Cancún  is a coastal city in the tourist destination called The Mexican Caribbean, i.e., the state of Quintana Roo, on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It is a popular vacation spot on the Caribbean coast.
Peak season in Cancun tends to run from December to April. Prices in both airfare and hotel increase dramatically during these times, while dropping in the summer and early autumn months. Late June is especially hot, so come prepared or try the off season. Hurricanes can be a major threat in late summer and autumn.
Resting on the northeast corner of the Mexican Caribbean, Cancun itself was built on a site selected as the ideal spot for a new tourist development by the Mexican government. The state of Quintana Roo was still a territory and this area had few inhabitants when Cancun was built. It is composed of fourteen miles of pristine white beaches shaped like a number "7", home to Maya archaeological wonders, turquoise seas, a bountiful underwater world, and world-class vacation amenities. It is still considered the gateway to the Mayan World ("El Mundo Maya"). Mayan temples and ritual sites are everywhere, some smothered by lush jungle, others easily accessible. Good tourist attractions.
The Cancun hotel zone is almost entirely built around the tourist industry. It abounds with all-inclusive resort hotels. Stay here only if you don't mind spending your vacation with many other tourists.
Downtown Cancun, especially once you get away from the ADO bus station and nearby hostels and hotels, is a real Mexican city. There are many restaurants, shopping centers, markets and clubs in the downtown area that you can visit during your stay.
Those mostly seeking beaches and scuba diving, or who are a bit adventurous, can easily find rooms on equally beautiful and less crowded beaches along the coast just an hour or two south of Cancun for much less than the cost of major Cancun hotels. Some Spanish language skills may aid in finding better deals. You can rent a car, or take the bus to Puerto Morelos (about 20 min) or Tulum (1 hour). Playa del Carmen (45 min, $80) is between the two, but caters to the all-inclusive crowd. Taxis are also available.
Those looking for a base of operations who want good or luxury hotels and the advantages of urban life but prefer more local flavor may wish to stay in the Yucatan's main city of Mérida. Many international flights in to Cancun continue on after a stop to Mérida's international airport.
Airlines that fly to Cancun from Mexico City include: Aeromexico, Interjet, Volaris; from the USA: AirTran Airways , American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Jetblue, USA 3000, US Airways and from Europe: AirBerlin Air France, British Airways, Air Europa and Aeroflot.
Cancún International Airport (IATA: CUN) (ICAO: MMUN) is Mexico's second busiest airport. It is about 10 km (6 mi) from the hotel strip and 16 km (9 mi) southwest of downtown.
One of Cancun's best features is its transport links, as most major air carriers in North, Central, and South America, have service to Cancun. There are some extremely cheap charter flight deals available from the UK (from around £100) as well as commercial flight deals from several European carriers.
The hardest part of the journey to Cancun (aside from your initial airport check-in) is getting from the luggage carousel to your transportation. Make sure you know who your transport is and find them on the outside, as that is where they will be. Unless you are looking for a timeshare, free meal or looking to burn hours of travel time and money on your vacation, do NOT stop to chit-chat with anyone about booking tours and such. There is plenty of time for that after you get settled in. After you clear the red or green light baggage inspection, do not give your bags to any locals offering to carry them. They will either demand money to carry them 15 meters or steal your luggage.
There are two companies officially licensed by Cancun Airport to provide the transfer service to the hotels in Cancun or the Riviera Maya. One is Gray Line and the other one is T.T.A. Both have a selling booth right after the Customs Service. Prices are fixed by the airport and are not negotiable. The two companies offer shuttle service and also private transfer. There are other transportation firms that provide service to and from the airport for a reasonable price as well. Beware of touts who will surround you when you come out of customs clearance. If you proceed straight, you will find the official information center where they can help you with the ground transportation options. If you bought an online shuttle service reservation and you don't find your driver, call customer service yourself; do not trust local people who claim to be airport employees trying to help you (usually airport employees wait for you to come to them, and not the other way round).
There is also a first class bus service from the airport to both the ADO bus station in Cancun and to the one in Playa del Carmen. If you are going to Puerto Morelos, you can arrange being dropped at the appropriate intersection on the way to Playa. Buses coming from Cancun stop at terminals 2 and 3, but tickets are sold only at the stop next to terminal 1. To get to the buses, go outside the main building (terminal 1) and turn right. Head up past the end of that building and find the appropriate bus for you. Taxis from the ADO bus station to the airport cost roughly $300 whereas ADO bus service is $42.
Also if you want to travel directly from Cancun to Cozumel there is an Airline called MayaAir the only commercial line in the Terminal 1 so you can travel directly throug Cancun tu Cozumel.
Be sure to pass the customs before looking for money exchange - for example inside customs zone in Cancun they offer MX$9.60 to US$1, which is much lower than even greediest street vendors ask.
Beware of leaving Mexico with enough money. The Mexican Government charges a travel tax of around $500 (US$45) to leave the country from the airport. Most major air carriers may already have the travel tax charged to the price of the ticket, though it is highly recommended that travelers check this before leaving to/from Cancun. For example, Thomas Cook is charging $660, and U.S. dollars are not accepted. -- The current collective travel experience (from TripAdvisor) shows that almost all airlines flying from the US have already included this tax in their airfare, so there is no need to pay again when leaving Cancun. It seems that only charter flights from the UK do not include this tax and UK travelers may need to pay upon leaving.
Also beware of going through security too early. Food and drink prices almost double and you can't easily go back.
Cancun Airport Transfer - Olympus Tours Transfers starting at $12 to the Cancun Hotel Zone. Toll Free.786-338-9358
Cancun Shuttle Good options for late night travelers who arrive between 12am and 7am.
