TORSTAI, 24. SYYSKUUTA 2020
Cancun is a tale of two cities, with the Zona Hotelera offering majestic Caribbean beaches and Maya culture and Cancún Centro providing the local flavor.
One look at Cancún's aquamarine Caribbean waters and it makes perfect sense why planners back in the 1970s were so eager to develop the area as Mexico's next big resort destination. With about 19km of powdery white-sand beaches in the Zona Hotelera and a quieter 15km stretch of coast north of downtown, Cancún is a beach bum's haven. You'll find some of the most swimmable waters on the Zona Hotelera's north side, between Km 4 and Km 9, while north of Cancún Centro, Isla Blanca beckons with its long stretch of relatively undeveloped coastline.
When most people think of Cancún, wild party town comes to mind. But rest assured that you can also soak up some Maya culture in between the fiestas. The Museo Maya de Cancún, a world-class museum with some 400 Maya artifacts on display, is a must-see and it's adjoining San Miguelito archaeological site is well worth checking out as well. For a day of ruins-hopping, head about 2km south to El Rey, known for its small temple and several ceremonial platforms. Cancún's Maya sites may not have the wow factor of say, a Chichén Itzá, but they provide intriguing historical context when paired with the museum visit.
From Yucatecan comfort food and atmospheric downtown taco joints to Michellin-starred haute cuisine in the Zona Hotelera, Cancún's diverse culinary scene keeps your tummy thoroughly content. Classic Yucatecan menu items such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork with achiote and orange juice) and panuchos (bean-filled fried tortilla snacks) rank among Mexico's most iconic dishes, while thatch-roofed restaurants serving high-quality fresh fish and seafood add yet another facet to the varied dining experience. A growing number of establishments specializing in contemporary Mexican cuisine draw on Caribbean and indigenous Maya recipes to create innovative regional dishes.
Outdoorsy types and children will truly appreciate the activities on offer in Cancún. Great diving and snorkeling sites are nearby, including a famous underwater sculpture museum, and in addition to ocean dives, you can hook up tours to explore nearby cenotes (limestone sinkholes) and their fascinating underwater cave systems. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a day trip from Cancún to Isla Contoy, an uninhabited island that provides great hiking, bird-watching and snorkeling opportunities. And, of course, there's the beach, where water activities range from swimming and kayaking to kiteboarding.
THINGS NOT TO MISS IN CANCUN
• Visit the Mayan ruins of Tulum
• Rappelling into a cenote, a subterranean pool of temperate water.
• Party the night away at clubs like CocoBongo and Daddy ‘O
• Shopping and dining at La Isla Shopping Village
• Take a bird watching tour
• Swim with dolphins and spot seat turtles at Xcaret ecological park
• Climbing Cobá’s 1,500-year-old Nohuch Mul, the Yucatán’s tallest pyramid.
BEST TIME TO VISIT CANCUN
The best time to visit Cancún is from December to April during the peak season. Even though the crowds are heavier, you'll experience near-perfect weather and find some of the cheapest flight and room rates for a winter getaway at the beach. Just try to avoid traveling from mid-March to early April – that's when spring breakers descend on the Yucatán's shores. There are also significant discounts in late spring, summer and fall, but Cancún summers are sweltering and the fall months are prone to storms.
December-April - Room rates are higher this time of year but not unattainable, especially if you book at least three months in advance. Instead of budget concerns, your biggest issue will be crowds. This is particularly the case in March and early April, when Cancún becomes a hub of spring break activity.
May-August - Cancún's weather is more humid this time of year and temperatures can climb to the low 90s. But on the bright side, hotel prices do dip significantly.
September-November - If you're planning an autumn trip, your vacation could be upset by storms – this region faces the wettest conditions and worst threat for hurricanes in the fall. But you could also secure a great vacation package if you're willing to take a chance and/or weather the storms. Temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to the high 80s.
GETTING TO CANCUN
Cancún is located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo in southeast Mexico. The resort city sits on the Caribbean Sea just north of the Riviera Maya. Cancun lies on a skinny 24km (15mi) long island in the shape of the number ‘7’, and is attached to the mainland by two bridges and separated from it by the Nichupté lagoon.
The most convenient route to Cancun is by air to Cancún International Airport (CUN), located about 20km (12mi) from the hotel zone, around 25 minutes by shuttle bus or taxi. South of Cancun lies the Riviera Maya, home to some of the hippest beaches on the coast, including Playa del Carmen and Tulum Beach, which nestles beneath an ancient Mayan fortress.
