Cancun is one of the leading cities in tourism in Mexico, and thanks to its beaches, warm weather, vacation packages, activities, tours, gastronomy, hotels, nightlife and other features, have made this city the favorite of millions of tourists around the world, breaking records of more than 5 million visits per year.
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No matter if you don’t know Cancun yet or if you are looking for information to repeat your trip to the city, this is a mega travel guide to Cancun, which will give you all the information you need to know what you can do, see, where to go, the weather, schedules, transportation, and even the history of one of the top cities in the Caribbean Mexico.
History of Cancun
Cancun is a Mayan word meaning “Nest of Snakes” and was officially founded as a city on April 20, 1970 and is 50 years old. However, before its foundation Cancun was discovered around 1776 by the Spaniards, who named it Cancuén or Punta Kancune.
This discovery was made by the Spanish cartographer Juan de Dios Gonzalez, who described Cancun at that time as a “lost” city in the immensity of the Mayan jungle, which holds an unparalleled treasure among archaeological sites (Ruins of the King, San Miguelito, Yamil Lu’um, Koxolnax, the temple of Pok Ta Pok, ruins of the scorpion and El Meco), crystal clear beaches of different colors, accompanied by an incredible marine and terrestrial fauna.
All this perfectly hidden, between the intensity of the diverse green colors of its trees, plants and bushes, that hide exotic fruit trees, bushes, woods, medicinal plants, orchids and other flowers.
Such was the way to describe Cancun, that after its discovery by Juan de Dios Gonzalez, who began its colonization little by little, many other explorers were encouraged to know and travel through these lands, falling madly in love with it and began to live here.
As the years went by, Cancun began to become an area of tourism and economic power that saw the light of day in 1968, when President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz asked the Bank of Mexico for a National Tourism Plan to boost the national economy.
Among all the participating projects, the city of Cancun was one of the 2 finalists and it was for this reason that in 1970 it was recognized as a coastal city and since then it has been growing and becoming the city we know today as one of the most prestigious tourist areas in Mexico.
How old is the city of Cancun?
The city of Cancun is 50 years old (2020) since its foundation and has positioned itself as one of the best tourist destinations in Mexico.
Which president decreed the development of Cancun?
President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (1964-1970) decreed the development of Cancun in 1970 as a consequence of the national tourism plan he requested from the Bank of Mexico in 1698. Cancun and Zihuatanejo were the finalist destinations and the first projects that were born from the Integral Program of Tourist Centers guided by the recently inaugurated Infratur (Tourist Infrastructure Fund), now known as Fonatur (National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism).
How is Cancun divided?
The city of Cancun is divided into 5 zones: Hotel Zone, Downtown Zone, Puerto Juarez, Isla Mujeres and Ejidal Strip.
As we just saw a few moments ago Cancun is a city that is 50 years old, is considered the youngest city in Mexico and has a division of 5 spectacular zones, however of these zones the busiest are 2: The hotel zone of Cancun and the downtown area. However, we will tell you a little about each of these 5 zones of Cancun.
Cancun Hotel Zone
Cancun’s Hotel Zone, also known as “Cancun Island” is the main area of the city and here you will find most of the main luxury hotels, 5 star hotels, all inclusive hotels, adult hotels, family hotels and the same as the different activities, tours, restaurants, plazas, shopping malls and of course the Beaches.
It is worth mentioning that Cancun has more than 10 beaches and most of them are here in the Hotel Zone, besides, this place is complemented by the Nichupté Lagoon, a small place surrounded by vast vegetation and marine life such as crocodiles, turtles, crabs, birds, snakes, etc, etc.
Cancun downtown, downtown area or urban area is the area of the city of Cancun where the inhabitants of the city have settled. However, it also has different attractions that make it attractive to visitors.
Such as the Palapas park, the government palace, Plaza las Americas, Plaza de toros, Plaza solares, market 28, market 23 and various nightclubs and restaurants, although it should be noted that very few tourists staying in the hotel zone visit the downtown area.
Puerto Juarez is a small area far from downtown and the hotel zone, but it has become famous for being the main seaport to cross to Isla Mujeres and of course, also to take some tours and have the opportunity to explore the waters of the Mexican Caribbean.
Isla Mujeres is the second busiest area of Cancun and it is an island that can not be reached by road, so you must take a ferry or a private flight. This island is very famous for its reefs, its beaches and the charm of being the first to receive the sun’s rays in all of Mexico.
Bonfil, Franja Ejidal or Alfredo V. Bonfil, is the area of the city closest to the airport and the least touristic of the city, as it is far from downtown Cancun and it is really one of the quietest areas, where there are not many bars, restaurants or nightclubs.
What characterizes Cancun?
