Cancun: City of Sun, Fun, and Romance

Cancun is the city for fun under the sun. And don't forget the romance. I hope to tell you about the restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, and activities available in the city.

Cancun: City of Sun, Fun, and Romance

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Coach Bear on May 12, 2002

If you want to have a week of leisure, a solid week of parties, dancing, dining, educational and cultural opportunities, history, or just romance, visit the beautiful city of Cancun. I have traveled to Cancun at least once per year since 1996. I plan to make this a part of my lifestyle for as long as I live. Traveling with my wife to the restaurant and nightclubs, to the Mayan ruins, to shop, or to see the major sights is one of my great pleasures. Plus, the city is known for its hot and steamy romance. I certainly enjoy the added excitement that I feel when I visit the city.

${QuickSuggestions} More than 100,000 people fly into and out of Cancun on a daily basis. This is a city that was built by the federal government with the express purpose of soliciting tourism. It has been an unqualified success. The average visitor can eat pleasant meals, sit out at the many beaches, or party until the early morning hours. This is also a convenient spot to use as a base when visiting the surrounding countryside. The Mayan ruins in the state of Yucatan are easily accessible from here, as are trips to Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Tulum.

${BestWay} The bus system is inexpensive and is easy to negotiate. This is the best way to get around the city and the area. However, if you prefer a taxi, there are many drivers who will chauffeur you to whatever place is of interest to you. Many of the cabs charge only 10 pesos for trips within the downtown area. Either way that you travel, the city is tourist friendly. You cannot go wrong.

Imperial Las Perlas Cancun

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 16, 2003

During my four week stay in Mexico I spent the first two and last evenings at the Imperial Las Perlas. I arrived in Cancun on a Thursday afternoon, so I needed two nights prior to my week at my timeshare. By arriving on a weekday and leaving on a weekday (with a weekend between) the airfare was less by almost 50%. This enabled me to pay for extra days in the city with the money that I saved on airfare.

The reception desk area at the hotel was small, and the employee on duty could not find my reservations for almost 30 minutes. This was a major cause of irritation for me. I gave the man a copy of the fax I had received with my reservation guarantee and number, but he would not accept this until he was finally able to find his own copy. What a start to a vacation!! Certainly the difficulty had some impact on my perception of the hotel.

I eventually got to my room. The bed appeared to be decent, although it was somewhat small. To make my first night worse, the boards under the bed became dislodged and I fell through the bed. The bathroom had a small shower, with only a thin stream of water issuing from the nozzle. This was totally unlike the other hotels at which I have stayed in Cancun. The toilet was cracked, and leaked water. In fact, the toilet seat came off when I sat down on it. Never did the management come to see the room, nor did the maintenance repair anything during my stay.

However, there were two positives about the hotel, such as the nice (small) beach behind the hotel and the restaurant inside the hotel. The food served was delicious. The beach was nice, but had a problem with seaweed that would float to the shore every morning. At least one employee spent the majority of his day raking the seaweed from the edges and removing it from the beach.

In a pinch I would stay at the Imperial again, but not if I could find another place to stay. The negatives were just too much for my mind to overcome. I know that there are other hotels for the same price that offer a more pleasant stay.

Imperial Las Perlas
Cancun, Mexico, 77500

Holiday Inn Cancun

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 11, 2003

I was strongly impressed during my visit to the Holiday Inn Cancun by the convenience and luxury of the surroundings. Not only was I was able to stay in a four-star quality hotel, but I still had access to all of the activities that I enjoy in Cancun and the surrounding areas.

My last stay at this hotel was during a three and one-half week visit to the area. I travelled around the city of Cancun, spent time on Isla Mujeres, time in Estado Yucatan, time in Cozumel, and returned to Cancun. The Holiday Inn Cancun (Downtown) was my hub during the trip.

From the hotel, I was able to visit the many restaurants in downtown and on the island, go to the beach, and spend my evenings at my favorite hot spots. All of this by stepping on a bus or by taking a cab. The downtown area has its own unique atmosphere. There is more of a traditional Mexican flavor to the downtown that is often lost on the island (in the Zona Hotelara).

