Cancun is a beautiful tourist destination that has attracted visitors from all over the world for decades. With an abundance of gorgeous beaches and lots to do and see, Cancun is a popular vacation spot that is currently the number one tourist destination for Americans traveling abroad. Want to know more about Cancun and learn something you may not have known before? Here are 5 interesting things you probably didn’t know about Cancun.
#1 Cancun Has 2nd Largest Reef in the World
Cancun is home to the second largest reef in the world, coming in behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System or the Great Maya Reef, Cancun is home to over 700 miles of corals reefs that begin at the Yucatan Peninsula’s northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula all the way down to Belize. The Great Maya Reef is so large it also extends along the coasts of Guatemala and Honduras. Home to amazingly diverse marine life, many of the local species that inhabit the area are unfortunately on the endangered species list. The coastal waters of Cancun that are close to Contoy Island is where you can find the biggest fish on the planet which is the whale shark. Whale sharks regularly congregate there in the larger numbers found anywhere else on the planet.
#2 Mayan Ruins Are In Cancun’s Hotel Zone
Many magnificent ancient Mayan ruins are found in the Cancun area. The ancient Maya were well known for constructing major cities with complex architecture. Mayan ruins are found throughout the southern part of Mexico, and extend into the northern regions of Central America as well. While the ruins in the Cancun area are not as impressive as the Chichen Itza, Tulum or Coba ruins nearby, impressive Mayan ruins can still be found right in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The El Rey ruins are regarded by some as the playground of the ancient Maya during the the years from 1250-1630 A.D. El Rey ruins are located just a short walking distance from the Hilton Club so it makes for a perfectly convenient sightseeing activity. Another ruin worth a visit are the San Miguelito ruins. The San Miguelito ruins were occupied from 1250-1550 A.D., and include several well preserved pyramid-shaped temples. You can access the San Miguelito ruins on your way to Cancun’s new and educational Maya Museum. Yamil Lu’um is another archaeological site that is home to two small temples that were likely used as watchtowers and lighthouses around 500 or 700 years ago. The Yamil Lu’um ruins are located next door to the Sheraton Cancun Resort & Towers at the highest elevation of the primarily flat Cancun region.
#3 Sea Turtles Nesting Grounds
Thousands of migrating sea turtles arrive to Cancun each year in the month of May. They come back each year to lay their nest of eggs in Cancun’s white sandy beaches. Many environmental protection agencies set up protected areas all along the Hotel Zone to safeguard these beautiful creatures. Local hotels also do their part and take care of and protect their nests on the beach. Starting in late May through September or October, visitors can participate in the sea turtle protection efforts and get to experience the excitement of seeing baby turtles hatch and make their journey into the Caribbean Sea waters.
#4 Cancun: Small Fishing Village Origins
The origins of Cancun are quite interesting. Originally, Cancun was a tiny fishing village and did not have many occupants. In the late 1960’s, a government funded project by then-President Gustavo Ordaz was responsible for boosting the local tourism industry. President Gustavo Ordaz requested funds from the Bank of Mexico that he used in order to help promote Cancun as a tourist destination. The government invited prominent architects and engineers to create and present proposals for how they could make Cancun a top tourist destination. Official development began in the year 1970, Cancun only had three residents. In 2018, Cancun is home to nearly one million residents so it is clear that the project was very successful.
#5 500 Pound Mexican Flag
One of the biggest Mexican flags in the whole world proudly flies in Cancun. The gigantic Mexican flag is visible flying high in Cancun’s Hotel Zone and is constructed using the same material that is used for parachutes. Measuring over 4600 square feet, the Mexican flag weighs in at a significant 507 pounds. The Mexican flag was inaugurated in 1988 by then-President Ernesto Zedillo and 40 soldiers were needed in order to raise the flag up the 344-foot flag pole. If you go to Cancun, make sure you check out this giant flag!
We hope you enjoyed this article about 5 of the less commonly known facts about Cancun. Make sure to check out the giant Mexican flag, spectacular coral reefs, historical Mayan ruins and sea turtle hatching next time you are in the area.