Driving in Mexico can be an experience. For more information and tips refer to driving in Mexico
Cancun's bus station is located downtown on the corner of Uxmal Avenue and Tulum Avenue. Destinations served by bus include most destinations up to Mexico City (26 hr).
The bus station is served by a taxi rank in front of the station. Local buses to the hotel zone pass regularly behind the station on the Tulum Avenue.
Cancun is very easy to navigate. To the South is the airport, to the North is the city and in between on the stretch of land between the sea and the Nichupte lagoon are all the hotels, beaches and bars, referred to as the hotel zone or Zona Hotelera. Downtown is where most residents live and it stretches in on the mainland behind the lagoon.
Bus is the preferred way of getting around. Buses are cheap and come frequently. Most bus drivers are very courteous and will stop for you even if you are not waiting at a bus stop. After paying the fare, which is on a per person basis, the driver will hand you a ticket/receipt which are usually printed with advertisements. Just so there are no surprises, do not expect buses to have amenities such as air conditioning and seat cushions. Also, most bus drivers speak enough English just to help visitors get around.
A great resource for finding your way around Cancun are the Can-Do Cancun maps & Guides by Perry & Laura McFarlin.
Buses head up and down the main thoroughfare, Blvd Kukulcan, named after the feather serpent which is the main Mayan deity, from the Mayan words kukul (bird) and can (snake). Buses pass constantly but be prepared for a cramped and rough ride. The rules for the bus drivers seem to be "he who gets to the next passenger quickest, makes the most money". Therefore, be prepared for a wild, but entertaining ride. Frequently, locals will get on with their instruments and "entertain". Some are quite good.
When you are ready to get off, you can either push the button on top of the hand rail, or if you're not sure of your destination, tell the driver where you would like to get off or point to the destination using a bus map. Most bus drivers speak enough English to understand non-Spanish speakers.
Be careful when the bus is full as pick-pocketing is a concern.
Companies serving the station include all attractions and towns along the coast: the Riviera Express for the Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Xel-Ha, etc.) and ADO for the major national destinations. For some Riviera Maya destinations, it's possible to stop the buses on the Tulum Avenue without having to go all the way to the station, however if you are unsure about where to catch the bus then it's best to go to the station.
Taxis are plentiful, a bit expensive for the hotel zone and airport, but cheap in the downtown area. Fares for the hotel zone depend on how far along the Blvd Kukulcan you want to go (fares available at hotel receptions and shopping centres), while within the downtown there is a general fixed fare of about $20 per trip, it is best to just ask the driver upon boarding to avoid misunderstandings. By far, the best mode of transportation for the hotel zone is by bus. The bus fare is cheap and getting from Point A to Point B doesn't take very long.
Be careful and clear with your taxista. They have set rates on paper for how much they should charge for the trip per kilometer (no meter). You can also obtain a discount about 10% if you ask. If you are splitting a cab with friends, be clear on the number of services, people, and price he will charge to your destination. If your friends get out before you he can charge you twice the amount you negotiated for just a few more kilometers. A "service" is considered to be from start point to a requested stop point. If your taxista is non-cooperative there are about 10 more taxis around every corner.
Be very careful if you choose to drive in Cancun. The police seem to pull tourists over at the drop of a hat during spring break. When you pick up a rental, check that all the lights work. Also when you are pulled over for a light violation, do not be surprised if the police holds out an open palmed hand, while holding your driver’s license hostage in the other. Most police officers are underpaid and will for the most part demand a small bribe to let you off the hook.
See the related travel article driving in Mexico for additional information.
- Interactive Aquarium, Right in the middle of the hotel zone, this small but modern aquarium lets you get up close and personal with aquatic life. You can pet rays, nurse sharks, touch starfish, etc. There is also a chance to swim with dolphins in a large pool.
- Water and sand, Cancun is possibly best known for its beautiful turquoise waters and powdery white beaches.
- Isla Contoy, is about 30 km (19 mi) north of Isla Mujeres and apart from its natural beauty it is considered to be the most important nesting place for sea birds in the Mexican Caribbean with more than 150 different species.
- Ocean and beaches, For the more advanced swimmers, the edge of the open ocean can make for a challenging and fun swimming experience. For less advanced swimmers, or those with little ones, pick a resort facing Isla Mujeres for a gentle and relaxing aquatic experience. Be aware that the island becomes extremely hot during day and there are few, if any opportunities to cool off. The sand found here is ground up coral and doesn't get hot like you might expect. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous and the water is crystal clear and warm. Spending the day on the beaches of Cancun is not only an opportunity to relax, but to shop as well. Many of the native people of Cancun make a living by selling different items to the tourists on the beach. There are a variety of items to be purchased from these vendors, items such as sarongs, jewelry, sea shells and more. However, as in the markets, you have to be willing to bargain to get the right prices.
- Xcaret (ecopark), . Xcaret is an Eco-archaeological Park located about 76 km (46 mi) south of Cancun and less than 7 km (4 mi) south of Playa del Carmen, in the Riviera Maya. Here you can admire tropical flora and fauna typical of the region as well as different expressions of the Mayan culture. In its facilities you can find an archaeological site, snorkeling in underground rivers, beach, butterfly pavilion, orchid greenhouse, regional fauna breeding farm, Mayan village, jaguar island, among others. For additional cost visitors can swim with dolphins; enjoy the Temascal and Spa services. At night you can admire the unique night show “Xcaret México Espectacular” which features a variety of performances from ancient Mayan culture to traditional Mexican music and dances.
- Bird watching at the airport, It may sound odd, but because the airport is basically carved out of a large block of forest, there are all kinds of birds and animals around, especially early in the morning. Look for the Mexican agoutis (large forest rodents) grazing on the lawns next to the forest.
- Swim with Dolphins, . Wet'n'Wild also offers dolphin experiences. (Beware: no cameras are allowed, then they charge $25 for the first photo, $20 for each subsequent one). Other great places to swim with dolphins are Delphinus Dreams  and Dolphin Discovery .
