Destination Cancun and Riviera Maya: 10 tips by Odigoo Travel
Are you planning a trip to Cancun or Riviera Maya?
Here you will find a brief travel guide to Cancun and Riviera Maya (Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Cozumel). This post has valuable information for first-time travelers as well as for those who have already visited the State of Quintana Roo in the Mexican Caribbean and want to return looking for new experiences.
When is the best time to go to Cancun? How is the weather in Riviera Maya? Where to stay in Cancun and its surroundings? These same questions are made by thousands of travelers when getting ready for a trip to these paradisiacal destinations.
In this post, we answer the 10 most frequently asked questions about Cancun and Riviera Maya. These questions involve topics such as the differnent tourist seasons in the region, travel budget, weather, transportation, accommodation, security as well as what to see and do all around these destinations. We have tried to address all the general subjects that you have to consider when traveling to these destinations.
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Some of the most common questions every traveler has when planning to go to Cancún are:
- When is the best season to go to Cancun and Riviera Maya?
- When is the best time for a budget trip in Cancun?
- How is the weather in Cancun and Riviera Maya?
- How are the conditions of the sea, beaches and the environmente in this region?
- How to get to Cancun?
- Where is the airport and how is it?
- Which are the best options to transfer from and to Cancun Airport?
- How's the public transportation services in Cancun and Riviera Maya?
- Where to stay in Cancun and Riviera Maya?
- Is Cancun a safe city? What are the risks for foreign travelers?
When is the best season to go to Cancun and Riviera Maya?
As any other tourist destination, Cancun and Riviera Maya are exposed to seasonality changes.
The low season for the destinations in the State of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum, etc.) is through the months of September and October. It is in this period that hotel rates are lower, as well as these destinations having a reduced flow of tourists. So, if your goal is to rest and relax while traveling with a “tight” budget, these months are perfect.
The high season starts at the end of November and lasts until February’s first half. The winter makes many tourists from northern countries look for warmer places to spend their vacations such as Cancun and the Riviera Maya. In addition, this season includes holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Usually is in this period when hotels and flights have the highest rates in the year. Despite this, many tourists consider this time of the year a good opportunity to enjoy any of the destinations already mentioned.
The rest of the year the tourists flow and prices are stable. However, there are a few dates when the demand peaks like Mexico’s Independence Day Weekend (September 16th), Easter and Spring Break in North America.
How is the weather in Cancun?
The weather in Cancun and Riviera Maya is warm and humid. The average temperature is 78 ° F (25.5 ° C), commonly ranging between 77 ° F and 81 ° F (25 ° C and 27 ° C). Throughout the year, the minimum temperature is usually 68 ° F (20 ° C) and the maximum is 93 ° F (34 ° C).
Considering this, when is the warmest season in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum (Riviera Maya) and surrounding areas? The warmest season usually lasts about four months, from June 10th to September 24th. During this time of year, the average maximum temperature is 88 ° F (31 ° C).
As for the cool weather season (yes, cool, because it is difficult to talk about cold in this region), it goes from December 3rd to March 4th and the average maximum temperature is 82 ° F (28 ° C).
The weather in Cancun is just perfect to spend the days at the beach, the sea or exploring the jungle in a park or archaeological zone. Sunbathing will be a fundamental activity for those looking to get a perfect tan on any of the beaches located in front of the hotels in Cancun and Riviera Maya.
Now that we have talked about the weather in the region, it is important to highlight that it is almost a rule for the hotels in Cancun and Riviera Maya to have rooms (and some common areas) equipped with air conditioning to help their guest refresh and cool down whenever they need it.
Rain in Cancun and Riviera Maya
Rain usually plays a role in Cancun’s and Riviera Maya’s weather. The season when rain is more common is summer (June to September), although it usually lasts until October. A positive aspect of this situation is that in Quintana Roo, in Riviera Maya’s area, it usually rains heavily, but for short periods. Sometimes the weather can be totally cloudy, however rain hardly lasts more than 20 minutes. It is common that the government and hotels close access to beaches when the rains are constant.