Cancún International Airport (CUN), located about 20km (12mi) from the hotel zone, around 25 minutes by shuttle bus or taxi. Hotels can provide transport for guests by prior arrangement. Official pre-paid taxis are available for booking just after the arrivals hall.
A passport valid for at least six months beyond intended period of stay, a return/onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 180 days.
GETTING AROUND CANCUN
The best way to get around Cancún is the bus, which stops frequently along Boulevard Kukulcán and within the downtown area. One-way fares are a steal at 12 Mexican pesos (or around 60 cents), making a ride in a Cancún taxi seem exorbitant. However, you should splurge for a cab to get to and from the Cancún International Airport (CUN), located less than 15 miles from the Hotel Zone and 10 miles from downtown. In fact, you can book your taxi online and save by making advance reservations. There are car rental kiosks in the airport but driving yourself isn't recommended – the area's narrow roads and speedy traffic patterns can be intimidating.
Bus - Cancún has an excellent bus system that motors through the Hotel Zone on Boulevard Kukulcán as well as Avenida Tulum in the downtown area. Travelers often rely on routes R1 and R2, and they can flag down drivers along the strip; once inside the bus, you'll find the stop-request button located above the handrails. Cancún buses charge a flat rate of 12 pesos (roughly 60 cents) per ride. (Be sure to have Mexican currency on hand.) There are also regional buses ADO that take tourists to and from Chichén Itzá and nearby tourist towns like Tulum and Playa del Carmen. These buses leave from the downtown area at the intersection of Avenida Tulum and Uxmal.
Taxi - Taxis aren't all that expensive, unless you compare it to the cost of taking the bus, but keep in mind that fares within the Hotel Zone are higher than those in other parts of Cancun. You should be able to see taxi rates posted at your hotel, but you should also be sure to negotiate the price with the driver before entering the cab. Uber also operates in Cancun.
Car - You can drive in Cancún, but we wouldn't advise it. Speeding and tailgating are common, and the police have been known to pull over tourists at a high frequency. If having a car is your preference, you can rent one at the airport. Keep in mind, you'll also be asked to purchase a Collision Damage Waiver, which adds a daily fee onto your rental rate.
On Foot - You'll have no trouble walking to the beach from your hotel (nearly all lodging in Cancún is located on the water). Walking is also an option along some parts of Boulevard Kukulcán, particularly if you're situated around the northern part of the strip (or the curve in Cancún's "7" shape). But most of the area is too spread out to explore on foot.
Ferry - You should visit Isla Mujeres at least one day of your trip. To do so, you can hop a ferry from three piers in the Hotel Zone of Cancún, El Embarcadero, Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol. Routes between Cancun and Isla Mujeres run every half hour. Times vary by departure point, but generally, service is provided from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fares from the Hotel Zone to the island cost $19 round-trip for adults and $14 round-trip for children. Check the website for more information about departure times and locations and to book tickets.
WHERE TO STAY IN CANCUN
- Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina
Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina is located in Puerto Cancun, just 10 minutes from Downtown .The hotel is next to the Marina Town Center, a largest shopping center with various options between commercial stores, restaurants, and even a VIP cinema. The Marina is in front of the hotel and the Puerto Cancun Golf Course is just a few meters.
- Casa Tortugas Boutique Hotel - a peaceful hidden gem
Located in Cancún Hotel Zone within 2 minutes walking distance from Playa Tortugas beach and Ferry to Isla Mujeres as well as to a convinient store, pharmacy, watersport marina, restaurant and public transportation. Casa Tortugas Boutique Hotel is ideal for families and couples. Property has an outdoor infinity swimming pool, free WiFi, kitchen in all Suites. The property has a tour desk and luggage storage for guests. Property is only 2 km from Coco Bongo night club At the hotel, each room is equipped with a Kitchen, private bathroom, living room flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Master rooms have water view. La Isla and Puerto Cancun Shopping Malls are 5.8 km and 3.5 km away from Casa Tortugas The nearest airport is Cancun Airport, 27 km from the hotel - only 35 min away.
