Is Cancun Safe for Tourists?

Whenever I return to the U.S. and mention to a stranger that I live in Mexico he or she always seems to ask some version of the question “is it safe there?” Mexico’s reputation for mafia-related violence seems to be eclipsing people’s previous distorted ideas of what Mexico was. No longer do they think of mariachis, or drunks in sombreros or cheap beer or bikini-clad chicas running in the surf. Now they think Mexico is over-run by mafiosos running drugs and that every person here is in imminent danger of being executed.

More than 5000 people in Mexico were killed by organized crime in 2008. That’s a huge number. For the most part those murders took place along the northern border of Mexico, well over a thousand miles from Cancun. In the last couple of years Cancun has had a few murders that appeared to have been mafia hits. In each case the victims seemed to be carefully chosen, they either appeared to be members of the mafia or they were known to be fighting organized crime.

To my knowledge no tourists have been among the mob’s murder victims in Cancun. And given what I’ve seen of the way the mafia operates, I wouldn’t expect tourists to be among their victims. It doesn’t make sense.

Cancun offers certain advantages to organized crime outfits that might be moving drugs or illegal immigrants to the U.S. One advantage is simply Cancun’s close proximity to the U.S., another advantage is that Cancun has miles of coastline. For sure Cancun is a natural stop-over point between cocaine-producing countries in South America and the consumer market of the U.S.

Another big advantage Cancun provides to the cartels operating here is the fact that it’s so busy with tourists. By most estimates close to 5 million tourists come to this area each year. Tourist traffic provides cover at the airport, on the roads and at sea. And the numerous restaurants, bars and nightclubs here provide obvious places to launder money.

The way I see it the very successful tourist trade here is part of the reason that organized crime has been able to operate in the Cancun area. The mob needs the tourists to keep coming in order to keep their activities hidden and to wash their money clean.

Does this mean the mob won’t bite the hand that feeds them? No. But so far the few victims murdered here seem to have been chosen because they represent a threat of some kind to the mafia. And the way I see it tourists are not a threat to the mafia’s business, they are cover for it.

There’s another fact which is easily forgotten. Cancun is a city of nearly 1 million people. I think visitors who come to Cancun often don’t realize how large it is. How many murders happen in American cities of 1 million residents? Would you choose not to go to Denver or Miami or Portland, OR or Seattle because of the murder rates there? Of course not. Yet people are murdered in those places regularly. But the difference between Cancun and those other places is that Cancun is supposed to be perfect, Cancun is supposed to “paradise.”

Well guess what? Cancun isn’t perfect. But millions of people come here each year, enjoy their vacations and don’t suffer anything worse than a hangover and a sunburn.

So how do I answer people who ask me if it’s “safe” here? I tell them that I walk my dog alone at night without fear. I tell them that I forget to lock my house often. I tell them that I’ve never once been scared for my safety here in Cancun. I tell them that it feels as safe as any place I’ve ever lived in the U.S.

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284 Responses to “Is Cancun Safe for Tourists?”

  1. norm kwallek
    February 10th, 2009 06:01

    You are so right about crime in general. We in the north have killings that are related to crime gangs that we think nothing of, yet if it happens in Mexico, we have a hissy fit. The media has fallen in love with the image of Mexico being a lawless place. Last summer the gangbangers were killing each other on a weekly basis here in Northeast Ohio and it was back page news. I think the rules are the same about everywhere: If you get involved with crime, you have a very good chance of developing a problem with holes in your person.

  2. CancunCanuck
    February 10th, 2009 08:51

    Great post Rivergirl, it´s amazing how much misinformation and fear mongering exists in the realm of supposed ¨journalism¨. Things may not be great in Mexico right now, but tourists are not at risk, I hope the negative press doesn´t affect tourists coming down to enjoy all that there is to experience.

  3. RiverGirl
    February 10th, 2009 10:05

    Norm – I think Mexico is a weird mix of lawless and peaceful. Yes, there’s corruption, yes, there are mafias fighting each other for control. But there are also more than 100 million Mexicans just trying to get by peacefully.

    Canuck – I think that people who freak out about news stories regarding Mexico’s violence are lacking perspective. They know little of Mexico and hear only bad things, so it’s scary. They need to understand that Mexico is HUGE and gets something close to 20 million tourists a year. It’s too bad the mafias are so good at making headlines.

  4. islagringo
    February 10th, 2009 12:20

    I get the same question sometimes what feels like 20 times a day. The answer is always yes, it is safe here. There is an increase to burglaries right now going on over here. Lots of hotel rooms being broken into, theft from the beach. But in all the years I have been coming here, I have only heard of one episode of violence to a tourist and that was committed by a drunk looking for quick money. The only times I have felt fear here is when somebody is trying to break into my home…with me in it!

  5. coby
    February 10th, 2009 14:09

    I just read your post and Cancun Canuck’s; it’s great to hear the more truthful side emerge from those on the front lines.

    It’s unfortunate that people cling to the worst case to make judgments on something they know little about, but for those willing to look deeper, they’ll find posts like this.

    I constantly get the same questions [more like assertions] from friends and family about relocating to Cancun, but now I have an excellent assortment of enlightening posts I can send them to!

  6. Mindy
    February 10th, 2009 14:56

    Great post. I hate getting that question when I tell people that I live here. If you are smart and use common sense you will be fine.

  7. Michele in Playa
    February 10th, 2009 15:18

    Well said. Still, when the torture and excecution of a highly decorated and respected Mexican General makes front page news in the major US papers, it’s hard to downplay. After all, it’s in the newspaper, so it must be true. ;)

  8. Suvariboy
    February 16th, 2009 10:03

    It is true! Not only was in the newspapers, it happened.

  9. RiverGirl
    February 16th, 2009 10:48

    Here’s a link to an article from the Houston Chronicle, I think this article on target about crime in Cancun: Violence, corruption show not all of Cancun is pristine

  10. Bluesky
    February 25th, 2009 16:40

    Thanks for a great post. Cancun has a special place in my heart and we are going there again soon. It’s scary to hear about what is going on there but your post put it into perspective. In reality, there isn’t a place on earth that is completely safe. You can’t let fear run your life.

  11. Bob Goodwin
    February 27th, 2009 10:48

    Having just returned from our annual trip to Cancun, I found your post interesting in that it seemed to confirm what we observed…the local cops seemed to be picking more on the locals this year, than the tourists. Usually having an Avis sticker on your vehicle is an invitation to get stopped.

    I realize this is a far cry from murders, but it seemed to confirm your comments about the value of the tourist, hence his safety.

    Of course, a week after our return the Federales took your mayor away (who had been described by a local friend as “the biggest crook of all”. Worse yet, the State Department now seems to disagree with your viewpoint and has issued warnings that include Cancun. Any change in what you see today vs. when you wrote the blog?


  12. RiverGirl
    February 27th, 2009 11:21

    Bob – Is this the Travel Alert you speak of: Travel Alert – Feb. 20, 2009? I see no mention of Cancun in it. The US State Department has been issuing similar alerts for the last 5 years. Obviously violence has escalated near the US/Mexico border in that time, but this alert isn’t particularly different from the last one they issued in October 2008.

    The Mayor of Cancun has not been detained. Cancun’s long-time police chief was detained, and yes, he has long been rumored to be a big crook, though I have no personal knowledge of that.

    To answer your final question: not really. Clearly Mexico is a troubled country and the violence here is scary for all of us.

    Has it effected tourists? No. Well, I take that back, tourists are effected by the violence here because when they tell their families that they are traveling to Mexico, their families FREAK OUT, so yes, there is that effect.

    If it makes anyone feel better I understand that in 2008 Cancun had less than 100 murders (I saw the number 65 in several places). I don’t know about murder rates in other cities of 1 million people, but fewer than 100 murders in one year is not enough to leave me scared to live here. And I don’t see why it would leave people scared to come here on vacation.

  13. Bob Goodwin
    February 27th, 2009 14:53

    The State Department warning I saw last night was in the form of a trailer running below the news on FoxNews. It was specifically directed toward Spring Break attendees and did mention Cancun, along with other tourist areas. Don’t know if this is an update of the travel alert you noted, or something different.

    I could have sworn our local news media mentioned the Mayor of Cancun as being detained, and I’m sure that’s who my friend in Cancun mentioned. (He is quite opinionated in his politics,however.) So, is the Mayor “OK”?


  14. RiverGirl
    February 27th, 2009 16:12

    Bob – The Mayor of Cancun is named Greg Sanchez and he’s most certainly not in jail right now. Do I think he’s a good Mayor, I suppose he’s OK. I’d like to see him fill more potholes and pick up more garbage in Cancun, but besides that he seems alright to me. And no, I have not heard rumors of him being one of the crooks.

    The person who was arrested is Francisco Velasco Delgado, he was Cancun’s Police Chief for many years. And there were always rumors about him being corrupt. Here’s a story on that: Cancún police chief questioned in general’s killing.

    A search of the US State Department web site for “Cancun” nets me this: Warning about Spring Break in Mexico. But this warning is not dated, that I can see. And it’s got the same language I always see about Cancun…strong undertow in the water…don’t drink and forget where you are, etc.

    I can’t find a warning from the US State Department specifically about Cancun. Can you find one?

  15. CancunCanuck
    February 27th, 2009 16:48

    The prison warden was arrested on unrelated charges, there may have been confusion between “alcaide” (warden) and “alcalde” (mayor). I’ll admit, I was confused on first reading.

  16. Working Gringa
    February 27th, 2009 17:24

    I want to just second (or third or fourth) RiverGirl’s reassurances that Cancun and most places in Mexico (we live in Merida) are incredibly safe. We too walk at night and don’t think twice about it. Leave our doors open all the time, leave our car on the street with doors open (and lots of dog food inside… maybe the neighbors will take some and spread it around!). For a city of a million people (which Merida also is), this city has very little crime.
    The US media loves to make Mexico the villain… especially Fox News, for goodness’ sake. Fox News WANTS to incite fear and loathing… they work hard at it.
    Please, don’t believe everything you read. Especially on Fox News.

  17. Bob
    March 1st, 2009 07:38

    Just returned from Cancun with family last night.Travelled to other parts of Mexico on Business and pleasure previously in the last 5 years. I was never robbed by anyone but police 5 times, two of which were in Cancun this passed week. They are the most dangerous criminal element in the country. The first time, I missed my bus stop and was just walking back at 1:30am back about 500 feet when a truck of 4 cops jump out and do not even say a thing but frisk me and take about $120 from my pocket and take off. Then on Thusday I walked from Walmart to Office Max, 5 minute walk, got stopped by 2 cops in broad day light, resisted shortly, got smacked across the back of my leg with a rod, and they took about 600 pessos. Huge brooze. I am 59 years old. Please do not tell me that it is safe in Cancun or in Mexico, when the people that are responsible to protect you, are the most dangerous element. Will travel to Mexico for business, because I must, but will never travel there for pleasure again. I found all other Mexican people in the Stores and Hotel to be wonderful.

  18. Frank Carter
    March 1st, 2009 08:20

    My son is going to Cancun and I am wondering if the area we usually went to eat is still safe.
    Bus from tourist hotels to el Centro, walk the avenue to Rosa St.make left, walk past elem. school, thru plaza, then there is a stretch of restaurants for several blocks. We did this route for our five trips there but am wondering if it is stil safe.
    Any help will be appreciated..thanks

  19. RiverGirl
    March 1st, 2009 10:58

    Bob – What you report is terrible and hard to believe. And, you will hate me for this, but you NEED to report it to the police. Mexico has lots of methods in place for you to report police corruption. If your problem is with the Local police then you report the problem to the State or Federal Police. And in any altercation with the cops you need to try to get their names.

    If you report problems with the police here, and you have names, the case will be investigated. I know that’s hard to believe, but the bureaucracy in Mexico is strong, so once something makes it onto the public record it moves through the system. The worst corruption in Mexico happens in situations where nothing is written down, nothing is official. Your best defense here against corruption is to REPORT EVERYTHING!

    I spend a lot of time in the area between Office Max and Walmart, I walk there all the time, I’ve never had any problem there at all. I was there yesterday in fact. I have trouble believing you were attacked by police in broad daylight there.

    As for missing a bus at 1:30 am…well, that doesn’t sound so smart to me, why didn’t you get a cab? And where were you? You don’t walk around in Cancun at 1:30 am in just any neighborhood? And why were you alone at 1:30 am if you were here with your family? This is difficult to believe, I’m sorry.

    By the way “brooze” isn’t a word…a spell checker would aid you in making your wild claims sound more plausible.

  20. Bob Goodwin
    March 1st, 2009 11:45

    Please note, I am not the “Bob” who got mugged at the bus stop.

    Just wanted to send an FYI to “Working Gringa”…the warning to Spring Breakers about Cancun was featured on NBC’s “Today” show yesterday. Does this make it real?

    I personally think it’s mostly Spring Break hype. It has had the effect of having potential visitors think twice, judging by questions we’ve received lately here in the States from potential Spring Break attendees.

  21. RiverGirl
    March 1st, 2009 14:27

    Bob G –
    I’m a little confused why you don’t read the actual travel alert from the US State Dept yourself? Why are you letting the media interpret it and then arguing that the alert says things that it does not say?

    The travel alert doesn’t warn people off Cancun, instead it warns people off the border towns. Cancun is something around 2000 miles from the border.

    What’s happening in the media is that there is editorializing going on. The news reporters are writing the stories as if the Govt warned people away from all of Mexico, but that’s not what happened in reality. Please read the Alert yourself.

    Here’s another article discussing the content of the US State Department Travel Alert:
    Mexico Alert is for Border Cities.

    I don’t want to tell people that Cancun is perfectly safe. It’s a big city and things happen there. There is crime. But the drug cartels are killing people at the border, and THAT is what the US Govt alert is referring to.

  22. RiverGirl
    March 1st, 2009 18:14

    Frank – I believe you are talking about an area close to Parque de las Palapas and Avenida Yaxchilan. That area is safe for tourists who are paying attention. I hang on to my purse when I’m there if there are lots of folks around me, just like I would in any crowded area in any city.

    There are a lot of restaurants and bars along Avenida Yaxchilan. And around the Parque de las Palapas there are more restaurants and bars. Two of my favorites are Iki and Acustica, they are almost next to each other at the edge of Parque de las Palapas.

    Don’t worry about your son. If he stays in busy areas and keeps his wits about him he will be fine.

  23. Ray
    March 1st, 2009 18:55

    Good post. Looking forward to my visit.
    There is much more information on this link for visitors. Awareness is the best defense.

  24. Frank Carter
    March 1st, 2009 19:18

    Thanks..it has been a while. All I remembered was El Centro area, Rosa st., the school, plaza and the movie theater in that area. My wife has been there 8 times including 4 trips as a family with son from age 2 to 15. He has good wits. He has been walking around Hoboken NJ and NYC at school for four years.
    thanks for the help. Sorry I don’t remember the names except as stated.

  25. RiverGirl
    March 1st, 2009 20:03

    Ray – That’s good info, thanks for the link.

