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Is Cancun Worth Visiting?

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Before visiting Cancun, Amy wondered to herself; ‘is it going to be a tourist trap or is Cancun worth visiting?’ Now you’ve found your way here, it’s safe to assume that you’re wondering the same thing.

In short, everyone is going to have a different opinion of whether Cancun is worth it or not and that will entirely depend on what you’re looking for from your vacation to Mexico.

If you’re looking to go to Cancun to relax, enjoy the beach and go on some adventures then it will 100% be worth you visiting. However, if you’re looking to see an authentic side of Mexico, eat some traditional Mexican food and tire yourself out with lots of sightseeing then Cancun may not be the place for you.

In this guide, we will explore the different pros and cons for visiting Cancun so that you will be able to make your own mind up. Cancun is not for everyone but it does also have some of its own perks. There’s a reason why it attracts so many tourists and especially spring breakers every year!

Amy ziplining through the Mexican Jungle from Cancun.

Pros & Cons to Visiting Cancun Quick Facts

Pros of Cancun

  • Beautiful Beaches
  • Great base for visiting other areas of Quintana Roo
  • Access to the beautiful Isla Mujeres
  • Perfect Party Spot
  • Lots of incredible hotels & hostels for any type of traveller
  • Great spot for first time solo travellers
  • Unique Day Tours & Excursions
  • Affordable Destination to Visit
  • Easy access to visit Chichen Itza

Cons

  • Very Touristy
  • Not as much Traditional Food
  • Not authentic Mexico
  • Busy All the Time
  • Seaweed on the Coastline
  • Can be Overpriced
  • Tourist Scams

Pros to Visiting Cancun

Despite being a tourist hotspot, there are a lot of pros for visiting Cancun but it all depends on the type of vacation that you’re looking for.

We’ve included 9 different pros to visiting Cancun below which will help you decide if this is the Mexican location for you.

1. Beautiful Beaches

There is a reason why tourists flock from all over the world to visit Cancun every year and one of those reasons is definitely the beautiful beaches that it has to offer.

Imagine the stereotypical white sand, turquoise blue water and palm trees and you have truly envisioned Cancun’s beaches. There are quite a few different beaches to visit in Cancun but there are some that are more favoured.

One of the beautiful beaches in Cancun which is what makes it worth visiting.

One of the most popular beaches in Cancun is Playa Delfines which also holds the infamous Cancun sign too. This is located on the south side of the hotel zone and is a very big hit with tourists.

For this reason it can be particularly busy so if you’re looking for somewhere quiet to lay your beach towel then this may not be the best place to go.

There are a few places to eat around Playa Delfines but you may find that it is a little more expensive because it is such a popular spot for tourists.

However, you will find locals walking along the beach selling goods such as drinks and fresh fruit. The fruit is truly delicious so we recommend taking them up on this! There’s nothing like fresh fruit when you’re on vacation, it just tastes so different!

If you’re looking for a bit more of a quieter beach then head to San Miguelito. This is a little more private than Playa Delfines and less inhabited by tourists so you will get to relax a lot more here.

Other beaches that are worth visiting include Playa Tortugas, Playa Caracol & Playa Marlin.

2. Great base for visiting other areas of Quintana Roo

Located in the Quintana Roo state and part of the Yucatan peninsula, Cancun is a really great location to visit other areas nearby.

As Cancun has its own airport, most tourists will fly to Cancun before heading off to other popular locations. From Cancun airport you will be able to take transport to Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Holbox, Bacalar, Isla Mujeres and so many more.

Progresso Beach in Tulum

These are some of the best places to visit in Mexico for tourists so Cancun is a great place to connect you to other destinations.

If you’re planning to visit a few destinations in Yucatan then you may want to spend a few days in Cancun before moving onto your next location.

3. Access to the beautiful Isla Mujeres

We mentioned in the last pro for visiting Cancun that it is a good base for visiting other destinations within the Yucatan.

You can only get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun so we knew that this has to be its own advantage to Cancun for that reason. Isla Mujeres is only of the most beautiful destinations and it’s worth spending a few days on the island if you have the time.

Amy posing in the middle of the Isla Mujeres sign.

We would also recommend going to the island from Cancun to spend some time scuba diving in Isla Mujeres as well. It is a small relaxing haven and if you find that Cancun gets a bit too busy for you then Isla Mujeres is the perfect break away.

If you’re not sure whether you’d like to visit this little island then make sure to check out our guide on ‘is Isla Mujeres worth it?’ This will answer any questions you have on if you should take a day trip there from Cancun.

4. Perfect party spot

Thousands of Americans head over to Cancun every year to celebrate spring break so it has become a great location for party travellers.

If you’re planning to party the night away for spring break, a hen or stag do (bachelor or bachelorette party) then this is the ultimate destination for you to visit.

The nightlife in Cancun is out of this world and you’ll find in particular a lot of travellers will flock to Senor Frogs and Coco Bongo which are absolutely buzzing.

