Cancun Travel Guide

Cancún has a glitzy hotel zone with its famous white-sand beaches, unabashed party scene and sophisticated seafood restaurants. Then there’s the actual city itself, with neighborhood taco joints and undeveloped beaches.

Tired of raucous discos in the hotel zone? Escape to a downtown salsa club. Tired of lounging around the pool in Ciudad Cancún? Simply hop on a bus and head for the sapphire waters of the hotel zone.

Or even better, venture out and explore more of Quintana Roo state. Just a day trip away from Cancún, the pristine national park of Isla Contoy beckons with a fascinating variety of bird and plant species. Cobá, with its Maya ruins, jungle, and croc-infested lagoon seems like a different world. Even further south, is Bacalar’s lagoon.  To learn more about the Yucatan Peninsula go here, or visit the beautiful beaches of the Yucatan peninsula.  Enjoy reading everything you need for a Cozumel Travel beach vacation.  Now read our Cancun Travel Guide and start planning your beach vacation today.

When to Go (Weather)

Cancun’s location gives it sunny, warm weather throughout most of the year, with temperatures reaching the nineties in the summer, and staying around the eighties the rest of the year. May brings the beginning of the rainy season, with showers and thunderstorms in the evenings all the way through October. Hurricane season usually runs from June to November, and March and April bring a different kind of threat: spring breakers.

Entry & Exit Requirements

You’ll need a passport to visit Mexico, plus a tourism card (FMM) that can be issued at any Mexican consulate, border-crossing point, Mexican tourism office, or directly from your airline. FMMs are usually issued free of charge upon arrival. Be sure to hold onto this card for the duration of your trip, as you will need to present it upon departing the country. It’s also a good idea to leave your passport and FMM in a secure location and carry a photocopy of both documents with you at all times.

Getting Around in Cancún

By Bus

Cancún has an excellent bus system that motors through the Hotel Zone on Boulevard Kukulcán as well as Avenida Tulum in the downtown area. You can flag down drivers along the strip; once inside the bus, you’ll find the stop-request button located above the handrails. Cancún buses charge a flat rate of 8.5 Mexican pesos per ride.  If you’d like to travel in luxury, Bus One is the only air-conditioned bus in the Hotel Zone and costs 11 pesos. There are also regional buses that take tourists to and from Chichén Itzá and nearby tourist towns like Tulum and Playa del Carmen. These buses leave from the downtown area at the intersection of Avenida Tulum and Uxmal.

By Taxi

Taxis aren’t all that expensive, unless you compare it to the cost of taking the bus. The reception desk at your hotel can give you a zone card to determine taxi fare, but you should also negotiate the price with the driver before entering the cab.

By Foot

You’ll have no trouble walking to the beach from your hotel. Walking is also an option along some parts of Boulevard Kukulcán, particularly if you’re situated around the northern part of the strip (or the curve in Cancún’s “7” shape). But most of the area is too spread out to explore on foot.

By Ferry

You should visit Isla Mujeres at least one day of your trip. To do so, take a ferry from the Punta Sam, Puerto Juarez or Gran Puerto. Ferries from Punta can accommodate personal transportation like bikes and cars.

Staying Safe

Cancún has largely avoided the drug violence that has afflicted much of Mexico in the past decade. But while crime against tourists is especially low, the U.S. State Department advises constant vigilance. Your most important safety concern in Cancún is likely to be in the water. Beware of rough surf and only swim when supervised by a lifeguard. White or green beach flags signify safe waters while yellow or orange flags advise caution. If you see a red flag, swimming is prohibited.

Must See Places

Chichen Itza, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeChichen Itza

Chichén Itzá is a large Mayan archaeological site and one of the most notable and recognized landmarks on the Yucatán. The site itself was originally a main hub of Mayan civilization and has since been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The focal point of the ruins is the pyramid-like El Castillo that was once used by Mayans as a temple for worship.

Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeIsla Mujeres

Despite the island’s sleepy reputation, it hosts a few sites worth checking out. One is the Hacienda Mundaca, the ruined mansion of a 19th-century slave trader named Mundaca. The mysterious death of the house’s owner adds to the colonial estate’s haunting charm. Isla Mujeres also remains popular for its sea turtles, and you can glimpse the creatures at the local tortugranja, or turtle farm.

Playa Tortugas, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifePlaya Tortugas

Widely considered a beach spot for locals, Playa Tortugas is known for its relaxed atmosphere and clean sands. The area also has several open-air restaurants that make for great evening dining.

 

 

El Rey Ruins, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeEl Rey Ruins

While they may not have the awe factor of Chichén Itzá, El Rey Ruins have convenience on their side. Located in the heart of the Hotel Zone, these ruins are extremely accessible to visitors, and the site’s small size makes it easy to see in a short time. But for many visitors, the ruins themselves are not the primary attraction: people flock to El Rey to mingle with the hundreds of iguanas that have invaded the former Mayan town.

