Do you want to know a secret? Come in close. Remember those childhood dreams of paradise, where you could play all day in the sand? Well, there’s a grown-up wonderland just like it and it’s waiting for you to arrive. Yes, pack those swim trunks and flip-flops; Cancun is eager for your visit.
With sprawling white-sand beaches, warm waters, and plenty of those little umbrellas in fruity drinks, it’s the definition of nirvana. Here’s the basic 101 guide of what you need to know to experience Cancun to the fullest:
A few decades ago, Cancun was nothing but a quiet, near-desolate strip of sand in the Caribbean. This all changed in the late 1960s, when The Cancun Project of 1969 showed some love to the region, and launched a master plan to develop the area into a full-blown traveller’s escape. Clearly, they succeeded. Not only is Cancun an enormously popular destination, the word “Cancun” is a nearly a synonym for lavish tropical vacations.
Where is Cancun, you ask? Southern Mexico curls like the corner of a coy smile, and Cancun is located on the eastern side of the curve. It’s situated only a few kilometers across the sea from the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Given its location by the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea, the look and feel of the whole city is tropical.
What kind of Cancun weather can you expect? It’s delightfully warm, just as you’d want paradise to feel like. Temperatures tend to linger around 25 Celsius, with an average of 240 bright, sunny days throughout the seasons. Cancun weather is especially good between December and April. During this period, temperatures tend to hover around 30 Celsius during the daylight hours and 18 Celsius during twilight. You’ll want to book your hotel early, as this is also the most popular time to travel to Cancun. As far as heat goes, the summer months bring hotter weather in Cancun. Most days are rather hot and humid, with temperatures around 35 Celsius at its peak temp in June.
Large hurricanes aren’t common in Cancun, but it is a good thing to pay attention to closer to your travel date. Hurricane season falls between June and mid-October. Luckily, it’s pretty mild when it does rain during the wet season of late August through mid-November. At worse, you can expect afternoon downpours that clear up in time for lobster dinner.
No matter if you need an umbrella or just want umbrellas in your cold, fruity beverages, Cancun is always paradise.
Fun Facts about Cancun
Cancun is a true global gem. The Cancun International Airport (CUN) has the most international traffic in all of Mexico, and is the second busiest airport in the country. And it’s little wonder why so many people make their way to the city: The sands of Cancun are legendary.
The sugar-white shore is the stuff of postcards and daydreams the world over. Furthermore, the sand is comprised of crushed coral, which is often cool to the pads of your feet if you’re forgoing sandals.
While most people go to Cancun to simply relax and tan, there are a number of big events in the area, too. Come in town for the Cancun Jazz Festival, the Cancun Cinco de Mayo Party, or the Equinox Celebrations, which include parties and film festivals.
Cancun culture is all about celebrating. Seafood diners, sweet drinks, calm weather, and an open schedule all make for a very good life on your vacation.
Top Ways to Get In and Around Cancun
We know you’re eager to get into Cancun, and why not? Paradise is just a flight, bus, or taxi away. Here are the top ways to get in and around Cancun:
You can call the Cancun International Airport (CUN) the entrance to heaven. Located only 10 km from the south side of the hotel strip, and roughly 16 km southwest of downtown, the Cancun Airport is an easy way into the city. Prepare your sinuses for plenty of coconut sunscreen: It’s the second busiest airport in all of Mexico.
Here’s one more important thing to know: Air Canada, Air Transat, CanJet, and WestJet all make routine voyages to the island retreat, so if you like your airline, you can keep your airline. And since flights to Cancun leave on the regular, and it’s easy to find cheap prices on trips to and flights from the Cancun International Airport.
Brace the seat cushions, Cancun taxis are ready to speed you to your ocean-side suite ASAP. After your Cancun flight, you can find a range of taxis outside Terminal 2 and 3. It’s often advised to avoid making transportation deals with stand-alone vendors inside the airport, as these companies aren’t always authorized and can be unreliable.
Ride Share Shuttles
Just like the 70s when people shared vans with their best friends, van and shuttle ride shares are popular methods of transportation. Keep things cheap by booking ahead—those last-minute sign-ups tend to stiff the wallet.
Embrace the bus, my friend. This is the cheapest means to get from the runway to the sparkling shores and everywhere in between. There are three private bus routes that exclusively travel from the airport to the hotel zone and downtown. Most of these airport vehicles are brand new and have free Wi-Fi included. The main lines are R-1 and R-2, and run 24/7 from the runway to the hotel strip.
