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Is Cancun Safe? Safety Advice and Info 2024

Is Cancun Safe? Safety Advice and Info 2024

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From magical cenotes, pristine white beaches, fantastic scuba diving, and whale shark encounters to vast archeological wonders and rich culture, Cancun has so much to offer! Unsurprisingly, the area draws millions of visitors annually, making it Mexico’s go-to tourism destination for good reason.  

If you’re a regular on the blog, you’ll know I have a soft spot for Cancun! From my experience on multiple family vacations as a kid to living there as an adult, I love everything Cancun offers. It is easily my favorite place to visit on the Yucatan Peninsula!

If you’ve never been to Mexico, it’s a great introduction to the country. But if you’re stuck wondering if it’s safe to travel to Cancun, our answer is a definite yes! 

Since Cancun brings so much revenue to Mexico, they’ve got a vested interest in safety and security within the Hotel Zone. Even outside of that area, Cancun is still known as a safe city with a low crime rate. But that doesn’t mean we’re encouraging you to be complacent! Being aware of your surroundings and taking basic precautions is a good plan wherever you are in the world – Cancun included. 

So if you’re headed there soon, you should know what to look out for and how to protect yourself. We created this blog to help you prepare for the best vacation in Cancun!

Is Cancun Safe?

Bailey at a seafood restaurant in Cancun, Mexico
To me, Cancun is one of the safest destinations in Mexico!

Let’s face it – crime happens in every corner of the world, and Mexico is no exception to the rule. It can be hard not to be intimidated by others’ bad travel experiences or snippets on the news, but it’s way more important to see the bigger picture! When you add it all up, Cancun is a safe destination as long as you take some basic travel safety measures.  

Like a lot of other countries, Mexico has a big wealth disparity among its citizens. There’s also a big income gap between locals and the many tourists that visit.

In spots like the Cancun Hotel Zone, you might subconsciously lower your guard because you feel more comfortable being in such a touristic area. But remember that pickpocketing, scams, and petty theft are crimes of opportunity, so maintaining a reasonable level of awareness is the best way to avoid them.

Simple steps go a long way: don’t leave your stuff unattended; keep a low profile with electronics and cash; keep your purse or wallet close to you, and maintain general spatial awareness in public spaces.  

You’ll also probably stumble upon news articles about Mexico’s gang and drug-related violence, even in popular areas like Cancun. However, tourists are rarely the target of gang crimes, and you can easily avoid risky areas. While being informed of these crimes is good, they aren’t worth feeling paranoid about or canceling a trip. 

All in all, making a habit of taking basic safety precautions in Mexico will make any travel experience less stressful and will definitely help you enjoy all the fun experiences in Cancun.  

Related Read: Cancun is also surrounded by beautiful beaches and towns. Read about these fun things in Playa Del Carmen including swimming with whale sharks – just an hour’s drive from Cancun.

Is Cancun Safe FAQs  

Daniel and Bailey selfie on a bus in Cancun, Mexico
On a bus in Cancun!

Cancun Crime Rate

Police in Cancun drive into the hotel zone
Cancun is under heavy police guard. Photo credit: Depositphotos Zhukovsky

If you put aside the negative media coverage and dig into some statistics, you’ll understand the bigger picture. You’ll see what’s actually going on in Cancun and how it might affect you. Knowing what you might encounter is the best way to learn which safety steps to take and what to look out for.  

Although the crime level in Cancun sits around 60%, it’s super important to put that into perspective. Cancun’s crime rate is comparable to some major US cities that you wouldn’t even think twice about visiting! Places like Los Angeles and Miami have crime rates of 58.51% and 57.44%, respectively. However, these don’t even come close to New Orleans’ whopping 81.67% crime rate.

It’s really easy to fall victim to fear-mongering if you don’t put these kinds of things into perspective, especially when the media gets involved.  

If you break it down even further, you’ll notice that the higher crime rates relate mostly to gang-related violence and drugs. While tourists are rarely the target of gang violence, you can drastically lower your risk by avoiding drugs in Cancun. That leads us back to the primary source of crime, which is robbery and petty theft like pickpocketing – which are comparable to the rates in major cities like Miami and LA.  

