Mayan civilisation, one of the most formidable Mesoamerican cultures. The Museum enables you plunge into the sophisticated ad mysterious cosmogony of this thousand year old culture. With three exhibition rooms (2 for permanent exhibitions and 1 for temporary exhibitions), the space extends over a 1,350m2 and houses a heritage of 3,500 pieces that have come from various archaeological sites within Quintana Roo, El Meco, El Rey,  Xelhá, Xcaret and Tulum. In these rooms, 350 archaeological pieces are presented, some of which were discovered during recent archaeological excavations and some others which have already been on exhibition in various other institutions, such as the Yucatán Regional Museum ‘Palacio Cantón’ and the Cancun archaeological museum which was closed in 2005 following hurricane Wilma. Thanks to its geographical location, the museum should become one of the most visited museums in all of Mexico and therefore should see a boom within the tourist industry for not only the region but the country too. This museum offers an impressive cultural display for millions of tourists who come to visit Cancun. Situated within a zone packed with hotels and near to the coast, it creates a pleasant surprise and enables the admiration of numerous aspects of Mexican culture. In one of the rooms, the history of the state of Quintana Roo is retraced due to a chronological sequence and present for the first time the contextual reproduction in which the skeletal remains of the ‘Mujer de las Palmas’ a female skeleton aged 14,000 years was found in a cave near to Tulum and focuses on the Pre-Hispanic period with original pieces from sites such as Tulum, Dzibanché, Kohunlich, Xcaret, Xelhá and San Miguelito, of which the majority has never been on public display.
In another room, the Museum has designated the display space to the exhibition of the various regions that are a part of this culture. Here you will find the unveiling of objects originating from Mayan civilisation such as architecture, art, cosmovision and daily life as well as Palenque (Chiapas) objects, Chichén Itzá architectural elements and a collection of engravings from Comalcalco (Tabasco). As a part of its opening ceremony, one of the exhibition rooms presents the ‘Faces of God: green stone Mayan mosaics’ recently exposed in the Parisian Picture Gallery under the title of ‘Mayan jade masks’.
view on hotel zone in Cancun
On the coast, many aquatic clubs offer activities such as surf, diving, parasailing and wonderful themed cruises, excursions in the islands, transparent-floor boat rides, dinner-cruises, etc. Mass Tourism and Luxury Tourism !

Left picture : view on hotel zone in Cancun

Extract of an interview with José Bayon, director of the city infrastructure :
The « flaunted wealth » : it is the first Cancun that you discover coming from the airport. A 22 kilometer long four way boulevard, 26,000 hotel rooms which hide the ocean, swimming pools and golf courses, luxurious stores and green lawns : this is an artificial zone, built on a thin sandy stripe between the ocean and the lagoons. 95% original mangroves, which was a protection against hurricanes, disappeared.
The second Cancun is a city with 700,000 inhabitants, which developed over a twenty-five year period. It broke another record in Mexico : this is the strongest demographic growth, nowadays about 5%. According to every property developer, the prodigious expansion of this fishing village (100 inhabitants in 1970) is the undeniable proof of tourism as an economic engine.

José Bayon said :
« Cancun, which nobody believed in at the beginning, was a model for tourist resorts during years. Today, we recognize that we made mistake on the environment».

Avoid the Zone of Cancun. You will find, on the Riviera Maya, wonderful wild places, but for how much
longer ?

Mayan religion is a geographically and historically versatile phenomenon whose history is not done yet. Mayan people believed in the recurrence of the cycles of creation and destruction. The rituals and ceremonies were strictly linked to these multiples terrestrial and celestial cycles. The Mayan priest had to interpret these cycles and prophesy the past and future times.
A short video of a Mayan ritual show is offered in one of the hotels in Cancun.



If you are looking for organized tours in small groups, contact Cancun Diving Adventures at info@cancundivingadventures.com or log on to www.cancundivingadventures.com. Boat tours through the mangrove or jeep tours to the Mayan ruins or diving tours in the "cenotes" or offshore, which is what they started with !