The beaches, the climate, the culture, the gastronomy and its diverse natural areas are the main characteristics of Cancun, which seduce you in your first visit and make you fall in love to repeat your vacations in the city and now we will describe each one of them.
Cancun is characterized for having 22 kilometers of beaches of various shades, depths and waves, each of them has its own characteristics and equipment, for example some have parking, restaurants and stores nearby, while others lend themselves to enjoy water sports and activities and some more simply to enjoy the sea, the sun and the sand.
It is generally said that Cancun only has 10 beaches, but this count does not really consider all the beaches found in the city and only those in the hotel zone, however we are going to try to list them all for you.
List of Cancun Beaches
- Playa las Perlas
- Playa juventud
- Playa Linda
- Playa Casa Maya
- Playa Gaviotas
- Playa Langosta
- Playa Tortuga
- Playa Caracol
- Playa Forum
- Playa Chac Mol
- Playa Marlín
- Playa Ballanas.
- Playa Delfines
- Mirador Punta Ninuc (Mirador 2)
List of Isla Mujeres Beaches
- Playa Caracol
- Playas de Na Balan
- Playa Langosta
- Playa Lancheros
- Playa la Tortuga
- Playa Norte
- Punta Sur
- Playa Sol
- Isla Blanca
List of beaches in Puerto Juarez
- Niño Beach
As you may have noticed, there are 24 beaches in the surrounding areas and zones of the city of Cancun, not counting those that are private or difficult to access.
Another thing that characterizes Cancun is its spectacular warm and tropical climate, which makes it a perfect escape from the cold for people who live in destinations where winter brings sharp drops in temperature. Cancun’s average year-round climate is 28 to 36 degrees Celsius, and its minimum temperature has been as low as 24 degrees Celsius.
The main gastronomy of Cancun are the flavors of the sea, however being a “multi cultural” city, we can find a great influence of Mayan, Italian, Spanish, Oriental and of course the unique Mexican cuisine.
Beaches are natural areas of the city of Cancun that call much attention, however this city is the entrance to the Caribbean Mexico and therefore is close to several natural areas such as Xcaret and Xel ha; lagoons such as Nichuté Lagoon; archaeological sites such as Coba, Chichen Itza, Ruinas del Rey; and several caves, caverns and cenotes.
How much does a Cancun travel package cost?
Cancun travel packages and all inclusive can have a minimum cost of 7 thousand MXN, up to 15 thousand MXN, among these offers we find Cancun travel packages for families or couples. These travel packages are commonly managed by the main hotels in the city, such as the Royal Sunset Resorts hotel.
These travel packages are managed as a strategy to generate income during the lower seasons of tourism in the city and during the high season in the city, we can find travel packages ranging from 15 thousand MXN, up to 45 thousand MXN.
It should be noted that these packages do not include many tours, so these expenses are extra and can be an expense of 5 thousand to 10 thousand MXN per person.
How much does a flight to Cancun cost?
Travel packages to Cancun do not usually include the flight, so this becomes one more “expense” that adds to our travel budget. However, there are some tips and tricks to get cheap flights and now we will tell you some of them.
- Buy the flight 6 months in advance: It is always preferable to buy the flight about 6 months before your trip, this will help you to receive the best travel deals and not the excessive expenses that are made by buying it 1 month before or with less time possible.
- Check prices on Skyscanner: Skyscanner is a page from which you can compare the different costs and departure times of a flight to Cancun and from various parts of the world, in order to choose the most economical for you.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays: The best days to buy flights are Tuesdays and Thursdays in the early morning, where most airlines for some strange reason, lower prices and manage excellent deals.
The above are excellent tips to find cheap flights to Cancun and based on these arguments the cost of a flight to Cancun from anywhere in Mexico can be from 2,000 MXN to 5,500 MXN.
If you are traveling to Cancun from any LATAM part of Mexico, the minimum cost of a flight to Cancun is 6,000 MXN and maximum of 15,000 MXN, meanwhile, from the other side of the world flights can cost up to 22,000 MXN.
How much money do I need to go to Cancun?
The travel packages to Cancun are very good, however we can not always reach them, so our option is to put together our own travel itinerary to Cancun and with it a budget of money we need to spend, to have the best time possible.