    Frank, Well, if he can manage NYC Cancun will be a piece of cake. I’m very comfortable in NYC but I hang onto my purse A LOT tighter there than in Cancun. It sounds like he should get his hands on a map. MapChick sells great maps of Cancun: http://www.mapchick.com/

  26. Don Downes
    March 1st, 2009 20:25

    Hi River Girl,
    Can you refer me to any real local news or info I can access from the U.S.? I am coming to cancun (vci) the end of March with the wife, twin 5 year ild boys and the parent inlaws. I have been coming every year for 6-7 now and I never have felt unsafe but we are all nervous about the whoel violence thing going on right now. All we have is the news we get here and they sell doom and excitement. I found this site today and you have relaxed me a bit but I really need to get a feel for the mood there so we can have a relaxing time. any help would be gratly appreciated.

  27. RiverGirl
    March 1st, 2009 21:10

    Don – There aren’t too many news options in English here.

    The CancunCare forums (especially the Living in Cancun forum) have a lot of locals posting: http://www.cancuncare.com/forum/index.php

    Here are two news sources both in English, they are both for all of Mexico:


    Hope that helps.

  28. RiverGirl
    March 1st, 2009 21:32

    Another good place to go for Mexico information in English is the Travel Ojos site:

  29. Carol
    March 2nd, 2009 18:57

    Dear RiverGirl:
    My son is heading to Cancun for spring break with a buddy next week, and I’m trying not to get too nervous. He’s not staying in the hotel zone (he doesn’t like resort-y type areas) but at the Terracaribe Hotel, whose web site lists its address as: Av. Lopez Portillo # 70, corner Av. Bonampak

    He and his friend have also booked a tour through the hotel to go to Chichen Itza, Tulum and maybe an eco park.

    My question: Is the area around his hotel safe? And are the tours to these sites likely to be safe? He’s very levelheaded and not into alcohol at all, so I’m not worried about him clubbing at night or doing anything crazy. But he wants to see the “real” Mexico as opposed to the resort strip. Your thoughts?

  30. RiverGirl
    March 2nd, 2009 21:12

    Carol – Well Lopez Portillo isn’t scenic. I’m sure a hotel along there is safe enough though. And yes, the tours will be fine, no worries there.

    Don’t worry about your son while he’s here. Cancun, even the downtown area away from the touristy hotel zone, is quite tranquil. If he has common sense he will be just fine here.

  31. Carol
    March 3rd, 2009 07:50

    Thanks, that’s reassuring. I wasn’t too concerned until the Northeast university where I work sent out notices urging students to avoid Mexico (based on the State Dept. travel advisory). That spooked me. He just got back from a semester in Tanzania, Africa, so he does have some experience in other cultures. Thanks for running this site–it’s a great service you’re providing.

  32. Jared
    March 3rd, 2009 16:51

    Thanks RiverGirl for answering all the questions!

    Myself and 8 of my classmates are traveling to Mexico in a couple of weeks. We are staying at a hotel in Puerto Morelos(is this a safe town?) for a couple days and then Isla de Mujeres for 3-4 days. We also wanted to take a bus to Chichen Itza one day. Any advice on safety? Thanks in advance!

  33. RiverGirl
    March 3rd, 2009 16:57

    Jared – Puerto Morelos is safe and very laid back. It has some nice bars and some good music, and miles of great beach. Isla Mujeres is busier but still safe and fun.

    All I can say about safety is don’t get wasted and forget how to get back to your hotel, and don’t flash lots of money. Other than that, just relax and have fun.

  34. Safety in Mexico, continued « Heather in Paradise
    March 4th, 2009 12:05

    [...] Rivergirl–Is Cancun Safe for Tourists? [...]

  35. kristina
    March 4th, 2009 12:42

    Rivergirl..thank you for being so open and informational about Cancun and other surrounding areas. My husband and I are going May29th-Jun7th 2009, My mother is now FREAKING out when people started telling her men in mask and machine guns are taking people hostage…I was aware this was in the bordering towns since I hold the ENTIRE TEXAS STATE for a territory at work…we hear alot of things from texas residents and our factory in Fresnillo. Also I know someone who lives in what I would call the “COUNTRY” SIDE of mexico and she isnt even worried…so I booked the trip. I assumed in Cancun its like anything….Dont put yourself out there, be courteous to the people and police, and stay out of the run down zones where they may peddle the drugs. I think any US citizen is asking for trouble if they go off the beaten path. I live in Massachussets….and there is PLENTY of undesirable areas around here. NO machine guns or bombs thus far…LOL……but each country is a little different.

    looking foward to our stay in Cancun @ Temptaion Resort. I will keep watching US GOV. site of course…but I think some times the media does run 100 miles with a story..point of fact is ITS HAPPENING…..but youjust have to be aware and Im only there 7 days!

    I pray for Mexico as it is a beautiful place so I hear….I only wish the best for the residents and that the Cartel issue is cleaned up. Its an awful fear to live in as a resident other then just a visitor

    I know we will do a few tours..one to Isla Mujeres, and so fourth…..I dont have a HUGE sense of worry…but just a small part of me worried becuase stepping in any foreign country is shakey NO MATTER what country it is.

  36. jim
    March 4th, 2009 13:37

    me and some of my buddies are staying at the flamingo hotel, this is our first time in mexico and our parents are worried because of all the news. Now one of my friends is starting to second guess going, we want to go and have a good time but we don’t want to be worried the whole time. what are the main things we should watch out for?

  37. Paul
    March 4th, 2009 14:15

    River Girl-
    Informative site!! I depart for Cancun soon and I am a bit nervous due to the constant news stories.. I am staying at a Mariott and was wondering if cabbies and transportation companies remain safe.. My concern would be travelling from the airport to the hotel.

    I have travelled in many countries in which violence is similar to Mexico’s, the differernce is that I did not see it broadcasted on the evening news prior to leaving!! I also now have a three year old and he adds a heck of a lot more concern and anxiousness.

    Great site as I feel like your words are spot on and not to mention.. comforting..

  38. RiverGirl
    March 4th, 2009 14:20

    Kristina – I keep telling people that the violence in Mexico effects tourists only because their families FREAK OUT when they tell them they are coming here! Other than that there’s no effect of the violence on tourists.

    Cancun is as safe now as it was last year as it was two years ago and three… Don’t wave money around when you are here. Hang on to your purse when you are in a crowd. Don’t get so drunk that you can’t find your hotel.

    I know people are freaking out. But I’m sitting here in downtown Cancun right now with the windows open…all I can hear are parrots flying overhead and my neighbor sweeping her patio…no sirens, no rocket-fire, no machine gun fire…no bombs going off…just parrots squawking…

    Cancun is not a war zone. It’s just a city with great weather and nice beaches.

    Jim – Have you ever been to New York City? Are you afraid to go to New York City? Well NYC is more dangerous than Cancun. I love NYC, but I feel nervous when I’m there…and I feel no nervousness when I walk around Cancun.

    Just keep your common sense intact when you are here and you will have a great time!

  39. RiverGirl
    March 4th, 2009 14:28

    Paul – I rarely hear of any trouble with cabbies, it happens but no more than in any other city serviced by lots of cabs. If you are nervous then book an airport transfer, there are lots of companies providing that service. http://www.cancunvalet.com/ is one and is owned by my friend and neighbor Victor.

    Next time you hear a sensational report about Mexico just remember that the press does NOT want to talk about the economy, they are looking for something to sell papers and get people excited. Ignore what the press is saying about tourists areas in Mexico, speaking from Cancun, it’s all overblown to the point of being silly.

    Watch the US State Department for updates on their Mexico Travel Alerts, pay attention to those but not sources that are just looking for clicks on their web sites or to sell papers.

  40. Bob
    March 4th, 2009 16:29

    Rivergirl, you are saying that only if I take a taxi, and be home by midnight I should be safe from the police. Great Standard you live by.

  41. RiverGirl
    March 4th, 2009 16:44

    Bob – Obviously the police shouldn’t hassle people. If they do report them to another police agency. The cops here make less than $500 USD a month and often abuse their power. But if you report them it will break the cycle and the cops in question will lose their jobs.

    Not all areas of Cancun are safe at all hours. Are all areas of New York or Dallas or Cleveland or Miami safe at all hours?

    The hotel zone is safe from what I can tell at all hours, though I’ve never been there much after midnight myself. But other parts of Cancun, especially north of Lopez Portillo and west of centro, are not places I’d want to be in after midnight.

    Yes, if you are in a questionable area late at night, don’t be dumb and risk it, take a cab. We have radio taxis here, so you CAN CALL A CAB, it’s easy.

  42. RiverGirl
    March 4th, 2009 16:45

    Why does everyone want to come to Cancun and leave their brains at home? I understand wanting to go on vacation but bring your common sense with you, please!

  43. Yvette
    March 4th, 2009 21:02

    Rivergirl, I love your posts! I wish I could just convince my dad t relax about my family and I going to cancun in May. We have been going every year since our honeymoon 2001. We have a 5 year old and 3 year old. I really am not worried, but can’t get my dad (who is Mexican american by the way) to stop reading articles, stop listening to bill o’reilly. Do you have any site that he could go to and feel more comfortable about us going? I am an adult and will do as I please, with my families safety first ofcourse but I don’t like seeing my dad worry EVERY day about this. Keep up the good work!

  44. stuart
    March 4th, 2009 21:45

    hi rivergirl.thank you for your information.we are going april 4-11,and staying at the bay view grand.it is suppose to be in the hotel zone.do you know where that is near?is it okay to stay at?are there eating establishments within walking distance?we were just going to come straight from the airport and not rent a car.we were only going to go within walking distance from our condo.can you advice on this?thank you,stuart

  45. RiverGirl
    March 4th, 2009 22:50

    Yvette – My friend Heather in Playa del Carmen just published a list of blog posts and other links about safety in Mexico, see Safety in Mexico.

    Also check the Cancun forums on:
    - Trip Advisor
    - Cancun Care
    - CancunMX
    Lots of locals posts on those forums, so you will get real reports from people here. I’m afraid the press has taken the story and run with it, and has twisted it so far out of shape that it’s not real anymore.

    Stuart – I know Bay View Grand very well. I have a friend who owns a lovely condo there in Tower 2000. And yes, BVG has 24 hour security, nice beach and is walking distance to lots of restaurants, bars and malls. You’ll have a great time there.

  46. CancunBound
    March 4th, 2009 23:11

    Hey RiverGirl. Thanks for posting all of this! I am leaving for Cancun with a bunch of friends on Friday, and although I have been researching about all of the problems happening in Mexico and see that it is mainly a threat to the border states, my friends and I are still a little worried because of so many of our friends dropping out last minute. I was wondering if you have heard anything about Oasis Viva Beach? Is there good security at this hotel? Is it close to the clubs so that we don’t have far to go in a taxi at night? Thanks for all of your answers!

  47. Alex
    March 5th, 2009 01:24

    Hi, I have to say that this site is making me feel a lot better about the trip i have planned in May.

    I will be traveling with one other girl (both mid-20′s) to beaches AROUND Cancun (Tulum, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen) and to Chichen Itza; are these safe places to be as young female travelers?

    We have both traveled extensively but the news has us a bit spooked – your thoughts???

  48. RiverGirl
    March 5th, 2009 08:36

    CancunBound – Oasis Viva Beach is walking distance to clubs, bars, malls and restaurants. You won’t need to go very many places by taxi or bus. But please don’t worry about taxis or buses, they are as safe as they’ve ever been here. Relax and enjoy your vacation.

    Alex – Young women traveling along anywhere need to be smart and careful. Don’t get drunk and run around half-naked in the middle of the night and you’ll be fine.

    There is good bus service all up and down the Riviera Maya, and it’s safe to use. You’ll have a great time, no worries.

  49. Glen
    March 5th, 2009 11:25


    Great feedback!

    My family of four is headed to Mayan Riviera for Spring Break. We’ve rented a car, Thrifty Rental at the airport instead of taking the bus or cab. The thought was we also want to do 1-2 tours and figured this was the best and most economical mode of tranport.

    But, I’m a little concerned about signage, directions, and how easy to navigate from airport to resort (Grand Paladium Kantenah resort & spa) in Solidaridad 80klm away, and then off to tours, Tulum Maya ruins, etc…

    Is it easy enough for a dumb english-only guy to navigate around? Note, don’t have too many problems in Quebec :)


  50. RiverGirl
    March 5th, 2009 11:44

    Glen – The Grand Palladium Kantenah is down by Puerto Aventuras. So you will exit the airport rod and go south toward Playa del Carmen. You will pass Playa del Carmen and then start watching for signs to your resort. It’s probably going to take an hour from the airport or an hour and 15 minutes to get there. Most resorts have good signs along there.

    Tulum will be further south along the same road. The ruins there are easy to get to.

    Finding your way here isn’t hard. In the Maya Riviera there’s basically just one main north-south road, so you keep track of where it is and you don’t get lost.

  51. Frank Carter
    March 5th, 2009 21:31

    Hi RiverGirl and all,
    First, thanks for the information. We have been to Cancun 4 times as a family and even went to a ball game at the stadium at night to see the Langosteros (sp?)We have NEVER seen an incident, fight etc and the drunkest person we saw was some American kid at the hotel. My wife’s friend goes yearly for at least 15 years and never trouble. We walk around , take buses, saw a local ninos y ninas show at a park. Having grown up in Hudson Couny NJ across river from NYC I learned a long time ago to look at and read a situation. If you see an argument, cross the street. Some obnoxious drunk at a bar, move away…it is a foreign country. Just common street sense is needed.
    There are unsafe places all over this world and country (USA). I bet people never even think about Hawaii as being unsafe but tourist related crime is high there, mostly robberies. There are parts of Honolulu you do not want to go to at night and some beaches you do not want to go to during the day..homeless aku birds (aku is the local word for crazy) are all over on some beaches and a certain side of the island has been a no no for 40 years. I lived there, visit often and have friends there. We went to Greece and Turkey this summer and while in Turkey we just stayed in tourist shopping areas. Walked around Athens for four hours. took subway etc. I wouldn’t roam the streets in Atlantic City at 2pm, not much good ever happens at that hour anyway.
    As Rivergirl said…use your head. If it doesn’t look good it probably isn’t.
    just my two cents.

  52. Ceejay
    March 6th, 2009 02:47

    River girl,
    Thank you very much for your information, it has definitely helped me, and also helped me convince my parents that it will be ok to go!
    I am going to be there on wednesday staying at the N.H Krystal. Do you know anything about this hotel? I know you have been riddled with questions and im sorry to add to these! I think that this hotel is right in the center of everything?? aka no need for taxis and buses. I was also wondering if food was expensive in cancun?

    Again thank you very much for your information and honesty. It’s great to hear from someone who is actually there instead of listen to the media who seem to love to go crazy

  53. RiverGirl
    March 6th, 2009 09:51

    Frank – Thanks for the comments, you are spot on.

    Ceejay, The NH Krystal is spitting distance from all the action in Cancun. You will be able to walk to just about everything.

    Food here isn’t really expensive but I think that many restaurants ARE. When I moved here my grocery bills went down. But restaurants here charge the same or more than in the States from what I can tell. Sad but true.

  54. Donna
    March 6th, 2009 10:24

    Thanks for all the good info. We are headed for Tulum – Tankah Bay area the end of March in a less populated area. I was getting concerned, but am back to being super excited about getting out of the snow.

  55. RiverGirl
    March 6th, 2009 10:52

    Donna – Super excited is appropriate! Glad to hear it. Enjoy your stay in Tulum, it’s lovely there.

