Cancun: Beyond The Hotel Zone And Into The Real Mexico

cancun public beaches
To most people of the world, Cancun is all beaches and all Mayan ruins. Most tourists come to this city and stay in the Hotel Zone, to venture later on to the different islands and beaches nearby.

puerto cancunHowever, beneath the surface, when you go out of the Hotel Zone or get off the beach and head towards the mainland, you’ll encounter the part of Cancun that is entirely different from what you see in travel sites and in pages promoting Cancun travel – you will see that part of Cancun that is the real face of Mexico.

While the Hotel Zone has townhouses and condos and resort hotels, in mainland Cancun you will find two- and three-storey houses similar to what you’ll find in most of Mexico. You might even chance upon the so-called super manzanas.

chichen itza public marketThese are old sections of the city that are designed like a triangle, each looking like its own community – complete with supermarket, church, and school. And while the Hotel Zone lodging facilities are known for being pricey, the rates in most of the accommodation found in mainland Cancun are very affordable, around 4 times cheaper.

Apart from these differences, the pulse of these two opposing areas in Cancun is also very different. The Hotel Zone is designed to offer very touristy activities, from the high-end restaurants to inclusive resorts.

zona hotelera bus to cancun centroWhen you go into the mainland, you’ll get to experience authentic Mexican culture as you encounter the displays found at the La Casa Del Cultura, for example, or the weekend celebrations held in Parque las Palapas or even the stands and stalls containing fresh produce and meat at Mercado 23.

Life in mainland Cancun is laid back and slow. There is still a remaining tinge of traditional culture that is not corrupted by technology.

Friends meet personally. Families spend weekends together, going on picnics and excursions.

urbano kabah park in cancunThe entire community in general gets busy with activities on weekends and during different times of the month – with fiestas, open markets, parades, and other celebrations.

Visitors who are staying in Cancun for a week or more may have the time to venture out of the Hotel Zone to experience a cultural immersion in the mainland.

cancun hotel zoneExpats who are looking for a place to stay can also consider mainland Cancun. Cost of living is not as cheap as in most of central Mexico, but it’s still a lot less than in the US or Canada. And the neighboring beaches, cenotes and ruins are always a treat, not to mention the year-round tropical climate.

The city also comes complete with basic amenities such as a strong Internet connection (3g and 4g), banks, a major airport and many other modern facilities that will rival many modern cities.

Learn more about Cancun by joining one of Cancun tours!
Galleon Adventure tours which include Cancun in the itinerary are: 7 days/6 night Yucatan Adventure and 9 days/8 nights Beautiful Yucatan Tour. Join and get to know Cancun in Mexico!

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Public Access Beaches In Cancun

Want to experience the beaches of Cancun without shelling out a hundred or thousand bucks? Well, while most Cancun visitors think that the only way to enjoy the beach in the area is to stay in an expensive beachfront hotel, the truth is that there are public beaches in Cancun that are accessible to just about anybody. All you need is to know how you can access these beaches without having to go through hotels.

cancun public beaches
(Important note: The whole stretch of beach in Cancun are Federal property, hence, the beach is ALL PUBLIC. But hotels and resorts are private properties, therefore, access to the beach thru these properties is not allowed. Through the different public-accessible entrances, though, walking or even using the beach in front of even the most expensive resort or hotel is allowed.)

Playa Las Perlas

Where it’s located: Km. 2.5 in the Hotel Zone.

What you can do here: You can swim and try water sports in this beach, or simply hang out in its bars and restaurants.

Playa Juventud

Where it’s located: Kulkulan Boulevard, Km. 3 in the Hotel Zone.

What you can do here: The place is ideal for those who simply want to swim or try water sports.

Playa Linda

Where it’s located: Km. 4 in the Hotel Zone, facing Bahia de Mujeres.

What you can do here: Great for those who want to swim, with changing rooms and also restaurants. This is also perfect for those who are into diving and would like to try a submarine tour since its dock is usually the departure point of such tours.

Playa Langosta

Where it’s located: Km. 5 of the Hotel Zone (middle of north end area in the hotel zone), facing Bahia de Mujeres.

What you can do here: Swimming, water sports, or hanging out in bars and restaurants located along the beach. In its dock, there are shuttles going to Isla Mujeres and other places for those who want a tour.

Playa Tortugas

Where it’s located: Km. 6.5 in the HHotel Zone. The entrance is next to Fat Tuesday’s.

What you can do here: Aside from swimming and water sports, its dock also has shuttles available for those who want a tour to Isla Mujeres and other places.

Playa Las Palmas/Caracol

Where it’s located: Km. 8.5 in the Hotel Zone, near Punta Cancun. Accessible through the Xcaret bus terminal or through a small wooden gate next to Fiesta Americana Coral Beach.

What you can do here: Ideal for outing and swimming with kids because of its flat and shallow sand bed. First timers will enjoy this beach.

Playa Chac Mool

Where it’s located: Km. 10 in the Hotel Zone, near Punta Cancun. The entrance is across the street from Senor Frog’s.

What you can do here: Perfect for water sports such as parasailing and sail boarding. (Caution: Current in this beach can be strong.)

Playa Marlin

Where it’s located: Km. 13 in the Hotel Zone, between Punta Nizuc and Punta Cancun. Entrance is behind the Kukulcan Plaza shopping mall.

What you can do here: Perfect for those who want to meet locals as this is a beach mostly visited by those living in the area. It’s also ideal for sunbathing—great view and there are shade shelters around. (Caution: Currents can be dangerous at times.)

Playa Ballenas

Where it’s located: Km. 14 in the Hotel Zone, between Punta Nizuc and Punta Cancun. Entrance is along the Meridien Hotel wall fence (sidewalk).

What you can do here: Perfect for sunbathing and sightseeing. (Caution: Currents are typically dangerous here.)

Playa Delfines

Where it’s located: Km. 18 in the Hotel Zone, near Punta Nizuc.

What you can do here: Great for those who want to sunbathe and just enjoy the view, especially because there are stone benches where one can sit and just take in the scenery. Also great for swimming with the free outdoor showers and washrooms. (Caution: There are times when currents are strong and swimming is dangerous.)

Join our Cancun tours!
Galleon Adventure tours which include Cancun in the itinerary are: 7 days/6 night Yucatan Adventure and 9 days/8 nights Beautiful Yucatan Tour. Join and learn more of Cancun, Mexico!

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