On October 21, 2005, Cancun was struck by Hurricane Wilma, the most intense Atlantic storm on record. However, after little more than a year, Cancun has remerged as an even more enticing destination. With over $1.5 billion committed to the citywide rebuilding effort, resorts have not only repaired their structures, but have improved upon pre-storm conditions. Nearly all of the city’s restaurants and bars have reopened, many with sparkling new additions and renovations. However, Cancun isn’t finished. Many more improvements will be completed early this season, guaranteeing that this could be the best year ever to visit beautiful Cancun.
Perhaps the best upgrades in Cancun were performed on the world-famous beaches. Known for their wide stretches of white powder sand, Cancun’s beaches were reduced to rocks by Wilma’s storm surge. Yet, because of eroding beachfronts throughout the world, the technology of beach reclamation has grown by leaps and bounds. Belgian firm, Jan de Nul, used their latest innovations to extract 96 million cubic feet of pristine sand from the waters off the Mexican coast. After the sand was transported by a pair of vessels back to shore, giant pipes succeeded in reforming up to a half mile of beach per week.
Yet, Cancun didn’t settle for a copy of the old beaches. According to Cancun’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, “The white beaches are what Cancun is all about. So we wanted to make sure we were getting that same silky sand that people love and a lot more of it than before.” In fact, the new beaches of Cancun average 140 feet in width, double the 70 foot width visitors were accustomed to not long ago. This sizable upgrade means not only will the beaches of Cancun look better than ever before, but visitors will have much more room to play or relax in the sun.
Cancun’s finest resorts certainly didn’t spare any expense during the reconstruction either. In addition to necessary repairs and upgrades required as a result of the storm, tourists will also recognize a number of notable improvements at their favorite resorts, from new recreational facilities to larger rooms. The streets of the Hotel Zone have even been lined with 6,000 fully-grown palm trees.
Furthermore, most of the major construction and repair work has been accomplished on the rather scenic flatter portions of the Hotel Zone, close to the calm seas of the Caribbean Sea. Within a half mile of the Hotel Zone, storm-force winds experienced during a storm can still be felt. Furthermore, within this 50-mile travel zone, 39 active, Class A vehicles were left in disrepair and the only road in site was portion of a circular track. For this reason, the offer to build an elevated road to the site of the former airport was irresistible. In addition to serving the passenger traffic of the local area, such a road would serve the construction vehicles traveling to and from the site of the airport as well as trucks delivering the sand needed for the construction projects.
The coastal waters between Cancun and Puerto Morelos can be expected to see a yearly average of 22.5 feet of increase in sea level. Should any significant rise occur within the next 50 years, many Cancun and Puerto Morelos residents will be relocated to higher ground.
If you enjoy a trip to the Mexican Riviera, be sure to check out my other articles in the two continuing series: Teaching English in Mexico and Traveling in Mexico. If you would like more information, have questions or comments, the author can be e-mailed; see address below.