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Curious in Cancún: A First Look at the Mexican Caribbean

Mexico Caribbean - Cancun Beach

After spending nearly three weeks around colonial towns, archaeological ruins and artisan markets in Mexico, we were ready to hit the beach. Our souls simply longed for the calming sound of waves and the feel of sand on our toes.

Cancún, located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, is a charmer to locals and tourists alike. It was our first take on Mexico’s beach scene. We had heard good things and bad, but what is it really like?

The Beach

The water is bright turquoise blue. The sand? Fine, powder white. If you strip off the massive crowd from Cancún, the beach is top-notch. I have been to many beaches in my travels (including Maldives) and I can honestly say, Cancún fits perfectly with the best ones. I haven’t seen that stunning shade of blue anywhere else. Truly, it is a Caribbean paradise in Mexico.

Related Post: Beaches, Ruins and Cenotes: Bike You Way to the Best Attractions in Tulum

Mexico Caribbean Cancun Beach Crowd

Mexico Caribbean Beach Cancun Water

Zona Hotelera

Zona Hotelera is the area of Cancún you see in movies and TV shows. This overdeveloped strip close to the beach is lined with hotels, restaurants, shops and bars. It is so similar to Las Vegas, it is almost easy to forget we were still in Mexico. We saw a few familiar American restaurants and shops. I think I even spotted a shopping mall. Spring Break had just passed when we visited but it was still busy – the touts, the crowds and the traffic. If you are curious about the price of drinks, they seem quite cheap.

Cancun Beach Caribbean Mexico - Hotel Zone
Cancun Beach Caribbean Mexico - Hotel Zone Malls

Downtown Cancún, El Centro

The lesser known area of Cancún is downtown area, El Centro. It’s a complete contrast to the commercialized Zona Hotelera – rather plain, quiet and underdeveloped. We stayed in a studio apartment in El Centro during our 2 days in Cancún. It was a cheaper alternative to staying in Zona Hotelera. It’s not difficult to go to the Hotel Zone from El Centro, we used the public bus to visit the beach for under a dollar.

Related Post: 8 of the Best Colonial Towns and Cities in Mexico

Cancun Beach Caribbean Mexico - Hotel Zone - El Centro

Quite a character, this place is. If you don’t mind the crowds, Cancún is definitely worth a visit. I am happy that we visited Cancún and I really adored its stunning beach. If there was a chance to stay somewhere more private in the Hotel Zone, that would have been perfect.

Cancun Beach Caribbean Mexico - Hotel Zone - Street Art

Related Post: The Caribbean on a Budget: Little Corn Island

Have you been to Cancún? What did you think of the place? Let us know.

About the author

Gia Kristel Algie

Currently based in New Zealand, Gia grew up in Manila, lived in Singapore for three years and travelled the world for nearly two years. From watching sunsets to hiking mountains, she loves the outdoors. She enjoys living in big cities but takes pleasure staying in quaint, small towns. An aspiring photographer and budding writer, she is the voice behind Mismatched Passports, a travel blog dedicated to the journey around the world with her husband, Jon.

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