If you find yourself missing Walmart during your trip to paradise, don’t worry: R-2 and R-15 head to Walmart, as well as the popular Mercado 28. R-1 travels to Puerto Juarez, Plaza 2000, and Mercado 23. R-27 takes you to Plaza Las Americas, where you can catch different lines to Playa del Carmen and Tulum for day trips.
Don’t like being beholden to a schedule, thank you very much? Cancun car rentals are your allies. While you can get around pretty easily with public transportation within the city, rental cars in Cancun are perfect for longer day trips to the ruins of Tulum or the cenotes of Punta Cana.
Most of the top Cancun attractions are within walking distance the hotel strip, so as long as you have some good flip-flops and sunscreen, you’re pretty much golden. Leave the loafers and heels at the office and pick out some neon green flip-flops for most of your transportation needs.
As long as you end the evening with confetti in your hair, you’ve experienced what the Cancun nightlife is all about. It doesn’t matter if you’re a spring breaker or a stay-at-home dad ready to let loose, this city knows how to throw a party. Here are some of the top clubs in Cancun.
As one of the most acclaimed clubs in town, Coco Bongo in Cancun has a lot to live up to. Luckily, it does. For starters, the club doesn’t charge you per beverage. Instead, you pay one fee for a wristband and can imbibe cheaply (and responsibly) the rest of the evening. The club is also well-known for its performances. On any day of the week, you can see acrobats swinging from one end of the room to the other, twisty circus acts, and bursts of confetti that rain down on synchronized bodies in motion. Music styles include hip-hop, pop, dance, trance, and remixed tracks from the 70s and 80s.
Make no mistake. Dady’O nightclub may have opened in the 80s, but this classic club isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, it’s where some of the wildest nights in Cancun happen. Get ready for bikini and wet t-shirt contests, theme music nights, and open bars. Music styles include techno, pop, and dance.
There are three phrases you need to know in Spanish: hola (hello); donde esta el baño (where’s the bathroom), and llevarme a Senior Frog! (take me to Senior Frog!). There are few things as dependable as a buzzy night at Senior Frog. In the day, it’s a place to enjoy some tacos and drinks with fellow travellers. At night, it’s where you go to enjoy a wild night with new friends. Make a date at the Frog for special foam and glow nights, where everyone is decked out in paint and suds.
Forget what anyone told you: Bigger is better, which is why you have to make a stop at The City, the largest club in Cancun. With three levels and gargantuan ceilings, the venue can hold up to the 5,000 people. Not only does it attract sorority girls and guys, it’s also a magnet for some of the biggest rappers and performers in the business. Expect musical styles like hip-hop, techno, and dubstep.
Some of the best clubs in Cancun don’t have anything to do with glitter and are more about fun activities right on hotel property for you. Don’t be shy, and battle it out with other visitors on the tennis court, mini-golf course, game room, or celebrity-style swimming pool. Top spots include Crown Paradise Club Cancun and Club Med Cancun.
Whether you want to put on your dancing shoes or forgo shoes entirely, the clubs in Cancun are ready to serve.
Cancun Sports Scene
If you think that the only sport in Cancun is hammock napping, there’s a whole side of the city you’re missing. With a mix of professional sports and adventurous traveller activities, there’s plenty to do to get your heart rate up in paradise.
To say that soccer is a popular sport in Mexico is to put it lightly. Residents are fiercely loyal of their teams and will loudly cheer and shout for their favourite players. Cancun’s local team, Atlante F.C., has a fall and spring season. With a stadium in downtown Cancun, catching a match is a must before shuffling into the area’s nightclubs. Remember to wear some blue and red colours and root on the “Potros” with the locals.
Know what goes great with board shorts and a floppy hat? A baseball mitt, of course. Keep your eye on the ball during the next Tigres de Quintana Roo baseball game. The season runs from April to August, with games played at the baseball diamond adjacent to the Atlante soccer field.
Basketball and Cancun may not seem to go hand-in-hand, but it makes much more sense once you head to a Pioneros de Quintana Roo game. Pick your seat on the blue and yellow bleachers and cheer on the team.
