Cancun's White Sand and Turquoise Water
photo by Kyle Simourd

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 comprised of fourteen miles of pristine white beaches shaped like a number "7", home to Mayan 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 minutes) or Tulum (1 hour). Playa del Carmen (45 minutes, MXN$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.

Getting there

By plane

Cancún International Airport (IATA : CUN) (ICAO : MMUN) is Mexico's second busiest airport. It is about 10km (6 miles) from the hotel strip and 16km (9 miles) 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 time and money on your vacation don't stop to chit-chat about booking tours and such. There is plenty of time for that after you get settled in.

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.

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. To get to the buses, go outside the main building 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 pesos ($30).

Beware of leaving Mexico with enough money. The Mexican Government charges a travel tax of around 500 pesos ($46) 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.

Also beware of going through security too early. Food and drink prices almost double and you can't easily go back.

By car

For safety purposes, it is not recommended that visitors rent a car (this may be something the taxi drivers have encouraged). However, this applies anywhere that you are not familiar with. Some of the roads are well maintained here, and others may be sand or have potholes big enough to swallow a VW. If you are driving during daylight hours, keep an eye out for the buses, trucks, people and shuttles on the main roads, the side roads are a little rougher, but traffic is far less distracting. Police officers may sometimes pull you over, even for a minor violation, and ask for a bribe to let you off the hook, this may apply more to younger visitors, than say, those over thirty. If you are pulled over, be respectful to the police officer and don't do anything that would worsen the situation. Unless you are planning to explore outside of the "Hotel Zone" or downtown, a car is not necessary and may be more of a burden than an asset. Alternative transportation is plentiful and inexpensive 24/7.

If you plan on parking in the nightlife area of Cancun or in downtown Cancun, it can be frustrating to find a parking spot.

A common rule of thumb for night driving is not to drive in the first place. Driving at night can be very dangerous especially in areas that are well away from the city. These areas may not be lit very well or may be completely unlit. Some of the common scenarios can be cars without their headlights on, robbery, potholes, and even jaywalkers among others.

A few tips and recommendations for driving in Cancun if that is necessary:

  • Get insurance, and then get some more insurance. Driving in Mexico is pretty crazy. It's not as bad as most Central American and Caribbean locations, but it is crazy all the same. Accidents happen, especially to tourists. Your personal insurance will probably (almost certainly) not cover you in Mexico, even if you were under the impression that they would. Be sure you check the deductible as well, because often the deductible is 10% of the value of the car, and rarely would repairs in Mexico cost anywhere near that.

  • Check and double check for dings and scratches. Even AVIS, Budget, Hertz, Europcar and the other big rental car companies will charge you for stuff that you didn't do. When you start your review of the car before you take it off the lot, mark every single ding, dent, and especially window crack. If you don't mark them, you will probably be charged for them.

  • It is common practice in Mexico for transit police to remove the front license plates from cars when they have a parking violation (and there are some weird rules that aren't posted). If this plate is taken you will have to go to the police department, pay your fine and then retrieve your plate, it's a real pain. Often, renters don't even notice that the plate has been removed and return their car to the rental company without the tag. The company will charge you a bunch of money to get it back. Some rental car companies are removing the front license plate and putting credentials on a piece of paper in the front window. You might ask if a car like that is available. Additionally some mount the license plates with one way screws (AVIS and Budget do this I think), but I don't know how effective that is.

  • Highway 307 out of Cancun is really a pretty good road. Try not to drive when it is raining, the road floods unexpectedly and is generally very slick. In towns, especially Cancun, there are pot holes everywhere. These are probably the most dangerous part of driving in Mexico and do the kind of damage that car rental companies will get you for.

  • Watch out for topes. These are speed bumps, or speed mountains might be a better word. They tend to crop up in the middle of the highways before you enter towns and occasionally have signs that warn you, but more often than not signs are not displayed or are obscured in some way. These are extremely good ways to maintain the speed limit and you will find that after hitting one going sixty, your eyes remain constantly on the road and you watch your speed.

  • Unconventional bypasses — It is very common in Mexico for the highway to split into two different lanes in the same direction when passing through a town (Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos are two examples). The inner lane is for left turns and those people passing through town. The right lane is called the ejidal (community) road and is for access to any of the roads on the right side. If you get on the bypass, you CANNOT turn right and if you get on the ejidal, you CANNOT turn left. You also cannot change lanes through town, you have to make the decision where the road splits.

