Cancun Hotel Zone 2023: The Complete Guide by a Local
If you are traveling to the Cancun Hotel Zone, this complete guide from a local will offer all the information you need for your next visit.
Stretching along Kukulcan Boulevard the hotel zone also called “Zona Hotelera” is a beautiful busy area of Cancun made for tourists’ enjoyment.
There you will find the famous white sand beach of Cancun, lined with spectacular hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping centers, and various attractions.
Whether you have been to Cancun many times or you are planning your first visit, there is always more to explore in the hotel zone. In this post, I will tell you all about it.
Cancun Hotel Zone at a Glance
The first hotels in the Cancun hotel zone opened in the 1970s when the Mexican government wanted to develop a new tourist hot spot.
Since then, the hotel zone has grown and is now home to over 100 different hotels. Cancun is the most visited city in Mexico, with the majority of the guests staying in the hotel zone.
👉🏻 What is the Cancun Hotel Zone?
The most visited tourist area of Cancun is known as the hotel zone. The hotel zone was built on a long, thin peninsula that has the Nichupte Lagoon on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other.
The peninsula is in the shape of the number 7 and is 22.5 kilometers long.
All along the coast of the hotel zone is where you will find the amazing beaches with white sand and turquoise water that make Cancun so famous.
Right along the water is where you will find hotels, resorts, restaurants, nightlife, and so many tourist attractions.
When you travel to Cancun, chances are you will spend the majority, if not all, of your time in the hotel zone. In addition to the white sandy beaches, there are countless other things for visitors to enjoy here.
👉🏻 Where is the Cancun Hotel Zone located?
The Cancun hotel zone is a long, thin peninsula in the shape of the number 7 that extends off the coast of Quintana Roo just to the south of downtown Cancun.
The Cancun International Airport is conveniently located just to the south of the southern end of the hotel zone, or where the bottom of the seven reconnects to the coast.
✈️ What is the closest airport to the Cancun Hotel Zone?
The Cancun International Airport is located just to the south of the hotel zone. This means that it is easy, fast, and convenient to get from the airport to your hotel.
Depending on where your hotel is in the hotel zone, your ride from the airport could be as short as 15 minutes!
If you are staying in the northern part of the hotel zone, the ride could be up to 30 minutes. Either way, you can leave the airport and be checked in and on the beach very quickly when you fly into Cancun!
✈️ How to get from Cancun Airport to the Hotel Zone?
Cancun was designed to make everything convenient for visitors.
There are several ways to get from the Cancun Airport to where you are staying in the hotel zone. The fastest and easiest option is to book a private shuttle with Cancun Airport Transportation.
A driver will be waiting for you at the airport to load up your luggage and take you directly to your hotel.
A private shuttle will cost around $40 for up to three people. Private shuttles get you to your hotel fast because you do not need to wait for other guests to fill the shuttle or make stops on the way.
They are especially convenient if you are traveling with others and can split the cost.
If you want to save some money, especially if you are traveling alone, you can also book a shared shuttle. Shared shuttles cost $10 per person.
The driver will drop guests off at their hotels along the hotel zone. How long you are in the shuttle depends on where your hotel is in relation to the airport and other riders’ hotels.
You can take the public ADO bus from the Cancun airport to downtown Cancun.
The bus leaves the airport almost every 20 minutes during the day and costs about $5. Once you are in downtown Cancun you will need to take a taxi or public bus to your hotel.
Cancun has a great public bus system that runs from downtown along the hotel zone. The buses are safe, cheap, and convenient, but not made for transporting people with lots of luggage.
If you have a large suitcase, it could be a hassle to get it on and off the bus. My suggestion would be to explore the public bus system after dropping your luggage at your hotel.
Lastly, you can take a taxi from the airport to the hotel zone. Taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging tourists who arrive at the airport and do not have a predetermined transportation plan.
A taxi from the airport to your hotel should cost around $50. If you plan to take a taxi, be prepared to need to haggle with the driver to get this price.
And remember, always discuss the price of the ride with the driver before getting into the taxi.
Is the Cancun Hotel Zone safe?
It seems that the media loves to focus on the most dangerous parts of Mexico.
If you tell people you are traveling to Cancun, you will probably have at least one person gasp and ask you if it is safe.
Mexico’s economy depends on tourism, and Cancun works hard to keep tourist areas safe.
You can feel confident in your decision to come to Mexico, but just remember, like in all crowded places in the world, you need to take some precautions.
You should always pay attention to your surroundings and not carry around large quantities of cash.
Cancun is known as a great party destination, but still use good judgment when going out for a good time. Do not get extremely drunk, or try to buy illegal drugs.
✔️ Is it safe to walk around the Cancun Hotel Zone?
Yes! You can safely walk around Cancun. Just like in all crowded and busy cities, make sure to keep a close eye on your things- never leave your bags unattended. The hotel zone is very safe, but pay attention to your surroundings.
