Cancun Area Map
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. 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.
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 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 hundreds of 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 laid-back 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 the Hotel Zone or central Cancun. Many of the city's top guided tours also make stops at Isla Mujeres.
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. Green beach flags signify safe waters while yellow and red flags advise increasing caution. If you see a black flag, swimming is prohibited. Drinking water can also present potential health concerns. Water in the Hotel Zone (especially at your resort) is generally safe to drink in all forms since it has been purified. Allay any concerns by calling your resort ahead of your trip to ensure the hotel uses a water purification system (most do). The farther you venture outside the Hotel Zone, the more cautious you should be about the drinking water. If you're apprehensive, stick to bottled water to avoid an upset stomach from contaminated water.
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