- Jeep Adventures, . Experience some of the most beautiful parts of Cancun in a self drive jeep safari. Tour prices ususally include an experienced guide, and the chance to swim or snorkel in underground caves, explore Mayan ruins and visit a jungle reserve.
- Aqua Tours,  Exciting water tour. Choose either a jet ski or two person jet boat for a trip through the lagoon out to snorkel on the reef. Popular tours are the Jungle Tour and the Sailing Quest (Catamarans).
- The Lobster Dinner Cruise, . Take a trip out on the calm lagoon on a beautiful boat with friends you have not met yet. The staff allow you to take part in the fun or settle back and watch the sunset. Steak and lobster is cooked on the boat and is extra tasty when eaten out on the high seas.
- Football, New in Cancun with the First Division team "Potros de Hierro (Iron Colts) of Cancun". The Atlante team, now based in Cancun, has a brand new stadium downtown.
- Markets, Bring your haggling skills and get ready for a vast shopping experience in any of the city markets. Great buys can be found, so stick to your price resolve.
- La Isla,  La Isla is a huge outside shopping mall in Cancun right near many of the local hotels. It features hundreds of stores ranging from American brands like Polo to Mexican brands like Senor Frogs. There are numerous restaurants including Chili's and McDonald's along with more local Mexican foods.
- Hidden Worlds Cenote Adventure Park, Tulum, . 9AM-5PM. Situated on the most extensive system of underwater caves and caverns on Earth, the park is home to some of the most stunningly beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, as featured in the critically acclaimed 2001 IMAX movie, Journey Into Amazing Caves, the 2005 Hollywood movie, The Cave and the award winning 2007 BBC Planet Earth television series. Enjoy Zip Lines, The Worlds only SkyCycle, and snorkel tours in the most pristine cenotes in the area.
- Punta Este Marina, . Drive your own boat through the lagoon in the Jungle Tour and sknorkel on the reef. Diving lessons and dive trips to the best dive spots in Cancun such as underwater museum.
- Cancun Yachts Club, boulevardo kukulkan km. 5.8 (zona hotelera), ☎ 998 8495317, . Yacht rentals in Cancun. exclusives luxury yachts for rentals tours in all the cancun areas , snorkeling, diving, swimming the most save water activities in yacht.
- Exotic Rides Mexico, . Driving experiences on board of the most exotic and luxurious cars in the world, race them on a private racetrack in Cancun. ☎ +52 998 882 05 58
With golf courses in Cancun, visitors can still have a great vacation and enjoy the game. Surrounded by the beautiful Mexican landscape these courses are home of renowned championships.
- The Moon Spa and Golf Club, . Is home to the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Cancun golf course. Its dynamic layout requires golfers to navigate through native vegetation as well as numerous wetlands and strategically placed bunkers.
- Riviera Cancun Golf and Spa,  The golf course at Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts features strategic bunkering, immaculate greens, stunning layout of fairways, as well as wooden bridges. An spectacular Mexican-Contemporary Club House allows golfers to relax and enjoy the tranquility of the natural reserve that surrounds the course, including the dunes, lakes, mangroves and Tasiste native palm trees, which are some of the elements that make this Golf course a visual stunner.
When shopping in Cancun, you can either go into downtown or the hotel zone. Downtown is much cheaper.
- Market 28. This is the local market in downtown Cancun. Great shopping for souvenirs. It also has some great Mexican outdoor restaurants. Very cheap and good shopping. Don't forget to bargain.
- Market 23. This is more of a 'locals' market. Doesn't have the same range as Market 28, but is worth a visit.
Cancun is one of the premier spa destinations in the world with a choice of more than thirty Cancun Spa Resorts that promise to transport your mind, body and spirit to a nirvana of pure bliss. Spas in Cancun offer treatments combining native, ancient mayan healing rituals, modern stress-reducing techniques.
Try a traditional Temazcal steam bath or a full-body massage on the beach overlooking the turquoise blue waters. Indulge in a thalassotherapy treatment and relax as expert therapists provide natural body wraps made with local plants and flowers
- Mikado, Blvd. Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera (CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort), ☎ +52 998 881 2000, . 5:30PM-11PM. Japanese and Thai cuisine featuring teppanyaki tables.
- La Capilla Argentina, Blvd Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera (CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort), ☎ +52 998 881 2000, . Argentine steakhouse with a Mediterranean flair.
- Champions Sports Bar, Blvd Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera (CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort), ☎ +52 998 881 2000, . noon-2AM. Stepped up bar food with all the games on over 40 screens.
- Simply Seafood, Blvd Kukulcán, Km 14.5, Lote 40-A, Zona Hotelera (JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa), ☎ +52 998 848 9600 ext 6637, . Simply Seafood serves off the boat seafood in traditional Caribbean style.
- Gustino, Blvd Kukulcán, Km 14.5, Lote 40-A, Zona Hotelera (JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa), ☎ +52 998 848 9600 ext 6637, . Gustino has authentic Italian cuisine using the freshest Mediterranean ingredients.
- Cambalache, Blvd Kukulcán Km 9, at Forum By the Sea Mall, +52 998 883 0902. This Argentine Steakhouse serves up one of the best menus in Cancun. The atmosphere inside the restaurant makes you feel you have traveled an extra 1000 miles. The staff's attention to detail and desire to please make you feel like you're the only one they are serving that night. Great place to have a dinner with the one you love or enjoy the company of friends. The food alone could give this place a 4 star rating, the rest is just an added bonus.
