Travel facts about Cancun that are not true

3 Things about Cancun that are not 100% true

Doesn’t it feel good to enjoy the warm climate? Just wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. Who doesn’t like to chill at the beach not doing much? Well, Cancun is the perfect spot to do so in Mexico.

Before we visited Cancun, we often read negative comments about it. Within the entire Riviera Maya region, Cancun was known as “busy, loud and obnoxious”. Although this is partially true, there is a lot that is being said about Cancun that is not 100% correct.


Here are 3 facts about Cancun that you are likely to hear or read about online,

but that are only half true!


1. Cancun is like one big resort for tourists

Ferry from Isla Mujeres back to Cancun

Ferry from Isla Mujeres back to Cancun


It is true that Cancun is moved by tourism and big resorts make up for the most of it. It is true that it caters mainly to USA tourists – and so annoyingly true that in many places the prices in USD come before the ones in Mexican Pesos. It’s a known fact that Cancun holidays are perfect for party lovers because of the vibrant beach nightclubs that it boasts of. But is it also true that if you wander a bit outside the “Zona Hotelera” (hotel zone) you will get to see the real people of the real world, beyond the fancy hotel chains and brand names.

There is one big strip surrounded by water where most of the hotels and resorts are concentrated, right in front of the beach. This area is, of course, very touristic, with clubs, shops and restaurants that are probably more Tex-Mex than Mexican. But unless you just want to lay down at the beach, I would recommend that if you come here you do stroll around town a bit to get a more authentic Mexican flavor.

We were staying in downtown Cancun and until our 2nd day, when we took a bus to the beach area, we didn’t even see a single tourist!


2. If you are not staying at a big resort, you can’t access the beaches

Sand castles at the beach in Isla Mujeres

Sand castles at the beach in Isla Mujeres


Lies, lies, lies!

This is the one thing that was worrying us the most as we were staying in a small budget place in town, not at a beach hotel.

Not only you can access any beach you want, there are actually signs pointing towards the different access areas for the beaches. The “entrances” are small, as they are basically just the empty spaces in between resorts (and those spaces are less) but they are there! So without having to pay to stay at any fancy place, you can go to any beach you’d like to, whether you stay in a resort, or not. Even if you stay in town, you can get to the beach in around 15mins, by bus (which only costs 8.5 pesos – USD 0.6) And there are plenty of Mexican people at the beaches too. Oh, by the way… the beaches are AWESOME! Pictures don’t lie and that incredible blue color (yes, the one that makes you think ‘photoshop’) is actually real!


3. Prices are too high

Mexican pesos

Mexican pesos


Yes, but then again, this happens mainly in the touristic area, so it’s only half true. And it also depends on what kind of stuff you want to do/buy.

For example, we paid USD 20/night for 2 people and we are in a very, very decent place downtown: Hacienda de Castilla. Huge room, very clean, bathroom amenities and even a small swimming-pool. It’s not the Ritz, but we are not the Queen either, so we are happy over here! What I mean to say is that, if you don’t want or can’t afford to stay in a fancy place, there are options – good ones.

Food wise, you can eat for very affordable prices. Examples: meal of 4 tacos and a Coke (Coca like they say in Mexico) =  45 Pesos (USD 3.80). A single taco with beef or chicken and assorted toppings = 18 Pesos (USD 1.50) And if you think this is only in downtown Cancun and around the beaches you won’t find these kind of prices, that isn’t true. There are tacos being sold for 18 pesos right next to the beach too, nestled between American joints such as Chili’s and Subway. You just need to look carefully and not settle with the first thing you come across.

My point is: wherever you are in the world, do look around and keep your eyes open for all the good stuff that might be around you! Forget about the brochures you get upon arrival at the airport and about all the guide books that, useful as they might be sometimes, are also pretty limited.


If you are on a budget and would still like to visit tourist heaven Cancun…



Come travel with A&Z! Follow us @piggybackrideAZ

Come travel with A&Z! Follow us @piggybackrideAZ


You will enjoy it, for sure!


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  • Shaun Says

    Thanks for this! I have avoided Cancun (for myself and readers!) for years because of everything you mentioned. This has always disappointed me because I have always wanted to visit the Myan ruins in the area. Now I can.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • That water looks INCREDIBLE!

  • Franca Says

    That is kind of reassuring, me and Dale always travel on a budget and, even if we didn’t, we aren’t the kind of people that like resorts and luxury hotels. Cancun is appealing indeed but not for its expensive side, simply for its beauty! :)

  • I completely agree with you! Cancun often gets negative remarks, but personally I really liked it there. Yes, there are many tourists, but that doesn’t change the fact that it still has an insanely beautiful beach with turquoise water, lovely food and culture.

    • Zara Says

      Exactly!! I am glad you got to experience it too and you didn’t let the negative comments influence you to take Cancun out of your travel plans! :)

  • Wow, this was a great guide to things untrue about Cancun. As an American, I’m kind of turned off to the idea of visiting. Though your post really makes me reconsider those previous thoughts.

    • Zara Says

      The hotel strip feels very “American”, that is true. But if you go downtown, it’s pretty much like any other Mexican city. Nothing in specific go see/do, but a lot of nice strolling around if you’re into that sort of thing. Oh… and food, of course… AMAZING Mexican food! ;)

  • Evelyne Says

    2 years ago my friend and I took a one way ticket to Cancun with the project to spend few months there and escape Northern winters. We had made NO reservation, had NO idea where to go and do, did not speak Spanish… We ended up in a small hotel downtown, clean, calm and we met the nicest people. We went all over the city by local bus, very cheap and efficient. Traffic is busy but much less crazy than other Latin american cities. Beaches are amazing and easy access from everywhere. It is cheap if you live and shop at local stores and supermarkets. It is safe, clean and all services (transportation…) are much more efficient than in the U.S!
    We ended up staying 7 months and we returned last year for another 8 months. Since we discovered other amazing places along the Maya Riviera (Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum, Bacalar, Chetumal…) all very nice, safe and easy to live in. We are returning next week to Cozumel and plan to be there until next spring and maybe longer. Note that last year my 82 years old mom came from France and stayed there for 4 months! She loved it and plans the return!

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  • Kent Erickson Says

    Thanks for the tips whoever made backpack me!

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