Holiday Inn does not have direct access to the beach, but there is a shuttle from the hotel to another hotel that has beachfront property. (The beaches in Mexico are all open and free.) The shuttle leaves four times daily and returns guests back to the hotel. I did not find this to be an inconvenience, since I chose to spend my time in the downtown area.

There is a nice restaurant in the hotel, the lobby has an air of old Spain, the balconies give a pleasant view of the city, and there are ample activities in and around the area, like bars, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping, and local activities. What more can one want? Many tourists choose to stay in this hotel to keep away from the crowded beach area.

Would I return to the Holiday Inn? Yes, if I wanted to do more activities in the downtown area and less on the beach. This is the best hotel in the city that is not in the Zona Hotelara.

Holiday Inn Cancun
Avenue Nader #1 S.M. 2
Cancun, Mexico

Howard Johnson Kokai Cancun

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 11, 2003

I stayed at the Howard Johnson Kokai during a two week visit to Cancun. This hotel was less expensive than many of the other options that were available to me. Plus, I was familiar with the manager of the hotel through mutual acquaintances.

I found the hotel to be charming, but less so than I had anticipated. This was mainly due to ongoing renovations, though. The pool was not functional while I was staying there, thus it was inconvenient to do some of the activities which I had planned. However, there was a four-time daily shuttle from the hotel to another hotel with beachfront access. So, I was able to spend most of my days at the beach.

As always, the evenings were open for going to a variety of different locales, but I chose to spend most of my time in the downtown area. There is always a large selection of restaurants, nightclubs, and other tourist-friendly activities for one to see. As always, I was able to spread out my activities into the other areas of the peninsula and go to Chichen Itza and Isla Mujeres from the hotel.

The room that I rented was smallish, the bed was too soft, and the pool was being repaired. Otherwise, the stay at Hotel Kokai was decent. I enjoyed my breakfast at the restaurant. They had a Vera Cruz style meal that I enjoyed tremendously. If you are on a low to moderate budget, I recommend that you try the Howard Johnson Kokai.

Howard Johnson Kokai Cancun
Avenida Uxmal #26
Cancun, Mexico

Continental Plaza Cancun

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on May 15, 2002

Best Things Nearby:
The best things nearby are the malls (Flamingo Plaza, Forum by the Sea, Kukulcan Plaza, and Mayafair Plaza), the beach (on-site), and Pat O'Brien's.

Best Things About the Resort:

Resort Experience:
When I first went to Cancun in 1996 I visited the Continental Plaza. The decor of the rooms and the views from the resort were enough for me to return the following year and commit to a timeshare membership. At that time, the Balet Folklorico was located at the hotel. It has since move to Xcaret.

Still, the resort offers an excellent location and plenty of activities. There are three pools, a beach at your door, a restaurant (Tony Roma's), two small groceries, and a nice bar. Continental Plaza is rated 5-star by most guides. There are separate parts of this complex for hotel visitors and timeshare. If you are in the hotel, the air in the upper floors has a difficult time circulating. This problem does not exist in the resort area.

I have visited the resort on two occasions and the hotel on two others. If you enjoy the beach, there is plenty of beach outside your door. If you like shopping, go across the street to Flamingo Plaza or take a bus to one of the other plazas.

Pat O'Brien's and Los Rancheros are both across the street in Famingo Plaza. Both have excellent food and plenty of entertainment. Tony Roma's is supposed to be an excellent restaurant, but I have not tried it... yet.

The discos are just down the road. You can easily take a bus to these areas.

Whatevr your interest, Continental Plaza is a wonderful place to spend your time.

Continental Plaza Cancun All Inclusive
Km 11 Boulevard Kukulcan
Cancun, Mexico, 77500
+52 (988) 15500

Altamar Restaurante Español

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on May 15, 2002

When I first visited this restaurant it was called Paella Club. It has since changed its name. However, the food and the menu remain the same.