- Royalton Chic Suites Cancun Resort & Spa Adults Only - All Inclusive
Situated in Cancún, Royalton Chic Suites Cancun Resort & Spa Adults Only - All Inclusive Suites Cancun Resort & Spa provides free WiFi. Boasting an outdoor swimming pool, this property is located a short distance from Coco Bongo and Cancun Convention Center. The resort offers a fitness centre and a 24-hour front desk. At the resort, every room is equipped with a terrace. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom. At Royalton Chic Suites Cancun Resort & Spa Adults Only - All Inclusive Cancun Resort & Spa the rooms are equipped with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. A buffet breakfast is served every morning at the property. Guests can dine in the on-site restaurant, which serves a variety of International, Mexican and Steakhouse dishes. Level 18 – Rooftop Cabana Lounge is an exclusive adults only, and it is not included in your All Inclusive, only diamond Club guests will have free admission. The accommodation offers a children's playground. La Isla Shopping Mall is 3.4 km from Royalton Chic Suites Cancun Resort & Spa Adults Only - All Inclusive Cancun Resort & Spa, while Cancun Government Palace is 11 km away. Cancún International Airport is 24 km from the property. When booking more than 6 rooms, different policies and additional supplements may apply. The reservations will be charged in full after 3 days of booking made.
- Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres - All Inclusive
Situated in Cancún, 1.7 km from Mujeres Beach, Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres - All Inclusive features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. The accommodation offers a private beach area and water sports facilities, as well as a bar and a garden. The property has a hot tub, evening entertainment and a 24-hour front desk. The resort offers a buffet or American breakfast. Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres - offers a terrace. Guests at the accommodation will be able to enjoy activities in and around Cancún, like windsurfing. Cancun Bus Station is 15 km from Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres - All Inclusive, while Cancun Government Palace is 16 km from the property. The nearest airport is Cancún International Airport, 34 km from the resort.
- Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun - All Inclusive
This 5-star beachfront Cancun luxury hotel features a 40,000-square-foot full-service spa that offers full-body treatments, hydrotherapy and beauty services such as hair styling. The El Meco Mayan Ruins is 11.3 km from the hotel. Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun - All Inclusive provides a gym with an ocean view. Six fine-dining restaurants including a AAA Five Diamond french dining experience and bars are available with room service. Guests may also use the large outdoor pool along with a children’s club. The suites at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun - All Inclusive include ocean front views or partial ocean views. Every suite features a private balcony and a seating area. For the guest’s convenience, a minibar and an in-room safe are also available. Local attractions near the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun - All Inclusive include the Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres 11.3 km away. Chichen Itza and Xcaret are within driving distance of this hotel.
Featuring free WiFi throughout and accommodation with terraces and views of the Caribbean Sea, Emporio Cancun is set on the beach in Cancún’s Hotel Zone. It has a picturesque setting between the Caribbean Sea and Nichupté Lagoon. Each air-conditioned room and suite has bright décor and tiled flooring. All accommodation at the Emporio Cancun has cable TV. Suites also come with a kitchen and a dining and seating area. San Miguelito Archaeological Site and the Cancún Maya Museum are located in front of the hotel.
- Sandos Cancun All Inclusive
Situated on one of Cancun’s most attractive beaches, this all-inclusive hotel offers 4 gourmet restaurants, an impressive oceanfront infinity pool and a spa. Cancun International Airport is just 15 minutes away. The elegant rooms at Sandos Cancun All Inclusive feature views of the Caribbean Sea and Laguna Nichupté. Each has a 32-inch plasma TV, safe and free minibar. The marble bathrooms offer bathrobes and a walk-in shower. Sandos Cancun All Inclusive has a cascading, 3-tier infinity pool and a large 10-person hot tub. There is a gym that offers fitness classes, and a luxurious spa offering waterfall hot tub and Swiss showers. Zango Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, while St. Trop Pool Bar & Restaurant serves gourmet snacks and Caribbean dishes. Gaijin Restaurant serves Asian dishes at dinner, while Seasons Restaurant serves cutting-edge cuisine. There is also a snack bar, and a swim-up bar. Beach activities are offered, and there is live music each night. A range of shops and night life can be found very close to the hotel, and golf courses can be found nearby.
- JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
Nestled along the beach in the middle of Cancun's hotel zone, this luxurious AAA Five Diamond Award winner hotel offers comfortable accommodations and relaxing spa services just steps from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. JW Marriott boasts an exclusive Mayan-inspired spa that offers spiritual revitalization for body and mind. After a day at the beach, feel pampered with a massage, facial or other spa treatment. Guestrooms at Marriott Cancun are furnished with 32-inch flat-panel LCD TVs and lavish bedding. Take in the view of Cancun's white sand beaches and the Caribbean's sparkling water from the room's private balcony.
Set in Cancún, 24 km from Beto Avila Stadium, Haven Riviera Cancun offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a fitness centre and a bar. Among the various facilities of this property are a shared lounge, a garden and a private beach area. The resort has an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, evening entertainment and a 24-hour front desk. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a coffee machine, a shower, a hairdryer and a wardrobe. At the resort the rooms are equipped with a private bathroom with free toiletries. A buffet breakfast is available every morning at Haven Riviera Cancun. The accommodation offers a terrace. You can play tennis at Haven Riviera Cancun, and bike hire and car hire are available. Cancun Government Palace is 24 km from the resort, while Cancun Bus Station is 24 km from the property. The nearest airport is Cancún International Airport, 14 km from Haven Riviera Cancun.