Some other weather conditionts to look at...
On the other hand, one aspect that must be considered about weather and rain in Cancun and Riviera Maya are hurricanes. The hurricane season tends to be in line with the rainy season, so keep an eye on the weather forecast between June and October to make sure that the weather conditions are convenient enough to travel to the State of Quintana Roo. Hurricanes often originate in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Although, there are islands such as Isla Mujeres and Cozumel that work as natural barriers for the continental zone against these storms, they can still keep enough strength when hitting the coasts of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum among others, and cause damage.
And, finally, another aspect that has become relevant in the last few years in Cancun and Riviera Maya’s weather is sargassum. Usually, the arrival of this seaweed tends to increase in the warm season. And although the government and private companies have implemented plans to keep it under control, its arrival on the coast is inevitable. Once you have made up your mind about the hotel in Cancun or Riviera Maya where you will be staying, it would be convenient to contact them to know what are their plans to keep their beaches clean and safe.
Cancun Airport is the second most important in Mexico due to the number of arrivals and connections it has. In 2019, over 13 million passengers arrived to its facilities. And although Cozumel and Chetumal (capital city of Quintana Roo) also have their own airport, most of the tourists that are traveling to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Isla Mujeres and some other destinations in Riviera Maya (Puerto Morelos, for example) buy a flight to arrive to this airport.
This airport is located in South Cancun close to the exit to Playa del Carmen. It has world class facilities and it’s totally equipped to satisfy the need of any tourist. It has connections with 31 countries and it also has an intense domestic traffic.
IMPORTANT: Cancun Airport has four terminals. Despite not being far from each other, it is not possible to walk from one to another. So, in case of departure flights is very important to know with precision the terminal of your flight in order to avoid wasting money and time in additional transportation.
ODIGOO TIP: Now, for arrivals it is important to know the town or city where the hotel in which you are going to stay is located, whether it is in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Isla Mujeres or somewhere else in the Riviera Maya. There are hotel chains that have hotels with the same name in two or more locations in Riviera Maya, so it is extremely important to know with precision the address of the hotel in which the reservation was made.
Many of the accommodation packages offered to tourists have transportation / transfers included. If this is your case, you will only have to locate the pick-up area to identify the agency or hotel staff and wait for the transportation (van, bus, etc.) in the corresponding lane.
ODIGOO TIP:Be patient with the airport transfers, a benefit of the “All Inclusive” packages is that you will not have to worry about transportation services at the airport, although you will have to wait for all the passengers scheduled for the transfer to board and be taken to their hotels. If you are lucky, you could be the first to be dropped at your hotel.
In case of not having transportation included, within the airport you can buy tickets for private taxi service, shared taxi service, bus, etc. as well as rent a car.
It is important to consider that your arrival time may limit transportation service options, especially if the flight arrives between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Another important site: Central Bus Station
It is located in downtown. Here you can get tickets to travel to any of the nearby towns in Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Morelos, Bacalar, etc) and even to further destinations in other states (like Merida and Puerto Progreso in Yucatan, Palenque in Chiapas for example).
Some other facts about Cancun...
Since its creation in the 1970s, Cancun has positioned itself as one of the most attractive and prominent beach destinations for both domestic and international tourists. Thanks to Its location in the North of Riviera Maya, this tourist destination in the State of Quintana Roo has paradisiacal white sand beaches surrounded by the jungle. The atmosphere created by this mix really allows you to leave behind the stressful and noisy environment of the cities.
The permanent infrastructure development in Cancun in the last two decades has set the conditions for the hotels in Cancun to be able to compete with any other tourist destination in the world. In Cancun, you will find the type of services and attractions that belong to any world class tourist destination. However, this doesn’t mean that you will have to get a second mortgage to enjoy a vacation in this place. The offer of hotels in Cancun is so diverse that you will surely find something that can adjust perfectly to your travel budget. The most two common accommodation services modalities in Cancun are All Inclusive Hotels and European Plan (EP) Hotels.