I have visited the Altamar Restaurante Español on three separate occasions. The owners are brothers, and relatives, that have immigrated from Spain. They brought their local specialties to Cancun to share in the dining market.

The reaturant is listed in the Cancun guide as a seafood restaurant. While there is seafood on the menu, I recommend any of the paellas that they make. They even have a seafood version. The flavors of this Spanish dish are distinctly different from those that many consider Mexican food. The blend of saffron mixed in the rice is quite unique to Spanish food.

The service is excellent, especially if you speak with the waiters about their experiences in Spain. There is a xylophone player who will play your requests, as well as many other songs that he knows. He has a large variety of songs to play. Ask for a romantic Mexican or Spanish song. You will certainly enjoy the experience.

This is one of my favorite places to visit when in Cancun.

Altamar Restaurante Español
Calle Tulipanes 29
Cancun, Mexico

Restaurant Rosa Mexicano

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 15, 2003

I fell in love with Cancun before I met my present wife. I have traveled to the city more than 10 times, sometimes alone, and sometimes with a companion. During one of those previous visits to Cancun I was with a female friend. As we strolled through the streets of downtown Cancun, we became hungry and entered the Restaurant Rosa Mexicano, where we were promptly seated in an upstairs dining area.

That evening my senses were aflame. I noticed everything around me. The decor of the restaurant was the traditional Mexican style with wooden tables and chairs, different colored lights, and cattle horns hanging on the walls. The food on the menu ranged from steaks to seafood. The aroma of garlic and chiles surrounded the diner. A trio of Mariachi singers walked from table to table taking musical requests. I had the singers play "Peregrina" and "Besame Mucho" for my friend. I believe that provided the ultimate romantic touch for the evening. All that we lacked was our meal.

I ordered bistek ranchero; my friend wanted the camarones al diablo. We were able to watch the other diners, and I was able to spend some time listening to my friend while we awaited our food. As with the earlier part of our visit to the restaurant, all was perfection. The steak was tender and spiced the way that I enjoy it. The shrimp steamed in their sauce and were quickly devoured. The waiter gave us enough attention that we had no problems keeping our drinks filled.

The final test of a good restaurant is the price check. This time I was able to walk away from the restaurant with a price that was in the moderate range. I felt as though the evening was worth whatever price was necessary, but I was thankful that the meal had not eaten too much into my budget.

There are many Mexican restaurants in Cancun. However, to enjoy a classical experience, one that is truly authentic, the visitor to Cancun should have the experience of Restaurant Rosa Mexicano. Even the more expensive restaurants cannot provide a better experience.

Restaurant Rosa Mexicano
Claveles 4
Cancun, Mexico


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 15, 2003

Forum by the Sea is one of the newer plazas in all of Cancun and holds many of the more exclusive establishments in the area. One of these is the Italian restaurant U´Mediterraneo. It is a wonderful restaurant with the décor and the food being those of the traditional Italian style. One of my favorite places to visit when in Cancun is U´Mediterraneo.

I visited this restaurant soon after it first opened in 1997. I was greatly impressed by the handmade salt-and-pepper shakers and the stoneware serving dishes, all specially made in Mexico City. Plus, this restaurant has one of the most romantic views of the ocean and beach that I have seen in the Cancun area. A large window overlooks the beach and the ocean, giving the diner, depending upon the time of day, a chance to watch lovers stroll the beach, children playing in the sand, or watch the lights of the ocean liners (at night) as they await the return of their passengers. Personally, I believe that the most romantic time is the early evening. Usually, one only needs to ask to be seated with a window view. On the walls opposite the windows is a wonderful mural of an Italian seaside community. The mural is based upon the scene of a famous Italian city, though I have forgotten the name of the city. When I am not watching the beach or ocean or my companion, I can easily become absorbed in the mural and its details.

