With cool, Caribbean seas, sandy beaches and warm weather, Cancun has been welcoming travelers from all over the world since the 1970s. The ancient Mayan civilization of the Yucatan Peninsula has been slowly replaced by all-inclusive resorts and sunburned tourists exploring the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
Cancun hotel and resort options continue to expand, making it hard to choose where to stay in Cancun in 2019. We’ve pulled together the best areas of Cancun and nearby resort towns to help you narrow down your options to the best location and then decide on the best hotels for your travel taste and budget.
We will cover off all types of Cancun accommodation options from Hostels to luxury Cancun hotels as well as how to decide where to stay in Cancun Mexico, the best Cancun hotels, best places in Cancun to visit, the best places to stay in Cancun, hotels near Cancun attractions, Cancun neighborhood guide and many more.
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Table of Contents
Hotel Zone – Where to Stay in Cancun for tourists
Sometimes called the Cancun 7 for the “7” shape of the island jutting out, the Hotel Zone is the best area for tourists on their first visit to Cancun. The narrow island is 22 kilometers long and is lined with Cancun All-Inclusive resorts and hotels. With more than 70 hotels in the hotel zone, there are different kinds of resorts for every traveler. If you want to know where to stay in Cancun with family, there are tons of family-friendly activities along the strip.
The Hotel Zone of Cancun is also home to the area known as the party zone. The Cancun All-Inclusive resorts vary greatly from hedonistic party scenes to relaxed, family-friendly resorts, so it’s important to choose your resort carefully, especially if you are visiting during the American Spring Break period during March and April. Each resort in the hotel zone has a private beach, so you’ll never have to worry about beach access if you stay here.
Where to Stay in the Hotel Zone
Family Friendly Hotels in the Hotel Zone
Sunset Royal Beach Resort
Park Royal Cancun
The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun
La Villa du Golf a Cancun
Punta Cancun – Where to stay in Cancun for nightlife
The tip of the Cancun 7 is Punta Cancun, which is the best area to stay in Cancun for nightlife. Technically part of the hotel zone, this subsection is known as the Party Zone, with over two dozen nightclubs where travelers can dance the night away. The Riu Cancun is pretty much Ground Zero for Cancun’s party scene, so if proximity to nightlife is important to you, choose a hotel near that area. Most nightclubs will charge a fairly steep cover charge, from $50 to $70 USD which includes open bar, with upgrade options available.
Where to Stay in Punta Cancun
Downtown – Where to stay in Cancun on a budget
If you want to know where to stay in Cancun on a budget, downtown Cancun, or Centro, is a great option. Being 20 minutes from the beach means there are loads of budget-friendly accommodations to choose from. Downtown Cancun also has a distinctly more “authentic” feel than the Americanized resorts of the hotel zone. Not only are the hotels less expensive, but it’s easier to find cheap delicious street food that Mexico is famous for. Even if you don’t choose a hotel here, plan to spend one evening strolling the streets of downtown Cancun.
Where to Stay in Downtown Cancun
Isla Mujeres – Where to stay in Cancun with family
Another quiet escape from the chaos of Cancun is Isla Mujeres, just a few kilometers north of Cancun’s hotel zone. To reach Isla Mujeres, you take a 20-minute ferry from Cancun, and most people get around the small island on golf carts. Several beaches surround the island, from calm sandy beaches to stunning coral reefs perfect for snorkeling. Accommodation options range from luxury villas to budget-friendly hostels, but the vibe is definitely laid-back. Several adventure tours depart from the island if you prefer something more active than beach bumming.
Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres
Playa del Carmen – Where to stay near Cancun for couples
About an hour south of Cancun’s hotel zone is the former fishing village of Playa del Carmen. Quiet sandy beaches and top-notch diving spots make this the best place to stay for couples traveling to Quintana Roo. Playa del Carmen is also a great location for exploring nearby Mayan ruins, of which there are several nearby. All-inclusive resorts abound here, and it’s quickly becoming a popular alternative to Cancun. The Malecon, Quinta Avenida, lines the waterfront with fun bars, restaurants, and shops.
Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen
Mid range Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Hacienda Paradise Boutique Hotel by Xperience Hotels
Reina Roja Hotel
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Playa del Carmen
HM Playa del Carmen
Affordable Luxury Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Aldea Thai Luxury Condohotel by Mistik
Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen Resort
Thompson Playa Del Carmen
Hilton Playa del Carmen, an All-Inclusive Adult Only Resort
Puerto Morelos – Where to stay near Cancun for tourists
Between Cancun and Playa del Carmen is the sleepy town of Puerto Morelos. It’s fairly close to the Cancun airport and is a great option for travelers looking for budget-friendly accommodations outside of Cancun. Puerto Morelos has a botanical garden and several cenotes nearby to explore. This is the best area for tourists who want the convenience of a major airport and easy tourist infrastructure, but want to get off the beaten tourist path just a bit. You won’t find as many large-scale all-inclusive resorts, but plenty of accommodation options for every budget.
Where to Stay in Puerto Morelos
Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in Puerto Morelos
Cozumel – Where to stay near Cancun for divers
Off the coast from Playa del Carmen is the island of Cozumel. This Caribbean island is largely undeveloped but very popular with SCUBA divers. Cozumel is also a major port of call for Caribbean cruise ships, so prepare to be overwhelmed by passengers on cruise ship days. In addition to diving, the snorkeling in Cozumel is amazing. There are also Mayan ruins to visit, both on the island and on the mainland. For convenience, you can even fly directly to Cozumel and bypass Cancun entirely if you wish.
Where to Stay in Cozumel
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