Cancun Neighborhoods & Towns
A 14-mile sandy strip on the Yucatán Peninsula that's shaped like the number seven, Cancún is dotted with resorts, beaches and fun. The area includes Boulevard Kukulcán, which runs through the Hotel Zone (or Zona Hotelera), and extends to downtown Cancún, located west and further inland. La Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women) is a short ferry trip away.
When traveling to Cancún, your options can be limited in terms of variety but here's some advice: if you're seeking a traditional Cancún getaway — think all-inclusive resorts and spring break — the Hotel Zone should suit you just fine. For something a little different or cheaper, book accommodations downtown.
The Hotel Zone
Cancún's main thoroughfare is the Boulevard Kukulcán, which runs through a collection of hotels, resorts and attractions generally known as the Hotel Zone. Beaches — including Playa Langosta and Playa Tortugas in the north, Playa Gaviota and Playa Chacmool in the middle of the strip, and Playa Delfines on the southeastern side — line this area. Chances are you'll travel to Kukulcán most often, and fortunately it's easy to traverse both by bus and by foot.
Cancún proper is a relatively small resort city that's dominated by more than 150 hotels and other commercial properties. But uniquely Mexican neighborhoods are within reach (via bus) of downtown Cancún, which is located to the west of the Hotel Zone.
For a more elegant experience, try visiting Isla Mujeres, a small island town about 8 miles northeast of Cancún. Isla Mujeres' placid Playa Norte beach is a serene scene for those travelers desiring a more secluded swim. To get there, take a ferry from nearby Puerto Juárez (at the northern tip of Cancún's "7").
Cancún has largely avoided the drug violence that has afflicted much of Mexico in the past decade. But while crime against tourists is especially low, the U.S. State Department advises constant vigilance. Your most important safety concern in Cancún is likely to be in the water. Beware of rough surf and only swim when supervised by a lifeguard. White or green beach flags signify safe waters while yellow or orange flags advise caution. If you see a red flag, swimming is prohibited.