Wondering where to stay in Cancun, Mexico? I’ve put together a detailed guide highlighting the best areas to stay in Cancun, and the best hotels in Cancun.
Located along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is gloriously blessed with miles and miles of spearmint water and the world’s second biggest reef. Developed in the 1970’s by the Mexican government, Cancun has since risen to become one of the most popular beach destinations in North America.
Yes Cancun can be artificial and commercialised — with one resort after another lining the hotel zone — but veer off the touristy area and you’ll find a surprisingly authentic downtown. And if you venture further, there’s a world of cenotes (sinkholes), lagoons with crystal clear waters, and eco parks waiting to be explored.
We live just 1 hour away from Cancun and often hop over on weekend trips so I know Cancun rather well. There’s a huge variety of things to do in Cancun, from scuba diving in the world’s second largest coral reef to chowing on street tacos and browsing local markets. To help you plan your Cancun holiday, I’ve compiled a detailed guide on where to stay in Cancun including the best areas to stay.
Table of Contents
- Best Areas to Stay in Cancun
- Where to Stay in Cancun Hotel Zone
- Punta Cancun: Where to Stay in Cancun for Nightlife
- Downtown Cancun: Where to Stay in Cancun for Cheap
- Costa Mujeres: Where to Stay in Cancun for Couples
- Puerto Morelos: Where to Stay in Cancun with Family
- Cancun Travel guide
Best Areas to Stay in Cancun
The first hotels were built on what was a caye (sand bar) and is now known as the Cancun hotel zone. The Hotel Zone faces the Caribbean Sea and is fringed by the best beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s packed with resorts, but you’ll also find restaurants, water parks, a few attractions, and malls.
Curious travelers who prefer a taste of Mexico should base themselves in Downtown Cancun, amidst a hodgepodge of local markets and taquerias. Those seeking peace and tranquility will like staying in the quieter areas of Costa Mujeres and Puerto Morelos.
I’ve chosen these 5 best areas to stay in Cancun and have also shared the best hotels in each of these areas.
- Cancun Hotel Zone – best area for first-time visitors
- Downtown Cancun – best area for budget travelers
- Punta Cancun – best area for nightlife lovers
- Costa Mujeres – best area for couples
- Puerto Morelos – best area for families
Prices of Cancun Hotels
Hotel prices in Cancun are some of the highest in Mexico; expect to pay at least $200/night for a budget beachfront hotel (even the older ones) here. A mid-range hotel here costa approximately $400/night and a luxury one that run up to $1000/night.
In general, hotels on the beachfront are much more expensive than hotels further inland. You can save quite a bit by staying in Downtown Cancun. This would be the area where you’ll find more locals and Mexican vibes.
Cancun is rather spread out, and you’ll need to catch a taxi, take a bus, or rent a car to get around. This is probably why most resort-goers seem to stay in their hotels and rarely venture out to explore. That’s such a waste as there are many things to do in Cancun and it’s worthwhile to rent a car and head out!
Where to Stay in Cancun Hotel Zone
The Cancun Hotel Zone is a 14-mile (22 km) strip of land along the Cancun beach lined with hotels, high-end shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. If you are a first-time traveler or just seeking some down time on the beach, Zona Hotelera is the best area to stay in Cancun for you.
The main heart of the Hotel Zone is in the northern part, which tends to be busier and more crowded. The southern part has quiet beaches, only a handful of restaurants, and is more peaceful.
Some of the best things to do in the Cancun Hotel Zone is to visit the Mayan Museum of Cancun and explore el Rey archaeological site. The public beach Playa Delfina is found here.
Best Hotels in Zona Hotelera
Budget – Residence Inn by Marriott
Located in the quiet southern part of the Hotel Zone, the Residence Inn is a brand new hotel with spotlessly clean apartments. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and come with a walk-in wardrobe, shower, and balcony with sea views. They also have a well-equipped kitchen, a living area and a pool. It’s an excellent place to stay in Cancun on a budget. Check rates here.
Mid-Range – Oleo Cancun Playa
With a stunning beachfront location along the Cancun beach, the all-inclusive Oleo Cancun is equipped with modern amenities, a range of fun activities, and unique restaurants serving the best Mexican cuisine. They also offer ocean-view rooms and world-class hospitality. Check rates here.
