Cancun, Quintana Roo

Poplulation: 600,000

Time Zone: Central Standard Time

Airport: Cancun International Airport (CUN)

Elevation: Sea level

Prior to 1970 Cancun was an empty strip of beach where few people went. Then the Mexican government identified the sand-strip as the next tourist destination, providing money and infrastructure to make it a reality. The results have been a huge success for that purpose, with plush mega-resorts lining the seven-mile long beach, along with fine restaurants, nightclubs, and all of the attendant services that are required. The town of Cancun, where the locals live, sits just off of the developed sand-spit on the mainland, where you can find all of the businesses you would find in any Mexican city.

Of the 19 million visitors to Mexico each year, roughly 4 million land in Cancun on nearly 200 flights per day, making it the country’s most popular tourist town. Many people come for the sun, the water, and the partying—with 400 restaurants and bars to choose from, there’s plenty to do. Although located in the land of the ancient and present-day Maya, a more liberal attitude has developed than in most of Mexico, where European-style sunbathing is practiced at most of the beaches and pool-side. The crystal-clear Caribbean Sea is a draw for scuba and skin-divers, and the nearby pre-Columbian ruins provide an interesting cultural experience. Just offshore is Isla Mujeres, a slow-paced island-town with smaller, more modest, hotels, further enhancing Cancun as a destination to meet a variety of travelers’ desires.