The Yucatan Peninsula has some of the most paradise-like destinations on the Mexican coast including the city of Cancun. Beaches, parks and nature reserves, cenotes, Mayan ruins, extreme sports, museums, restaurants of all kinds and also a very active nightlife are just some of the highlights you can enjoy.
On my last trip, I was able to explore a bit of several cities that are favorite places for both local and foreign tourists, it’s just that the Mexican Caribbean has activities for all tastes!
Being my first time in Mexico I was super excited, I would arrive at Cancun International Airport which is only two hours flight from Panama City- which is where I live.
I made the following route: Cancun > Holbox > Valladolid (Chichen Itza) > Tulum/Playa del Carmen.
Will be writing more about my time in Holbox island and Valladolid on a different post so watch out.
The city of Cancun is one of the most famous tourist destinations of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The hotel zone with their five-star all-inclusive resorts, turquoise beaches, white sand and countless activities, is chosen by thousands of visitors each year including it as a favorite place for spring breakers.
If you want to experience the local live more, then you can choose to stay in Cancun downtown instead of the hotel zone, likewise is extremely central, there are plenty of restaurant options and connectivity to the hotel zone 24 hours a day by using local buses at very affordable prices.
MOVING AROUND IN CANCUN
Cancun International Airport is the most common point of entry if you come by air. Once at the airport you have several alternatives to move to the center, the hotel zone or some other point of the Riviera like Playa del Carmen or Tulum.
- ADO buses: They have several routes including one that goes to and from the airport to the downtown area of Cancun. Also in the terminal, you can take the buses to other cities within the area including Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Mérida, etc. The company provides first class service with TV, bathrooms and air conditioning.
- Private or shared Shuttle service: ADO buses do not reach the hotel zone so you must connect with an urban bus or take a taxi from the terminal, so if you want to go straight to your hotel then a shared or private shuttle is a good alternative.
- Rent a car: If you want to have control over where to go whenever you want and drive to different places then you can choose to rent a vehicle at the airport. The streets are in good condition generally and with GPS you should be able to move around easily.
- Local buses: There are urban buses that connect Cancun’s hotel zone with the city center. They operate 24 hours a day and are safe and affordable at a cost of approx. 12 pesos per trip.
- Taxi and Uber: an extra option to move around Cancun.
My suggestion is that you use Cancun or another city like Playa del Carmen or Tulum as your base of operations because there are so many attractions along the peninsula that you are very likely to move to different points in the area.
DO AND SEE IN CANCUN
The city has amenities for all types of travelers- from families, couples, friends or people traveling solo. Below are some of the things you can do and see in Cancun:
- Enjoy breathtaking beaches
It’s impossible to go to Cancun and not explore its beaches, with dozens to choose around the hotel zone and the surrounding area you have several options such as Playa Delfines, Langosta, Las Perlas, Caracol, Playa Tortugas, Playa Forum, etc.
You can also enjoy all-inclusive hotel or beach clubs or simply visit one of the many public access beaches and enjoy your time while swimming and sunbathing.
A day trip to Isla Mujeres is a must on your visit to Cancun, you could even stay longer if your schedule allows it. To get to Isla Mujeres you must take a ferry, the trip takes around 1 hour but there are some faster options of up to 20 minutes.
For the adrenaline lovers, Cancun is the ideal place to practice water sports. You can find several offers available like windsurfing, scuba diving, jet ski or parasailing. But, f you prefer to do something a little more peaceful you can do some snorkel on the crystal clear waters or only swim in one of its many beaches!
The hotel zone has a wide selection of bars and nightclubs, including the famous Coco Bongo with its night show.
For a cultural experience visit one of the many museums available in Cancun such as the Mayan Museum or the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA) with its underwater sculptures.
Visit an archaeological site
In the Cancun area, you have central ruins such as the El Rey archaeological Zone, Yamil Lu’um and also San Miguelito. But if you want to delve more into the history and wonders of Mayan civilization you definitely have to take a day tour of the ruins of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza and also Coba if you have with enough time.
Both, the hotel zone and Cancun Centro offer a wide range of options between craft markets, shopping malls, and boutiques where you can buy interesting things or souvenirs of your trip for friends and family.
Some of the recommended points are the Mercado 28, Plaza La Isla Shopping Center, Plaza Las Americas, Kukulcan Plaza, among others.
If you are only staying in Cancun then you should definitely take some time to visit the Mayan Riviera that starts in Puerto Morelos and runs along the coast until you reach Punta Allen, south of Tulum.
Check out the next post to learn more about the Riviera.
