Established in 1970, Cancun is still a relatively young city. In her short lifetime, however, she has made quite a name for herself. The popular tourist destination is known as a mecca for sun-worshipers, who visit the area to take advantage of the miles of beautiful, white-sand beaches, and for it's incredible nightlife, which rivals that of Las Vegas and Ibiza. Each year, millions of people flock to Cancun from all around the world but, due to their close proximity to Mexico, the majority of visitors are from the United States and Canada.
Cancun went through many changes as it evolved into the world-class resort area that it is today. It was first known as a Spring Break hot spot in the 1980s and still has the reputation of being a "party" town. While you can still find many amazing bars and nightclubs in Cancun, it is no longer the non-stop party that many people still believe it to be. Quite the contrary, in fact. Nowadays, Cancun is the home to numerous family-friendly resorts, adults-only resorts, which are popular with honeymooners, and to many ultra-luxurious hotels that cater to the rich and famous. In fact, it is not uncommon to see celebrities, or even world leaders, at some of the high-end resorts, or to brush elbows with famous people in Cancun's nightclubs.
The city of Cancun is divided into two very different sections. There is the downtown area of Cancun, known as "El Centro", where most of the area residents live, and there is the Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone), where all of the beachfront resorts are found. Most tourists opt to stay in the Hotel Zone, since that is where the beaches and major nightclubs are located, but you will also find tourists in downtown Cancun, where the hotel prices are lower. El Centro has a very Mexican feel, with cobblestone streets, taco stands, and large flea markets. Conversely, the Hotel Zone is full of high-rise hotels and condominiums, upscale shopping malls, and gourmet restaurants.
Area attractions, such as the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and other important archaeological sites, like Coba and Tulum, can easily be reached from Cancun. Eco-parks, where visitors can enjoy water sports, learn about area wildlife and plant life, swim with dolphins, learn about Mexican culture, or just lounge in hammocks on the beach, are wonderful places to visit on sightseeing excursions. Xcaret and Xel-Ha are the area's largest and most popular eco-parks. Day trips to visit the small island of Isla Mujeres, just a 30-minute ferry ride from Cancun, or to the nature reserve of Isla Contoy are also nice options for sightseeing tours. Each of these parks and attractions are suitable for families with small children and adults of all ages (although there can be quite a bit of walking on some of the tours).
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