- PRICES LIST
- HOTELS (BEST RATED)
- HOTELS (BEST VALUE)
- SIGHTS & LANDMARKS
- THINGS TO DO
- FESTIVALS & EVENTS
- STAY SAFE
- THINGS TO KNOW
Cancún is a city in southeastern Mexico, located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is an important renowned tourist destination in Mexico, as well as being the seat of the municipality of Benito Juárez.
The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, and is one of the easternmost points in Mexico. Cancún is located just north of Mexico's Caribbean coast resort band known as the Riviera Maya. In older English-language documents, the city’s name is sometimes spelled "Cancoon," an attempt to convey the sound of the name. There are two possibles meanings of Cancun, according to the Mayan language, the first translation is "nest of snakes or pot." The second version (and less accepted) is "place of the gold snake".
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.
|FOUNDED :||April 20, 1970|
|TIME ZONE :||EST (UTC−5)|
|AREA :||1,978.75 km2 (764.00 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||Highest elevation 10 m (30 ft)|
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
|COORDINATES :||21°09′38″N 86°50′51″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.5%|
• Female: 51.5%
|AREA CODE :||998|
|POSTAL CODE :||77500|
|DIALING CODE :||998 +52 998|
Situated on the northeast tip of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula,Cancún is a popular Caribbean tourist destination. Next to 14 miles of beaches, you'll find a wide variety of resorts, spas, clubs, and malls.
Peak season in Cancún tends to run from December to April. Prices in both airfare and hotel increase dramatically during these times, while dropping in the (northern hemisphere) 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 (northern hemisphere) summer and autumn.
Resting on the northeast corner of the Mexican Caribbean, Cancún 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 habitants when Cancún was built. It is composed of fourteen miles of pristine white beaches shaped like a number "7", home of the 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 Cancún 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 Cancún, 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 Cancún. Some Spanish language skills may aid in finding better deals. You can rent a car, or take the bus to Puerto Morelos (about 20 min) or Tulum (1 hr). Playa del Carmen (45 min, $80) is between the two, but caters to the all-inclusive crowd. Taxis are also available.
Those looking for a base of operations who want good or luxury hotels and the advantages of urban life but prefer more local flavor may wish to stay in the Yucatan's main city of Mérida. Many international flights in to Cancún continue on after a stop to Mérida's International Airport.
As documented in the earliest colonial sources, the island of Cancún was originally known to its Maya inhabitants as Nizuc (Yucatec Maya [niʔ suʔuk]) meaning either "promontory" or "point of grass". In the years after the Conquest, much of the Maya population died off or left as a result of disease, warfare, piracy, and famines, leaving only small settlements on Isla Mujeres and Cozumel Island.
The name Cancún, Cancum or Cankun first appears on 18th-century maps. The meaning of Cancún is unknown, and it is also unknown whether the name is of Maya origin. If it is of Maya origin, possible translations include "Place/Seat/Throne of the Snake" or "Enchanted Snake". Snake iconography was prevalent at the pre-Columbian site of Nizuc.
When development of the area as a resort was started on January 23, 1970, Isla Cancún had only three residents, caretakers of the coconut plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla Mujeres. Some 117 people lived in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing village and military base.
Due to the reluctance of investors to gamble on an unknown area, the Mexican government had to finance the first nine hotels. The first hotel financed was the Hyatt Cancún Caribe, but the first hotel built was the Playa Blanca, which later became a Blue Bay hotel. It is now named Temptation Resort. At the time it was an elite destination, famous for its virgin white sand beaches.
The city began as a tourism project in 1974 as an Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR (Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, National Fund for Tourism Development), formerly known as INFRATUR. Since then, it has undergone a comprehensive transformation from being a fisherman's island surrounded by virgin forest and undiscovered shores to being one of the two most well-known Mexican resorts, along with Acapulco. The World Tourism Organization (WTO), through its foundation UNWTO-Themis, awarded theBest of the Best award "for excellence and good governance" to the Trust for Tourism Promotion of Cancun on February 3, 2007. This award ensured Cancún the ongoing support of the Department of Education and Knowledge Management of the WTO.
Most 'Cancunenses' are from Yucatán and other Mexican states. A growing number are from the rest of the Americas and Europe. The municipal authorities have struggled to provide public services for the constant influx of people, as well as limiting squatters and irregular developments, which now occupy an estimated ten to fifteen percent of the mainland area on the fringes of the city.
In the 21st century, Cancún had largely avoided the bloodshed associated with the trade of illegal drugs, but is known for its retail drug sales to tourists as well as for being a center of money laundering. The links with Cancún date from the 1990s and early 2000s, when the area was controlled by the Juárez and Gulf drug cartels. In recent years Los Zetas, a group that broke away from the Gulf Cartel, has taken control of many smuggling routes through the Yucatán, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Cancún from November 29 to December 10 of that year.
