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Cancun Travel Guide

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Situated along the Caribbean Sea, Cancun is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Home to beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and a vibrant nightlife, the city attracts beachgoers from around the world who want to unwind.

Boasting the second largest airport in Mexico, Cancun is also the gateway to Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The city is the main transportation hub for places like Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Tulum, and more.

Cancun’s “Hotel Zone” is an 8-mile strip of beachfront properties filled with resorts that can fit any budget. And, although Cancun is one of the cheapest places to travel in the world, that doesn’t mean it lacks for luxury. In fact, you’re likely to get much more value for your money on a stay here than you would at many other Caribbean destinations.

Water and beach activities like sunbathing, snorkeling, and kayaking may be the main draw, but they aren’t all that the city has to offer. A visit to Downtown Cancun or a day trip to one of several nearby archeological sites is a great way to add some culture to your beach vacation. Swimming in one of the area’s many cenotes can also be an enjoyable experience.

J.W. Marriott Cancun – Our stay at this luxury beach resort is one of the best hotel experiences we’ve had. The hotel boasts a beautiful beach, an incredible pool, and some of the best service we’ve ever experienced. It is family friendly but a bit pricier than some other options. They offer an all-inclusive option, but it is not automatically applied like some others on this list. However, if you enjoy luxury hotels or are looking to splurge, we highly recommend this resort. Check rates and availability >>

Iberostar Selection Cancun – Iberostar Hotels & Resorts are a popular hotel brand known for their solid all-inclusive offerings at a reasonable price. The Iberostar Selection Cancun doesn’t disappoint. This hotel offers good food, a nice beach and pool area, and a family-friendly atmosphere that won’t break the bank. Check rates and availability >>

Moon Palace Cancun – If you’re looking for an upscale all-inclusive resort, the Moon Palace is a fantastic option. We’ve stayed at several Palace Resorts, and – for Palace Resort fans – the Moon Palace Cancun is considered one of the best. The rooms are spacious, the food is delicious, and you can enjoy the resort as a couple or with the whole family. Check rates and availability >>

Hyatt Ziva Cancun – The Hyatt Ziva is another family-friendly all-inclusive brand you should consider. Located on the north end of the Hotel Zone, this hotel boasts a lovely white sand beach, good food, and beautiful pools. Hyatt Ziva kids clubs are also some of the best you’ll find. Check rates and availability >>

🌴🌴🌴 The Beach – Honestly, this is why you come to Cancun – for the beautiful white sand beaches! Enjoy your time splashing in the turquoise waters, flying high on a parasail ride, or sunbathing in the sand (or by the pool). Relax, unwind, and enjoy.

🌴 Kukulcan Blvd. – Kukulcan Boulevard is the main (and only) road running through Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The street is lined with hotels and restaurants, so take a stroll and enjoy the sights around you.

🌴 Swim in a Cenote – A cenote is basically a natural sinkhole or cave-like structure that exposes the groundwater below. Many of them are incredibly beautiful, and there are several tours that allow you to swim and snorkel inside of them. Browse Cenote Tours >>

🌴 Chichen Itza – The Chichen Itza archeological site is located about a 2.5 hour drive from Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The ruins of this ancient Mayan city are extremely well preserved and worth a visit if you are interested. Keep in mind that tours of the area will likely be an all day event. Browse Chichen Itza Tours >>

🌴 Coba – Coba is another ancient Mayan city which is now a popular archeological site. Unlike at Chichen Itza, you can still climb Coba’s famous pyramid. Again, tours of Coba will likely be combined with a visit to a cenote, so plan for this to be an all-day event. Browse Coba Tours >>

🌴 Tulum – Although not as old as the ruins of Coba or Chichen Itza, the Tulum archeological site is worth a visit. This ruins of this walled city still sit on a cliff overlooking the beautiful sandy beaches below. Located about 2 hours south of Cancun, many tours combine Tulum with a trip to Coba and a cenote. Plan to spend your whole day on the tour. Browse Tulum Tours >>

Downtown Cancun – Take a taxi or bus ride downtown and experience the “real” Cancun. There is plenty of nightlife and shopping to be found.

Xcaret Park – This combination resort and theme park is definitely touristy but still fun for the family who enjoys adventure. Billed as an “ecological park,” activities here include ziplining, snorkeling, river rafting, and much more. Compare Xcaret Tickets >>

Xel-Ha Park – The Xel-Ha ecological park is a ton of fun for families who enjoy water activities. The park is has a natural “aquarium” where you can snorkel, a lazy river, cliff jumping, and more. Compare Xel-Ha Tickets >>

(Key: 🌴🌴🌴=Must See, 🌴🌴=Make an Effort to Visit, 🌴=If You Have Time, None=Worth Mentioning)

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Getting to Cancun – As we’ve mentioned, Cancun is home to the second largest airport (CUN) in Mexico. Most major airlines have daily flights to and from here, and many have more than one.

Getting to/from Your Hotel – To get from the airport to your hotel, you typically have three options:

  1. Take a taxi.
  2. Utilize a free hotel transfer. – Many hotels offer free pickup at the airport. However, this could mean waiting for and riding with several other groups. It could also mean multiple stops prior to arriving at your hotel.
  3. Book a private transfer (recommended). – We almost always book a private transfer to our hotel, especially if we are staying in Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya. They are reliable, fast, relatively inexpensive, and comfortable. Find private airport transfers here >>

Getting Around Cancun – Although we have done it before, we do not recommend renting a car in Mexico. For travel inside of Cancun, we recommend having your hotel call you a taxi or using the bus. For travel outside of Cancun, have your hotel call you a taxi or take a guided tour.

Tours and Activities