This resort is on the ocean and across from the Cancun Convention Center. It features a sauna, hot tub, an oceanfront pool, while rooms include a minibar and cable TV. Each room at Krystal Cancun provides air conditioning. A safety deposit box is available in every room. The Krystal offers on-site car rental services. Other services include a business center, laundry facilities and a tour desk. Hacienda El Mortero restaurant is on-site at Cancun Krystal. It provides traditional Mexican cuisine and live mariachi music. The resort also offers a buffet breakfast and on-site bars. Only a short walk from the Krystal Cancun are numerous shops and restaurants. Guests at the resort will also find easy access to a variety of recreational activities including snorkeling, sailing and fishing.
- Hard Rock Hotel Cancun - All Inclusive
Endless entertainment, activities and relaxation await guests at this exceptional oceanfront all-inclusive resort, located in Cancun's Hotel Zone and offering first-class accommodations, complete with a double hot tub and private balconies. The suites at Hard Rock Hotel Cancun All Inclusive feature free WiFi and free music streaming channels along with a fully stocked minibar with sodas, bottled water, juice & domestic beer Hard Rock Hotel Cancun All Inclusive provides guests with a large variety of luxurious amenities and facilities. Guests can enjoy a spacious outdoor pool overlooking the ocean, 2 on-site tennis courts and a full-service spa. There are also 5 gourmet restaurants located on-site, featuring a variety of international cuisine. With a kids and teen club, live nightly entertainment and organized tours of the area, guests of all ages can have an unforgettable stay at Hard Rock Hotel Cancun All Inclusive. On-site car hire service also makes nearby attractions, such as Chichen Itza, and Ek-Balam, easily accessible.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN CANCUN
Cancún is a versatile, idyllic city which can satisfy any type of vacation goer; whether you’re searching for a spring break to remember, a lively holiday with friends or a romantic getaway with a loved one, the crystal waters and golden sands here are a piece of Mexican paradise, and provide the setting for a wealth of wonderful memories to be made. With a vivacious nightlife as well as strong ties to Latino culture, Cancún offers music and parties as well as an interesting taste of tradition. Here’s The Turisti - Info's definitive guide on what to do and see during your stay in this vibrant city.
- Cancún's Beautiful Beaches
Most of Cancún's top resorts are built with direct access to the beaches, known locally as "playas." You'll enjoy stunning views over the sparkling, crystal-clear waters that make this destination so popular with tourists seeking a memorable Mexico vacation. Cancún, in fact, consists of a number of long stretches of beach, and while regular visitors may have their preferences, it's certainly hard to go wrong-they're all nice and have something great to offer. Among the most popular playas are de las Perlas, Juventud, Linda, Langosta, Tortugas, Caracol, and Chac-mool, some of them lying alongside the Boulevard Cancún and the Paseo Kukulkán all the way from the city boundary (of these, Tortugas, Caracol, and Chac-mool tend to be the busiest). Also of interest is the seven-and-a-half-kilometer-long Paseo Kukulkán, alongside which is an 18-hole public golf course known as Pok-ta-Pok.
- El Meco Archaeological Site
Another interesting Mayan site that is easily accessible from Cancún's main resort area-this one located at the north end of the main beaches-is the El Meco Archaeological Site. Originally inhabited around AD 300, it rose to prominence as a Mayan trade center from the 1100s until its decline after the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Of particular interest is the 12.5-meter-tall El Castillo, the only pyramid of its kind to have been built in the area. Perched atop the pyramid are the remains of an old temple from which you'll be rewarded with stunning views over the coastline and Isla Mujeres. This easy one-hour or so visit is well worth adding to your Cancún itinerary.
- The Scenic Tower & Xcaret
A must-do while in Cancún is to take a trip up the Scenic Tower (Torre Escenica). Something of a landmark in the hotel district due its height-it's 110 meters tall-as well as its pencil thin base, the tower is a fun diversion for those wanting a bird's-eye view of the city, as well as its many beaches and the surrounding coastline. While a set of steep steps can be climbed, by far the best way to reach the top is to simply take a seat in the large round elevator that gradually, as it rises and rotates, becomes an observation deck. It's a particularly attractive structure at night when it's lit up to resemble a Mayan representation of a flower. The tower is in fact part of Xcaret, an interesting mix of theme park and natural attractions (entry to the tower is included with Xcaret admission). Given its 50 or so cultural and natural attractions, you can expect to easily spend a day here exploring the many things to do. Highlights include water-based activities including a beach and lagoon, plus the chance to explore underground rivers, a coral reef aquarium, a folk museum and performances of music and dance, an equestrian show, boat tours, and plenty of dining options. Also fun is Ventura Park Cancun, with activities including a zipline, water park, and a dolphin encounter.
