Selecting Where to Stay in Cancun

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Determining where to stay in Cancun is one of the most important decisions in planning your beach vacation.  This guide highlights the most popular areas that are near shopping, adventures and great restaurants.

This portion of Mexico has some of the most affordable and beautiful accommodations anywhere in the world.  Some are for adults only and others for families of all ages.

Below are some of the best all inclusive resorts and hotels located in and around Cancun.

View of the Westin Lagunamar's inifinity pool looking over the turquoise CaribbeanWestin Lagunamar's Large Inifinity Pool

The highest concentration of beach front resorts are located in the Cancun hotel zone with additional resorts in the towns of Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Tulum, Puerto Morelos and the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres,  islands just off the coast of Cancun and reachable only by ferry or boat.

(1) Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a small island that is about a 20-30 minute ferry ride north of Cancun.  Ferry's leave both downtown and the northern section of the Hotel Zone on a reguar schedule.  Isla Mujeres is only about 8 miles long and a mile to two wide.  While there are cars, mostly taxis, one of the best ways to explore the island is to rent a golf cart.  Isla Mujeres is uncrowded and has some beautiful beaches that are often sheltered from the wind and waves.

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Fish come up to feed at the beach in Isla MujeresIsla Mujeres Fish Feeding Frenzy

(2) Cancun
Where to stay in Cancun's hotel zone

The highest concentration of Cancun hotels and resorts are located in the "Hotel Zone", a peninsula that starts just outside the airport and runs north eventually curving west towards downtown Cancun. Most of the properties sit directly on a beautiful white sand Caribbean beach facing east which makes for stunning sunrises.  Travel time to both the hotel zone and downtown Cancun is about 20 minutes from the airport

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Stunning white sand beach in Cancun's hotel zone looking northCancun's Hotel Zone Beach

(3) Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is located about half way between Cancun and Cozumel making this an easy 22 mile (36 km) drive down highway 307, Cancun's main road going south.  Originally a seaport, the population of this town is only about 2,000.  It has some very nice high end resorts along with smaller and simpler hotels and bed/breakfast destinations.

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(4) Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a high end, gorgeous resort community located about 45 minutes south of Cancun and easily accessible by the main highway from the airport.  It is away from the large city of Cancun and also sits directly on the Caribbean.

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(5) Cozumel

Cozumel is a small island about 50 miles (80 km) south of Cancun.  Most people visit Cozumel via cruise ship but it also has an airport.  You can also reach the island by ferry from Playa del Carmen.  The main town of San Miguel, along with most of the resorts, are located on the calmer, west side of the island.  Cozumel is a popular diving and snorkeling destination due to the reef that protects the island.

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(6) Akumal

Akumal is about a 90 minute drive from Cancun.  It is famous for its beautiful bay and large white sand beaches.  This is a popular spot to snorkel along the reef, especially to see the sea turtles who use this as a spawning area.  Akumal has some stunning resorts directly on the beach, some that are private.

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(7) Tulum

Tulum is located on the coast about 80 miles (130 km) south of Cancun via highway 307.  The drive from Cancun takes about 2 hours now that bridges have been recently built so that you don't have to drive through the numerous small towns along the way.  The road is fantastic and the drive is safe.  The Tulum ruins are located on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean.  The town is small and quaint.  It is also very close to Coba and Xel-Ha should you wish to do day trips.  This is a great place to stay and not feel like you are in a big city.

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View of the Caribbean from the Tulum ruins perched about the beachTulum Ruins and the Caribbean