If you were to ask anyone what is Mexico’s premier beach destination Cancun will almost certainly be the answer to your question without any form of stutter or hesitation. And they won’t be wrong. Cancun has certainly swiftly kicked Acapulco in the genitals and overthrown it to become the Alpha beach town of Mexico.
You can honestly see why it’s become numero uno in Mexico and one of the most visited locations in the country. Acapulco the former holders of the top spot has been in a huge decline from its former glory when major celebrities such as Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor all have notably holidayed there. Yet now it’s rarely visited and frequently appeared on lists of the world’s most dangerous cities. From its rise in drug cartel warfare, the frequency of dead bodies being left on the beach and even the American government issuing warnings not to visit, Acapulco has lost more tourism than when someone who comes out as a racist loses friends.
The downfall of Acapulco paved the way for the younger, hipper and more swagger, as the cool youths of today would say, Cancun to blossom. However, despite its emergence and over 8 million tourists yearly* is our gal pal Cancun overrated or is she a girl boss? Let’s have a wee divulge, shall we!
In terms of aesthetics, Cancun is gorgeous, and would certainly win prom queen and a few regional beauty pageants. Genuinely a very gorgeous and snap-worthy place with so many pristine golden sand beaches with crystal clear blue waters for miles. Literally for fucking miles. The amount of beach areas is unreal where you could easily go to a new place along the Hotel Zone to get sunburned every day for your day 10 vacay. The vast majority of the hotels in the Hotel Zone in Cancun will have the beach literally on the doorstep. Highly recommended Cancun beaches include Playa Chad Mool, Playa Tortugas and the heavily visited Playa Delfines. These gorgeous beaches are the main pinnacle of Cancun and are why millions of people from around the globe flock to them, they’re not directly in downtown Cancun.
Cancun is a tale of two halves, the hotel zone and downtown Cancun. The hotel zone is as clearly advertised, a zone for hotels that spans for miles with enough hotels in one strip for it to be classed as its own city called ‘Expensive As Fuck City’. The vast majority of hotels are in one massive long strip that’s right by all the beaches with its own wee mini touristy area consisting of all the typical beach city bars, clubs, entertainment and people harassing you to spend your pesos on their shitey product. The hotel zone is your typical beach resort zone; overpriced, overrated, over-exposed and overpopulated by sunburnt old men with no tops on thinking they’re still back in their glory days. If you’re the type of humanoid who loves an all-inclusive expensive as fuck holiday laying by the beach sipping on MX$ 100 white wine spritzers then you’ll adore this area and all the accommodations around it, but for the people, you don’t maybe check out downtown Cancun.
Downtown Cancun is the polar opposite of the hotel zone, the goth sibling to the head cheerleader sibling. Downtown Cancun is more greasy, run down and generally just a wee nice Mexican town that happens to be by loads of beaches. There’s still your touristy aspects and people trying to sell you stuff and lure you into their establishments but it’s a lot less condensed and completely different. You couldn’t say downtown Cancun is overrated, it’s just a wee Mexican town where people live day to day, do their work and go home. It’s a normal place that just so happens to have some hotels and hostels for tourists who can’t afford, choose not to or have accidentally booked a place far away from the main touristy part. The area is also way cheaper than the hotel zone, literally downtown is your Asda/Walmart value clothes and the hotel zone is your Gucci. You can get a full meal from one of the street food vendors for the same price as you’d pay for a small bowl of plain tortillas in that expensive area we’ve mentioned a lot. The price difference in everything between the two areas is uncanny, it’s honestly more worth it to stay in a hotel in downtown Cancun than down with the rest of them as the bus is cheap enough to get to all the beaches and convenient as well.
To answer the question ‘is Cancun overrated’, the answer would easily be a yes, a massive yes. A yes purely from the standpoint of how expensive it is for everything you’ll pay for outside downtown, how over-touristy and populated it is in the hotel zone and how typical of a touristic beach city it is. If you want the Cancun experience but slightly less crowded Playa Del Carmen is a good choice but again it’s more on the pricey side than not. For those wanting the Cancun experience but do not want the price, population and over-saturation issues, a location like Tulum would be much better suited.
If Cancun is where you want to go then crack on people, the beaches will make the amount of money you will burn semi-worth it. However, it’s best to avoid Cancun if on a budget and head to somewhere like Tulum where you can get the same experience for a cheaper price and less overly touristic atmosphere. Overall, Cancun is heavy overrated.
*According to http://www.statista.com