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.

Cancun Weather – When to Visit

The best time to visit Cancún is from December to April during the peak season. Even though the crowds are heavier, you’ll experience near-perfect weather and find some of the cheapest flight and room rates for a winter getaway at the beach. Just try to avoid traveling from mid-March to early April – that’s when spring breakers descend on the Yucatán’s shores. There are also significant discounts in late spring, summer and fall, but Cancún summers are sweltering and the fall months are prone to storms.

Cancun Attractions

Chichen Itza, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexico 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 Mexico 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 Mexico 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.

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El Rey Ruins, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexico 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.

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Playa Delfines, Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun beaches, Yucatan Peninsula beaches, best Mexico beaches, Cancun things to do, Cancun best restaurants, Cancun best nightlifePlaya Defines

Playa Delfines is a largely undeveloped ribbon of sand located near El Rey. Likewise, the beach often lacks the heavy crowds found elsewhere throughout the Hotel Zone. Take your own drinks and snacks since there won’t be opportunities to buy them at this beach. This is where you’ll find the colorful “Cancun” sign featured on many of the city’s postcards and brochures. There can be heavy currents and riptides, since the beach is known for its rough waters.

Cancun Tours & Activities

Whale Sharks tour in Cancun & Riviera Maya: Small-Group Eco Friendly

Snorkel with Mexican whale sharks on a full-day group snorkeling tour off the Yucatan Coast from Playa del Carmen. Under the direction of an expert guide, swim with the world’s largest fish while looking out for dolphins, manta rays, and turtles. Immerse yourself in the marine magnificence of Mexico’s waters on this spectacular small-group adventure.  Read more about Cancun Swim with Whale Sharks Small-Group Snorkeling Tour

Day Trip to Chichen Itza, Valladolid with Cenote Swim and Lunch

Journey to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to visit the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on this full-day excursion that includes easy hotel pickup and drop-off. Along with seeing El Castillo and learning how this Pre-Columbian city played an important role in the Mayan civilization, visit the colonial town of Valladolida, stop at a cenote for a quick swim, and enjoy a buffet lunch.  Read more about Chichen Itza Tour from Cancun

ATV, Ziplines and Cenote Combo Tour at Extreme Adventure Eco Park

Combine a jungle zipline course, off-road ATV experience, and a cenote swim on a small-group adventure tour from Cancun to Extreme Adventure Eco Park. Take on a fun, family-friendly challenge in a scenic destination, with round-trip hotel transfer, refreshments, and all activities included.  Read more about ATV, Ziplines, Cenote at Extreme Adventure Eco Park

Early Access to Chichen Itza with a Private Archaeologist

Discover the ruins at Chichen Itza with a private archaeologist guide on this all-day Viator exclusive tour. Skip the lines and the crowds with early morning access and view parts of the ruins that most traditional tours don’t visit.  Learn about Mexico’s past through your guide’s insightful commentary about this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Read more about Chichen Itza VIP Early Access with Private Guide

3-in-1 Discovery Combo Tour: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling Plus Cenote and Caves

Explore coral reefs, ancient history, and nature in the Riviera Maya on an combination tour that features some of the best of Yucatan in a single day. Snorkel through the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea, visit the Tulum archeological site, and swim in a cenote, then explore a limestone cave and take a jungle walk. This tour includes entrance fees, a buffet lunch, and door-to-door transport from hotels in Cancun or Playa del Carmen.  Read more about Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote, and Caves

Best Cancun Restaurants

El Fish Fritanga  $11 – 30

A casual seafood restaurant with tables in the sand overlooking the lagoon. Located in the middle of Cancún’s Hotel Zone, it’s popular with locals and tourists.  Fresh catches and ceviche are the house specialties.  Telephone:  52-998-840-6216  Web:  El Fish Fritanga

Navios  $11 – 30

Mexican fusion seafood, served to you in romantic cabanas set over the water. Located in Cancún’s Hotel Zone.  Navios has the best seafood. Expect standout dishes like robalo al pastor – sea bass carpaccio served on a pineapple with cilantro rice. Telephone:  52-998-885-3848  Web:  Navios

Captain’s Cove  $11 – 30

A fine-dining seafood restaurant with a thatched-roof, overlooking the lagoon in the Hotel Zone.  This restaurant is popular for its fresh options and catch-of-the-day offerings.  This restaurant is part of Royal Resorts and thus frequently included in all-inclusive packages.  Telephone:  52-998-885-0016  Web:  Captain’s Cove

Lorenzillo’s  $31 – 60

A Cancún staple that’s been serving lobster for more than 30 years.  Head here for the live lobster and stay for the atmosphere. This Cancún landmark serves lobster almost any way you want it. Get it grilled, boiled, steamed or dripping in butter: though they’ve got a full menu with plenty of other choices too.  Telephone:  52-998-883-1254  Web:  Lorenzillo’s

Best Cancun Nightlife

Mandala

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.  Telephone:  52-998-883-3333  Web:  Mandala

Coco 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.  Telephone:  52-998-883-2373  Web:  Coco Bongo

The 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.  Telephone:  52-998-883-3313  Web:  The Cit

Palazzo

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.  Telephone:  52-998-883-3333  Web:  Palazzo

Best Cancun Hotels

NIZUC Resort & Spa


NIZUC Resort & Spa provides an escape like no other on Mexico’s stunning Caribbean coast. Offering subdued extravagance and an unsurpassed level of service, NIZUC is the ultimate place to take in the sun, sand, sea, and tranquility of one of the world’s most coveted destinations.The luxurious new resort is located at the gateway of the Riviera Maya in beautiful Punta Nizuc with two exclusive beaches, lavish spa, six gourmet restaurants, deluxe conference and events center, a kids club and sumptuous accommodations throughout its 274 private suites and villas.

The Ritz-Carlton Cancun

Considered one of the most elegant resorts in the world, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, reflects Mexico’s rich architectural heritage in an atmosphere of magnificent sophistication. Minutes from many lively and leisurely attractions and situated ideally on a pristine strip of Mayan coastline, our 5-star Cancun luxury hotel resort features 363 guestrooms overlooking the sea in the popular hotel zone, and we feature a 1,200-foot beach, sculpted outdoor swimming pools, a full service Spa, an impressive Culinary Center and award winning restaurants.

Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun


Introducing the luxurious adults only Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun – the transformation of all-inclusive into all-incredible. Created for the discerning traveler by one of Mexico’s most celebrated designers, Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun elevates the vacation experience with an uncompromising determination to exceed your every expectation.

Live Aqua Beach Resort


Live Aqua Cancun, a welcoming place, where being is the first part of feeling. Your senses work together. It’s a prism of colors, eclectic rhythms, and seductive details. Enjoy the fusion of idyllic days and energizing nights. It is a monument to your arrival to this Cancun Spa Resort. This sophisticated beachfront resort lies along white sand beaches, across the street from La Isla Shopping Mall and walking distance from some of the best restaurants and shopping malls in the city. Exotic drinks, barefoot luxury and activities overlooking the resort’s 8 infinity pools are just part of the exquisite details.

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun


This luxury hotel rises majestically in the heart of Cancun’s entertainment district. The 602-rooms present with all the class of a fine European hotel, combined with the warm and gracious service that has made us famous. Our full-service spa, invite you to enjoy the endless relaxation and adventure. Fine cuisine is available in our nine restaurants and bars. Guests may also use the large outdoor pool along with a children’s club.


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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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

          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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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 (Post author)

      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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