Playa Langosta and Playa Tortuga, north of Cancun’s hotel zone, are popular wind-sheltered beaches with lovely clear water. For a little more solitude head to pleasant Playa Delfines at the island’s southern end, but take a hat (and water) because shade is in short supply out there.
You can get a hamburger or a lobster almost anywhere in Cancun, but don’t miss such Yucatan specialties as cohinita pibil (pork baked in banana leaves with an annatto sauce) or panuchos (tortillas filled with chicken, black beans, and pickled onions). After dinner, hit the discos and clubs, which often feature great Cuban bands; or catch a Ballet Folklórico performance of traditional dance and music.
If you love to scour flea markets, cruise the mercados on Tulum Avenue, the main drag, where you can bargain for silver jewelry and crafts from all over Mexico. The El Zocalo bazaar, near the Convention Center, is a treasure trove of handicrafts, that also house a fascinating exhibit on the history of Mexican clothing.