Luxury – Iberostar Selection Cancun
The Iberostar Selection is one of the best hotels in Cancun. We stayed here on our first trip to Cancun and were pretty impressed by this resort (considering we are not fans of all-inclusive resorts). It has a classic beachfront, multiple outdoor pools, a kid’s club, a tennis court, and a fitness center. You wouldn’t want to leave the hotel’s fully-equipped spacious rooms and world-class amenities. Check rates here.
Family Friendly – Ocean View Apartment
Ocean View Apartment offers individual accommodations equipped with their own balconies, kitchen, microwave, minibar, and coffee maker. The condo is modern, clean, and tastefully decorated, and is an excellent stay on the beach in Cancun for big families and those traveling with groups of 4. Check rates here.
Adults-only – Secrets The Vine Cancun
A few steps from Cancun beach, Secrets The Vine is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort. Staying here, you will have free access to their on-site restaurants, multiple outdoor swimming pools, a spa and many other luxurious facilities. It’s a perfect place to get royal treatment and ideal for honeymooners. Check rates here.
Punta Cancun: Where to Stay in Cancun for Nightlife
Punta Cancun is the heart of the Hotel Zone, brimming with nightclubs, bars and restaurants. By night, the area explodes with life and it’s definitely an area suitable for young travelers and spring-breakers.
The beach area in Punta Cancun is partially shielded against strong waves and hurricane winds by Isla Mujeres, which gives it the softest sand, gentler waves, and less sargasso seaweed. I usually come to this area on our weekend trips as the beach is much nicer.
Some of the interesting sights in this area include La Isla shopping village and the Interactive Aquarium Cancún. Here’s also where you’ll find the Sky Wheel Cancun (a giant ferris wheel with panoramic views), and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Best Hotels in Punta Cancun
Budget – Selina Cancun Laguna
Digital nomads rejoice! Selina, one of the world’s fastest growing hotel brands, has opened a branch here with beautifully-designed accommodation and co-working spaces. It’s a funky and trendy place perfect for today’s nomadic traveler to live, work and explore. Selina Laguna also runs yoga sessions, local experiences, and fun parties at night. Check rates here.
Mid-Range – Presidente InterContinental Cancun Resort
Set at the center of all the entertainment and nightlife, Presidente Intercontinental resort has a variety of bars and restaurants and 2 outdoor pools. It is modern, stylish, and will spoil you with its gorgeous private beach, luxurious amenities, and generous hospitality. Check rates here.
Luxury – Hyatt Ziva Cancun
Situated at a prime location in Punta Cancun, Hyatt Ziva is amongst the best hotels in Cancun. They have luxurious rooms with private balconies, 3 infinity pools, and an oceanfront spa. With the beach just a few steps away, it is the best all-inclusive in Cancun. Check rates here.
Family Friendly – Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites
Located very close to Pok-ta-Pok golf course, the Kin Ha Villas and Suites presents a unique concept of big one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites perfect for staying in Cancun with a family. The property is beautifully landscaped, has a kid’s pool and access to a gorgeous beach. Check rates here.
Adults-only – Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun
If you are looking for a honeymoon accommodation, look no further than this stunning hotel. At Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva, you will have your private butler, a hot tub on the patio, an adult-only infinity pool with ocean views, and a private rooftop bar. I have this property in my go-to list whenever I visit Cancun next. Check rates here.
Downtown Cancun: Where to Stay in Cancun for Cheap
Downtown Cancun, also known as el Centro, is the city center brimming with Mexican flavors. It’s the best area to stay in Cancun for backpackers and curious travelers looking for local vibes. You will find several hole-in-the-wall taquerias and traditional restaurants serving Mexican staples. Everything here is cheaper than what you will pay at Hotel Zone. And most budget hotels are concentrated here in Downtown Cancun.
The bus terminal and colectivo stations are all located in Downtown Cancun, making it an easy launchpad to explore other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, like Chichen Itza, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. And you won’t need a car to get around, as you can walk or take colectivos to explore Downtown Cancun.
Plus, there’s a lot more to do in Downtown Cancun than the Hotel zone. Families with kids will love strolling around Parque Las Palapas, a city park with playground, food stalls, and an open-air stage for performances. Mercado 28 is another great spot to try local food, browse handicraft, and people watch. Read here for a full list of things to do in Downtown Cancun.
