Yucatan, Mexico
Places to Visit

Cancun

Once a sleepy fishing village, Cancun is now one of the hottest travel destinations in the world, a waterside paradise of turquoise seas, gleaming beaches, luxury hotels, duty-free shopping, and colorful nightlife. The site was selected for development after an exhaustive search, and was actually picked by a computer -- obviously a computer with a taste for the good life.

English is widely spoken in the hotels, shops, restaurants, night clubs and other attractions of Cancun. Your day can include a variety of water sports, golf or tennis, a visit to the small Mayan site called Ruinas del Rey, and shopping `til you drop at everything from elegant malls to open-air flea markets. Or, you can simply laze around on the beach, letting the warm sun and cool water evaporate your cares. After watching yet another spectacular sunset, you can choose from hundreds of restaurants, to suit any taste or budget; then sample the equally varied nightlife.

While vacationers find Cancun so inviting that many people simply unpack their bags and stay for the duration of their vacation, many visitors use the town as a staging point for any number of day trips. Those interested in the history of one of the world's greatest civilizations, the Maya, may visit CHICHEN ITZA, UXMAL and the Yucatan. The national park at Xel Ha, acclaimed to be the world's largest natural aquarium can be combined with nearby TULUM, the Mayan's only walled port featuring spectacular views of the Caribbean in combination with ancient temples. Nature lovers may want to check out the spectacular park and facilities at XCARET, which also offers great nighttime entertainment and other attractions. A boat ride to nearby ISLA MUJERES offers world-class snorkeling and somewhat more low-key atmosphere than Cancun.

A few quick Cancun tips:
*Change money in the many booths downtown -- the exchange rate is considerably higher than at the airport or most hotels.

*The bus system is easy to understand and works better than in most American cities.

*Keep a record of things you buy -- it will make your experience with U.S. customs on your return trip home much more agreeable.

*Try to work in a least one or two day trips out of Cancun, so that you can get a taste of more typical Mexico

*For more information about Cancun, and things to do away from Cancun, check out our list of Day Tours or email to: info@global-travel.co.uk

Isla Mujeres

This tiny little island off the coast of CANCUN has experienced a recent burst of growth that nearly rivals that of CANCUN ten years ago. Yet it retains much of its laid-back, old-style charm -- now complimented by first rate hotels and other amenities.

The island received its name, which translates to Island of Women, from the stone fertility sculptures that greeted the first European explorers. Today, visitors who take the ferry across from CANCUN are greeted by quaint shops, corner cafes, fine restaurants, gorgeous beaches, and a couple of luxury hotels.

The island's history ranges from Mayan ruins to pirates' treasure. The tip of the island is graced by a small, very old Mayan structure, thought to have served as either a lighthouse or a sacrificial temple -- or both. Also open to tourists are the ruins of the hacienda of the pirate Fermin Mundaca, an 18th century raider who stored his booty on this remote paradise.

Perhaps the main attraction on Isla Mujeres is the Garrafon, the famous coral reef that is now preserved as a Mexican National Park. Snorkelers and divers both enjoy the spectacular formations and colorful fish in this underwater world. Many other water sports are also available, and a first-class marina makes this a popular destination for seafaring travelers.

Day-trippers from CANCUN often end up coming back to Isla Mujeres for a longer stay on their next vacation. However you experience this tropical isle, the pleasure will be all yours.

Xcaret

If you wanted to make the point that humans can improve on nature, Xcaret might be your number one piece of evidence. At the very least, great care has been taken to enhance the natural splendor of this coastal paradise, and to bring even more of nature's bounty to this extraordinary facility.

Xcaret has a full day's worth of amusements -- and great nightlife too! There is spectacular snorkeling and scuba, with coral reefs and an underground stream and cave to explore. A different look at sea life can be found in the aquarium. The zoo hosts a wide variety of exotic bird and animal species, and the petting zoo allows children to get up close and personal with many of the animals. You can also go horseback riding, swim with dolphins, or hike down the trail to the butterfly sanctuary. A museum, complete with scale models of ancient Mayan cities, attracts those curious about the history of the Yucatan. Or, you can simply relax on the beautiful beach, sip a cold drink, and wonder which restaurant you should try for lunch or dinner.