  56. OasisGuy
    March 6th, 2009 11:29

    Hey Rivergirl, Me and 3 other friends have booked a trip to the Oasis for July 8th-15th. I’ve seen all the junk on t.v. and heard all of the stories and I understand that most of the violence is occuring in bordering towns, although my friend is thinking about pulling out of the trip. What is the situation with tourists in Cancun? Are they being kidnapped and murdered? because as far as i know the only killing in Cancun was of the Mexican police official. I’ve been trying to tell my friend that Cancun is safe from the drug cartels, but is it really?

  57. RiverGirl
    March 6th, 2009 11:39

    OasisGuy – Honestly I cannot remember the last time a tourist was murdered here, it has happened, but it’s very rare. But there’s never been a murder of a tourist here by the drug cartels, it hasn’t happened, EVER!

    Tourists are not coming here and being kidnapped, they are coming here and getting HANGOVERS and SUNBURN. Once in a while they drown here! That’s it!

    Take a look at CancunCanuck’s blog post called Resort Towns Safe in Mexico, it’s got links to a ton of blog posts about safety in Mexico.

  58. OasisGuy
    March 6th, 2009 11:59

    Just what i thought.. thanks alot i appreciate you taking your time out to respond.I cant wait to go

  59. Yvette
    March 6th, 2009 17:17

    Thanx so much for getting back to me, you are a great person to take the time to get back to all of us! We are still going to cancun, my dad will just worry, I will pass along the blog info you gave me, hopefully this will calm his fears. We LOVE Cancun, paradise for us! Yvette

  60. RiverGirl
    March 6th, 2009 18:44

    Yvette – This article just came out, it might help your dad worry less: US travelers told Mexican violence ‘localized’.

    Enjoy your trip!

  61. Freezin in Cinci
    March 7th, 2009 11:20

    Dear Rivergirl,
    Thanks so much for the time you are taking to answer the questions we all have. We will be going to Cancun April 4-11 if I can convince my husband. We are staying in the Cancun Palace with our 3 kids 7,9,10. We have gone every year for the last 4, staying in the Adventura or Cancun Palaces. Do you think it is safe to go to town in the day on the bus with our kids like we did 2 years ago? Is it safe to take a tour to Tulum through our hotel or go to the Moon for the day? I am guessing you will say yes. How is security at the Cancun Palace versus anywhere else?

    My husband is really spooked by the US travel advisories going up to alerts, numbers of murders going up throughout Mexico, the universities advising Spring Breakers not to go (he says if it was safe why would they be doing that?), friends advising us not to go (although my parents are comfortable, having lived in Bangkok themselves).

    I personally am very conservative (especially with our kids!), and I still think we should go. We never go out at night at all, and never leave the resort except for what I have mentioned above. Can you tell me anything to ease his mind?

    Thanks again!!!!

  62. RiverGirl
    March 7th, 2009 13:16

    Freezin in Cinci – Cancun is as safe now as it was the last time you were here. The press is spinning things differently, that’s all. Yes, violence at the border has increased, it’s horrible, it’s also 1400 miles away!!! Things here in Cancun have hardly changed.

    The colleges that have warned students off Mexico have generally warned them off DRIVING to BORDER AREAS. That’s smart, don’t drive to a border area, I agree.

    Cancun Palace is a safe as any resort here and the resorts are as safe as they were last time you visited.

    Mexico’s murder rate is lower than Belize, lower than Puerto Rico and lower than Brazil. I can’t remember the last time a tourist was murdered in Cancun. And as far as I know the drug cartels have NEVER murdered a tourist here. This whole thing is over-blown.

    Cancun is safe. Cancun is as safe as it was a year ago and three years ago and five years ago…

    Please don’t buy into the fear. The tourists who die here die from drowning and heart attacks and an occasional car accident. That’s it.

  63. Ceejay
    March 7th, 2009 17:57

    Hey rivergirl

    thank you for the information.
    I have been hearing a lot of things that there is no beach by the N.H Krystal and it got washed away 3 years ago or something. But I am sure that I have seen it in pictures. Do you know if there is one by the hotel?

  64. RiverGirl
    March 7th, 2009 18:15

    Ceejay – It’s true that there’s not much beach right by that hotel. But it’s partly just geographical because of the way the coastline curves there and the rocks there. The hotel has a nice pool area and you can walk just a little and be on a good beach. Don’t worry about it, it’s perfectly nice and the beach is really close.

  65. NewYorkee
    March 7th, 2009 22:28

    I am traveling to Cancun March 15th right during Spring Break. I have seen the warnings and have to admit I am a little nervous now as they had to start broadcasting all of this a few weeks before my vacation! We are staying at the RIU Cancun, it’s located on the Hotel Zone.Is this generally a safe area? Also we have booked a dolphin swim a few miles away….would taking a taxi be safe as that was our original plan?

  66. RiverGirl
    March 8th, 2009 11:30

    NewYorkee – The entire Hotel Zone is safe! You should take normal precautions as in any city. But Cancun is safe for tourists. The only mafia-related violence that has happened here has been miles and miles inland, no where near where tourists ever go.

    Please relax. The Riu hotels are nice, they are all safe, they are all in nice areas. Don’t worry, you’ll have a great time!

  67. CanadianMan32
    March 8th, 2009 18:14

    Hi there RiverGirl I like what you posted and I am going to Akumal Beach Resort for the first time on the 26 of march. I see there is things that go on everywhere I am in noway afraid of going but is this resort a good one and I ma a man with tattoos should I cover them up tell I get to the resort or does it matter thought I ask that all. Once again thanks for all the info on Cancun

  68. Jessica
    March 8th, 2009 18:42

    Hi! I was wondering if anyone has every stayed at the El Dorado Royale? I am going her for my honeymoon. Any tips would be great as I have never been to Mexico before. Thanks.

  69. RiverGirl
    March 8th, 2009 19:05

    CanadianMan32 – I wouldn’t worry much about your tattoos unless they are huge. Lots of tourists who come here have tattoos. Akumal is a very laid back place, I think it’ll be fine.

    Jessica – I haven’t stayed there. It’s in a nice area and I imagine the beach is nice there. You might check out Trip Advisor’s review by Googling for “el Dorado Royale trip advisor.”

  70. Jessica
    March 8th, 2009 19:09

    Thank you for your response. I did check out trip advisor and the reviews were good. We want to go to Tulum to see the ruins. What do you think of this idea?

  71. RiverGirl
    March 8th, 2009 19:11

    Jessica – The ruins at Tulum are nice for a half day. Bring your bathing suit and plan to swim in the ocean there, it’s very nice. It’s super sunny there, not much shade, so bring a hat and sunscreen.

  72. Jessica
    March 8th, 2009 19:43

    You have been very helpful. Thank you! I am still worried about traveling to Mexico right now but I am sure that will pass once I get into paradise. I just hope there are no other restrictions for the US military traveling there right now. We are military.

  73. RiverGirl
    March 8th, 2009 19:57

    Jessica – There are no restriction on US Military traveling to Mexico. You;ll have a great time, just relax and don’t worry about it.

  74. Jessica
    March 8th, 2009 20:04

    There is along the border. Military is not allowed so many miles from there. I just hope it does not go beyond that. I am really looking forward to the beautiful beaches. I was reading though that El Dorado Royale allows nudity on the beach, is this true? I want to relax and to me that is not relaxing. I am not trying to upset anyone but it is not for me.

  75. Bruce C.
    March 9th, 2009 17:50

    Have to admit that the news over the past couple of years about the narco violence in Mexico gave me pause. But we calmed down and just got back last week from our stay in Cancun Centro this year as a base for day trips. Most dangerous thing was driving in Centro!

    CanadianMan32: I don’t have tats but trust me, don’t sweat it. Akumal is nice & as mentioned laid back. It began as and still is a diver’s hangout. Tats are not unknown among them! Main drawback is that, being a bit isolated, it’s a bit more expensive than staying in, say, Playa del Carmen. Do NOT miss snorkeling in Yal Ku lagoon. Also look into the half day mountain bike/cenote trip.

  76. RiverGirl
    March 9th, 2009 21:25

    Ah yes, driving in Cancun is a contact sport. I enjoy it very much!

    And I agree, Yal-Ku lagoon in Akumal is the best snorkeling I’ve done in Mexico. I loved it there, have been there 3 times so far.

  77. simigirl
    March 10th, 2009 11:20

    Hi Rivergirl
    I am traveling to Cancun in May and staying at the Moon Palace?

    There are 4 very fair skinned of us going. Should we be worried? Also, is this hotel nice and near any good restaurants? How is the beach there? Thanks for your help!!

  78. RiverGirl
    March 10th, 2009 11:48

    Simigirl – The Moon Palace will be full of white people, why would you worry? Just be sure to wear lots of sunscreen. Yes, that hotel is lovely, but no it does not have a nice beach. It has several nice restaurants on site.

  79. Fernando
    March 10th, 2009 14:43

    Hi RiverGirl,

    You rock! Thanks for this wonderful service you are providing and taking the time to share. Been there many times, love it, and going back in May. Just wanted to add a small tip for those renting a car and driving from Cancun/Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itzá on the toll road: start your trip with a full tank of gas. The drive is over 2 hours long, on a very desolate (but safe) road, and there is only one gas station (almost by your destination). Oh… and there are no emergency phones on the road. Once again, just common sense.

    Thanks again!

  80. Bluesky
    March 10th, 2009 16:52

    RiverGirl, I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions and for making us feel better about Cancun. You are Cancun’s voice of reason!

  81. RiverGirl
    March 10th, 2009 17:39

    Fernando – You are totally right, Chichen Itzá is a long drive with not too many good spots to stop for gas or breaks along the way.

    Bluesky – I’m not sure I’m always reasonable, but thanks for the compliment. I do think Cancun is a hard place to live sometimes. But it’s most certainly a safe place to vacation.

  82. robbin
    March 10th, 2009 19:37

    Hi River Girl, while I love your posts and its making me feel more comfortable about Cancun, I am wondering why you are spending so much energy and time doing so. If it is out of generosity and concern that is awesome. One has to wonder, however, if you do not work for the tourism board, or some similar “safe cancun” faction. You now know dates and hotels where people are staying..that could be useful information.

    If I am worng, my most sincere apologies. I would urge anyone reading internet posts, however, to not take tripadviser or fromers or cancun.com’s information on anything. I did for Costa RIca and we ended up being literally chased by gangs, a car accident set up by the rental car company and stolen from for tens of thousands of dollars.

    We followed internet “advisors.” It turns out that 90% of what is put into print from these countries or tourism magazines/books/aricles is spun to whoever paid for them..while the average person takes these “unbiased sites” as law.

    pa…You do know that MS13 gangs are moving more into the cities, they are known for extreme violence to innocent people.

  83. RiverGirl
    March 10th, 2009 21:05

    Robbin – Um, have you read any posts I’ve written? Have you read THIS post?

    If I worked for the tourism board would I mention the mafias that operate here, or the horrible problems with the streets animals in Cancun or the pot-holed streets or the garbage that the city can’t pick up?

    Frankly I’ve been waiting for the government of Mexico to get pissed at me for all the negative things I say in this blog about Mexico!

    I’m a web designer. My clients are mostly Americans who live in the US. A few of my clients have businesses related to tourism but I do not.

    The opinions expressed in this blog are simply the opinions of someone who lives here in Cancun.

    I often think that it’s hard to live in Cancun, but I have yet to think it’s unsafe.

    You can believe that or not. But if you come here on vacation you are going to get a hangover and a sunburn, you are not going to have a run-in with the mafia. I can pretty much guarantee that!

  84. Bluesky
    March 11th, 2009 11:25

    Robbin, if you read RiverGirl’s article and the posts, it’s obvious she is doing all of this from the goodness of her heart. Some people are just nice, hard to believe uh?

  85. Chris
    March 11th, 2009 14:41

    We are coming to Cancun in May for my daughters graduation present. I have been 3 times and loved it, never felt unsafe. I have always stayed at Costa Real but changing to Gran Caribe Real. Is this a nice area, also I have read they will ask you if you want to upgrade. Do you know whats up with that. AND
    Thank you for these posting I too am getting grilled by my family and was a little scared to come and bring my baby, but my mother found this site!!!

  86. todd
    March 11th, 2009 15:08

    Very informative stuff posted here, thanks for sharing…I’m headed to the Cancun area in a couple months for my honeymoon and will be staying at the Excellence Playa Mujeres. Any feedback about this resort is appreciated!

  87. RiverGirl
    March 11th, 2009 15:16

    Chris – The Gran Caribe Real is in a nice, safe area. I’m sure you’ll be comfortable there.

    Todd – I have only seen photos of Excellence Playa Mujeres but I love that area. I’m sure it will be great.

  88. Fernando
    March 11th, 2009 17:56


    I have never been one to bother replying to “clever” posts because I find they are not worth my time. Even though I find your conspiracy theory amusing I may have other conspiracy theories for you that are more plausible, and probably worth more all that extra time investigating.

    I understand the each person, based on their own character, is entitled to doubt other people’s intentions, as it is their own prerogative. What I don’t appreciate though is the carelessness on your defamatory posting when you don’t have a proof of anything.

    In particular what do you mean by “You now know dates and hotels where people are staying..that could be useful information.” Useful information for what may I ask? What are you implying RiverGirl is going to do with that?

    If you believe you are such good detective you should’ve noticed that RiverGirl has not attempted to follow up and or tried to pry out any more information of what people have voluntarily disclosed. At any rate, the very little information that people have volunteered lacks so much detail that is absolutely useless even for a bad person attempting whatever you may be thinking. Needless to say, people should have common sense with what private information they post on public forum. I understand you may be trying to protect people from themselves, but why crucify the Good Samaritan?

    As a reader of this blog I take offense at your post because Rivergirl has only been very generous by donating her time so that many of us (including you), can enjoy our vacation without having our relatives worrying to death.

  89. RiverGirl
    March 11th, 2009 18:28

    Fernando – Thanks for the support!

    I don’t know how I could hope to make money from any of the people who’ve commented, unless one of them needs a web designer…

  90. Angela
    March 11th, 2009 22:54

    First off, thanks RiverGirl for your help. I have to say also that your site has eased my jitters a little. Hopefully now I can pass it along to my friends who are vacationing with me. I believe you are doing this out of the kindness of your heart and hope you know how much you are appreciated.

    Just wanted to ask you if you no anything about the Omni hotel security, beaches, and if there were many restaraunts near by? Would it be safer to just not carry a purse? Do most places accept debit cards? Thank you so much!

  91. RiverGirl
    March 12th, 2009 10:07

    Angela – The Omni is a nice hotel, I’m sure the security is fine there. I don’t know about the beach there, some beaches along there are pretty washed out right now, but I haven’t seen the beach near the Omni in a while. And yes, everything is nearby, restaurants, bars, malls, etc. As for your purse well, I don’t like to bring mine to the beach, but I do carry it when I go out in the hotel zone. Debit cards? Might be a problem in some places, most places are happy with credit cards tho.

  92. Angela
    March 12th, 2009 12:17

    I don’t understand- Here debit cards are run just the same as credit cards. It seems like it would be safer to carry one to use instead of cash. Are the night clubs usually safe?

  93. RiverGirl
    March 12th, 2009 12:20

    Angela – I think most places here take debit cards, but once in a while they won’t. Definitely carry some cash. Many smaller businesses won’t take either debit or credit cards.