The climate in Cancun is tropical, with consistent hot and humid weather throughout the year, and very warm sea temperatures.
Late June is especially hot, so come prepared or try the off season. Hurricanes can be a major threat in late summer and autumn: Cancun Weather Forecast
Like most resort areas in the Caribbean, Cancun gets hit with a really severe hurricane every 10 to 20 years. The last really bad one was Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which obliterated many of Cancun's famous beaches. Thousands of hapless tourists spent their precious vacations jammed into hurricane shelters waiting for Wilma to pass, then waited days in the humid tropical heat (with no air conditioning) for transport home. As a result, from 2005 to 2008, most of Cancun's tourist traffic went to Cabo San Lucas (triggering a massive construction boom there) while Cancun painstakingly rebuilt its resorts and dredged the ocean to bring the white sand back to its beaches. The moral of this story is to buy really good trip insurance if your trip is scheduled during hurricane season, have a backup vacation (or staycation) plan, and cancel promptly if a hurricane is forecasted the week before your trip. Hurricane season is typically from August through October or November and can happen outside those times too.
Climate data for Cancún
|Record high °C (°F)||33|
|Average high °C (°F)||28.3|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||24.1|
|Average low °C (°F)||19.8|
|Record low °C (°F)||13|
|Source: Servicio Meteorologico Nacional|
Apart from the island tourist zone (part of the world's second-longest coral reef), the Mexican residential section of the city, the downtown part of which is known as "El Centro," follows a master plan that consists of "supermanzanas" (superblocks), giant trapezoids with a central, open, non-residential area cut in by u-shaped residential streets. These open centers usually have walkways and 'sidewalks' around a central garden park, or soccer fields, or a library, etc. which make the mainland "Mexican" Cancún bicycle-friendly. The residential roads of central or 'Mainland' Cancún, U-shaped and culs-de-sacs, insulate housing from the noise and congestion of the main flow of traffic. Mainland Cancún has a central market that resembles an outlet mall, colorful buildings on a pedestrian city block.
Ave. Tulum is the main north-south artery, connecting downtown to the airport, which is some 30 km (19 mi) south of downtown. Tulum is bisected by Ave. Cobá. East of Ave. Tulum, Cobá becomes Ave. Kukulcan which serves as the primary road through the 7-shaped hotel zone. Ave. Tulum ends on the north side at Ave. Paseo José López Portillo which connects to the main highway west to Chichén Itzá and Mérida. Another major north-south road is Ave. Bonampak which runs roughly parallel to Ave. Tulum. The main ferry to Isla Mujeres is located in Puerto Juarez, on Ave. Paseo José López Portillo.
To save on the cost of installing sewer systems and other public services, the design of much of the rest of the city reverted to the grid plan after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. The newest upper-middle-class residential areas reflect the original plan, but are much less intimate. Less expensive developments are composed almost entirely of identical one- or two-story small row-houses, sometimes built around interior plazas or 4 story apartment blocks. Until recently, most mainland buildings were four stories or shorter; since 2005, there has been an influx of condominium and luxury retail and office space concentrated along Ave. Bonampak.
Cancún's Mainland or Downtown area has diverged from the original plan; development is scattered around the city. The remaining undeveloped beach and lagoon front areas outside the hotel zone are now under varying stages of development, in Punta Sam and Puerto Juarez to the north, continuing along Bonampak and south toward the airport along Boulevard Donaldo Colosio. One development abutting the hotel zone is Puerto Cancún, also Malecon Cancún is another large development.
Prices in Cancun
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$0.90|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$6.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$15.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$30.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.15|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.35|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$5.30|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$7.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.08|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.75|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.20|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$45.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$38.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$68.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.60|
35 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
190 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Cancún International Airport (IATA: CUN) is Mexico's second busiest airport. It is about 10 km (6 mi) from the hotel strip and 16 km (9 mi) southwest of downtown. One of Cancún's best features is its transport links, as most major air carriers in North, Central, and South America, and Europe offer services to Cancún. There are some extremely cheap charter flight deals available such as from the UK (from around £100) as well as commercial flight deals from several carriers. Airlines that fly to Cancún include:
- Terminal 1 (Gates 1-7A in the Charter Terminal): Magnicharters, Viva Aerobús, TAR from Monterrey, Mexico City and other cities in Mexico. Chartered flights typically arrive to and depart from Terminal 1. They can also be at Terminals 2 or 3 instead. Check with the tour/travel agency or the airline itself as to where to check in for the return flight home.