  • If you get in an accident with a taxi or bus, call or wait for the police. Never argue with a taxista or bus driver, they are union and really stick together. Usually they will just accept a little cash for the damage and you can go on your way, this can be decided on your own (most taxi drivers speak at least a little English) or with a policeman present.

  • Often two lane roads will have huge shoulders on the right and left. These are for you to move to if a car comes up behind you. If a car comes up behind you on one these roads, simple pull over a little and they will pass. You can signal that it is safe for someone to pass by turning on your left turn signal (I know it sounds weird, but that's the local custom). Additionally, if there are cars coming in the other direction, it is advisable to pull over a little onto the shoulder so that they can freely pass as well, they will assume that you are going to do so and start their pass even before you do.

  • Windshields — Perhaps the most common type of problem that renters face is broken windows. Trucks have virtually no laws that govern how they can carry materials and in the Peninsula there are lots and lots of limestone mines. You can watch these limestone pebbles bounce out of the back of dump trucks up and down 307, bounces 5 or 6 feet high even on the third or fourth bounces. Windshields getting broken is extremely common.

  • Gas stations — Occasionally gas station attendants will avoid resetting the gas pump after the last person and try to charge you for the last bill and yours. I have never actually experienced this, but do notice that attendants in the Mayan Riviera and Cancun are now showing you (and making sure that you look) that the pumps have zeroed out before they start pumping.

By bus

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 hrs.).

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.

Traveling around

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.

By bus

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.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful, a bit expensive for the hotel zone and airport, but cheap in the downtown. 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 pesos 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.

By car

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 above "By car" section on getting into Cancun by car 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.

Things to do

  • 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. 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 46 mi south of Cancun and less than 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). Another great place to swim with dolphins is Delphinus Dreams .

  • 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 McDonalds along with more local Mexican foods.

  • Hidden Worlds Cenote Adventure Park , 9-5, Tulum, 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.


  • Mikado , 52 998 881 2000, 5:30PM - 11:00PM, Blvd. Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera, CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Japanese and Thai cuisine featuring teppanyaki tables.

  • La Capilla Argentina , 52 998 881 2000, Blvd. Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera, CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Argentine steakhouse with a Mediterranean flair.

  • Champions Sports Bar , 52 998 881 2000, 12PM - 2AM, Blvd. Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera, CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Stepped up bar food with all the games on over 40 screens.

  • Simply Seafood , 52 998 848 9600 ext 6637, Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 14.5, Lote 40-A, Zona Hotelera, JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, Simply Seafood serves off the boat seafood in traditional Caribbean style.

  • Gustino , 52 998 848 9600 ext 6637, Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 14.5, Lote 40-A, Zona Hotelera, JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, 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, ( e-mail:, . 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. Daily 6:30PM-11:30PM 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 the best wine.

  • Las Tortugas, Plaza Las Avenidas, 8876209. Serving tortas, a kind of Mexican sandwich.The best in town.

  • 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 , 998/885-1086, 998/885-1087, Daily 1PM-midnight, Bulevar Kukulcán Km 12.65, across from Kukulcán Plaza, Cancún Island, Combines some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine in the hotel zone with good service and medium price. Very good tequila.

  • Atotonilco, 8AM-6PM, Mercado 28 downtown Cancun, Right across from El Cejas, An extremely good sampling of Mexican food from all around the country. Excellent value. Nothing fancy but a gastronomical delight. Try the

  • Silk Asian Bistro, , Boulevard Kukulkan, km. 12. The menu is comprised of a well-crafted combination of traditional favorites such as sushi and sashimi and soy paper vegetarian rolls alongside bolder creations to create a total sensory experience. Guests can also enjoy the theatrical experience of Silk´s Teppanyaki stations where talented chefs whip up culinary delights right before guest´s eyes.


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.

Make sure to check out Carlos and Charlie's, Coronaville and Coco Bongo, which are still within the Hotel Zone. Don't be surprised to 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 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.