WHERE TO EAT IN CANCUN
This is the part that interests many of us, especially because the culinary experience is an important part of the adventure when traveling. When not consuming animal products it may be necessary to have more scrutiny and research, so I hope to be of help to make your planning more simple and easier.
Luckily in Cancun and other areas of the Riviera Maya, it’s possible to find options that are inclusive for those who have decided to take this lifestyle.
Below are some of the places you can visit during your stay in Cancun.
💚 Vegan 💜 Vegetarian 💛 Restaurant with vegan options
One of the favorites, Vegan Planet has vegan versions of Mexican dishes such as tamales, enchiladas, nachos and even desserts like cheesecakes so you’re not going to miss out on some of Mexico’s favorite foods. It’s a must on your visit.
If you don’t have enough time to visit them, they also have a delivery option.
Location: Av. Andres Quintana Roo, Mza. 1 Lote 4.4 Sm. 45 x Av. Del Sol, Cancun, Mexico
Quesadillas with sunflower seed cream. © Vegan Planet Cancun
With a cozy courtyard surrounded by trees, Sirena Morena offers refreshing smoothies, energizing salads at reasonable prices. It’s located quite close to the bus station in Cancun so it’s very easy to get there.
Location: Av Carlos Nader Sm 03 Mzn 02 LT7 No 66 (between Mero Street and Calle Rubia), Cancun, Mexico.
Opened in 2017, this food truck features vegan fast food such as burgers and tacos among other delicious meals. There are not many tourist attractions around so the biggest reason to go is exclusively to eat as much as you can.
Location: Av Huayacan SM 313 Mz 341 lote 01, Cancun, Mexico.
Vegan tacos © Facebook, Calavera Food Truck
Tacos, burgers, hot dogs and salads. including vegan tacos al pastor at very good prices, but take into account that it only opens once a week (on Sundays).
Location: Av 127 num 6, FRACC Andalucía, Cancún, Mexico
© ©Caribe Vegano
This restaurant has a strategic location in the center of the hotel zone, making it a good choice if you are staying in the area.
They have a menu where the vegan options are clearly identified and a wide selection of fruit smoothies and breakfast choices.
Location: Blvd Kukulcan Km 9.5, Zona Hotelera, Cancun, Mexico
Vegan fast food on wheels. Burgers, tacos, choripanes, cakes and all those favorites but in their meatless version. What else can you ask for?
Choripan -Combi vegan © Facebook-Combi vegan
More than a restaurant, Deuz Pizza is a space for entrepreneurs where they can align their ideas, share with others and show their projects. In addition, various cultural and recreational events are carried out.
Their menu includes pizzas and ice cream with high-quality ingredients.
Location: Calle claveles SM 22 MZA 6 LT 27, Cancun, Mexico.
Organic restaurant with vegan and gluten-free options. On the menu, you can find burgers, Mexican food, salads, juices, and soups, among others.
Location: Plaza Cumbres Local 13-Cancun, Quintana Roo
Vegan Pozole © Leaf Cancun-Facebook
Middle East cuisine food truck offering salads, hamburgers, falafel, Tabbuleh, hummus, pitas and other yummy things from the other side of the world.
Location: 3 Avenida Kabah-Cancun, Quintana Roo
Cold-pressed juices, bowls, smoothies with superfoods and protein, Matcha, Açaí bowls, vegan snacks, and Detox.
Location: Av. Bonampak MZ2 SM9 L5 Plaza Peninsula between Calle Chinchorro and Calle Cabo Nobillete Benito Juarez-Cancun, Quintana Roo
Cold Brew Tiramisu Smoothie © The Juicery Boutique-Facebook
Desserts, pastries, breakfasts, dinners, and drinks with vegan options, gluten-free, organic, no refined sugar and lots of flavor!
They also have rooms available for staying.
Location: Return 3 de Chilan Balam #72, SM 50-Cancun, Quintana Roo
Vegan Yogurt © Cafe La Lola
Other restaurants with vegan options:
In addition to these options, in supermarkets or local markets you can find vegan friendly foods, a great variety of fruits and vegetables. Also vegetarian tacos, corn, guacamole, refried beans (make sure it doesn’t contain lard), nachos among other things. If you have a space with a kitchen then buying ingredients and cooking yourself is a very good way to save costs and in case you don’t find many options around.
Links of Interest:
- Happy Cow-Restaurant guide-Cancun
- A full map of vegans, vegetarians or options in Cancun and around
- Visit Mexico-Official website
- How to get to Isla Mujeres
- ADO buses
- Expedia-Shuttle Airport
- Bus Routes Cancun
- Vegans of Cancun-Facebook Group