When you think of a Mexican vacation, what's the first city that comes to mind? Considered one of the most popular holiday destinations in Mexico, Cancun is located on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Situated on the edge of the Caribbean Sea, the city boasts warm tropical waters, white sand beaches, and world-class nightlife. But instead of paying for an overpriced beach resort or hotel, Wimdu lets you book low cost accommodation like holiday apartments, spare bedrooms, or guest houses owned by locals in and around Cancun. Perfect for the budget-minded traveler who wants to meet people and get recommendations about the area from someone who actually lives there.
5 Fun Facts
- The name Cancun means "nest of snakes" in Mayan
- Cancun's international airport is the 2nd busiest in Mexico
- Over 1/3rd of Mexico's tourism revenue is from Cancun
- The 2nd largest coral reef in the world is located offshore
- Cancun's beaches are made from crushed coral and won't burn your feet in the sun
Where to StayMost of the hotels and nightlife in cancun are located in the "Hotel Zone", a strip of land shaped like the number 7 that reaches out into the ocean. It's also called Isla Cancun. Local people live in Cancun City, the less expensive and original downtown area full of traditional restaurants and shops. Where you stay will depend on what's more important to you. Cancun City is cheaper and more authentic, while the Hotel Zone has easy beach access and fancy nightclubs.
Things to DoThe pristine white sand beaches and warm turquoise ocean water are a big reason why millions of visitors flock to Cancun every year. But there are plenty of other things to do in Cancun. If you love scuba diving, Cancun is a fantastic base for exploring the incredible underwater life and coral reefs nearby. In fact the 2nd largest reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef, sits offshore. There is even an underwater museum, called MUSA, located in the sea between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. It’s made up of 400 underwater sculptures that can be enjoyed by divers, snorkelers, or on glass-bottom boat tours.
In the summer season, giant bus-sized whale sharks migrate through the area, and tour operators can take you swimming with these beautiful and gentle creatures. Water sports like kayaking, jet skiing, and deep-sea fishing are all big activities here too. Cancun is said to have some of the best sailfishing in the world. For car-lovers, it’s possible to rent Lamborghinis or Ferraris and drive them around a race track at Exotic Rides Mexico. Cancun is also home to excellent shopping and wild nightlife. For kids, there's the Interactive Aquarium, where you can actually swim with sea lions and dolphins!
History & CultureAre you a history buff? Take a day trip out to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, one of the 7 wonders of the world. You can book a tour, or save money and avoid the crowds by taking a local bus or rental car on your own. It's only a 2 1/2 hour drive away. The Mayan ruins of Coba are also close by, and they don't get as many visitors as Chichen Itza.
Cancun is close to a few "cenotes" as well, underground caves or sinkholes filled with fresh water. Sometimes they have natural skylights in the ceiling that allow sunlight to stream in. It's possible to swim at some of the cenotes, or for the more adventurous, even scuba dive through them. Ancient Mayan warriors used to sacrifice their enemies in cenotes, believing them to be the entrance to the underworld.
FoodI don't know about you, but Mexican food is one of my favorite reasons to visit Mexico. The best restaurants in Cancun are downtown in Cancun City, away from the Hotel Zone. For traditional Yucatecan dishes at a reasonable price, try Labna in downtown Cancun. In the Hotel Zone, there's a little mom & pop restaurant called Tacun. They provide a true Mexican experience, including the plastic tables & chairs. You'll also find plenty of small street carts cooking up many different varieties of tasty tacos, quesadillas, and tortas all day long. If you're worried about getting sick, just look for the carts with the busiest lines to find the freshest food.
NightlifeCancun's nightlife is well known around the world. Hot spots like Señor Frogs and Coco Bongo are usually packed year round and provide some incredible live entertainment. All the biggest nightclubs and bars are located in the Hotel Zone. Some of them can hold up to 4000 people. Spring Break is huge in Cancun, with tens of thousands of college kids descending on the area in March to drink & dance all night, followed by a day of laying on the beach in the sun to recover.
Getting AroundCancun International Airport is a 30 minute drive from downtown, but there are many shuttle buses that make the trip. There's also an ADO bus, which is kind of like Greyhound in the United States. But nicer. Be wary of the taxi drivers that hang out in front of the airport, many of them will try to overcharge or scam you. Cancun has a cheap and convenient bus system that can take you back and forth between Downtown and the Hotel Zone for about $1 a ride. There are two main routes, the R1 and R2. If you're feeling adventurous, "colectivos" are another option. These public taxi-vans are used by the locals. Drivers will pick up or drop off people at any point along the highway, you just need to flag them down. Some of the vans are air-conditioned, others are not. They can often be pretty cramped too, but if you're looking for a true local experience, I highly recommend experiencing a colectivo ride while you're visiting Cancun.
Cancun has a bit of everything, from amazing nightlife and beaches to traditional Mayan culture and heart-pounding adventure activities. When you're planning your next Cancun vacation, remember to use Wimdu to book an affordable apartment or guest house and save some money.