For some deeper nightlife The City, O Ultra Lounge,Dady'Oand BASIC DISCOTHEQUE CANCUN are options within the hotel zone. The City 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. O' Ultra Lounge 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. Dady'o has been known to host some of the world's top DJs, including Tiësto. BASIC DISCOTHEQUE CANCUN is the only night club over the lagoon with an amazing half opened architecture wich offers an extraordinary view and the best wet t´shirt and bikini contest of Cancun, you will never forget the party at these place. These clubs can charge large covers ranging from US$20 to US$60 per person, though the cover can include an open bar.

Also try the clubs at Yaxchilan Avenue, located in downtown Cancun, where all the locals hang out. Try the live music bar Los 4 Elementos inside Hotel Xbalamque (Ave Yaxchilan 31). They play live music from 9PM until the last customer leaves! The music is great and prices are significantly lower than those found in the hotel zone clubs. Some other clubs worth visiting in Yaxchilan Avenue are La Taberna, 77 Sports Bar and El Pabilo Cafe.

The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but it is not strongly enforced.


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 to 5 star hotels in the "hotel zone" and some more economical hotels in the city center.


  • International Club Hostel , +52 988 8 98 26 73, +52 988 8 98 26 73, Calle Orquideas num 7 Sm 22 mza 14, now closed

  • Las Palmas Hostel, +52 8842513, Calle Palmeras #43 (off Calle Uxmal), Just three blocks west of ADO bus terminal. Airconditioned dormitories with clean bathrooms and showers en suite and secure lockers. Ample double rooms with kitchen and internet access. Quiet location off the main road.

  • Temptation Resort and Spa , +52 998 848 7900, Blvd Kukulkan Km 3, Cancun, ROO 77500, 2-3 Star place, Temptation Resort and spa has 3 fancy restaurants with reservations to be made from 10AM to 11AM the previous day. Internet access is $15 dollars for 24hrs. Beach front is calm mainly for boat use.

  • Villa Playa Blanca , +52 19981098275, +52 19981098275, Carretera Puerto Juarez-PuntaSam Km 3.8 SM86M4L11 fracciones 1 y 2, A lado del restaurante Flamingos, 10 minutes by bus from downtown (buses leaving every 5 minutes for 4,5 pesos). Very quiet and with a nice ambiance. The place could be (and according to the owner will be soon) more expensive. Now it's a bargain. You get excellent rooms and free breakfast in your bed every morning, all for a good price. Free Wi-fi, swimming pool and incredible views. Ask for the room


  • Maria’s Kankin , (52) 998-8770015, Km. 4.5 Carretera al Parque El Garrafón, Fraccionamiento Mar Turquesa, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Marias Kankin is on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The hotel is about 50 minutes from the Cancun airport. Ferry boats also shuttle back and forth from the mainland. As the sunset looms, take it easy and rest in any of Marias Kankin’s nine (9) suites. Decked in minimalist, Caribbean-inspired décor, each air-conditioned suite is furnished with a mini-bar, Internet access, sofa bed, and writing desk & chair.

  • Crown Paradise Club - All Inclusive Resort - Cancun, Blvd. Kukulkan Km 18.5 | Zona Hotelera, Cancun 77500. Crown Paradise Club Resort offers an inclusive package with amenities such as a water park for the kids with a pirate ship and 8 water slides, excellent a la carte and buffet dining, adult only areas, mini golf, disco, nightly entertainment.

  • RIU Cancun, Blvd Kukulcan Km 8.5, Manzana 50, Lote 5 | Zona Hotelera, Quintana Roo, Cancun 77500. An all inclusive resort with views of the Caribbean Sea. Several fine restaurants and bars. Choice of activities and entertainment options, including a popular sports bar, night club and theatre with theme shows.

  • Oasis Cancun, Blvd Kukulkan, 52 998 881 70 00, . A pretty good resort for the college-aged crowd. The rooms are clean and surprisingly spacious for the price. Although, the best part about the hotel is clearly the beaches and pools. 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 twenty-four hour liquor store right across from the resort with reasonable prices, somewhat expensive for Mexico but slightly less expensive than alcohol in the United States. They also sell absinthe.