✔️ Is the Cancun Hotel Zone safe at night?
Yes, but make sure to stay in crowded areas. Do not walk in dark, empty areas. It is not a good idea to go for walks on the dark beach at night.
If you want to spend time on the beach after dark, make sure to do it at your hotel if there are security guards present.
It is a good idea to have a buddy with you if you are out walking in the hotel zone at night.
How to get around Cancun Hotel Zone
The 22.5 kilometers of the hotel zone are packed with fun things to do in Cancun. You can walk around to restaurants, beaches, and attractions near your hotel, but sometimes you will want to get a bit further away.
For those times, it is important to know your transportation options within the hotel zone.
📌 How much is a taxi in the Cancun Hotel Zone?
There are always lots of taxis operating in the hotel zone, so it is fast and easy to get one.
Taxi drivers in Cancun do not have meters in their taxis, instead, they are supposed to operate on fixed rates.
Unfortunately, this means that taxi drivers are known for overcharging tourists who do not know the correct rate to get from one area to another.
The best way to prevent this from happening to you is to ask your hotel concierge how much a taxi should cost, and then always ask the driver the rate before you get into the taxi.
If the driver quotes you a rate that you know is way too high, simply do not get in, and find a more honest driver.
📌 Is Uber allowed in the Cancun Hotel Zone?
Uber is allowed in the hotel zone, but it is not always easy to find a driver.
Many taxi drivers were upset when Uber was approved, and there are stories of them bothering drivers. Because of this, there are still simply not many people who want to be Uber drivers in Cancun.
The Uber app works in Cancun, but you may have to wait a long time for a ride. Sometimes drivers will only pick you up if you are in an area without taxis, and will ask you to be discreet and pretend you know them.
Despite the resistance from taxi drivers, it does seem that Uber is here to stay, so there will probably continue to be more and more Uber drivers.
📌 Is it safe to take a bus in the Cancun Hotel Zone?
Yes! Cancun has a great public bus system. The R1 and R2 buses drive the length of the hotel zone.
There are many buses driving, so you never have to wait for long to hop on one. The buses are cheap to use.
Plus, the hotel zone is one long road, which means you do not have to worry about a bus making a turn and you get lost!
Things to do in Cancun Hotel Zone
Cancun is not only beautiful, but it is also a lot of fun.
The reason so many visitors come year after year to this vacation destination is because it is full of fun things to do.
There are plenty of fun activities to try without even leaving the hotel zone. If you are looking for things to do near your hotel, check out these ideas:
1. Relax at the beaches
One of the first things that attracts visitors to Cancun is the amazing beaches. The entire coast of the hotel zone is full of white sandy beaches with clear, turquoise waters.
One thing that you absolutely must budget time for on your vacation is spending time on the beach.
There are so many oceanfront hotels in Cancun, that chances are, you will stay somewhere with beach access.
Hotels often provide umbrellas or palapas for shade and comfy loungers. Combine this with servers who keep the drink coming and games like beach volleyball and it might be tempting to spend your whole trip there.
However, if you want a change of atmosphere, maybe you are looking for a beachfront party or to do some people-watching. Cancun has lots of great public beaches to explore too.
The beaches along the northern part of the hotel zone are known for calm water and are great for families to splash about.
The beaches along the southern part of the hotel zone can have stronger currents and bigger waves.
You may want to get out and explore beaches in order to find the best conditions for you and your travel companions.
Whether you like quiet days reading on a hammock or partying on the beach, you will want to spend the best time visiting Cancun’s beautiful beaches.
2. Enjoy plenty of water activities
The turquoise water in Cancun is not just amazing to look at, you can get in and enjoy it. The water never drops below 27 degrees Celsius, so you can comfortably get in the water all year round!
The waters off the coast of Cancun are home to sections of the second-largest barrier reef in the world! Explore the coral reefs by snorkeling or scuba diving.
If you have never done these activities, know that the clear and warm water in Cancun makes it a great place to learn.
There are many different tours to choose from, whether you want an intro to scuba diving class or to snorkel from a luxury catamaran cruise.
If you prefer to stay above the water, you might enjoy parasailing or jet skiing. With both of these activities, you’ll get out on the ocean and have amazing views of Cancun.
3. Explore the Museo Maya
Learn more about the history of the Yucatan Peninsula with a visit to the Museo Maya.
The museum is located in the hotel zone at kilometer 16.5 and has artifacts from the ancient Mayans. It’s a great stop to spend some time out of the sun and learn more about the area.
4. Visit the San Miguelito Ruins
After you visit the Museo Maya make sure to check out the San Miguelito ruins.
At the ruins, you will find well-preserved structures and have the chance to learn more about how the ancient Maya lived.
This is a great place to visit if you want to learn about the ancient Maya but do not have time to visit the more famous ruins in the area.
