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Cancun Visitors Guide

How to Get There, What to Do & More

Updated March 2021

Cancun Visitors Guide with the top things to do in cancun
Cancun Visitors Guide with the top things to do in cancun

Welcome to Cancun

Cancun is one of Mexico’s largest and most popular resort destinations, hosting millions of visitors from around the world each year. The beaches, the water, the amenities, and the nightlife are just a few of the things that make Cancun the ultimate Mexican Caribbean destination. With proximity to nearby Mayan cultural centers and offshore islands, there’s a little something for everyone in Cancun.

Cancun is one of Mexico’s largest and most popular resort destinations, hosting millions of visitors from around the world each year. The beaches, the water, the amenities, and the nightlife are just a few of the things that make Cancun the ultimate Mexican Caribbean destination. With proximity to nearby Mayan cultural centers and offshore islands, there’s a little something for everyone in Cancun.

Cancun At Sunset
Yucatan Map

A Bit Of History

Like all of the glittering beach towns in the Mexican Caribbean, Cancun was once a Mayan cultural center. This particular piece of land was essential for the Mayan fishing and maritime trades. After the Maya left the area and prior to the 1970’s, Cancun was all but forgotten. Surviving with just 100 residents.

Fast forward to the 1970’s, when the Mexican government deemed Cancun the best place to build the next tropical, tourist destination. It was a slow build. The Mexican government actually had to finance the first few resorts themselves because took a lot of convincing to get investors interested. Yet by the mid 1980’s, Cancun had achieved its goal. It was the IT destination in Mexico.

Cancun Visitors Guide With The Top Things To Do In Cancun

Cancun Today

Rich with history and irresistible nature, Cancun quickly became a mecca for local and foreign visitors. Since 1989 Cancun has been considered the most dynamic city in Mexico. Pillow soft sand, warm seas and dreams coming true keep patrons coming back year after year.

Below is our guide to making the best of your visit including many of the top things to do in Cancun. We hope you enjoy!

Where Is Cancun?

Island Life Mexico

Cancun City and the adjacent L-shaped island area known as Isla Cancun, are located on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean seashore. Located just north of the Riviera Maya coastal area, Cancun is one of Mexico’s easternmost points.

Adjacent to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the second-longest coral reef system in the world), Cancun is in a perfect spot for turquoise Caribbean waters, white sand beaches, and world-class diving and snorkeling. This is DEFINITELY the island life!

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

When To Visit Cancun

The tropical climate in Cancun is quite predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F) it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Cancun. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.

Sunset in Cancun

How To Get To Cancun

There are a few ways to get to Cancun. Note that many larger hotels in Cancun provide free transportation to town, so check ahead before planning alternative transportation.

Cancun Visitors Guide. How To Get To Cancun, Tulum, Cozumel.

By Air & Shuttle

Most people fly directly to Cancun as numerous international flights arrive in Cancun daily. The international airport is located in Cancun City (Centro) and is just 13 miles from the Zona Hotelera. Some suggest the easiest way to get to town is by hiring a shuttle ride in advance. The tour company will send a driver to meet you at the airport and take you directly to your location.

Island Life Mexico

By Bus

The most affordable and slowly becoming one of the most popular forms of transport, busses go everywhere you want to go and most are airconditioned. From the airport there are frequent public busses available into the city. From Tulum and Playa del Carmen busses are also widely available. Consult your hotel for pickup locations.

Island Life Mexico

By Taxi

Taxis are everywhere and will take you straight to your accommodation. Be sure to discuss the prices in advance of taking the ride so you don’t get overcharged. Taxi’s to Cancun from Playa del Carmen or Tulum are convenient but can be expensive.

Island Life Mexico

By Car

Renting a vehicle may be the most convenient choice depending on how much exploring you plan to do on your own. It is an easy and affordable option. The roads between Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum are very straightforward and safe. We recommend booking your car here for the best prices and service.