If we consider the cost of the flight, lodging, entrance to some tours, airfare, food, and the various activities, you need approximately 15 thousand MXN to go to Cancun and now we will make a breakdown of the expenses, based on a stay of 5 days and 4 nights.
|Flight||According to price statistics, the cheapest cost of a flight to Cancun is 300 USD.||300 USD|
|Accommodation||There is a wide range of accommodations in Cancun, from all-inclusive to modest hostels, the latter costing up to 10 USD per night.||50 USD|
|Food||The food in Cancun is very varied and depending on the place where you decide to enjoy it, it can cost from 10 USD to 25 USD per day.||125 USD|
|Activities||The various tours and excursions in Cancun are the most expensive ones, however, in order to enjoy any of them it is estimated to cost approximately 500 USD.||500 USD|
|Transportation||The cost of the public bus fare is 1 USD, while the cost of the vans to other cities near Cancun is usually 2.5 MXN..||50 USD|
In total you would need 1,025 USD to be able to travel to Cancun and have the best time possible, of course these expenses can be reduced if you choose to do free activities that the city has, because the biggest expense is and will always be in the tours.
What to do in Cancun?
The city offers more than 100 different activities, tours and excursions, however in this post we will list only 10, however if you want to know more you can read our articles about places to visit, and what to do in Cancun.
Enjoying the Beaches
From the beginning of this post we mentioned that the city has 22 kilometers of beaches, so it is fair that it is one of the main activities to do and among so many that exist, we highly recommend Playa Delfines.
Visiting Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is a magical place, which is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and invites us to spend a whole day on its beaches swimming, snorkeling or diving, among other of the more than 15 activities that can be done; by the way, the island is the favorite place for women to enjoy their best bathing suits.
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Ride a jet ski
There are beaches in the city that lend themselves to make it an adventure to get on and drive a jet ski and no matter if it’s your first time, it will become one of the best experiences of your life.
Enjoy the gastronomy
Forget about diet and enjoy the great gastronomic diversity that the city has for you, you will find all kinds of food: Mexican, Cuban, Venezuelan, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, etc, etc, etc.
Visiting the hotel zone
Cancun’s hotel zone has 22 kilometers that are totally yours to explore and not necessarily the beaches will be your hosts, because remember that this place is full of plazas, shopping malls, hotels, archaeological sites and without forgetting that at various points we will find the letters of the city.
Visiting Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is located about 2 hours from the city and has become one of the most popular tourist places in Mexico today, thanks to being one of the 7 wonders of the modern world and of course, for its cultural and historical richness in the Mayan culture that characterizes Mexico.
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Camping in Isla Blanca
If you are an eco-tourism lover, there is a small coastal area away from the city center known as Isla Blanca. This area still keeps its virgin island charm and that is precisely why it has become an ideal place for camping lovers. There are no restaurants, nightclubs or bars here and it’s just you, the sea, the sand and the blanket of the night.
A night in the night clubs
In the hotel zone, we will find the nightlife of Cancun and one of the activities that you have to do if or if, is to be at least in one of them. We recommend The city or Coco bongo, but nobody will blame you if you decide to go to another one, because let’s be honest; these clubs are very exclusive and therefore their access cost is very high.
There is nothing better to show off your vacation in the city than taking your own photo tour, as there are several areas with dazzling architecture, decoration and scenery that can be immortalized in photographs to remember your trip to Cancun.
Getting to know downtown
Although most of the fun for visitors is found in the hotel zone, the downtown area of the city has a lot to defend itself with such as the Palapas Park, the Tajamar boardwalk, Plaza Las Americas, Market 23, Market 28 and various places of interest that are worth visiting.
What is the best activity in Cancun?
The best activity in Cancun is to enjoy the beaches, as this is its main tourist offer, as second place is to visit Isla Mujeres, Xcaret and Chichen Itza.
Tours in Cancun
Swim with dolphins, drive a jet ski, enjoy Isla Mujeres, visit Chichen Itza, visit Xcaret, are some of the many tours that exist in Cancun and now we will know the most requested tours by visitors.
When we talk about Cancun, Xcaret usually comes to mind, since this is one of the most popular natural and thematic parks in the Riviera Maya and it is almost impossible not to think about visiting it if you come to Cancun.
It is worth mentioning that there are tour packages that include a combo of access to 3 parks of the Xcaret family and these are generally: Xcaret, Xplor and Xel Ha.
Isla Mujeres Tour
If you are looking to visit Isla Mujeres in one day and visit the main tourist and charming areas of the island and of course have the opportunity to swim in the immensity of the Caribbean Sea, the Isla Mujeres Cancun tour.
Chichen Itza Tour
Chichén itzá for several decades has been an obligatory stop for visitors to the city and despite being a trip of almost 2 hours, it is and will continue to be the second most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
Captain Hook Tour
Sailing through the Caribbean Sea, while enjoying a rum, a delicious dinner and a pirate show is how Captain Hook is described, an evening tour for the whole family.
Jungle tour is one of the most requested Cancun tours, as it gives you the opportunity to drive a speedboat and tour the beauty and charm of the Nichupte lagoon.