5. Discover the Cancun Underwater Museum
The Cancun Underwater Museum, or MUSA as the locals call it, is an amazing artificial coral reef that sits underwater off the coast of Cancun.
The museum is made up of over 500 different statues that were made with special materials to promote coral growth.
This conservation project was designed to relieve stress due to so many visitors to the coral reefs.
Today the statues have substantial coral growth and are home to marine life. You can see the statues scuba diving, snorkeling, or on a glass-bottom boat tour.
The Underwater Museum is unique to Cancun and something you do not want to miss.
6. Learn how to surf
Cancun is not a famous surf destination, so you might be surprised to learn that it’s a good place to learn the surf.
There are several beaches along the southern part of the hotel zone with small, but surfable waves.
There are several different surf schools you can check out. Instructors will teach you the basics, help you get up on a wave, and make sure you have a good time.
7. Admire the view from the Cancun Scenic Tower
Go 80 meters ( 260 feet ) up in the air for amazing views of Cancun.
The Cancun Scenic Tower has a viewing deck that rises up into the air so you can look down on Cancun.
One of the best parts? Looking out at the turquoise water and seeing the different shades of blue where there are coral reefs underneath!
The tower is owned by Xcaret, and you will get free admission if you have your admission bracelet on from one of the adventure parks. Otherwise, the cost is $20.
8. Explore the Nichupte Lagoon
The Nichupte Lagoon sits between the mainland coast of Quintana Roo and the peninsula of the hotel zone. The lagoon is full of mangroves, home to a huge variety of flora and fauna.
Take a tour of the mangroves to see different birds and learn about this important ecosystem.
👉🏽 Nichupte Lagoon Wildlife Tour
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Enjoy a peaceful evening boat ride exploring the channels of the Nichupte Lagoon on this tour.
Your guide will help you spot different animals that live in the lagoon, including birds and crocodiles.
You will enjoy snacks and a drink while you watch the sunset on the boat before returning to the dock. This tour lasts 3 hours.
9. Spend an evening at Captain Hook & Dinner Show
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Enjoy a three-hour dinner cruise with pirate tales, dancing, and a live-action pirate battle at sea on the Captain Hook Pirate Ship. The ship is a replica of a Spanish Galleon and it will take you on a loud and festive cruise.
The cast will entertain you with the story of Captain Hook while you enjoy an open bar and delicious dinner. You can sit in the air-conditioned interior or the open-air deck while you enjoy the show.
This tour is great for all ages, both kids and adults will love it.
10. Visit the El Rey Archeological Zone
You do not need to leave the hotel zone to visit Mayan ruins.
The El Rey archaeological site is in the southern part of the hotel zone, near Playa Delfines.
It is easy to hop on a public bus to get here, and the site is well-marked and easy to find. The site itself is small but worth visiting.
Archaeologists believe this area was an important part of trade routes for the ancient Maya. You will not find any large pyramids or buildings here, and many of the ancient buildings have been reduced to bases.
This site is worth visiting because it is easy to get to, cheap to visit, and will teach you more about how Mayan society operated.
11. Enjoy a romantic dinner at the beach
There is nothing more romantic than enjoying a great meal with your partner while the sun sets.
Take advantage of the natural beauty of Cancun and set up a special meal.
Many beachfront hotels offer romantic dinners on the beach. If your hotel does not offer this service, there are plenty of great oceanfront restaurants to choose from.
12. Shopping in Plaza La Isla
Cancun is home to lots of great shopping. Whether you are looking for souvenirs to take home with you, Mexican handicrafts, or international luxury brands- you can find them in Cancun.
One shopping center you do not want to miss is Plaza La Isla. Located at kilometer 12.5, Plaza La Isla is home to more than 100 shops of international and regional brands.
Even if shopping is not your thing, it is worth it to take a stroll through here. The shopping center is open air and you will stroll around water canals.
You can go for a gondola ride in the canals, visit the Ferris wheel for amazing views, or eat in one of the many restaurants there.
Best day trips from Cancun Hotel Zone
You could easily spend your entire Cancun vacation in the hotel zone and not run out of fun activities to do.
However, the area surrounding Cancun is filled with interesting sites and attractions. Planning a day trip from Cancun is a great way to see some of the area’s natural wonders and explore nearby towns.
Here are some of the best day trips from Cancun:
🏛️ Chichen Itza
Located a few hours to the east of Cancun in the state of Yucatan, Chichen Itza is one of the most famous Mayan ruins in the area.
The site dates back to 800 AD, and it was an important religious and cultural center.
Here you can visit the famous Kukulcan Pyramid and learn about this ancient society. The ancient Mayan used their vast understanding of astronomy to build temples that served as calendars.
You will be amazed to see these impressive buildings and understand why so many visitors make it a priority to go there.
👉🏻 Chichen Itza with Cenote and Valladolid
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Explore the most famous sites of the Yucatan Peninsula with this all-day tour. You will start your day with a tour of Chichen Itza.
