Cancun is a coastal city on Mexico Yucatan Peninsula. It is a popular vacation spot on the Caribbean coast. 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. Late June is especially hot, so come prepared or try the off season. Hurricanes can be a major threat in the summer and early autumn.
Resting on the northeast corner of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun 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 inhabitants when Cancun was built. It is comprised of fourteen miles of pristine white beaches shaped like a number "7", home to 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 literally everywhere, some smothered by lush jungle, others easily accessible.
The Cancun 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 Cancun, 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 Cancun for much less than the cost of major Cancun hotels. Some Spanish language skills may aid in finding better deals. You can rent a car, or take the bus to Puerto Morelos (about 20 minutes) or Tulum (1 hour). Playa del Carmen (45 minutes, MXN$80) is between the two, but caters to the all-inclusive crowd. Taxis are also available.
PLACE TO VISIT
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 dolphins in a large pool.
Water and sand — Cancun is possibly best known for its beautiful turquoise waters and powdery white beaches.
WHAT 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. 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 Cancun is not only an opportunity to relax, but to shop as well. Many of the native people of Cancun 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.
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, Wet'n'Wild also offers dolphin experiences. (Beware: no cameras are allowed, then they charge $25 for the first photo, $20 for each subsequent one). Another great place to swim wirh dolphins is Delphinus Dreams.
Jeep Adventures. Experience some of the most beautiful parts of Cancun in a self drive jeep safari. Tour prices ususally 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 Cancun with the First Division team "Potros de Hierro (Iron Colts) of Cancun". The Atlante team, now based in Cancun, has a brand new stadium downtown.
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.
La Isla — La Isla is a huge outside shopping mall in Cancun right near many of the local hotels. It features hundreds of stores ranging from American brands like Polo to Mexican brands like Senor Frogs. There are numerous restaurants including Chili's and McDonalds along with more local Mexican foods.
Visit Cozumel — The largest island of Mexico, world renowned for its watersport activities such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, boating, fishing and much more. A day trip to this beautiful Caribbean island is a must.
HOW TO REACH
By plane - Cancún International Airport ( is Mexico's second busiest airport. It is about 10km (6 miles) from the hotel strip and 16km (9 miles) southwest of downtown.
One of Cancun's best features is its transport links, as most major air carriers in North, Central, and South America, have service to Cancun. There are some extremely cheap charter flight deals available from the UK (from around £100) as well as commercial flight deals from several European carriers.
The hardest part of the journey to Cancun (aside from your initial airport check-in) is getting from the luggage carousel to your transportation. Make sure you know who your transport is 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 time and money on your vacation don't stop to chit-chat about booking tours and such. There is plenty of time for that after you get settled in.
By car - For safety purposes, it is not recommended that visitors rent a car (this may be something the taxi drivers have encouraged). However, this applies anywhere that you are not familiar with. Some of the roads are well maintained here, and others may be sand or have potholes big enough to swallow a VW. If you are driving during daylight hours, keep an eye out for the buses, trucks, people and shuttles on the main roads, the side roads are a little rougher, but traffic is far less distracting. Police officers may sometimes pull you over, even for a minor violation, and ask for a bribe to let you off the hook, this may apply more to younger visitors, than say, those over thirty. If you are pulled over, be respectful to the police officer and don't do anything that would worsen the situation. Unless you are planning to explore outside of the "Hotel Zone" or downtown, a car is not necessary and may be more of a burden than an asset. Alternative transportation is plentiful and inexpensive 24/7.
If you plan on parking in the nightlife area of Cancun or in downtown Cancun, it can be frustrating to find a parking spot.
By bus - Cancun's bus station is located downtown on the corner of Uxmal Avenue and Tulum Avenue. Destinations served by bus include most destinations up to Mexico City (26 hrs.). The bus station is served by a taxi rank in front of the station. Local buses to the hotel zone pass regularly behind the station on the Tulum Avenue.