What’s a tropical vacation without a trip to the golf course? Bring your A game with you when you golf in Cancun. Get your swing on at Riviera Cancun Golf Club. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the green features large pipes under the course to water the natural mangroves on the field. Incidentally, crocodiles also use the pipelines to get from one end of the park to the other, but you don’t have to worry about them. The other Nicklaus-designed course is located at the Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort. Open from dawn to dusk, the course is located only a bad swing away from the ocean. The Cancun Golf Club at Pok ta Pok is another popular golf course in Cancun. The championship 18-hole course takes you past ancient Mayan ruins and ocean views. There are also mobile bars, in case you get thirsty on the green. And luckily there are hotels near Cancun Golf Club if those fruity drinks are a bit strong.
Surrounded by the calm waters of the Caribbean Ocean, Cancun is the type of city that lives and breathes fishing. This is the kind of town to go big—or deep, if you will. Cancun deep-sea fishing is well worth the license fee. Reel in everything from marlin and wahoo, to mahi mahi and tuna. Fly fishing and bottom fishing are also options.
From shooting hoops to casting lines, Cancun is full of sporty adventures. Lather up some sunscreen and get active during your holiday.
Most Popular Parks Around Cancun
Whether you want to swing on a jungle rope or jump feet first down a water slide, Cancun is home to a number of perfect parks for you. Make no mistake; these aren’t your average patches of Earth.
Life is better when floating down a river in a neon tube. As the premier Cancun water park, Wet´N Wild knows a thing or two about a well-spent afternoon. Tighten your stomach and jump down the towering twisty slides of the park. Or, if you need a break from the vertical rides, hop into a tube and make your way down the Lazy River. There is also a wave pool, bumper boats, and kids park, if you’re travelling with the family.
Garrafon Natural Reef Park
Zip up your life jacket and jet boat over to Garrafon Natural Reef Park. Located on Isla Mujeres, a short boat ride from Cancun, the park features thick jungles and immaculate reefs just below the waves. Like dolphins? At the park, you can pet and swim with them, and experience a wet dolphin “kiss.” If you prefer to swim solo, there are plenty of snorkeling opportunities around the reef. Ziplining, cycling, and kayaking are also options. And if you really want to sneak in some extra adventure, head just a little north of the park to Punta Sur, which features a sculpture garden, lighthouse, and ancient Mayan temple.
Chankanaab National Park
Translating into “little sea,” Chankanaab National Park is the ultimate natural water locale. Located inside the Cozumel National Marine Park, Chankanaab is made up of a lagoon, reef, and botanical garden. Throw on a mask and dip below the tropical waters of the park. There are a number of colourful fish darting through the waters, along with unique underwater statues. While you won’t see any crocodiles in the waters, you can still view them from a safe distance. The park features a crocodile exhibition, along with a sea lion show, and dolphin pool.
Consider yourself an eco-traveller who likes theme parks? Head to Xcaret. Part theme park, part eco-archaeological sanctuary, Xcaret is a hodgepodge of entertainment and activity. Sign up for a snorkeling tour, where you can swim in the underground rivers, walk through the ancient Mayan archaeological sites, and head up the Scenic Tower for dazzling views. Just remember to stick around after sunset, when the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular takes place, with 300 artists and tons of colourful lights. Luckily, there are a ton of hotels near Xcaret, if the little ones get tired after the show.
Featuring a natural aquarium and eco wonders, Xel-Ha is all a sustainable family theme park should be. Put on a swimsuit and go snorkeling under the waves of the lagoon, or go on the river tour and visit the underground waterways. Bring your camera with you into the Xel-Ha Cave, a magical spot with turquoise shallow waters and jagged rock walls. If you prefer to be above ground, there is also ziplining, a cliff climb, and a swinging rope above the waters. Don’t worry if you need a break after a day at Xel-Ha. There a number of Xel-Ha water park hotels nearby if you need to rest before heading back into the waters.
Whether you want to dive underground or hike above the jungles, Cancun parks don’t disappoint.
Top Beaches in Cancun
Most beaches are beautiful shades of gold; in Cancun, the shore bounces back a myriad of hues from fuzzy rainbow beach towels. Whether you want to get a tan on a popular strip next to nightclubs or rest on a secluded strand, you have your pick of options. Here are some of the most popular Cancun beaches:
Located on the northern side of Isla Mujeres just off of Cancun, North Beach has some of the best water in the area. You won’t have to compete with rocks under the sea, as on the southern side, and the crashing waves are fairly small. For these reasons, it’s considered one of the most popular swimming beaches in the city. It’s also a top pick for a clear view of the sunset. Not to worry if you need something other than water to quench your thirst; there are plenty of beach bars dotting the shore.
