Cancún is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. Located on the Caribbean sea, on the southeast side of Mexico in the state of Quintana Roo. Cancún is pretty close to paradise with its white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, delicious food, and vibrant nightlife. Almost four million tourists head out to visit Cancún ever year, making it Mexico’s most popular tourist hot spot.
Cancún has a lot of options and a wide variety of things to do. Breathtaking Maya Ruins are just a couple of hours away and you really shouldn’t miss exploring Chichen Itza when in Cancún. If you want to explore more beaches it’s easy to head a bit south to Playa del Carmen, or take a boat and explore the island Isla Mujeres just outside Cancún.
When to go
The sun shines pretty much all year around in Cancún, high season is late November to early April and between May and September the weather is more hot and humid, the rain season starts in late September and will go on until mid-November.
Where to stay
There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation, most people end up in Zona Hotelera, filled with white beaches, vibrant nightclubs, and delicious seafood, and then there is the actual city itself. The actual city area gives a more local taste, with more neighbourhood bars, salsa clubs, and taco joints.
Hostel Mundo Joven – A cheap hostel with breakfast included, you’ll find a hot tub and a rooftop bar, dorm rooms, and private rooms if you feel like spending a bit more.
Soberanis Hotel – A fun place to meet new people, a nice location, and wifi. They do offer four-bed dorm rooms for anyone travelling on a budget.
Hostel Mayapan – This hostel is located in Zona Hotelera and is an abandoned mall. The hostel is huge and has a lof of beds, it’s the only budget spot in Zona and very popular amongst backpackers. The dorms and private rooms are clean, wifi is decent, and there’s air con in the rooms.
Things to do
Swim with dolphins – I took the boat from Cancún to Isla Mujeres to spend a day swimming with dolphins, but you can swim with these beautiful animals on Cancún as well. It was a great experience and I’m happy I’ve done it, but it’s one of those thing’s I probably won’t do again. Keeping animals in captivity doesn’t feel right, and even if they’re treated well it’s not something I’d like to support.
Explore Isla Mujeres – Boats leave daily from Cancún to Isla Mujeres, and it only takes about 20 minutes, making it a perfect day trip. On the island you’ll find tiny streets lined with cozy cafés, mopeds and golf carts on the streets, and a beautiful white beach. If you want something to do during the day, visit the turtle farm, explore Garrafón Park, or take a tour to the nature reserve of Isla Contoy.
Cenotes – Mexico is filled with cenotes, and some of the most amazing ones are located in Yucután. A cenote is a natural sinkhole and something you shouldn’t miss experiencing in Mexico! All cenotes have its own beauty, and snorkeling the pool is a really cool experience!
Enjoy the nightlife – Cancún has some amazing nightlife, and a lot of people come to Cancún for that reason alone. Coco Bongo holds almost 2000 people and is one of the most popular nightclubs in Canún, if you want to dance and have a fun party night with your friends, this is the place to go. Dady ‘O is another elaborate dance club, and Mambo Café played a lot of Cuban salsa and other tropical style music.
Chichen Itza – About three hours from Cancún is Chichen Itza, I simply took an ADO bus to get there, and a round trip was only US$32. Entrance is US$15, and walking around the Mayan site is something I’m grateful I didn’t miss! In 1988 UNESCO declared the archaeological site of Chichen Itza a cultural heritage of humanity, and since 2007 the Temple of Kukulcan is part of the 7 wonders of the modern world.
Cancún Underwater Museum – The Cancún Underwater Museum is made up of more than 400 lifelike statues sculpted by Jason de Caires Taylor and five other sculptures. It’s a Non-Profit Organization devoted to the Art of Conservation.
Enjoy the beaches – Cancún is filled with beautiful beaches. Spend a day swimming and sun tanning at Playa Delfines, Playa Ballenas, Playa Caracol, or Playa Langosta, or any of the other beautiful beaches.
Playa del Carmen – If you want to take a break from Cancún and explore some other beaches Playa del Carmen is a good option.
Tulum – If you head further south from Playa del Carmen you’ll get to Tulum. Here you’ll find some amazing beaches and resorts, beautiful cenotes and impressive ruins. It only takes about three hours to get from Cancún to Tulum, and here
Akumal – Not too far from Tulum you’ll find Akuma, you can take public transportation to get there, or ask in the hotel if there are shuttles etc. Akumal is a popular tourist destination where you can literally walk into the water from shore and swim with giant sea turtles, eagle rays, and countless fish.
Sian Ka’an Reserve – Sian Ka’an Reserve is a 1.5 million acre protected Unesco World Heritage site. To really explore this site, a tip is to try the 3 hr naturalist-led kayak tour to spot tropical birds across the Caapechen Lagoon.