In the heart of Cancún is Urbano Kabah Park (Parque Kabah), also known as the Kabah Ecological Park. This natural oasis is a popular spot for a stroll, a jog, or a picnic, and consists of a two-kilometer long trail that cuts through a mix of tall palm trees and lush gardens. The park is particularly popular for families traveling with kids due to its playground and petting zoo. There's plenty of wildlife to watch out for, too, including iguanas, the raccoon-like coatis, deer, a type of small wild pig called a peccary, and even the occasional spider monkey. It's a particularly good spot for bird-watchers to visit, especially during migration season, when species from as far as the US and Canada winter here. Other highlights include the Casa Maya Museum, a tiny yet fascinating attraction with its history of the development of the region.
Another destination that is closely associated with Cancún is the lovely Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women). Located about 13 kilometers from the mainland and just a short hydrofoil ride from the pier at the convention center (Cancún Center), this long, skinny island-it's just seven kilometers long and 650 meters wide-is particularly popular among surfers for the larger waves experienced on its east coast, while divers love the abundant marine life surrounding the numerous coral reefs of Garrafon Natural Reef Park. It's also popular with beachgoers who enjoy the less hectic pace; traffic on the island is limited to taxis and buses, all of which are vastly outnumbered by golf carts and scooters. Isla Mujeres is also a popular day trip destination for those staying elsewhere on the Riviera Maya thanks to its many fine restaurants offering excellent views over the water to Cancún. Also popular to explore is Contoy Island (Isla Contoy). Located some 30 kilometers north of Isla Mujeres, this tiny island is now a national park due to its important flora and fauna. A variety of providers offer fun eco-tours and adventures.
Tulum, just 90 minutes south, is a better option for those pressed for time. Famous for its cliff-top location and for being the only known fortified Mayan coastal town, Tulum contains many other unique structures in addition to its tall, wide walls, most noticeably its Temple of the Frescos with its sculptures and reliefs depicting seated figures with elaborate headdresses. The site's largest building, the Castillo, is also its most famous, perched as it is on the cliff-edge overlooking the sea. A fun way to see the best parts of this attraction-along with other nearby points of interest-is via a 3 in 1 Discovery Combo Tour that makes in the Talum ruins,cenotes and caves along with some reef snokeling. Also included in this day-long adventure is an informative jungle walk, along with transportation, a bilingual guide, all equipment, plus a traditional Mexican lunch.
- Explore Parroquia de Cristo Resucitado
This beautiful Catholic church is a spiritual retreat offering peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The stunning architectural design invites light and openness into the large floor plan, and the shrine to the Mexican religious figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe is noted by many as a highlight. Patrons can also visit the bookstore and shop for a variety of religious paraphernalia or rosaries, to either keep for themselves or to take home as gifts for friends or loved ones.
What more could one ask for on a beach vacation than the opportunity for a new adventure? Water sports abound in Cancún, and it’s a great place to get surfing lessons, sail on a speedboat or try your hand at jet-skiing. Visitors are particularly encouraged to go snorkelling or scuba diving in the clear blue waters here, as the excellent visibility and warm temperatures of the Caribbean sea increase the chances of spotting a wealth of colorful sea creatures. You can almost feel the warm salty breeze on your face just thinking about it.
Not scuba certified? Don’t worry, because there’s still a chance to get close to marine life in Cancún with companies that let guests swim with dolphins. This is an unbeatable photo-op and a magnificent memory for anyone looking for a unique experience whilst on vacation, and it’s a great way to interact with the gentle dolphins of the Caribbean sea in a safe environment. Perfect for families with children, parents and children alike can bond over this once in a lifetime activity, you’d be made to miss it!
This excavated Mayan ruin on the Yucatan Peninsula used to be an ancient inhabited city. One of the most visited sites in Mexico, Chechen Itza encompasses several structures, the most iconic of which being the step-pyramid El Castillo, also sometimes called the Temple of Kukulcan. The towering figure gives a stunning visual perspective on the deep history entrenched in the walls of the structure, which itself was built around 440 A.D. This is a great site to visit for those seeking a cultural insight into Cancún.
