My Favorite Things To Do – Cancun (and Yucatan)
Cancun has a major reputation for spring breaks and beach parties. However there is much more to Cancun than you'd initially believe. The city of Cancun is rather well organized and comes with big avenues with large trees and many new buildings and malls.
Almost all the resorts are located along a small stretch of road that forms the beach and the lagoon. The 'Zona Hotelera' feels more like Miami than most of Mexico (and that has also resembled in prices).
My Favorite Things To Do - Safety
Cancun is quite a safe place (as is most of Yucatan). It is light years ahead than say Los Cabos or many areas in Mexico City. It still pays to take basic precautions but I felt safe walking in most places even at night or taking random taxis.
My Favorite Things To Do - Get Around
The 'taxi mafia' has led a successful campaign to drown out Uber. Uber still supports the region on the app but it is almost impossible to get a ride. Taxis themselves are NOT available at the airport to pick up. However, taxi prices are reasonable if you hail them off the street and negotiate a bit in Spanish.
To get from the airport to town you can use a comfortable bus that charges just $5 per person.
It is a good idea to rent a car. Traffic is somewhat orderly and it allows you to enjoy the rest of Yucatan on your own.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Beaches
There are great maps for the best beach access along the Zona Hotelera. In general, the east facing beaches have strong surf but more sand and are often wider. Beach access isn’t super easy to find - maps will help. Once you are at the public beach, you can walk up and down as you wish.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites. It comes with a huge pyramid and several still existing structures including a properly scary Cenote (believed to be the doorway to the underworld). The site can be busy so try to come early or late and bring about $30 for the ticket.
Chichen Itza is about a 90-minute drive from Cancun.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Coba
Coba is a more spread out site but with smaller structures. It is still fun to ride a bicycle through the jungle and see some lovely ruins. It is less than $5 for the ticket and crowds are often smaller.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen is a busy town that plays host to the ferry to Cozumel but also has a number of good beaches itself. The resorts here are more down-market and hotels smaller and cheaper. There is not much of a reason to come to Playa del Carmen if you can stay in Cancun.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Tulum
Tulum is just about two hours from Cancun. The small city features the only coastal Mayan ruin (not much left but it is very pretty). Tulum has a stretch of great restaurants and it feels more like Bangkok’s Khao San road in its early days.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Izamal
Izamal is a pretty little town with a wonderful old town square with a cathedral and two ancient pyramids. If you can make the detour here - you should stop by.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Ek Balam
Ek Balam has a rather expensive entrance fee (bring cash only) and is a rather small historical site (though an important one). I decided to skip it.
My Favorite Things To Do Cancun - Valladolid
Valladolid is a mid-sized town that is ideal as a rest stop in between taking in ancient sites. There are a number of good restaurants and a lovely old town square to marvel at.