How To Get To Cancun

For more transportation information, check out our Getting Around The Yucatan Guide

Driving Into Cancun
Driving Into Cancun

What To Do In Cancun

Cancun's Top Highlights

There is so much to do in Cancun! From live shows to sailing cruises and more, it’s really easy to make each day in Cancun a special experience. Here are just some of the activities you can enjoy!

1
Take A Day Trip To Chichen Itza
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1. Take A Day Trip To Chichen Itza

If you’ve never been to a Mayan ruin, why not start with one of the best! Chichen Itza is an epic collection of temples and monuments that are worth the trip to get there. Around a two-hour drive from Cancun, many people combine the adventure with other interesting stops and a swim at cenotes on the way back to cool off. You can rent a car and do the drive yourself, but most people book either a private guide or take a group tour for simplicity. This also allows you to zonk out in the van on the way back!

2
Visit A Cenote
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2. Visit A Cenote

Talk about healing properties. The cenote choices in the Cancun area are vast and diverse as there are literally dozens of incredible locations nearby. You can swim, scuba dive, snorkel or just walk through one of these breathtaking and powerful forces of nature.

For cenote info and great cenote recommendations, be sure to check out our Ultimate Cenote Guide.

3
Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
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3. Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving

Hire a tour company to jet you around the lagoons or go with a dive shop and see what lies beneath.

The Underwater Sculpture Museum at MUSA has become quite a popular attraction in recent years. Over 500 sculptures were built and installed in the blue shallow waters in an attempt to rebuild the reef system. But there are plenty of other diving and snorkeling options as well! Get in the water and explore, a true treasure awaits.

4
Enjoy The Nightlife
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4. Enjoy The Nightlife

You are in the Mexican Caribbean’s party center after all! The northern part of Zona Hotelera is called Punta Cancun and is the nightlife party area with plenty of clubs and tourist bars. Some say the best club to dance and drink the night away is Coco Bongo but don’t let us sway your decision, there are many places to party on offer, mostly in the Zona Hotelera.

5
Take A Sunset Sail
5

5. Take A Sunset Sail

Feeling something a bit more relaxed and maybe even romantic? A sunset sailing cruise is guaranteed to set you at ease. Cancun is known for its incredible sunsets. What better way to wind down and fall softly into relaxation than this?  Snacks, drinks, soothing waves, gorgeous sky…if you need anything else you are just being too greedy.

6
Go To A Lucha Libre Show!
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6. Go To A Lucha Libre Show!

Is there anything more uniquely Mexican than a luchador wrestling match?

No, is the answer. These fighters train for years and have mastered the art of entertainment. Go, enjoy, cheer and maybe have a cervesa or a coctel.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When going on vacation in the time of Covid, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Most of the current policies cover Covid medical issues as well as vacation delays due to Covid. They typically even cover your hotel if you test positive in Mexico and have to extend your trip a few days until you get a negative test. You can easily compare and choose from the top travel insurance policies here.

Where To Stay In Cancun

There are all types of wonderful accommodations in Cancun. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For information about the different neighborhoods and great hotel recommendations, check out our Cancun Hotel Guide.

Cancun Hotel Guide

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Cancun Hotel Guide

What To Eat In Cancun

Cancun is famous for its stunning beaches, pristine turquoise waters, and exciting nightlife. But on top of being an electrifying destination to visit, you can also find a wide range of wonderful bites to eat. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure in Cancun, check out our Cancun Restaurant Guide.

Cancun Restaurant Guide, The Best Restaurants In Cancun

For great restaurant recommendations, check out our Cancun Restaurant Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Mexican Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a list to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Mexico Vacation Guide.

What To Pack For Your Mexican Vacation

Check out our guide for what to bring on your Mexican vacation!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Oh man, as a first time visitor to Cancun I was completely overwhelmed and your guide just saved my life! Seriously thank you so much for posting this. It has made my visit so much more relaxed. I am going to read the Cenotes one next!

  2. We LOVE the lucha libre show idea. We will definitely look into that when we visit next month.

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