Is Cancun Safe? 2024 Travel Tips

Cancun is a vibrant city nestled in the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Together with Playa del Carmen and Tulum, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Yucatan Peninsula, thanks to the pristine beaches, diverse nightlife, and incredible food.

And, with flight times of as little as two hours from southern parts of the USA like Miami and Texas, you can hop on a flight and be feasting on tacos by lunchtime.

In this article, we’ll look at how to stay safe and have the best possible time in this coastal Mexican gem of a city.


Is Cancun Safe?

Photo Credit: AdrianaAceves

Mexico as a whole has struggled with a troubled history of high crime rates and corruption. But that reputation is a little outdated for the Caribbean coast, which is now much more stable and mostly peaceful.

Many U.S. citizens considering a trip south of the border wonder if Cancun is safe. The short answer is yes; it’s a very safe place to visit as long as you take a few simple precautions. Let’s look at how to stay safe while vacationing in Cancun.


Is Cancun Safe at Night?

One of Cancun’s main draws is its nightlife, so it’s likely that you’ll want to head out and explore after dark. It’s perfectly safe to do so, but visitors should be extra cautious once the sun goes down. Avoid walking in deserted streets in Downtown Cancun or along secluded areas of the beach. Licensed taxis and Uber are both extremely affordable, so book a ride if in doubt whether it’s safe to walk.

Don’t take wads of cash out with you at night, and keep your valuables, including your cell phone, out of sight. If you’ve hired a car for your Mexico travel adventures, plan your journeys in advance so you aren’t driving through quiet stretches of road late at night.


How Safe is Cancun for Spring Break?

The state of Quintana Roo is one of the most popular places in the world for American college students to head for Spring Break, and the nightlife and beach parties are legendary. If you’re planning on being one of the almost 50,000 students who fly down each year, there are a couple of travel safety tips to bear in mind while you’re partying:

  • Choose accommodation wisely and check reviews to make sure the area and building are safe.
  • Stick with your friends and make sure everyone comes home together.
  • Watch your drinks while you’re partying, and don’t accept beverages from strangers.
  • Get a great travel insurance policy just in case anything does happen (it’s a must-have for international travel).

Is Public Transport Safe in Cancun?

Yes, it’s very safe to take buses throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Whether you’re heading from/to the airport, in the direction of Chichen Itza, or down the coast to Tulum, ADO buses are the best option. These buses can be booked online and are completely safe and reliable.

For shorter journeys, ‘colectivos’ (minibuses) operate throughout the city and can be flagged down from the street. Schedules are a little looser for colectivos, so ask your hotel’s front desk where you can catch one.


Safe Areas to Stay in Cancun

Most areas of Cancun are safe if you take the proper precautions, but these two are where visitors typically feel most safe:


The Hotel Zone

La Zona Hotelera is where the city’s most luxurious all-inclusive resorts are located and is where many first-time visitors choose to stay. The resorts themselves are all very safe, the white sand beach that runs the length of the zone is well-policed, and there are plenty of licensed taxis available to take you from A to B.


Downtown Cancun

Staying in Downtown Cancun is closer to the airport, which makes it more convenient for shorter trips. It’s also cheaper and offers a more authentic Cancun experience. This bustling part of the city feels very safe, and it’s perfectly fine to walk around at night. If your hotel is in a quiet part of Downtown, take Ubers at night rather than walking around.


Safe Hotels and Resorts in Cancun

The best prep you can do to ensure you stay safe in Cancun is to book a reputable hotel with great reviews. Check that the hotel has security and, ideally, a 24-hour front desk, and choose rooms that have lockable safes where you can stash your valuables. Here are some of our favorite safe spots in Cancun:

  • Budget option: The Yellow Capsule Experience: Capsule hotels are a safer alternative to traditional hostels because you have your own private, lockable pod to sleep in.
  • Mid-range option: Hotel Casa Mallorca: This hacienda-style hotel is located in the heart of Cancun and is also within easy reach of the beach.
  • Luxury option: Le Blanc Spa Resort: This five-star adults-only resort has 13 restaurants and three pools and is the ultimate location for a relaxing break on the Caribbean coast.

Safety Tips for Cancun

Photo Credit: Yury Zap

#1: Keep Your Valuables Tucked Away

Pickpocketing is a known issue on the Yucatan Peninsula, but it’s no worse than that of many other major cities and popular tourist destinations. To reduce your chances of becoming a target, leave your valuables, such as expensive watches and jewelry, at home.

It’s also smart to stash your cash in a safe place when you’re out and about. Don’t leave your wallet visible in your back pocket, and keep purses zipped up so pickpocketers can’t take advantage. You could also split your cash between your purse/wallet, a pocket, and even a shoe, so if the worst happens, you’ll still have a few notes tucked away to get back to your hotel safely.


#2: Keep Your Wits About You

With seemingly endless sun, sea, and cervezas on offer, it can be all too easy to relax in Cancun completely. But try to keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings because criminal activity does happen on the Riviera Maya.

ATM scams aren’t uncommon, and if you stick around long enough, you’re sure to meet someone who’s had a credit card cloned by a doctored machine.

Ask staff at your hotel for advice on which machines are safe to use, or stick to the ones in malls or attached to banks (rather than the standalone ones that you’ll sometimes see in the street). Take more than one credit card with you so you have a backup in case one gets cloned, and keep an eye on your banking apps for any strange activity.


#3: Only Use Licensed Taxis

Hopping in an unlicensed taxi can have dire consequences anywhere in the world, so it’s recommended that you avoid it. If you’re staying in a hotel or resort, ask the front desk to call a cab for you whenever you’re heading out.

Alternatively, if you’re staying in a touristic area such as La Zona Hotelera (the hotel zone), you’ll find official taxi points where you can safely pick one up. Cancun also has Uber everywhere other than the airport, and the app has tons of safety features that are especially useful for solo travelers.

Tip: Most taxi drivers in these areas will speak at least a little English, but it’s smart to have some Spanish skills and/or Google Translate to fall back on, just in case.


#4: Try Not to Travel During Hurricane Season

Hurricane season runs from the start of June to the end of November, with the highest risk being during September and October. Not every season produces dangerous weather but it can happen and it’s important to be informed and prepared.

If you do choose to travel during hurricane season, be aware that you may find yourself without water or power, so try to have bottled water on hand and keep your devices charged. Keep an eye on the forecast and plan accordingly (e.g., don’t risk taking the ferry to Cozumel or heading off for a snorkeling day on Isla Mujeres if bad weather is rolling in).


#5: Keep an Eye on Travel Warnings

In the past, the Mayan Riviera has had issues with drug cartels, violent crime, and homicides, and these have sometimes spilled over into touristic areas. Problems like this are incredibly rare, but U.S. citizens should check official websites for travel advisories before they visit Cancun.

Both The United States Department of State (otherwise known as the US State Department) and the Mexican government issue travel warnings and advisories when it’s necessary to exercise increased caution, and they sometimes advise against all travel during periods of increased unrest.


Cancun Travel is Safe (& Very Fun)

Crime rates in Mexico’s major tourist destinations, such as Cancun and Mexico City, can be concerning for first-time visitors to the country. But, if you follow these Cancun safety tips and use common sense as you would anywhere else in the world, you’re sure to fall in love with this beautiful city.