One of the great things about U´Mediterraneo is that the owner and the waiters all immigrated from Italy. Most have many years of experience in restaurants and on luxury ocean liners. This only supplements the authentic cuisine of a seaside Italian city. For these reasons, you will have great food and terrific service when you visit here.

Speaking of food, traditional pastas, soups, rice dishes, and seafood make this one of the most wonderful dining experiences that you will find anywhere. I know that the restaurant is located in Mexico (and I try to eat only in places that serve the local cuisine), but the food is so delicious at U´Mediterraneo that it is difficult to omit a visit from one’s dining plans. I have returned to U´Mediterraneo on two subsequent visits to Cancun, and plan to return again this summer.

Forum by the Sea
Cancun, Mexico
+52 (998) 883-1862

Los Rancheros

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 29, 2003

One of my favorite restaurants in Cancun is Los Rancheros. Each time that I have visited the city, I have made at least one stop at the restaurant. Los Rancheros is located in Flamingo Plaza, which is directly across the street from the Continental Villas Plaza and is near Pat O'Brien's. The food served there is traditional Mexican, and the visitor can find all of the typical trappings of the local cuisine - refried beans, pico de gallo, tacos, Mexican chicken, rice, and other dishes.

For me, the most enjoyable time to visit is during the lunch hour, as a buffet is served at a reasonable price (there is also a buffet for breakfast). These meals are inexpensive (about $5 - $7) when compared to many of the other restaurants in the other plazas (malls). The most interesting thing about eating at some of the restaurants is meeting people. One of the ladies who works as a hostess at Los Rancheros was very friendly to me. She was kind enough to go shopping with me on her day away from work. This helped me to find quality souvenirs without spending exorbitant prices.

Only once did I eat at Los Rancheros for their evening meals as these tend to be more expensive, but they are still a value. When dining in the evening at the restaurant, a live mariachi band plays for the enjoyment of the customer. The lights are dimmed also, which gives a more romantic atmosphere for couples.

Whenever dining at Los Rancheros, the food is tasty and the people are pleasant. Every visit that I make to the restaurant brings new appreciation for the food that is served, and I am able to renew acquaintances with several people that I have met over the years. Therefore I am able to say that a visit to Cancun is never complete without going to Los Rancheros.

Los Rancheros
Flamingo Plaza Km. 11.5
Cancun, Mexico
998/885 27 58


Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Coach Bear on May 27, 2002

As you walk along the sidewalks by Krystal going toward Christine's, it is impossible to miss the site of diners through the window of a luxurious restaurant. In front of the restaurant, beside a pool, is a bronze sculpture of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. During my first three trips to Cancun I wondered about the inside of this place. Finally, I made reservations and took my wife out for supper to Bogarts.

As we entered the lobby, there were potted plants set on Persian carpets. We had a short wait to be seated, then were taken through three different dining areas to our table. The room which first caught my attention was one with a piano bar. A man was playing the piano, reminiscent of "Casablanca." We were seated in a room with very nice rugs, and high-backed 'wicker"-style chairs.

The maitre 'D was attentive, as were the three different waiters who appeared at different times to assist us with any needs. Sadly, my wife was not well that evening and had only a salad and a small glass of wine. I had a salad, lobster three ways, and the remainder of the wine. The food was delicious, but small in portions.

After the meal we were presented a photo that had been taken of us, for which we paid $20. Then we were presented with the bill. $128!!! I knew that the meal would be expensive, but little did I realize how much expense it would be. I think that what made the evening palatable was the fact that my wife was pleased with the extremely romantic atmosphere that we encountered at this restaurant.

If you want a romantic evening and do not care about the expense, this is your place. I recommend that you go to Christine's afterwards and take in the dancing.

Bogart's Restaurant
Kukulcan Boulevard
Cancun, Mexico
+52 (98) 83-1133

Santa Fe Café

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 18, 2003

During our travels to Cancun, my wife and I have visited the Santa Fe Café’ on at least four occasions. Located in the Forum by the Sea Plaza, Santa Fe Café’ has joined a large number of other restaurants that offer fine dining. This establishment combines nouveau-Western food and a microbrewery to give the diner a unique experience. The guest/diner is offered a selection of different pastas, sandwiches, desserts, and beers from a fine microbrewery on the premises.