From there you will visit Cenote Saamal where you can jump into the refreshing water for a swim. You will finish your day with a visit to the colonial town of Valladolid where you will enjoy a buffet lunch and free time to explore the main plaza.
🏖️ Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is a small island located just off the coast of Cancun. It is famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
You can rent bicycles or a golf cart and explore the island, shop and eat downtown, and relax on the stunning beach.
Ferries run all day from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, or you can book a catamaran tour to take you there.
👉🏻 Half-Day Sailing Trip to Isla Mujeres
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Travel to Isla Mujeres in style with this half-day tour. You will board a comfortable catamaran to sail to Isla Mujeres.
On your way, you will have the chance to hop in the water and snorkel. Back on board, you can enjoy snacks and an open bar.
Once you get to Isla Mujeres you will have free time to explore the island before heading back to Cancun.
Tulum is a small town located 80 miles to the south of Cancun on the Caribbean coast.
At the entrance to Tulum, you will find the Tulum ruins- a beachfront fortress that the ancient Mayans used for protection and as part of their trading routes.
The town of Tulum is known for its laid-back vibes, amazing white sandy beaches, and nearby cenotes.
👉🏻 Tulum, reef snorkeling, cenote and caves
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Visit the dramatic seaside Tulum ruins. Your guide will teach you about the history and culture of the ancient Maya as you explore the site.
From there you get on a snorkel boat and take a short ride out to the coral reef. There you will go for a leisurely swim and get to see the bright corals and fish.
The last stop of the day will take you into the jungle to explore a cenote. There you will get to swim in the freshwater caverns and see the stunning rock formations.
🌊 The Cenotes
Cenotes are unique to the Yucatan region and a natural wonder that you do not want to miss when you are in Cancun.
Cenotes are natural sinkholes that connect the surface to a vast underground freshwater river system.
There are countless cenotes across the region. Some are large, open pools while others have smaller entrances that are covered with limestone and semi-submerged.
Inside the caverns and caves of the cenotes, you will find incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Many cenotes are hidden deep in the jungle, surrounded by beautiful vegetation. You can go for a refreshing swim in them, or snorkel to see the rock formations.
There are many cenotes that are open to the public to visit. You will pay an entrance fee and be able to enjoy the cenote.
Many tours in the Cancun area also include a stop at a cenote where you can go for a refreshing swim.
🏖️ Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a town located about 40 miles south of Cancun. There you can visit the famous 5th Avenue, a pedestrian street one block off the beach that is lined with bars, restaurants, and shops.
Playa del Carmen is known for its fun and trendy atmosphere. Near Playa del Carmen you will find cenotes and many adventure parks too.
🌊 Rio Secreto Underground River
Located near Playa del Carmen, Rio Secreto is one of the most amazing natural wonders you will find near Cancun.
It is a partially flooded cave system made out of limestone. The limestone has been hollowed over for generations due to water erosion, leaving behind amazing rock formations.
A farmer discovered the entrance to Rio Secreto in 2004, and experts began to map and study the area.
Today, about 10% of the cave system is open to visitors on a guided tour where you will see stalactites and stalagmites.
👉🏻 Admission Rio Secreto Wild Tour Wild Lunch
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Experience the wonder of Rio Secreto on this guided tour. When you arrive at Rio Secreto you will be given a safety briefing then head out into the jungle on bikes to the entrance of the cave.
You will then hike through the dry part of the cave, get on wetsuits, and swim in the semi-flooded section.
Throughout the day your guide will teach you about the cave system and nearby animals and vegetation.
🏖️ Puerto Morelos
If you want a change of pace for the high-energy atmosphere of Cancun, you should take a day trip to Puerto Morelos.
Puerto Morelos is a little over 20 miles south of Cancun. It is located on a beautiful stretch of sandy beach and has a slow Caribbean relaxed feel.
For years it was a fishing village, but now attracts visitors who want to experience the friendly atmosphere. You can stroll around the beachfront plaza, and visit restaurants.
👉🏻 Puerto Morelos Catamaran reef sail and snorkel
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Explore the Puerto Morelos Marine Park on a catamaran.
You will board the boat and then head out on a snorkeling excursion where you will see colorful corals, tropical fish, and marine life. On your way back to shore you will enjoy snacks and beverages.
Cozumel is an island located just off the coast of Playa del Carmen. It is famous for its amazing coral reef and clear waters. It is a popular place to go scuba diving or snorkeling.
You can also explore the downtown that is full of shops and restaurants.
You will need to take the ferry from Playa del Carmen, and it will drop you off in downtown Cozumel.
From there you can check out beach clubs, hop on a snorkel boat, or enjoy the relaxed, island atmosphere.
Hint: the west coast of Cozumel rarely gets any sargassum seaweed washed ashore. If you are looking for a seaweed-free place to spend the day, check out a day trip to the island.