Whether you choose to head to a club or bar, you are guaranteed to have an excellent night out whilst you’re in Cancun. There are also plenty of options for boat parties, beach parties and unique party experiences in Cancun that you won’t be stuck for choice.

We’ve popped some recommended party activities and events in Cancun below for you so that you don’t need to worry about anything!

BEST CANCUN BAR CRAWLS

5. Lots of incredible hotels & hostels for any type of traveller

One of the best reasons to visit Cancun is that it is a very diverse destination with a little something for everyone.

If you’re travelling alone around Mexico then there are lots of hostel options for you to choose from. In particular, we would recommend Mayan Monkey Party Hostel as it has female dorms, great social atmosphere and digital nomad facilities.

There are also plenty of budget hotels if you’re travelling to Cancun on a budget too so you can keep your costs low and explore Cancun without any worries.

Alternatively, travelling as a couple, there are also plenty of luxury and boutique hotels within Cancun so that you can enjoy a romantic vacation.

Lastly, if you’re travelling as a family, you will find plenty of all-inclusive options which are great for kids who want snacks every 5 minutes! If you’re not sure if all-inclusive is for you then check out our pros and cons to all-inclusive hotels guide to make your mind up.

6. Great spot for first time solo travellers

We mentioned in the last advantage to visiting Cancun that there are a lot of hostel options available for solo travellers. However, Cancun is also a really good location for first time solo travellers too.

As Cancun is a little touristy, if you’re an anxious traveller, you will find that it is a perfectly safe destination for you to visit within Mexico.

Before Amy travelled solo to Mexico, her mum was in tears worried about her safety. Even though Amy wasn’t worried in the slightest, after spending some time in Cancun and sending over some photos, her mum was eventually reassured that not all the reports about Mexico are completely accurate.

It’s crazy how news reports make out that the whole of Mexico is dangerous. There are some locations in Mexico that are unsafe but it is quite unlikely that you will have any trouble in Mexico as long as you don’t go looking for it!

There are plenty of amazing sights for you to explore, day trips to go on, beautiful beaches and hostels that are great for solo travellers.

Sign in Cancun showing how far different destinations are.

7. Unique day tours & excursions

One of the things that we like the most about Cancun is that there is a really good variety of day trips and excursions that you can go on.

Whether you’re interested in the Mayan culture and ruins, swimming in some beautiful cenotes, diving, snorkelling, relaxing, you name it and you will be able to find it in Cancun.

If you're wondering is Cancun worth visiting well jumping in some of these incredible cenotes alone is enough to convince you.

For Amy, one of the best experiences she had in Cancun was enjoying some adventure activities at XCaret Park. If you’re looking for your next adrenaline rush then why not try some ziplining in Cancun? If you’re move interested in vehicles then head off driving an ATV through the Mexican jungle in Cancun.

No matter what activities attracts you to travelling, there are so many options available in Cancun that the only problem you will have is deciding which ones you will have the most time for.

We’ve shared some of our favourite day trips and excursions from Cancun below which will help give you inspiration for your own trip!

BEST EXCURSIONS & DAY TRIPS FROM CANCUN

8. Affordable destination to visit

Despite that Cancun is quite a touristy destination, it is still a very affordable location in Mexico to visit too. The hotels are a good price for the quality that you receive as well.

You will also find that the food and excursions are really well-priced so if you’re exploring Mexico on a budget, this is one of the best places to go.

With that in mind, you also need to know where to look because there are some parts of Cancun that are incredibly expensive too. However, considering how expensive Tulum is to visit, Cancun is definitely the more affordable option for you.

9. Easy access to visit Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza.

A lot of people tend to travel to Cancun so that they can do a day trip to one of the wonders of the world; Chichen Itza.

There are many different excursion options and these trips often last the whole day so it is really good quality for money. With these day trips, you will often be taken to Chichen Itza for exploring and then a cenote and a wander around Valladolid.

This is one of the things that you can’t miss when you’re visiting Cancun and it’s a great way to understand the Mayan culture a little more too.

BEST CHICHEN ITZA TOURS FROM CANCUN

Cons to Visiting Cancun

We’ve filled you in on all the pros to visiting Cancun but of course there are a lot of cons to visiting as well. You will have to assess both the pros and cons so that you can make a decision on whether Cancun is worth it for you.

If you’re looking for an authentic, traditional part of Mexico then Cancun is most likely not for you unless you’re only staying in Cancun for a day or two.

1. Very Touristy

If you’re hoping to visit Cancun and get an all-rounded Mexican experience then you will not find that here. Cancun is notorious for being very touristy but that is also meant to be like that too.

You will find that pretty much everything in Cancun is designed for tourists. They even have their own hotel zone which as you can imagine is a tourist hot spot.

Amy with two people dressed up in Mayan wear at Chichen Itza.