And while crime in Cancun is comparable to some major US cities (and other cities worldwide!), that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned, either. A little factual research and consistent precautions can easily make for a hassle-free, enjoyable travel experience! 

15 Safety Tips for Cancun

Police on an ATV patrol the beach in Cancun, Mexico
Even the beaches are patrolled!

Cancun is an awesome city to visit and explore, but spatial awareness and good judgment are key to keeping safe – wherever you are in the world!

Here is a list of 15 ways to stay safe and have an awesome travel experience: 

  1. Be aware of common scams so you can avoid them. 
  2. Always be alert when using ATMs. Avoid using ATMs at night.
  3. Leave important documents safely stashed at your hotel. 
  4. Avoid walking alone at night, especially around unpopulated areas. 
  5. Keep cash to a minimum.  
  6. Practice some Spanish phrases, like asking for directions or help. 
  7. Check directions on your phone before walking around, and promptly store it in a safe place when you’re done using it.
  8. Pay attention to beach warning signs & be aware of currents and riptides. 
  9. Keep it low-key – leave the jewelry and fancy clothes at home. 
  10. Don’t keep all your cash and cards in one place. 
  11. Keep digital copies of passports, insurance, and important numbers (in your email, Cloud, etc.). 
  12. Keep cash & cards close to you (cross-body bags are great for this!). 
  13. Stick with reputable hosts, tour guides, and car rental companies. 
  14. Stay away from drugs and any hotspots for drug activity. 
  15. Keep electronics or expensive items out of sight.

Related Read: If you’re also traveling to Mexico’s capital, read tips and info on staying safe in Mexico City.

How to Explore Cancun Safely

Bailey sits ont he side rail of the Catamaran soaking up the views and sun on a tour from Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Just admiring the views!
Bailey and her friend take a selfie at Coco Bongo, Mexico
I went on a girl’s night to Coco Bongo!

If you are concerned about safety while exploring Cancun, taking a guided tour is the best way to ensure your well-being. 

First things first, you’ll want to make sure you get from the Cancun airport to your hotel safely! If you haven’t flown into Cancun before, let me warn you– it’s rather hectic. Landing in a foreign country and trying to get your bearings while swarms of taxi drivers approach you is the easiest place to drop your guard and fall into an unsafe situation. To avoid this altogether, I recommend booking a transfer from the airport in advance– trust me, it will save you a huge headache!

There are a few great Cancun airport transfer options, but my top pick is this private round-trip shuttle. For only $41 USD, they will meet you at the airport and even track your flight in case it is delayed. So as soon as you land, you can settle into vacation mode and avoid the stress and safety concerns of the airport! Be sure to book this shuttle in advance so it’s ready for your arrival!

Once you’re in Cancun, you’ll be eager to jump into the activities. Taking a guided tour will ensure your safety because you’ll be with a local guide who knows the area and wants you to have a fabulous vacation. Below I’ll list some of my favorite tours where I felt 100% safe and would recommend any traveler to do!

Isla Mujeres day trip

If relaxing at a pristine white sand beach, sailing on a catamaran boat, and snorkeling in a gorgeous barrier reef are on your Cancun bucket list, a day trip to Isla Mujeres will check all those boxes! The crew ensures your safety throughout every activity and are experts on navigating the water– it’s literally their job to keep tourists safe! You also don’t have to worry about leaving your belongings unattended because you’ll have the boat to store them on. 

Isla Mujeres is one of the best day trips from Cancun, so it makes for a fun day of exploring. Plus, there’s an open bar and lunch included! You can book this tour to Isla Mujeres in advance for $139 USD.

Go on a jungle adventure tour

There are plenty of thrilling activities in Cancun. While you can rent an ATV or go ziplining through private businesses, combining the activities into this jungle adventure tour is a safer option for a few reasons. You’re much less likely to get scammed, as all the activities are part of the tour and you won’t have to haggle for the price, and you can check reviews to ensure their equipment and standards are safe. 

