Cancun offers honeymoon couples a choice of gorgeous white-sand beaches, luxurious beachfront hotels, vibrant nightlife, great shopping and ancient Mayan ruins to explore along an idyllic 22km-long coastline.
Located on the tip of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, the megaresort of Cancun is a skinny 24km island in the shape of the number ‘7’ attached to the mainland by two bridges and separated from it by the lush Nichupté lagoon.
Discover a choice of gorgeous beaches in and around Cancun. Protected by the world's second-longest reef system, the Yucatán's Caribbean coast stretches 380km from Cancun to Chetumal, sharing a border with Belize.
Here you can find numerous powder-white sandy beaches shelving into mainly shallow, crystal clear turquoise waters.
The best of these beaches include, Cancun Beach, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Xpu-Ha.
Choose your own spot to sunbathe on Cancun’s gorgeous, 22km-long ribbon of powdery white-sand beach that gently shelves into the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea. The 40m-wide beach is divided into sections, each with a different name.
Swept clean daily, the beaches are lined with luxury beachfront hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs and offer a huge variety of water sport activities along the north and east coast of Cancun Island.
Relax in the sun, go swimming or choose from a variety of watersports, including sail boarding, water skiing, catamaran sailing, water bikes, parasailing and kayaking.
Beach sports include volleyball, soccer, badminton, jogging, Frisbee golf (also known as ‘frolf’) and horseback riding.
The northern beaches, which stretch from the Hotel Zone to Punta Cancun, face onto the tranquil Bahía de Mujeres and are Cancun’s best beaches for calm water swimming. Several offer water sport facilities as well as diving and snorkel tours and water taxis to Isla Mujeres.
Playa las Perlas is great for swimming and watersports, with a good selection of restaurants and bars; Playa Linda hosts dive tour operators; Playa Caracol is ideal for children with its shallow, flat, sandy sea bed; and Playa Tortugas is best for snorkelling and, together with Playa Langosta, fronts a wide range of hotels, bars and restaurants.
The eastern beaches face onto the unprotected Caribbean Sea and are great if you love swimming and diving into big waves or want to go jet skiing or sea kayaking.
Playa Chac Mool and Playa Ballenas are probably Cancun’s most popular beaches as they offer good swimming and great people-watching, as well as variety of watersports and beachside bars and restaurants.
Playa Delfines is best for relaxing, swimming, surfing and perhaps spotting dolphins as they swim offshore, while nearby Playa Nizuc, located towards the southern end of the beach strip, offers many of Cancun’s most exclusive resorts and hotels.
For a secluded spot – without vendors, strollers, music or beach sports – try the beach at the Camino Real Hotel located at the southern tip of the peninsula; the beach is accessible only by walking through the Camino Real Hotel.
Cancun’s beaches are all public, so once you access one beach you can walk in any direction and freely access most beaches. The hotel-zone hotels all face beaches and provide guests with a variety of facilities, including beach waiters, palapa sun shelters, volleyball courts, aerobics classes, bars, restaurants, showers, toilets, towels and lifeguards.
Given the open sea conditions, Cancun’s eastern beaches operate a water safety flag system: white is excellent, green is safe to swim, yellow means use caution, red means it’s dangerous so use caution and black means it’s too dangerous, don’t swim. Beaches are routinely patrolled by lifeguards and are generally safe.
(Riviera Maya) Head to the hippest beach on the Caribbean Coast, a clean white-sand beach located just 64km south of Cancun. The beach flows south from the main beach fronting Playa del Carmen town into several beach areas named after beachside resorts.
Perhaps the most renowned of these is Maroma Beach, a manicured powder-white beach fronting the 5-star Maroma Hotel, which offers a variety of creature comforts.
One of the best beaches for children is found at the northern end in front of the Porto Real resort. Here a section of coral runs for about 18m, forming numerous little rock pools that often trap little fish at low tide – lots of fun for the kids.
Playa offers a low-key, friendly, relaxing beach scene with great swimming and a wide choice of hotels, restaurants and bars.
