What once was a city with just three inhabitants in 1970 (yes, three!), is now a major tourist hub. Cancún’s zero-to-sixty boom was thanks to strategic investment from the Mexican government, who recognized its potential when they spied its deserted jungles and turquoise waters in a plane survey. However, the city’s enormous success has not come without challenges. In the '90s, Cancún gained a reputation as the perfect spring break destination for American college students: a sure turn-off for vacationing families and older travelers.
Over the past few decades, however, hotels started requiring hefty deposits from college students during the March-to-May timeframe; some hotels blatantly refuse to rent to college clientele altogether. All this is to say, the destination is now more than a spring break destination.
Here, the beaches are comparable to the Caribbean, the exchange rate is more attractive, and there’s tons to see and do. Here are four reasons why may want to put Cancún back on your list.
1. Affordable hotel rates
Cancún's resort reputation has its benefits. In fact, hotels are competing for your business, not the other way around. As a result, hotels and resorts often run great deals and promotions to entice travelers. For example, the J.W. Marriott Cancún is currently offering discounted rates if you book your stay before October 31, 2019. Here's another tip: August through early December are also the cheapest months to book. Rates from $155 per night.
2. Caribbean coastline without the hefty prices
Situated just north of the Riviera Maya coastline, Cancún has the same crystal-clear aquamarine waters for which the Caribbean is known. Admittedly, the waves are a bit bigger here, but still fit for swimming. If you love to snorkel, take the ferry over to Isla Mujeres. Of course, if you wanted to skip all of it and just lounge on a daybed with bottle service, no one would fault you for it.
3. It's hassle free (really!)
If you want a “set it and forget it” vacation, Cancún is the place to go. Even if you don’t choose to stay at an all-inclusive resort, larger hotels make it easy for families, older travelers, and honeymooners alike, because they don't have to think about planning and logistics. Packages can include anything from adventure activities (snorkeling with whale sharks, anyone?) to Mayan mud spa services. Even if you’re more of an independent traveler, it’s a relief to have rides arranged and activities paid for upfront, so you don’t have to think about haggling.
4. Cultural elements with American comforts
Let’s just get this out of the way: there’s a Forever 21 and a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in the Hotel Zone district. But even with these American standbys (which may or may not be your cup of tea), the fact remains that Cancún is still in Mexico. 20 minutes away in Isla Mujeres, winding streets and colorful alleyways await. The island makes the perfect day trip before returning to your hotel room with a spa tub and champagne service in the evening. Downtown, there are hole-in-the-wall taco joints where the cochinita pibilis (slow-roasted pork) is not to be missed. The Hotel Zone also offers great dining, that is, if you know how which tourist-pandering restaurants to avoid. Porfirio's Cancún serves up elevated Oaxacan and Yucatecan fare, that stretches way beyond margaritas and chicken fajitas. Their enmoladas – which are similar to enchiladas – are excellent, and their roasted bone marrow is luscious.