    Clubs are safe, but you need to watch your belongings and use common sense.

  94. Fernando
    March 12th, 2009 13:00


    Sorry to chime in. My recommendation is to not use a debit card at all. I don’t even use them here in the US because they are directly linked into your checking account. If someone makes a copy of your card, and get access to your PIN you are toast, as your checks will start bouncing left and right (and they can literally wipe your checking account). With credit cards you are protected against any fraudulent activity. You just call the credit card company and dispute any charges that are not yours. They are used to doing that all the time. It is way harder trying to get your money back from the bank in case your checking account is wiped out. In my 2006 trip to Cancun someone must have made a copy of my credit card and after I got home they charged about $4K on it. Fortunately enough for me, the credit card company (Capital One) picked up on it and they were the ones that alerted me that they thought it was being used fraudulently. They just called me and asked me if those charges were mine and I said no. I laughed and said no and that was all that was to it. Oh… and they closed my account and gave me a new credit card. I didn’t have to fork a single penny for that. And for any conspiracy theorists that are around there… no… I don’t work for Capital One.

    What I normally do is I travel with at least 2 different credit cards (preferably 3). I call them up before I leave to alert them that I will be in Cancun during those specific days. That way they will not flag your normal activity as if it was fraudulent and end up with your cell ringing off the holster (phrase updated to keep up with technology). You also tell them when you are going to be back so that if they notice any abnormal activity after you getting back home they will catch it right away. The reason I take 2 credit cards (at least) it’s because even though you might have called and alerted them that you are going to be in Cancun during those days, they may still block legit transactions if you use your credit card too much during the same day. They can get suspicious if you have too many frequent charges one after another. I had that happen to me when I was in the middle of shopping for souvenirs to bring back to people. And you don’t want to be holding a line because your credit card charges have been denied? And that is just embarrassing right? In that case you just quietly switch your credit card and disaster averted.

    If you want to be overly safe I would bring a third credit card that I would leave in the safe in your room if you have one, in case you loose your wallet and loose the other 2 credit cards.

    Hope that helps

  95. RiverGirl
    March 12th, 2009 14:04

    Fernando’s points are good ones. Also check with your credit card company to see if they charge extra for charges you make outside your home country. Some do tack on an extra fee for international charges.

    Living in Mexico, I’ve instructed my credit card company to allow charges to restaurants and retail stores up to a certain amount. So if a charge comes through that is higher than that level the credit card company will call me to check if the charge is legit. It makes me feel more secure.

    I also always call my credit card companies when I’m traveling so they can expect charges in the place I’m going.

  96. Fernando
    March 13th, 2009 13:11

    In addition to what RiverGirl is saying about avoiding bank fees, when I travel I always bring enough cash (divided into separate pockets) for backup purposes. I stash it in my room’s safe. That way if I loose my card(s) I am not stranded far away from home without any cash. Normally I bring plenty, and whatever I don’t use I bring back home and deposit it back again.

    Besides of bank fees, ATMs are never the safest, even at home, especially if you are in an area that you don’t know. Or what if you can’t find an ATM near to where you need it? Also, I’ve had occasions where the ATMs haven’t been able to establish a connection with my bank. Believe me, it’s not fun. Moral to the story: I always try to be as self reliant as possible.

    Finally if you still decide you want to rely on your debit card instead of credit cards (or if you are in college and still don’t have one) what I would do is go to my bank and open a separate account with just the travel money I am planning to spend (plus a little bit more) and use that debit card instead. Leave the debit card that is linked to your regular checking account in your room’s safe as a backup.

    As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.

    PS. My apologies to RiverGirl because I don’t want to monopolize her blog or turn it into a financial-travel advice blog :) .

  97. Robin
    March 13th, 2009 20:19

    We are vacationing in Cancun in April at the Moon Palace resort. What do you know about the property? Is it nice!

  98. RiverGirl
    March 13th, 2009 20:23

    Moon Palace is a lovely resort. The only thing is that they don’t have much beach there, but I think they will let guests use the beachclub at one of their other resorts so you’ll get plenty of beach time if you want it.

  99. trisha
    March 15th, 2009 10:50





  100. Lisa G.
    March 15th, 2009 19:37

    Dear RiverGirl,

    I’ve been reading all of your responses to concerns about the safety in Cancun and feel better. We will be going the middle of April to the Westin. We’ve never been to Cancun before and are bringing our 2 young kids so I’ve been very nervous. What is the best way to get to our hotel from the airport in Cancun? Do we simply hail a cab–and are some more safe than others? That is now the one thing I’m still unsure about.

  101. RiverGirl
    March 16th, 2009 09:56

    Trisha – I don’t know that hotel, but I’m sure you can find some first hand reports on Trip Advisor’s site.

    Lisa & Trisha –
    There are many good transportation companies in Cancun. My friend Victor owns Cancun Valet: http://www.cancunvalet.com/ His company can help you get from one hotel to another or to and from the airport. If you work with him tell him I said hi.

  102. clgb
    March 16th, 2009 10:06

    We had made plans to travel to Cancun and stay at Hotel Akumal Caribe with 3 adolescent children. We have 2 hotel rooms, not adjoining, and have transportation to and from the airport arranged by the Hotel. We planned to visit Coba, Tulum, some cenotes and other natural wonders in the area. Akumal was chosen because it is away from the spring break crowd. We have travelled to other parts of Mexico and South America in the past, but the US headlines are stirring up a lot of emotion and concern about this trip (which is in the next 2 weeks). What do you think, especially when traveling with kids.
    Thank you.

  103. RiverGirl
    March 16th, 2009 23:32

    Akumal is a sleepy town. You have nothing to worry about, seriously, don’t give it another thought.

    Coba is great, you can rent bikes for the whole crowd, it’s lots of fun. Tulum is a nice town to bum around in for a day and the ruins are in a lovely spot. Be sure to bring bathing suits when you visit Tulum’s ruins, the beach there is nicer than the ruins themselves.

  104. Jazzi
    March 17th, 2009 00:39

    I plan on vacationing there really soon (within a week or 2) and had a few questions.
    1. Me by melia Boulevard Kukulkan, km. 12
    Cancún MEXICO 77500, how far is that from the airport and is that area safe?

    2. best way (safest) way to get from the airport to that hotel?

    3. we want to visit the myans tourist location, is that safe and what is the safest way to get there?

    4. Aside from common sense, any other advice to calm the nerves of safety?

    5. we want to visit the local flea markets, is that such a good idea?

    6. hows the weather been?

  105. Made in Mexico
    March 17th, 2009 07:49


    Interesting posts. A little agressive towards Bob and I think the spell check reference was quite unncessary and caused me to question your intentions. I had to read a few more posts to try connect to what you were saying again.

    All that aside, what do you know about the Excellence Resort in Isla Mujeres?

    And…I didn’t run spell check. I don’t have that kind of time.


  106. RiverGirl
    March 17th, 2009 08:40

    Jazzi – ME is a lovely hotel in the middle of the hotel zone, and yes, it’s safe there. The best way to get to your hotel is through a transportation company, see links to Cancun Valet in other comments or Google for “Cancun Airport Transfers.” There are many good tour companies running tours to the Mayan ruins…one that gets good reviews is Alltournative Tours: http://www.alltournative.com. You can also check http://www.cancuncare.com which is owned by my friend Steve, he’s got lots of tours there. There are several craft markets in the hotel zone and in downtown Cancun you can go to Mercado 28. All are safe, but the sellers can be annoyingly pushy.

    As for calming your nerves I don’t know what more I can say. There is crime in Cancun, just like in any busy tourist destination. But if you use common sense you will be fine.

    And the weather? Well, it’s dry season so it’s perfect. In wet season (hurricane season) we can get some really strong rainstorms. But in dry season it’s pretty much perfect most of the time. It will start getting hotter in the next few months.

  107. RiverGirl
    March 17th, 2009 08:53

    Made in Mexico – If you use the FireFox web browser there’s a spellcheck built in, it takes no extra time but makes your on-line presence stronger.

    I was pushy with Bob because after living here for almost 6 years and knowing what I know about the way the cops act and the types of crime that are common it was OBVIOUS that he was lying. I’m sorry, but it was.

    I’ve asked several other locals to read his comment and not one of us believes his account. I have time to help people, but I don’t have time for people who make things up just for the drama of it.

    The cops here do shake down tourists, but it’s nearly always tourists who rent cars. The cops pull them over and then ask for a bribe to avoid giving the tourist a ticket. In all the time I’ve lived here I’ve never heard of cops beating up a tourist, not once. And in the location that Bob mentioned? If the cops beat up tourists there it would be in every paper and would be a big drama. What Bob said is not possible the way he explained it, not even close.

    And now I’ve wasted another 5 minutes because of him…

    I’m sorry but I don’t know the hotel you refer to. I’ve read some reviews of the Excellence Riviera Cancun but not the one in Isla Mujeres. Isla Mujeres has some beach erosion issues right now, though I do think the beach has recovered some in recent months.

    I have a friend in Isla Mujeres who blogs and knows the area well, you might try asking him: http://bnwisla.blogspot.com/

  108. Fernando
    March 17th, 2009 14:52

    At the risk of being banned out from this blog, I will butt-in again. Even though I am not a big fan of cops (sorry if you are one and are reading this post), you also have to wonder if Bob’s story has any truth to it, if there was actually some kind of provocation on his side.

    I am not a big defender of cops, here in the US or anywhere, since many of them tend to abuse their power, and I have seen my share of police brutality videos on the news. More often than not they are always speeding big time on the freeway, even when they are not in a mission, but who’s going to give them a ticket anyway? And don’t you dare go 10 miles over the speed limit because they will surely get you. Fair? Not quite. If you are the type of person that needs to wear a bra, even if you are not donning it at the time of the traffic violation, it is more likely you can get away with it by flashing your eyes or winking at the officer. Fair? Not quite either. Since I don’t fit in that category and with my insurance going over the roof, I gave up on the whole thing and now I am a recovering speeder.

    Playing devils advocate, you would also have to listen the other side of Bob’s story. Cops are also human beings and unless they are completely nuts, which most of them are not, they don’t go out of the blue beating everyone out in their sight just because they can. So if Bob’s story has any truth to it, which I doubt, I wonder what he must have done to deserve that kind of treatment.

    And for “Mad in Mexico” if you expect someone to take the time to help you out, shouldn’t you, at a minimum and out of respect, take the time to edit your request (including running it through a spell checker)? Remember, RiverGirl is not getting paid for this service she is providing; she is doing it out of generosity. Remember, manners always count.

    You don’t really need a high degree of education to know that common courtesy can carry you out a lot further. Even though this may sound obvious, using words like please and saying thanks is always important. It never ceases to amaze me how many people ask for a favor and they don’t even bother using those simple words. For proof, just look at many of the posts above. And this applies even more if you are a visitor. Then we wonder why we Americans have a bad reputation when we travel abroad?

    And to remain relevant to this blog, and crossing fingers that I don’t get kicked out of it, if you are going to drive don’t go a kilometer over the speed limit. Remember the speed limit there is in kilometers-per-hour and not miles-per-hour. Be aware also that in the hotel zone the speed limit is constantly changing depending on whether there are pedestrians’ zones and crosswalks. And if you are stopped, once again, please just use common sense and good manners. Believe me, it will help you.

  109. Made in Mexico
    March 17th, 2009 21:35

    Ohhh Fernando….C’mon, “Made in Mexico”, not “Mad in Mexico”…we were married there (Cancun – Moon Palace) two years ago and have been there many time since. Relax….and yes…. My manners are fine, but thanks for the reminder and for butting in again. I had every intention of thanking RiverGirl if she had time to respond to my post. I am clear sir about editing responses, but again this is not an academic setting and should not be considered so formal. RiverGirl is not grading paper here. She understood everything that I asked and I think all is well. It is blogging…hello? and I did not see a paypal symbol. Did I miss it? Relax Fernando. RiverGirl is a big girl and can take care of herself. Focus please.

    RiverGirl, thanks a bunch. I don’t use FireFox, but thanks for the tip and for the additional address. We are still planning to travel in 4 weeks. You should look up Excellence. Quite expensive, but worth the extra.

    Fernando, how’s that?

  110. Fernando
    March 18th, 2009 02:58

    Made in Mexico,

    I owe you an apology. I was just trying to crack a joke to keep it light, but perhaps I should’ve not. My bad! Fortunately enough you have a sense of humor.

    I know RiverGirl is a big girl and can fight her own battles. My message though was way broader than that: I used many of the posts above as examples of how not to behave like the typical obnoxious American tourist. Not that I am saying that you would.

    As a traveler you can improve your experience abroad just by saying hi, please, thanks, and bye. Bonus points if you learn to say it in their language and learn a little bit about the culture of the country you are visiting before you go. You will get more than an A+ for effort; it will take you a long way and people will really go out of their way to help you out.

  111. Made in Mexico
    March 18th, 2009 07:11


    Typical obnoxious American? OK, I will look for the humor in that as well. I think more appropriate would be the typical obnoxious human as we all, regardless of your country of residence, to be obnoxious. In addition, as an educator of ESL, that is English as a Second Language, I am quite familiar with various cultures and nuances. However, I would encourage you Fernando, to broaden your discussion to manners as it relates to “humans”. I don’t think it is exclusive to the folks who are employed in resorts in Mexico. Right?

    Moon Palace, an excellent bang for the buck, is an all inclusive resort. However, we always tip every single, let me say it again, every single person who provides any service to us. In fact, we are always welcomed at the resort by employees who remember us and many of them requested to change their work stations to personally serve my wedding party, all 30 obnoxious Americans, while we were at the resort. The photographer and videographer loved the wedding party so much, they danced the rest of the night with us. My mom still speaks of him. When I return to the resort, all I am missing is a crown. We are treated so well probably because we value all people and treat all people with dignity and respect…that is regardless of their country of origin or their current employment. You see, My GOD teaches me that you never know when you are serving HIM or one of HIS ANGELS.

    So, thanks Fernando for the reminder. But, again, I think we have it covered. Oh, did I mention that I brought my wedding coordinator a suitcase full of different products from Bath and Body Works because she could not get it there? And I sent the general manager a three page thank you letter with the names, again I said, the names of everyone who helped us there. Just to help you a bit here….Knowing the names implies that I built relationships. Building relationships requires a sincere interest in people….All people, not just other obnoxious Americans.

    In an effort to support your cause of helping the typical obnoxious American, I am posting the letter below as a “how to” guide when expressing sincere gratitude and Thanks. The letter is generic to all cultures and can be used in most countries. Enjoy and you do not need to cite me if you use portions of it following your travels

    I have removed names for obvious reasons.

    Mr. XXX,

    I am writing to recognize the service and efforts of several employees of the Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort. My family and I celebrated my wedding on XXXX in the Tucan Gazebo. XXXX was the wedding coordinator and XXXX was the organizer of the cocktail reception.

    Prior to the wedding, we had a cocktail reception that has organized by XXX. It was absolutely fabulous and well planned. She and the event staff, XXXX Sánchez (supervisor), XXXX Pérez (bartender), XXXX Cruz (waiter), XXXX Martínez (steward), were so nice to us and very accommodating. Realizing that this was a once in a lifetime experience for many of my family members, they went above and beyond to meet our needs. They were even kind enough to bring a small birthday cake for one of our guests to the reception area. I am grateful to them for the attention to detail. My family was impressed.

