A Tropical Paradise Made by Man - and Computer

The Birmingham Post (England), June 13, 1998 | Go to article overview

A Tropical Paradise Made by Man - and Computer


Miles of powdery white sand, turquoise waters and luxury hotels all go to make Cancun one of Mexico's most popular holiday resorts.

It may have been purpose-built by man but there's no denying that this Caribbean coastal refuge - on the far north-eastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula - comes pretty close to being a tropical paradise.

Cancun was discovered and created in an unusual way. In 1967, the Mexican government wanted to create the ultimate beach destination - so it asked a computer to find the perfect spot.

Technology's answer was Cancun - then just a small Mexican fishing village with a small, swampy island nearby. Now, 30 years later, the 15-mile long sandbar resort attracts more than two million visitors a year.

Most of those who visit probably do not realise that it is an island. The new section is shaped like the figure 7 and connected to the mainland at both ends by wide bridges.

Cancun's biggest draw has to be the beaches, with their sparkling waters and soft sands which make it a haven for sun-worshippers and water-sport fans.

There's plenty of snorkelling and scuba-diving - great fun for experiencing the colourful and tropical undersea world of the Caribbean.

We visited Isla Mujeres, just a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun. Only five miles long and a half a mile wide, the island has some spectacular sights and you can swim in warm waters with thousands of colourful, tropical fish.

And, after all that swimming, the quaint main town offers a break from Cancun's cosmopolitan bustle.

The area has the reputation as a happening party spot. It was where Pamela Anderson met Tommy Lee and ended up marrying him a few days later on the beach.

There is an infectious carnival atmosphere throughout the resort and, from discos to live reggae, there's something for everyone.

Many of the welnown American chain restaurants are obvious throughout the town, which detracts from the traditional Mexican feeling.

It's already a favourite haunt of American tourists and, if you close your eyes, and listen you could almost imagine you were in North America - which perhaps is not for those seeking the rustic and authentic Mexico.

Yet there are enough traditional establishments to make you remember where you are.

If you're keen on fish, the Caribbean coast of Mexico is the place to be. Huachinango a la Veracruzana - red snapper baked in a chilli-seasoned sauce of tomatoes, olives and onions - is definitely worth trying, together with grilled fish marinated overni ght in lime juice. …

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