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Culture and History in Cancun: Not just a Spring Break Destination

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Follow Kelly McLaughlin, a Canadian Transat Expat Expert in Riviera Maya, Mexico, as she brings you on a virtual tour of her favourite places in Cancun.

Going beyond the resorts

When visiting Cancun, go beyond the resort and explore the history, culture and nature of this region.

If you hear the word “Cancun” and automatically think of Spring Break, you are not alone. Cancun has a reputation of being a party destination, but in reality that is only a small part of what makes it a popular vacation spot. ‘Spring Breaking’ is certainly not the main reason millions of people visit each year.

Developed in the 1970’s by the Mexican government, Cancun became the new vacation spot for national and international travelers. The first hotels were built on what was a sand bar and is now known as the hotel zone. While the city has been recently developed, the region has an ancient history, dating back thousands of years to the Mayan civilization.

Since moving to Cancun in 2003, I have developed a passion for the history and culture of this region. My ten year old son and I are explorers at heart. We enjoy frequent road trips discovering the ancient Maya world and the present day Mexican culture.

The Mayan Ruins around Cancun: Travelling in the past

If you’re visiting Cancun, you must take a trip to an archaeological site. The Mayan ruins are a true testament to the engineering and architectural genius of the ancient Maya civilization. It gives you a peek into what their daily life would have been like, including its ritual, survival and art.

Cancun visitors do not need to travel far to take in the history of the area. The Museo Maya sits in the heart of the hotel zone, offering a collection of relics from clay pots, elaborate jewels, masks and the small archaeological site of San Miguelito. “El Rey” is another hotel zone site that sits across from one of the most popular beaches in Cancun, Playa Delfines. It is a great place to bring the kids for a look into ancient structures.

Several of the most important historical sites are within a day trip from the resorts in Cancun. The crown jewel is Chichen Itza, with the famous Kukulkan pyramid. It was the center of the ancient Maya civilization. The walled port city of Tulum sits on a soaring cliff over the sea and is one of the most beautiful sites you will see. If you are more hands on, head further south to Coba and climb the tallest pyramid in the region, Nohoch Mul. Adventurous travelers should seek out the sites in the nearby state of Yucatan, Ek Balam, Uxmal and the “Puuc Route” sites. These are definitely worth the trip!

Mayan pyramids fo Chichen Itza, Yucatan
Photo credit: Kelly McLaughlin

Trips to these archaeological sites are not just a look into the past, but an experience with the present day Mexican culture. The small towns that surround the sites offer a taste of the laid back family life, community pride, traditional arts and authentic cuisine. It’s time to leave the night clubs far behind and enjoy a truly unique cultural experience.

Find flights to and packages in Cancun and Riviera Maya on Transat’s website.

Cover photo credit: Kelly McLaughlin

The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

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