We are always up for a trip to Cancun. This area of Mexico is an absolute jewel in our opinion. I mean how can you go wrong with stretches of white sand beaches, gorgeous turquoise water, and fabulous Mexican food, and some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the world!
The top of everyone’s list when planning a trip in where to stay in Cancun. We get it!
Choosing a place to stay in a new area can be difficult, especially if you are traveling solo in Mexico. You want to be sure that you choose an area you feel comfortable and safe in and allows you explore the area easily.
Lucky for you, we have visited Cancun and the Riviera Maya area more times that I can count, so you’re in good hands. I mean, there are so many great experiences in this area to add to your couple’s bucket list.
In this post, we are going to outline the different areas in and around Cancun to help you make the best decision for your trip! We will cover:
- Where to stay in downtown Cancun
- Where to stay in the hotel zone
- Where to stay in Puerto Morales
- Where to stay in Isla Mujeras
- Where to stay in Riviera Maya
- Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen
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Choosing Where to Stay in Cancun
Choosing where to stay in Cancun really boils down to personal preference. Think about what you want from your experience.
Do you want to lounge at a resort the entire time with a drink in your hand, or would you rather go and do while in Cancun?
As times have changed and Cancun has grown, the city itself has actually become a city with lots of industry and business. While that is great for the local economy, it is not really my idea of the relaxing beach vacation when I envision visiting Cancun.
Again, it depends on the experience that you want. For those of you who would like to explore a little further south, consider investigating the Tulum area and all of the places to stay in Tulum.
There are really two main areas to stay in Cancun proper, the hotel zone and downtown Cancun. However, several areas around Cancun proper are great as well. Let’s look at each individually.
Where to Stay in Downtown Cancun-El Centro
Downtown Cancun is where to stay in Cancun if you want access to the beach, but also want to experience what true local living is like in Cancun.
With fun bars and easy access to city transportation, the downtown area is also great for people on a budget as you can find some great deals on accommodations here.
It is in the El Centro area of Cancun that you will find lively local filled bars, food trucks, and Cancun’s open-air market, Mercado 28. This is also the hub for public transportation.
You can hop on a city bus to get around Cancun proper or take a collective with the locals to head down to Playa del Carmen.
Best Places to Stay in Cancun-El Centro
One Cancun Centro– Located right in the center of the city, One Cancun has a pool, restaurant, and easy access to the nightlife offered Downtown.
Marazul Hotel– This hotel is within easy walking distance to restaurants and nightlife. It offers air-conditioned rooms, private bathrooms, and an on-site French restaurant.
Where to Stay in Cancun’s Hotel Zone
Cancun’s Hotel Zone, Zona Hotelera, is the most popular place for tourists in Cancun. This is probably the area that you imagine when you considered visiting Cancun.
This peninsula area located outside of downtown is a beach lover’s paradise. In our opinion, this is the best place to stay in Cancun proper.
This is where to stay in Cancun if you dream about stretches of white sand beaches with fabulous hotels overlooking the blue waters of the Caribbean. You can lounge around the poolside with a drink in your hand and not a care in the world.
Staying in Cancun’s Hotel Zone allows you to easily walk to nightlife and shopping along the peninsula. If walking is not your thing, then you can also hop on the bus that runs up and down the strip along the hotel zone.
Many resorts and tour companies operate throughout this area, making it easy to take tours to explore this great area in Mexico.
Best Places to Stay in Cancun-Hotel Zone
Riu Palace Las Americas– We love that the Riu Palace las Americas is adults-only and all-inclusive! Boasting 3 swimming pools, a gorgeous stretch of beach, and excellent dining establishments, you can’t go wrong with this hotel. Every experience we have had here has been positive.
Secrets the Vine– Another adults-only, all-inclusive property is Secrets the Vine. This AAA Four Diamond Resort will have you relaxed in no time. Enjoy the many activities, great restaurants, and top-shelf liquor offered here.
Coral Level at Iberostar– Indulge in comfort at the Coral Level of the Iberostar Cancun. Partake in one of the many onsite restaurants or just sip drinks at the pool all day. It is all included so no need to get out your wallet!
Where to Stay in Puerto Morales
Located just south of Cancun is the charming village of Puerto Morales. This is one of the best places to stay in Cancun for those of you looking to truly escape the crowds and visit a true gem in Mexico.
Despite the fact that Puerto Morales is a little slower-paced, you will still find plenty of things to do here.
This area is packed with local eateries serving up delicious fresh seafood. Your adventurous side will enjoy finding all of the cenotes in the area or visiting all of the animals at the Croco Can Zoo.
