Cancun has a reputation as a spring break favorite of fun-loving college students, but this Caribbean city actually offers much more than tequila shots, wet t-shirt contests, and all-night partying. In fact, Cancun is home to some of Mexico’s most luxurious and memorable all-inclusive resorts, restaurants, and historical sites, making it the perfect spot to spend a week with your significant other and learn a bit about Mexican history and culture.
- Time Zone: Central
- Climate: Semi-tropical; hurricane season from June 1st-November 30th; rainy season June-October.
- Language: Spanish
- Population: 600,000
- Electricity: 110 volts
- Business hours: 8am-9pm. Shops usually stay open until 10pm and restaurants until 12am. Some business close down for lunch between 12pm and 2pm.
Where to Stay. With nearly 30,000 hotel rooms, Cancun offers accommodation options at every price range. If you’re looking for a romantic, high-amenity, high-service lodging option with all the trimmings, head to the Le Blanc Spa Resort, the Sun Palace, or the Royal Cancun, all ideal for the couple looking to indulge in a bit of self-pampering.
Cancun’s hundreds of hotels often offer steeply discounted rates during the off season. Keep in mind that rates can sky rocket in January and December and during the summer months when Americans, Canadians, and Europeans usually take their vacations.
Where to Dine. Because of its popularity with international tourists, travelers to Cancun will find a wide selection of not only American-style restaurants, but Italian, Chinese, Indian, and even Thai eateries. Puerto Madero Buenos Aires Restaurant serves up high-end steak and fish dishes, Carlos & Charlie’s Cancun is a fun, Mexican inspired restaurant that doubles as a dance club, and La Habichela specializes in unique fish and beef dishes and has a Five Diamond rating from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.
While traditional Mexican dishes such as fajitas, burritos, and tacos are plentiful in Cancun, the real specialty here is the ceviche and other Caribbean seafood dishes. During high season, it’s wise to reserve ahead of time.
What to See and Do. If you’ve decided to fly out to Cancun, your number one priority is likely to indulge in a bit of fun in the sun. Blessed with beautiful white sand beaches, Cancun vacationers can enjoy water sport activities such as sailing, jet skiing, water skiing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming, or simply spending the day sunbathing and working on your tan with a good book in hand. More adventurous travelers can head out on a guided jungle walking or jeep tour or check out the Chichen Itza ruins, located two and a half hours from Cancun and dating back to 600 AD. Parasailing, paragliding, and kitesurfing are all increasing in popularity. If your idea of vacation fun includes a bit more relaxation, spend the afternoon getting a massage at your hotel’s spa or lounging by the pool while sipping a tasty tropical cocktail.
Your hotel will be able to arrange day tours, excursions, and activities for you.
How to Get There and Around. Many U.S. cities offer direct flights to Cancun, often starting as low as the $200s. Because of its popularity, competitive airline rates are relatively easy to find. I find that www.kayak.com provides the best prices and most selection, but you can also book with Expedia, Orbit, Cheaptickets, or directly through the airline. Tickets to Cancun tend to be cheapest in September, October, November and April and May when tourism is at its lowest.
Once in Cancun, visitors will be glad to know that the city’s tourist section is actually quite small, and most tourist attractions, restaurants and beaches are within walking distance. However, if you prefer to take a cab, they are plentiful and cheap.