 

Things to Do

360 Surf School, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlife360 Surf School

Surf Lessons for all ages from N.S.S.I.A Certified Surf Instructors (Cancun Hotel Zone). English and Spanish Spoken. We are by appointment only. To make appointments/Booking write email or call. We also offer a World Class Stand Up Paddle Board Tour trough the Mangroves. We have the largest selection of Board rentals in Cancun.   For more information call 52-998-241-6443, or visit them on the web at 360 Surf School.

Scuba Total Cancun, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeScuba Total Cancun

Be a part of an amazing experience. Share their love for the sea, caverns, sharks, turtles, and all the marine life. They will  show you the treasures of the Mexican Caribbean: tropical climate, friendly people and the best diving of the world. For more information call 52-998-153-8644, or visit them on the web at Scuba Total Cancun.

Nautik Adventours, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeNautik Adventours

Nautical Tours specialized in Boat Rentals varying leisure, sports, fishing, with a Nautik culture, easy to memorize and with a familiar breath of presence, attitude and elegance. For more information call 52-998-147-8454, or visit them on the web at Nautik Adventours.

Dancer Cruise, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeDancer Cruise

Enjoy impeccable service, cleanliness, spacious comfort, char-grilled foods and open bar while sailing the Caribbean. Snorkel marine life filled reefs. Jump from a diving board before rinsing with fresh water Or, you can slide down the two story slide into the ocean.  That’s Dancer’s floating reef club!  For more information call 52-998-849-5809, or visit them on the web at Dancer Cruise.

Best Rated Restaurants

$-Inexpensive     $$-Moderate     $$$-Pricey     $$$$-Ultra High End

$$$$ La Habichuela

La Habichuela has been a fixture in Cancun for over 30 years. You’ll find high quality food made with the finest ingredients and excellent service at La Habichuela. The restaurant’s signature dish is Cocobichuela, a mixture of lobster, shrimp, rice, curry sauce and tropical fruits, all served in a coconut shell. Complete your meal with a delicious Flambé dessert and Mayan coffee.  For more information call 52-998-840-6280 (Sunset) or 52-998-884-3158 (Downtown), or visit them on the web at La Habichuela.

$$$$  Le Basilic

Le Basilic is located in the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun. The exquisite French Mediterranean cuisine they serve is prepared by acclaimed Chef Henri Charvet. Everything about Le Basilic is simply the best, from the gourmet cuisine to the service and ambiance. Relaxing piano music played at the perfect volume completes the scene. Le Basilic is only open for dinner. There is a strict dress code and children are not permitted. For the main course, try the beef with black pepper sauce. It literally melts in your mouth. For dessert, don’t miss the creme brulee.  For more information call 52-998-881-3200, or visit them on the web at Le Basilic.

$$$$  The Club Grill

Elevated Continental cuisine in a venue that exudes an old world glamour. The Club Grill’s luscious menu blends timeless recipes with locally-sourced ingredients, and artistic presentations in order to deliver a sumptuous gourmet experience. The chef offers a parade of exceptional tastes, by combining the classical decadence of the past and innovative preparations.  For more information call 52-998-881-0808, or visit them on the web at The Club Grill.

$$ – $$$  Peter’s Restaurante

This cozy restaurant in downtown Cancun has only been open for a few years, yet it’s one of Cancun’s most popular eateries. The restaurant is staffed by a family, the owner Peter, his wife Claudia and their son Eder. Dishes include shrimp, fish, veal, beef, vegetarian and pasta and a small but good wine list. Prices are considerably lower than they would be for a restaurant of this caliber in the Hotel Zone. You can easily take the bus to Peter’s by getting off at the first stop downtown and walking just a few blocks to their location on Bonampak.  For more information call 52-998-251-9310, or visit them on the web at Peter’s Restaurante.

Best Nightlife

Mandala, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeMandala

This is one of the most popular nightclubs in Cancun and is located right between The City and Coco Bongo in the Party Zone. Mandala feels like the nicest, most ornate VIP room you’ve ever seen… only it’s an entire club, not a VIP room. The fact that the front of the club is entirely open to the street adds to the ambiance. This is one of Cancun’s hippest and hottest clubs and it’s been extremely popular since it opened.  For more information call 52-998-883-3333, or visit them on the web at Mandala.

Coco Bongo, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeCoco Bongo

Coco Bongo is Cancun’s most popular night club. Throughout the evening, a variety of performers put on shows. On any given evening at the club, Beetlejuice makes an appearance, Spiderman flies through the air, acrobats perform high above the crowd and a Michael Jackson impersonator lip-synchs some of MJ’s classic songs. The bartenders and wait staff even take the stage to sing and dance throughout the night. When you feel your feet start to move, don’t bother looking for the dance floor because there isn’t one. People just dance wherever they can find a little space.  For more information call 52-998-883-2373, or visit them on the web at Coco Bongo.

