The Best Bars in Cancun and the Riviera Maya
From beach club days to Friday and Saturday nights, Cancun and Riviera Maya serve up bars and clubs that will quench your thirst for cocktails and fun. Hotel zone mainstays, including Coco Bongo, are a party all the time. More in the mood for just hanging out, a powerful margarita in hand? Off to Bar Ranita you go. Or, if you need some liquid courage and a salsa lesson before Friday night arrives, ask the concierge to point you to La Bodeguita del Medio.
Calle 6 Norte, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Fusion, one of Playa del Carmen’s oldest and best-loved beach bars, has an indoor restaurant area, but it’s most famous for its outdoor lounge, right on the sand, under palm trees, and hard by the Caribbean. Fusion’s central location in the busiest part of the downtown area makes it ideal for enjoying a day under a palapa’s shade, or a night out on the town with live music and fire shows. The menu offers a variety of international cuisine, so you can find almost anything you’re craving, whether it’s tacos, Argentine empanadas, or classic pub grub à la burgers and wings.
Calle 10 Nte, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
A local favorite, Bar La Ranita (Little Frog) is attached to the Hotel Rana Cansada (Tired Frog) and has been around since 1984. The ambiance is laid back, but the prices are affordable and the margaritas pack a powerful punch.
Downtown Cancún’s bullring is surrounded by local dives and restaurants, making the area a top nightlife destination for locals. Las de Guanatos is the most popular spot, famed for massive one-liter micheladas—beer mixed with varying ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, or even shrimp, plus salt or chili powder on the rim. An extensive menu features Mexican and American pub grub, but it’s also one of the only places in the city where you can find Guadalajara-style tortas ahogadas: shredded pork sandwiches topped with onions and smothered in sauces ranging from mild to super spicy. The terrace fills on weekends, thanks to a buzzy vibe and live outdoor music.
Boulevard Kukulcan Km. 9.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Look out Las Vegas, Coco Bongo is in town. This wild dance club, in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone, is packed with live shows—everything from faux Queen or Madonna to bar-top conga lines and airborne acrobats. Make sure to bring your dancing shoes because salsa, trance, rave, and hip-hop bands will have you jiving amid bubbles and streamers galore. The party starts around 10:30 and there is no seating, so be prepared to stand—or dance—until the wee hours of the morning. The entrance fee includes an open bar.
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 on the beach. Many resorts - including The Royal Cancun and Me by Melia Resorts - host beach parties on a weekly basis. Often, these parties have a particular theme: burlesque or full moon party, for example. Hotel concierges and restaurant waitstaff can point you toward the area’s best beach parties in the area.
Blvd. Kukulcan, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Qro., Mexico
An institution throughout Mexico since the 1970s, this lively bar is especially popular with tourists. A non-stop party atmosphere includes waiters who spontaneously start singing or acting out in comical skits and instant conga lines. Menu items range from American to tacos and other Mexican fare. Drink offerings include basics such as beer, tequila and wine but can become “interesting” with the likes of the “Poison Kiss,” a potent blend of vodka, gin, brandy, red wine and amaretto mixed with orange and lemon juices.
Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 9.5, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
The beat goes on till dawn in this innovative cavern-style “hot spot” in the hotel zone. Six bars, live entertainment, laser shows and loud music from the 80s, 90s and hip-hop, combined with special effects - such as blasts of C02 - add to the revelry.
Beach Road Km. 7, Boca Paila, QRO, Mexico
Disco ball, lounge, jungle, and cuisine all come together at this trendy restaurant located on Tulum’s main hotel-zone avenue. The venue is renowned for its eclectic style that blends unusual lighting, a lush outdoor setting, and live DJ nights for a cool, hippie-style vibe. Dinner is prepared over open-fire grills and in wood-burning ovens, resulting in flavorful Mexican favorites like taco samplers, quesadillas with epazote, grilled avocado, and slow-roasted pork belly. Gitano also specializes in strange but enticing cocktails from its mezcal bar, like ones that include ingredients like rum, hibiscus, and tropical fruits.
Blvd Kukuklcan Km 9, Zona Hotelera Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Benito Juarez, Q.R., Mexico
Also called the Party Zone, this block along Cancún’s main boulevard pulsates with lights, music, and gaudy signs inviting partyers into nightclubs lining the street. From smaller open-air clubs like La Vaquita and Congo, to internationally renowned nightspots such as Dady’O and Coco Bongo, this strip was once just for spring breakers but now features shopping centers, restaurants, and markets that draw in locals and low-key tourists for walks on the not-so-wild side, too. For late-night snacks before or after the clubs, peek into El Callejón de los Milagros, an alley behind Dady’O, once seedy, now replete with souvenir shops and restaurants serving up authentic tacos and other Mexican favorites.