    In addition, XXXX helped me to locate a picture of my dad at the casino. My dad won a small jackpot and the staff at the casino took a display picture of him. He had to leave before the picture was ready, but once again she helped us. We were able to take the picture home for our memory book. This is an example of above and beyond service that helped to make our trip special.

    Preparing for the wedding was effortless with XXXX. We began speaking with XXXXabout nine months before we arrived to Moon Palace. She was always so pleasant and patient with us. She was meticulous with regard to details and punctual when returning emails.

    When we arrived to the resort, she had a pleasant personality and a kind smile. She could tell that I was nervous and did everything to set me at ease. She handled every detail and helped me to arrange appointments at the salon and even helped us to find a glue gun! She even ordered the small cake for my friend. She did this all with a smile on her face and the patience of a saint.

    We brought some decorations from our home (my mom is a florist) to be used at the wedding. Needless to say, my mother was very nervous the day of the wedding. XXXX and XXXX (in the wedding dept.) took extra patience with my mom and told her to relax because they would take care of everything. And…they did! XXXX and XXXX set the decorations beautifully and allowed me and my mother to relax before the wedding. In fact, XXXX, told my mother to go back to her room and rest. My mom did just that and was able to enjoy the wedding and the reception without being exhausted. My mother is a stickler for details and she was so impressed with both XXXX and XXXX. She continues to speak of their kindness today and wishes me to extend a special thank you to both of them.

    We met so many other wonderful members of the staff while we were there. In fact, we were treated so nicely by a bartender, XXXX Alegria, the first day that we arrived, that we asked if he could be the bartender at our wedding reception. We knew that our family would love him and have fun. He had a great personality and helped to make the wedding reception more memorable. Everyone knew his name. Locating him at different bars around the resort and visiting with him became a highlight of our day. Please recognize him as he also made our stay and our wedding reception exceptional.

    My family and I gathered at the same location for breakfast each morning and sat at the table of XXXX Miranda. From speaking with the manager of the restaurant I understand that he has only been in his position for a few months. But, his execution of service was professional, timely, and warm. He was such a nice person and always smiled as we greeted each other every morning. He also became part of our daily routine. We also enjoyed meeting and visiting XXXX Kumul on a daily basis at various locations.

    I am a stickler for good service and require high standards of service in all of my dealings. I expected nothing less especially for my wedding. This was especially true since 30 members of our family trusted my judgment enough to travel to the Moon Palace. But, the staff was so exceptional that I could relax as their standards exceeded my expectations. We have shared our pictures and stories of Moon Palace with everyone that we know. We highly recommend the resort to anyone that will listen to us. But, make no mistake, the magic of our stay was in the details….and the details were perfected by the staff and those that I have mentioned. Please share this with them. A copy of the letter is also attached to this email for your convenience.

    Made in Mexico

  112. sypha
    March 18th, 2009 10:36

    hi river girl did u ever hear about cancun jumpoff weekend memoral day

  113. RiverGirl
    March 18th, 2009 11:17

    Fernando – Thanks for the comments, I always appreciate you perspective and the way you stick up for me.

    Made in Mexico – Thanks for the letter and comments about appreciating people who help you while on vacation.

    Sypha – Never heard of it. It doesn’t sound like the kind of thing I would pay attention to though. You might ask on the Cancun Care forum (like is above in the comments).

  114. sypha
    March 18th, 2009 12:41

    how far is the border war from cancun

  115. Fernando
    March 18th, 2009 14:56

    Made in Mexico,

    My apologies are sincere and I am not trying to be sarcastic. I did not mean that you or that all traveling Americans are obnoxious for that matter. I am sorry that my reply was not clear enough in that regards. Maybe I am being too technical here but I said the “typical obnoxious American” and not the “obnoxious typical American.” I believe that in this case the order of the adjectives is absolutely crucial. By that I mean that obnoxious Americans (which does not include all Americans) typically don’t bother with their manners. I also emphasized that I was not implying that you were one of them.

    The last paragraph of my post was not directed to you but meant to be a generic tip, especially for those that are traveling abroad for the first time.

    That’s all and I hope that clarifies a little bit more.


  116. Eric
    March 18th, 2009 15:20

    Rivergirl, would it be safe to rent a car/jeep and drive from Cancun to Tulum or Chichen Itza next weekend? Should I pile in with a herd on a tour bus/van? Are there cab type arrangements to hire for the day? What is safest/best way to get there & back. thanks!!!

  117. RiverGirl
    March 18th, 2009 23:01

    Well, I wouldn’t go in a tour group, I would drive. Driving in Mexico is a little different from the US or Canada, but if you are a safe driver you will be fine.

    Tourists who rent cars are more likely to get pulled over by the cops than the rest of us…but if you simply tell them to give you the ticket and don’t pay them the bribe they want then you’ll likely get away without a ticket OR paying a bribe, since they often consider it a hassle to write that ticket. Just stand up to them and say “deme mi infraccion.” and ignore all their dire warnings of “you have big problem.”

    If you report a cop who asks for a bribe then there’s a good chance he will lose his job, so be respectful and polite to them but don’t put up with their corruption.

    All that said I’m sure you won’t get pulled over. So just relax and enjoy yourself. Having a car is much nicer than going with a big group imho.

  118. RiverGirl
    March 18th, 2009 23:04

    sypha – The border drug cartel violence is something like 1400 miles from Cancun.

  119. DCDawg
    March 19th, 2009 07:52

    My wife and I are going to Moon Palace for a second time in six months. The resort is awesome, really close to a five star experience last time during the off-season. The beach is not all that great and swimming is not advised but with all those pools and activities the beach will not be missed that bad. The staff is tremendous and talking with several of them about tipping, they indicated that if they are mentioned on the daily surveys you can get at breakfast, they are awarded by management. We tipped anyway. Food and drink are top notch, room (deluxe oceanfront) was large and very airy. We had numerous opportunities to take free excursion but when we went last time to relax so we only went to Tulum (sp?) and the Eoc-resort owned by Palace Resorts. We plan to go to the other resorts in the hotel zone this time, but really and truly we stayed five nights and really saw no need to leave the resort. The resort had a safe feeling and when my wife called prior to scheduling this upcoming reservation, the resort assured that they had no problems like the northern border areas were having.

    RiverGirl do you have any idea what the average daily pay is for a resort/hotel worker? I know most worker work 7 days a week.

  120. Classy But Cheap
    March 19th, 2009 08:09

    Thanks for those reassuring words. I had a feeling the media was over-hyping the negative. I just booked a vacation to Cancun and was a little nervous about it. I booked for Thanksgiving and the rates were unbelievably low!

  121. RiverGirl
    March 19th, 2009 11:52

    DCDawg – Well I don’t know but I think that many hotel workers make between $4000 MXP and $10,000 MXP a month, which means even the well-paid ones will make less than $1000 USD per month. I know that a local vet clinic here pays a full time veterinarian $5000 MXP a month plus providing lodging (but not food). I know that cops here make about $8000 MXP a month (they got a big raise recently). I know that the security folks at the airport make about $4000 MXP a month. Not sure if this helps of not.

    Classy But Cheap – You will have a great time!

  122. Bluesky
    March 19th, 2009 15:32

    Rivergirl and Eric,

    We rented a car and drove it to Tulum and it’s the best way to go. You can go when you want and leave when you want. However, we did get pulled over for speeding and my boyfriend gave the cop $40 bucks not to give him a ticket. However, we’ve been many times and never had any other trouble. Just watch the speed limits!!

    Rivergirl, I would be scared to death to stand up a cop!! Seriously, they wouldn’t give you a ticket if you refused to give them money?

    P.S. We are starting to hear on the news around here that it’s TOTALLY safe to go the resort towns in Mexico.
    P.S.S. Rivergirl, thanks again for all you do, YOU ROCK!!!

  123. RiverGirl
    March 19th, 2009 16:58

    Bluesky – I’ve been pulled over just once, it was several days ago, I refused to give the cop money and in the end he never wrote me a ticket. I don’t have great Spanish, but enough to make it clear to a cop that I just wanted my ticket.

    The corruption in the police here is thriving because people don’t report them when they do things wrong.

  124. holamexico
    March 20th, 2009 23:21

    Hi Rivergirl,

    First and foremost thanks for the service you are providing on this site. It has eased my sisters’ fears about travelling here with me soon. I dont have much worries. Everything is all relative. Crime is crime is crime no matter where you go. I live in Boston Ive seen and heard my share (esp working at an inner-city behavioral school).
    Anywho, we will be staying at the Mayan Palace and reading the reviews I hear it doesnt have a swimmable beach and its in between Riviera Maya and Cancun so there isnt much to do outside the resort. Is this true? My sis and I are pretty young (25 and 30) and we would like some nightlife along with beach time. Also on my previous trip tp Riviera Maya we explored and climbed Coba. What other ruins site is there that is just as interactive and fun?
    Lastly this is for “Made in Mexico” and “Fernando”. Ya’ll are dumb. Its so sad that you both are perseverating on tiny little issues related to pride. Get over it seriously. You both are being condescending and silly. Clearly one of ya’ll want the last word, but for what? This blog wasnt made for you two to rash (as my students would say) on each other. You should have left it alone. Im only commenting because you took up so much of this blog that people will lose the purpose of what Rivergirl is trying to do. Its entertaining to read to grown men clawing at each other over petty unrelated issues like grammar, spelling, and manners.
    As a guidance counselor Im only trying to be the mediator. Leave Rivergirls blog alone. If you must continue your battle through you guys own IM or blog. You both make interesting points but unfortunately it has nothing to do with why this blog was created and ya’ll are trying to pretend it does. A wolf in sheeps clothing is still a wolf…

  125. Sooner
    March 21st, 2009 10:58

    Pretty good reads here.

    Trisha, I think is was. You will love Royal Solaris. Very family focussed. We have been going there for at least 8 years. We travel there in July. Cooler there in July than Oklahoma. Unfortunately, now I am in Michigan, but will be at Royal Solaris again this summer. Anyway, food is very good, not great. Be sure to check out the cafe over looking the ocean in the Caribe tower of Royal Solaris. Yes, there are two hotels adjoined that make up RS. You can also walk down the beach to Gran Solaris and eat there. Oh and the beach is great.

    Cancun is safe (per all the postings here). Once I was at the Gran Solaris, had a bit too much to drink, long story short, the police actually helped me back down the beach to the Royal Solaris.

    For those of you traveling in the summer, be sure to walk the beach around 10pm and check out the huge sea turtles laying eggs.

  126. RiverGirl
    March 21st, 2009 12:13

    holamexico – I’m sorry but I don’t know much about the Mayan Palace. If the beach there isn’t nice I’m sure the hotel will make arrangements to help you get to a better beach.

    As for Fernando’s and Made in Mexico’s comments I think both of them meant well. And there’s room enough for everyone’s opinion here. I appreciate all comments so long as they are not obnoxiously rude. We are all entitled to our opinions and personally I think the world is a better place because people have different opinions. I would be bored silly if everyone agreed with me.

    Sooner – Thanks for your comment.

  127. NewYorkee
    March 21st, 2009 17:11

    Hi I had left you a message a few weeks ago with my concerns before my vacation to Cancun especially during the Spring Break week. I just wanted to let everyone know that after all of my concerns..once I got there I felt very safe. We stayed at the RIU Cancun and it was a very nice resort….we did walk up and down the hotel zone a little bit and did some shopping..never felt threatened and would go back again.

  128. SBNY
    March 22nd, 2009 16:14

    Thanks for the very helpful blog! As single parents, my girlfriend and I are going to Playa del Carmen with our kids in 2 weeks. After reading your comments and the many articles and Dept. of State alert, I am a bit relieved. However, I am still very worried about the safety and drive to and from the airport to the resort. While we will be taking the inclusive transportation buses, it’s still about 45 minutes in transit. How safe is the drive from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen? ANYTHING can happen in between that time.

    Looking forward to your response. Thanks.

  129. RiverGirl
    March 22nd, 2009 17:14

    SBNY – Wear your seat belt! It’s a busy road that gets treated by drivers as a highway (meaning they travel at high speeds on it) but it’s NOT limited access, so there are driveways and side roads all along it. If you have a driver who knows the road you will be fine, but it’s not the safest road I’ve ever been on. They really should lower the speed limit on it, or make it limited access.

    Don’t fret about it though. Lots of folks drive it everyday without incident.

  130. DCDawg
    March 23rd, 2009 06:57

    Thanks for all you do RiverGirl! Be down there in less than week!!! Don Julio for all!!!

  131. Sanderff
    March 23rd, 2009 14:24

    My husband & I have been to Cancun numerous times over the last 15 years. I absolutely LOVE Cancun! This June I will be taking my daughter and her friend to the Royal Sands for two weeks as a graduation present. I have always felt safe in Cancun, but do you think it is safe for my 18 yr old daughter and her friend to go places during the day in the Hotel Zone without me? They have asked, am I am unsure.

    Also, I have not been to Isla Mujeres in years. Would you be able to tell me the best way to get there from our resort? I remember taking a bus to ferry, but that’s about it.

    Thank you for all of the information on safety in Cancun. I had my daughters’ friends family read this blog, and they seem to feel better about letting her vacation in Cancun.

  132. RiverGirl
    March 23rd, 2009 16:05

    Sanderff – The hotel zone is perfectly safe for your daughter if she uses common sense. I’ve never felt a hint of danger there, except from strong undertow.

    Your hotel will be able to suggest the best route to Isla Mujeres. There are ferries from El Embarcadero (where the scenic tower is, by the bridge in the hotel zone) and from Puerto Cancun (which would require a longer bus ride). But check with your hotel and see what they recommend.

  133. Ellie
    March 24th, 2009 09:00

    Thank you so much RiverGirl. Back in Feb. I started FREEKING OUT about our up coming trip to Cancun. We have been there 3 times in the last 6 years and were fine. Then, I started hearing about how unsafe it was to go to Mexico now. That’s when I found your blog and have been following it everyday. Now,I feel so much better, not only knowing that I will be safe but also that my husband can have a good time without me stressing out the whole time!

  134. Tom
    March 25th, 2009 12:39

    Hi RiverGirl:

    On a seperate topic, is there a good place to go bodyboarding/bodysurfing? It sounds like the beaches near the hotel zone (where we’ll be staying) can be kind of rocky and have a strong undercurrent…

    Thanks for your blog, and for so patiently responding to everybody and helping reassure people. I really appreciate it.

  135. Sarah
    March 25th, 2009 18:22

    Hi River Girl!

    I’m glad to have found this site! My husband and I are going on our Honeymoon May 11th-May 16th in Riviera Maya. My mother is BEGGING me not to go. I just got back from a visit to Indiana (I live in Illinois, but most of my family is there) for my bridal shower. EVERYONE I told about our honeymoon flipped out!! I got so sick of defending our decision to go there! And to make matters worse, my husband said he saw something on the news today about some tourists getting murdered in Cancun?? -I think he’s just imagining things…I watched the news tonight and heard nothing about it. Our final payment is due on our honeymoon in two days, and everyone has gotten me so worried about it. We are staying at The Gran Bahia Principe Tulum and I would really love to take a tour of the Mayan Ruins…other than that, we have no plans to even leave the hotel area. Can you give me any reassurance about that area? I certainly don’t want to change our plans…it took me forever to get them made! Thanks for your help!!