Cancun is one of the rare places where you can go from swim trunks to stilettos in a matter of minutes. Playa Forum is the most popular Cancun beach due to its easy access to the enormously popular Coco Bongo nightclub and other strobe light-heavy venues. Meet some new friends on the sand and later join up on the dance floor.
Calm waters are important when you’re taking little ones to the beach. The small waves of Playa Tortugas are easy to play in, thus making it one of the best Cancun beaches for families. The beach also has a marina and a bungee tower, which are popular with kids (and kids at heart).
As the largest of the beaches in Cancun, Playa Delfines is one of the hottest spots in the city. On any given day, you’ll see parasailers, swimmers, and jet skiiers enjoying time on the water. Prefer to do absolutely nothing? There’s no judgement. Because it’s close to the hotel zone, there are plenty of chairs and umbrellas dotting the shore.
With warm sand and calm waves, no Cancun vacation is complete without a day on the beach.
Best Shopping in Cancun
There’s more to Cancun shopping than Bermuda shorts and ironic coffee mugs. There are also a number of prime shopping opportunities throughout the city. Between designer threads and handcrafted art, get your wallet ready for a good spree—or two or three. Here are the top Cancun shopping spots:
La Isla Shopping Village
Under the giant canopy near the shore of Nichupte Lagoon is La Isla Shopping Village. The look is purposefully Venetian, with plenty of canals and quaint bridges to give the area an intimate atmosphere. This is where you’ll find over 150 shops, with top-name designers next to ice cream cafes and movie theatres. There’s also an aquarium on-site, if you need to give your shopping arms a break as you watch the jellyfish.
As the name proclaims, Luxury Avenue is nothing but class. The boutique mall is hard to miss, with the disc elevated above its entrance and manicured gardens. Once inside, it’s a sea of name brands all in a row. Coach, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier are just some of the stores to buy that perfect outfit with accessories on your vacation. You may also want to pop into the neighboring Kukulcan Plaza, which is home to Hugo Boss, Oakley, and Mango stores.
Whether you need upscale perfume or a few puzzle games during your vacation, you can find it at Plaza Caracol. With over 140 stores, you’ll discover a range of trinkets at this Cancun shopping mall. There are tons of shops selling jewelry, souvenirs, sunglasses, and shoes. It’s also a cool area to duck away from the heat during the peak temperatures of the day.
One of the most popular places for shopping in Cancun is Mercado 28. The sprawling flea market located in the heart of downtown has just about anything you could want out of Mexico. Browse around for one-of-a-kind pieces of art, handcrafted silver jewelry, and colourful beach clothing. Traveller tip: Most of the stores don’t accept credit cards, so remember cash before you shop around the market.
Whether you’re looking for designer duds or a bright beach towel, Cancun has you covered.
Foods and Restaurants to Try in Cancun
Did you know t hat Mexican food is the third most popular cuisine in the world? While you may enjoy your burritos at home, it’s hard to beat Mexican flavours when you have a window seat by the Caribbean Sea. Restaurants in Cancun bring heat, spice, and plenty of ocean views. Here are the top foods you simply must try during your trip:
Made of fresh shrimp, octopus, or shellfish, ceviche is one of the most recognizable Mexican appetizers. The raw seafood is mixed with finely chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, sprigs of cilantro, and finished with a bath of lime juice. Most Cancun fine dining restaurants, such as Casa Rolandi, include ceviche on their menus.
A good tostada is something to behold. Meet the panucho, a tostada done up fancy. Brace your fingertips: The base is made with a piping hot, fried tortilla stuffed with refried beans. The top is piled with cool lettuce, peels of red onions, sliced avocados, pickled jalapenos, and strips of chicken, beef, or pork. You can find these popular appetizers at some of the best Cancun restaurants like Labna, as well as street carts.
Salbutes are tacos gone wild. Served on deep-fried puffed tortillas, this dish is topped with a slathering of sour cream, salsa, cheese, pickled red onions, avocados, a choice of chicken, beef, or pork meat, and a hardboiled egg—because, why not throw an egg into the delicious mess? Use your hands to lightly fold the sides and eat as you would a taco. Salbutes are often served as street food.
A traditional Mayan dish, cochinita pibil is slow-roasted pork that’s been marinated in citrus juices and then cooked in banana leaves. The sauce is made with traditional spices like oregano, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, garlic, and salt. You can find these steaming hot dishes in Cancun restaurants like Emara, Labna, and La Habichuela.