The Coba archeological site is another great way to gain insight into Yucatan history whilst travelling abroad in Cancún. Although going from the city to the site requires a full day trip, it’s well worth it. Guests have the opportunity to climb the tallest of the Mayan ruins, or they can rent bicycles and cycle around the site, as there are dozens of other structures surrounding it, each with their own history. This experience is a wonderful way to blend an outdoor adventure with an intellectual quest.
- Experience the Cancún Underwater Museum
This is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Started in 2009, the Museo Subacuático de Arte is an underwater art museum established on the coast of Cancún in the water of Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. Dedicated solely to the art of conservation, this museum was built with the protection of the reefs in mind. It is an attraction designed to draw holidaymakers to less-worn parts of the reef so that other, highly disrupted parts have a chance to recover. The two exhibits are comprised of around five hundred sculptures, with one side suitable for both divers and snorkellers, and one side suitable for just snorkellers. All the artwork is made from materials which are designed to promote biodiversity, such as different types of kelp and underwater plant.
- Traverse Avenida Kukulkan
The Avenida Kukulkan is the hub of everything there is to do and see in Cancún. A bustling and dynamic walkway, the street, located in the Hotel Zone, is a hotspot for restaurants, bars and shopping. Visitors can stroll down the street and try different food from vendors, or go to the variety of restaurants and bars with live music situated on the strip. A safe, populated place to be day or night, this is a great stretch of road ideally located close to many hotels, making it easily accessible to those new in the area.
This beautiful beach is a picturesque and beautiful spot in which to spend a lazy day on vacation. A bit secluded from the distracting hustle and bustle of the tourist hangouts, Playa Delfines is located at the end of the Hotel Zone and is enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike. Boasting white sand and crystal blue waters, as well as being free from city noise, this is the ideal place to get lost in a daydream. Be sure to bring snacks and lunches; this beach does not have the jumble of tourist restaurants and food stands right off its shores like most others do.
- Lose Yourself in Museo Maya de Cancún
The Museo Maya de Cancún is a recognition of the Mayan influence over Mexican culture, both in the ancient world and in the present day. The exhibits are quite small, allowing guests to be able to see everything the museum has to offer without having to spend the entirety of their day in the museum. The building successfully bridges the gap through time to show how Mayan influences still abound today, and houses some particularly beautiful ancient Mayan architecture.
A trip to Cancún wouldn’t be worthwhile without a few party stories to remember it by. Engage with the vivacious nightlife offered both inside and outside of the Hotel Zone and enjoy almost any kind of party. Sip cocktails at a Mexican cantina and spend the day surfing or sunbathing, or visit a nightclub playing live Spanish music and enthusiastically dance the night away.
WHERE TO EAT IN CANCUN
As an international destination, Cancun offers a bite of the best of Mexican gastronomy in its restaurants throughout the city. The locals are the best connoisseurs: they know both the highly publicized places and the not-so-publicized, but which serve the finest dishes. Take note of the following restaurants that locals love in Cancun. From Hotel Zone restaurants to downtown gems, haute cuisine to budget eats, we discover the ten best cultural restaurants in Cancún and Playa del Carmen.
Serving an exclusive 12-course tasting meal, Le Chique at the Azul Sensatori Hotel by Karisma, which has a beautiful oceanfront location, offers an intimate and unique dining experience. Headed by El Bulli-trained Chef Jonatan Gomez-Luna, the award winning menu at Le Chique delivers creative flavors and cutting edge presentation, making it one of the top haute cuisine dining destinations in Cancún.
- Punta Bonita at Rosewood Mayakaba
Punta Bonita at the stunning Rosewood Mayakaba resort is the perfect way to relax while enjoying the succulent flavors of a truly refined Mexican meal. Some of their most highly recommended dishes include the fresh soft shell crab sandwich, and the Caribbean lobster tacos with smoked chipotle mayonnaise, avocado and black beans, all of which comes artfully prepared. Pair your selection of Mexican tapas with one of Punta Bonita’s signature margaritas. Don’t miss their taco night, an excellent way to indulge in the extensive taco selection while taking in their sublime oceanfront ambiance and views.
Alux Restaurant takes haute cuisine to its subterranean depths. Diners descend down a flight of stairs to enter into an open chamber which has been described by past patrons as like entering another world. This truly one-of-a-kind Playa del Carmen restaurant makes its home in a cave, where, in addition to superb service, candlelit tables and fine gourmet food, diners are surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites overhead and along the cave walls, making this an unforgettable dining experience.