Oftentimes, if you’re paying for an activity from a vendor off the street, you don’t know what you’re getting. The last thing you want is to get a faulty piece of equipment when you’re partaking in adventure activities!

This Jungle Adventure tour includes ATVing, ziplining into a cenote, and a tequila tasting! It’s a great value for money, $69 USD for 4 hours and it includes transportation too. If you’re looking for a thrill in Cancun, this is the safest option! You can book this tour in advance here

Party at Coco Bongo

If you’re looking to party in Cancun, Coco Bongo is a great place to do so safely! Coco Bongo is a combination of a nightclub and a Las Vegas show, making for one incredible night out. What makes visiting here safe though, is that you can book your tickets ahead of time and skip standing in line for an hour or more and it guarantees entrance. It is also very close to Cancun Hotel Zone, which means you won’t have to travel far at night to find the party. 

You can snag skip-the-line tickets for $113 USD for weekday shows. This sounds like a lot for one night but this includes an open bar, so it really pays for itself rather quickly! You can also upgrade to Gold Member tickets (which has even more perks) for $183 USD. This option is also available on the weekend!

With so many amazing tours and things to do in Cancun, you won’t have trouble finding safe activities to fill your time!

Food and Drink Safety in Cancun

al pastor tacos
Delicious tacos are just the tip of the iceberg on a food tour in Cancun!

Mexican food is a flavorful highlight of visiting this country, and street food can be a great introduction to local cuisine. Cancun has lots to offer, and the food standards are generally pretty good at local restaurants. However, nothing will wreck your travel plans faster than tummy troubles, so take a few basic precautions when picking out your next meal!  

First things first, opt for bottled water and stay away from the ice. Some Cancun resorts or parts of the hotel zone might have filtered water or ice that’s safe to use. However, I find it’s best to get into the habit of drinking bottled water – better safe than sorry!

Even if you’re opting for local juices, stick with bottled versions or make sure it’s prepared with purified water before taking a sip. I made the mistake of not asking before drinking some delicious fresh juice, and paid the price shortly after!

Also, you should be careful not to open your mouth while showering. And watch out for raw fruits and veggies rinsed in tap water. You might think it’s okay after a while, but there’s a high chance your body isn’t used to the bacteria in local water. The gamble isn’t worth it, especially since getting sick will cut into your travel time and budget.   

For food, use your best judgment and lean towards freshly prepared dishes. Anything that has been sitting around uncovered or left in the heat isn’t a good bet, especially because you have no clue how long it’s been there. As always, make sure you wash your hands before eating, especially if you’re diving into any handheld food! 

Is Solo Travel in Cancun Safe?

Bailey solo at a shop in Cancun
It’s never really solo, because you always meet people!

Cancun draws the most tourists in Mexico, naturally making it a hotspot for solo travel. If you’re a newbie, it’s the perfect place to dip your feet into the world of solo travel. One of the major perks is that many solo travelers end up here, so it’s super easy to make friends and connect with others!  

But of course, all travel comes with caveats, and you do have to watch out for yourself while traveling alone.

For starters, it’s a good idea to have a trustworthy contact back home who you’ll be able to check in with regularly. You can also use Find My Friends or other location-tracking apps so they know your whereabouts. It’s comforting to know someone is looking out for you, and it’s also a good idea to leave copies of important documents and itineraries with them.  

The general safety tips we already mentioned are especially important when traveling alone. It’s essential to orient yourself in a new location to avoid getting lost and keep your belongings to a minimum while walking around. If you need to use an ATM, avoid using them at night and stick to ones in well-traveled areas. We also prefer ATMs inside banks, as they are less likely to be tampered with.

If you’re out drinking and partying with new friends, keep it to a reasonable level so you can get yourself home safely.  

Related Read: If you want to feel prepared before your trip, read about some of our favorite travel apps.

What About Solo Female Travel?

A lady relaxes on a beach in Cancun Mexico by herself
Before I met Daniel, solo travel was my thing and I loved visiting Mexico!

While solo female travel can seem a bit riskier anywhere, Cancun is generally a safe spot, provided you take the necessary steps and exercise a little extra caution.