- The Cove Cancun, on Playa Langosta (the lobster beach), . One of the prettiest and calmest beaches of the Hotel Zone, The Cove offers an excellent variety of dishes. In the morning they have a delicious buffet with sweet bread, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, eggs cooked to order, and other Mexican delights. For lunch, a la carte service. Then at night, a romantic atmosphere with candles, to enjoy the nights of Cancun with a special selected menu with seafood and fish with Caribbean accent, as well as fine cuts, complemented with an ample wine carte.
- La Habichuela, Margaritas 25, near Parque de las Palapas, +52 998 884 3158, ([email protected]), . La Habichuela is a must-visit with its Mexican cuisine, Mayan setting and Caribbean seafood. This restaurant has been open since 1977 and is a legend in Cancun. The romantic, outside garden is a popular place to dine with the decoration of various native trees and plants that create a beautiful illusion of the Mayan ruins under the night sky. And not only did La Habicheula receive the National Best Restaurant Award but it is also a part of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Organization since 2001.
- Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cancun, Blvd Kukulcán, +52 998 885 2375, . This establishment combines the atmosphere of a restaurant, bar, and a mini night club. During the daytime hours, Margaritaville is a restaurant and bar. At night, the place is a combination of the three. With an orange sailboat with images of a plane, shark, and the orange sun, Margaritaville attracts families of all ages as well as party goers.
- Laguna Grill, Blvd Kukulcán Km 16.5, +52 998 885 0267, . This grill serves seafood, steak, and pasta with a contemporary flair. There is a lush tropical garden at the entrance, intricate handmade tile work on the floor and walls, a small flowing creek that traverses the restaurant, and elegantly-finished tables hewn from trunks of tropical trees. The large terrace is right on the water’s edge. Elegant and comfortable, the next-door Lounge Bar Trágara offers a wide variety of wines and liquors, while you listen to soft background music and enjoy the charm of the lagoon.
- Salt, , Mediterranean cuisine from a wood burning oven, show kitchen and an array of culinary displays. Restaurant overlooks ocean.
- El Pabilo, Ave Yaxchilán # 31. Art exhibitions every 15 days. Good baguettes and wine.
- Paloma Bonita. 6:30PM-11:30PM daily for dinner. Mexican cuisine with live music in an authentic Mexican atmosphere which recreates different regional ambiances based on architectural, crafts, and folkloric traditions. Features include a traditional Mexican kitchen with coal "comales" where you can watch as tacos and snacks are prepared right in front of you. There is also a tequila bar featuring more than 100 kinds of tequila, and a romantic outside patio separated from the main area.
- Roots Jazz Club Tulipanes and Parque de las Palapas. Live Jazz Music, the best place to hear live music in Cancun. Great food and drinks.
- El Rincón del Vino, Alcatraces & Parque de las Palapas. Good baguettes, gourmet tapas and wine.
- Las Tortugas, Plaza Las Avenidas, ☎ +51 998 887 6209. Serving tortas, a kind of Mexican sandwich.
- Tumbaburros, in Plaza Las Américas (Downtown) and another one across the street from the ADO bus terminal (also in Downtown). Genuine Mexican cuisine and a great atmosphere. Real Mexican good humor and hospitality along with your taco order.
- La Destileria, Bulevar Kukulcán Km 12.65, across from Kukulcán Plaza, Cancún Island, ☎ +51 998 885 1086, +51 998 885 1087, . Daily 1PM-midnight. Combines some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine in the hotel zone with good service and medium price. Very good tequila. Main courses $12-$28.
- Atotonilco, Mercado 28 downtown Cancun (Right across from El Cejas). 8AM-6PM. An extremely good sampling of Mexican food from all around the country. Excellent value. Nothing fancy but a gastronomical delight. Try the "Huevos Motuleños". $4-10.
- Silk Asian Bistro, , Blvd Kukulkan, km. 12. Sushi and sashimi, soy paper vegetarian rolls alongside bolder creations. Teppanyaki stations with theatrical chefs.
- Pescaditos, Ave Yaxchilán 59 (Close to corner of Marañón). Really nice and laid back seafood restaurant where everything's deep fried. Try the chiles rellenos, possibly the best ones in Cancun. (21.161389,-86.829444)
- Los de Pescados, Ave Tulum. Very simple Taco (specialising in seafood) restaurant. Fish tacos- a few pieces of fried fish with some tortillas and you put your own sauces and condiments on. About $22 for a taco and $25 for an ice cold beer.
- La Panza es Primero, Plaza Flamingos, Cancun Mexico Hotel zone, ☎ +52 998 252 0776, . Daily 1PM-midnight. Main courses $12-28.
- restaurante natura, Boulevard Kukulcan km 9.5 (Zona Hotelera), ☎ +52 998 8830585, . 7:30am-11:00pm. Natura is the only healthy choice restaurant to be found in the hotel zone of Cancun. Fit for Vegetarians and non vegetarians. Over 20 choices of fresh made juices and salads. Service fast and friendly, very clean place and inexpensive. Highly recommended to anyone looking to eat or enjoy some drinks outside in Cancun. (North 21 11' 5'',West 86 42' 50)
Cancun's nightlife is unlike any other destination on Earth. For some, a day in Cancun doesn't start until tasks like an 11AM breakfast, nap on the beach, and siesta are arduously completed. This is your place to shine.
The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but it is not strongly enforced.
The Hotel Zone is a huge venue and gets top entertainers and DJs. Don't be surprised to see Vegas like shows spontaneously erupt while you are sipping your piña colada. These clubs can charge large covers ranging from US$20-60 per person, though the cover can include an open bar.
You may find yourself dancing in a conga line, laughing your cares away and speaking whatever Español you managed to pickup. A must for the first timers, and always good fun for returners also. Coco Bongo's entertainment includes a show, complete with girls swinging from the ceilings.
