- Family Fun
- Beach Vibes
ON THE MAP
The City Of Cancun
Located on the Caribbean coast of southeastern Mexico, Cancun is one of the world’s most beautiful beach destinations. Sunbathe on the white sandy beaches, scuba dive, then head into the city for dining, shopping, and nightlife.
From Small Beginnings
Cancun’s first visitors were Mayan fishermen until the 1970s, when word spread about the beauty of its beaches and hotels were introduced to the area. Almost a half-century later, Cancun has transformed into a one-of-a-kind city that satisfies every visitor—be they jungle adventurers, beach-goers, golfers, or party animals.
These days, there's a lot going on in Cancun! We'll help you make the most of your time by showing you the lay of the land, what's where, and how to get around.
The first important thing to know? "Cancun" is made up of two distinct areas: The Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) and Downtown (Cancun Centro).
Cancun Hotel Zone - Zona Hotelera
The most iconic area of Cancun, known to the world as the "Hotel Zone," is a 13-mile-long island sandbar that is attached to the mainland by its northern and southern tips. The strip of land is home to over a hundred hotels and luxury resorts—all within walking distance to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon squishing soft sand between your toes, then head to one of the many restaurants in the Hotel Zone. After dinner, sip on a margarita at a local bar and dance to the world’s best DJs at one of the Zone's vibrant discotecas (nightclubs).
Not into the party scene? Explore the Hotel Zone by shopping at the La Isla outdoor mall or touring El Rey, a Mayan archaeological site with dozens of stone structures—including a Mayan temple and burial site. Keep your eyes open when you're outside and you'll see iguanas, lizards, crabs, and even turtles.
Of course, if you want to keep your vacation full of the Cancun sun, sand, and surf, you will not be disappointed by spending all your time at the white sanded beach. Dive deeper and enjoy easy, fun snorkeling at the Nichupte Lagoon (the calmer body of water between the hotel zone and the mainland). For a truly immersive underwater experience, scuba dive among the man-made statues in the Cancun Underwater Museum.
Downtown Cancun - Cancun Centro
Want to get away from the tourists and taste the local flavor? Go beyond the Hotel Zone to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the authentic Cancun and true Mexican culture. Downtown is also the place to find affordable and family-friendly hotels.
Stroll along wide pedestrian paths through the heart of downtown—the bustling Avenida Tulum is lined with shops, markets, and the City Hall building.
Downtown is home to several shops and markets, such as Market 28, famous for selling everything from cigars to perfumes. Learn the art of “haggling” to get the best price for products. Looking for a unique Mexican handicraft? Head over to the colorful Parque Las Palapas for more local shopping and food carts.
Though the entire Yucatan is fairly flat, without any hills or mountains to speak of, there are some spectacular man-made lookout points that are accessible to the public. Check out the view from Malecon Tajamar, one of Cancun’s tallest towers, to see a spectacular view of the Hotel Zone from the mainland.
Cancun International Airport (CUN) is 7.5 miles away from downtown Cancun and can be reached by the ADO bus, taxi or shuttle.
The ADO is a public bus with a route that will take you from the airport to downtown Cancun in 25-40 minutes. From there, you can take a (cheaper) taxi, or transfer onto another bus to get to the Hotel Zone. The bus route will take another 20-40 minutes depending on your final destination.
A faster option is to take an airport taxi straight to your hotel. Depending on your final location and traffic, a taxi ride from the airport can take up to 50 minutes.
For any groups over two or three (or even smaller) we recommend arranging a shuttle. Shuttles are constantly running from the airport to the hotel zone and are the cheapest, most stress-free way you can get to your hotel from the airport. Taxi drivers will likely over-charge you for the trip, and taking the train can be stressful, but booking a shuttle before-hand will ensure you get where you need to go with plenty of time to spare.
If you’re staying in the Hotel Zone, it’s easy to walk around on foot especially if you’re staying in the northern part of the zone. However, the Hotel Zone is 13 miles long, so some attractions are more reachable by bus or taxi. Luckily, there is only one major road in the hotel zone (Blvc Kukulcan) and the taxi and bus drivers are well acquainted with the names and locations of the resorts and hotels, so it's hard to stay lost in the Hotel Zone for long.
Uber, a taxi alternative, also runs in Cancun with the Uber Pool option to share the car with other passengers.
Cancun has an excellent 24-hour bus system running through downtown Cancun and the Hotel Zone. The buses come minutes apart and are an easy way to get from one end of the hotel zone to another. Be sure you've got pesos, as the American dollar may not be accepted by some bus drivers (or will be more expensive in dollars). Either way, this is a fast, easy, and cheap way to get around the Hotel Zone and Cancun centro.
Need to get beyond Cancun? There are daily regional buses that leave from downtown Cancun to nearby locations like the Chichen Itza, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum.
Cancun is located along the Great Mesoamerican Reef, which is the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere with more than 100 coral types and 200 fish varieties. Diving here is an absolute must for marine enthusiasts.