  • RIU Caribe, Blvd. Kukulcan, Km 5.5, Lote 6-C, Cancun 77500. All inclusive resort with Mayan-style architecture overlooking the Caribbean. Features 506 luxurious oceanview rooms with amenities such as a mini-bar and liquor dispenser. There is a wide array of restaurants, bars and facilities to enjoy, including 24-hour All 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 four 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 ; Soberanis Hotel is in downtown Cancun, Mexico. It is 3 km to the beach and 15 km to Isla Mujeres. The airport is 20 km away. The rooms at Hotel Soberanis 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 , 52 998 8494707, Blvd. Kukulcan Km 4 Zona Hotelera, Calle del Pescador, Lote D-8-4, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Sotavento Hotel in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico is in Cancun's hotel zone. It sits in front of Nichupte Laguna and is within walking distance to Cancun's sandy beaches and downtown area. The airport is also nearby. Your affordable accommodation in Cancun features entertaining amenities, such as Internet access and cable television. Non-smoking rooms can be requested.

  • Soberanis Hotel , 52 998 8844564, 52 998 8844564, This hotel is one of the first hotels bult in Cancun, the property was totally refurbished. It offers 78 rooms including dorms and private rooms. All the services of a city hotel. Av coba 5 y 7 mza 8, SM 22 C.P.


  • CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, 52 998 881 2000, (Fax: 52 998 881 2085), . The CasaMagna Cancun has been completely renovated in the wake of the devastation brought to Cancun by Hurricane Wilma. The resort features 418 rooms and 34 suites. Each room has a private balcony with a table and chairs. The hotel has 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.

  • ClubMed, (52) 998 881 82 00, Punta Nizuc 77500, Estado de Quinatana Roo, An all inclusive resort. A short distance outside the town, at the tip of the bay, on one of the most beautiful sites of Cancún, this Club Med resort is flanked on one side by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and on the other by a delightful lagoon. Almost thirty years ago, Club Med was the first to establish itself here on a beach of white sand with gardens of coloured coral no distance from Tuba and the superb Mayan, Aztec and Toltec sites, all within reach of a short excursion. Traditional central square, bungalow-haciendas and speciality restaurants.

  • Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa , +52 (998) 848 7000, Punta Cancun Zona Hotelera, Situated at the shore point known as Punta Cancun and surrounded on three sides by the brilliant turquoise Caribbean. All rooms offer private balcony views of the ocean, beaches, lagoon or gardens. Each are luxuriously appointed with marble floors, elegant furnishings, dining area, mini-bar, satellite TV and 24-hour room service. Several provide private whirlpools and other enhanced luxury amenities and services. A pod of 6 dolphins make the resort lagoon their home. Swim with the dolphin programs are available for guests and the general public.

  • Gran Melia Cancun , Kukulcan Boulevard, km 16.5, Zona Hotelera, Cancun, Mexico 77500 Tel: (52) 998 1930090. Gran Meliá Cancun offers the elegance and comfort exclusive of the most prestigious hotels of the world. It has been awarded by the AAA with their 4 diamonds for 2007, and is well known for its white sandy beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The resort also features 4 spectacular pools, specialized “ a la carte” restaurants, and activities program for children and adults, a nine hole, par three golf course, a tennis court, two paddle tennis courts and recently awarded by 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 8818000, (Fax: 52 998 8818093), . The Hilton Cancun, is the only Golf & Spa Resort on the island. The pyramid-like hotel features 426 ocean-view rooms, including 82 secluded Villas offering a private lounge and executive services; five delightful restaurants, including a gourmet-dining beachisde grill; seven splendid infinity pools and the largest beach in Cancun. The Hilton Resort has effortlessly embraced the natural timeless wonders of the region with the contemporary features of its cosmopolitan destination. The Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort has been recognized with the AAA Four Diamond Award for over 10 years in a row and the Connie Award for best overall performing hotel within Hilton Hotels Corporation.

  • Hyatt Cancun Caribe Resort , +52 998 848 7800, +52 998 848 7800, Blvd Kukulkan, km 10.5, Zona Hotelera, Quintana Roo, in the hotel zone, 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 , +52 998 891 5555, +52 998 891 5555, Blvd Kukulcan, km 8.5, Quintana Roo, in the hotel zone, 5 star hotel with a seafront location. 295 rooms. The hotel is just steps away from world-class shopping, restaurants and the best nightlife in Cancun.