Another attractive fact about Cancun is that it has become so popular through the years that it has contributed to the development of other nearby towns in the State of Quintana Roo. Its proximity to Playa de Carmen (about 42 miles away) and Tulum (about 80 miles away) broadens the entertainment alternatives available in this region, including a wide variety of eco-tourist activities. In addition to that, there are a few islands close to Cancun and Riviera Maya. Among them are Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. The former is the closest to Cancun, it’s just a 30 minutes ferry boat trip away. The latter is closer to Playa del Carmen, the ferry pier is located in the starting point of the fifth avenue and the ferry boat trip to get to Cozumel is about 50 minutes. If you are considering to visit Cozumel, you can also get there by plane.
Where is Cancun?
Cancun is located in the East End of Mexico in the continental area of Peninsula de Yucatan. It is the first city in the country to see the sunlight every day. However, if we consider Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, it could also be said that it is the third place where the sun rises in Mexico. Just a funny fact about these places.
Cancun is part of the State of Quintana Roo, the youngest federate state in Mexico. It was founded in 1974. Quintana Roo has borders with two other Mexican states: Yucatan and Campeche. Along with the state of Chiapas, Quintana Roo is the southern border of Mexico. A very important fact is that the Caribbean Sea surrounds the coast of Quintana Roo.
From a political division stand, Cancun belongs to Benito Juarez Municipality. Its population is around 800,000 inhabitants. Most of them are enrolled in tourist activities as their main job. So, don’t doubt about it, here you will find an entire population train to give the best customer service. Since Cancun opened as a tourist destination in the 1970s, the people that arrived here began working with tourist, so there’s a vast experience on that regard.
One of the geographical curiosities of Cancun (in general of the state of Quintana Roo) is that due to its location in the Yucatan Peninsula, it has a limestone soil. This is a consequence of the asteroid that impacted the Earth millions of years ago causing the dinosaurs extinction, it landed right on this area. Thus, the composition of this soil allows the water filtration to the underground layers. Through the time, this phenomenon has contributed to the formation of rivers commonly known as “cenotes”. “Cenote” is a Mayan word that could be translated as “cave with water”. These rivers have become another important attraction in Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and the rest of Riviera Maya. These conditions have also encouraged the growth of the jungle, therefore, the weather that you will find in the region will be tropical.
Another interesting fact about Cancun and Riviera Maya is that due to the soil composition there are no mountains. The land in this zone is almost flat.
One last thing to notice regarding this is that, although Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are islands, they still share most of these conditions.
What to do in Cancun and Riviera Maya?
Like any city and tourist destination, Cancun has different tourist attractions and a wide offer of things to do. Among the most outstanding locations for tourist activities are:
Hotel zone. It is a 14 miles (23 kilometers) strip in which, as its name implies, most of the hotels in Cancun are located. It is surrounded by water: on one side, the sea, and on the other, the Nichupté lagoon. In addition to hotels, you can also find a wide variety of restaurants, shops, shopping centers, bars, nightclubs, golf courses, among other attractions.
Puerto Cancun and Marina Town Center. It is a residential development that borders the hotel zone and in which there is also a shopping center, shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Puerto Juarez. It is located in the North of Cancun and close to Isla Mujeres mainland. This place is relevant because here you can find the ferry pier where boats sail to the Island (Isla Mujeres). It is possible to get to the pier both by taxi or by bus.
Isla Blanca. It located in Cancun’s North End. It is known for still being a virgin-like beach, thus there’s barely infrastructure and services around. It is a place to relax and enjoy the sea. Transportation to get there is limited to taxi cab or by renting a car.
Mercado 28. This place resembles of a traditional Mexican market and it is located close to downtown. Here, you will find Mexican craft and other local products. There are also some Mexican restaurants.