The main Cancun nightclubs are:
• The City
(Including nearby Playacar resorts)Playa has one large nightclub (Coco Bongo), plus several smaller clubs, plus dozens of party bars, and lounges.
Other options:Nightlife in other areas is much more laid-back—mainly small lounges that offer live music at night.
(Including nearby Playacar resorts)A pedestrian-only street— lined with boutique shops, restaurants, and lounges—runs runs parallel to the beach for nearly two miles.
Each evening it's lined with tourists out for a beautiful evening stroll.
Another option is a tour through the Punta Cancun party zone. It's loud, with bright lights, and a nearly endless parade of partyers heading to the clubs.
Downtown Cancun offers Palapas Park. An area popular with local families on weekends. This is a stroll we really enjoy. (More information on our Cancun map and travel guide.)
Other options:Some of the more remote destinations are too dark, and/or deserted, for a comfortable evening stroll. Destinations like Akumal, Puerto Morelos, Puerto Aventuras, and Tulum city have small areas where you can enjoy an evening walk.
Along avenue 30 you'll find WalMart and an upscale Mexican chain, MEGA.
There are also two small malls and a Sam's Club located a short taxi ride into town.
For souvenir shopping, there are several flea markets filled with booths in the heart of the hotel zone, but again, the best shopping can be found downtown (at Mercado 23).
Also located downtown are Walmart, Sam's Club, Costco, Home Depot, Office Max, Office Depot, several large grocery stores, and an incredible wine/liquor store named La Europea.
We enjoy strolling through the local market, located a few blocks inland from the tourist zone. There is also a new Sam's Club located a taxi ride from the tourist area.
Other options:All but the most remote destinations have souvenir shops and at least a small grocery store nearby.
Columbia reef—famous for towering columns of reef that rise from the ocean floor like skyscrapers—is located at the southern end of the island, accessible only by boat.
If you are not a certified diver, you can still explore under the sea on a Discover Scuba tour—a closely supervised, shallow dive, offered by most dive shops.
Many of the reefs around Playa del Carmen are at depths that make it perfect for beginner and intermediate divers.
One highlight for divers is the man-made MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte). This project consists of hundreds of sculptures placed on the ocean floor to slowly be covered in corals and become part of the reef system.
Silencio Evolution (Silent Evolution) is an army of over 400 human statues that rest silently at the bottom of the sea.
Other options:Every destination along the Yucatan coast has access to beautiful diving reefs.
The main difference you'll find is the number of dive shop options available in smaller cities as opposed to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.
Yal-Ku lagoon is a natural ocean inlet with easy access into the water.
You'll enjoy a variety of colorful fish in the clear, calm, water.
Note: Some areas in Yal-Ku lagoon will have an oily appearance. This is called a haloclyne and occurs where cold, fresh water meets warm, salt water.
Another snorkeling spot is Garrafón de Castillo, where you can snorkel from shore for a small admission fee. Purchase fish food and you'll be swarmed by a colorful assortment of marine life.
You can also visit the MUSA underwater statue park, a short boat ride from the island (more information in the Scuba diving section of this page); or visit the pristine reefs located north of the island—often included as part of a Contoy island day-trip.
Other options:Nearly every destination along the coast will have boat tours to a nice snorkeling reef.
Most hotels do not have electricity and are powered by generators; some turn off the power after a certain time at night. There are no streetlights in the area, so you'll definitely want to bring along a good flashlight.
Note: The beach at Puerto Morelos are crowded on weekends and holidays, when families from Cancun visit to enjoy their day off work.
Other options:The following areas are also laid-back, but a little too remote for our preferences (we prefer to have some entertainment options within walking distance).
• Bahia Petempich
• Punta Maroma
• Punta Bete
A lot of wealthy Europeans visit this area. Most beach area restaurants are trendy, upscale, and expensive.
For a more Mexican experience, you'll need to visit nearby Tulum city.
Other options:There are dozens of trendy resorts along the coast, including some in Cancun.
Private rooms are available starting at about $40us; we prefer rooms in the $60 to $70us price range. Of course, the farther you are from the beach (we're talking several blocks, not several miles) the better the bargains.
There are plenty of inexpensive dining options away from the beach and main tourist street.
Accomodations available: Youth hostels that charge $10 to $15us per person; private rooms in the $40 to $60us range; and upscale hotels in the $100us plus range.
Budget dining options are excellent, with plenty of inexpensive taco shops and fast-food style restaurants.
Dining options for those on a budget are also available (many of them are among our favorite places to eat).
Other options:Puerto Morelos has a few budget hotels, however they fill up quickly in high season.
Tulum city and Cozumel also have budget offerings, but at both locations, you are quite a distance from the beach.
Paamul offers camping spots near the beach for those willing to rough it.
Taxi rides into Cancun are expensive, but readily available.
Other activities could be more important to you. The ability to go for an evening stroll is near the top of our list. It's the reason we don't stay in remote areas.
If nightlife is an important option, there are only two areas where you'll find a selection of nightclubs to make your evenings complete.
Dining is not shown on this list. You'll find excellent food nearby, no matter where you stay.