- Señor Frog's, Hotel Zone. Señor Frog's is a restaurant by day and a dance club by night, and is one of the most popular spots for vacationers to visit. The restaurant opens up for lunch and serves international types of food such as pasta, chicken and pizza as well as Mexican cuisine all day until midnight. A cover charge of five dollars will get you into the party after 8PM and includes a souvenir yard glass which you can then pay to get filled with your drink of choice. One of Señor Frog's famous attractions is the water slide that leads from the club out into the lagoon, just for a little bit of fun. As the evening progresses, Señor Frog's becomes less family friendly and more of a party establishment, waitresses will circulate, offering shots of tequila for a price. Waiters are also very "hands on", if you are not traveling in a family group, expect them to try to touch, hug, or kiss the female members of the party.
- O' Ultra Lounge, Hotel Zone. is a very sleek NYC type club and can take some time getting in and out of, but has had some great acts like "Infected Mushroom" rock the crowd till the wee hours.
- Basic Discotheque Cacun, Hotel Zone. The only night club over the lagoon with an amazing half opened architecture which offers an extraordinary view and the best wet t´shirt and bikini contest of Cancun.
- Dady'O, Hotel Zone (http://goo.gl/maps/KEVu), . Dady'O has been known to host some of the world's top DJs, including Red Foo (LMFAO), Apl.De.App and Tiësto, features a casual atmosphere, laser shows, pole dancing go go girls and flashing dance floor opening shows. (21.133183,-86.7474)
Also try the clubs at Yaxchilan Avenue, located in downtown Cancun, where all the locals hang out.
- Los 4 Elementos, Hotel Xbalamque (Ave Yaxchilan 31). Try the live music bar Los 4 Elementos. They open and play live music from 11PM until the last customer leaves. The music is great and prices are significantly lower than those found in the hotel zone clubs.
- Pericos Restaurante - cantina, Ave Yaxchilan 61. Be prepared to join the waiters for some fun games. They also play live music until around 9PM. The atmosphere is fun and relaxing, and prices are reasonable (for example $230 for a large delicious plate of fish or shrimp). Their dessert serving is quite a show.
- 77 Sports Bars, Ave Yaxchilan.
- La Taberna, Ave Yaxchilan.
- El Pabilo Cafe, Ave Yaxchilan.
Cancun is in the state of Quintana Roo, at the north-eastern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. During the ‘70s it became an exclusive tourist destination, after the construction of the first hotels. Cancun is divided into two very distinct areas: the hotel area, an island separated from the mainland, connected by two bridges in the North and the South. In the interior is the lagoon called Nichupté. The second area is the centre of the modern city of Cancun, full of shops, restaurants and shows.
Cancún has a large range of 3-5 star hotels in the "hotel zone" and some more economical hotels in the city center.
Note that several aging resorts located on and around Punta Cancun are now relying upon heavily discounted vacation packages or all-inclusive deals to fill rooms. They market themselves heavily as a great bargain to starving college students as well as working-class and lower middle class tourists, many of whom are going overseas for their first time. The result is that Punta Cancun is jam-packed with people who can barely afford to be on vacation and perpetuate all the "ugly American" bad tourist stereotypes. If you prefer to spend your vacations around people who can handle their liquor and are sensible enough to only yell in real emergencies, it may be worth it to splurge on a newer resort in the central or southern part of the Hotel Zone. Then you can save Punta for a brief day trip, mainly to reassure yourself why you are paying $100 more per day for a much quieter (and more pleasant) experience.
- Hostel Quetzal, Calle Orquideas num 10, ☎ +52 988 893 9821, . A great hostel in downtown Cancun. Price includes dinner and breakfast. It is very social with everyone sitting down for dinner together every night. Close to Ave Tulum and ADO bus. They have dorms and private rooms.
- Las Palmas Hostel, Calle Palmeras #43 (off Calle Uxmal), ☎ +52 8842513. checkout: noon. Just three blocks west of ADO bus terminal. A/C dormitories with clean bathrooms and showers en suite and secure lockers. Ample double rooms, kitchen and (unreliable) internet access. Free continental breakfast. However, no hot water and beds falling apart. Noise throughout the night from nearby disco. Dorms from $120, doubles from $300 with fan, $350 with A/C.
- Villa Playa Blanca, Carretera Puerto Juarez-PuntaSam Km 3.8 SM86M4L11 fracciones 1 y 2 (A lado del restaurante Flamingos), ☎ +52 19981098275 ([email protected]), . checkout: 1PM. 10 min by bus from downtown (buses leaving every 5 minutes for $4.50). Very quiet and with a nice ambiance. Good rooms and free breakfast in bed every morning. Free wifi, swimming pool and views. Ask for the room "La Palma", it's $400, but you have more than 50² m of space. Doubles from $350 (A/C).
- Hotel Rivemar, Av Tulum 51, ☎ 01 998 884 1199, . In the downtown area near the bus station. $330 for a private, two-bed room for two people. $440 if you want air conditioning. Free wifi Internet. Front desk help is very friendly. You can keep your bags at the hotel even after checking out. You can take the Rt. 1 bus to the hotel/beaches district for $8.50.
- Temptation Resort and Spa (Temptation Resort Cancun), Blvd Kukulkan Km 3, ☎ +52 998 848 7900 ([email protected], fax: 52+(998) 848 7994), . checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. 2-3 star with 3 restaurants. Reservations to be made from 10AM-11AM the previous day. Internet is US$15 per 24 hr. Beach front is calm mainly for boat use. (21.147153,-86.791338)
- Avalon Baccara Cancun, Blvd Kukulkan | Zona Hotelera. Small hotel but cozy. Central A/C, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi in the lobby. Swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves tasty food with ocean view. No jaccuzi, but you can use the jacuzzi and swimming pool at their sister hotel Avalon Grande that's nearby.