The City, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifeThe City

It is the biggest club in Cancun and it’s often packed to the brim during Spring Break and in the summer months. The 3-story club often has performances by internationally known artists like Ludacris, Akon, Flo Rida, 50 Cent, Fergi, Snoop Dogg and celebrity DJs. Like Coco Bongo, The City Cancun also has performances by acrobats and other performers during the evening. They play music of all genres on the 1,000,000 sound system and 650 square feet of video screens.  For more information call 52-998-883-3313, or visit them on the web at The City.

Palazzo, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexcico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifePalazzo

The inside of the actual club resembles a large cave. There is a dance floor in the center of the room and rows of tables line the walls of the multi-level club. Well-known DJs, celebrities, and bands often perform here, or host special parties. Even though this is one of the oldest clubs in Cancun, there is usually still a long line of people waiting to enter the club.  For more information call 52-998-883-3333, or visit them on the web at Palazzo.

Best Hotels

Casa Tortugas Boutique Hotel – Top Rated

This is a charming newly renovated property located in the heart of the hotel zone.  These Mexican style apartments on the lagoon side offer personalized service and free wifi in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere with the beach across the street.  They are nearby to a convenience store, restaurants, public transportation, Starbucks, a pharmacy, malls, nightlife, and a major grocery store.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Casa Tortugas Boutique Hotel.

The Royal Sands – All Inclusive

Live the maximum relaxation and fun for kids and adults in The Royal Sands Resort & Spa All Inclusive. The spacious and beautifully decorated villas, suites and junior suites of this All Inclusive Cancun resort offer the best in comfort and exclusive amenities. Here, you will enjoy delicious food and beverages in the restaurants and snack bars you will find all along the hotel, and have fun with the activities that we have prepared for you and your family. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room  visit The Royal Sands All Inclusive.

Gran Caribe All Inclusive – Panama Jack Resorts Cancun – Family Friendly

With sun-kissed swimming pools and fun daily doings ranging from beachfront yoga to culinary classes and live music, each carefree day promises new adventures and unexpected delights. The young will love Camp Jack’s mini golf and water park, while adults won’t be able to resist the seaside serenity at Aura Spa. Beyond the resort, explore premier golf courses and ancient Mayan sites nearby or kick back in your indulgent accommodations to take in the ocean vistas from the private balcony. When hunger strikes, enticing restaurants and breezy bars serve an array of gourmet grub and cool cocktails to please all palates.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Gran Caribe All Inclusive.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun – Top Rated

Experience the Evolution of All Inclusive luxury, where you are inspired to live in the moment. Find your bliss on white sand beaches, and play in the clear-blue waters of the sea. Relax in luxurious suites with balconies and breathtaking ocean views. Indulge your senses at 8 unique restaurants and 3 lounges, featuring local and international cuisines. If you prefer your tastings in a more spirited form, there are 6 bars on property, including a microbrewery! Spend a day to rejuvenate body and soul at the oceanfront spa, with optional massages, holistic body treatments and a hydrotherapy circuit.   For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hyatt Ziva Cancun.

Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun – Adults Only

Hyatt Ziva Cancun’s Turquoize is like a resort within a resort. It is the new adult-only, all beachfront tower with nearly 700 square feet of inspired design living area PLUS balcony with a private hot tub and seating section. Even the bath offers dazzling ocean views with its unique floor to ceiling glass corner shower.  Exclusive private check-in and reception area, exclusive adult only dining, and rooftop infinity pool. Rooms have direct elevator access to spa.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun.

28 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    I love this post. Everyone always hears about Cancun and how wonderful the beaches are. I really like how you didn’t concentrate on the beaches and the hotels. All those extra attractions and sites is what makes me want to. You can get hotels and sand in Florida without a passport, but now I see Cancun is so much more, Very good job. Very good detail and information.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Thank you so much Jennifer, and you are absolutely right? Why pay a fortune just for beautiful beaches. Heck, I live in Florida and I have that here. But it is all the rest to experience in Cancun that makes it a great vacation destination!

      Reply
  2. Courtney

    Your website was very interesting to navigate.What was really interesting was learning about Cancun. I have heard of this place but never visited but would love to.Your website was very detailed. You’re doing great. I loved the content. Keep up the good work 😊

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Thank you so much Courtney! I am glad you enjoyed visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com and reading my Cancun Travel Guide!

      Reply
  3. Junior

    Great site! I would love to book travel thru you when I am ready. I have Cancun on my bucket list and will message you when I am ready! Thank you all the great information you have provided.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Great Junior, just message me when you are ready. Thanks for reading !