  136. Jeff
    March 25th, 2009 18:33

    A great blog with lots of good advice. My wife and I will be coming to Cancun next week. We plan on renting a car and driving to Chichen Itza and swimming in Cenote one day and snorkling another day. Can you tell me where to find some good maps of how to get to those places? I could not find anywhere how to get from Chichen Itza to Cenote or where a good place to snorkel is. We want to avoid the crowds and expensive tour packages. Thanks in advance.

  137. RiverGirl
    March 25th, 2009 21:43

    Ellie – Cancun and the Riviera Maya are as safe now as they were a year ago, or two years ago, or five years ago. You will have a great trip, just relax.

    Tom – I don’t really know. The undertow can be strong at times (it was today), but it depends on the day. Most places in the hotel zone are not rocky. If you come to a rocky spot you can usually just move 100 yards away and be safe from the rocks.

  138. RiverGirl
    March 25th, 2009 21:58

    Sarah – Your husband IS imagining things. It’s not his fault though, the news is exaggerating things and reporting things in ways that twist reality out of shape. It’s very hard to know what the reality is if you only listen to the news.

    The truth is that there have been ZERO tourists murdered in Cancun by the drug cartels, ZERO! Once in a while a tourist does die here but it’s nearly always from drowning or a heart attack or maybe a car accident. Just don’t swim drunk and always wear your seat belt and you should be fine. Seriously.

    It would be a shame and a huge WASTE for you to cancel your honeymoon! The weather is PERFECT right now! This place is perfectly safe for tourists. (Obama is even coming here in two weeks!)

    Don’t listen to all your friends, tell them to turn off Fox News, and then you come down here and have a GREAT HONEYMOON! And congratulations on your marriage!

    Jeff – I haven’t been in too many cenotes. There is one cenote that I’ve been to which is LOVELY. It’s right next to the ruins at Ek Balam, which are not too far from Chichen Itza. But I know there are a couple of other cenotes close to the town of Valladolid (which is the largest town you go through on the way to Chichen).

    The best maps that I know of for this area are made by MapChick, but I don’t know if you have time to get one before you leave. Her web site is here: http://www.mapchick.com/ Take a look and see what she’s got. Best of luck, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a cenote, there are something like 2000 of them here.

  139. SBNY
    March 26th, 2009 10:59

    Thanks for your response (#129) to my post (#128). I have been to Cancun before and was not so much worried about the roads and bus drivers, but more concerned about any crime, shootings, kidnappings, etc to/from the airport/resorts.

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply to all of our concerns!

  140. RiverGirl
    March 26th, 2009 17:00

    SBNY – There have been no kidnappings or shootings of tourists here. The road between the resorts and the airport is perfectly safe, just wear your seat belt.

  141. Mark
    March 27th, 2009 11:28

    Hi, Rivergirl:

    Thank you for all your info. I am traveling to Cancun next week. Could you tell me whether I use my electric goods in Mexico? Do you use same 120 voltage in Mexico? Do I need to bring a transformer? Thanks.

  142. RiverGirl
    March 27th, 2009 11:57

    Mark – All your US electronics will work fine here, everything is the same.

  143. Mimi
    March 27th, 2009 14:14

    Hi RiverGirl,
    What a fine service you are providing. For 19 years now, Hubby & I have been flying to Cancun, then taking the ADO bus to Puerto Morelos where, until 3 yrs ago, we stayed in this sweet little fishing village right on the beach. Over the yrs we’ve developed friendships with many people there. 3 yrs ago we purchased a vacation plan through ElCid (about 1 mi from Puerto Morelos) and have been enjoying ElCid for about 8 or 10 wks/yr. We plan to be there for 3 wks in May. Of course we’ve been hearing about the problems in MX, but not from FOX News (I try to NEVER watch FOX!) Please confirm for me that our upcoming trip will be okay, even though we will be staying in a “port” town. Puerto Morelos also has a small military installation there. No problems though, right?…if you could just give us a warm fuzzy. We normally travel ALOT from P. Morelos (trips to ruins, Isla, Cozumel, Playa, etc. etc.). We are retired, ages 65 & 70, so don’t frequent the bars, etc; rather, we spend alot of time snorkeling (too old to dive anymore) and just generally running around where we want to. Do you think we should stick around closer to ElCid this trip? Hate to have our wings clipped, but also want to be safe of course. Any advice? Would love to hear back from you. Thanks, Miriam

  144. David
    March 27th, 2009 14:45

    I am an American tourist in Cancun, staying at Le Meridien smack in the middle of the hotel zone as I type this.

    The ocean is beautiful and warm enough for this time of year. The wind is very strong, so the sirf is up and lots of warning flags. Too windy for most folks trying to sit out at the pools. But, not too hot – in fact just right.

    We have not road the bus into town, yet, but plan to do so manana.

    Have seens plenty of local cops drive on the hotel zone road (incredible amount of available buses crusing up and down the main road). Saw a truck go by this morning with four or six seated in the open bed carrying nasty-looking assault riffles. This was police, not army.

    Have only seen one guy pulled over by local cop, and it was a local gas/propane delivery truck getting a ticket. The driver was not happy. Could have been anywhere in the U.S.

    The restaurant waiters, airport shuttle and taxi drivers, and the hotel employees, are all super polite and provide excellent service. Best service on the planet (I always say that about Mexico). They really treat you well. (and, yes, be a good tipper).

    Because of the intense “murder and kidnapping gone wild” news as of late, we were concerned about taking this trip. We never have been concerned about travelling to Mexico in the past. Back in the 70s and 80s when we lived in SoCal, we went to Northern Baja a lot for weekend trips. Would not touch that area these days, which is too bad. But, I would also NEVER travel to south central LA or Oakland CA, including in the broad daylight at 9 am in the morning. Don’t even mention the crime and danger in New Orleans.

    Cancun is soooooo much safer than those places.

    Thanks, RiverGirl.

  145. David
    March 27th, 2009 15:26

    Ummm – make that “surf”.

    By the way, what do you recommend for restaurant/bars in town (by bus or cab) for late 40s Americans not wanting to mix with college kids?

    Where should we spend time wlaking – we like to put in 4-6 miles total, and we thought we would get our exercise walking around cancun. Walking up and down the hotel zone road gets old fast.

  146. Sarah
    March 27th, 2009 19:19

    Thank you, RiverGirl, for the reassurance! I spoke to my mother last night and read to her your response…and she seems to feel much better about the whole situation! I made our final payment on our honeymoon this evening with confidence, and no jittery feelings. I honestly can’t wait! :) You are really doing a great service here, and I wish you all the best!

  147. RiverGirl
    March 27th, 2009 19:39

    Mimi – I’m just returning now from spending the day in glorious Puerto Morelos, I love it there. Aside from a few more restaurants than last year it really hasn’t changed much. And no, you do not need to stick around your hotel, go out and have the same fun you always have. Don’t hesitate, things here are as safe as they were last time you visited.

    David – Thanks for the great comments. For walking you can try the southern end of the hotel zone, just catch a bus down to Nizuc and then walk north. Or you might like taking a walk in the Parque Kabah here in downtown, you may need to take a cab to get there as it’s a bit of a hike from the main downtown area (it’s across from Costco at Kabah and Yaxchilan Aves).

    As for restaurants…I like the casual atmosphere of Marakame in SM19 on Ave. Copan. For seafood we like Oasis on Ave. Yaxchilan near Costco again. For cheap and yummy fish tacos we like Los de Pescado on Ave Tulum just south of Novedades in SM 20. You should spend some time in the Parque de las Palapas in the center of SM 22 between Ave Tulum and Ave Yaxchilan, there are several nice restaurants in there…one of my favs is Iki…and next door is a little bar called Acustica that has live Trova music most nights.

    Sarah – I’m SO GLAD you decided to go ahead and come here for your honeymoon! I’m sure you will have a great time!

  148. Jill
    March 28th, 2009 09:10

    thank you for all your wonderful information. One of the shuttle companies offers a service to stop at Costco or Walmart after airport pickup for $30 extra . We are staying in a condo so need to get some basics probably at Walmart. Is there anyplace closer to the hotel zone? Does $30 seem reasonable or would it be cheaper to take a taxi somewhere after check-in. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

  149. Fernando
    March 28th, 2009 13:41

    Fernando chiming-in again :) .

    David – Another great restaurant that is always highly recommended and personally love is called La Habichuela in calle Margarita (near the intersection of Calle Coba and Tulum, which is the same 37). It’s Caribbean style seafood. Their website is:


  150. RiverGirl
    March 28th, 2009 13:51

    Jill- You can take the bus downtown for less than a dollar each, go to Walmart and then take a taxi back to the hotel for around $10 USD. Sound cheaper than paying your transportation company. There is a closer supermarket, called Chedraui, that is at the intersection of Tulum Ave. and Coba Ave, but it’s much smaller than Walmart. The bus goes almost to Walmart so I would do that.

  151. Techzen
    March 28th, 2009 14:18

    Do you know anything about the Westin Resort and Spa? It looks like it is at the southern most tip of the hotel district, is that a good place to stay, clean, nice beach?
    Are the restaurants in the hotel decent?
    But more importantly, to me, how is the beach behind this hotel?

  152. RiverGirl
    March 28th, 2009 14:37

    Techzen – I have toured the Westin and it’s lovely. I’ve eaten in one restaurant there and it was very good. The beach there is nice but small, though I haven’t seen it in a few months.

  153. Techzen
    March 29th, 2009 11:51

    Thanks for the reply, Rivergirl!
    We are looking forward to our trip to Cancun later this spring. This trip is for relaxation so we won’t be doing any tours or anything. Just want to sit on the beach and enjoy the view. Probably won’t even leave the hotel. Do you know how long the walk is down to the other end of the hotel zone from the Westin? We are just happy to have a weekend away from everyday stress! We are thinking about using cancuntransfers.com from airport to hotel and back, is this a reputable company? The reviews were good.Do you know anything about them?

  154. HMooner
    March 29th, 2009 12:49

    First, this has been a very refreshing viewpoint on the whole Mexico situation. My fiance and I were looking at resorts, and when our parents/siblings found out they have done everything to persuade us to choose another location. I’ve been to the Cancun region 3 times, and never have I felt threatened.

    Rivergirl, thanks for your unbiased opinions. I was wondering if you (or anyone) knew much about the Playa Paraiso area? We are looking at a resort here, but I’m not familiar with this particular region?


  155. RiverGirl
    March 29th, 2009 20:04

    Techzen – The walk from the Westin to the corner of Cancun’s 7-shaped island in the hotel zone is about 8 miles…walk part of it and take the bus the rest of the way, it’s easy.

    I don’t know anyone at Cancun Transfers personally, but they’ve been around a while, I’m sure they are fine.

    HMooner – I’ve been to the residential area at Playa Paraiso, I think it’s between two resorts. It’s lovely there. The beach wasn’t really big last time I was there, but it sure was a pretty spot. I like that area a lot. It’s about 15 mins north of Playa del Carmen.

  156. Chris
    March 30th, 2009 13:27

    Hi Rivergirl,

    Just wanted to leave a message for everyone whos has worries about traveling to Mexico due to the NEWS. I was worried as well, we are coming in May, but some friends of ours took a bunch of kids “seniors” on a trip over spring break. I spoke to one of the adults that was with them. He said that cancun is no different than last year all is the same with no more extra activity that he could see. The kids said is was very nice and loved it.

    Also, how will the weather be in May?
    Thanks for your responses to all our questions and concerns.

  157. RiverGirl
    March 30th, 2009 14:02

    Chris – Thanks for the comment. The weather in May is usually hot and mostly dry. Our wet season begins in June.

  158. Geoffy69
    March 30th, 2009 17:55

    Has the current drug war affected anything–particularly the safety of people–in Cancun? Some friends and I are planning a senior trip there, but my parents are telling me that I can’t go because of the drug war in Mexico. I’ve told them that Cancun is still safe, but they are being ignorant about the situation. Any accurate information will be greatly appreciated.

  159. RiverGirl
    March 30th, 2009 19:51

    Geoffy69 – The short answer is NO, the drug cartel violence has not affected Cancun tourists at all! There have been ZERO tourists in Cancun who’ve been killed by the drug cartels.

    Cancun is as safe now as it was 5 years ago. Please ask your parents to read all the comments on this page. And tell them they can write to me if they want more information.

    Tourists to Cancun need to worry about sunburn and hangovers, those are the biggest dangers to them.

  160. Christina
    March 31st, 2009 10:09

    Hi there RiverGirl…
    I am writing to you like everyone else.. I too have concerns about our honeymoon. I just booked a trip to the Oasis Cancun for August. We have several family friends who visit Cancun yearly. They are not going this year because they do not feel safe going. They have been pleading with us to not go to Cancun for our honeymoon. My parents and close friends are all glued to CNN. Is there anything you can tell me/them to reassure us? I just don’t know what to do… I spent A LOT of time planning this honeymoon I don’t want to have to change it, but i want to feel secure about my choice. I would hate for anything to happen/go wrong… Thanks in advance!

  161. RiverGirl
    March 31st, 2009 12:48

    Christina – If your family listens carefully to the news they will hear that there have been NO tourists killed here! None! More than 4½ million tourists come here every year on vacation and the vast majority go home with nothing worse than a sunburn. Statistically you have nothing to fear.

    Honestly, have your family read the comments on this page. Have them visit the CancunCare forum and the TripAdvisor Cancun forum. The more they learn about the reality here the more relaxed they will be.

    It would be a huge waste for you to cancel your honeymoon! There’s simply no reason at all to cancel it. This area is just as safe as it was when I moved here 5 years ago.

  162. Cancunhereicome
    March 31st, 2009 20:49


    i am going to Cancun with 10 friends in June and we are staying at the Barcelo Maya Beach resort. Do you know anything about that resort? Do you know how long it takes to get from the airport to the resort? And has there been any news reports in Cancun about corrupt law enforcement or recent tourist murders? Thanks Rivergirl.

  163. RiverGirl
    March 31st, 2009 21:18

    Cancunhereicome – There have been ZERO tourist murders, so there is no news of those. And while the cops here may be corrupt they have little to do with tourists anyway. Don’t worry about them.

    The Barcelo Maya Beach resort is south of Playa del Carmen, so it will take about one hour to get to from the Cancun airport. Hope that helps.

  164. Stella
    April 1st, 2009 09:12

    Hey Rivergirl,

    Glad I found this website. We are leaving 4/8 for Cancun, LeMeridian, by husband, myself and 2 kids. I am scared to death that we will be in harms way. My daughter can’t wait to go to Sr. Frog’s and I haven’t told her yet, that we probably won’t go downtown. I need your honest opinion as to whether or not we will be safe. I have arranged for the hotel conceriege to pick us up at the airport, thought that was the safest way to go and figured we just won’t leave the resort until its time to head home, but that doesn’t give us many dining options. Please give me your honest opinion on all this. Also, if you know anything about the LeMeridian that you care to share, I would appreciate it.
    Thanks so much for your time and info.

  165. RiverGirl
    April 1st, 2009 10:00

    Stella – First off Señor Frog’s is not in downtown Cancun it’s in the Hotel Zone. Second, even if it WAS downtown it would be perfectly safe to go there.

