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Fodor's Cancun, Cozumel, Yucatan Peninsula 2001
     

Fodor's Cancun, Cozumel, Yucatan Peninsula 2001

by Fodor's Travel Publications
 
fodor's Cancun, cozumel, Yucatan 2001

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Overview

fodor's Cancun, cozumel, Yucatan 2001

"Fodor's guides cover culture authoritatively and rarely miss a sight or museum." - National Geographic Traveler

"The king of guidebooks." - Newsweek

No matter what your budget or whether it's your first trip or fifteenth, Fodor's Gold Guides get you where you want to go.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679005520
Publisher:
Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
10/10/2000
Series:
Fodor's Travel Guides Series
Edition description:
Revised
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.85(d)

Read an Excerpt

Destination Cancún, Cozumel, Yucatán Peninsula

Well within living memory, the Yucatán Peninsula was a backwater of Mexico, overgrown by jungle and exceptionally hard to get to (not that it mattered to most people). Things are different now. Government-backed development, for the most part judicious, has created a Yucatán of sun, surf, unspoiled nature, shopping, nightlife, fine dining, and sundry other pleasures that can recharge your batteries. One pleasure special to the area is the splendor of Maya ruins like those of El Castillo, a pyramid at Chichén Itzá. Stripped of creepers, the ancient monument inspires awe -- just as the Yucatán, stripped of its own creepers, now inspires boundless fascination and fun.

Cancún

Where nada stood 30 years ago, Mexico's most popular destination now welcomes millions annually to more than 100 lushly landscaped hotels, most crowding a slim, 14-mile-long barrier island called the Hotel Zone. The fun here comes in all varieties, from outdoorsy to raucous to culturally enriching. With the Caribbean on one side and Laguna de Nichupté on the other, water sports are a major draw -- windsurfing, fishing, snorkeling on a coral reef just offshore. So are clear, turquoise vistas and soft white sand, like that gracing the "front yard" of the Hyatt Regency Cancún. You won't be as happy to feel soft white sand between your toes at the Pok-Ta-Pok Golf Club, one of the first-rate courses in the Hotel Zone, but views of sea and lagoon will more than repay you, and there's a small Maya ruin on the 12th hole, just to remind youwhere you are.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is just a few miles from Cancún by boat. But it's light-years away in temperament, a laid-back counterpart to the big resorts' flash. Except when ferries disgorge cargoes of shoppers, Isla gives you more elbow room on the same white-sand beaches, with the same great diving, for much less money. A stroll on Avenida Lopez Mateos leads to the island's lovely cemetary. Take in the views along Laguna Makax, where pirates once lay in wait for treasure ships on the Spanish Main. The waters of El Garrafón National Park offer an introduction to the colorful world just offshore.

Cozumel

Mellower than Cancún, hipper than Isla Mujeres, gentle Cozumel appeals to visitors who want a bit of both worlds. Most of all, though, it lures divers. Cozumel's reefs -- especially off Playa de Palancar -- are among the finest, and the island is a star among those who go under in wet suits. Knowing a good thing, the government now protects large areas of reef and land as national parks. The showpiece is Parque Chankanaab, where you can meet a Maya Chacmool beneath the waves or a golden iguana resplendent by the lagoon. Cozumel's ruins aren't monumental, but they still impress; those at San Gervasio deserve a visit. Reef, ruins, and retailers can fill your days here, but there's good news for night owls, too: Cozumel rocks.

Caribbean Coast

South of Cancún, golf carts and tennis shops disappear and the number of acres of beach per visitor skyrockets. And what beaches. Along the Riviera Maya, as the area is called, strands are dazzling and white and the waters azure and turquoise, perfect not only for sun worshippers and snorkelers, but also for birders, beachcombers, and anyone else who likes his ocean clear and his seascapes dominated by nothing taller than the local jungle. Lodgings come in every style, from bungalows and campgrounds to glitzy resorts. There is even a Cancún-in-the-making, Playa del Carmen, where the seafood is superbly fresh and the nightlife goes on until the wee hours. Mostly, however, the Caribbean coast is about great natural beauty.

Mérida and the Yucatán

If the ancient Maya call to you, they're calling from here. The ruins in Yucatán State are unsurpassed and include world-famous Chichén Itzá, the first Maya ruin to be excavated and still the most familiar, as well as the understated, elegant Uxmal. Of course, the Maya never left the Yucatán. Maya culture is strong and vibrant. In some villages, Maya is the language of choice; in a few, it's the only option. Mérida, the state capital, is a fascinating base from which to explore: Maya meets colonial here, weaving a rich visual and cultural tapestry. Once wealthy, and still lovely in places, as evidenced by the Palacio Municipal, Mérida has endearing quirkiness and charm.

Campeche

Mellow in general, Yucatecan life is at its mellowest in this flat, rural state. Here the Maya imprint remains strong. In Becal, artisans still weave traditional hats known as jipis. And ancient ruins are numerous, architectually diverse, and richly detailed. In Campeche city it's the Spanish colonial heritage that's most palpable, notably at Fuerte San José, whose cannons forced pirates to think twice about stopping, and ensured a night's sleep for the residents of Calle 59, one of the many streets with lovely old buildings. Southern Campeche is primeval rain forest, now protected as the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, where jaguar, puma, and ocelot still stalk their pray amid tangled vegetation and more than 100 species of orchid.


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