👉🏻 Cozumel El Cielo All Inclusive Tour from Cancun
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See what draws snorkelers and scuba divers to Cozumel with this tour of its most famous coral reefs. All transportation to the island is included, so you can relax and enjoy the experience.
Once you arrive in Cozumel you will get on a snorkel boat to visit the famous Palancar Reef, Colombia Reef, and Playa El Cielo.
There you will see colorful coral formations, marine life, and the resident starfish at El Cielo. Your tour includes lunch and free time to visit downtown Cozumel.
If you travel about 90 miles west from Cancun you will come to the town of Valladolid.
This town has a rich history. The Spanish built a settlement here on what was Mayan land. The town is close to many different Mayan ruins and cenotes.
Today you can explore the historical center and admire the beautifully maintained old buildings. If you love to try regional food, you can find many traditional Yucatecan dishes in the restaurants there.
👉🏻 Chichen Itza with Cenote and Valladolid
4.5 ⭐️ 645 Reviews
See the best spots on the Yucatan Peninsula with this all-day tour. Your day will start with a visit to Chichen Itza to learn about the ancient Maya and admire the famous Kukulkan Pyramid.
From there you will head into the jungle and have the chance to swim in Cenote Saamal.
You will finish your tour with a visit to Valladolid where you will learn more about the region’s history, eat lunch, and have time to stroll around the historic plaza.
Best Beaches in Cancun Hotel Zone
With long stretches of white sand and clear water that range from turquoise to bright blue, Cancun has some of the best beaches in the world.
Whether you want to find a quiet peaceful spot on the beach to spend some time reading and relaxing or prefer a lively beach with music, volleyball, and people around, you can find your perfect stretch of beach.
Cancun has several public beaches to enjoy, here are some that you will not want to miss:
🌊 Playa Tortugas
Playa Tortugas is located at Kilometer 8 and is a popular beach with both locals and tourists.
It has a fine white sand beach that leads to the calm water. This area is great for playing in the water- just watch out for the occasional rock that is semi-buried under the sand.
Playa Tortugas is a lively beach. There you will find the ferry dock that takes you across to Isla Mujeres and there are several restaurants and bars in the area.
You can get a drink or food and enjoy the beachfront views at many of these. Playa Tortugas has beach volleyball courts and bungee jumping.
If you want to spend the day there you can easily rent beach chairs and umbrellas.
🌊 Playa Delfines
Playa Delfines is a beach you do not want to miss while visiting Cancun.
Most of the beaches in Cancun have restaurants, shops, and hotels built behind them, but there is none of that at Playa Delfines.
Instead, here you will find a series of small palapas along the beach and one larger palapa and play area for children.
Playa Delfines is at kilometer 20. Since there are no restaurants or stores in the area, you will want to pack supplies for yourself.
You will find people renting beach chairs, umbrellas, and surfboards here. There are often vendors walking along the beach selling snacks too.
Playa Delfines is large enough that you can easily find a quiet spot to relax. Playa Delfines is known for having strong waves and currents, so be careful if you want to enter the water.
Pay attention to the lifeguards’ instructions. The strong waves attract surfers and you can watch them catch waves or even rent a surfboard.
🌊 Playa Chac Mool
Playa Chac Mool is located in front of the party zone, and it is a lively beach with a fun atmosphere. It is located at kilometer 10, and you will use the beach access point near Coco Bongo to get onto the beach.
It is easy to spend the day at Chac Mool. If you get hungry or thirsty you can pop into one of the beachfront restaurants.
There are several private tour operators in this area and you can go water skiing or sailing. The strong waves at Chac Mool attract surfers, and you can sign up for surf classes or rent a board here.
Chac Mool has lifeguards on duty, bathrooms, and showers. You can easily rent chairs and umbrellas to make your day more comfortable too.
🌊 Playa Langosta
Playa Langosta is located at kilometer five, with beach access next to Hotel Maya.
Playa Langosta has calm, turquoise waters and fine white sand. This beach is popular with both locals and tourists, and if you go in the morning you can often find people exercising.
You can rent everything you need for a great day here, including chairs, umbrellas, and kayaks. There are often vendors on the beach selling snacks, or there are restaurants a short walk from the beach.
Cancun Hotel Zone Party Zone
Cancun has long been promoted as a party destination.
In recent years Cancun worked to showcase its family-friend side, but if you are looking to party, don’t worry, Cancun still has great nightlife!
The Cancun Hotel Zone Party Zone is centered around kilometer 9. This is where you will find lots of nightclubs, restaurants, and bars. Below are some of the spots you do not want to miss:
👍🏼 Coco Bongo
Coco Bongo is one of the most famous spots for nightlife in Cancun. Coco Bongo is not a typical nightclub with a DJ mixing music all night.
Coco Bongo is a Las Vegas-style show, with dancers, music, and acrobats combined with a Mexican party atmosphere.
