16 Interesting And Fun Facts About Cancun, Mexico [Explained]

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Cancun is a famous destination in Mexico because of its beautiful beaches, shiny ocean waters, and unique cenotes. But that is not all, one of the top attractions and facts about Cancun is the many famous ancient Mayan ruins surrounding the city.

Historical Facts About Cancun

Cancun Was Founded 50 Years Ago

Historical records show that Cancun did not exist before 1970. With a booming resort and tourism industry, you might not be too surprised to know that it is a planned city, meaning Cancun was purposely created for tourists and locals.

In 1969, the Cancun Project was approved by the Mexican government, and construction began the following year. Today, the city has a population of more than 800,000 people.

Beaches In Cancun Contain Remains Of Dead Coral


Another interesting fact about Cancun lies in its sandy beaches. The sand of the beaches is mainly composed of defecated coral, much of which comes from Parrotfish.

One Parrotfish is sufficient for offering 100 kg of white sand per year. 1.3 billion gallons of white sand were added to the city’s beaches between 2009 and 2010.

The World’s Second Largest Reef System Is Off Cancun’s Coast


Along with its beaches, the city has an impressive reef system. The Mesoamerican Reef, which passes the city’s coast, is 700 miles long, allowing it to stretch from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Honduran Islands.

A top fact about Cancun for travelers is that it’s one of the best places to observe marine life, such as corals, turtles, and much more. This is why it is such a prime destination for scuba divers, while also attracting so many visitors every year.

Cancun Zona Hotelera Is Shaped Like A Numerical 7


Before Cancun was created, the same region contained many sand dunes that resembled the number seven. The city’s hotel zone was created in this area and has the same shape.

At the uppermost and lowermost ends of the seven, the mainland connects with the larger peninsula. This zone also stretches for about 22.5 kilometers.

Cultural Facts About Cancun

The City Has An Underwater Museum

A fascinating Cancun fact is that its unique Underwater Museum was designed as a response to climate change. The project began in 2008 and has more than 500 sculptures.

All these exhibits are lifesize to offer a realistic experience. There are three different galleries, which were built at least 3 meters beneath the Cancun Marine Park.

Cancun Is Famous For Tamales


Tamales are a tasteful, traditional Mexican dish that you’ll find at almost all Cancun restaurants and street vendors on your trip. It is made of masa, which is later steamed in banana leaves.

Corn husk may also be used for steaming. The dish is usually filled with meat, beans, or cheese to offer a fulfilling and flavorful meal.

Take advantage of the local Cancun food tours and experiences to really savor all the traditional Mexican cuisine on offer.

Chichen Itza Is The Most Famous Mayan Ruin In Cancun


This impressive excavated Mayan ruin in Cancun was a city during the 5th to 13th centuries. 

The mighty El Castillo Pyramid in Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s most well-known landmarks. When you clap while standing at a specific angle to the structure, you will even hear the sound rebounding back. 

Immerse yourself in Mayan history as you explore this ruin on a guided tour. There are many other ancient structures around the site to give you a unique glimpse into a civilization from long ago.

The Name ‘Cancun’ Has Mayan Origins

Mexico is known for its rich Mayan heritage and traditions; a fun fact about Cancun’s name is that it translates to “the snake’s nest.” It was believed to have derived from a Mayan phrase called “Kaan Kun.”

Ancient knowledge on this has been limited, however, and there are still arguments about Cancun’s exact translation and origin.

Simple Facts About Cancun For Kids

Cancun Only Had 3 Residents In 1970

When construction of this city began, it had a remarkably small population! In fact, there were only three people, who took care of a coconut plantation within the region.

It was only in 1974 after the first hotels in the area started operating did the city’s population began to rise significantly.

The City Has Two Main Zones

The city’s divided urban organization is yet another interesting fact about Cancun. It was in the original plan to create a tourism zone and a residential zone.

The former is now Zona Hotelera, which contains more than 65 hotels and resorts. Meanwhile, Downtown Cancun is the residential zone where you will meet most locals.

Hurricane Wilma Was The Deadliest Cyclone Cancun Experienced

Hurricane Wilma was a truly devastating cyclone that hit Cancun in 2005. At least eight miles of beaches suffered from destruction, which brought about a restoration project to return the city to its original aesthetics.

Wilma is also the Atlantic basin’s most intense tropical cyclone being a Category 5 storm.

Useful Cancun Facts For Travelers

Playa Delfines Is A Picturesque Spot In This City


Cancun is famous for its stunning coast but don’t miss out on Playa Delfines. This beautiful beach at the end of Zona Hotelera is a nice quiet place to relax as it is free from most of the city noise.

Immerse yourself in a serene environment. If you’re super lucky, you might even be able to see some dolphins from the beach. That is actually where the name of the beach comes from. Playa Delfines translates to Dolphin Beach; that was when sightings used to be more common.

There Are More Than 1000 Cenotes In Quintana Roo


Cancun and Tulum are two of the main destinations in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. A key highlight in the region is none other than these beautiful cenotes which are natural sinkholes with pristine water, reflecting the sunlight that shines through.

Even since the Mayan days, these cenotes have served as important water sources. Today, there are popular attractions for visitors as well. You can spend a relaxing day checking out some of the cenotes near Cancun – the most prominent one near the city is Cenote Fantasma.

The Best Way To Get Around In Cancun Is By Bus

The bus network is an easy way to get around the city since there are stops in major areas like downtown and Kukulcan Boulevard. 

The best thing is of course how affordable it is; you can hitch a ride for less than a dollar.

However, if you are looking for a convenient way to get to and from the airport, consider taking a cab or airport shuttle instead. 

Avenida Kukulkan Is A Major Shopping Hub In Cancun

A useful fact about Cancun to know is the city’s bustling commercial street. Avenida Kukulkan features various shops, restaurants, and cafes offering different goods.

The avenue is also one of the main routes for many buses, so getting there is easy and cheap.

An Island In Cancun Marks The Easternmost Point Of Mexico


Isla Mujeres is the best place to see a sunrise in Cancun because of its unmatched view. The island even has a rich history that dates back to more than 1,500 years ago.

Mayans considered the island a holy place for one of their goddesses. While it can make for a good day trip, you can also stay on the island. 

Clear blue waters and friendly locals are characteristic features of this place today. Although passionate hospitality is a big part of Mexican culture that you are sure to experience.

Discovering More Fun Facts About Cancun

Although Cancun is often known for its resorts and beaches, it is much more than just a summer hotspot. It’s a place where history and culture blend seamlessly with stunning natural beauty. 

From the ancient Mayan ruins that whisper tales of a bygone era to the sparkling turquoise waters that invite endless adventure, there’s a treasure trove of experiences on offer.

And let’s not forget about the vibrant nightlife and the mouth-watering Mexican cuisine! 



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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