- Terminal 2:
- Concourse A (Gates A1-A9 in the octagonal shaped satellite structure): Flights from Canada: Air Transat, Sunwing. Flights from Europe: Arkefly, Blue Panorama, EdelWeiss, Eurowings, Enerjet, JetAirFly, Monarch, Neos, Orbest, Thomson, TUIfly, XL Airways. From South and Central America: Aerolíneas Argentinas, Avianca; LATAM (formerly LAN & TAM); Boliviana de Aviación, Copa Airlines, Volaris (Guatemala City and San Jose CR), Mayan Island Air and Tropic Air (Belize City). From the USA & Cuba: Southwest, Interjet (from Miami and La Havana), Aeromexico, Cubana de la Aviacion.
- Concourse B (Gates B1-B22 in the main building): Domestic flights from Mexico City, Toluca, Monterrey, Guadalajara and other Mexican cities with Aeroméxico, Interjet and Volaris.
- Terminal 3 (Gates C4-C26): flights from the USA & Canada: Air Canada, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Dynamic Airways, JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, Spirit, Sun Country, United Airlines, Westjet, Virgin America & Apple Vacations charter flights. Flights from Europe & Russia: Air Berlin, Air Europa, Air France, British Airways, Condor, Evelop, Lufthansa, Pullmantur, Neos, Nordwind, Thomas Cook, Wamos and Virgin Atlantic.
- Terminal 4: (Under Construction)
- FBO Terminal: MAYAir (to/from Cozumel & Merida); AeroTucan(to/from Cozumel); general aviation and private executive flights. The new FBO Terminal is now next to Terminal 3.
NOTE: Some of the above airlines operate seasonally, usually during the winter months in the northern hemisphere, or as charters while others operate more regularly year round. Chartered flights are typically booked through a tour operator or travel agency and not through the airline directly. The above can be subject to change and always mind the information given to you by the airline with your ticket and boarding pass, as well as the information provided by the airport online and via the information boards.
The hardest part of the journey to Cancún (aside from your initial airport check-in) is getting from the luggage carousel to your transportation. Make sure you know who your transport is (in case of prebooking) and find them on the outside, as that is where they will be. Unless you are looking for a timeshare, free meal or looking to burn hours of travel time and money on your vacation, do NOT stop to chit-chat with anyone about booking tours and such. There is plenty of time for that after you get settled in. After you clear customs inspection (the red or green light baggage inspection), do not give your bags to anybody offering to carry them.
There are many companies that provide the transfer service to the hotels in Cancún or the Riviera Maya. All of them have the option of prebooking online; some of them can be booked when arriving but this may represent another waiting time.
There are other transportation firms that provide service to and from the airport for a reasonable price as well. Beware of touts who will surround you when you come out of customs clearance. If you proceed straight, you will find the official information center where they can help you with the ground transportation options. If you purchased shuttle services through online reservation and you don't find your driver, call customer service yourself; do not trust local people who claim to be airport employees trying to "help" you (usually airport employees wait for you to come to them, and not the other way round). The legitimate drivers (and their reps) for these shuttle companies are outside the building, outside the exit glass doors, towards their vehicles.
The airport recently constructed a metal fence right outside of international arrivals. Only airport staff and licensed shuttle and travel agent employees are allowed in (they have to swipe a badge). If you are meeting someone who will be arriving, ask them to leave that area and walk towards the airport to meet their party.
ADO is the main long distance inter-city bus carrier in the Yucatan Peninsula. They offer regular bus service from all terminals to downtown Cancun and to Playa del Carmen. At Terminal 1, the bus stop is on your left when you exit the terminal. The "airport bus station" is in the bus parking lot outside the domestic arrivals doors at Terminal 2. For international arrivals you turn right, after coming out of the building and walk across to the other side of the building. At Terminal 3 it's a right turn from outside the arrivals doors and past 'Air Margaritaville' (formerly 'Coconuts Welcome Bar') hut.
Also if you want to travel directly from Cancún to Cozumel there is an airline called MAYAir and AeroTucan from the FBO terminal next to Terminal 3 so you can travel directly through Cancún to Cozumel. Otherwise you can also use the ADO bus or a shuttle service to Playa del Carmen and take the ferry to Cozumel, as the ferry terminal is next to the Playa del Carmen bus station.
Be sure to pass the customs before looking for money exchange - for example inside customs zone in Cancún they offer $18 MXN to US $1, which is much lower than even greediest street vendors ask.
Beware of leaving Mexico with enough money. The Mexican Government charges a travel tax of around 500 pesos (US $45) to leave the country from the airport. Most major air carriers may already have the travel tax charged to the price of the ticket, though it is highly recommended that travelers check this before leaving to/from Cancún. For example, Thomas Cook is charging 660 pesos, and U.S. dollars are not accepted. -- The current collective travel experience shows that almost all airlines flying from the US have already included this tax in their airfare, so there is no need to pay again when leaving Cancún. It seems that only charter flights from the UK do not include this tax and UK travelers may need to pay upon leaving.
Also beware of going through security too early. Food and drink prices almost double and you can't easily go back out.
Cancún's bus station is located downtown on the northwestern corner of Uxmal Avenue and Tulum Avenue.
