The Getaway
Getaway Guide
Travelers seeking a true getaway paradise, one that not only has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world but also clear-blue ocean waters, endless lists of sites to see, and delicious foods to try, should look no further than Cancun. The weather is sensational, with year-round sunshine and warm temperatures. You'll also find an array of accommodations to choose from in every price range in Mexico's most popular destination, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels and hostels.

01 Arriving there

The easiest way to get to Cancun is by plane due to the number of direct flights available. Once you land at the city's international airport, you'll need to present the required tourist card for Mexico. The best way to get to your hotel from the airport is to schedule a hotel shuttle. For those who haven't already booked a place to stay, head to the Hotel Zone, where you'll find a selection of villas, resorts, or hotel rooms with unlimited access to those glistening white beaches.

Cancun beach panorama aerial view

decorFun Fact

The Mexican government built Cancun just 50 years ago to boost the country's travel industry. Construction crews completed the first hotels in 1974. Up until the 15th century, long before the Spanish occupied the area, this land of marshes, jungles, and beaches was inhabited by Mayan civilizations.

decorRelated Read

Top 10 Countdown: Best Things to do in Cancun
Top 10 Countdown: Best Things to do in Cancun

02 How to make the most of your time

Spending time on the beach is something to look forward to, but there's so much more to Cancun. Plan a day trip to one of the area's famous archaeological sites, such as Chichen Itza, a large Mayan city built in the pre-Columbian era. Stroll through one of the many flea markets or malls, or head downtown to shop for souvenirs. The nightlife in Cancun easily ranks among the best in the world. Choose between pool parties, exciting clubs with massive crowds, small, intimate nightspots, or popular entertainment venues.

Tourist exploring Chichen-Itza

03 Live like a local

Most of Cancun's population lives in the downtown area, northwest of the Hotel Zone, yet they're still a mere 20 minutes from the beach. A top-rated spot where locals hang out is Playa Tortugas, a free beach with lots of open-air restaurants and a pier, perfect for afternoon strolls. Locals also like to spend time in Parque Kabah, a nature park with gorgeous gardens, a 1.9-kilometer dirt trail for jogging or walking, an outdoor gym, and a playground. The Plaza Peninsula shopping center in the downtown area provides great opportunities for people-watching, grabbing a meal, or meeting up with friends.

Cancun, Mexico - 06 JANUARY 2018: Access to Ultramar ferry in Playa Tortugas (Cancun) in Cancun, Mexico

decorFun Fact

Fewer than one million people are permanent residents in Cancun, but millions of travelers visit here each year. The cost of living is much lower in this island paradise than in many parts of the U.S.

04 What to avoid

Make sure you have cash on hand when visiting Cancun. Not every establishment accepts credit cards. Avoid the money exchange kiosks at the airport upon arrival. You'll find better exchange rates in town. Keep your distance from people offering tours around town. They're often scammers. And, though it may sound cliche, don't drink the tap water in Cancun. Choose bottled water instead, even when you're brushing your teeth.

Most importantly, hang on to your tourist card. You'll need to present it when you're leaving the country. If you can't, you'll have to pay a hefty fine, plus spend a lot of time standing in line to get a new one.

Cancun, Mexico

05 Things you can do without any spending money

There may be a ton of glamorous clubs and high-end hotels in Cancun, but there are also plenty of things to do and places to enjoy that don't require you to open up your wallet. If you're seeking a free, relaxing day in the sun, make your way to the less-crowded Playa Delfines. Soft sand covers this enticing stretch of beach, complete with lifeguards and lots of complimentary amenities like clean restrooms and palapas. Downtown, you'll find El Parque de las Palapas. This popular plaza and neighborhood is just six miles west of the Hotel Zone and is a favorite spot for tourists and locals to mingle and enjoy the colorful surroundings.

playground in Playa Delfines

06 Where to take instagram pics and where to put the phone away

There are endless cenotes and archaeological sites where you can score the perfect pic in Cancun, but some locales top the list as the most picturesque. Jump aboard a ferry in Cancun and take a 20-minute cruise to the idyllic island of Isla Mujeres. You could score a big payoff between 6 PM and 7 PM when the sun begins its descent beneath the horizon and the early evening sky lights up in colors of gold and pink over the ocean. Although it may be cool to grab some below-the-surface photos at Cancun's Underwater Museum, visiting here is an excellent time to put the phone away. Live in the moment. Snorkel around the collection of underwater statues and artifacts and take in the beauty of the dynamic aquatic sea creatures that live here.

Woman admiring the sunset on the caribbean sea, Mexico

decorFun Fact

The Museo Maya de Cancun houses one of the largest collections of Mayan artifacts on the Yucatan Peninsula. The 55,000 square-foot museum, surrounded by 40 Mayan structures and a 26-foot tall pyramid, opened in 2012 in the heart of Cancun's Hotel Zone.

07 Where to eat & drink

The aroma of food is everywhere in Cancun. Whether your goal is to indulge in chef-prepared, international delicacies and local specialties or to sample the massive selection of delicious street food, the fact is, you'll never go hungry here. Foodies travel to the Hotel Zone along the Cancun coastline to sample delectable entrees at places like Elefanta, an Indian restaurant that overlooks the Nichupte Lagoon and serves sophisticated, spicy fare. For those seeking novel adult beverage experiences, there are countless unique cocktail spots to try throughout the city. Experience Coco Bongo, a nightclub that leans toward the pricey range, but your ticket comes with unlimited domestic drinks. Try out the signature cocktails at Amarula con Acento Tropical or sample local brews at the Puerto Juarez Brewery.

A fresh coconut against a turquoise background in Mexico

08 Events and festivals

If you love a great festival or party, make plans to attend the Xoximilco Cancun. Join fellow travelers on the water aboard boats vibrantly decorated with lights and bright colors. Enjoy an evening serenade by mariachi bands and marimba medleys as you feast on a dinner of traditional Mexican fare. Instead of celebrating Halloween at home, organize your trip to Cancun during the Day of the Dead festivities that take place in the Hotel Zone, the downtown area, and nearby communities. In the days leading up to the event, family members, businesses, and hotels build colorful altars to commemorate family members who have passed away. Visitors are welcome to tour the altars and join in on the remembrances.

Cancun, Quintana Roo/Mexico - November 1st, 2018: Girl painted as a"Katrin" staying in front of the altar. Close up. Altar is dedicated to celebration Day of the Dead, traditional fest in Mexico.
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