Cancun is Mexico’s most visited tourist destination and boasts over twenty-five thousand hotel rooms. There’s golf, tennis, lots of shopping facilities and a remarkable biodiversity. There are four hundred seventy-five bird species, over a hundred different mammals and twelve hundred plant species.
The beautiful ocean is home to over two thousand five hundred marine species with five hundred different tropical fish.
Cancun is located in the State of Quintana Roo at the most southern tip of the peninsula. It is divided into two sections: the Hotel Zone [Zona Hotelera] which is a 22 km sandy strip of land between a lagoon and seaside hotels located on Cancun Island and Cancun City/Downtown [El Centro] which is home to the many Mexicans who live in the district. Downtown is located on the mainland.
The hotel zone is an island shaped like a 7. It is joined to the mainland on the southern tip by the Punta Nizuc Bridge and the Playa Linda Bridge at the northern end. This 22 km strip of sandy beach is bisected by a long main street named Kukulcan Boulevard.
On the north and south side of the island is the Caribbean Sea while an enormous lagoon named Laguna Nichupte is formed by the inside of the “7” on the islands southwest side.
Cancun is similar to Miami or Myrtle Beach but with a more international flare. In some places you would be hard-pressed to notice the difference. You can however go on guided excursions from Cancun to almost anywhere in the Yucatan.
There are many hotels off the beach strip and these hotels drop in price dramatically. Many are within a short drive or bus ride to the beach. The rule is that the closer to the beach you are the more expensive. You can also find some pretty expensive 5 Star resorts way off the beach that cater to people who don’t necessarily feel the need to be near the sea.
HOTELS ON THE BEACH STRIP
Every time you blink it seems there is a new hotel. We have spoken to many people who have had marvelous stays in more than one hotel in the beach zone or at the all inclusive resorts. Quite often we talk to people who have been going here for over a dozen years and have never had a negative experience with any of the hotels.
THINGS TO DO NEAR CANCUN
Visitors will never be bored in Cancun! Whether traveling for relaxation or for adventure, Cancun will not disappoint. The beaches provide most travelers with the top-choice for daytime activities but for those that want to get out tours of all sorts are available.
If you are visiting to golf, Cancun and the surrounding areas on the Riviera Maya provide some of the finest courses in the world. If you are interested in scuba diving, adventure parks, theatre shows, aquariums, fishing, Mayan ruins, or just about anything else you will find it!
Below we have listed some of the featured things to do in Cancun but you can also view many additional options by using the tour search.
Tip: If you plan to make reservations for tours during your visit you will typically get the best rates if you book well in advance…at least 3 weeks prior to tour date. This can save you up to 30%!
Discover four different types of cenotes in a natural setting, an oasis in the middle of the jungle where you can enjoy nature at its best with a different activity on each Xenote; Kayaking, Rappelling, Snorkel, Zip-lines and Inner Tubes.
Embark on an aquatic adventure. Explore creeks, mangroves, lagoons, natural wells and ancient caves fed by subterranean rivers flowing to Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean Sea. Learn, rest and participate in the world’s most beautiful natural aquarium, Xel-Ha.
Travel back in time at the Maya Village and enjoy the five wading pools straight from the Caribbean. Unique rivers wind through Xcaret’s naturally occurring system of underground rivers. Must visit attraction.
A perfect day trip from all location throughout the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula. Chichen Itza is the most popular Mayan Ruin destination and provides phenomenal photo opportunities and interesting insights to the Mayan culture.
Getting around Cancun is relatively easy using the bus system, taxis, hotel shuttles and walking.
Many vacationers are content to stay at the hotel the entire week with maybe a couple tours, making it easy since you are picked up more or less at your front door and returned there after your tours. Airport transfers deliver you and pick you up with no problems.
For those vacationer who wish to get out of the hotel zone, visit various attractions, sight-see and shop, see Getting Around Cancun for more information.
Cancun not only has a large number of restaurants but visitors will also find a large variety of culinary styles. Expect to find truly authentic Mexican food for the region all the way to fine dining options. If you prefer familiar restaurants that you may see in the U.S. you will find many. If you are seeking local favorites that prepare regional culinary choices you will not be disappointed either.
Since many visitors prefer to stay fairly close to their hotel inquiring with the hotel staff for options works well most of the time. If exploration throughout Cancun is on your agenda to satisfy your culinary expectations visit the Cancun restaurants and the Cancun restaurant reviews pages.
Tip: Be aware of the location of where you eat as some can be very loud, crowded and even filled with gas fumes from nearby traffic.
All beaches in Cancun are public and provide ample areas to enjoy the sand and ocean. Depending on where you choose to stay will probably depend on which of the many beaches you visit. If exploring further than walking distance is an option then read through the descriptions of each on the Cancun Beaches page.
Water temperatures are pleasant most of the year with the summer months reaching very warm water at times. Even the winter months provide comfortable water temperatures unless an unusual cold spell arrives.