The bus station is served by a taxi rank in front of the station along Pino. Local buses to the hotel zone pass regularly behind the station on the Tulum Avenue.
- ADO (Autobuses Del Oriente), , toll-free: . They operate the ADO, ADO GL, OCC (Omnibus Cristobal Colon), Riviera and Platino bus lines, and the Boletotal/Ticketbus.com booking site. They are a major bus company serving the Yucatan Peninsula with more frequent service to the Airport (:30m), Playa del Carmen (1hr20m), Tulum,Merida (4hrs), Valladolid (2hr), Campeche (6hr45m) and Chetumal (5-6hrs) in the Yucatan Peninsula. They also offer less frequent service to further away places such as Palenque (13hrs), Tuxtla Gutierrez, CHIS (18-20hrs); San Cristobal de las Casas, CHIS (18-19hrs); Villahermosa, TOB (12-13hrs) and Mexico City (26hrs). Direct buses to Chichen Itza leave once daily from Cancun. To get there take a more frequent bus to Valladolid and transfer to another bus to Chichen Itza. They also operate the AU (Autobus Unidos), Oriente, Mayab, ATS and Noroeste for localized second class service to nearby cities, towns and anywhere along the route to drop off and pick up people in Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche states. Second class buses typically require more transfers and takes longer to get across longer distances.
- Auto Centro, . operates second class bus service between Cancun & Merida via Tixpeual, Tixkokob, Euan, Cacalchen, Izamal, Tunkas, Dzitas, Valladolid, Chemax, Xcan and/or Leona on three different routes. These buses stop anywhere along the road to pick up and drop off people on request.
Transportation - Get Around
Cancún is very easy to navigate. To the South is the airport, to the North is the city and in between on the stretch of land between the sea and the Nichupte lagoon are all the hotels, beaches and bars, referred to as the hotel zone or Zona Hotelera. Downtown is where most residents live and it stretches in on the mainland behind the lagoon.
Bus is the preferred way of getting around. Buses are cheap and come frequently. Most bus drivers are very courteous and will stop for you even if you are not waiting at a bus stop. Most routes 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 possibly cramped and rough ride.
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 this does NOT serve as a transfer to another bus. Fares are usually $7-8 for destinations within the city, while a ticket to anywhere in the Zona Hotelera costs $10.50. The fare is per boarding, so you pay again if you have to board another bus to complete the journey. Do not expect buses to have amenities such as air conditioning and seat cushions. Many bus drivers speak enough English to help visitors get around.
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.
The following companies operate buses locally:
The websites only provide of list of routes showing them on the map as to where they go. No schedules as they run quite frequently. Another great resource for finding your way around Cancún are the Can-Do Cancún maps & Guides by Perry & Laura McFarlin.
Companies serving the station include all attractions and towns along the coast: the Riviera Express for the Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Xel-Ha, etc.) and ADO for the major national destinations. For some Riviera Maya destinations, it's possible to stop the buses on the Tulum Avenue without having to go all the way to the station, however if you are unsure about where to catch the bus then it's best to go to the station.
Taxis are plentiful, a bit expensive for the hotel zone and airport, but cheap in the downtown area. Fares for the hotel zone depend on how far along the Blvd Kukulcan you want to go (fares available at hotel receptions and shopping centres), while within the downtown there is a general fixed fare of about 20 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. However, taxi drivers do not give receipts even if you request them.
Be careful and clear with your taxista. They have set rates on paper for how much they should charge for the trip per kilometer (no meter). You can also obtain a discount about 10% if you ask. If you are splitting a cab with friends, be clear on the number of services, people, and price he will charge to your destination. If your friends get out before you he can charge you twice the amount you negotiated for just a few more kilometers. A "service" is considered to be from start point to a requested stop point. If your taxista is non-cooperative there are about 10 more taxis around every corner.
Be very careful if you choose to drive in Cancún. 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.
Car Rental companies available in Cancun:
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
When shopping in Cancún, you can either go into the downtown area or the hotel zone. Downtown is much cheaper, but the Hotel Zone has brand-name goods.
- 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.
- Market 28. This is the local market in downtown Cancún. Great shopping for souvenirs. It also has some great Mexican outdoor restaurants. Very cheap and good shopping. Don't forget to bargain.
- Market 23. This is more of a 'locals' market. Doesn't have the same range as Market 28, but is worth a visit.
- Plaza Las Americas. Main mall in Downtown area with lots of stores and great prices.
- Plaza La Isla. Shopping mall in the hotel zone. Features hundreds of stores ranging from American brands like Polo to Mexican brands like Senor Frogs. There are numerous restaurants including Chili's and McDonald's along with more local Mexican foods.