- Sea Adventure Resort & Spa Cancun (Sea Adventure Resort Cancun), Km. 1.5 Carretera a Puerto Juarez-Punta Sam, ☎ "52 ([email protected], fax: 52 (998) 848 7994). checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. 2-3 star with 3 restaurants. Reservations to be made from 10AM-11AM the previous day. Internet is US$15 per 24 hr. Sea Adventure Resort & Waterpark Cancun is our family hotel where you will enjoy your most fun-packed yet relaxing (21.201802,-86.805366)
- Parador Hotel, Ave Tulum N°26, SM 5, MZA 5, Lote 1, Col Centro, ☎ +52 998 884 9696, . *<sleep name="La Cabaña Playa Secreta" alt="" address="Playa del Secreto, lote 28, D y C Carretera federal Cetumal Puerto Juarez Km 312-400" directions="" phone="+52 998 914 0115" url="http://www.cabanaplayasecreta.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax="" hours="" geo="" tags=""> From $510. (,""A/C,)
- Maria’s Kankin, Km. 4.5 Carretera al Parque El Garrafón, Fraccionamiento Mar Turquesa, Isla Mujeres, ☎ +52 998 877 0015, . Marias Kankin is on Isla Mujeres. The hotel is about 50 min from the Cancun airport. Ferry boats also shuttle back and forth from the mainland. 9 suites in minimalist, Caribbean-inspired décor, each A/C suite has a mini-bar, internet, sofa bed, and writing desk & chair.
- Crown Paradise Club - All Inclusive Resort - Cancun, Blvd Kukulkan Km 18.5 | Zona Hotelera. Water park for the kids with a pirate ship and 8 water slides, a la carte and buffet dining, adult only areas, mini golf, disco, nightly entertainment.
- Oasis Cancun, Blvd Kukulkan, ☎ +52 998 881 7000, . Resort with a college-aged crowd. The rooms are clean and surprisingly spacious for the price. The pool is generally crowded during peak times but is large and features several swim-up bars. The bad part is that since the Oasis is all-inclusive you basically get what you pay for, the food and drinks are not the best quality. The buffet-style restaurants are bland and the food can get quite repetitive. An exception is the sushi restaurant. All bars also stop serving alcohol at midnight, which is unfortunate, but there is a 24 hr liquor store right across from the resort with prices somewhat expensive for Mexico. They also sell absinthe.
- RIU Cancun, Blvd Kukulcan Km 8.5, Manzana 50, Lote 5 | Zona Hotelera. Resort with views of the Caribbean Sea. Several restaurants and bars. Choice of activities and entertainment options, including a sports bar, night club and theatre with theme shows.
- RIU Caribe, Blvd Kukulcan, Km 5.5, Lote 6-C. All inclusive resort with Mayan-style architecture overlooking the Caribbean. 506 oceanview rooms with mini-bar and liquor dispenser. Several restaurants, bars and facilities including 24 hr Inclusive snacks and beverages. Fun and relaxing atmosphere created by the large swimming pool and spectacular beach.
- The Royal Resorts ; The Royal Resorts have been around since 1974 and include a string of 4 hotels all in close vicinity of each other. The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander are side by side where as the newest hotel, The Royal Sands is no more than a five minute ride in bus. The Royal Resorts offer beautiful villas that overlook the Gulf of Mexico. Each villa is equipped with a kitchen, two bathrooms two bedrooms, one with two double beds, one with a queen sized bed, a living room with two murphy beds, three televisions, one in each room and a terrace that overlooks the other two hotels as well as the Carribean Sea. These hotels include free activities such as snorkeling and sailing in the ocean, tennis, and free beach towels. Also on the premises are a number of different restaurants and bars at which the vacationers may dine.
- Soberanis Hotel ; in downtown. It is 3 km to the beach and 15 km to Isla Mujeres. The airport is 20 km away. The rooms are all air-conditioned. They have cable television, a private toilet and bath, and safe. the rooms are further equipped with an IDD telephone, Internet access, and writing desk and chair. Rates include daily breakfast. Non-smoking rooms are available.
- Sotavento Hotel and Yacht Club, Blvd. Kukulcan Km 4 Zona Hotelera, Calle del Pescador, Lote D-8-4, ☎ +52 998 849 4707, . In front of Nichupte Laguna and is within walking distance to sandy beaches and downtown area. The airport is also nearby. Internet and cableTV. Non-smoking rooms can be requested. From US$40.
- Soberanis Hotel, ☎ +52 998 884 4564 ([email protected]), . Refurbished with 78 rooms including dorms and private rooms. All the services of a city hotel. From US$54.
- Mayafair Design Hotel, . Nearby to the beach.
- CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, +52 998 881 2000, (Fax: +52 998 881 2085), . Completely renovated in the wake of Hurricane Wilma. 418 rooms and 34 suites. Each room has a private balcony with a table and chairs. 3 restaurants on-site, including a steakhouse, a Japanese restaurant and a sports bar. The beach in front of the resort has been restored, as has the pool area. The hotel itself tends to be priced on the higher side for Cancun, but that also tends to weed out the younger crowd. This resort is adjacent to the JW Marriott Cancun and is directly connected to it through a pathway.
- Casa Turquesa Boutique Hotel, Blvd Kukulcan KM 13.5, Zona Hotelera (Next to Luxury Shopping Mall), ☎ +52 998 193 2260, . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12noon. 29 suite boutique hotel has amenities including an infinity pool with swim up bar, spa, free WiFi, two restaurants and an onsite art gallery. Suites have 32” flat screen satellite TV, minibar and full bathrooms with separate bathtub and shower. Jacuzzi on the terrace/balcony. Airport transportation can be arranged. Rates depended upon room category/season. $267-$2579.