Get your lips ready for sour lime, spicy pepper, and plenty of slow-roasted meats on tortillas during your visit to Cancun.
Top Hotels in Cancun
Cancun hotels are meccas of vacation opulence. These spots aren’t just places to sleep and grab a meal—they’re full-on tropical retreats. Here are some of the top Cancun resorts.
Ocean Spa Hotel
Some hotels get right to the point. If you want a beachfront hotel with a top-notch spa and luxe amenities, the Ocean Spa Hotel has you covered. Given its close location to the shore, the resort offers a number of beach sporting equipment for rent. Try out windsurfing, kayaking, and aqua aerobics, to name a few. After a day of moving and twisting in the water, relax at the in-house Ya’ax Che Spa. Indulge in a Swiss shower, first-rate facial, and a few salon services…because, why not? And since it’s one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, you can just walk over to any of the hotel’s five restaurants once you’re hungry.
Hotel Krystal Cancun
Not many places consider themselves barefoot-friendly, but the Hotel Krystal Cancun isn’t like most places. The guest rooms include marble floors and bathrooms, which feel cool against sun-kissed feet. It’s also one block away from a number of nightclubs, so once you do want to slip into shoes, you’re just a short walk away from the pubs and dance floors.
Bel Air Collection Hotel and Spa Cancun
After escaping from work and the office, nothing is better than stretching out and relaxing on a private beach. This is where the Bel Air Collection Hotel and Spa really shines. The hotel’s private beach is warm, open, and friendly, making it a prime spot to melt away those back-home cares. Additionally, the resort comes with two restaurants and is centrally located to Wet´N Wild and the El Rey Ruins.
Hotel Flamingo Cancun
Name it, and the Hotel Flamingo Cancun has it. The resort is overflowing with restaurants, pools, and an island sundeck with chaise lounges. This Cancun resort also offers non-motorized watersport equipment for rent if you want to kick on some flippers during your trip. Additionally, the hotel is located across from Flamingo Plaza, so if you want to do a little shopping, you can easily bring your bags back to your room.
ME Resort Cancun
Cancun resort pools are often the hub of activity—adult or otherwise. If you’re looking for a grown-ups-only experience, ME Resort Cancun has what you need. The hotel includes a special pool for adults, plus an infinity pool which offers an adjacent dance floor on the weekends. For relaxation, enjoy some time at the YHI Spa, and pamper yourself with some facials and massages. There are also yoga classes available, if you want a good workout by the sea before diving back into the water.
Aquamarina Beach Hotel Cancun
Located on its own private beach and marina, the Aquamarina Beach Hotel Cancun gives you the perfect amount of seclusion from the rest of the sunbathers. And you won’t have to worry about stuffing your suitcase with beach equipment. The hotel offers everything from beach umbrellas to towels. They also have a beachside bar when you’re ready to emerge from the water for an ice-cold, fruity drink.
Solymar Cancun Beach Resort
With the El Rey Ruins, WetNn Wild, and Playa Delfines all within close proximity, staying in Hotel Solymar Cancun keeps you near the best attractions of the city. Of course, if you want to relax in the resort all afternoon, no one is going to fault you. The hotel rests on its own private beach, and offers beach umbrellas, sun loungers, and even an optional babysitting service if you need couple time by the shore. You most likely will at this hotel, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Temptation Resort Cancun
You won’t want for anything at the Temptation Resort Cancun. You’ll be tempted by three pools, six restaurants, two swim-up bars, and even nightly entertainment. Fill up on sweet island food, then lie out and get that perfect tan by the blue water. And if you don’t want white lines from your bikini, take it off. Temptation Resort Cancun offers adults-only topless tanning.
There are a ton of hotels in Cancun that are ready to serve your every whim and need. Pick your locale, reserve your room, and get set for a truly pampered experience.
Best Cancun Organized Tours
Sure, you can spend most of your time in Cancun stretched out on the beach, doing nothing but getting a sweet tan. However, if you want to slip in a few tours during your trip, you have plenty of options. Here are some of the best Cancun tours to try on your vacation.
What better way to experience Cancun than on a high-speed jungle tour? Sign up for a two-person speedboat and zip along the Nichupte Lagoon. Now, there may not be as much jungle here then say, the Amazon, but it’s still an impressive sight. Continue your journey past the thick vines to one of the largest coral reefs in the world. Most tours will let you test out some snorkeling, but don’t worry if you’re new to the sport. Most jungle tours in Cancun will include snorkel gear and helpful guides who are trained to assist beginners.