- Lapis Jewelry Factory, Blv. Kukulkan km 11.5 local 100 Int. Plaza Flamingo, Zona Hotelera, , e-mail:[email protected]. You are likely to be offered a coupon for free jewelry at this store. Their website also offers a free gift for individuals who book a shuttle through their website. However, if you do not have any evidence of this, the offer will not be honored. A free shuttle service is offered to take you to the store from your hotel. However, the prices in the store are exorbitant (even at the "discounted" rates), and much of the same jewelry is sold by street vendors and hotel gift shops, as well as online. Be sure to investigate other vendors first to get an idea of how much you should pay. One rule of thumb is to buy at 20-30% of the quoted price. For example, if a Mayan calendar pendant is offered to you at the discounted rate of $75, it's actually probably worth about $20. The salespeople will insist that it's worth much more, but stand your ground. If a salesperson agrees to your offer too quickly, you're probably paying too much. In addition, a number of people have reported difficulty obtaining refunds.
- Mikado, Blvd. Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera(CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort), . 5:30PM-11PM. Japanese and Thai cuisine featuring teppanyaki tables.
- La Capilla Argentina, Blvd Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera (CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort), .Argentine steakhouse with a Mediterranean flair.
- Champions Sports Bar, Blvd Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera (CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort), .noon-2AM. Stepped up bar food with all the games on over 40 screens.
- Simply Seafood, Blvd Kukulcán, Km 14.5, Lote 40-A, Zona Hotelera(JW Marriott Cancún Resort & Spa), .Simply Seafood serves off the boat seafood in traditional Caribbean style.
- Gustino, Blvd Kukulcán, Km 14.5, Lote 40-A, Zona Hotelera (JW Marriott Cancún 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 Cancún. 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 Cancún. 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 Cancún 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), , e-mail: [email protected]. La Habichuela is a must-visit with its Mexican cuisine, Mayan setting and Caribbean seafood. This restaurant has been open since 1977 and is a legend in Cancún. 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 Cancún, . Blvd Kukulcán. 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, . 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, Blvd Kukulcán Km 12. Mediterranean cuisine from a wood burning oven, show kitchen and an array of culinary displays. Restaurant overlooks ocean.
- El Pabilo, Ave Yaxchilán # 31. Art exhibitions every 15 days. Good baguettes and wine.
- Paloma Bonita. 6:30PM–11:30PM daily for dinner. Mexican cuisine with live music in an authentic Mexican atmosphere which recreates different regional ambiances based on architectural, crafts, and folkloric traditions. Features include a traditional Mexican kitchen with coal "comales" where you can watch as tacos and snacks are prepared right in front of you. There is also a tequila bar featuring more than 100 kinds of tequila, and a romantic outside patio separated from the main area.
- Roots Jazz Club Tulipanes and Parque de las Palapas. Live Jazz Music, the best place to hear live music in Cancún. Great food and drinks.
- El Rincón del Vino, Alcatraces & Parque de las Palapas. Good baguettes, gourmet tapas and wine.
- Las Tortugas, . Plaza Las Avenidas. Serving tortas, a kind of Mexican sandwich.
- Tumbaburros, in Plaza Las Américas (Downtown) and another one across the street from the ADO bus terminal (also in Downtown). Genuine Mexican cuisine and a great atmosphere. Real Mexican good humor and hospitality along with your taco order.
- La Destileria, Bulevar Kukulcán Km 12.65, across from Kukulcán Plaza, Cancún Island, . , Daily 1PM-midnight. Combines some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine in the hotel zone with good service and medium price. Very good tequila.Main courses $12-28.
- Atotonilco, Mercado 28 downtown Cancún (Right across from El Cejas).8AM-6PM. An extremely good sampling of Mexican food from all around the country. Excellent value. Nothing fancy but a gastronomical delight. Try the "Huevos Motuleños". $4-10.
- Silk Asian Bistro. Blvd Kukulkan, km. 12. Sushi and sashimi, soy paper vegetarian rolls alongside bolder creations. Teppanyaki stations with theatrical chefs.
- Pescaditos, Ave Yaxchilán 59 (Close to corner of Marañón). Really nice and laid back seafood restaurant where everything's deep fried. Try the chiles rellenos, possibly the best ones in Cancún.
- Los de Pescados, Ave Tulum. Very simple Taco (specialising in seafood) restaurant. Fish tacos- a few pieces of fried fish with some tortillas and you put your own sauces and condiments on. About 22 pesos for a taco and 25 pesos for an ice cold beer.
- La Panza es Primero, Plaza Flamingos, Cancún Mexico Hotel zone, . Daily 1PM-midnight. Main courses $12-28.
- restaurante natura, Boulevard Kukulcan km 9.5 (Zona Hotelera), . 7:30AM-11PM. Natura is the only healthy choice restaurant to be found in the hotel zone of Cancún. Fit for Vegetarians and non vegetarians. Over 20 choices of fresh made juices and salads. Service fast and friendly, very clean place and inexpensive. Highly recommended to anyone looking to eat or enjoy some drinks outside in Cancún.