You’ll want to be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night – avoid walking alone if you can, don’t use ATMs, avoid smaller back roads or unlit streets, and have a plan in place to get home safely.   

Cancun is a popular spot for partiers, and while there’s nothing wrong with letting the good times roll, solo female travelers need to keep a few things in mind. Only accept drinks if they’re unopened or if you saw them being poured. And like anywhere in the world, always keep your drink in sight! Don’t let your guard down just because you’re in the company of other travelers – anybody can spike a drink.

If you’ve found a group of friends to party with, it’s still a good idea to avoid getting completely wasted and definitely have a backup plan for getting home. A little extra cash stashed away for a taxi is always a good idea. You can still have a great travel experience full of good times AND do it safely! 

I personally had no issues when I traveled solo, but, I’m certainly a careful traveler!

Related Read: Planning on renting a car in Mexico? It is possible to do so safely, but there are some tips you should know – check out our guide to renting a car in Cancun!

Travel Scams to Watch out for in Cancun

A busy beach out the front of a resort in Mexico
A lot of theft happens on the beaches so relaxing at hotel beach areas means someone is often watching for unsavory characters.

The best way to avoid scams is to know ’em! There are lots of ways to get scammed, but many are avoidable with a little research. And even though scams are always changing, a little awareness and common sense can still help you avoid being a victim. 

One of the most common scams is Taxi Scams, particularly operators who overcharge tourists. An easy way to avoid this is to only travel with approved drivers, ensure the meter is on, and have a general idea of the travel route/cost. When practical, you can also take transport options with set prices, like public buses. And if you want to take a day trip from Cancun, several tours from Cancun that include round-trip transportation so you won’t need to worry about taxi scams.

The Bird Poop Scam is also popular, where one person will smear some white paste on your shoulder. One scammer will pretend to notice and help you clean it while the other picks your pockets. This is a classic diversion tactic, and you should always be aware of this technique, as there are a few ways to execute it! Sometimes it is a drink or food that will get “spilled” on you.

Some simple, sneakier scams are found at bars and restaurants. You might be provided a menu with different prices jacked up for tourists, where the actual price is much cheaper. An easy way to avoid this is to check out online reviews with menus or stick with restaurants with set prices on a board or menu outside. Bars might scam you by putting extra drinks or charges on your bill, which can also be easily avoided by paying for drinks as you go or keeping track of your tab (not getting too drunk also helps with this one!). 

Another timeless scam is the Airport Scam, usually used on folks who arrive on delayed flights. Since many hotels and accommodations offer prearranged transfers, the scammers hang around the arrivals hall, convincing visitors that their ride has already left and they’ll have to come with them instead. Don’t trust them, and have a contact number for your prearranged ride just in case you need to find information after delays. Or better yet, we like to have a pre-booked Cancun Airport Shuttle, as they track your flight and show up even if your flight is delayed!

Diseases in Cancun

A street dog in Cancun, Mexico
Did you know Mexico is rabies-free as stated by the WHO!

Like most tropical destinations, mosquito-borne illnesses are usually top of the list to watch out for. Dengue Fever is listed under the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for Mexico, but a few simple precautions can help you avoid it. Use mosquito nets if available, and spritz yourself with bug spray – especially in areas with stagnant water.

These steps can also help you prevent other mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika Virus and Chikungunya. There are no vaccines to prevent these illnesses, so prevention is the best bet.  

The CDC Guidelines for Mexico include recommendations for standard vaccines and ones for Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid. Malaria is listed as rare for Cancun, but you might consider getting antimalarials before your trip if you’re planning on continuing into areas of Mexico with higher Malaria rates (namely Chiapas).  

Recently, there have been reports of rising cases of Salmonella in Mexico that may be linked to raw cheese and undercooked beef. Although Salmonella usually clears up in a week or so, it can still ruin your travel plans, so it’s best to be cautious about food-borne illnesses!  

Cancun Travel Insurance

Getting Help in Cancun  

The Cancun Sign in Cancun, Mexico
In the hotel zone, Police are everywhere!

As general travel advice, you should know the emergency services available where you are and have a few numbers handy. Mexico’s emergency number is 911, which is the quickest way to get help. Although not all operators will speak English, tourist areas often have bilingual operators.  