Chichen Itza Tour
Would you like a little history to go with your Cancun trip? Sign up for a Chichen Itza tour and take an expedition through ancient Mayan ruins. Check out the Kukulkan Pyramid and Plaza of a Thousand Columns, as well as the on-site observatory. While you’re here, check out the Temple of the Warriors, Great Ball Court, and Sacred Well, where sacrifices to the gods once took place. After a day of walking through the ruins, you won’t have to travel far to rest. Just book a night at your own personal pyramid with a hotel near Chichen Itza.
There are few better ways to see the lush Mayan jungles than with a zipline tour. Dozens of lines crisscross the trees, providing unparalleled panoramic views. Many of these tours in Cancun also include “skywalk” opportunities, where you gingerly make your way across a perilous rope bridge high above the jungle floor. Or you can soar above it all with a bungee swing.
With warm waters and colourful sea life, it’s little wonder why snorkeling is such a popular sport in Cancun. Luckily, you don’t have to sign up for a jungle tour just to get some snorkel action. You can pick a tour that takes you directly into the various underwater ecosystems. For example, snorkel in the calm ocean waters, swim in the mysterious underground rivers, and explore the spooky Mexican cenotes.
Trips to Cancun are all about wonder. No matter how you want to explore the magic of the city, there’s a tour for you. Strap on your snorkel mask, lace up your hiking boots, and come see this Caribbean destination in a wholly unique way.
What to See in Cancun
Cancun is a feast for the eyes. With a town this big and attractions this famous, the city has more than its fair share of sights. Here are some of the top things to put on your Cancun sightseeing list:
Depending on how you see it, Xcaret is a theme park, an eco-sanctuary, or a historical site. To explore the park in a truly unique way, sign up for a snorkeling tour, where you can swim in the underground rivers and caves. Once you’re ready to dry off, pop back on land, walk through the ancient Mayan archaeological sites, and head up Torre Escenica, also called Scenic Tower, for dazzling views. Just remember to stick around after sunset when Xcaret Mexico Espectacular takes place with 300 artists and tons of colourful lights. If you want to see the park first thing in the morning, just book any of the hotels near Xcaret for easy access.
Cancun is famous for its small, private beaches, but when you’re ready to really stretch your legs, head to Playa Delfines. This ribbon of shore is known for its large landscape and sense of seclusion. It’s an ideal place to watch surfers cut through the waves and watch the sun set over the sea. If you wanted to see the shore from a truly unique view, just rent a Jet Ski® and watch the city blur by.
Admit it, you’ve always wanted to swim with a dolphin. Luckily, Cancun is the place to enjoy some time with the finned creatures. Head to Dolphin Discovery, located in the luxury area of Puerto Aventuras. Here, you can watch the dolphins swim and dance. Plus, you can swim with the sea mammals yourself and sign up for a “dolphin push,” where a dolphin propels you through the water by your feet.
Considered one of the main strips of town, Avenida Kukulkan is where you’ll find yourself next to dozens of restaurants, shops, and clubs. During the day, you can spy the blue ocean waters lap at the edges of the walkway, while at night, the neon signs glow bright along the avenue. You may also want to keep your eyes open for Mayan statues along the row, as there is a ton of street art dotting the area.
Playa Chac Mool
Named after a playful god who’s often depicted relaxed with a tray on its stomach, Playa Chac Mool is a lively stretch of beach. The strong currents are known for being more challenging than usual, making this area a prime spot for advanced swimmers. Of course, you can forgo the doggie paddle and just admire the muscular swimmers doing their thing. Once you’re done with the beach, move those eyes from the waves to Senior Frog’s® just across the street, where a party is always spilling into the avenue.
No matter what you want to see in Cancun, the views in paradise can’t be beat.
Things to Do in Cancun
Adventure and Cancun go together like tequila and lime. Whether you want to slip on some flippers or put on a pirate eye patch, here are some of the top things to do in Cancun:
Iberostar Cancun Golf Course
With tropical weather year-round, there’s never a bad time to golf in Cancun. Test out one of the best greens in the city at the Iberostar Cancun Golf Course. The championship course is an 18-hole fairway and includes an on-site restaurant and putting green. If you really want a better score than your vacation mates, sign up for swing analysis and customized coaching. There’s no better place to beat your mother-in-law at a round of golf than in Cancun.