Best Hotels in El Centro
Budget – Ibis Cancun Centro
Bright, airy, and centrally located, Ibis Cancun is a great base for your time in the city. This budget-friendly hotel has two on-site restaurants, a café, and a bar. It is an excellent affordable stay option for digital nomads as each room has a work desk and unlimited Wi-Fi. Check rates here.
Mid-Range – Suites Malecon Cancun
My friends have stayed at this 4-star hotel, and they highly recommend it to those with a mid-range budget. Located in a high-rise next to Plaza las Americas mall, it’s walking distance from restaurants and shops. The suites offer incredible views of Cancun city and Nichupte Lagoon. Check rates here.
Luxury – Four Points by Sheraton
Set right in the center of El Centro, Four Points by Sheraton is one of the best hotels in Cancun. It enjoys a prime location in the heart of the downtown area, so most tourist attractions are just a short walk away. Stay here for exceptional hospitality. Also suitable for remote workers as all the rooms come with a work desk. Check rates here.
Family Friendly – AMARA Beachfront Apartments by the Sea
Bring your family and friends and have fun at this fully equipped downtown aparthotel. They have a full kitchen, an outdoor swimming pool, and a sun terrace that has spectacular sea views. The rooms are spacious and can sleep up to 6 guests. Check rates here.
Costa Mujeres: Where to Stay in Cancun for Couples
Located north of the established Hotel Zone, Costa Mujeres is the newest neighborhood in Cancun. The area enjoys soft sand and gentle waves like Punta Cancun, making the beach safe for swimming and stand-up paddle boarding.
Costa Mujeres (also known as Playa Mujeres) is a quiet and less-frequented area compared to Downtown Cancun and Hotel Zone. It is the best area to stay in Cancun for a leisure retreat and romantic honeymoon.
Staying in Costa Mujeres will give you easy access to El Meco Ruins, a small archaeological site that dates back to 200-600 A.D. it’s not as well preserved as the Tulum ruins, but still well worth a visit. Scuba and sailing excursions, as well as the ferry to Isla Mujeres, leave from this area’s marina.
Best Hotels in Costa Mujeres
Budget – Kabil Ocean View -Playa del Niño
The Kabil Ocean View is a 1-minute walk from the beach and a rare budget option in Costa Mujeres. The host of this BnB is friendly and arranges for an airport transfer on request. All the rooms come with a balcony and offer fantastic sea views. Check rates here.
This is the best all-inclusive in Cancun, featuring Hollywood memorabilia, themed experiences, and 4 grand swimming pools to bring big-screen excitement to the beautiful beachfront. Guests of all age groups love their designer rooms with private furnished balconies or patios. Check rates here.
Set in the Playa Mujeres Complex, with its world-famous golf course, this all-inclusive, family-oriented resort will spoil you for choices with 2 infinity pools, 4 hot tubs, 2 kid’s pools, and multiple FnB outlets. Adults can access the amenities of their adult-only resort next door. Check rates here.
Family Friendly – Villa del Palmar Cancun Luxury Beach Resort & Spa
This family-friendly beachfront oasis is ideal if you are looking for relaxation, luxury, and first-class service. Most of the elegantly spacious rooms at this property boast spectacular sea views. Check rates here.
Adults Only – TRS Coral Hotel
This hotel offers ultra-modern interiors and state-of-the-art amenities exclusively to adults. It is one of the best hotels in Cancun for people seeking romantic retreats. Their rooms are stylish and spacious, with outdoor space, hydro-massaging tubs, and panoramic sea views. Check rates here.
Puerto Morelos: Where to Stay in Cancun with Family
In my opinion, Puerto Morelos is the best area to enjoy the beauty of Riviera Maya without the rush of Hotel Zone and Downtown Cancun. Puerto Morelos is located about 20 minutes south, halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It is a small fishing town that has managed to retain a sense of authenticity. Stay here for old-world charm, simple beach living, and laid-back vibes.
There are more small boutique hotels here than big-scale all-inclusive resorts. The village is small and you can walk everywhere. Plus, it’s within easy reach from many kid-friendly outdoorsy activities like the botanical gardens, the Ruta de los Cenotes (a route dotted with many natural freshwater pools), and Croco Cun (an interactive animal shelter).