- Restaurante Labná, Calle Margaritas #25, .12:30PM-10PM. One of the only restaurants to serve yucatecan mayan cuisine in Cancun. Prices are higher than most Mexican food in downtown Cancun, but it's much cheaper than tourist traps or anything in the hotel zone.
Sights & Landmarks
- 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 captive dolphins in a large pool. Admission US $10.
- Water and sand, Cancún is possibly best known for its beautiful turquoise waters and powdery white beaches.
- Isla Contoy, is about 30 km (19 mi) north of Isla Mujeres and apart from its natural beauty it is considered to be the most important nesting place for sea birds in the Mexican Caribbean with more than 150 different species.
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. Be aware that the island becomes extremely hot during day and there are few, if any opportunities to cool off. The sand found here is ground up coral and doesn't get hot like you might expect. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous and the water is crystal clear and warm. Spending the day on the beaches of Cancún is not only an opportunity to relax, but to shop as well. Many of the native people of Cancún make a living by selling different items to the tourists on the beach. There are a variety of items to be purchased from these vendors, items such as sarongs, jewelry, sea shells and more. However, as in the markets, you have to be willing to bargain to get the right prices.
- Xcaret (ecopark). Xcaret is an Eco-archaeological Park located about 76 km (46 mi) south of Cancún and less than 7 km (4 mi) south of Playa del Carmen, in the Riviera Maya. Here you can admire tropical flora and fauna typical of the region as well as different expressions of the Mayan culture. In its facilities you can find an archaeological site, snorkeling in underground rivers, beach, butterfly pavilion, orchid greenhouse, regional fauna breeding farm, Mayan village, jaguar island, among others. For additional cost visitors can swim with captive 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. Admission US $80.
- 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, [www]. Wet'n'Wild also offers dolphin experiences. (Beware: no cameras are allowed, then they charge 25 pesos for the first photo, 20 pesos for each subsequent one). Other great places to swim with captive dolphins are Delphinus Dreams and Dolphin Discovery.
- Jeep Adventures. Experience some of the most beautiful parts of Cancún in a self drive jeep safari. Tour prices ususually 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 Cancún with the First Division team "Potros de Hierro (Iron Colts) of Cancún". The Atlante team, now based in Cancún, has a brand new stadium downtown.
- Hidden Worlds Cenote Adventure Park, Tulum. 9AM-5PM. Situated on the most extensive system of underwater caves and caverns on Earth, the park is home to some of the most stunningly beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, as featured in the critically acclaimed 2001 IMAX movie, Journey Into Amazing Caves, the 2005 Hollywood movie, The Cave and the award winning 2007 BBC Planet Earth television series. Enjoy Zip Lines, The Worlds only SkyCycle, and snorkel tours in the most pristine cenotes in the area.
- Punta Este Marina. Drive your own boat through the lagoon in the Jungle Tour and sknorkel on the reef. Diving lessons and dive trips to the best dive spots in Cancún such as underwater museum.
- Cancún Yachts Club, boulevardo kukulkan km. 5.8 (zona hotelera), . Yacht rentals in Cancún. exclusives luxury yachts for rentals tours in all the Cancún areas , snorkeling, diving, swimming the most save water activities in yacht.
- Exotic Rides Mexico, . Driving experiences on board of the most exotic and luxurious cars in the world, race them on a private racetrack in Cancún.
- Always Diving. Scuba dive with the most professional team in the area. Competitive prices and a wide catalog of diving programs.
- Diving Center Cancun, Boulevard Kukulcan, Km 3.2, Zona Hotelera, Marina Chac Chic, , e-mail:[email protected]. Professional PADI certified scuba diving company provides PADI Diving certifications.
Festivals and events
There are many Cancun festivals to attend while you are there, in fact something is happening every month.
El Dia de Los Reyes, loosely translated to mean the Three Kings day, is a day in early January celebrated by children in which they receive gifts from family and friends.
Annual Handline Barracuda Tournament takes place in late January, and offers fishing aficionados a chance to enter a competition where the goal is to catch the largest fish. It takes place in the canal between Cancun and neighboring island Isla Mujeres.
Dia de la Bandera de Mexico translated into English is Flag Day, and is on February 24th, every year. This day Mexicans and foreigners alike will fly the Mexican flag proudly, wear Mexican colors, eat traditional Mexican food from street vendors, and paint their faces in the official colors of Mexico, which are red, green and white.
March 21st is the anniversary of the birth of Benito Juárez's, one of Mexico's most famous presidents. The festivities include street festivals, entertainment, live Mexican music and street food vendors.
Semana Santa / Holy Week is a week in early April, around Easter. This is the holiest celebration on the Mexican calendar and is signified with church going and street processions.