The music and entertainment begin before the sun sets, but it is after dark that Xcaret puts on its best show. Mariachi music, a thrilling horse show, a canoe ride to a candlelit underground cave and ritual dances are all part of the magic of Xcaret at night. There is simply no other experience like it.

All this and more await you at Xcaret. There are daily trips from CANCUN.

Cozumel

If there is such a thing as a perfect tropical island, Cozumel may be it. Home to the second largest coral reef in the world, Cozumel is a diver's dream; but there is as much to do above the waves as there is to see below them.

Life on Cozumel centers around the town of San Miguel, an international village with delightful duty-free shopping, restaurants of all descriptions, and more than thirty fine hotels. Music, dancing and other entertainment abound, and the pace is perfect for those in the vacation mode.

The Maya also loved this island, as evidenced by small archeological sites. Visitors will want to check out San Gervasio and El Cedral, the two most interesting Mayan Temples on Cozumel.

But like most islands, it is the water that is the star of the show. Crystal clear, invitingly warm, it is perfect for lying next to on the white sand beaches, soaring over on a para-sailor, skimming across on boats, or diving under. Many facilities offer scuba certification courses and full equipment rentals. Your underwater hosts, an incredible and colorful variety of marine life, await you!

Cozumel offers many of the same attractions as CANCUN, but at a more leisurely pace -- and the diving ranks among the best in the world. We will be glad to provide more information about this lush tropical isle -- just
email us

Playa del Carmen

It looks like a sleepy, unspoiled seaside village -- but nestled in among the palm trees are all the amenities of a first rate tourist destination. Excellent hotels, fine dining, music, shopping, recreation -- what more could you ask from your vacation?

Playa del Carmen's beaches are justly famous, with glittering white crystal sand, clear warm water and a cold drink always nearby. Seldom do you have the opportunity to do absolutely nothing in such a gorgeous setting.

That does not mean there is nothing to do. Several important Mayan archeological sites are in the vicinity, a chance to explore a thousand-year old civilization. COZUMEL, with its spectacular coral reef and diving opportunities, is just a quick hop away. And plenty of water sports are offered by hotels and other establishments along the Playa del Carmen beachfront.

Equally entertaining is a stroll through the old village downtown area, with its quaint shops and sidewalk cafes. Local artisans offer their handiwork at amazingly low prices, and even the more typical souvenirs tend to cost less here. Visitors from all over the world give Playa del Carmen an international flavor, but the atmosphere overall is unmistakably -- and delightfully -- local.

If you like to "get away from it all" yet still enjoy the luxury and pampering of a first-rate vacation, the gentle sea breezes of Playa del Carmen are whispering your name.

From Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Tulum we can arrange a full day tour to CHICHEN ITZA aboard luxury motor coaches on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through the year.

Merida

Widely regarded as the cleanest city in Mexico, Merida is lovingly referred to as "the White City" by natives and visitors alike. Colonial architecture typifies stately mansions and public buildings, as well as magnificent cathedrals. Lavish gardens add bright tropical colors to the scene, a visual tapestry of rare beauty.

Merida is also justly renowned for its many parks, most of which are garnished with exceptional statuary and murals. Styles range from classic to contemporary, yet somehow each seems perfect for its setting.

A full day can be happily spent in the Merida marketplace, the largest in the Yucatan. If you can't find it here, it probably doesn't exist! Simply strolling around the market, looking at the wares and exchanging pleasantries with the vendors, is a delight; but the real fun begins when you initiate a purchase. Spanish helps, but the language of bargaining is universal, and most vendors speak at least enough English to make the sale.

Merida is authentic Yucatan, authentic Mexico, a proud, beautiful and civilized city that welcomes visitors with an old-world grace and charm, flavored with all the culture, history and excitement that is Mexico today.

Information about the Mayan Sites of the Yucatan Peninsula

Please contact us for further information:

Global Travel Club
Tel: +44 (0)1268 541732 Fax: +44 (0)1268 542275
E-mail: info@global-travel.co.uk http://www.global-travel.co.uk/gtc.htm



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