Welcome to Cancun!
This location almost needs no introduction; it’s Mexico’s most famous resort, with some of the most luxurious hotels and beautiful beaches in the world. Cancun, Mexico, has been somewhat overrun and overdeveloped, but a little insider knowledge goes a long way, and there are still loads of undiscovered gems on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Cancun might be well-known on the tourist trail, but a worldwide local can find the hidden spots and unique experiences that no one else can. This is an insider’s guide of some of Cancun’s most exciting spots.
Venture Outside of the Cancun All-Inclusive Resort
Most visitors to Cancun head straight to the Zona Hotelera, the tourist heart of the city, and the location of its most famous beaches. However, the Centro Historico has retained a lot of its authentic Mexican charm and is a great place to find buzzing flea markets. In addition, there are superb taco joints, as well as the Isla Blanca, a gorgeous stretch of relatively undiscovered white sandy beach north of the old town.
Worldwide Local Tip: For a seriously awesome shopping experience, head to Mercado 28 to find unique, beautiful jewelry for a fraction of the cost than in the Zona Hotelera. Be prepared to haggle, and stay firm; the vendors are masters of their art and can smell uncertainty a mile off. For a post-shopping bite to eat, La Patrona is a firm favorite with locals and travelers alike.
The Best Things to Do in Cancun: Snorkeling and More
With the lovely Cancun weather, a trip to the beach is always the best way to spend a day. For snorkeling, diving, and more beautiful beaches, many people head to Isla Mujeres, just off the coast, for a taste of a beautiful island paradise. It is a lovely spot for snorkeling or diving at the MUSA underwater museum, featuring over 400 fascinating and bizarre statues. It is a unique experience.
Why not avoid the crowds and head to Isla Contoy, a genuinely deserted island paradise? This gorgeous, secluded spot, just north of Isla Mujeres, is home to over 150 species of birds. It is an important nesting site for three species of sea turtles, as well, but only allows 200 visitors per day, so get there early.
Worldwide Local Tip: On your way to the island, pause at the stunning Ixlache Reef to swim and snorkel with marine life in a genuinely unspoilt spot.
Yucatecan food, the traditional cuisine of the Cancun area, is some of the best in Mexico and has been recognized by UNESCO as a vital part of Mexico’s intangible cultural heritage. No trip to Cancun would be complete without sampling the delights of cochinita pibil, sopa de lima, or queso relleno. You can find some fine local restaurants in the Zona Hotelera with excellent food and stupendous sea views--try La Destileria or Chuchito Perez.
Worldwide Local Tip: For an even more authentic experience, head to La Parilla in the Centro Historico. One of the oldest of Cancun’s restaurants (almost as old as the city itself!), it is a superb place to try the best that Yucatecan cuisine has to offer.
Dancing and More
Cancun is obviously well-known as a party town, and while Spring Break can be overwhelming, it’s still a great place to get out after dark and strut your stuff. There’s nothing like sipping a cocktail on the beach as you watch the sun go down.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Grand Mambo Cafe is the place to go for some seriously spicy dance action. You’ll find a lively mix of locals and visitors here most nights, dancing the merengue, salsa, and bachata until the wee hours of the morning.
Have a Fantastic Time in Cancun!
While Cancun can be a tourist trap, it remains a glorious holiday destination, and as a worldwide local, you’ll be able to find the hidden gems and secret spots!