Puerto Madero Cancun brings the best of the Buenos Aires Steakhouse to Cancun, with its decorative aesthetics of dark woods, brick and glass interior. Offering outdoor terrace seating, Puerto Madero Cancun combines a stunning view over the Caribbean with delicious Argentine-style wood grilled steaks. For those who simply can’t decide between Puerto Madero’s meats and seafood options, the best bet is to opt for the Surf and Turf Puerto Madero which comes with Maine lobster and prime tenderloin.
- La Habichuela Sunset / Downtown
One of Cancun’s most popular restaurants, La Habichuela combines the best of Caribbean seafood with Mexican cuisine. There are now two locations, the original downtown location and a second overlooking the lagoon. Both restaurants pay tribute to Mexico’s Mayan heritage in their décor, with Mayan-inspired artwork and artifacts. Offering expansive outdoor dining at its second location, La Habichuela is a favorite for romantic nights out.
Fonda Argentina is a favorite amongst Cancún residents, with popular outposts in Mexico City, this is an excellent spot to take in the local culture. This Argentinean restaurant specialises in parillada, which is various marinated cuts of meat including beef, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), mollejas (sweetbread) and arrachera, grilled over wood charcoal to give the meat a succulent, slightly-blackened smokiness. The flan con dulce de leche is an especially popular dessert option.
Since 1975, La Parrilla in Cancun has offered Cancún locals and visitors a vibrant, lively traditional Mexican dining experience. From the hacienda-styled interior design to the restaurant’s colorful décor and live mariachi band, La Parrilla positively buzzes with life and energy. La Parrilla’s tacos al pastor, with spit-cut chunks of meat, is a much-reviewed favourite, as are its flame grilled meats and selection of desserts.
El Rincón de los Antojos, which translates to ‘Cravings Corner’, specialises in recreating the flavours of the home, with authentic Mexican dishes such as pambazos (Mexican white bread), sopes (tortilla-like, but thicker), tostadas (Mexican fried tortilla), gorditas (savoury filled pastry), empanadas and quesadillas. This decidedly off-the-tourist path restaurant exudes a friendly, comforting Mexican coastal vibe, with photograph-lined walls and simple décor.
El Rincón del Vino debuted the wine bar concept in Cancún, bringing over 140 different wines to the table, with a selection of tapas dishes that draw from Mexican, Caribbean, Spanish and Mediterranean-inspired flavors. Tuesday through Saturday, El Rincón del Vino also offers live music that gives diners a truly immersive cultural experience of fresh, quality food and a fine selection of wines.
Founded in Playa del Carmen in 2003, Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe is a chocolate-lovers haven and the perfect spot for a quiet afternoon relaxing over a cup of coffee and any number of wonderful chocolate treats and drinks. Indulge in Mexico’s rich chocolate heritage with a large selection of delightfully rich Mayan criollo chocolate made from Mexican cacao that is bitter and infused with fruity and nutty flavours.
- La Playita Restaurante Bar
Enjoy the delights of seafood in the town center of Cancun. Although it is not a typical tourist place with a view to the beach, you can see the bullring and hustle and bustle of everyday Cancun from the terrace. Taste traditional dishes with a contemporary twist: shrimp nachos, tortilla with garlic stuffed with octopus, aguachile and shrimp broth to name a few. Why not pair it with a coconut mojito.
Checándole is a family-friendly restaurant serving Mexican food with a homemade taste. What locals love is the picturesque environment with the taste of traditional cuisine – food is served on clay dishes, joined by diverse Mexican salsas made of green or red tomato and chile. When you go to Market 28, this is the place to make a stop to eat fajitas, refried beans, breaded chicken or quesadillas. Ask for their popular service called “comida corrida,” which in Mexico is a sort of daily special meal comprising a starter, soup, and main course for a very cheap price.
Atotonilco is one of the restaurants in Market 28 that stands out for gathering what in Mexico is called the ‘3 B’: Bueno (good), Bonito (nice) and Barato (good price). Take typical Mexican food while enjoying the sound of the marimba – a Mexican instrument from the old times – played by two or three men. Have a Deviled steak, flank steak fajitas, stuffed calamari with shrimp, chilaquiles with mole and octopus in yellow sauce. Don’t miss the traditional Tikin Xik, a fish wrapped in a banana leaf, prepared in the Meso-American style. Delicious food, easy place and good service.
WHERE TO SHOP IN CANCUN
Beyond the tourist element of the island, there’s a rich history of folklore and tradition that is still prevalent in contemporary Cancun. This can be experienced in its markets – vibrant places that show the real Mexico and its everyday culture. Be captivated by the food, sounds and colors of the markets of this stunning destination – here’s 10 of the best.
