Purpose-built for pleasure
Cancun is an ultra-modern resort city, perched on top of the Yucatan peninsula, looking out over the Caribbean Sea. With over 250 days of sunshine every year, and miles of pristine beaches, it’s one of Mexico’s best places to build up a tan.
Shoppers are spoilt for choice in Cancún. For clothing, La Isla Shopping Village (Boulevard Kukulcan Km 12.5) is the glitzy option, with mini bridges linking its 150 boutiques. Kukulcan Plaza and Luxury Avenue malls (Boulevard Kukulcan Km 13), adjacent to one another, are best for designer brands; visit Mexican brand Pineda Covalin for handmade scarves and accessories featuring Mayan imagery. For those who prefer markets to malls, Mercado 28 (off Avenidas Yaxchilán and Sunyaxchén) is a labyrinthine open-air flea market in central Cancún where stalls sell everything from Mexican handicrafts to fresh food, at half the price of stalls in the hotel zone.
Food & Drink
From fine dining to fonditas, Cancún’s foodie scene is flourishing. Downtown, authentic Mexican cuisine can be found at Parque de las Palapas, where street vendors sell quesadillas, churros, tacos and tostadas at bargain prices. Alternatively, grab a table at PikNik (Avenida Tulum Calle Tulipanes) for Mexican that’s cheap and cheerful. At the high end, tiny gem Peter’s Restaurante (Avenida Bonampak 71-72) serves gourmet dishes to rave about, whilst La Habichuela’s (Calle Margaritas 25) is a favourite with tourists and locals alike – reserve a table in the courtyard for a romantic setting. In the hotel zone, don’t be fooled by Puerto Madero’s (Boulevard Kukulcan Km 14) rustic look; the fine dining restaurant offers Argentinian steak and seafood to impress.
Stretching over five days, carnival in Cancún is a raucous affair. Watch the costumed floats roll by as the carnival procession winds its way through the streets, and let yourself be distracted by the plethora of food stalls, concerts and exhibitions.
Cancún-Riviera Maya Food & Wine Festival
Signalling the rise of the region’s culinary scene, the Cancún-Riviera Food and Wine Festival attracts a horde of superstar chefs (past guest chefs have included El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià). Four days of workshops, demonstrations and samples guarantee you’ll be stuffed.
Riviera Maya Film Festival
With movies showing throughout the Riviera Maya region, including Parques de las Palapas and Autocinema in Cancún, the film festival is a great opportunity to explore the region’s lesser-visited coastal towns.
Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
Recently relocated from Cancún, the jazz festival in nearby Riviera Maya is one of the musical highlights of the year. Dance to the Latin beat as international artists perform over three days of concerts at the Mamita’s Beach Club.
Cancún International Film Festival
Showcasing the best of Mexican cinema, the Cancún International Film Festival attracts a cosmopolitan crowd – including the odd celebrity – eager to support both new and established filmmakers.
Cancún’s well-deserved reputation as a party town means it has hotel options for all budgets. One of the best budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts is the Golden Parnassus Resort & Spa (Boulevard Kukulcan Km 14.5) where the fun and games include beer pong at breakfast and nightly shows. At the top end, with ocean views and private beach, Le Blanc Spa Resort (Boulevard Kukulcan Km 10) sets the gold standard for all-inclusives. Adults-only ME Cancún (Boulevard Kukulcan Km 12) isn’t far behind: rooms come complete with rain showers, Aveda toiletries and iPod docking stations. Downtown, Hotel Xbalamqué Resort & Spa (Avenida Yaxchilán 31) offers a unique insight into Mexican culture with Mayan murals in the lobby and main hallway.