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Cancun

Cancun Beach Vacation Tips

Hotels and resorts line the Cancun waterfront. Pixabay Creative Commons license
Hotels and resorts line the Cancun waterfront. Pixabay Creative Commons license
A beach vacation in Cancun, Mexico, is popular with tourists because of its luxurious hotels, convenient location and many things to do. The beaches aren't bad, either.

I have plenty of Cancun travel tips after several trips there, but these five are the most important ones:

  1. Go in the spring and not the winter for seawater with comfortable temperatures.
  2. The best regional attraction is a day trip to Chichén-Itzá.
  3. Isla Mujeres is the best nearby attraction.
  4. Avoid spring break because of high prices and large crowds.
  5. Avoid going during the fall because of heavy rains.

Hotel and Resort Tips


Cancun is one of the easiest beach vacation destinations in the Caribbean for hotel and resort visitors.

Cancun beach.© 2019 Scott S. Bateman
They will fly into Cancun International Airport and from there take a 15- to 20-minute drive via taxi, rental car or shuttle bus to their hotel on the water. The Cancun hotel zone is on a lengthy and narrow strip of land surrounding Nichupte Lagoon. Hotels and restaurants are lined up closely together on the main road -- Kukulkan Boulevard -- with many shops and restaurants on the lagoon side and the hotels facing the ocean.

Many more line the coast between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, which is 40 miles to the south. The Kukulkan strip is a mix of hotels and resorts; places to the south of Cancun have an emphasis on all-inclusive resorts.

Tourists who take a taxi or shuttle bus to their hotel rather than a rental car have another advantage with the location. Cancun has an inexpensive public bus system with buses that run along the boulevard during both day and night. Vacationers can hop on by their hotel and hop off a few miles down the road at a restaurant or attraction.

Anyone thinking about a Caribbean trip will find that Cancun has many large hotels, plenty of shopping, restaurants and nightlife, and a wide variety of outdoor activities.

It is a nicely packaged vacation like a visit to the many all-inclusives of Dominican Republic. Go to Cancun hotel or resort for simple relaxation with the potential to keep active.

Tourist Attractions


What the Cancun hotel zone doesn't have is any major historical or natural attractions nearby. Because of the lagoon location, Cancun has a heavy emphasis on water sports including scuba diving, snorkeling and boating.

The hotel strip is 19 miles long, and visitors can eat at more than 500 restaurants. The intense concentration of shops, hotels and restaurants in such a small area creates many things to do. Note: Be careful with the Mexican peso exchange rate; a few unscrupulous restaurants will take advantage of unwary tourists.

Visitors can take boat tours to Isla Mujeres to swim with the dolphins. They also can see sandy beaches and brick streets, bright clapboard houses, snorkeling opportunities, a turtle sanctuary and other activities such as the Garrafon National Park.

Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a major Cancun area attraction.
Other popular attractions include the huge Mayan ruins at Chichén-Itzá, plus other ruins at Calakmul, Palenque, Tulum and Uxmal. The ruins require visitors to have either a rental car or excursion bus to reach them.

Anyone with a rental car may want to drive an hour south to Playa del Carmen for the great shopping district on 5th Avenue. It is a festive, open-air pedestrian mall lined with shops and restaurants that runs for more than a mile near the waterfront. It is often packed with cruise visitors from Cozumel.

Cozumel is a quick ferry ride across the water from Playa del Carmen. It has many more things to do, especially diving and snorkeling. Despite its reputation for reefs, our Cozumel snorkeling experience was fairly routine compared to places such as St. Thomas, although others may do better.)

Cancun Vacation Weather


Vacationers who think about visiting Cancun should keep the weather in mind. Although the city is usually warm to hot, the total rainfall varies greatly from season to season.

Rainfall is lightest from March through June when the daytime temperatures average from the mid-80s to low-90s Fahrenheit. The average year-round temperature is 80 degrees.

The city has far fewer visitors in September and October when it averages about nine inches of rain each month during the annual Caribbean hurricane season.

Some research shows that Cancun gets touched by a hurricane about once every two to three years. Most recently, tourists were forced to flee the city in August 2007 because of Hurricane Dean.

Tourism / Best Times to Go


Cancun vacationsThe most popular month to visit Cancun is July followed by December and then June, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

The summer popularity flies in the face of the summertime hurricane threat. Tourism increases during the summer because of families with school children on summer breaks. Between tourism and weather, the best time to go to Cancun is during the spring months. Otherwise, earlier in the summer is better than later.

A Cancun vacation is convenient because the city is within easy reach for most U.S. citizens. Flight times are about 1.5 hours from Miami and about four hours from Chicago.

Cancun is the third most popular place to visit in the Caribbean region. As a result, airlines offer a large number of flights from airports in the U.S.

That makes it easy to schedule a flight. It also keeps airline tickets less expensive than other Caribbean destinations that are farther away and less popular.

Cancun is not a cruise destination because it does not have a cruise port, but it certainly is a popular hotel and resort destination. Only Dominican Republic and Jamaica are more popular.

Currency / Tipping


Currency is the Mexican peso, but U.S. currency and most major credit cards are widely accepted.

Although most businesses are honest, be careful with paying by credit card. Some businesses may charge a high service fee for exchanging dollars and pesos. Some may use an inflated exchange rate. It is wise for tourists to know the exchange rate when visiting there.

Tipping is about 10-15 percent with 15 percent being more common. The hotel room tax is 12 percent, and the departure tax is $17.

Culture / Geography


The official language is Spanish, but English is widely spoken. Locals within Cancun and who live in the tourist area commonly speak English. It is less common to find English speakers for anyone who ventures outside the tourist area.

The low-lying island located in the state of Quintana Roo is about 16 miles long and about a half mile wide. The longest barrier reef in the Americas is just offshore and helps create a unique L-shaped lagoon. Cancun Island connects to the mainland city of Cancun by a causeway.

Sources

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

Cancun Hotel Map

 > Category: Travel Tips   

October 26, 2019
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