Go swimming, chill out under a straw parasol on the beach, discover craft and jewellery bargains in the alleyways of Playa, explore ancient Mayan ruins nearby or take a boat trip to Cozumel Island to swim with dolphins, snorkel and dive.
At night, stroll down the beachside, pedestrian-only Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), lined with restaurants, clubs, cafes and shops, while being entertained by enthusiastic street performers. Beach facilities here also include lifeguards.
(Isla Mujeres, Cancun) Sunbathe on the gorgeous, wide, powder-white sandy beach or swim in waist-deep, calm turquoise water on this tiny ‘Island of Women’ (Isla Mujeres).
A great family beach, Playa Norte (North Beach) offers diving on El Garrafón reef, offshore snorkelling and boat excursions to Isla Contoy’s national wildlife reserve.
Facilities include bars and restaurants on the beach (some offer free lounge chairs and hammocks for their customers) and snorkelling equipment can be rented. Located just a 30-minute boat ride from Cancun.
(Riviera Maya) Beneath the picturesque ruins of the Mayan Temple lies a beautiful, powder-soft, white-sand beach that stretches south, dipping between rocky headlands and offering a secluded escape away from the often crowded main beach beneath the ruins.
Swim out from the beach into the warm, azure Caribbean Sea and look back at the ruins for an unforgettable memory.
Continuing past a rocky promontory, the beach emerges into a long and wide sweep of sugar-white sand at Tulum town.
Known as Main Beach (photo), this is lined with popular upmarket beach clubs and palapa hotels (open-sided, thatched-roof structures), where you can use the facilities for either a day, overnight or longer.
(Riviera Maya) Discover a stunningly soft, sugar-white sand beach stretching for several kilometres south of Play del Carmen and north of Tulum. The beach fronts a few hotels including the Copacabana and Xpu-Ha Palace.
Go swimming, snorkel the inshore reef or just stroll along the gorgeous jungle-lined beach. At the northern end lies one of the largest natural sinkholes in the region – the Cenote Manati.
(Riviera Maya) This secluded white-sand beach shelves into Kantenah Bay and offers safe swimming, sailing and great snorkelling on the inshore reef with creature comforts supplied by two beachside resorts, the El Dorado Spa & Resort and the Kantenah Palladium resort.
(Riviera Maya) This gorgeous palm-fringed beach stretches from cove to cove around Akumal Bay and is well catered for by numerous hotels and resorts, especially to the south end of the bay.
The beach is renowned for its good diving and snorkelling at nearby Yal Ku Lagoon to the north. Look out for sea turtles at nearby Half Moon Bay.
Enjoy lunch at any of Cancun’s internationally renowned restaurants, then choose to sunbathe on a white-sand beach, go windsurfing, sailing, snorkelling, diving on the world’s second largest coral reef or touring by jet ski through the lush jungle of the lagoon.
In the evening, dine on delicious Mexican food, enjoy a tantalising cocktail and dance the night away at a boisterous nightclub such as Coco Bongo or The City.
Cancun is home to more than 350 bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
South of Cancun lies the Riviera Maya, home to some of the hippest beaches on the coast including the chic Playa del Carmen and the gorgeous Tulum beach, which nestles beneath an ancient Mayan fortress.
Find more things to do in Cancun…
Cancun and the nearby Riviera Maya, which features some of the Yucatan's most impressive ruins, offer a fabulous choice of must-see sights, including the following…
Discover one of Mexico's premier diving destinations in the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park. Known as “Island of the swallows’ by its earliest inhabitants, Cozumel is fringed by wide sugar-white beaches, beautiful reefs and clear turquoise waters.
Snorkel or dive underwater caves, offshore reefs and see wrecks and bays littered with sunken cannons, anchors and statues.
Stroll the waterfront boulevard of charming San Miguel village, see exhibits of the island’s history in the fascinating Museo de la Isla de Cozumel, swim with dolphins at Chankanaab National Park and wander Maya ruins at San Gervasio.
More about Cozumel Island…
Stroll between a small temple and several ceremonial platforms in this interesting archaeological site (commonly called El Rey) located just a short distance from Cancun’s Zona Hotelera.
El Rey is notable for having two main plazas bounded by two streets. (Most other Mayan cities contain only one plaza.)