It is rare that you will find something that is authentically Mexican within Cancun. Even a lot of the activities that you can do there are less about the Mexican culture and more about making some money for tourist activities.

The only excursion that is a little more about Mexican culture is visiting Chichen Itza. However, as it is one of the wonders of the world, when you’re walking around this Mayan beauty, you will still see that it is very touristy. There will be vendors all around the park trying to flog their souvenirs and everything you do will cost money generally.

2. Not as much traditional food

For Amy, this was one of the biggest downsides to visiting Cancun is because there is not a lot of traditional food at all. The cuisine within Cancun tends to be tex-mex because most of the regular visitors are Americans.

This is not necessarily a bad thing because tex-mex is still delicious in its own right. However, it is absolutely not traditional Mexican food either.

The only thing that might make you not want to go to Cancun is that it isn't really traditional Mexican food and more like texmex.

Even if you take a day trip to Isla Mujeres, it is rare that you will find traditional Mexican food. The only exception to that would be that Amy found some of the best traditional Al Pastor tacos on the island.

As we say, traditional food can be found in Cancun but it is much harder to come by and requires a bit more research.

3. Not authentic Mexico

We’ve kind of touched base on this in the first few points but you won’t find an authentic side to Mexico when you’re exploring Cancun.

One of the things that Amy loved the most about backpacking around Mexico is learning about the different Mexican cultures in each state and the history of the Mayans.

One of the mayan ruins at Chichn Itza.

You will not find this in Cancun because it is solely designed to be for tourists. When you go on the Chichen Itza day tour, you will see a glimpse of that when learning more about the Mayan ruins but you’re better off visiting places like Palenque to see more authentic Mayan ruins.

4. Busy Nearly All the Time

As Cancun is such a tourist hotspot, it is busy pretty much all the time and it can become quite overcrowded. This can be overwhelming at times and you may want to escape the hustle and bustle.

If you’re a party traveller then this may be exactly what you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking to step off the beaten track then Cancun is not worth visiting for you.

You will find that a lot of Americans head to Cancun to celebrate Spring Break so if you’re visiting during this period then it will be busy consistently.

If you still want to take a trip to Cancun but would prefer avoid this then it is best researching the peak and off peak seasons in Cancun to plan your trip in advance.

5. Seaweed on the coastline

Over the years, seaweed has become a little bit of an issue in some Mexican destinations. The seaweed floats over to the coast and it can leave a lot of mess and the smell is horrific.

Playa Delfines in Cancun

There are some Mexican destinations that have managed to find a solution to this but Cancun has not yet been able to join them so it is not quite Sargassum free yet.

If you’re visiting during the seaweed season and want to still enjoy sunning yourself on a beautiful beach then we recommend spending a few days in Isla Mujeres where they are now Sargassum free.

6. Can be overpriced

Even though we mentioned in our pros to visiting Cancun that it is an affordable destination to visit, it can also be quite overpriced if you don’t know where to look.

In comparison to a lot of other authentic destinations in Mexico, Cancun can be quite overpriced. However, generally speaking, it is still cheaper to visit Cancun than the prices within the US or the UK.

If you’re visiting Cancun on a low budget then you will need to do a good amount of research in advance to find the cheapest places to eat in Cancun and the most affordable places to stay in Cancun.

7. Tourist Scams

When you’re purchasing things in Cancun, you will often find that the local vendors will try to ramp up the prices to scam you.

Before you purchase anything, make sure that you know the currency exchange rate so that you don’t get ripped off. Honestly, other than a souvenir or two, it is probably best to not purchase too much in Cancun as you will find most things in other areas of Mexico for a lot cheaper.

Souvenirs that you can purchase at Chichen Itza including chess boards, elephant statues, aztect calendars and much more.

When Amy is travelling, she likes to pick up artwork and a keyring in every destination she visits as a souvenir. However, in Cancun she didn’t find many street art that was affordable so she never purchased any in the end and came away only with a keyring.

Verdict: Is Cancun worth visiting?

The answer to this question really depends on what you’re looking for from your vacation in Cancun. If you’re looking for a traditional side of Mexico then Cancun is not worth visiting for you.

However, if you’re looking to enjoy some partying or using Cancun as a base to start your backpacking adventure then Cancun really is worth visiting.

Amy riding an ATV through the Mexican jungle.

When Amy visited Cancun whilst it wasn’t at the top of her list of favourite destinations in Mexico, it did also have its own charm. She visited just before the rainy season so it was also much quieter than usual. We would recommend doing the same so that you can enjoy Cancun without all the crowds.

It is still a beautiful destination in its own right and as long as you go to Cancun with the expectation that you will not see an authentic side of Mexico then you will have a wonderful time.

Embrace that it is not an authentic area of Mexico and zipline through the jungle, visit as many cenotes as you can, party the night away and most importantly, have fun!

Cancun Resources

Isla Mujeres Resources

Mexico Resources

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