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Aerial view of Cancun, Mexico

What's in a Cancun name?

By Tribune Travel

November 30, 2021

The Yucatan Peninsula is stunning! But do you know what the names of its landmarks mean? We will tell you a little about the history and meaning of the names of three of its tourist destinations. What's in a Cancun name? The peninsula conceals many secrets and great stories regarding the mystical pre-Hispanic Maya culture. It settled in the territory a few hundred years ago. However, today its heritage is present in every word of the Mayan language, every tradition, and every custom of every resident.

Cancun name

The most widely accepted interpretation is that it means "viper's nest." It comes from the Mayan phrase "KAAN - K' UU." Quintana Roo is home to approximately fifty species of snakes. While these animals are not for everyone's taste, only three of these species pose a threat to humans. Furthermore, the majority of them are present in the Mayan zone. Ral Pavón Abreu, the city's first chronicler, stated that the Mayas revered this animal as a deity. This reverence could explain the name "Cancun." Cancun name

Isla Holbox

Holbox is in Quintana Roo's far northwestern corner. It's a paradise of long, white sandy beaches and a sea of light blues and greens looking like a canvas. This natural wonder is part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve, a haven for birds and other marine life. Holbox is a Mayan word that means "black hole," according to the General Archive of Quintana Roo. Today, there is a diverse tourist offering, ranging from island tours, bird watching, and local fauna to whale shark watching at certain times of the year. Cancun name


Uxmal was a great Maya city with a rich historical, cultural, and architectural heritage. UNESCO has designated the archaeological zone in the state of Yucatan as a World Heritage Site. According to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), one of its names comes from a Mayan toponymic derived from "Ox," which means "three," and "mal" refers to the number of times a work is repeated. As a result, Uxmal's meaning could be "three times built or occupied."    





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