More about the Ruins of the King…
Stretching along the Caribbean Coast just a short drive from the beaches of Cancun lies the Riviera Maya (between Punta Tanchacté to Punta Allen), which features some of the Yucatan's most impressive ruins and cenotes.
Further south lies the Costa Maya (from Punta Allen to Chetumal), where you can find the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. This coastline offers a wide range of must-see sights and attractions, including…
Discover an eco-adventure theme park where you can swim with dolphins, see jaguars, flamingos and toucans, snorkel through underwater caverns, walk through a butterfly aviary and a bat cave or float down a river in an inner tube or on a raft.
The park is named after the nearby archaeological site, Xcaret, a pre-Columbian Maya settlement some of whose ruins lie within the park's boundaries (above photo).
More about Xcaret…
Stroll around the walled fortress of Tulum, an important Maya spiritual and cultural centre.
Standing atop a bluff, this outpost of the Maya civilisation offers breathtaking views over the Caribbean.
Wander around the Temple of the Descending God, El Castillo and the Temple of the Frescoes. Afterwards, cool off with a swim in the Caribbean from the white-sand beach right in front of the site.
Tulum is the only major Maya archaeological site to overlook the Caribbean Sea, and is only 128 km south of Cancun, about an hours drive.
More about Tulum…
Explore some of the half-million hectare ecological park of forests, lagoons, exotic marine habitats and wetlands at Sian Ka'an, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located just south of Tulum.
The biosphere reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, with a habitat for more than 300 species of birds as well as a large marine area and barrier reef. Here you can wander through the rainforest, go horseback riding or hook and release a sailfish or marlin.
More about Sian Ka'an…
Take a day trip from Cancun or stay overnight to fully explore the fabled ruins of Chichén Itzá, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. The Maya name ‘Chichen Itza’ means ‘at the mouth of the well of the Itza’ and the city was a centre of pilgrimage for ancient Maya for more than 100 years.
Admire the huge 38m-high Pyramid of Kukulcan (or El Castillo), stroll among the columns at the Temple of the Warriors, venture inside El Caracol (the observatory) and discover bas-reliefs and paintings that decorate every square metre of wall of the Nunnery.
More about Chichén Itzá…
Take the 20-minue ferry ride to Isla Mujeres off Cancun's coast and spend a relaxing day at Garrafon National Park snorkelling, kayaking, swimming or helmet diving.
Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery and sunbathe at Playa Norte, the island's best beach. Or rent a bicycle and tour the island.
More about the Isla Mujeres and Garrafon National Park…
Join a guided tour of this protected reserve to see more than 150 migrating and resident birds, including flocks of pelicans, frigates, double-crested cormorants and boobies.
The island is a pristine wildlife habitat of mangroves, lagoons, corals and secluded white sandy beaches that are home also to nesting sea turtles. Located about 30 km north of Isla Mujeres, the reserve is only open to 200 visitors daily.
More about the Isla Contoy…
Go east of Chichén Itzá to discover sacred Mayan sinkholes where young girls were apparently thrown as sacrifices to the rain god Chaac.
At Xkeken near Valladolid, descend a vertical hole down narrow stone steps into a dark underground world of red limestone stalactites hanging above a green pool of water that shimmers in the sunlight from a gap in the cavern roof. Cool off in the ice-cold water.
Stroll among the elaborate stuccowork and detailed façades in this World Heritage site, one of the best restored and maintained ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Admire the entwined serpents in the Nun’s Quadrangle, the House of Pigeons and the Ball Court.
Climb the 30m to the top of the Pyramid of the Magician and explore the carvings of serpents, sculptures of the rain god Chaac and astrological symbols in the Governor’s Palace.
More about Uxmal…
For panoramic views over this ancient Mayan site, climb the 120 stone steps to the summit of the weather-worn 42m-high El Castillo pyramid, which forms part of the Nohoch Mul Group.
Older than much of Chichén Itzá and larger than Tulum, Coba offers 20,719ha of scenic ruins scattered around five lakes and crowded with thick forest.
Come early in the morning when the site is less crowded, listen to the shriek of spider monkeys and watch colonies of army ants parading down ancient pathways before disappearing into the dense forest.