Tip: Keep an eye on the flag to know if it is safe to swim. Do not swim if a black flag is out and be cautious if a red flag is flying.
The Cancun club scene is world-renowned! We at headquarters may be past the age that allows for all night “all-you-can-drink” partying, but believe it or not we used to be young and able. If you are like most Cancun visitors, participating in the club scene is part of the plan during your visit.
Depending on your desires choosing the right club is highly advisable. Cancun boasts huge clubs packing in thousands of energy filled dancers in tight spaces all the way to chilled out cigar lounges. Finding a preferred experience can be accomplished by walking around the main bar and club area at the elbow of the 7 on Blvd. Kukulcan.
Tip: Plan on spending between MX$500 – MX$1,100 for entry fees at the large dance clubs. The higher amount would include all drinks.
The city begins where Kukulcan Boulevard meets Bonampak Avenue at the most northern tip. In Cancun streets are named after Mayan cities. Today over 628,000 people live in this growing community.
The heart of the city is known as “Downtown” [El Centro] which is where the main vendor markets are located on Tulum Avenue. There are also numerous restaurants and boutiques offering everything from cigars to exotic perfumes.
CANCUN BEACH UPDATE
Within days of Hurricane Wilma in 2005 a team from Belgium-based Jan De Nul Group arrived to survey the damage. Shortly after, a crew of 220 people began working on restoring Cancun’s beautiful beaches.However, Mother Nature had her own plan in mind and almost immediately Cancun’s beautiful beaches began to erode again. Without notice, in September 2009 the Beach Recovery Trust began on a $71 million beach restoration project to rebuild beaches along the coastline of Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. 5.2 million cubic meters (178.5 million cubic feet) of sand have been shifted to restore Mexico’s Caribbean beaches.
The Beach Recovery Project is aimed at returning the beaches to their original width, which in some cases was up to 65 meters (yards) wide in some spots. The Beach Recovery Trust is also establishing a monitoring and maintenance program in an effort to prevent the coastlines from eroding again. It is hoped that over time the white sand will settle naturally and firmly into place, making many of the beaches between 30 – 40 meters wide.
Cancun is an international tourist destination and thus there is foreign money and experience here. Many of the hotels are co-owned by foreign investors who also supply experienced management. There are countless Americans, Germans, Italians, Swiss, and Canadians working here.
This is the tourist mecca of Mexico and the Mexican government provides a safe environment for this to flourish. Crime is taken very seriously here. You are indeed safe.
For vactioners, many of your questions could probably be answered if you read these pages:
During WW2 American servicemen stationed on Cozumel discovered what an amazing place this little island was for diving. In fact it was Americans who built the first air-field on the island. Cozumel is located a little south-west of Cancun.
After the war word spread about the great diving at Isla Murejes and Cozumel and Mexico’s Carribean tourism industry began, albeit small. In 1959, Jacques Cousteau discovered the extent and beauty of Palancar, the coral reefs at the south of Cozumel and publicized it as one of the best places in the world to go diving.
During this period Mexico began ramping up for the 1968 Olympic games, which were to be held in Mexico City. Realizing the enormous amount of international attention that would be garnished on the country during and after the games, Mexico’s government wisely turned an eye to tourism, on a grand scale.
By 1969 The Bank of Mexico had begun developing the concept of Cancun as one of five new tourist destinations that would be created. Plans were made to convert this uninhabited jungle area into a tropical tourist mecca as well as open up new tourism possibilities by developing the infrastructure throughout the entire Yucatan region.
In 1974 Quintana Roo [the Mexican state where Cancun exists] officially gained statehood, Cancun International Airport opened its runways and the first hotel opened.
CANCUN AIRPORT INFORMATION
Cancun International Airport is composed of three terminals. Terminal 1 is the old terminal and is used for private airplanes and freight. Terminal 2 is for Mexico’s domestic flights and International. Terminal 3 is for International flights only. Travelers arrive and depart through either terminal 2 or 3.
The airport is located around 12 miles [19 km] from Cancun City, approximately a 15 – 30 minute drive to most hotels.
Both terminals are easy to navigate [due to their small size] clean and modern.
Cancun’s International Airport is Mexico’s first airport to have the capacity to handle simultaneous takeoffs and landings on two runways. The control tower, more than 315 feet tall, will be among the 20 tallest in the world, allowing improved efficiency in runway-use time assigned to aircrafts, beneficial to both passengers and almost the 150 domestic and international airlines.
It is the best Latin America airport and is among the top five in the world.
An important motor for regional development; in the last nine years, the airport invested more than $361 million dollars.
The airport had 170,600 square feet of terminal-building area; it now has 387,140 square feet.
Cancun is a super fun place to visit. You can stay in an all inclusive resort or venture out and see what the city has to offer. I have stayed in both types on my vacations to Cancun and they are great.It's nice to fly right into Cancun. There are many exciting day adventure trips from here as well.I definitely hope to visit again!