Over a three-year time period during which I have visited the restaurant, the selection of beers that have been offered has been slightly different each time. Bottled beers such as Dos Equis, Corona, and Negra Modelo remain the same, but the beers brewed in the microbrewery are served as the draft beers, and these change on a monthly schedule. Usually the choices from the microbrewery include a nice stout, a lager, a pilsner, and a fruity beer. When my wife and I last dined at the Santa Fe, a beer brewed with peaches added was the special of the month. Such selections give an interesting change of pace for the palate.

Each time that we went to the Santa Fe my wife and I enjoyed a different selection from the menu. We found that ordering the sampler platter of beers (which contains six selections from the microbrewery) gives the opportunity to select the beer that is most pleasant to the taste for future reference. We will return to the Santa Fe Café’ on many occasions in the future because it is such a unique experience in the Cancun area.

Santa Fe Café
Forum by the Sea Plaza
Cancun, Mexico

Pat O'Brien's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 25, 2003

Pat O'Brien's is a restaurant in Cancun located directly across the street from the Continental Plaza Hotel. It was only natural for me to amble across the street from my room and mingle with the crowd when I visited the city. Part of a chain of five such establishments in major tourist cities, the Pat O’Brien’s in Cancun is one of the most popular evening spots in the city. I have been to this restaurant numerous times during at least three separate vacation trips. The last visit gave me the opportunity to take my wife. She had never heard of the restaurant before, but she quickly learned to appreciate the beauty of the location (set amid beautiful beaches and luxurious resorts), the unique decorative touches of the designer (beer steins hanging overhead and lavish ironwork throughout the restaurant), the romance provided by a signature flaming fountain, and the delicious food.

I feel that the major attraction at Pat O’Brien’s is the evening meal. The menu contains a selection of steaks, seafood, and salads, with a few local dishes thrown in the mix. My wife and I ordered two pitchers of the famous Pat O’Brien’s hurricanes to start the evening, then she ordered the fresh filet of fish and I ordered the porterhouse steak. The waiter not only took the orders, but entertained the customers by carrying the drink orders on his head. It is amazing to see the waiters as they carry up to 10 drinks balanced on their heads without dropping the drinks or spilling the contents.

However, the food and the atmosphere were not the only ways that we enjoyed ourselves. A very capable rock band played covered of a wide variety of music from the rock world (oldies from the Beach Boys through modern selections by U2 and Selena). They performed from about 8pm until midnight. About once every hour the waiters all go to the stage and dance to "Cotton-Eyed Joe", then return to serving. This reminds me a little of the bar scenes from the movie Coyote Ugly.

First-time visitors to Pat O’Brien’s may be surprised by the long line of customers waiting to be seated. The line is only an indication of the quality of the food and the popularity of the entertainment that can be found at this restaurant. The line occurs from around 6 - 9pm. Afterwards it is easier to get in to enjoy this establishment.

After a wonderful evening of food and music, my wife and I returned to Pat O’Brien’s for breakfast. This time we were treated to a nice breakfast buffet for about $6 - $7. The meal consisted of international favorites such as pancakes, French toast, bacon, sausage, eggs, ham, sweet rolls, and Mexican favorites such as chorizo, refried beans, fried bananas, rice, and other dishes. It was also possible to have the chef cook a specialty omelet for this meal. Again, we left the restaurant filled and happy for the experience.

Pat O'Brien's
Plaza Flamenco
Cancun, Mexico

Playa Caracol

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on April 15, 2003

Located across the street from Mayafair Plaza and behind the El Presidente hotel is Playa Caracol (Snail Beach). I was introduced to this beach during my first visit to Cancun. The Playa is the largest and most popular beach in all of Cancun and gives the visitor more opportunities to explore beach activities than anywhere else in the area. Many people go to be seen on this beach and many others go to play. I fell in love with the warm white sand and the clear waters on my first visit.