Cinco de Mayo is May 5th, and is a celebration of the Mexican victory over the French in the battle of Puebla, a point of pride for many Mexicans. This occasion is celebrated by proudly wearing Mexican colors, eating traditional Mexican foods, and driving through the streets honking horns and waving flags.
Cancun International Gay Festival occurs every year in mid-May. This event is marked by a celebration of homosexuality, and is celebrated with processions, BBQ's, parties, live music and costumes.
Summer Solstice happens late June, and follows the calendar to take place on the longest day of the year. Most people head to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza to celebrate the event.
Mayan New Year is on July 16th, and marks the official start of the Mayan calendar. It is typically celebrated by families of Mayan decent and is celebrated with feasts.
Fiesta of the Virgin of Carmen occurs mid July, and is a festival that happens all over the country. It is a religious holiday and is celebrated with multiple events around the city.
La Fiesta de Playa happens in mid-August, and is a celebration of the beautiful beaches surrounding the city. This day will boast live music, concerts, competitions, traditional Mexican food and other cultural events.
On August 17th, head to Isla Mujeres to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the island. This day is marked with parades and parties.
Viva México is a festival specific to Cancun and happens throughout the month of September. It is a celebration of arts and culture and is made up of various music, dances, movies, street entertainment and other forms of art and culture.
Latin American Food Show occurs simultaneously in mid-September, and offers visitors a chance to try Mexican food from all over the country.
The Autumn Equinox at Chichén Itzá is celebrated late September, at the pyramids of Chichen Itza. For ten days the sun is in alignment with the pyramids to create a snake appearing to crawl down the pyramid.
Dia de la Raza occurs mid-October, and is the Mexican equivalent to Columbus day. The day is celebrated with bullfights,, processions, live music, dancing, and various street parties.
Day of the Dead occurs in early November, and marks a special day to honor those who have passed and celebrate the life we still have. On this day there are various events around Cancun and a special event at Xcaret park where they build many altars for the deceased and paint the faces of children to resemble skeletons.
The Cancun International Film Festival happens mid-November, and most cinemas in the city participate in this festival. They show a mixture of Latin American and international films. If you attend this festival, be sure to check what language the movie is in.
Christmas Day falls on December 25th, and is largely celebrated in this Catholic country with church going, and various events. It is a visually appealing holiday as they put up many decorative lights.
Cancún's nightlife is unlike any other destination on Earth. For some, a day in Cancún doesn't start until tasks like an 11AM breakfast, nap on the beach, and siesta are arduously completed. This is your place to shine.
The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but it is not strongly enforced.
The Hotel Zone is a huge venue and gets top entertainers and DJs. Don't be surprised to see Vegas like shows spontaneously erupt while you are sipping your piña colada. These clubs can charge large covers ranging from US$20–60 per person, though the cover can include an open bar.
You may find yourself dancing in a conga line, laughing your cares away and speaking whatever Español you managed to pickup. A must for the first timers, and always good fun for returners also. Coco Bongo's entertainment includes a show, complete with girls swinging from the ceilings.
Most of the Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) venues listed below are located in Punta Cancun, between Km 9 and 10, in the area surrounding Hotel Krystal, Cancun Convention Center and the Grand Fiesta Americana.
- Señor Frogs, Blvd. Kukulkan Km. 9, Zona Hotelera, . Señor Frog's is a restaurant by day and a dance club by night, and is one of the most popular spots for vacationers to visit. The restaurant opens up for lunch and serves international types of food such as pasta, chicken and pizza as well as Mexican cuisine all day until midnight. A cover charge of five dollars will get you into the party after 8PM and includes a souvenir yard glass which you can then pay to get filled with your drink of choice. One of Señor Frog's famous attractions is the water slide that leads from the club out into the lagoon, just for a little bit of fun. As the evening progresses, Señor Frog's becomes less family friendly and more of a party establishment, waitresses will circulate, offering shots of tequila for a price. Waiters are also very "hands on", if you are not traveling in a family group, expect them to try to touch, hug, or kiss the female members of the party.
- O' Ultra Lounge, Hotel Zone. is a very sleek NYC type club and can take some time getting in and out of, but has had some great acts like "Infected Mushroom" rock the crowd till the wee hours.
- Basic Discotheque Cancun, Blvd. Kukulkan Km. 10.3, Zona Hotelera, . The only night club over the lagoon with an amazing half opened architecture which offers an extraordinary view and the best wet t´shirt and bikini contest of Cancún.
- Dady'O, Blvd Kukulkan Km 9.5, Zona Hotelera (Across street from Cocobongo). Dady'O has been known to host some of the world's top DJs, including Red Foo (LMFAO), Apl.De.App and Tiësto, features a casual atmosphere, laser shows, pole dancing go go girls and flashing dance floor opening shows.
