February 18, 2011

Nichupté Lagoon, Cancún

No-one can miss the Nichupté Lagoon, in Cancún. It is that crystal clear body of water, that the seven-shape of the Hotel Zone encloses, between itself and the mainland. During the day, it throngs with boats, kayaks, skiers and divers. At sunset, the whole scene softens, serene, golden and beautiful. At night, there are merely the lights and the music; and the romance of the dinner cruises. This is the lagoon that so many call paradise on Earth.

Nichupte Lagoon

The lagoon is naturally formed, though it originally lapped against mere sandbanks, encasing it from Cancún Bay and the Caribbean Sea. Now those sandbanks, in the distinctive figure 7, have been built up to house Cancún's impressive hotels. Nichupté does encounter the ocean though, with two different narrow channels at each end. These are the Nizuc Canal, at the southern end, and the Sigfrido Canal in the north.

Nichupté Lagoon is the collective name for eight lagoons, all interlocking to form one large one. Individually, they are: Laguna Bojórquez, North Basin, Central Basin, South River, Río Inglés, Del Amor, Lagoon and the Mediterranean. Stretching 12km x 5km (7m x 3m), this is an area of outstanding natural beauty, edged with dense jungle mangroves. So many memories have been formed here, from the sunbathers at its shores; to the adrenaline junkies driving powerboats and jet-skis across its center; to the marriage proposals whispered over candlelit suppers, sailing upon its depths.

Nichupte Lagoon

Nichupté is also home to a bewildering variety of marine life. Most notable of all are the Mexican crocodiles.Also called Morelet's Crocodile, this is an endangered species. They grow to around 3 metres (9.8 ft), feeding on birds, fish, insects and small wildlife.

They used to be plentiful here, but increased tourism has pushed them back into the more remote, quieter areas. Nichupte Lagoon Nevertheless, they are still out there, which is why swimming in the outer lagoon is discouraged. It still happens, especially amongst the daredevil locals!

Not that anyone is missing much by not taking a dip there. Many sections of the lagoon are enclosed, to protect humans from the crocodiles. Meanwhile the hotels, lining its shores, all have several pools; while the Caribbean Sea is a short walk away.

In the lagoon itself, there are red crabs, blue crabs and a huge diversity of fish. The heron, ibis, pelican and cormorant soar overhead. Snakes and raccoons forage in the jungle foliage around it.

The snakes actually named the area. The Mayan 'Kaankún' translates as 'nest of snakes', referring to those living in the mangroves around Nichupté Lagoon. The snakes slithered away into less populated areas, Kaankún was Anglocized into Cancún and the rest is history.

View Larger Map

The northern and eastern shores of the lagoon are where most of the visitors to Cancún converge. It is here that the grand hotels, huge shopping malls, entertainment venues, nightclubs and marinas can be found. If you fancy venturing out onto the lagoon, many trips and excursions can be booked from vendors in the Hotel Zone, including, of course, Endless Tours.

Jungle Tour
Jungle Tour
Drive your own speedboat, across Nichupté Lagoon, through the mangroves, and out into the Caribbean Sea.

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