Be prepared to stay up late when you go to Coco Bongo- the doors open at 11 pm. You will pay a cover charge to enter which includes drinks.
You can choose between the regular, standing-room-only entrance, or pay extra for premium drinks and a seat. Coco Bongo is a wild experience that you do not want to miss.
The City is one of the biggest nightclubs in Cancun. It can hold over 5000 people and still have a line out the door of more people wanting to get in.
This huge club is known for having live performances as well as DJs mixing electric and pop music. Make sure to get here early to avoid waiting in a really long line!
👍🏼 Mandala Club
If you want a tropical party experience, check out Mandala Beach Club. There are jacuzzis, pools, and DJs playing music until 5 am. Mandala Beach Club is popular with tourists and hosts the best beachfront parties in the city.
👍🏼 Coco Bongo Beach party
Looking for a place to party during the day? Check out the Coco Bongo Beach party. It is open from 1 pm to 6 pm and offers a beachfront pool party complete with music and the entertainment that made Coco Bongo famous.
Shopping in the Cancun Hotel Zone
Cancun has lots of great shopping. You can find it all luxury designers, regional brands, souvenirs, and Mexican handicrafts.
There are several different shopping centers to check out, and in true Cancun fashion, most include more than just stores.
They are beautifully maintained spaces with restaurants and fun attractions to enjoy. Here are the best places to shop in the hotel zone:
✔️ La Isla Paradise Experience
La Isla is one of the most popular shopping centers in Cancun- because there is so much more to do than just shop there!
The shopping center is a beautiful, open-air plaza where you will stroll among water canals. There are over 100 different stores, and you can find international and regional brands.
In addition to shopping you can visit the wax museum, go to the movie theater, take a ride through the canals in a gondola, or go up on the Ferris wheel for amazing views.
La Isla also has several different restaurants to choose from, with options including fast food and upscale restaurants. La Isla is located at kilometer 12.5 and is open daily from 8 am to 11 pm.
✔️ Puerto Cancun Marina Town Center
Puerto Cancun is located in the northern part of the hotel zone, just a few kilometers from downtown Cancun. It is one of the newest shopping centers in Cancun.
Appropriately called Marina Town, this open-air shopping center even has a marina!
Puerto Cancun Marina Town is a great place to visit, even if you are not into shopping.
There are tons of restaurants, a gym, a trampoline park, mini golf, zip lining, and a climbing wall to enjoy. It is open Monday to Friday from 11 am to 11 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to midnight.
✔️ Coral Negro Flea Market
There are lots of fancy, modern shopping centers in Cancun. But, if what you are looking for is a flea market where you will have to dig around for treasure, you should go to the Coral Negro Flea Market.
Located near the Forum by the Sea shopping center at kilometer 9.5, Coral Negro is the only flea market in the hotel zone.
It is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs, trinkets, and Mexican products.
This market has tons of Cancun-branded souvenirs in addition to traditional Mexican products like painted pottery, traditional clothing, and hammocks.
Be prepared to haggle for the best price, just always remember to be respectful while negotiating. Coral Negro is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm.
✔️ Kukulcan Plaza
If you are looking for clothing, sunglasses, or jewelry, you should visit the Kukulcan Plaza.
It is located at Kilometer 13 and is open every day from 7 am to 11 pm. Kukulcan Plaza has a Harley Davidson shop and many restaurants to choose from.
If you want a relaxed shopping experience, this is the plaza to visit. It is much less crowded than the others.
Where to stay in Cancun Hotel Zone
With over 100 different hotels and resorts, it can be hard to decide where to stay in Cancun. Thankfully, with so many options, you are sure to find the right hotel for you.
First thing you will need to decide: do you want to stay at a hotel or resort?
In general, hotels provide you with comfortable lodging, while resorts provide food, entertainment, and recreational activities.
Resorts often have everything you need available on-site, including shopping, food, and fun, so that you could spend your entire vacation without leaving the resort property.
Hotels provide you with somewhere to stay, and often have restaurants and limited recreational activities on-site, but are not designed for you to spend your entire vacation there.
🛏 Cancun Hotel Zone resorts
Cancun is famous for having some huge, amazing resorts that offer you everything you could wish for on vacation and more. If you are interested in staying at a resort, check out these options:
👉🏽 Hyatt Ziva Cancun
This all-inclusive resort is located on a beautiful stretch of beach near Punta Cancun. The luxury resort offers 6 different bars, including a microbrewery, 8 restaurants, and 3 lounges to enjoy. There is an onsite spa where you can indulge in massages, hydrotherapy, and holistic treatments.
👉🏽 Westin Resort & Spa Cancun
The Westin Resort and Spa Cancun is situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte Lagoon, in the southern part of the hotel zone.
You can relax on this peaceful stretch of beach, enjoy the 4 on-site pools, or spend your time at the spa. The resort has restaurants offering Mexican and international cuisine.
