Cancun Luxury Travel Guide

Cancun has it all, & so close: great hotels, dining, clubs, spas, golf & more

10 Reasons to Visit Cancun, Mexico's Captivating, Close-by Vacation Magnet

Fact is, Cancun is AMERICA'S #1 FOREIGN VACATION DESTINATION. 

Once known as a raucous go-to for spring-breakers and young partiers, Cancun has transformed itself. It is now a luxury travel destination designed for beach-loving sophisticates. (And, yes, Cancun's great clubs endure.)

Here, my 10 reasons to plan to discover a new Cancun vacation. Visit and come home with your own reasons to return.

  • 01 of 11
    Cancun's amazing beach
    ••• Caribbean beach at Cancun. Cancun's perfect Caribbean beach ©Nick D/Flickr Creative Commons

    Cancun Is Less than a Few Hour Aways from Most of the U.S.

    Cancun is an exotic tropical beach in the Yucatan Peninsula on the sleepy southern end of Mexico. Yet it is as close to the U.S. as the Caribbean.

    Numerous airlines operate nonstops to Cancun. And Cancun International Airport is under a half-hour from most Cancun hotels. A Cancun getaway is so convenient, many visitors fly in for just the weekend.

  • 02 of 11
    Cancun's perfect Caribbean beach
    ••• Cancun is one of the world's great beaches. Surfside paradise © Cancun Travel

    Cancun Is One of the World's Great Natural Beaches

    Cancun is a geographical treasure: a 14-mile-long, crescent-shaped peninsula that juts out into the Mexican Caribbean. A vast coral reef, the world's second-longest, parallels Cancun a half-mile into the water. It breaks the waves that have rolled softly onto Cancun's beach for eons, smoothing its white sands.

    Caribbean tradewinds assure clear skies and a perpetual, gentle breeze. And nature has provided a natural fringe of palm trees. Add a constant water temperature exceeding 80º and a hue like a Tiffany box, and you have a surfside paradise.

    Cancun hotels honor their beachfront gifts, keeping the sands clean and inviting. A social vibe enlivens certain stretches of the beach, so visitors can choose whether to schmooze or to snooze.

    Travelers who want to explore Cancun's liquid blue expanse have their pick of waterborne activities: swimming, surfing, snorkeling and scuba-diving the reef, jet-skiing, windsurfing, kayaking,...MORE fishing expeditions, Cancun's latest aquatic craze: swimming with shale sharks the size of NBA courts.. Cancun is a wet and wild world.

  • 03 of 11

    Cancun's Intriguing Variety

    Isla Mujeres near Cancun Mexico
    ••• Isla Mujeres, a wild island a short ferry ride from Cancun. Isla Mujeres © Cancun Travel

    Yet Cancun Is More than a Beach

    Cancun is a long sliver of seashore…yet a lot more. The destination known as Cancun takes in the northern part of the Riviera Maya region. Also in Cancun's orbit are two nearby islands: the tranquil Isla Mujeres and the even quieter Isla Holbox, which has no streets, just pathways in the sand.

    When the sun sets on Cancun's beaches, the moon comes up on its vibrant nightlife. Cancun is a 24-hour playground of surf, sand, and city life.

  • 04 of 11

    Cancun's Haute Hotels

    TripAdvisor's #1 hotel in Cancun, Le Blanc Spa Resort
    ••• Cancun's top-rated hotel, Le Blanc. © Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun

    Lodging in Luxury in Cancun

    Today's Cancun is a mix of midscale, upscale, and elite hotels, from intimate to vast. Some Cancun hotels are American-owned; some are Spanish or Mexican-owned. Some hotels are all-inclusive, some a la carte; some are adults-only, and some are family-focused.

    Which all means: you can find your perfect hotel in Cancun. These are the best:
    • NIZUC, the game-changer for luxury hotels in Mexico: a dazzling, modern design hotel on a semi-private island, with elegant dining; a never-wanna-leave spa; and incredible people-watching
    • Le Blanc Spa Resort, a glamorous, modern, all-inclusive hotel for tasteful adults, with an intimate, clubby feeling; a knockout spa; a beautiful beach and three pools; and splendid restaurants, including Japanese and French-Mexican fusion
    • Live Aqua Cancun, with an aromatherapy fragrance in the air; uncluttered, view-tiful, sunny rooms; a high-end gym and blue-lit spa; and some of the best Mexican food served in Cancun
    • Secrets The Vine...MORE Cancun, on a perfect beach mid-Zona Hotelera, with a sophisto clientele, view-tiful rooms, a wonderfully social lobby and an NYC-quality sushi bar
    Fiesta Americana, has an incredible location: it's set on the beach that locals consider the best, but is just down the street from Cancun's club strip; plus it has a great spa and amazing kids' club|•
    • Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, a luscious all-inclusive, adults-only boutique resort with 90 richly decorated, all-oceanfront suites; a thalassotherapy spa and pool; excellent restaurants; and a menagerie of tropical birds
    • The elegant Ritz-Carlton Cancun, beloved by families, dapper couples, and home chefs who savor its tasty cooking classes

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11
    Cancun celebrity chef Cristian Morales
    ••• Cristisn Morales, a top chef in Cancun. Chef Cristian Morales of Cucina de Autor © Karen Tina Harrison

    Cancun Is a Recipe for Distinctive Dining

    Cancun has become a dining destination. Its delicious ingredients: Cancun's popularity and prosperity; Mexico's bumper crop of gifted young chefs; the wonderful flavors of Mexican cuisine; and the local cornucopia of fresh-caught Caribbean seafood and exotic local produce.