  • JW Marriott Cancun Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, Km 14.5, Lote, 52 998 8489600, (Fax: 52 998 8489601), . While traveling on a Mexico Vacation and staying in Cancun, The JW Marriott Resort offers luxury accommodations. The resort is adjacent to the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and has a connected pathway.

  • ME Cancun , Boulevard Kukulkan, km. 12, Zona Hotelera, +52-998-8812500. Individualized service is the living, breathing soul of the culture of ME. At its heart is the belief that "Everything Is Possible." The Aura Managers of ME Cancun are the key to discovering just how much fun it can be to be you, at ME Cancun. Inviting and inspiring, ME Cancun's deluxe rooms offer mesmerizing views, custom art and furnishings by artist Yuri Zatarain, essential luxuries like monsoon showers and Aveda bath amenities, and habit-forming extras like MP3 player docking and digital, surround-sound theater.

  • Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas , 52-998-881-0600, Blvd. Kukulcan, L-48 KM. 16.5 M.55, The Omni Cancun Hotel is a five-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 , (52) 998 8728383, SM. 11 MZ., 9 Lote 10 Puerot Morelos, All inclusive resort stretches along a lush tropical mangrove preserve on a 5,000 foot long Caribbean coastline. Beach is protected by the second largest coral reef formation in the world.

  • Riu Palace Las Americas , hotel zone, Riu Palace Las Americas offers 372 suites, dramatic ocean views, and all-inclusive dining, beverages and entertainment.

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.

Stay healthy

It is highly recommended that you buy bottled water. Bottled water, depending on size, typically costs 30-50 pesos (US$2.77-4.62). 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.

Get out

  • Hidden WorldsSituated 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.

  • Xcaret— Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park located about 46 mi south of Cancun and less than 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, underground rivers, beach, butterfly pavilion, orchid greenhouse, regional fauna breeding farm, Mayan village, jaguar island, among others; you can also practice water activities as snorkeling and swimming with dolphins; enjoy the Temascal and Spa services; and at night you can admire the Mexican history and folklore show “Xcaret México Espectacular”.

  • Chichén Itzá Archaeological Site— The large Mayan archaeological site of Chichen Itza is nowadays one of the World's New Seven Wonders, 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 is one of the most impressive Mayan structures. It is now closed off to climbing to preserve it from erosion.

  • Tulum— The only major Mayan archaeological site to overlook the Caribbean Sea is only 80 miles south of Cancun. Bus services from Cancun run around 2 hrs and cost 60 pesos. Tulum contains over 60 different structures and is believed to be one of the most important ceremonial sites for the Mayan 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 ruins are similar to Chichen Itza but unlike Chichen Itza, you are not allowed to go inside or climb on the pyramids.

  • Rio Secreto | Natural Reserve , a wonder made by the centuries, this cave was discovered just two years ago, its a labyrinth of endless passageways formed by ageless geological processes. Here you can walk and swim an easy 600 meter route amidst the thousands of calcified stalactites and stalagmites found in this protected natural reserve.

  • Xel-Ha — Xel-Ha is an outdoor water theme park that encompasses the range of Mexican Caribbean nature. There are natural, ecological attractions and various water activities such as snorkeling and diving in lagoons, caves and creeks, and swimming with dolphins. You can relax and admire the scenery on the lazy river or be adventurous by jumping from thirty foot ledges into the water below. Families can get their picture taken with exotic birds or swim with tropical wildlife such as sting rays. There are also a number of outdoor restaurants and bars. A fair warning about the lazy river, however, as it acts as a real river and riders have been known to get stuck in the mangroves on either side, separating them from loved ones.

  • 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 hidden by lush jungle. It boasts the tallest pyramid of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Nohoch Mul. Muyil boasts a lake surrounded by many Mayan constructions.


For the avid golfer, check online at Golf Guide Mexico for a list of the best Cancun courses.

list of Courses

El Camaleón Mayakoba

Iberostar Playa Paraiso

Playa Mujeres

Moon Spa Golf Club

Bahia Principe

Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts

Playacar Spa & Golf Club

Hilton Cancun Golf Club

Cancun Country Club

El Manglar Golf Course

Cozumel Country Club

Cancun Golf Club at Pok Ta Pok


Cancun is home to the 2009 CONCACAF champions league winner, Atlante F.C. of the Mexican Primera División.


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 ATM's out of the banks- There are ATM's 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.

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.

Contact & location

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