- ClubMed, Punta Nizuc 77500, Estado de Quinatana Roo, ☎ +52 998 881 8200. An all inclusive resort. A short distance outside the town, at the tip of the bay. The Caribbean Sea is on one side and on the other is a lagoon. Club Med was the first to establish itself here around 30 years ago. Traditional central square, bungalow-haciendas and speciality restaurants.
- Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa, Punta Cancun Zona Hotelera, ☎ +52 998 848 7000, . Situated at the shore point known as Punta Cancun and surrounded by the sea on 3 sides. All rooms have private balcony views of the ocean, beaches, lagoon or gardens. Marble floors, dining area, mini-bar, satelliteTV and 24 hr room service. Several have private whirlpools. A pod of 6 dolphins live in the resorts lagoon. Swim with the dolphin programs are available for guests and the general public.
- Temptation Resort Spa Cancun, Km. 3.5 Blvd Kukulcan. Zona Hotelera, ☎ + 52 998 848-7900 ([email protected], fax: + 52 998 848 7994), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: noon. A hip vibe is the hallmark of this beachfront, topless optional hotel.
- Sea Adventure Resort and Waterpark, Km. 1.5 Carretera a Puerto Juarez-Punta Sam, ☎ " ([email protected], fax: +52 998 848 7994), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: noon. Family hotel offers activities for children and events for adults.
- Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancún Resort & Spa, Blvd. Kukulcán km. 9.5, Zona Hotelera, ☎ +52 998 881 3200, . AAA 5 Diamond resort has 602 rooms. The hotel is outwardly hostile toward same sex couples. 5 restaurants, one of which is the Le Basilic restaurant is one of only three 5 diamond restaurants found in Mexico. 4 bars, a spa, fitness and business center, a very long swimming pool, and a sun deck.
- Gran Melia Cancun , Kukulcan Blvd, km 16.5, Zona Hotelera, ☎ +52 998 193 0090. Well known for its white sandy beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea. 4 pools, specialized a la carte restaurants, and activities program for children and adults. 9 hole, par three golf course, a tennis court, 2 paddle tennis courts and has received an award from The Leading Hotels of the World as a Leading Spa of the World.
- Hilton Golf and Spa Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, Km 17, Lote, ☎ +52 998 881 8000, (Fax:+52 998 881 8093), . The only Golf & Spa Resort on the island. 426 ocean-view rooms, including 82 villas with a private lounge and executive services; 5 restaurants, including a gourmet-dining beachside grill and swim up bar; 7 infinity pools and the largest beach in Cancun. If you are having trouble with the local food, try the hotel's club sandwich.
- Hyatt Cancun Caribe Resort, Blvd Kukulkan, km 10.5, Zona Hotelera (in the hotel zone), ☎ +52 998 848 7800 ([email protected]), . 5 star hotel with 296 rooms and views of the Mexican Caribbean. The hotel is within walking distance of the main entertainment areas and shopping malls.
- Hyatt Regency Cancun, Blvd Kukulcan, km 8.5, Zona Hotelera, ☎ +52 998 891 5555 ([email protected]), . 5 star hotel with a seafront location. 295 rooms.
- JW Marriott Cancun Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, Km 14.5, Lote, Zona Hotelera ☎ +52 998 848 9600, (Fax: +52 998 848 9601), . Adjacent to the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and has a connected pathway. 448 rooms with private balconies and views of the Caribbean. 35,000² ft Mayan-inspired spa., 4 world-class restaurants and over 20,000² ft of meeting space. Caters to Mexico weddings, events and conferences.
- Live Aqua Cancún, Blvd Kukulcan 12.5 km, ☎ +52 998 881 7600, . 371 deluxe rooms, including 36 suites. The modern design is stunning. The service is a close second but the rooms are small. 3 restaurants, including one by celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein, 1 by chef Franco Maddalozzo, and a Mexican restaurant. There is also a wine and mescal bar. 8 pools which vary in temperature and 12 spa treatment rooms. The hotel is reserved for adults.
- ME Cancun , Blvd Kukulkan, km. 12, Zona Hotelera, ☎ +52 998 881 2500. Rooms offer views, custom art and furnishings by artist Yuri Zatarain, monsoon showers and Aveda bath amenities, MP3 player docking and digital, surround-sound theater.
- Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas, Blvd Kukulcan, L-48 KM. 16.5 M.55, ☎ +52 998 881 0600, . 5 star resort between the Mexican Caribbean and Nichupte Lagoon on Cancun Island. 341 guest rooms and villas with full service spa.
- Paradisus Riveiera Cancun Resort, SM. 11 MZ., 9 Lote 10 Puerot Morelos, ☎ +52 998 872 8383, . All inclusive resort stretches along a lush tropical mangrove preserve on a 5,000 ft long Caribbean coastline.
- Riu Palace Las Americas, (hotel zone), . 372 suites, ocean views, and all-inclusive dining, beverages and entertainment.
- Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, ☎ +52 998 872 8300, . 90 suites, all have balcony/deck with ocean views, daily serving of champagne and fresh fruit, complimentary unlimited calls worldwide, welcome bottle of tequila and handmade beach bag. Hydrothalasoo pool and aqua gym, spa with private massage cabins and jacuzzi, and chauffeured airport transfer. From US$416.
- Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort, KM. 12.5 Blvd Kukulcan, Zona Hotelera, ☎ (52)(998) 891 4200, . Beautiful resort with full service spa and an infinity pool.
Riu Palace Peninsula- New 5 star all inclusive resort with 572 ocean view suites and 5 large swimming pools, Including one with swim up bar. Also 5 restaurants in resort.
You could also try out the growing vacation rental market as well. It's a chance to experience Cancun without having to share close spaces with thousands of tourists. They are an alternative if you are willing to go without the frills of room service or resort commodities.