- Cocobongo, Blvd Kukulkan Km 9.5 #30, Zona Hotelera (Across street from Dady'O), toll-free: . A nightclub featuring a show that has been compared with Las Vegas. More than 50 professionals in scenery.
Also try the clubs at Yaxchilan Avenue, located in downtown Cancún, where all the locals hang out.
- Los 4 Elementos, Hotel Xbalamque (Ave Yaxchilan 31). Try the live music bar Los 4 Elementos. They open and play live music from 11PM until the last customer leaves. The music is great and prices are significantly lower than those found in the hotel zone clubs.
- Pericos Restaurante - cantina, Ave Yaxchilan 61. Be prepared to join the waiters for some fun games. They also play live music until around 9PM. The atmosphere is fun and relaxing, and prices are reasonable (for example 230 pesos for a large delicious plate of fish or shrimp). Their dessert serving is quite a show.
- 77 Sports Bars, Ave Yaxchilan.
- La Taberna, Ave Yaxchilan.
- El Pabilo Cafe, Ave Yaxchilan.
Safety in Cancun
Ocean Currents— The ocean currents in Cancún, 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— Cancún is a place where the weather can change in a matter of minutes rather than hours. As in most tropical places, rain storms will start quickly and leave as quickly as it came. When a storm lingers, use caution in the water; especially when lightning is present.
Timeshare and condos are a big business all over Yucatan, especially Cancún. "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 Cancún airport. There are also reps in Mexico city attracting tourists with free Xe-Hal and Chichen Ha tours. These timeshare presentations are not always a waste of time. Some of these timeshare presentations offer coupons or other free offers which can total to several thousand dollars of savings during your trip if you are willing to endure the presentation.
Nothing is free- Most important lesson. Someone comes up to you and says you want a shot of tequlia? Come on its fun. This means you have not negotiated the price.
Don't use ATMs out of the banks- There are ATMs all over Cancún. 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.
It is highly recommended that you buy bottled water. Bottled water, depending on size, typically costs 30-50 pesos (US $2.75-4.55). Otherwise, do not drink the water unless your hotel has a water purification system. Most of the resorts in Cancún have purified water at all of the facilities located inside the resorts including the bars and restaurants. The upper-scale restaurants usually have purified water as well, but the water outside of these areas is not safe to drink.
The sun's UV rays are extremely strong in Cancún, even on cloudy days, and will burn any exposed skin on most persons from northern climates within a few minutes. Sunscreens that may be adequate elsewhere may not be sufficient in Cancún.
Because Cancún has powerful waves (see below), do not assume your sunscreen layer will remain intact. Always apply a fresh layer of sunscreen after taking a dip in the ocean.
Beaches in Cancun
Cancun is located on the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico, and its beaches lay on the warm shores of the Caribbean Sea. It is divided into three distinct areas: the city, the resort island, and the ecological reserve. "Ciudad Cancun" (Cancun City) is on the mainland, a somewhat typical Mexican town. "Isla Cancun" (Cancun Island) is the tourist center with hotels, resorts, and famous beaches.
The island is a 15 mile-long sandbar located off the mainland and connected by causeways on either end. The body of water between Cancun Island and the mainland is called the Nichupte Lagoon.
The Famous Beaches
The long, narrow island offers beaches all the way around its length, and all of the beaches of Cancun are free and open to locals and tourists alike. The hotels and resorts on the Caribbean coast prefer to keep “their” beaches for the use of their patrons, but they cannot keep other visitors from enjoying the pristine sand and warm water.
The famous white-sand beaches are of course the main attraction. For visitors that have not had the pleasure of such a beach, there is a pleasant surprise waiting: the white sand stays cool even under the tropical sun. The cool white sand and the warm Caribbean waters are an ideal combination for a relaxing afternoon.
Areas of the beaches are given names and have slightly different characters, so it can be easy to find just the right spot to enjoy.
North Side Beaches
For gentle water and wind currents, which make great places for families and leisure swimming, try the North Side beaches, like Playa Las Perlas, Playa Linda, Playa Langosta, Playa Tortugas, and Playa Caracol.
In addition, some beaches offer excellent opportunities for more fun, like scuba diving in the calm, clear waters of Playa Linda; or more active water sports such as waterskiing or boating at Playa Langosta and Playa Tortugas.
East Side Beaches
On Cancun’s East Side, the beaches offer higher waves and stronger breezes, making them havens for more adventurous visitors. From north to south:
Gaviota Azul, Chac Mool and Playa Marlin offer plenty of space to relax and enjoy the sunshine. Also, with the highest offshore wave action at these beaches, windsurfing and parasailing are popular.
Playa Ballenas is centrally located and known for family-friendly activities, like swimming, tubing, boating and waterskiing; and San Miguelito allows visitors to explore ancient Mayan ruins while playing in the sand.
Cancun is a family-friendly paradise for beach lovers of all ages.