It can be super stressful to have any medical emergency abroad, but luckily, Cancun has a few great hospitals if you require urgent care during your travels. The top two we recommend in the area are: 

Hospital Galenia Cancun +52 998 891 5200 

Hospital Amerimed Cancun +52 998 881 3400 

If you’ve got some dental troubles or chipped a tooth on a wild night out, there’s no need to worry. Cancun has a great emergency dental service, and they can fix you up in no time! Dental clinics are located in the hotel zone, with the added bonus of English services if your Spanish is limited. 

Cancun Dental Specialists +1 888 231 8041 

Cancun Dental Care +52 998 362 3410 

For other emergencies like hospitalization, arrest, or losing your passport, you’ll want to seek help from the nearest consular agency. These are good numbers to keep on hand for any place you visit! 

U.S Consular Agency Cancun +52 55 8526 2561

Canadian Consular Agency Cancun +52 998 883 3360

And, of course, local tourism authorities can be super helpful if you need help or advice specific to the region you’re in. 

Tourist Assistance Office Cancun +52 998 884 8074 

Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun

Bailey and Daniel look at a Sting Ray at the MUSA dive site in Cancun
A stingray at MUSA!
Bailey looks out the window of the Cancun Scenic Tower in Cancun, Mexico
The view is amazing!

Now that you know all the safety tips, it’s time to find fun activities for your trip! I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and I never get tired of visiting. There are so many things to do in Cancun, that will make for an amazing vacay. So if you’re looking for even more ideas, check out some of my favorites below!

  • Cancun Scenic Tower – As if Cancun wasn’t scenic enough, there’s another way to enjoy the views! The Cancun Scenic Tower gives you amazing views of the Caribbean and the sprawling Cancun area below! The entire viewing deck lifts up, so you won’t even need to climb any stairs.
  • Eat, eat eat! – Calories don’t count on vacation, right? The restaurants in Cancun deliver on amazing food – especially the Mexican restaurants of course. Mextreme has the best tacos and I always order the Aztec soup! If you want to try a bunch of different dishes in an evening – this taco and beer food tour will take you to five popular spots for a fun night you’ll want to arrive hungry for!

Where to Stay in Cancun

the outdoor pools at the Grand Fiesta Americana in Puerto Vallarta
This adults-only resort is pure relaxation! Photo Credit: Grand Fiesta Americana

If you’re planning a trip to Cancun, then you’ll need a place to stay! Below are some of the best hotels (for every budget) in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is a great choice. It has the typical hostel vibes which includes the woes of a shared living space, but overall I really enjoyed my stay. For the price (about $40 USD for a bunk or $100 USD for a private room) and fun atmosphere, you can’t go wrong! You can book this hostel on Hostelword or Booking.com.

If you prefer something a little nicer, I love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s not all-inclusive, which I enjoy because there are so many delicious restaurants in Cancun! The hotel is located right on the beach and has a huge pool. Rooms are typically $300-$500 USD depending on the time of year.

Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay and for that, I always book either the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun or the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun Adults Only. Both are not cheap as rooms can range from $600 USD to upwards of $1,400 USD, but they are equally as luxurious with fantastic oceanfront locations, delicious food, quality alcohol, and more.

More of a luxury traveler? Learn about the absolute best resorts in Cancun!

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. 

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie with beers in Cancun, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

Cancun is a top tourist destination with tasty Mexican cuisine, stunning beaches, fun activities like ATV tours, and fascinating cultural sites. I’ve been here many times and always felt safe when following the right precautions.

So if it’s your first time visiting, or you’re worried about safety, I hope my blog has helped ease some of your concerns! Just remember, with some awareness and street smarts, you should be absolutely fine and have an amazing trip. And if you’re visiting other areas in the country, check out my other Mexico blogs for more travel tips and things to do!

13 Best Chichen Itza Tours from Cancun

12 Things to KNOW Before you go Snorkeling in Cancun

33 Fun Things to do in the Riveria Maya, Mexico

Best Day Trips from Playa del Carmen