More about Coba…
Hike through the rainforest near Coba, 42km northwest of Tulum, and choose from several cliffs from which to rappel down into cool underwater cenotes (sinkholes). Then discover the Mayan jungle settlement of Pac Chan, where around 100 people live without electricity or running water in traditional round thatch huts.
More about Pac Chen…
Follow a 600m trail through underground passages, past stalactites and stalagmites until you reach the main cenote (sinkhole), a 12m-deep pool of crystal clear water estimated to be five million years old. Above ground, a 400ha rainforest boasts hiking trails from which you can spot wildlife such as white tail deer, spider monkeys, badgers, wild boar and iguanas.
More about Aktun-Chen…
Join a four-wheel drive tour through the Mexican rainforest to the Mayan community of Rancho San Felipe. From here explore Nohoch Nah Chich, considered to be the second-longest underground river system in the world. Snorkel through the clear water past thick strands of stalagmites and stalactites. Afterwards, tuck into a traditional Mayan lunch at the ranch.
More about Nohoch Nah Chich…
Admire graceful pink flamingos while keeping an eye open for some of the other 300 species of birdlife that reside in the Yucatan's Celestun Biosphere Reserve, including cormorants, frigate birds, sheartail, black-throated bobwhite and egrets. Also look out for crocodiles, hawksbill and green turtles, iguanas and boa constrictors.
Discover the largest coral-ringed lagoon in the world at Chinchorro Bank, a 46km-long and 14km-wide reef that lies 35km offshore from Xcalak (about a two-hour boat ride).
The Bank’s 620km² of jagged reefs create a ring of coral with depths that range from 2m to 25m. Beyond the reef the water plunges dramatically to 1000m in the deep channel that separates Chinchorro from the mainland.
Dive past spectacular coral formations, see abundant marine life and a sea floor littered with the wrecks of vessels that have foundered on the reefs over the centuries.
More about Chinchorro Bank…
Celebrated on All Souls Day, the first day of November and into the next day, with intense passion throughout Mexico. In cemeteries see papier-mâché statues of skeletons and locals enjoying picnics by the graves of their ancestors.
Look out for Carnaval in February, the week-long Cancun Jazz Festival in May and El Senor de las Ampollas, celebrated with fireworks, dancing and music from late September to early October.
Located on the tip of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, the megaresort of Cancun offers newlyweds a wide variety of hotels and resorts, including the following oceanfront resorts…
Le Blanc Spa Resort- All Inclusive - Adults Only
Location: Zona Hotelera Cancun
Prices: from AUD951 per room
Description: Nestled on a private stretch of beach and minutes from downtown Cancun, this adults-only, smoke-free resort features a full-service spa. It covers 5-acres and offers spacious guest rooms with 2-person hot tubs. The luxurious rooms at Le Blanc Spa Resort – All Inclusive provide satellite flat-screen TVs and fully stocked minibars. Coffee facilities are included as well as bathrobes and slippers. Tours to Chichen Itza, Tulum, Xcaret and the Jungle are available through this AAA Five Diamond Award winner resort. Yoga and pilates classes are on site along with a state-of-the-art gym. Guests can also use the sauna and steam room or one of the 3 outdoor pools. Many dining options are available at this complex ranked among the top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World. Breakfast and lunch buffets are available, and the property's restaurants serve a variety of cuisine, including French-fusion, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Chinese options.
Hyatt Zilara Cancun - All Inclusive - Adults Only
Location: Zona Hotelera Cancun
Prices: from AUD653 per room
Description: Offering breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea, this adults-only all-inclusive resort and spa features endless activities and entertainment, such as outdoor pools, fitness centre, private beach area and various dining options. The Hyatt Zilara Cancun offers everything needed for a memorable stay. Guests can enjoy everything from introductory scuba diving lessons and craft-making and wine tasting classes, to on-site tennis instructors and diving lessons. Guests can enjoy a variety of dishes in one of the 5 speciality restaurants and enjoy refreshing cocktails at the 5 different bars available. There is always something to do at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun. With live nightly entertainment, an on-site library, themed parties and cultural shows, there is something for everyone.