Recommended Hotels in Puerto Morales
Excellence Riviera Cancun– This adults-only, all-inclusive property may make you never want to leave! Enjoy the six pools all surrounded by lush tropical greenery before retiring to your glorious suite.
Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun– This resort is family-friendly but has adults-only areas for those that want them. Boasting incredible suites, excellent restaurants, and a heavenly spa, the Azul Riviera Cancun has something for everyone. It is also an all-inclusive property!
Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun– The Now Sapphire is another AAA Four Diamond Property is an all-inclusive luxury property for families. They have spacious suites, gorgeous pools, and great customer service.
Where to Stay in Isla Mujeras
Another region close to Cancun to consider staying at is Isla Mujeres. Isla Mujeres is a small island located right off of the coast of Cancun proper. With water ferries servicing this area on a regular basis, it is easy to get to and from Isla Mujeres.
This small island is 4 miles long and half a mile wide, making it fun and easy to explore. Visitors here enjoy crystal clear water lined with white sand beaches full of palm trees. Making it a great place to experience water sports or lounge around the beach for a day.
In the downtown area, visitors will find an abundance of stores to shop in as well numerous great restaurants. One of our favorite things to do on Islay Mujeres is to rent a golf cart for the day and explore this little tropical paradise.
Best Places to Stay in Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres Palace– This luxurious adults-only property is a fabulous getaway for those looking to relax and unwind. Spend your day lounging by the gorgeous turquoise waters of the Caribbean or indulging in a spa treatment before enjoying dinner and drinks on property.
Izla Hotel– This beachfront hotel on Isla Mujeres is a small but great property. With only 123 rooms overlooking the pool and located beachfront, you will surely receive the attention you deserve.
Ixchel Beach Hotel– This family-friendly hotel has 100 rooms, each with private bathrooms and air conditioning.
Where to Stay in Riviera Maya
If you truly want an escape from reality, consider staying in the Riviera Maya. This area, which is just outside of Cancun proper, is a beautiful stretch of coastline on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Getting to the Riviera Maya from Cancun is simple and takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the hotel that you choose.
The Riviera Maya boasts fabulous hotels, many of which are adults-only, giving you a complete escape from reality while visiting this area.
Do not worry about being bored here though. There are so many things to do in the Riviera Maya that you are sure to stay entertained during your vacation.
The Riviera Maya is where to stay in Cancun if you truly want to get away from it all!
Recommended Hotels in the Riviera Maya
Secrets Riviera Maya– The Secrets resorts will spoil you in no time. This luxury adults-only, all-inclusive resort will make you feel like you have escaped from it all. Enjoy the pools, beach, spa treatment, and excellent service they provide.
While you’re staying at Secrets Riviera Maya, be sure to check out some of the best drinks at all inclusive resorts.
Secrets is another resort brand that Marty and I love and highly recommend.
Iberostar Grand Paraiso– This beachfront hotel boasts spacious suites, 7 restaurants, many pools, and an 18-hole golf course. Of course, this property is also all-inclusive, making it easy to indulge here.
Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen
Located about an hour and a half from Cancun is the fun beach town of Playa del Carmen. Playa del Carmen is the one of the best places to stay in Cancun for those who want the enjoyment of a town, but at a little slower pace than Cancun proper.
Staying in Playa del Carmen allows visitors to enjoy some great shopping along its famous Fifth Avenue before escaping to their boutique hotel.
It is easy to catch a ferry over to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen to explore a completely new area of this region if you choose. It is also in this area that you will find some of the best snorkeling spots in the Riviera Maya.
Best Places to Stay in Playa del Carmen
Rosewood Mayakoba– Now, this property is a splurge! This gorgeous property is set in a lush tropical setting making you quickly forget your worries. Enjoy the spacious suites, numerous restaurants, and a world-class spa while visiting here.
Newport House Playa del Carmen– The Newport House is a much more budget-friendly property. This boutique hotel has 15 apartments offering wifi, air conditioning, and televisions. located only one block off of the famous 5th Avenue, these apartments will have you feeling like a local in no time!
Playacar Palace– This family-friendly all-inclusive resort is located just steps away from the center of Playa del Carmen. They have 201 suites with in-room whirlpool tubs to help you relax and feel right at home.
Of course, their on-site restaurants and bars will ensure you don’t have to leave the property…unless you want to!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight:
We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.
Book Your Vacation Package:
If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.
Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!
For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience.
Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”
Book Your Accommodations:
We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!
There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.
Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!
If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.
Tour Companies We Trust:
We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!
CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.
Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.
Looking to Save Time and Money?
Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.