Cancun has an artificial museum and is known as MUSA or the underwater museum of art, which today houses an incredible marine life and which you can explore by diving, snorkeling or on tours to Isla Mujeres.
El Cielo Tour
The island of Cozumel is the largest island in the state of Quintana Roo and is home to a small beach full of starfish and thanks to the transparency and tonality of the water, it can be appreciated in a way that we could not really describe, but the name given to this beach and the tour that will take you to it is “El Cielo” (Heaven).
Sport Fishing Tour
If you are a fishing lover, in the city you will find several sport fishing tour providers, where you will be taken to the wet regions of the caribbean sea and you will be amazed by all that you can find, a real adventure!
Swim with dolphins tour
Would you like to swim with dolphins? The city has several dolphinariums where you can enjoy this exciting activity and learn more about these intelligent mammals.
Tulum in the past was an important Mayan city and is something that today is still preserved with its archaeological sites, its culture, its history and you will have the opportunity to know all this in this tour to Tulum.
How much do Cancun tours cost?
Below is a list of the different tours in the city of Cancun and the approximate prices, as these prices may vary depending on the provider, season of the year, if you are local, national, foreigner or the promotion of the moment.
|Tour Isla Mujeres||1 Person||$650 MXN|
|Swim with dolphins||2 Person||$3,306 MXN|
|Tour Chichén Itzá||1 Person||$1,518 MXN|
|Capitan Hook||1 Person||$1,250 MXN|
|Xcaret||1 Person||$2,177 MXN|
|XelHa||1 Person||$1,979 MXN|
|Xplor||1 Person||$2,573 MXN|
|Xenses||1 Person||$ 2,573 MXN|
|Jungle Tour||1 Person||$1,774 MXN|
|Ventura Park||1 Person||$850 MXN|
|Garron Park||1 Person||$910 MXN|
|Tour Tulum||1 Person||$ 2,771 MXN|
|Tour el Cielo||1 Person||$1,199 MXN|
|Snorkel en MUSA||1 Person||$1,395 MXN|
|skydive||1 Person||$1,973 MXN|
|Jet Ski||1 Person||$3,489 MXN|
|Speedboat||1 Person||$1,483 MXN|
|Ruta de los cenotes||1 Person||$300 MXN|
Hotels in Cancun
The city of Cancun is surrounded by more than 2500 hotels located in the urban area, downtown and the hotel zone. Of course, this number does not take into account vacation homes and Airbnb accommodations.
So without a doubt, in the city you will find the perfect accommodation to suit your needs and budget. Check some of them out here:
Which is the best hotel in Cancun?
According to the various hotel reservation platforms in Cancun, the best hotelin the city that has an excellent quality / price ratio is the Hyatt Zilara Cancun.
Transfers in Cancun
To move from one place to another in the city of Cancun, we have several options and each with different prices, amenities, advantages and disadvantages and these options are: Uber, Didi cab, Taxis, Private Transportation, Bus, Combis.
Uber is a private or shared transportation service platform, it has and manages different rates depending on the place you want to move, it is fast, simple, safe and thanks to the fact that the charge can be made directly to your card linked to the application, it becomes an excellent option for transportation in Cancun.
However it should be noted that Uber is NOT A VERY COMMON SERVICE IN THE CITY, that means that there are very few uber vehicles in the city and in some areas, its “access” is prohibited,
Didi Taxi is one of the newest transportation platforms in the city and is having a greater acceptance and fares are usually cheaper than Uber.
Cabs in Cancun
This transportation service in the city has different costs, depending on where you are, where you want to go and its minimum fare is approximately 40 MXN. This service is one of the most frequently found in the city and are distinguished by being white cars, with green lines and have the affiliation number on the access doors of the vehicle.
It should be noted that not all of these cars have air conditioning or are in good condition, so they are not recommended if you are looking for a long distance transfer, such as from one city to another.
The most recommended transfer service for visitors to the city of Cancun is the private transportation service. First of all, this service has recently acquired units, which are subjected to rigorous preventive maintenance every few days, besides being comfortable, have air conditioning, have a very comfortable space and are very safe.
This type of service can be hired before you arrive in Cancun or from your hotel once you are here. This way you can go to your tour or visit the nearby cities in a fast, safe and clean way.
Buses are another means of transportation that we have in the city of Cancun and have an approximate cost of 12 MXN. It is worth mentioning that the best maintained buses are the ones that go around Cancun’s hotel zone.
The Combi service is similar to the bus, that is to say, a collective transportation that goes through different routes of the city and its rate is 10 MXN.
Cancun is an incredible city that you have to know, discover its hotels, its attractions and of course moving from one place to another is not as complicated as you think, because it is a small city despite what is believed about it. We can only say enjoy your next vacation in Cancun.