Captain Hook Dinner Cruise
There are some things you simply need to do at least once in your life. Going on a pirate-themed lobster dinner cruise is one of them. Crafted to resemble real pirate ships, the Captain Hook Dinner Cruise boats are unusual sights. A night aboard the cruise includes contests, dancing, and of course, a pirate show. Now, while some restaurants in Cancun conclude dinner with dessert, the Captain Hook Dinner Cruise ends with a battle between rival vessels. Prepare for the ship to rattle from cannon fire, sword fights, and enemy pirates in combat on the planks.
There’s a reason so many people will say “scuba dive” when you ask them what to do in Cancun. With warm tropical waters year-round and plentiful sea life, it’s little wonder why this sport is so hyped up to travellers. While you’re in the water, you may want to kick your way down to the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA), which features hundreds of statues standing tall under the sea. Called the “Silent Evolution,” the exhibit serves as an unusual art piece as well as an artificial reef for the sea critters.
Whale Shark Tour
You know what everyone could use more of in their lives? Whale sharks! Sign up for a whale shark tour that will give you the chance to encounter the large fish. Don’t worry; they might have “shark” in their name but they’re completely harmless. Tours are limited to keep the animals protected from too many boats in the water, so sign up as early as possible.
The Cancun area was the site of one of the most notable ancient civilizations in human history: the Mayans. Take some time to explore the ancient ruins and pyramids while you’re in town. A walk around Chichen Itza will take you to spots like the Temple of the Warriors, Venus Platform, and Grand Ball Court. Aside from its place in ancient history, Chichen Itza is also considered one of the seven wonders of the world, so you can cross that off your list.
If there’s anything this paradise can promise you, it’s that you’ll never run out of things to do in Cancun, Mexico. Swim with the sharks, visit the pyramids, and get to know the city from all of its vantage points.
Annual Events and Festivals in Cancun
Cancun is truly a year-round destination, but there are several major events and festivals that highlight the calendar throughout the seasons. Here are some of the top Cancun events to catch while you’re in town:
Not that you need an excuse to party in Cancun, but the BPM Festival ups the ante each January. The ten-day festival showcases a number of the most popular DJs in the world. The event, originally created for ‘B’artenders, ‘P’romoters, and ‘M’anagers, now attracts tons of electronic music fans and record industry insiders, and it spreads across several venues like beach bars and downtown nightclubs, providing perfect settings for strobe lights and bass notes by the sea.
Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza
Each year on the first day of spring, people line up at Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan castle. During the few days before and after the equinox, the sun’s shadow creates a serpent shape that slithers down the centuries-old temple. While you’re at the pyramid, you can also tour the ancient ruins and see the places that warriors and royals once called home.
Easter is a big holiday in the predominately Catholic Mexico. Each year, Semana Santa—also called Holy Week—begins on Palm Sunday and lasts through Easter Sunday. Celebrations include parades, reenactments of the Crucifixion, and church worship. Many Mexican families head to coastal towns like Cancun for the holiday, so remember to book your hotel near Semana Santa festivities early.
Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival
Cancun is already well known for its culinary scene, but things get a little wilder each March, when the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival heats up the area’s senses like oil in frying pan. The world’s top chefs and sommeliers descend upon the beach city and prepare glorious treats and drinks for festival participants. Bring your appetite to this top festival in Cancun.
Isla Mujeres Whale Shark Festival
Whale sharks may not have big chompers like regular sharks, but they’re still impressive creatures. Each summer, whale sharks migrate to warm waters full of plankton—including spots like Isla Mujeres, the island just off of Cancun. To celebrate the migration, the island city hosts the Isla Mujeres Whale Shark Festival each June. The celebration includes local food, regional dance, and Mexican street art.
Cancun Jazz Festival
Notes of electronica, hip-hop, and pop are common sounds in the party town of Cancun. However, each fall brings the sweet melodies of saxophones and trumpets. The annual Cancun Jazz Festival takes place each September, and brings out thousands of jazz lovers. Lasting three days, this enormous festival brings live music to every corner of town, as well as sizzling street food and local art.
Whether you want a Cancun festival dedicated to temples in spring or sharks in summer, there’s an event ready for you to try out.
Day Trips, Weekend Trips, and Week Trips in Cancun
Cancun is one of those rare destinations where it doesn’t matter if you’re in town for a day, a weekend, or a week. If you need a little help narrowing down what to do with the time you have, here are some points of reference:
Day Trip to Cancun
If you’re only in town for the day, there are plenty of things to pack into 24 hours. Here are the top attractions to fit into your Cancun day trip.