The beachfront at Puerto Morelos is a breeding ground for turtles, and you might get the chance to witness the egg-nesting and baby turtle hatching from April to November. Off the beach lies a spectacular reef and you can easily hop on snorkeling tours from the pier.
Best Hotels in Puerto Morelos
Budget – Hotel Amar Inn
Hotel Amar Inn, a family-owned hotel, is merely 50 meters away from the Puerto Morelos beach. They have comfortable garden view or sea view rooms, and a terrace. Book a room here if you want access to a super cool outdoor pool and an inner courtyard for kids to play. Check rates here.
Mid-Range – Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort
One of the best places to stay on the beach in Puerto Morelos, this hotel is not overly expensive and offers comfortable rooms. It features an outdoor pool with water slides for kids, an adult-only pool, and four on-site restaurants serving Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. Check rates here.
Luxury – Dreams Jade Resort & Spa
This gorgeous, 5-star resort is my pick for where to stay in Cancun if you are looking for unmatched luxury. They have a private beach, 3 outdoor pools, 8 restaurants, and a terrace with sea and jungle views. After a tiring day of splashing in the ocean, I was thrilled to make use of their very relaxing hydrotherapy spa. Check rates here.
Family Friendly – Vela’s Condos Ocean Front
A bare 100 meters from the beach, Vela’s Condos Ocean Front offers individual apartments with a fully equipped kitchen. This condo-hotel is an excellent value for money and the best to stay in Cancun with family. The rooms flaunt a neat design and come with a private bathroom. Check rates here.
Adults-only – Valentin Imperial Maya
Your all-inclusive stay at Valentin Imperial Maya will include a clean stretch of gorgeous private beach, beachfront dining, night-time entertainment, and a full-service spa. This property has rooms with ocean-view balconies and jetted tubs. Check rates here.
Cancun Travel guide
How to Get to Cancun, Mexico
The gateway to Cancun is the Cancun International Airport. You can find cheap flights to Cancun from many major cities in the U.S. and Mexico. There are flights as cheap as $188 from New York to Cancun roundtrip.
Flying from Europe to Mexico is also affordable, especially from London and Madrid. We took a direct flight from Madrid to Cancun on Iberojet for just $350. You can get really cheap deals off season.
Best Time to Visit Cancun
Cancun enjoys pleasant weather year-round, but the winter months (December to April) are considered the best time to visit the city. We recommend visiting Cancun during the shoulder season (September to November) when there are fewer tourists.
June through November is also Cancun’s hurricane season. There are chances of a hurricane striking during your vacation, with days of heavy rainfall and storms. Check the weather forecast before your trip and as always, we recommend getting travel insurance in case of any incident.
TIP: It’s important to have travel insurance whether you’re traveling for weeks or years. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers worldwide travel. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.
Is it Safe to Visit Cancun?
Cancun is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico and is generally safe for tourists. Most crimes in Cancun don’t involve tourists; and they are usually drug-related. As long as you steer clear of drug cartels and drugs in general, you should be fine.
I highly recommend avoiding deserted streets (especially during nighttime), keeping your personal belongings in a safe place, and steering clear of dodgy company.
How to Stay COnnected in Cancun
Internet in Mexico is pretty fast and reliable, and you can get WiFi in most hotels and guesthouses. But I recommend getting an eSIM before traveling or a SIM card at the airport upon arrival. You can also get it at any OXXO shop in Mexico.
A SIM card itself costs between 29 and 149 pesos (around $1-6 USD). You can get 3GB of data valid for 30 days on the sin limite plan (unlimited) for 200 pesos (~8 USD.) That will also give you unlimited calls, texts, and most social media within North America.
Read my guide on how to get a SIM card in Mexico.
Have You Decided Where to Stay in Cancun ?
In my opinion, Playa Mujeres and Puerto Morelos are the best areas to stay in Cancun, away from the touristy Hotel Zone and Downtown areas but still close to everything the area offers.
Hopefully this guide has helped you decide where to stay in Cancun Mexico. For more info on Cancun, check out this comprehensive list of things to do in Cancun. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions about accommodation in Cancun.
For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
- 30 Fun Things to Do in Cancun
- Best Things to Do in Holbox
- How to Get to Isla Holbox
- 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
- 35 Fun Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula
- 15 Things to Do in Cozumel
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!
Inspired? Pin it!