Cancun on a Budget

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Gargiulo

Cancun is one of the popular and most affordable destinations in Mexico, yet many travelers who visit the Riviera Maya tend to spend exorbitant amounts of money on adventures and activities due to lack of planning and research prior to their trip.

Fortunately, you don't have to follow suit because today I'm going to be sharing my best tips and personal recommendations for things to see, do and experience on a budget both in and around Cancun.
Hit the Beach

Many of Cancun's most extravagant all-inclusive resorts are located in what is known as the Zona Hotelera, or the "Hotel Zone" just outside of downtown Cancun. The quality and popularity of the beaches in the hotel zone vary depending on which part of the strip you're staying on.

If you're lucky enough to be staying at the CasaMagna Cancun Marriott Resort, do yourself a favor and stay put. You'll be happy to know that your resort is known to have some of the best beachfront property in all of Cancun.

For the biggest waves, visit Playa Delfines. For a more secluded beach, be sure to visit Playa Chac Mool. If you're looking for a beach that offers a wide variety of water activities such as jetskiing, parasailing and more, head on over to Playa Caracol.

Visit Playa del Carmen

If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Cancun and get off the resort, do yourself a favor and take a day trip down to Playa del Carmen. Playa is a small, yet growing seaside community with its fair share of beautiful beaches, cheap massages, delicious food options and an endless list of fun things to do.


$20 dollar, 60-minute massages at Coco Maya Beach Club

Delicious and cheap authentic Mexican food can be found at a small restaurant called La Coronela on Calle 1 Sur between 5th and 10th Avenue

The best tacos can be found at El Rey del Taco, a local street food cart located at the corner of the Mega grocery store on Constituyentes and 30th Avenue

Tip:The cheapest way to get to Playa del Carmen is by colectivo (group taxi). You can find the Playa Express colectivo directly across from the ADO bus station in downtown Cancun. A one-way ticket to Playa del Carmen will cost 35 pesos per person.
Cenote Eden

If you're looking for an adventurous thing to do with your family and friends on a budget, be sure to take a half-day trip out to one of the hundreds of Cenotes located in the jungles of the Yucatan.

One of my personal favorites is Cenote Eden, a large, natural sinkhole located approximately an hour and twenty minutes drive south of Cancun. If you decide to spend the day in Playa del Carmen, you can easily add in a short visit to Cenote Eden which is about 25 minutes south of Playa.

While this cenote is popular with snorkelers and divers, it's also a great place to take a refreshing dip after a long day of sightseeing at the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum.

Tip:Bring your towel, camera and some biodegradable sunscreen. If you want to visit two cenotes in one day, be sure to visit Cenote Azul, which happens to be right next door to Cenote Eden.

Cost:Approximately $10-15 per person if you use local public transportation. Cheaper if you have your own rental car.
Snorkel with Sea Turtles

Some of the best places to snorkel are located just south of Cancun. In Akumal Bay, you can swim alongside sea turtles that feed on the ocean floor just a couple hundred feet offshore. It's an incredible experience that I think everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. Snorkel equipment will run you approximately $20 for the day but just get one or two sets of gear and take turns to cut down on costs. After you've had your sea turtle fix, head on over to Turtle Bay Bakery & Cafe for some lunch and some of the most delicious homemade ice cream in all of the Yucatan.

Tip:Don't forget to bring your underwater camera and biodegradable sunscreen. Also, be sure to pack your own snorkel gear if you want to really cut costs.

Cost:Free to lay on the beach, $20 per day for snorkel gear if you rent from the local dive shop.

Party at Coco Bongo

If you're looking for the best nightlife in Cancun or Playa del Carmen and you're willing to splurge on one thing on your vacation, do yourself a favor and pick up tickets to Coco Bongo.

The live entertainment at Coco Bongo consists of go-go dancers, flying superheroes, acrobats, action movie scene reenactments, celebrity impersonators singing their latest hits and so much more. Be prepared to dance and party until the wee hours of the morning because this place doesn't stop rocking until 3:30AM.

Tip:Official Coco Bongo ticket salesmen stand out front of the venue all day and all night in hopes to recruit people to check out the show. Don't be afraid to chat up the salesmen and ask them for their best deals.

Cost:Monday through Wednesday: $65 per person, Thursday through Sunday: $75 per person. Admission price includes entrance and unlimited drinks from 10:30PM to 3:30AM.

With the wide variety of affordable adventure activities, cultural sights, stunning beaches, beautiful all-inclusive resorts and an average of 240 to 250 sunny days per year, you really can't go wrong by booking your next vacation to Cancun.

Ryan Gargiulo
Ryan Gargiulo is the guy behind the popular travel and adventure blog called Pause The Moment. He's a world traveler, adventurer, blogger, vlogger and expert travel coach who has traveled to more than 35 countries across the globe since he left his job back in 2010. Read more from Ryan at

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