Map of the city of Cancun :

Map of the state :

Quintana Roo state extends over a surface of 50 843 km2 (18,303 sq miles) and has 1 136,000 inhabitants (2007). There were 2,432,000 tourists in Cancun, 447,000 in Cozumel, 2,649,000 in the Riviera Maya and 119,500 in Isla Mujeres in 2007.


Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Nice six minute video about the Caribbean Coast and Chichén Itzá

Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres

They were the TWO pearls of the Mexican Caribbean coast.


Located at the very north of the Quintana Roo state, where the waters of the Gulf and the Caribbean Sea merge, this island is more than 30 km (19 miles) long and 2 km (1.2 mile) wide. It is separated from the continent by the Yalahau Lagoon. Since a dozen years, the Island is part of the ecological reserve Yum Balam. The island is accessible only to the two wheelers and golf carts. You will enjoy going to this still unspoiled island that offers 35 kilometers (22 miles) of beaches, with waters nice but less "emerald" than on the East Coast of Quintana Roo. The fishermen can take you to the bird island,a natural reserve with 400,000 pink flamingos, ducks, pelicans, etc. or to the Island of Passion, islet with a nice beach. Half day ride in a lancha costs MXN$300.

whale shark
Tours for swimming with the whale sharks eare from June to September. Log on to the website : - It is very impressive.

     Right picture : whale shark

To access the island, there are six daily buses from Cancun (4:30AM, 6AM, 7:50AM, 12:30, 1:30PM, 2:15PM, MXN$65) and many ferries or private boats from Chiquilá. There are departures about every 2 hours. The trip lasts about 20 minutes and costs MXN$45.

There is no bank or ATM in Isla Holbox or Chiquilá.


Located 20 minutes from Puerto Juárez by boat, 3 km (2miles) north from Cancun, this small island (8 km (5 miles) long by 4 km (2.5miles) wide) unfortunately lost its charm. Favor the northern beach Playa Norte or the western ones Playa Paraiso and Playa Lancheros.

Considered during the Mayan era as a sacred place, Isla Mujeres was a religious center devoted to the goddess Ixchel, the mother of the gods, goddess of the moon and fertility.

green turtle babies in Isla MujeresThere are a few narrow and busy beaches. The western ones are busier than the eastern ones which are wilder. The island stays pleasant and you will be attracted by the beauty of turquoise waters. The village is located in the northern part of the island. It is really quiet when the hordes of the tourists arriving in the morning go back to Cancun. You can rent bikes, scooters or golf carts. When you reach the Mayan ruins at the very south, you have a fantastic view of the Caribbean Sea and Cancun. Take the ferry from Puerto Juárez, ferry dock located 15 min by bus from downtown Cancun.

fish in Riviera Maya

Take the bus #13 along Tulum Avenue or at any road sign showing "Puerto Juárez".
Ferry, 877 06 78. There are many ferries (every 30 min) which run every day from 5:30AM and 11:59PM, from Puerto to Isla Mujeres and from 6AM to 0:30AM on the way back for MXN$35 one way, with the cheapest company "La Tintorera".

There is also a car ferry service from Punta Sam, 9 km (6miles) north from Cancun (MXN$185 per car plus MXN$15 per passenger).
There is 5 km (3miles) between Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

     Pictures above : fish in Riviera Maya on the left and green turtle babies in Isla Mujeres on the right

What to do in Isla Mujeres ? Day tours are offered to the ornithological reserve of Isla Contoy. Contact the fishermen Cooperative, avenue Medina, facing the avenue Madero. There is also the Aquatic Park Dolphin Discovery for swimming with the dolphins (between USD$65 and USD$188 depending of yr choice of activity) :

  • Toll Free Mexico : 01-800-727-5391
  • Direct Line : +52 (998) 193-3360

. See also the different diving clubs. The forums about this region of Mexico are full of good advice.

Another detour not to be missed is the Cave of the Sleeping  Sharks (Cueva de los Tiburones Durmientes), which can be found to the East of the island at a depth of 20m underwater. Here you will be able to see the resting sharks up close.

Map of the island :

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