    Many of Cancun's resorts are all-inclusive, with a variety of on-premises dining that the guest has already paid for. But for a stay of several nights or more, a visit to a happening Cancun restaurant (or another hotel's eatery) can be exciting and eye-opening.
    • Here on Luxury Travel, Cancun's restaurant revelations

  • 06 of 11

    Cancun's Urban Pulse

    Shopping at Ultrafemme in Cancun
    ••• Ultrafemme shop, Cancun's beauty oasis. Ultrafemme, for all things Señora © Cancun Travel

    Cancun Offers City Life to Complement Its Beach

    Cancun is more than sand, surf, and sensational hotels. It is also a vibrant metropolis with a real downtown, actual sidewalks, and all the lures of a stylish resort town. Cancun visitors will find:
    • Ample taxis to whisk you anywhere, at any hour
    • Restaurants, cafés, malls, movie theaters (with American films)
    • Terrific shopping at several venus: La Isla Shopping Village, which resembles a Venetian island; Kukulcan Palace and Luxury Avenue, right in the Hotel Zone; Plaza Caracol, with over 200 stores and fun eateries; Plaza Las Americas with international shops like Zara and C&A plus Ultrafemme, a Cancun-born oasis for all things feminine
    • Numerous crafts and souvenir markets featuring well-priced, handmade Mexican goods: leather accessories like cuff bracelets; silver jewelry from Taxco; colorful Talavera ceramics and Saltillo striped blankets

  • 07 of 11
    Cancun Underwater Museum
    ••• Cancun's unbelievable Underwater Museum. Cancun Underwater Museum © Cancun Travel

    Sea, Sand, & Sun Equals Peerless Vacation Fun

    Cancun made its name as a vacation haunt for the young and the restless. Its clientele is now decidedly more upscale. But they still like to be on the move. Cancun's many active diversions include:
    • Thrilling snorkeling and scuba diving off Punta Cancun, where several branches of the Great Mayan Reef converge
    • Luxury Travel's (harrowing, first-hand) story about swimming with Cancun's humongous whale sharks
    • The unbelievable Underwater Museum, with over 400 sculptures by artist Jason deCaires Taylor; you can gawk at them while diving, snorkeling, or via a glass-bottomed boat tour
    • Cancun's exceptional golf tempts aficionados with 18-hole championship courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Several more courses are under construction. All feature Cancun's unique backdrop of azure waters against vivid greens with real sandtraps

  • 08 of 11
    Cancun's nightlife is famous
    ••• Rockin' hard in Cancun. Hard Rock Café Cancun © Wikimedia Commons

    Night Owls Have Their Fun When Cancun's Day Is Done 

    Cancun made its name as a party-hearty capital. While Cancun has gone way upscale, its nightlife is still among the very best nocturnal scenes in Mexico.

    Cancun's glamorous clubs attract globe-roving jetsetters and their world-famous deejays. And Cancun's more intimate lounges are ultra-sophisticated perches for lovebirds – or solo guests seeking mates.
    • Cancun's live music and dance clubs lfurnish complete entertainment. Bulldog Cancun, for one, offers a total experience: great food and drink, various bands, bikini contests and male dancers, and more|• Performance-centered music clubs feature an eclectic menu of sounds, from girl-and-guitar to reggae to salsa to Cuban piano. Roots Jazz Club is a longtime go-to for live jazz and blues accompanied by light bites and a margarita menu
    • And if Cancun makes you dance, you can club-hop and dance all night at exciting, high-tech clubs like Sweet and Mandala

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Cancun's Festival Fun

    Day of the Dead in Mexico, November 1st
    ••• Dia de Los Muertos, Mexico's Day of the Dead, every November 1. Day of the Dead © Cancun Travel

    Cancun's Festival Calendar Is Nonstop

    Cancun has become a year-round international destination for festivals of all kinds. Amongst them:
    • The immediately famous Cancun-Riviera Maya Food & Wine Festival, held over several days each March or April, has become a global lure for foodies and for celebrity chefs like Spain's Ferran Adria. France's Daniel Boulud, and the U.S.'s Ingrid Hoffman and Aaron Sanchez
    • The Cancun Jazz Festival, held over the U.S.'s Memorial Day in late May, gathers top jazz cats from world over
    • Day of the Dead, Mexico's answer to Halloween, invites Cancun visitors to shake their booties and rattle their bones in this joyous cultural tradition, every November 1st and 2nd

  • 10 of 11
    Spa treatment in Cancun
    ••• Toe-tal bliss at Le Blanc Spa in Cancun. Le Blanc Spa Resort © CancunTravel

    Cancun Has More than Spas…Cancun Has Great Spas

    The Cancun lifestyle celebrates the body beautiful and worships wellness. Spas take full advantage of Cancun's glorious Caribbean setting, offering beachfront services that combine indigenous ingredients with Mayan traditions like the temescal sweat experience. Some of Cancun's most alluring spas:

    • The spa at Le Blanc Spa Resort, where "serenity" transcends the spa cliché, and becomes an enveloping presence
    Live Aqua Cancun's water-everywhere spa, open well into the evening, is a place where Cancun's beautiful people recharge before a late Cancun night
    Gem Spa at Fiesta American Grand Coral Beach Resort is so seductively beautiful, nearly every night a private party is held amidst its sapphire pools and platinum drapes

  • 11 of 11
    Cancun golf at Moon Palace Golf Resort
    ••• Moon Palace golf course in Cancun. Moon Palace Golf Resort © Cancun Travel

    Find Out More About Cancun & Start Planning Your Getaway

    • Cancun's website
    • On Facebook
    • On Twitter (@CancunCVB)
    • Cancun's most amazing restaurants