Romance, Cancun Style

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Romance, Cancun Style
Once the dominion of bar-crawling Spring Breakers, Cancun has expanded its offerings, attracting many new travelers, including couples looking to rekindle their romance.
By Julie Schwietert Collazo, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Sandra Salvadó/age fotostock
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    Recharge at a Local Spa
    Cancun is home to dozens of spa resorts, so couples in search of solo or simultaneous treatments have plenty of options. Beyond typical spa services, there are also unique experiences that reflect the local culture. Temazcál, for example, is a pre-Hispanic ritual intended to cleanse the body and mind through deep relaxation in a shaman-led journey that takes place in a sweat room or bath. If that's too intense for you, ask about other Maya-inspired treatments. Options include massages that incorporate gold and jade, anise seed, brown sugar, honey, or herb-infused essential oils.
    Photo by Sandra Salvadó/age fotostock
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    Charter a Private Sailboat in Cancun
    Unless you have a tough time finding your sea legs, there's no excuse for not chartering a private sailboat if you're on a romantic trip to Cancun. A number of companies offer catamarans, yachts, and sailboats for romantic excursions; sunset and dinner sails are particularly popular and generally include beer, wine, champagne, or cocktails. Some charter companies cruise close to shore; others make the trip to nearby Isla Mujeres. Your hotel concierge can make recommendations about the most trusted outfitters in the area. The lobster dinner cruise aboard the tall ship Columbus is one local favorite.
    Photo by Michael Sweet/age fotostock
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    Dinner for Two
    Cancun has no shortage of exceptional restaurants. As a popular destination for couples, chefs and waitstaff do their best to provide a romantic experience. There's the intimate Latin restaurant Du Mexique, at which chef-proprietor Alain Grimond and his wife treat each guest like a family member. Or try Tempo, the upscale restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Martín Berasategui. Whether you choose a Basque-style entree or the six-course wine pairing dinner, you're in for a memorable meal. For an extra-special experience and first-class service, ask if your restaurant offers a chef's table.
    Photo by Gonzalo Azumendi/age fotostock
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    Explore the Deep Blue Together
    If you're scuba certified, you're in luck; Cancun has plenty of outfitters ready to rent equipment to you and your partner so you can explore the deep together. If you're not certified, introductory courses that get you under water quickly are also an option. Expect to see coral reefs and diverse marine species; Cancun also features shipwreck sites such as General Anaya that are accessible to divers. While diving with an instructor and other travelers can be fun, going alone with your partner is even better. Look out for PADI-certified dive shops with bilingual staff.
    Photo by Joe McBride/age fotostock
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    Catch the Sunset in Cancun
    If you've been dreaming of sitting on the beach in Cancun to watch the sunset, you may be slightly disappointed. The sun doesn't set over the ocean in Cancun. Instead, Cancun's spectacular sunsets occur over the Nichupte Lagoon west of the Hotel Zone. While it's not hard to find a nice spot, if you want a guaranteed great view, locals recommend the La Habichuela Sunset Restaurant, which features oversized, sunset-facing windows. If you're visiting on a Wednesday or Friday night, stick around after dinner for the Maya dance performance, which starts at 8:00 pm.
    Photo by Andrea Pistolesi/age fotostock
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    Cancun Cooking Classes
    Mexico's culinary repertoire is vast and includes significant variations in every region. On the Yucatán Peninsula, many traditional dishes are informed and inspired by the Maya culture. You can learn what that means and how to make the area's favorite dishes by signing up for a cooking class. There are several options in Cancun; one of the most popular is Can Cook in Cancun run by Chef Claudia Garcia Ramos. Local chef Miguel Mateos also leads cooking classes focused on Maya cuisine; his specialty is the signature dish cochinita pibil, which is made of shredded pork. In nearby Puerto Morelos, the Little Mexican Cooking School offers courses focused on authentic home cooking.
    Photo by Frank Wieder/age fotostock
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    Cancun's Live Music Scene
    With dozens of resort hotels, each with hundreds of rooms, local and international acts flock to Cancun to play for huge audiences. Consistently billed as one of the area's top attractions, Coco Bongo isn't your average nightclub. You'll party to live music as you watch acrobats and other performers put on impressive shows. One of the most popular large venues is at the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort—it has hosted Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, the Beach Boys, and Usher. The City Discotheque is another massive venue; with three floors and nine bars, it attracts 20- and 30-somethings interested in global beats. For local mariachi music, enjoy an evening at Hacienda El Mortero, which also hosts a folkloric ballet performance.
    Photo by Trinette Reed/age fotostock
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    Dancing in Cancun
    Don't be fooled by its reputation as a magnet for beach bums; Cancun has no shortage of sophisticated cultural attractions. Among them is the Folkloric Ballet, a dinner and dance event featuring many types of traditional dance styles from all over Mexico. Dance performances are also hosted by Cancun's Casa de la Cultura arts center. If you prefer to be the main attraction, many of the local restaurants encourage patrons to get out on the dance floor. If you're a novice or need a refresher class, the Talula dance school teaches a variety of styles.
    Photo by Chris Cheadle/age fotostock
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    Explore Cancun's Outer Islands
    If you doubt that a beach can get more romantic than the shores of Cancun, take a boat trip across the water to one of the area's outer islands. Though no longer the secret it once was, Isla Mujeres remains cleaner, more down-to-earth, and less crowded than mainland Cancun. Just five miles long and a half-mile across, the island is flat and ringed by lovely beaches. But if you're looking for a place that's more remote still, try the flamingo-filled Isla Holbox or the wildlife and nature reserve, Isla Contoy; both of them are north of Isla Mujeres.
    Photo by Tono Balaguer/age fotostock
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    Recite Your Vows
    Cancun is an incredibly popular place for destination weddings, and the reasons are many: The setting is gorgeous, accommodations for out-of-town guests are abundant and often affordable, and service is generally exceptional. If you've always wanted to relive or redo your wedding, you can also arrange to renew your vows in Cancun. Many resorts offer vow-renewal services in addition to traditional wedding planning options. Many resorts have in-house wedding planners and offer vow renewal services in addition to traditional wedding options. Resorts typically work with reputable US-based destination wedding planners.
    Photo courtesy of Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau