A paradise that is like few others, Cancun has captured the beauty of Mexico and presented it to travelers with ease. Cancun is located along the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Enveloped in white sand beaches, it’s home to impeccable resorts and family-friendly hotels. Wherever you are, you won’t be far from the turquoise sea. Cancun hotels are a place to relax and indulge in the finer things in life.
But as so much is geared towards travelers, it’s easy to escape Cancun and visit many exceptional attractions along the coast of the Riviera Maya. When it comes to where to stay in Cancun, you’ll have several areas that suit a wide range of personalities. And don’t worry, there are a number of fantastic budget options too.
Best Hotels in Cancun – Cut To The Chase
Got no time to waste and want to know where to stay in Cancun? These are the best hotels to suit every budget in Cancun.
The 6 Best Areas to Stay in Cancun
There are several major neighborhoods in Cancun. Three popular choices are the Hotel Zone, Punta Cancun, and El Centro. The Hotel Zone comes with the greatest concentration of accommodation and amenities for tourists. Punta Cancun has some of the best nightlife in town and El Centro (downtown) is a popular choice for budget travelers and presents a more authentic local experience. With that being said, let’s dive a little deeper.
1. Zona Hotelera (Cancun Hotel Zone)
Designed for pure vacation efficiency, Zona Hotelera is one of the best places to stay in Cancun. The zone is on a thin strip of land 20 minutes from downtown Cancun. As its name suggests, there’s no shortage of hotels here. The Hotel Zone has everything from your standard rooms to boutique hotels and many all-inclusive resorts.
Everything is arranged to maximize your beach vacation. Travelers will have an easy time getting to this part of town as seemingly all roads point to Zona Hotelera. Everyone here is on a holiday, and if they’re not, then they’re working to make your stay in Cancun a memorable one.
Of course, this comes with a lack of local culture and the mass of hotels and multiple restaurants don’t give you a true local experience. But for first-timers, the Hotel Zone is an easy way to start. For those seeking nothing but tropical bliss, white sand beaches, and colorful cocktails, you’ll be well served by this tourist-focused area.
Another strength of Cancun’s Hotel Zone is while it has few cultural attractions within walking distance, it’s a popular departure point for tours. Here, you’ll have a simple time arranging excursions further afield, whether that be scuba diving in the Caribbean Sea or venturing around the Yucatan Peninsula to discover ancient ruins.
Nighttime in the Hotel Zone is also vibrant. Travelers will be just a short walk from bars and clubs in the happening area of Punta Cancun.
Best Hotels in Zona Hotelera
Luxury: Le Blanc Spa Resort:
With access to your own private beach, Le Blanc Spa Resort is the epitome of all-inclusive luxury. Each room comes with private hot tubs, stocked minibars, and ocean views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Sit on your private balcony, enjoy the several on-site restaurants or sign up for local tours.
Mid-Range: Residence Inn by Marriott:
At the southern end of the Hotel Zone, the Residence Inn by Marriott presents comfortable luxury at an inexpensive price. The resort comes with an outdoor pool, full kitchens, and a sofa within the spacious rooms. There is also an on-site restaurant and you’ll be close to La Isla Shopping Village and the Underwater Museum.
Budget: Mayan Monkey Hotel and Hostel:
Just 60 seconds from the beach, Mayan Monkey is a great option for budget and solo travelers. Have your choice of private or dorm rooms. The communal area is a fun spot to meet travelers from around the world. You’ll also have an outdoor swimming pool and bar along with airport transfers.
VRBO: Ocean View Condo:
Bring along family and friends and enjoy ocean views from this two-bedroom condo. Your condo comes with a full kitchen and a private terrace, great for enjoying a sunset meal. Your room comes with cable TV and the wider resort offers tennis courts, a white sand beach, and three outdoor pools.
Things to do in Zona Hotelera:
- Museo Maya de Cancun
- 13th century Yamil Lu’um Ruins
- El Ray Archaeological Zone
- Read more: Best Things to do in Cancun, Mexico
2. El Centro (Downtown Cancun)
To have a more traditional experience in Cancun, you should base yourself in El Centro. With a greater balance between vacation activities, local culture, and cuisine, Downtown Cancun showcases the true personality of the coastal region.
Away from the golden sand beaches, this part of town is also has a strong concentration of budget accommodation, perfect for those traveling on a shoestring. Luxury hotels and high-end neighborhoods abound in the Hotel Zone, but regular life resumes in the downtown area.
This is where most of the city residents live, so travelers will find an array of authentic restaurants slinging age-old recipes that attract locals and visitors in equal measure. After sunset, the downtown streets light up in a blaze of neon colors and the prismatic mix of bars creates a bustling nightlife scene not overtaken by rowdy travelers.
After a night out on the town, you’ll have your choice of local activities. Staying in downtown Cancun will have you close to local markets including the happening Mercado 28 and Las Plazas Outlet. The former combines handcrafted souvenirs and rows of food stands serving local specialties. To enjoy some time outdoors without heading to the beach, make your way to Parque Las Palapas.
Join residents in the popular park, which becomes boisterous in the early evening. While you can’t walk to any beaches, getting out of downtown is easy thanks to inexpensive public transport and taxis. Add in the range of affordable hotels and you can see why the city center is one of the best places to stay in Cancun.
Best Hotels in El Centro
Luxury: Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort:
This all-inclusive luxury hotel in El Centro comes with an outdoor swimming pool, private beach access, an on-site restaurant, and a kid’s playground. Each room offers a terrace or balcony and cable TV. Guests can also enjoy a delicious breakfast each morning.
Mid-Range: Bed and Breakfast Pecari:
In downtown Cancun, this BnB comes with a private pool and charming accommodations, including a family room. Guests will be a few minutes away from the top local attractions, while Cancun’s Hotel Zone is a quick ride east.
Budget: Nomads Enigmatic Hotel:
From Nomads Enigmatic Hotel, you’ll be within walking distance of major streets, attractions, and markets. Your home in Cancun offers an outdoor pool, games room, BBQs, and theme nights, making this party hostel a great place to be.
VRBO: Modern 2-bed Apartment:
Enjoy easy access to local markets, shopping districts, and restaurants from this modern apartment. Have a full kitchen to cook up feasts with friends and family. The apartment also comes with extra sofa beds and two bathrooms.
Things to do in El Centro
- Monumento a la Cancion Mexicana
- Dubai Palace Casino
- Cancun Planetarium
3. Punta Cancun
If you’re wondering where to stay in Cancun for nightlife, then you can’t go past Punta Cancun. Essentially the north end of the Hotel Zone, Punta Cancun, has some of the most lively bars and clubs in town.
Throughout the day, the neighborhood is a hive of activity, offering the same traveling luxuries as the Hotel Zone with the addition of a more raucous atmosphere. As the sun falls, night owls come out early to claim their territory and Punta Cancun’s many bars quickly fill with patrons.
This part of town never sleeps, with time at the bars flowing into various nightclub experiences that will have you swinging your hips into the early hours. One club not to be missed is Coco Bongo. The iconic hot spot has nightly events with professional dancers and a spellbinding atmosphere.
When your eyes open the next day, you’ll be most thankful for Punta Cancun’s exceptional beaches. White sand beaches come standard in Cancun, however, this part of town is on another level.
With protection from the Horn and Isla Mujeres, the local beaches have maintained their pristine personality even after several major storms. The crystal clear turquoise water will help soothe the hangover. The sea is also home to over a dozen reefs to explore and the calm surface is the perfect playground for water sports, including kitesurfing. Such is the popularity of Punta Cancun, that there are few budget options. But for many, it’s an easy price to pay to have all the fun right on your doorstep.
Best Hotels in Punta Cancun
Luxury: Grand Fiesta Americana:
An even more luxurious version of Fiesta Americana, this all-inclusive resort has day beds on private beaches, full-service spas, a gym, and ocean from almost all the rooms along with free WiFi. Enjoy the vistas from your balcony and elevated French cuisine at the restaurant.
Mid-Range: Hyatt Ziva Cancun:
With spectacular beachfront views, Hyatt Ziva Cancun is a fantastic mid-range option. Guests will have private balconies, three infinity pools, and a gym while being steps from a beach paradise. The waterfront resort offers many activities, including snorkeling, sailing, a spa complex, and even theater shows.
Budget: Selina Cancun Laguna:
Enjoy kid-friendly amenities without paying top dollar at Selina Cancun Laguna. A short walk from the beach, the hotel has an outdoor pool and bar, on-site restaurant, and airport transfers. Families can make use of the wellness center, organize tours, and rent a car directly from the front desk.
VRBO: Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites:
This fully equipped suite comes with garden views from your balcony. You’ll have a living room and separate dining area along with your full kitchen. Your TV comes with cable channels. Guests will be a ten-minute walk from the beach, plazas, and golf course.
Things to do in Punta Cancun
- Punta Cancun Lighthouse
- Party at Senor Frogs
- Relax at Mandala Beach Club
4. Playa Mujeres
Playa Mujeres is located between downtown and the Hotel Zone. It’s one of the newest parts of town, combining some of the best Cancun hotels with gorgeous beaches and a calm vibe. Away from the boisterous nightlife in Punta Cancun and the busy El Centro, Playa Mujeres is almost entirely all-inclusive hotels. This provides travelers with a sense of exclusivity, as they can enjoy the many local attractions at a leisurely pace.
Shielded by Isla Mujeres, the beachfront is tranquil with nothing but the soft ocean breeze disturbing the peace. Most of the waterfront is taken up with resorts offering you a private beach experience. Here, you can kick back under the cabana and watch the blues of the sea mix with the bright blue sky.
With little swell, the water is great for swimming and even exploring on a stand-up paddleboard. Its unique position will give guests easy access to three of the best places to stay in Cancun. Minutes to the west is downtown, in the other direction is the Hotel Zone. Those staying in Playa Mujeres also have access to the local ferry that runs to Isla Mujeres.
With the abundance of major resorts, there are few independent restaurants. Instead, you’ll enjoy bars with waterfront views and multiple restaurants serving international and local cuisine.
Best Hotels in Playa Mujeres
Luxury: Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa:
Grand Palladium is an all-inclusive resort that has a strong focus on families. The spacious suites are well suited to large groups. Just back from Playa Mujeres, there is a club for kids, a water park, an outdoor pool, and a gym. There’s also a playground just for kids.
Mid-Range: Cancun Bay Resort:
Have vibrant views of Mujeres Bay from your suite. The resort comes with two pools, including one on the beachfront. There is also a hot tub and tennis court. The resort offers international and local cuisine at its on-site restaurant.
Budget: Sotavento Hotel & Yacht Club:
A rare budget option in Playa Mujeres, the Sotavento is right on the Nichupte Lagoon and is ten minutes from the beloved beach. Guests will have a pool, on-site restaurant and be able to explore the lush gardens and yacht club.
VRBO: Royal Cancun Villa:
This two-bedroom villa comes with a king bed, two twins, and a sofa bed. It’s a great choice for friends and family who can enjoy the resort experience within their own villa. Your balcony comes with a beach view. There’s also a full kitchen, dining and living area, and daily housekeeping.
Best things to do in Playa Mujeres
- Play Golf
- Visit Isla Mujeres
- See the views from Torre Escenica Xcaret
5. Isla Mujeres
For a true paradisiacal experience, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spot than Isla Mujeres. The tropical utopia is a short 8-mile journey from the mainland. It’s enveloped by the Caribbean Sea providing travelers with green-blue water, endless golden sand, and flowing palm trees.
Isla Mujeres is a sight straight out of a dream. From your cozy spot on the sand, you can see deep into the translucent water. It’s as if the water is a mere glass surface providing an observation platform from which to see the magic below.
In classic Cancun fashion, despite its disconnection from the mainland, travelers will want for nothing. In the heart of the island, you’ll find a charming village that’s lovely for shopping and finding that perfect gift to bring home. Travelers will also have access to casual and fine dining restaurants to complement a fun nightlife that doesn’t get too rowdy.
Away from the buildup of the Hotel Zone, Isla Mujeres provides a delightful balance between local culture and vacation fun. For this reason, it’s a popular destination for families. You could easily spend a week enjoying the powdery white sand, but there’s much to do here that will quickly fill up your itinerary.
You can visit a range of natural attractions home to turtles, see ancient ruins or explore the incredible underwater world of Garrafon Natural Reef Park. Best of all, the small island can be seen on the back of golf carts you can rent from various places around Isla Mujeres.
Best Hotels in Isla Mujeres
Luxury: Privilege Aluxes:
A few steps away from Playa Norte, Privilege Aluxes is an all-inclusive adults-only resort. Guests have access to two pools, the Mystique Spa, the fabulous Privilege Beach Club, and an on-site restaurant. The resort can also arrange various activities from deep-sea fishing to swimming with dolphins.
Mid-Range: Nomads Hotel & Beach Club:
Enjoy all the beauty of a seaside resort without blowing up the budget at Nomads Hotel. The gorgeous property comes with a sea-side bar, day beds, and hammocks on the sand. There are many social events run by the hotel, along with a happy hour right by the water.
Budget: Isla Caracol:
Guests at Isla Caracol will have just a five-minute walk to the beach local beach. But if you choose to stay on-site, you can lounge on the outdoor terrace and dive into the swimming pool. Most rooms come with either a pool or garden view. For adventures further afield, you’re a short drive away from Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres.
VRBO: Casa Perla:
Your oceanfront condo, Casa Perla, comes with two bedrooms, a pair of bathrooms and can sleep up to five guests. All will have access to the deck that features your own private pool with endless views. The condo also features a full kitchen and a shared rooftop terrace.
Best things to do in Isla Mujeres
- See the Ixchel Temple
- Visit the Seashell House
- Explore Tortugranja
6. Puerto Morelos
Such is the proximity of Puerto Morelos to the rest of Cancun that it’s often seen as another neighborhood within the seaside city. But Puerto Morelos is a classic Mexican fishing village with its own distinct personality.
Those arriving via plane will have an easy time reaching this coastal town, as it’s only 20 minutes from Cancun International Airport. Another reason to stay in Puerto Morelos is that it’s halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. With roughly a 35 minute drive to either destination.
Puerto Morelos is similar to Isla Mujeres in that it’s a great place to stay to enjoy the beauty of the Riviera Maya without the rush of the Hotel Zone and central Cancun. Guests can relax on the local beaches with splendid views and casual beachfront bars. Staying here also puts you close to several major attractions, including the Puerto Morelos National Reef Park and a number of exceptional cenotes.
The latter is a series of underground caves filled with crystal clear water, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Beyond the many natural attractions in the village. When you aren’t sunbathing or snorkeling, take your time to explore the town that has an unassuming personality. Get around on foot to discover local restaurants, galleries, and shops. The town also has pop-up markets in the main square on many Friday and Saturday evenings. Additionally, you can pay a visit to one of the oldest gardens in the country, Jardin Botanico, home to native plants and wildlife.
Best Hotels in Puerto Morelos
Luxury: Valentin Imperial:
Your all-inclusive stay at Valentin Imperial comes with 1.5 miles of private golden sand, a full-service spa, on-site dining, and nightly entertainment. The adults-only experience has a sprawling outdoor pool and lazy river to go along with many inclusive activities like kayaking.
Mid-Range: Casa Boutique Hokhmah:
Casa Boutique Hokhmah is a boutique hotel with airport transfers, a wellness center, and an on-site restaurant. Each room comes with a private garden patio and some feature a kitchenette. All guests will enjoy a choice of morning American or continental breakfast.
Budget: Hotel El Moro:
Two minutes from the beach, Hotel El Moro offers Puerto Morelos on a silver platter for cheap. The budget-friendly hotel comes with a pool, bar, lush garden, and restaurant. Some rooms come with a full kitchen along with family-friendly accommodations.
VRBO: Hacienda-style Home:
Families or large friend groups will love this VRBO. The home can sleep up to eight guests and is just two blocks from the sea. The spacious home comes with a backyard pool and lounge chairs great for hanging out away from it all. Guests will have a full kitchen, BBQs, and access to bikes for free.
Best things to do in Puerto Morelos
- Explore Cenotes Kin-Ha
- Go scuba diving
- Visit Croco Cun Zoo
Where to Stay in Cancun for the First Time:
For first-time visitors to Cancun, the Hotel Zone is a common choice. Here, you’ll find all the amenities for a great vacation. The wide range of hotels suits mid-range and luxury budgets with ample restaurants and nightlife. You’ll also be within walking distance of the many beaches and the happening Punta Cancun.
Everything here is designed to make your life easier, and most hotels can arrange for tours along the coast and into El Centro. Another choice is downtown Cancun. Travelers can indulge in local culture while being just a few minutes away from the ocean.
Best Hotels in Cancun for Families:
Those seeking a family-friendly vacation will have plenty of options in Cancun. Some of the best can be found in the Hotel Zone and in Isla Mujeres. These will come with world-class amenities, easy access to local attractions with some also offering kids clubs.
Both these areas, along with Playa Mujeres, have calm waters great for beach days with the young ones. With many restaurants nearby and access to gear rental shops, you’ll have everything you need within arm’s reach. For a quieter family vacation, you may want to consider Puerto Morelos. The seaside town has a relaxing atmosphere and is close to many family-friendly outdoor adventures.
Luxury: Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa:
Grand Palladium is an all-inclusive resort that has a strong focus on families. The spacious suites are well suited to large groups. Just back from Playa Mujeres, there is a kids club, water park, outdoor pool, and fitness center. There’s also a playground just for kids.
Mid-Range: Hyatt Ziva Cancun:
With spectacular beachfront views, Hyatt Ziva Cancun is a fantastic mid-range option. Guests will have private balconies, swimming pools, and a gym while being steps from a beach paradise. The beachfront resort offers many activities, including snorkeling, sailing, a luxury spa complex, and theater shows.
Budget: Selina Cancun Laguna:
Enjoy kid-friendly amenities without paying top dollar at Selina Cancun Laguna. A short walk from the beach, the hotel has an outdoor pool and bar, on-site restaurant, and airport transfers. Families can make use of the wellness center, organize tours and rent a car directly from the front desk.
VRBO: 3 bedroom Villa:
Have plenty of room at this villa which comes with million-dollar ocean views and three bedrooms. Have a full kitchen, a dining room, and a waterfront terrace. From there you can walk down to the white sand beach. The villa is in the mid-Hotel Zone close to local attractions.
Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Cancun:
Aside from picture-perfect beaches, Cancun is renowned for its many all-inclusive hotels. While the term seems all-encompassing, they all have something different to offer and are tailored towards different demographics. Most all-inclusive packages will include food and beverages, water sport rentals, a kids club, and your own private beach. Each hotel varies with some focusing on families, or being entirely adults-only. Here are our top three all-inclusive resorts in Cancun.
1. Le Blanc Spa Resort (adults only)
2. Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun (family-friendly)
3. Live Aqua
Best Place to Stay in Cancun for Nightlife:
Cancun has two distinct nightlife areas. The most renowned is in Punta Cancun. Here the nights start early and end late. The range of nightclubs is impressive and offers the kind of memorable nights that you’re looking for, especially if you’re coming for Spring Break.
It’s a scene that caters entirely to travelers, so you’ll be partying with people from all over the world. The beach clubs provide guests with a high-end experience with waterfront views and colorful cocktails. The rowdy bars are great for letting your hair down alongside new friends.
While the enthralling nightclubs offer international DJs and live acts that take your night to another level. The other place to party in Cancun is in El Centro. The bars come with a better mix of locals and travelers, while a night out will be easier on the wallet.
Our Money Saving Tips for Cancun:
Make use of the bus system. Each ride is a single US dollar and runs from the Hotel Zone to El Centro with great regularity. It’s cheaper and much easier than a cab. It might sound counterintuitive to fork out money for an all-inclusive resort. But the beauty of these hotels in Cancun is that the bulk of your expenses is paid prior to the trip.
You’ll likely have a free ride from Cancun airport. Along with free access to beach activities alongside your food and drink.
Getting Around Cancun:
Depending on what you what to do in Cancun, you can easily get away without having a rental car. Many hotels will arrange pickup from Cancun airport. Hotel concierges can also arrange tours along the Yucatan Peninsula.
In all districts except downtown, you’ll be within walking distance of the beach and the bus is an easy option for those that are in El Centro. Having said that, if you want to explore further afield, a car can be handy. This way you can venture to Playa del Carmen, the many cenotes, Cozumel and even Tulum.