Morning: Get into the vacation spirit by spending your morning hours soaking up the warm Caribbean sun. Find a perfect breakfast joint right on the shore and enjoy stunning views of the water. Once you’ve digested, squeeze in some surfing time with an instructor or try out some snorkeling.
Afternoon: Once you’re dried off, make a visit to Chichen Itza, the famous Mayan ruin. After a worldwide vote by New7Wonders in 2007, the ancient site was ranked one of the seven wonders of the world, and it’s easy to see why. The Kukulkan Pyramid still stands tall, and you can check out the ball courts and worship areas.
Night: Toast to the evening at any of the top nightclubs in town. Pop into Coco Bongo for a venue that features blasting music, circus acts, and tons of glitter. Alternatively, duck into Daddy´O for bikini contests and theme music nights.
Remember: Just because you’re only in town for 24 hours doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the best day travel in Cancun.
Weekend Trip to Cancun
A weekend in Cancun is the perfect amount of time to balance outdoor activities with some sightseeing. Here are some of the top things to do during a weekend in Cancun:
Friday: It’s not a Cancun trip without salty lips and a full stomach. A weekend getaway is the perfect time to indulge on the island’s top flavours. Test out famous street cart foods like panuchos and salbutes, which are often topped with pulled pork and pickled onions. This is also a good time to dine at some of the top restaurants in town like Labna, Emara, and La Habichuela.
Saturday: Leave your Saturday open for some exploration around Cancun. To get in the thick of things, snap on your goggles and fins and head to Chankanaab National Park. It’s made up of a lagoon, botanical garden, and coral reef, so there’s plenty to see under and above water. There’s also a crocodile exhibit and a sea lion show, if you want to check out the big creatures.
Sunday: As it was the site of the ancient Mayan civilization, Cancun is one of the most famous historic cities in the world. Spend your Sunday visiting the Chichen Itza ruins, which include the famous Kukulkan Pyramid and Temple of the Warriors.
With a day for food, a day for fun, and a day for history, you can see the best of town on your Cancun weekend getaway.
Week Trip to Cancun
If you have a week to spend in Cancun, you’ve really hit the jackpot. Here are the top things to do all in seven days:
Day 1: Cancun operates on island time, so spend your first day adjusting to the lifestyle by doing…absolutely nothing. Slip into your bathing suit, unroll a towel, and stretch out in the sunshine. Whenever you get hungry, just mosey over to a street cart and pick up some steaming hot panuchos with shredded pork or salbutes with beef and egg.
Day 2: Cancun is a popular place to play sports, but watching some professional games are worth it, too. Soccer is king here, and the locals love to cheer on the Atlante. Aside from soccer, you’ll also want to bring the noise and popcorn to sports games like baseball and basketball.
Day 3: Spend your third day in the city adorned with goggles and flippers. If you’re only looking to snorkel, many hotels offer beginner equipment to rent. If you want to really explore, slap on some snorkeling gear and check out the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA). The unique museum is made up of hundreds of statues that stand under the sea, and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Day 4: Get your credit card ready to rumble, because there is a ton of good shopping in Cancun. For fine goods and designer clothing, head to Luxury Avenue. The upscale mall includes top names like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Coach. For bargain hunting, try out Mercado 28. This is where you’ll find everything from handmade jewelry to cheap beach clothes.
Day 5: Cancun is home to a variety of amusement parks. From water slides to jungle escapades, it’s a hodgepodge of the best types of activities. One of the most popular parks near the city is Xcaret, a theme park that incorporates an eco-sanctuary. Brace your nerves and try out some scuba diving in the underground caves before zipping up the looking tower overlooking the greenery.
Day 6: There are a number of tours you can take in the city, and one of the best is the Chichen Itza tour. This was the place of Mayan warrior tournaments and sacrifices to the gods. Walk up the Kukulkan Pyramid and see why this spot was named one of the seven wonders of the world after a worldwide vote in 2007.
Day 7: Cap off your trip to Cancun with a wild night at Cancun hot spots like Senior Frog and Coco Bongo. Whether you want confetti raining down on you or sudsy bubbles blowing in the air during a wet T-shirt contest, ending your trip with a dash of wild is just the way to go.
No matter how much time you spend in Cancun, it’s always a vacation in paradise.