Whether it’s for spring break or just some fun in the sun, Cancun has a lot to offer. The weather tends to be good year-round, there is plenty to do, the beaches are beautiful, and the wild nightlife is hard to top. But there are also a few things to keep in mind that may not occur to a lot of travelers ahead of time that can ultimately help save a few dollars and hopefully avoid some headaches.
Do Not Forget Sunscreen
Suntan lotion is an absolute necessity when visiting any sun-soaked destination, but itís best to bring it from home. Suntan lotion is a fortune in the Hotel Zone and itís not uncommon to see it selling for up to $30 USD for a typical sized bottle. If absolutely necessary, people can venture to some of the more mainstream stores off the strip to save a few dollars, but this involves a taxi or bus ride into the main town and can be a very unnecessary time-consuming process.
Stick With Bottled Water
Although now most resorts have well-developed filtration systems, bottled water is still probably the best way to go. It’s easy to find and cheap to buy, and most hotels usually include at least a few complimentary bottles in each room daily.
After staying in lots of hotels all around Quintana Roo I have several I can recommend. You do not have to book an all-inclusive resort, but I highly recommend doing so.
Adults-Only All Inclusive
Family Friendly All Inclusive
- The Grand at Moon Palace – The Grand at Moon Palace has loads of kid perks like a water park and a FloRider! Parents will love the decadent on-site spa, Awe, at The Grand. Plus, there’s an adults-only pool and beach, so they can get time with the kids and time alone.
- Grand Velas in Riviera Maya – Grand Velas Riviera Maya has an extensive kid’s club and a ton of baby amenities.
- Riu Costa Mujeres
Even if you only went to Cancun to party you will want to take tome time to look beyond the bar scene in Cancun. There’s a surplus of things to do all around Cancun including ziplining, swimming in cenotes, visiting Mayan ruins, and much more.
Things to do
Cancun has all kinds of activities. I’ve already written about these, so if there are any you want to learn about be sure to read 9 Adventurous Things to do in Cancun With Kids.
- Selvatica – Selvatica is supposedly the World’s number ONE adventure park and after taking the kids there I can see why. Here you will zipline, swim in cenotes, and offroad. Buy Tickets: Selvatica averages $99 per person
- Xplor – Xplor is built in and around a cavern. The admission price includes all the activities and meals. Activities include off-roading jeeps, extensive zip lines, swimming in caves through underground rivers, and more. They have snack and drink stations around the park with juice and churros, fruit, and cookies, as well as an extensive buffet. You can visit Xplor during the day and then again at night. Families will have more time in the park by visiting during the day instead of at night. Aa night you can zipline through a ring of fire. Buy Tickets: Tickets start out at $63 per person.
- Pac Chen – Ziplines, rappelling, swimming in cenotes, kayaking, and an authentic Mayan lunch. To experience this, book a visit with All Tour Native. They are the only tour company with access. In order to participate in all the activities, children must be at least 6 years old.
- Xenses – A whacky experience that messes with your senses. Buy Xenses Tickets: Tickets start out at $63 per person.
- 7 Best Beaches in Cancun
- Rio Secreto – An extensive cavern that you swim through. Buy Tickets: Rio Secreto costs $79
- Mayan Ruins – Most people have only heard of Chichen Itza, but there are other ruins that are fantastic and much closer.
- Aquarium Cancun – This is a fun place for families and is home to 140 different species. Here you can learn all about sea life, touch stingrays, swim with dolphins, and go on an underwater Sea Trek.
- La Gran Rouda Ferris Wheel – Near the aquarium is the La Gran Rouda Ferris Wheel. It will give you epic views of Cancun. You can purchase an admission that gets you into the aquarium and the Ferris wheel for one price.
- Ventura Park – Ventura Park is a water park and an amusement park all in one. Families will have fun doing the ropes course, zip lines, go-karts, jumping waves in the wave pool, and braving the bungee swing. Parents will appreciate the lazy river and cocktails. It would be incredibly easy to spend an entire day here. They also have animal encounters for an additional cost.
Day Trips from Cancun
- Cozumel – You can catch a ferry in Playa del Carmen that will take you to Cozumel. There you will find a variety of fun things to do.8 Things to do in Cozumel
- Isla Mujeres: A trip by ferry will get you to the traditional and beautiful fishing of Isla Mujeres or “Island of Women”. You can engage in various water activities like kayaking, fishing and swimming with sharks.
- Chichen Itza: Chichen Itza is a long way from Cancun, but most people think it is worth the trip. We haven’t been yet, but my friend Sally says this is 100% worth the drive.
- Hidden Worlds Cenote Adventure Park: Two hours south of Cancun you will find a wide range of underwater caves and caverns including some you can snorkel. They have six activities including the Aero Cycle, bicycle you ride through the sky.
Tips Go a Long Way at Cancun’s Bars and Nightclubs
Most bars and nightclubs in the Hotel Zone offer all-inclusive deals each night. This means that for one general admission price all beverages are included for the night. This also means that the staff works very hard for very little money. Although tipping is not generally required, it is very much appreciated and will usually transform adequate service into extraordinary service.
This can be done per beverage, with a lump sum at the beginning of the night ($5 or $10 USD is usually enough), or even every few rounds of drinks for anyone planning to stay in the same place for a while. The waiters and bartenders also tend to keep track of which customers are tipping and those patrons tend to get served faster as the night progresses. Just be careful and use some discretion when throwing money around as this can also attract some of the less desirable elements that tend to frequent the club scene as well.
Mexico Has Laws Too!
Mexico may have a reputation as a lawless free for all, but this is not the case. There is a visible police presence in Cancun and the bar strip is patrolled regularly. Anyone involved in illegal activity certainly runs the risk of being arrested and having to deal with all of the problems that follow. While it’s certainly true that there is a more liberal attitude towards many vices, it’s still best to avoid them altogether. Anyone who acts the same as they would at home should be fine.
Should You Get Travel Insurance?
Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a fan of Travelex insurance, because of the variety of options. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. I have gotten extremely sick twice now out of the country and Noah has had seizures in other countries, so I always recommend getting some sort of coverage. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.
It is advisable to arrange your transportation from the hotel to your resort ahead of time. When you get to the airport you can expect to be surrounded by drivers, rental cars and agents offering their services. A simple “No, Gracias” will be acceptable and they will move on to the next person. Try not to let it overwhelm you. You do not need to stop at any of the counters to look at a map. I always book Gray Line vans to take us to our hotel when we first arrive.
Once you are at your hotel they will arrange your taxis for you or you can take an Uber.
If you are looking for a car rental I recommend getting the car at the Cancun Airport. It will make things easier. Get a Cancun car rental for $11 a day! This entire area is easy to drive around in especially if you are planning to go from Cancun down to Playa del Carmen.