👉🏽 Royalton Chic Cancun
The Royalton Chic Cancun is a posh adults-only all-inclusive. It is located on a beautiful stretch of beach, and a great option if you want a lively, party atmosphere.
This stylish hotel has a rooftop pool where you can dance all day, weekly themed pool and beach parties, and daily entertainment and night shows.
In addition to all of this, there are 9 restaurants, 6 bars, 4 swimming pools, and a fitness center on-site.
🛏 Hotels in the Cancun Hotel Zone
If you plan to spend your time exploring Cancun and trying different restaurants, a hotel is a great option for you. Here are a few to check out:
👉🏽 Canopy by Hilton Cancun la Isla
Enjoy amazing service at this five-star hotel. The hotel is a five-minute walk to Playa Marlin, and the property has a pool and fitness center.
There is an onsite restaurant and bar and the hotel is located near the La Isla shopping center.
👉🏽 SLS Cancun Hotel & Spa
The SLS Cancun Hotel and Spa is located at kilometer 1 in the hotel zone on a calm stretch of beach.
You can relax on a hammock or lounge chair on the beach or at the pool. You can choose between deluxe rooms or suites, and the hotel has an onsite bar.
Where to eat & drink in Cancun Hotel Zone
It is not surprising that there are a lot of great restaurants to visit in Cancun. Obviously, you can find traditional Mexican food, but there is also a variety of international cuisine available.
🍽 Mexican Cuisine
👉🏽 Restaurante Benazuza
If you want an upscale, innovative dining experience, you should check out Restaurante Benazuza. It was voted one of the best restaurants in the world in 2019.
It served contemporary food with Mexican influences. The restaurants will try to surprise you with their fun and elegant food.
👉🏽 Hacienda Sisal
Enjoy the rich flavors of Mexico at Hacienda Sisal. Here the chefs use locally sourced ingredients to cook traditional Mexican dishes.
Try a tequila pairing with your meal and enjoy the festive and relaxed atmosphere- complete with mariachis!
👉🏽 Carajillo Cancun
Enjoy a wonderful meal with a great atmosphere at Carajillo Cancun- go for dinner to enjoy the sunset while you eat!
There is an extensive food menu and great mixology cocktails to choose from. If you can’t decide what to eat, the helpful staff can give you great recommendations!
🍽 International Cuisine
Obviously, no trip to Cancun would be complete without eating plenty of tacos and Mexican food.
However, do not limit yourself to traditional Mexican flavors. Cancun is home to a great variety of international restaurants.
👉🏽 Elios Greek Estiatorio
Located in the heart of the hotel zone, this restaurant in Cancun is beautifully decorated and has amazing views. Enjoy the Mediterranean flavors with traditional Greek recipes.
The restaurant has a live DJ and on certain days you can catch a Greek performance.
👉🏽 Thai Restaurant
The name says it all, this restaurant serves great Thai food.
For the best experience, reserve one of the tables that sits over the lagoon and enjoy the sunset. Enjoy deliciously seasoned, fresh Thai flavors, and make sure to try the refreshing cocktails.
👉🏽 La Palapa Belga
Enjoy amazing views of Cancun from the shores of the lagoon at La Palapa Belga.
This restaurant has been in Cancun for over 25 years, serving French and Belgian cuisine. The chef is always coming up with special plates for you to try, but make sure you do not miss the famous mussels.
Cancun Hotel Zone VS Downtown Cancun
The Cancun hotel zone was created for visitors to easily enjoy everything Cancun has to offer.
When you stay in the hotel zone you are close to nightlife, shopping, tours, and the beach.
With so many hotels and resorts in the hotel zone, it is no wonder that so many tourists choose to stay there. The hotel zone is safe and convenient.
However, there are some people who prefer to stay in downtown Cancun.
Despite not being right on the beach, downtown Cancun has plenty of beautiful, comfortable hotels to choose from.
If you decide to stay in downtown Cancun, you can easily take public buses to get to the beaches in the hotel zone.
Staying downtown will give you a better insight into how the local people in Cancun live. You can visit the markets, eat in small restaurants or at food carts.
Not only will you find delicious food in downtown Cancun, but it will be cheaper than in the hotel zone.
If you plan to travel around the Cancun area a lot, it can be a good choice to stay in downtown Cancun because you are close to public transportation options.
The decision to stay in the hotel zone or downtown Cancun comes down to what you want in your vacation.
If you prefer to spend a bit more money (although there are budget-friendly options all over Cancun if you look for them) and have the beach and all the amenities you want for your vacation close to you- you should stay in the hotel zone.
If you like getting on public transportation, looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries, and want to live like a local- check out a downtown Cancun hotel.
If you decide to spend your vacation in the hotel zone, plan an afternoon to take an adventure downtown to eat at a small taco stand and stroll around!
