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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 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
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
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.