A Guide to Cancun
Collected by Allison Murray, AFAR Contributor
Surrounded by Mayan ruins and one of the most luxurious tropical environments in the world, Cancun is rich with cultural and natural history. Its vibrancy attracts visitors year-round.
Av Yaxchilán, 2 de Febrero, 29086 Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chis., Mexico
After dark, locals and tourists alike gather on this avenue. Here, you’ll see a blend of affordable downtown hotels side by side dimly lit dive bars, but the street is mostly known for its colorful eateries serving authentic Mexican food:...
Blvd Kukulcan Km 11.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Crafting the perfect tequila in Mexico is both a tradition and art. Contrary to its perception in America, here it's a drink meant to be relished. A tour of the Museo Del Tequila is an experience for the senses that walks you through the...
Blvd Kukulcan Km 9.5, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
If you enjoy partying near the beach, Cancun won't disappoint you. A number of beachfront clubs have music (live or DJ) and dancing that spills out onto the sand into the wee hours. Some, such as Mandala Beach Club offer tables and bottle service...
Av. Tulúm y Claveles No. 1 MZ.5, SM.22, 22, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
If you are looking for the center of local life, El Centro is where it all happens. The surrounding resident and expat communities come here for the markets, malls, and affordable eats. The seashell sculpture in the round about on Avenida Tulum is...
Boulevard Kukulcan KM 13 , LOCAL 410 y 411A, Benito Juárez, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Centrally located in the Hotel Zone, Kukulcan Plaza is an upmarket mall with about 300 internationally known brands, boutiques, and jewelry stores. For a break and a bite, you can stop at one of the delicious restaurants surrounding the mall's...
Gladiolas Retorno 7 12, 22, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Tucked inside of Hotel Xbalamqué, El Pabilo Cafe is host to one of Cancun's great art scenes. Enjoy a cup of naturally roasted coffee, typically ground by hand, while admiring photography, books and paintings from local artists, all in the center...
21, 77505 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Soccer is a South American institution. For unique and exciting experience in Mexico catch a soccer match. Atlante, a national team and club is based in Cancún, plays often to a crowd of excited fans. It's worth the visit and tickets are...
Joaquín Zetina Gasca, Q.R., Mexico
Sweet, sugary, colorful, flaky, rich, eggy bread. It comes on a bicycle. If you sit on a street corner in any of the pueblos along Mexico's Mayan Riviera coast, it will pass by. All you need to do is wait. Of course the tamales bike will pass by...
Boulevard Kukulkan, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
For traditional Mexican handicrafts, Mercado Coral Negro is the easiest place to find all your wares. Here you can purchase jewelry, mayan relics, and unique creations from all over the region. The most beautiful items are the embroidered garments...
Avenida KM 13,5. Lote 24, Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 9.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
When in Cancun or on the Riviera Maya, go to Cenacolo Mare—an Italian restaurant that specializes in pasta and seafood. This is their Mediterranean appetizer consisting of mozzarella, zucchini, mushrooms, sprouts, and roasted pepper and pesto...
Blvd. Kukulcan, La Isla, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
La Madonna is perfect for a couples dinner in Cancun. This Italian restaurant tries its hand at old-world style with a romantic ambience to match. The diverse menu could keep you coming back, but it's the equally long wine and martini list that's...
Blvd. Kukulcan, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Under the waters of Cancun's coast, hundreds of statues are on display. Part unique art display and part artificial reef habitat, it's an environmentally friendly addition to the beach city. The Cancun Underwater Museum is best enjoyed on a...
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Just when it seemed like the Riviera Maya Riviera had become nothing but a sea of all-inclusive beach resorts, you stumble upon the quaint little Mexican village of Puerto Morelos. There are almost no huge developments, no shopping outlets, and no...
Carr. Costera del Golfo, Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
The Gulf Stream's current is amazing; the waters are clear and best viewed by boat. The waves were the biggest I had ever seen and reached over ten feet high. This was my first sailing trip through the gulf stream and the longest offshore trip I...
Boulevard Kukulcan Km.12.5 Lt 18, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Enjoy these stunning oceanview and beachside cabanas at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort, a seaside resort in Cancun, Mexico. Enjoy the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean, a sweet haven for the sun-seekers. A perfect place to soak under the...
Kukulkan Kilometro 12.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Benito Juárez, Q.R., Mexico
For anything you may have forgotten for your trip or for mementos to bring home, visit Plaza La Fiesta near the hotel zone and convention center. The mass showroom is full of unique vendors with crafts from all over the region—including incredible...
Carretera Cancún -Tulum Km 282, Puerto Juarez, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
The Riviera Maya’s most beautifully styled adventure park begins with a reception area inside a natural cave. Tours here include Latin America’s highest zip lines over the tropical forest, amphibious vehicles you drive through caves...
Blvd. Kukulcan km 12.5, La Isla, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
If sitting on the beach is too boring or if you just need a shot of adrenaline, Cancun outfitters and resorts offer plenty of water sports lessons and equipment. There are the usual suspects: surfing, kiteboarding, and parasailing, as well as...
Av Sunyaxchen 6, 25, 77509 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Traveling as a vegetarian can be challenging, luckily in Cancun there's Restaurantes 100% Natural. Unlike the majority of restaurants in the area, they have a vast selection of delicious vegetarian dishes made from fresh local ingredients. In...
Ciricote 15, 23, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Mercado 23 is the local farmers market where you'll find organic produce, street food, and unique local products. The fruits and vegetables here are grown naturally, without GMOs, so while a bit smaller and imperfect they are the real deal. Like...
Blvd. Kukulcan, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
With ancient traditions and a rich history, Mayan society is a fascinating, integral part of Mexican culture and history. While immersed in the Museo Maya de Cancun you'll forget all about the resorts outside and instead be transported back onto...
Boulevard Kukulcan Km 12.6, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
To satisfy your seafood cravings, El Fish Fritanga is a must-eat place, dubbed as "the place where locals eat." This hidden restaurant lies on the busy Kukulcan Boulevard in Cancun, nestled under some cocunut trees and overlooking a lagoon. Try...
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Isla Mujeres, home to a protected sea turtle hatching area, is the perfect place to visit for nature lovers. The turtle hatchery is dedicated to their conservation and ensures the population is sustained. The small place is typically crowd-free...
Boulevard Kukulcan Km.12.5 Lt 18, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
A friend that we stayed with in Cancun recommended that we visit these Mayan ruins for a memorable cultural experience. Located on the service road behind the hotel zone, it's a hidden gem. The cost of admission is fairly inexpensive. I think we...
Benito Juárez, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
I learned a great deal in Mexico: 1) 30 SPF does not cut it. 2) 50 SPF does not cut it. And 3) Aloe vera, cold shower, aloe vera, cold shower. Luckily for me, I also learned the best way to get your mind off of pain is delicious food, and freshly...
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