Tips when traveling to Cancun Hotel Zone
Cancun was designed to attract visitors, and most things are very tourist friendly. Most people you encounter, whether working at your hotel or as tour guides, will sincerely want you to have a good time on vacation. You can help yourself have a great time by remembering a few tips:
👉🏽 Start your vacation right by pre-booking your airport shuttle. Do not fall victim to an aggressive taxi driver’s scam. Pre-book a private or shared shuttle to your hotel and avoid any airport transportation stress.
👉🏽 Use pesos. Most places will take American dollars, but not always at a favorable exchange rate. Avoid unnecessary confusion and get the most for your money but using pesos.
👉🏽 Use public buses. The hotel zone is one long road, so it is very easy to navigate using the public buses. Save yourself money by using the buses when you want to move around.
👉🏽 Resist the temptation to spend your whole vacation on the beach. It’s easy to want to spend day after day soaking up the sun and waves, but there is so much more to see in Cancun. Try to get out and explore a bit more!
👉🏽 Use eco-friendly sunscreen. Make sure to protect your skin. Use rashguards, hats, and sunglasses, and reapply biodegradable sunscreen. Nothing will ruin your fun faster than a terrible sunburn.
CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 | Face Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide for Sensitive Skin | With Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Ceramides | 2.5 oz
✔️ 100% Mineral-based sunscreen, also known as a physical sunscreen, reflects UVA/UVB rays to help protect the skin. Developed with dermatologists by CeraVe Skincare.
✔️ Oxybenzone free, avobenzone free, and benzene free, this sunscreen contains physical filters Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.
✔️ Formula is oil-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and suitable for sensitive skin
👉🏽 Be aware of scams. In tourist destinations all over the world, people will try to take advantage of tourists- and Cancun is no exception. Pay attention to deals that seem too good to be true and keep a close eye on your belongings. The hotel zone is safe, but do not make yourself a target for a potential scammer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to stay in the Cancun hotel zone or in Downtown Cancun?
That depends on what you want! If you want to be on the beach, near nightlife, or stay at a large resort, you should stay in the hotel zone.
The hotel zone has tour operators, shopping, and restaurants that you can easily get to from your hotel. If you stay downtown you will need to take public transportation to get to the beach.
Staying downtown is a great option for people who want to see how locals live, will be traveling around and want to be close to public transportation, or are on a budget.
You can usually find downtown Cancun hotels for cheaper than in the hotel zone, but you will be closer to cheap, local food.
Whichever option you chose, you can easily move around between the hotel zone and downtown. The public buses run all the time and are cheap and easy to use.
Is the Cancun Hotel Zone a good place to stay?
Yes! Firstly, the hotel zone is located on a beautiful peninsula that has white sandy beaches to one side and the lagoon to the other. It is amazing!
Secondly, it is fun and convenient. In the hotel zone, you are close to bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and tour operators.
Everything you need for a great time is close by!
Is the Cancun Hotel Zone expensive?
The hotel zone is the most expensive part of Cancun. That said, you can still find a hotel in the hotel zone to find your budget.
If you are trying to save money, make sure to shop around and book your accommodation in advance.
Christmas and Easter weeks are the busiest times of the year, so avoid coming then. You will pay top dollar for everything in the peak tourist season.
If you come in shoulder or low season, you will be able to find good deals.
Can you swim in the Cancun Hotel Zone?
The northern section of the hotel zone is known for its calm waters. The beaches along the northern stretch of the hotel zone are great for swimming and popular with families.
The topography of these beaches makes it rare for them to have big waves or strong currents.
As you go further south in the hotel zone, the water can become rougher. Beaches in this section of the hotel zone can have strong currents and big waves.
There are usually lifeguards on duty. They will help point out areas that are at risk of having rip currents and advise you if it is safe to get in the water.
When the conditions are right, the water in Cancun is amazing to swim in. It is crystal clear and stays warm all year round.
Is the Cancun Hotel Zone walkable?
You can safely walk around in the hotel zone. There are well-maintained sidewalks, and you will often see people out walking.
The hotel zone is long- 22.5 kilometers long! This means that if you need to get from one area to another, it might be a further walk than you want.
In that case, you can easily take the public bus around the hotel zone, or use a taxi.
Wrapping Up: Visiting Cancun Hotel Zone
As you can see, there is a reason visitors go to the Cancun hotel zone year after year. It makes going on vacation easy!
It is full of great shopping, restaurants, beaches, and resorts. You can easily and safely move around in the hotel zone to the activities you want to do!
Whether it is your first visit, or you have been traveling to Cancun for years, there is always something new and exciting to explore.
About the Author
Hey there! This is Isabella, the owner, and writer of this site. I have been living in Cancun for the past 12 years and although I have been roaming around Mexico, Cancun’s spectacular turquoise waters and pristine beach draw me back to this popular Mexican beach destination. That is why I decided to start this blog, to show you all the beauty you can find in Cancun and share helpful travel tips to help you plan a fabulous vacation in Cancun!