There is very little problem with high waves and riptides on this beach (as there are on many other beaches) due to the location in the protected area of the island. Isla Mujeres (in the distance) serves as a natural break water that protects this beach. Visitors staying in hotels such as Krystal, Fiesta Americana, and El Presidente (among others) stream to Playa Caracol to spend long days sunbathing and playing in the sand. The refreshment stands on this beach prepare drinks that are reasonable in price and that are not watered down, as in the nightspots. The Mayafair Plaza is located directly across the street, and provides shopping, dining, and other activities for the sun-lover when they tire of the sand.

One of the additional reasons for my attraction to Playa Caracol is that I formed several great romances while strolling down the beach. Many other couples come to this beach to be married. Those couple surely must agree with me about the romance of the beach. Regardless, when you visit Cancun, make the time to visit this beach. You will never wish to leave it.

Playa Caracol
Boulevard Kukulcan Km 6
Cancun, Mexico

Hard Rock Café

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Coach Bear on May 13, 2002

One of the more enjoyable places that I visit is the Hard Rock Cafe'. My wife and I usually go to this spot at least twice on each of our visits to Cancun.

I find that the most enjoyable time to visit here is from 9:00 pm and later. Two live bands perform on most nights at 10:30 (all except Wednesdays). The music that they play ranges from Selena to U2 to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The bands that I have seen have been high quality cover bands.

The food is traditional for a pub; burgers and fries, salads, sandwiches, and chicken wings. The drinks tend to be watered down. But, the atmosphere and the music make for an exciting evening.

Hard Rock Café
Boulevard Kukulcán Km.8.5
Cancun, Mexico
(998) 881-8120


Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Coach Bear on May 13, 2002

I went to Christine's, located beside Krystal Cancun, with several of my friends to check out the dancing and the other attractions. The evening started slowly, having to await some unknown problem. By the time things began to get going I was anxious.

I noticed that my friends and I were the oldest people in the club. Most of the dancers ranged in age from 18 - 30. It certainly boosted our morale to be noticed by several very attractive girls, though.

The music began playing, dancers started going to the floor, and the party began. Music tended to be modern rock and disco. There were plenty of disco lights and a few lasers. The party continued until about 4:00 am.

Drinks were a bit pricey, but I believe that the price goes along with the atmosphere.

I find that this club is more elegant than the other dance clubs in town. It doesn't get the notoriety as some of the others, but the girls here were dressed better and appeared to be more socially skilled. The males were better dressed than I had noticed at La Boom and other places and tended to "hunt" singly, not in packs.

Overall, the experience is pleasant, but more attuned for those aged 18 - 30.

Boulevard Kukulkan km 9
Cancun, Mexico, 77500
(998) 883-1133

La Boom

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Coach Bear on May 13, 2002

I met four ladies from my home area while at the beach of my hotel. We were all on vacation for the week, so we decided to check out one of the "hot spots" that the younger people kept talking about. I really was uncertain of my expectations for the evening, but I knew that there would be dancing.

At the entrance to the club was a group of about 50 young teenagers who were on their senior trips. They set a negative tone for the evening from the beginning, as they were obnoxious and demanding. Their chaperones were not far behind them in their rudeness. However, the four ladies and I decided to venture forth and try to see what could be made of our evening.

We danced and socialized and had a pleasant evening among ourselves. The music was loud, of course, but seemed to be a more brash sounding style than there was at the other clubs. Of course, there were many more people in La Boom.

The age group tended to be between 18 - 25. The clients were mostly 'whiny' and pampered, selfish, and did not have proper social skills. I found that the best way to find enjoyment here was to be in a group and to stay together.

Because of my preferences at my age (49), I doubt that I will return to La Boom. But the experience would probably be different for someone in their 20's or 30's.

La Boom
Boulevard Kukulcan Km 3.5
Cancun, Mexico

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