      Reply
  4. Lawrence

    Wow this place looks amazing. Added to bucket list for sure.
    Thanks for an in-depth look at it.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      You are so welcome Lawrence. Cancun is definitely a bucket list item 🙂

      Reply
  5. Lupe

    Wow! Great stuff about the eastern side of Mexico. You twisted my arm and now I’m going to start planning. I’ve only been on the Baja side like Mazatlan and La Paz. Very nice there too. But again, wow, your site is awesome and you’ve got some great ideas for a few days getaway at least. Thank a lot.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Glad you enjoyed and I could twist your arm somewhat 🙂 I have been to the Baja side many, many times. This is a little different in Cancun, but with different flavor and experiences. You will love it.

      Reply
  6. Glen

    Great overview of Cancun! I have never been, but it looks like a place to go. I appreciate the ratings of the hotels and restaurants. That helps to do comparisons. More arrival and departure information would be helpful. Thanks for posting!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Thanks Glen, hard to do arrival and departure when there are so many places to travel from 🙂 I can definitely help you with this. Just shoot me a message. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
      1. Glen

        I should have been more specific. But arrival and departure info related to Cancun itself.
        🙂

        Reply
        1. Leahrae

          Ok Glen, I think I know what you want 🙂
          Upon arrival at the Cancun Airport, you will pass through immigration and present the Mexican immigration agent with your passport. You will then claim your luggage and proceed through customs to declare any goods. You will press a button on a light resembling a traffic signal. A green light means that your bags will pass without inspection, a red light means that your bags will be inspected.
          The Cancun International Airport requests that all departing passengers on international flights must be at the airport at least 2 hours prior to their flight departure time. Your pick-up time was scheduled according to this request and taking into consideration information such as your flight departing time, approximate travel time between your hotel and the airport, day of the week, and assumed traffic flow. I hope this helps!

          Reply
  7. Alyese

    It’s been so long since I’ve been to Cancun! Thanks for the info because it looks like there were DEFINITELY some things I need to go back and check out!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Well time to go again Alyese! There is a lot to offer in the area, besides just gorgeous beaches. Cancun is a wonderful beach destination. Thanks for visiting beachtraveldestinations.com.

      Reply
  8. carol

    I always have the desire to go to Cancun. Even though family and friends who have been there encourage me to do same, I am always a bit hesitant. Your thorough review has put my fears at ease and has made Cancun look even more amazing than I ever thought or heard. From where to go, how to get there and safety have certainly helped. Thanks for this invaluable information. Cancun, here I come.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Great Carol, I am glad I could give you that little push. It really is an amazing place 🙂 Glad you enjoyed reading my Cancun Travel Guide!

      Reply
  9. Boby

    Amazing post!
    I will keep it in mind when I am deciding where to go on my next vacation.
    Well done, keep up the great work.
    Cancun is already number 1 on my list thanks to you.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      I’m glad, you will love it. Thanks for reading my Cancun Travel Guide!

      Reply
  10. Tabsmark

    Hey, thanks for the travel guide to Cancun! Great roundup and lots of great suggested activities. I can’t believe how beautiful and inviting the water looks! Definitely a destination on my bucket list 🙂 Are there decent shops? I wondered what the art was like there?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Thank, and I am glad you enjoyed reading. Yes, you will find your share of shops here with a variety of Mexican art. Plenty of silver jewelry, sombreros, pottery, and that sort of thing 🙂 Thanks for vising the Cancun Travel Guide.

      Reply
  11. Matthew

    Wow, Cancun looks amazing and well worth a vacation to. I love the beach, live close to the beach and love to surf. Can you surf in Cancun?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      It is amazing Matthew! Thanks for reading the Cancun Travel Guide. And yes, you can surf in Cancun! You will have a blast!

      Reply
  12. Amanda

    I’ve heard a lot about Cancun, and it sounds very fun. But is Cancun dangerous if you venture further out into the city? I’ve just heard lots of horror stories of tourists in Mexico.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Mexico is dangerous, don’t get me wrong. But this is really for the mainland of Mexico and not the Baja Peninsula, the Mayan Riviera, or the Yucatan Peninsula. If you stick to the major resort areas, you won’t have a problem. Always take precautions, no matter where you are traveling. Thanks for reading my Cancun Travel Guide.

      Reply
  13. Miranda

    I have been debating on whether to go to Cancun for awhile now. Some of my friends have been and say it’s lovely. Thanks to this, I will consider booking a flight for this summer and definitely check out that Mayan pyramid.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae

      Great Miranda! Cancun is a wonderful place to visit. If you have any questions or need help with your booking, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. Thanks for reading the Cancun Travel Guide.

      Reply

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