Live Aqua Cancun - All Inclusive Adults Only
Location: Zona Hotelera Cancun
Prices: from AUD591 per room
Description: Offering direct access to Cancún Beach, Live Aqua Cancun - All Inclusive Adults Only features an outdoor swimming pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It has attractive rooms with balconies, 9 restaurants, 5 bars and a spa. Each spacious, air-conditioned room at the Live Aqua Cancun has stylish décor with tiled floors. All rooms include a TV, coffee maker, aromatherapy products, a safety-deposit box and a minibar which is refilled daily. The stylish Siete Restaurant serves a range of Mexican cuisine, while European and Asian dishes are on offer in the mb Restaurant. The Azur serves international options set by the pool and overlooking the sea. The Aqua’s extensive spa offers hydrotherapy treatments, massage and aromatherapy. There are also hot tubs and steam baths. There is a gym available, while yoga classes are also available. Located in Cancún’s Hotel Zone, the Live Aqua is set next to Nichupte Lagoon and in front of the popular La Isla shopping centre.
Prices: from AUD546 per room
Description: The exclusive Ritz-Carlton fronts a 366m-long white-sand beach. This luxury AAA Five Diamond Award winner hotel features 2 outdoor swimming pools, a spa and a private beach. It offers modern rooms equipped with an iPod docking station, CD player and cable TV. Kayantá Spa and Salon offers a wide range of massage therapies, body treatments and facials. There is also a gym and tennis court. Cabanas are available on the hotel’s private beach. The Ritz-Carlton Cancun’s elegant rooms feature a mini bar and work desk. All rooms have a balcony with ocean views. The private bathroom includes a bathrobe, slippers and hairdryer. Dining options range from traditional Asian specialties at The Sushi Bar to Mediterranean cuisine at Fantino. Indoor or outdoor dining is available and cocktails are served at the Lobby Lounge. Just 20-minutes from Cancun International Airport, the Ritz-Carlton can arrange airport and area attraction transportation. Aquaworld, offering boat trips, is 2 km away. The centre of Cancun is 18 km away.
Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun
Location: Punta Cancun
Prices: from AUD374 per room
Description: This 5-star Cancun luxury hotel features a 40,000-square-foot full-service spa and is located on a secluded beach. The El Meco Mayan Ruins is 11.3 km from the hotel. Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun provides a gym with an ocean view. Nine restaurants and bars are available with room service. Guests may also use the large outdoor pool along with a children’s club. The suites at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun include ocean front views or partial ocean views. Every suite features a private balcony and a seating area. For the guest’s convenience, a minibar and an in-room safe are also available. Local attractions near the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun include the Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres 11.3 km away. Chichen Itza and Xcaret are within driving distance of this hotel.
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The best time to visit Cancun is during the dry season from mid-November to April. You can expect sunny, dry days with an average daytime temperature of 28°C (84°F).
Cancun has two distinct seasons: the cooler, dry season from mid-November to April and the hot, wet season from May to mid-November.
Winter dry season temperatures average highs of 30°C (86°F) in November, 28°C (84°F) in December and January, 29°C (84°F) in February, 30°C (86°F) in March and 32°C (90°F) in April, which are the driest and receive the most sunshine.
Summer, from June to October, is the rainy season and brings temperatures ranging from 27°C (81°F) to a high of 36°C (97°F).
For more climate info: Cancun Weather Guide…
Cancún is located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo in southeast Mexico. The resort city sits on the Caribbean Sea just north of the Riviera Maya.
Cancun lies on a skinny 24km (15mi) long island in the shape of the number ‘7’, and is attached to the mainland by two bridges and separated from it by the Nichupté lagoon.
The most convenient route to Cancun is by air to Cancún International Airport (CUN), located about 20km (12mi) from the hotel zone, around 25 minutes by shuttle bus or taxi.
South of Cancun lies the Riviera Maya, home to some of the hippest beaches on the coast, including Playa del Carmen and Tulum Beach, which nestles beneath an ancient Mayan fortress.
Latest update: Cancun honeymoon guide: 28 December, 2019
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