This is one of those markets that is predominantly used by locals, as it’s well away from the tourist area of Cancun. Tianguis de la 94 is the place to buy and sell everything, from clothes and kitchenware to bicycles, plants, personal care products and so much more. In Mexican slang there’s a word such items: chácharas – referring to unnecessary, cheap and second hand products, which are actually very practical. Some locals sell the things they don’t need anymore, so it’s a paradise for those looking for vintage stuff and, as a plus, everything is cheap. Here you’ll see the real Mexico and its popular culture, with merchants touting for trade from the customers walking by. The food is delicious; try a delicious mondongo or a huarache. The market is open Thursdays and Saturdays.
This street market began as a small bazaar with a few stands that slowly expanded across several streets until it became one of the biggest ‘tianguis’ in Cancun. As with Tianguis 94, it has vintage stuff and an endless variety of books, clothes and chacharas, all at low cost. Locals love the delicious street food and snacks here, like the traditional ‘marquesitas’, a crispy rolled crepe filled with cheese, chocolate or marmalade of your choice.
Tianguis de la 100 is the biggest street market in Cancun – set aside more than a couple of hours if you want to see the whole place. Like in tianguis 94 and 219, you can also buy chacharas, vintage clothing and second hand stuff. It’s also ideal for young couples who need to buy the basic products and home appliances for their new house. Customers never accept the first price, it’s just a matter of browsing, checking costs in other stands and getting the best deal. Open every Sunday from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm.
A small market selling local products, Mercado de la 95 is the place where many residents like to buy their groceries to support the local economy. Unlike the ‘tianguis’, this market is more focused on groceries sold by local merchants. Some of the products are cultivated in their gardens, so they’re fresh and cheaper than in supermarkets. What can you buy here? Fruits, vegetables, tortillas, grains, eggs, meat, seafood, cheese and much more. People love arriving early to have yummy traditional food for breakfast. It’s open everyday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.
La Caja Orgánica is a store that sells organic products of local producers, ideal for green consumers and vegans. Every month, the store organizes a bazaar that gathers organic vendors selling their wares, offering samples and providing information. They have milk, vegetables, fruits, cacao, soya, ice-cream and even cosmetics, all fresh and certified organic. The store looks like a little box made of wood, located in the center of a greenhouse. La Caja Orgánica opens from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Manos Mágicas is a market located in the beautiful ‘Jardín del Arte’ (Art Garden), where around 250 Mexican artisans sell their crafts and a variety of products including clothes, green cosmetics, handbags and more. In addition, there are workshops for children to learn the labor of the local artists, all framed by the shore of Nichupté lagoon. The beauty of the place and the opportunity to learn, buy local crafts and have fun make this market an ideal place for families to have quality time and delight in traditional food and snacks.
One of the best known markets, Mercado 23 was the first to be built in Cancun. This is the place where locals find everyday wares such as food, crafts, grains, tortillas, groceries, medicinal plants, as well as more esoteric stalls. Products are cheap and of good quality, many locals choosing to shop here to support the local economy. With the essence of a Mexican market, it’s ideal for tourists who want to immerse themselves in Mexican folklore and enjoy the best of the Yucatan food.
Visit this picturesque market full of cheerful colors, and find a wide range of souvenirs and crafts. Vendors can be a bit insistent, but don’t feel obliged to buy at the first price. If you find some prices high, there’s always the possibility of negotiating or getting discount depending on the amount you buy. After shopping, enjoy some of the typical dishes in the surrounding restaurants. If you’re in the hotel zone, take the bus ‘ruta 2’ in Kukulcan Av. Open from 09:00 am to 8:00 pm, except Tuesday.
Right in the heart of the hotel zone, this market is largely aimed at tourists. Find countless types of souvenirs, from tequila shot glasses to liquors, jewelry, sombreros, crafts, habanos and various items to decorate your home. Prices might be a little bit higher here than in Market 28, but negotiation and bargains are still possible. Don’t get everything at the first stall you come across, you’re more likely to get a bargain if you check out the rest of the stands first.
Very popular with both nationals and tourists, Mexican outlet has many stores with a wide range of souvenirs. Get magnets, candies, coffee cups, t-shirts, bags, sombreros and more. There’s little opportunity for haggling here, but prices are reasonable anyway. Service is excellent, though not all the staff are 100% bilingual, so a little knowledge of local language is a plus. The outlet is located in Plaza La Fiesta, 20 km from the hotel zone.