    I understand your fears Stella but they are completely unfounded! I’m serious!

    I wander around in Cancun all the time, alone as a white American woman. I’ve never been at all nervous for my safety and only once or twice (in large crowds) was I nervous that some purse snatcher would try to grab my purse (though no one ever did).

    Le Meridien is a lovely hotel, it’s one of the nicest here. I don’t think the beach near it is very good right now, so you will want to walk north or south to a better beach.

    But do leave your hotel and go out. Cancun is perfectly safe for tourists. When you get here and see everyone wandering the Hotel Zone night and day you will relax, I’m sure.

  166. Christina
    April 1st, 2009 10:03

    Thank you so much! I printed out all of the comments on here… Plus I talked to my mom last night… She is not as worried as I had thought about me going to Cancun… It is more of our close friends… She said she is more stressed about the wedding, lol… She knows I am pretty cautious when traveling. Thank you again for your response! I was curious to know, what you thought about the Oasis Cancun? Good beach? Close to things? Thanks!

  167. RiverGirl
    April 1st, 2009 16:52

    Christina – I was at a party at the Oasis Beach at Christmas and the beach was nice then. I was only in a ballroom and in the lobby, bar, patio area, but from what I saw it was a nice hotel.

  168. Jazzi
    April 3rd, 2009 03:06

    Thanks so much RiverGirl. I just got back from a weeks stay in Cancun last Thursday. The fear of the drug cartel or tourists scares are NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. My transportation the whole time was the local bus and no worries-way cheaper than a taxi by far. I went to the Mercado 28-thanks for the recommendation, the BEST MARISCOS i’ve had not to mention cheap dozen of fresh raw oysters.All the locals were friendly, I don’t speak any spanish but everyone still understood. A TON of spring breakers from all over, they all seem to be at the CLUBZONE. Remember people, CANCUN’s biggest income is TOURISM why would they mess that up. All the locals were so nice and ask you to spread the word that it is safe so people will come! I plan to go back, so much I didn’t get to do. I’m in my mid 20′s and felt safe-but remember your common sense. Those traveling, i’ll leave tips on tripadvisor.
    thanx again!

  169. Jazzi
    April 3rd, 2009 03:10

    OH to STELLA! Don’t worry, like I said I was just there. Take your kids to xel-ha they’ll have a blast. Tip-do not book it at the hotel or other vendors. Take the local bus to downtown cancun to Walmart. A kiosk in the middle sells that excursion for 70us dollars-hotel charges anywhere from 100-145 person. US DOLLARS!

  170. RiverGirl
    April 3rd, 2009 11:01

    Jazzi – Thanks for your comments, it really helps people to hear about the experiences of other tourists!

  171. disenomiami cancun
    April 3rd, 2009 13:54

    I went to Cancun 5 years ago and was really great, thanks for your blog, my family can read it and approved my proposal to go there this summer

    No place in this world is a 100% safe, even your house’s living room, but they make (to me) lots of publicity of a borderline situation, not a puerto vallarta situation, anyway I’m checking nice tour rates

    see you there!
    Many thanks!

    I’m just checking good tours rates at

    Many thanks!

  172. Fernando
    April 3rd, 2009 18:22

    For those of you who still watch Fox News or for those of you for which it takes a third, fourth, and fifth person, and to give RiverGirl a well-deserved break from her self-imposed philanthropic duties, here is an article from yahoo related to the topic at hand (“Mexico drug violence rare in areas like Cozumel”). The link:


  173. RiverGirl
    April 3rd, 2009 18:28

    Fernando – Thanks for that link, that’s helpful!

  174. Sooner
    April 9th, 2009 08:38

    Hi RiverGirl

    Just wanted to say thanks again for taking time to reassure a bunch of folks. I am surprised that many keep asking the same question without reading several comments here. Although I do understand that time is very valuable to people and they just want a quick response.

    Anyway, I go there every year, first week in July. This year it will start July 4th. Yes, it is hot then, but that makes the beautiful pool and ocean that much more fun. If anyone has not picked out a hotel, I suggest Royal Solaris. It is 2 hotels side by side. You can party on one side or just lay back for more quite time at the other pool.

    This year will make our tenth year in a row, so I am confident that what RiverGirl says is true. Cancun is a safe now as it has ever been.

    Oh, I remember a few years ago I googled Cancun beach pictures and found a site that shows hotel beaches. Still, Royal Solaris is hard to beat. No, I don’t work for them, just a happy customer.

    See you in July!

  175. Josh
    April 9th, 2009 23:03

    River Girl-

    Thanks for the info on safety as my family and i are traveling early may. Any experience with Great Parnassus. Chosen with cc points and being kid friendly. We still want upscale qualities as well. Thanks

  176. Joe
    April 10th, 2009 20:15


    I am going to Cancun this sunday. I am staying at the Oasis. Everyone is telling me that my friends and I are crazy that we are going to Cancun with the drug war as well as police corruption. I am getting a little nervous about traveling to Cancun. I want to feel excited other than nervous about this trip. Do I have anything to worry about? Any good advice for me about staying safe?

  177. RiverGirl
    April 10th, 2009 21:07

    Josh – I have not been to Great Parnassus, but people say it’s nice. I think it will live up to its reviews.

    Joe – Seriously, you have nothing to worry about. The drug war isn’t here. The cops take some bribes from a few drivers but they aren’t actually dangerous (except to your wallet).

    Just use common sense and don’t step in front of a bus or swim drunk and you will be fine. Truly. Cancun is as tranquil and safe as it was 5 years ago, it really hasn’t changed much.

    Ignore the news media and ignore your friends who believe everything they see on the news. Cancun is safe.

  178. Andrea
    April 13th, 2009 23:19

    Hi, Thank you so much for helping me relax. My bf is going to Cancun with a bunch of his guy friends. Some of his friends get drunk and stupid and I am worried that they will start fights with the “wrong people.” I understand you said that we shouldnt worry but I guess my question is what should I warn him about besides telling him to use his common sense, which Im worried wont be present under the influence of alcohol and some of his crazy friends. Can you provide me with some kind of a list of warnings I should give him?

  179. RiverGirl
    April 14th, 2009 09:36

    Andrea – Getting in fights anywhere is stupid. Getting in fights in Mexico is MORE stupid. The Cancun jail is so bad that you have to pay protection money to avoid being raped there. Tell them that!

    It sounds like your BF’s friends are bringing trouble with them. If they can avoid doing something dumb here I’m sure they’ll have a great time!

  180. Lisa
    April 19th, 2009 20:14

    Hi River Girl,

    I have been reading your blog and posts for the past few weeks. I was very worried and stressed about taking my son (14) and daughter(16) to Cancun on Spring break. We just returned yesterday and I wanted to let all your readers know that we had a GREAT time. There were no signs of any drug activity or violence or crime anywhere we visited. We took a bus tour to Chichen Itza, a passenger ferry to Isla Mujeres, we took local busses everywhere – even to Walmart. In the tourist/hotel zone we (and many others) walked on the street, day and night. We never felt that we were in danger and in fact felt very safe. We found the Mexican people to be very friendly, hospitable and gracious and we cannot wait to return.

    All your readers should relax and prepare for their trip with excitement – not dread. Don’t change your plans, you’ll have a great time.!

  181. RiverGirl
    April 19th, 2009 22:56

    Lisa – I’m so glad you wrote to let us all know of your experience in Cancun. And I’m glad you had a great time! I hope you come back soon!

  182. Susana
    April 20th, 2009 18:59

    Hi RiverGirl-

    I read almost all your posts and really appreciate the time you are taking to respond everyone’s questions and making everyone feel better about their planned trips. I went to Cancun on 2007. It is one of the few places I ever said I will come back after visiting. I loved the people, the beach, and all the sites there. I am now planning a trip with my parents on June, and I am sure it will be fine. But I do want to get your point of view about renting a car, in my previous trip i did everything with the local tours. Is it safe to drive to Chichen Itza and Xelha and places like that in a rented car by your own? Should I just stick to the tours? I was hoping to save some money, given that the tours are quite expensive and we are now planning a trip for 5 pp. Thanks! ;)



  183. RiverGirl
    April 20th, 2009 22:27

    Susana – Go ahead and rent a car. There’s no reason not too. Car rentals here aren’t the cheapest I’ve seen but they are certainly cheaper than paying for lots of tours and transfers.

  184. Lynne
    April 26th, 2009 08:55

    River girl…Thanks so much for starting this thread. It gives all of us planning a trip to Cancun a good idea of what is really going on there! We are headed there in June! Now that the news is focusing on the swine flu instead of violence people think we are CRAZY for not cancelling our trip! What is your take on this latest outbreak and has it affected Cancun? Are the people there in cancun worried about it? Are they getting sick? I think the news once again are making things worse than needed. They are focusing on Mexico city. Of course there will be a lot more sick people there, it is a city of 20 million! Just wondering what your take is on this?? I really want to go in June. The only way we wont is if they close the borders!! Thanks.

  185. RiverGirl
    April 26th, 2009 10:35

    Lynne –
    I think if I were you I would just wait and see. Right now I can tell you that there hasn’t been a confirmed case of any type of flu in Cancun in 4 years! I don’t know anyone who is sick with flu symptoms. I’ve heard no reports of anyone here having flu.

    I’m no expert on the Swine Flu and I would hate to give you bad advice and then see you get sick.

    It’s very easy for me to tell you that the drugs cartels don’t kill tourists, because they don’t. But the flu? It could hit any one of us. So I’m very cautious to give you advice.

    Clearly the Mexican authorities are taking every measure they can to protect the public health. If their measures work we may see this flu die out in time for you to come here comfortably on vacation. But if this spreads to Cancun and the number of infections goes up I think you will want to stay home. And I think I won’t be leaving my house either.

    Please let me know what you decide to do. But if I were you I would not panic, I would simply wait and see and make an informed decision later when more is known about this outbreak.

  186. sypha
    April 30th, 2009 10:33

    is there caeses of the swine flu in cancun

  187. RiverGirl
    April 30th, 2009 16:03

    So far we have no confirmed cases of Swine Flu in Cancun. Just today the media here is reporting a suspicious death of a 64 year old man. We need to wait and see what the result is. But remember that it is the tail end of flu season. And right now in Mexico ANY flu death would likely be labeled as “suspicious.”

    So, right now, we don’t have any confirmed cases of Swine Flu in Cancun. Tests are underway. More will be known in a few days.

    Wait for the data.

  188. sypha
    May 1st, 2009 08:06

    OK I WILL BE THERE 5/21 TO 5/26

  189. Sarah
    May 2nd, 2009 01:12

    Hey River Girl!

    I wrote you a while back concerning my honeymoon (back when the ‘drug wars’ were more of an issue than this stupid swine flu!) Oh my lord, it’s been such a struggle to keep this trip! After I got your reassurance that it was safe, then my fiance got denied his passport…we tried to change our trip, and then it was determined that we could either lose the $2000 we spent on it or I could go….but take someone else!! Yes, that definitely sucks!! But I decided I’d take my sister, and my hubby and I would go someplace else later! THEN this swine flu crap hits!!! She was freaked out a little about it, and we tried to see if we could change our trip to Punta Cana, but (of course) the trips went up BIG TIME in just a few hours!!! So we’re still coming down there, dammit…and I’m determined to have a fabulous, crazy, forget about everything time!!! :)

  190. RiverGirl
    May 2nd, 2009 09:18

    Sarah – What rotten luck you’ve had! I hope you do come and can have a great time. The weather here is perfect right now. And it looks like this Swine Flu is less serious than previously feared. Take a look at this article from the New York Times:

  191. sypha
    May 2nd, 2009 10:37

    hi are all the bars and clubs open

  192. RiverGirl
    May 2nd, 2009 11:00

    sypha – I just got an official communication from the State Tourism Ministry. They say that all clubs are open IF they have a patio, if they don’t have a patio they are closed. All restaurants ARE OPEN and are taking precautions against spreading the virus.

    You can download the (awkwardly translated) document I received here:

  193. Bluesky
    May 4th, 2009 10:35

    Hi Rivergirl! We are still trying to decide if we should re-schedule our trip or not. We are supposed to be arriving in Cancun this weekend, is it too soon? What is the mood/atmosphere like? Thanks again for all you do.

  194. RiverGirl
    May 4th, 2009 13:11

    Bluesky – The restaurants are all open, bars and clubs with patios are open, weather is perfect…and Mexico is lowering it’s warning levels now. The rate of infection from H1N1 is slowing and it’s now clear that it’s not as dangerous as they feared at first.

    You don’t need to reschedule, Cancun is open for business. There won’t be crowds here now, but then May is a slow month normally anyway.

    I say come on down.

  195. Sherri
    May 5th, 2009 07:08

    Hi RiverGirl,
    I am checking your postings daily since I am to arrive in Cancun 5/16 week staying at the Beach Palace. You mentioned last week that tourists left in swarms, but are they starting to return now? I really don’t want to cancel, but I get a lot of enjoyment from meeting others from all over the world and dancing in the clubs. Any news on Coco Bongo, Dady Rock, etc opening?
    For those of you who have not traveled to Cancun before, I used to live there and it is very safe as RiverGirl mentioned. You just take the same precautions as you would in a city in the USA. It is a beautiful place with a warm atmosphere, beautiful people, and a lot of offer! I travel there at least once a year alone, with my kids, with friends, and I’ve never been disappointed.

  196. RiverGirl
    May 5th, 2009 11:17

    Sherri – I don’t know the status of the big clubs but will try to find out and will report back. I think that the clubs will certainly be reopened by the time you get here if they are not open now. I will let you know what I find out.

  197. Susana
    May 7th, 2009 18:53


    Do you happen to know if Chichen Itza and all the Maya ruins are open?

  198. RiverGirl
    May 7th, 2009 18:55

    Sherri & Susana – All ruins are now OPEN! They opened back up yesterday!

  199. Susana
    May 8th, 2009 20:16

    Thanks for letting me know… I will be there with my family end of June… :)

  200. sypha
    May 9th, 2009 08:41


  201. RiverGirl
    May 9th, 2009 08:55

    sypha – All ATMs here (that I know of) give you Mexican pesos. If you want dollars you can exchange pesos for dollars are a Casa de Cambio (money exchange), they are all over.

    There are ATMs all over and yes they do take US cards.

  202. Winslow Willy
    May 10th, 2009 04:46

    You must not read the Cancun newspapers. Woman tourist was murdered May 1 by Hilton in Hotel Zone. No it is not safe. Yes, swine flu cases are in Cancun. Constant cover up of news

  203. RiverGirl
    May 10th, 2009 10:12

    Winslow Willy – When did I write the original post? In February. Yes they found the body of woman who had been murdered a few days ago. Last I saw they hadn’t ID’d her and didn’t know if she was a foreigner or not.

    But one murder doesn’t make a place unsafe. Cancun has nearly 1 million residents. There is crime here and if you read my original post I talk about that.

    As for Swine Flu, yes, we finally ended up with some verified cases of Swine Flu in this area. But when I wrote the comments above saying it wasn’t here that was the truth at the time.

    This comment thread is very long and spans several months. The news is changing daily. Perhaps it’s time to close comments for this thread and start fresh with another post.