Most resorts in the hotel zone have a travel agent on site during the daytime to assist you with making reservations around Cancun, including the Mayan ruins. It is often better to book activities through these travel agents as they are employed by the hotel and cannot easily cheat you. Activities are also sold at booths found in the busier areas. Prices for the same activities are cheaper in Cancun town than in the hotel zone.
It is highly recommended that you buy bottled water. Bottled water, depending on size, typically costs $30-50 (US$2.75-4.55).
Otherwise, do not drink the water unless your hotel has a water purification system. Most of the resorts in Cancun have purified water at all of the facilities located inside the resorts including the bars and restaurants. The upper-scale restaurants usually have purified water as well, but the water outside of these areas is not safe to drink.
The sun's UV rays are extremely strong in Cancun, even on cloudy days, and will burn any exposed skin on most persons from northern climates within a few minutes. Sunscreens that may be adequate elsewhere may not be sufficient in Cancun.
Because Cancun has powerful waves (see below), do not assume your sunscreen layer will remain intact. Always apply a fresh layer of sunscreen after taking a dip in the ocean.
Expect to be inundated with offers to get free tickets, tours, or other items in exchange for viewing a timeshare presentation while in Cancun. While you will generally be given what is promised for viewing the presentation, expect a very high pressure sales pitch lasting from one to two hours during which you may be given incorrect information or promises that later turn out to be untrue. In particular, despite claims of agencies that can buyback your timeshare, most timeshares are a money-losing proposition for purchasers. As with any major purchase, take the time to research before buying - claims that you must buy something right now should always be treated with skepticism. See also Common scams.
Ocean Currents— The ocean currents in Cancun, depending on the season you visit, can be strong. While the currents may not be strong enough to pull you under, keep your guard up at all times. Look for the coloured flags that are planted on the beach as well as ask your hotel's concierge or a lifeguard (if one is available). As a rule of thumb, if you're not a strong swimmer (or a non-swimmer) it is best to stick to the hotel's pool for water fun. Remember, beaches in Mexico are Federal Zones with no life guards on duty, lifeguards may only be found within the beaches at the hotels.
Weather— Cancun is a place where the weather can change in a matter of minutes rather than hours. As in most tropical places, rain storms will start quickly and leave as quickly as it came. When a storm lingers, use caution in the water; especially when lightning is present.
Timeshare and condos are a big business all over Yucatan, especially Cancun. "Tourist information" is another word for sales representative. If someone is offering you an "free" tour to anyplace or at a discount this means a 90 minute or longer presentation about condos and time-shares. There are 20 reps waiting on the righthand side when you arrive at the Cancun airport. There are also reps in Mexico city attracting tourists with free Xe-Hal and Chichen Ha tours. These timeshare presentations are not always a waste of time. Some of these timeshare presentations offer coupons or other free offers which can total to several thousand dollars of savings during your trip if you are willing to endure the presentation.
Nothing is free- Most important lesson. Someone comes up to you and says you want a shot of tequlia? Come on its fun. This means you have not negotiated the price.
Don't use ATMs out of the banks- There are ATMs all over Cancun. Use only ones that are inside banks or your hotel. Pharmacies, stores, gas stations are to be avoided. You will become a victim of identity theft or you will find big charges for the commission of using them.
The Buddy System- If you plan to have a long night out in the strip, take precautions and have a friend with you at all times (even walking to the bathroom). Unsuspecting tipsy tourists can be easy targets for petty robbery.
- Chichén Itzá Archaeological Site— The largest Maya archaeological site in Yucatan, Chichen Itza is often visited on a day trip from Cancun, but is rather distant and only a small portion of the site and attractions can be seen this way. If you find the ancient Maya of interest, spend a night at one of the hotels at Chichen so you can avoid having a rushed incomplete visit. You can take a public bus or a private vehicle, about 2 1/2 hours from Cancun by car. Also, close to the site is a cenote, which is a fresh water sinkhole, where you can swim. The Kukulcán Pyramid, one of the most impressive Maya structures and voted one of the World's New Seven Wonders, is now closed off to climbing to preserve it from wear.
- Tulum— The only major Maya archaeological site to overlook the Caribbean Sea is only 128 km (80 mi) south of Cancun. Not one of the larger Maya sites, but the seaside location gives it a beautiful setting. Bus services from Cancun run around 2 hrs and cost $60. Tulum contains over 60 different structures and is believed to be one of the most important ceremonial sites for the Maya people. This archaeological zone that date back more than 7 centuries show the remains of a huge walled city with roads, homes and businesses by the sea. The major highlight of Tulum is El Castillo which is a large pyramid that sits on a forty-foot cliff. El Castillo is thought to be a part of a series of lighthouses. The architecture is similar to Chichen Itza but on a much smaller scale; unlike Chichen Itza, you are not allowed to go inside or climb on the pyramids.
- Isla Mujeres— A great break from the Cancun tourist traps. This small island is just a 20 minute ferry ride from the hotel zone or from Puerto Juárez Federal Dock, located 5 minutes from downtown Cancun. Rent a scooter to get around the island fast and cheap. There is a beautiful ecological water theme park, Garrafon , with splendid vistas on land and a magical underwater world.
- Cozumel— A very pretty island and the most inhabited in all of Mexico, it is also an important Caribbean port of call. Chankanaab National Park is located here. Well known for its watersport activities such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, boating and fishing.
- Coba— A beautiful site; it was one the largest Maya cities in ancient times, but much is still hidden under lush jungle. It boasts the tallest pyramid of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Nohoch Mul. Muyil boasts a lake surrounded by many Maya constructions.
- Valladolid is a small city dating from the Spanish Colonial era with lots of period local charm, between Cancun and Chichen Itza. The selection of hotels and restaurants makes it a nice base for a night or two; it's a good deal closer to Chichen, and other impressive Maya ruins at Ek Balam are only about 15 minutes north of town.
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