  204. Jeanne
    May 10th, 2009 20:04


    Thank you for working on this site. I have been watching it since I booked our trip to Cancun last fall.

    From what I can see it looks like people are happy with the facilities and services at the Beach Palace. Do you agree?

    One question,
    Do you know if we were to get ill or hurt while we are in Cancun can we go to the Embassy to seek assistance? Or is it better to try to find local medical care?

    Thanks again!

  205. RiverGirl
    May 11th, 2009 07:05

    Jeanne – Most people do seem happy with the Beach Palace, I have not heard many complaints about it.

    As for medical care you certainly should see a doctor first. But yes, the consul can help with certain things if you need help. Are you a US citizen? We don’t have a US Embassy in Cancun, we have a US Consular Agent, basically it’s a small office not a big one.

  206. Fernando
    May 12th, 2009 02:47

    Winslow Willy – I would be willing to bet that there’s more crime in your own backyard than in Cancun. I would also be willing to bet that you haven’t even been to Cancun (or who knows, even out of your own backyard for that matter) to know how safe it is. There’s crime in Paris too, but should that stop you from going there? Heck no! So for my trip, if I have to trust someone’s opinion, I would go with the local’s opinion. By the way, it’s okay and valuable to other travelers to share information you may have, but what’s up with the negativity against someone that is just helping out?

    Jeanne, one small FYI. Countries have embassies only in the foreign countries capital cities. In other cities what they have are consulates. So there’s only one US embassy per country, but there can be many consulates. The difference is that in embassies there are diplomatic delegations, headed by an ambassador, that represent the interests of the sending state in the foreign country. In contrast, the consulate (headed by a consul) has the mission to assist its own citizens (residents or traveling) while they are in the foreign country. Just thought you might be interested on that little piece of trivia. :)

  207. Sherri
    May 12th, 2009 08:24

    I’m not quite sure when your trip to the Beach Palace is, but my 22yrd old daughter and I will be there May 16-23. If you are there the same week I’d be happy to give you some “Cancun Tips” that I’ve learned from all my travels there. Also, I used to live there and have many friends in Cancun.

  208. Jeanne
    May 14th, 2009 18:50

    Thanks for the offer Sherri, we will not be down until June 3rd. We are pretty excited about the trip, and I really appreciate the info that this site has provided.

  209. OasisGuy
    May 20th, 2009 08:36

    Hey, I booked my trip for july 8th and I dont know if I should change it or not, first the drug war then the swine flu. I want to go to Cancun more than anywhere else and I am really disapointed with all this stuff going on, I went to Cancun last summer and had the best vacation. I Was hoping this swine flu would die out, but it seems to be lingering. I also heard that there have been cases from Cancun, they just havn’t been confirmed by the Mexican government because they don’t want to hurt tourism. I really don’t know if I should go or not at this point. I wanted to go there to club and enjoy the nice weather but if there is no one in Cancun to club with and have a good time I’m not sure if its worth going any more. Any suggestions?

  210. RiverGirl
    May 20th, 2009 09:16

    OasisGuy – By July it looks like things will be about 80% of normal here. The tourists are already coming back. Swine flu has become old news. And the drug war really doesn’t effect tourists here at all.

    There might be fewer people here this summer than there were last summer, but it won’t be down by that much. If you read the message boards for Cancun you see that lots and lots of people who were planning to come here in early May have moved their trips to June and July. And everyone I know in the tourism industry reports that tourists are making reservations and bookings again.

  211. Lynne
    May 21st, 2009 16:18

    Hi Rivergirl! I wrote you awhile ago asking about swine flu. I wanted to say that we are going through with our trip! Glad that all that hype fizzled out! I have a question. Have you been to Xal-ha? Do you know how far of a drive it is from excellence playa mujeres?

  212. RiverGirl
    May 21st, 2009 16:35

    Lynne – I have not been to Xel-ha yet, keep meaning to go but haven’t done it yet. My husband has been there several times and LOVES it! He prefers it to Xcaret.

    Xel-ha is a pretty good drive from Cancun and your hotel is north of Cancun. I would expect it to take just under 1½ hours to get there from your hotel.

    I’m glad you are coming, I’m sure you will enjoy your trip.

  213. Sherri
    May 26th, 2009 08:54

    Hello, we just returned from our Cancun trip 5/16-5/23 at the Beach Palace and had a wonderful time! No swine flu problems. Tourism was down, but better for us since we didn’t have to make dinner reservations, wait in lines, and had spectacular service. If you go please tip the workers, even if you are at an all-inclusive. The exchange rate was 13.5 pesos to $1 US. We went downtown to market 23 and 28, on tours to Tulum and Isla Mujeres. Everything was beautiful! Sorry for everyone who canx the trip unnecessarily..there was more for me. The discos were open and packed, even though each hotel had low occupancy.

  214. Mark
    May 31st, 2009 13:35

    I’m considering going to the Riu Caribe the first week of July. I’ve heard it was closed during the swine flu outbreak. Do you know if it’s open yet, and if all the facilites are open at it? It’s our first time travelling to Cancun

  215. OasisGuy
    June 1st, 2009 09:54

    I was wondering if people are still wearing masks in Cancun. It would be kind of strange to go on vacation and see a bunch of people wearing masks?

  216. RiverGirl
    June 1st, 2009 16:20

    Oasis Guy – Almost no one is wearing a mask anymore here. There’s no need to. The virus just isn’t spreading here.

  217. RiverGirl
    June 1st, 2009 16:22

    Mark – I’m not sure but I think the Riu Caribe is still closed and that they are putting guests in one of the other Rius here.

    The other two Rius are more centrally located than the Riu Caribe so you’ll need to walk less. Don’t worry about it, they are all nice hotels.

  218. Patti E.
    June 3rd, 2009 14:22

    I’m so glad I found your website. I am planning a trip to Cancun next week (6/11) to celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation. We have been so discouraged between drug wars and swine flu but haven’t canceled and aren’t planning to. My daughter and her friends are hoping that there will be lots of other 18 year olds to meet. Will they be disappointed? Are the clubs open and full of life or are things dead with few tourists?

    Thanks for all your information! Very helpful!

  219. RiverGirl
    June 4th, 2009 19:52

    Patti – As far I understand Cancun’s tourism is picking back up. I don’t think the clubs are packed, but they aren’t empty. I’m sure your daughter will have a great time!

  220. JIM
    June 11th, 2009 16:33

    Keep in mind you are going to another country. No one is going to tell you the negitive side.
    Right now is not a good time to visit.

    Thirty-five killed in drug-related violence, Cancun police chief arrested
    Article published on the 2009-02-11 Latest update 2009-03-26 15:08 TU

  221. RiverGirl
    June 11th, 2009 17:19

    Jim – Thirty-five killed WHERE? Along the US border? That’s more than 1000 miles from Cancun!!

    How many tourists in Cancun have died due to the drug war? Try ZERO!

    How many tourists in Cancun have been murdered lately? Try ZERO!

    We get upwards of 4 million international tourists a year coming to this area and the few who are unfortunate enough to die here die from natural causes or from accidents.

    Tourists here die of heart attacks and drowning. Some choke to death after they drink themselves into a stupor. A few die in car accidents here. But the drug war is not killing tourists here, it’s just not!

    I’ll tell you the negative side of Cancun. If you read my blog archive you’ll see it! Cancun is full of poverty and street dogs, the government is corrupt, laws don’t get followed and lots of people here are greedy and selfish. The city can’t keep the streets properly paved (except right in the tourist area). This is a 3rd world country, it’s troubled and it’s complicated.

    But that doesn’t mean tourists are at risk when they come here. The data doesn’t support what you say, it doesn’t.

  222. Lynne
    June 12th, 2009 23:51

    Ummm…Jim, let me guess, you work for the United States tourism board. You want to scare people away from vacationing abroad to keep money in the U.S.?? Dont spread stupid rumors to scare travelers. Hasnt Mexico had enough of a blow to their economy? I will be vacationing there in a week with NO fear what so ever!! Get your flippin facts straight!!!

  223. amy
    June 19th, 2009 12:21

    River Girl, Love your site! My 18 year old daughter and niece will be traveling to Cancun next month. They are considering staying at the Grand Oasis Cancun (not to be confused with the other Oasis properties). Is this a good choice? They’re looking for a big resort with crowds of other young people and a good beach. From the worried mom’s perspective, I’m trying really hard to not freak out over safety issues. I would really appreciate your thoughts.

  224. Susana
    June 21st, 2009 20:11


    Do you know which is the best local rent-a-car company in Cancun?
    Thanks! :)

  225. RiverGirl
    June 23rd, 2009 17:14

    Amy – Grand Oasis is a nice hotel. They’ll be just fine there. Do not worry!!!

    Susana – I know that Hertz is terrible. But I don’t know what car rental companies are good. Several friends have had Hertz at the Cancun airport try to rip them off by adding extra charges when they dropped the car off.

  226. Melanie
    June 24th, 2009 14:47

    Hi Rivergirl

    I love your site- so informative! I wanted to ask you- when tipping bartenders for drinks, would they rather see $1 american or $13 pesos? I’m kind of confused about the tipping situation and I want to be sure I’m taken care of at my all inclusive resort. I’ll be staying at the Grand Oasis in August and though i’ve seen some bad reviews, it looks like it’s mostly because people don’t feel they need to tip at an all inclusive resort.

    Thanks for your help

  227. RiverGirl
    June 25th, 2009 09:41

    Melanie – Employees at all-inclusives suffer because lots of folks don’t tip them. But they make very little, most employees who wait on you at a hotel do not make enough to even own a car. So I recommend tipping.

    They are happy with either dollars or pesos. But if you give them dollars make sure the bills are new and not torn. Lots of places in Cancun will take US dollars, but only if they are in good shape.

  228. Sooner
    June 29th, 2009 09:16

    Hi RiverGirl,

    We will be coming to Cancun next week. Can’t wait. Looks like activity has slowed a bit on this blog. Must be a good sign. Has tourist activity picked up? Do you need me to bring you anything from the states? Thanks for all the information.

  229. RiverGirl
    June 29th, 2009 13:34

    Sooner – Tourism to Cancun has been steadily picking up since around the 3rd week of May. Things are much closer to normal now.

    No need to bring me anything from the States as I’m in the US right now. Thanks anyway!!

  230. James
    July 5th, 2009 07:12

    Hi I have been here for six years and have a four year old daughter we live in Villa Magna
    Are you just a working person slumming it?
    or do you acually have assets? there is a big differnce in the classes here if your lower class there could be problems if your upper class its a dream to live here

  231. Anita
    July 5th, 2009 17:10

    RiverGirl, Thank you for your website. It is informative and absolutely true and honest. The US has too many reporters working to scare the daylights out of tourists so that monies may be kept here. Cancun is BEAUTIFUL!!! And I have never felt safer in such a big city. I have gone to Cancun numerous times and have never had a problem with anyone. Cancun has some of the nicest and most appreciative people. Granted, I have never lived there and have only gone there for vacation, but the people who work there are grateful for tips and smiles and kindness. Just treat them as you would want to be treated. Yes, tip them…yes, say gracias to them, and yes, say denada to them. The staff at the resorts will do whatever they can to make your stay fabulous!!! After all, you are a big part of Cancun……..tourists. People there realize that and are very happy that you are there to visit their city.

  232. OasisGuy
    July 6th, 2009 17:39

    Hey rivergirl, im going to Cancun on Wensday and have been looking at the forcast. It says rain almost everyday. Is that true or is it just a bad prediction?

  233. RiverGirl
    July 9th, 2009 15:57

    James – Your comment is beyond repulsive! Are you really that elitist? Did you really say “Are you just a working person slumming it?” Gag!

    Rich or poor, residents of Cancun all suffer from the sight of garbage and street animals in the city. And we all are potential victims of the incredible lack of public safety here.

    Maybe living in Villa Magna you can pretend, while you are home, that Cancun is lovely and perfect. But when you leave your home and get out on the Colosio you have to drive past the same dead dogs in the road and see the same suffering of people and animals that everyone else has to see.

    To me a place is not paradise if there is obvious suffering going on around me, no matter how much money I have.

  234. RiverGirl
    July 9th, 2009 16:00

    Anita – You are right that people here can be very generous. There’s a reason that Mexico has more hotel rooms per capita than any country in the world. It’s a hospitality nation. I’m glad you like it here.

    OasisGuy – Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. The weather reports for this area are ALWAYS predicting a CHANCE of rain. We get over 200 days of sunshine a year. No worries!

  235. Lynne
    July 10th, 2009 20:40

    We just got back from Cancun the end of June and I must say it was the BEST trip that we have EVER taken!! We stayed at Excellence playa mujeres. It is an AMAZING resort!! We had the time of our lives. The resort was nearly full, glad to see that things are picking up. Everyone going to cancun, please tip well. The employees there will appreciate it more than you know!

  236. irish
    July 17th, 2009 06:43

    hi rivergirl i wonder could you help me?Im travelling to Cancun on 19th Dec with my 2 children for christmas and the new year.We are staing at the aquamarina beach hotel.as this is the first holiday my children and i have taken alone and its over christmas id like to know is there much for me a 13 year old and an 11 year old to do at that time of year id be grateful for any info whatsoever thanks….

  237. RiverGirl
    July 17th, 2009 09:50

    irish – Xcaret and Xel-ha will both be good fun for your kids. You might get some other tours ideas here: Cancun Tours (this is from a travel site I’m building).

    But honestly, the kids will have a great time at the hotel playing in the pool and on the beach. I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble entertaining them. Good luck.

  238. irish
    July 17th, 2009 18:30

    thats great thanks

  239. Randy
    July 18th, 2009 10:20

    Leaving for Cancun tomorrow morning! I believe we will have a great time and that Cancun is a safe place to travel, however, what do you know about the safety of parasailing in Cancun. Seems like the majority of parasailing accidents I’ve read about online happen in Cancun. Also read about a few drowning deaths in resort swimming pools due to bad drains in the pool sucking people under. Crazy. Also any truth to people getting drugged via their drinks and raped and beaten. Actually read this has happened to a couple tourists. Whether true or not, I do not know. I’m just an American trying to find out as much info as possible to make my trip safe & fun.

  240. RiverGirl
    July 18th, 2009 11:04

    Randy – All kinds of things happen in Cancun. It’s safe, but you do need to be smart.

    One thing to keep in mind here is that there is less regulation of safety for things like parasailing. So parasailing might not be as safe here as somewhere else, I don’t know.

    I do know that when a tourist dies here it makes a big splash in the news and people hear about it everywhere. So it may be that you can find more news about parasailing accidents in Cancun simply because more articles get written when something bad happens here.

    As for pool deaths they are rare and they do happen everywhere. Just be aware that most hotels here DO NOT have lifeguards on duty!!! So swim with friends and keep track of each other.

    As for people having their drinks drugged here, yes it happens, rarely. It also happens in the US. When I lived in Colorado I heard of a few cases of that there. Since I’ve been in Cancun (6 years) I’ve heard of one case!! So it happens, but maybe not more than other places.

  241. Randy
    July 18th, 2009 12:00

    I figured as much. Just wanted to check with you since you actually live there and probably know more about what’s actually going on. Thanks for your response! Can’t wait to arrive tomorrow! Staying at Riu Caribe!

  242. Randy
    July 24th, 2009 12:43

    Got back from Cancun yesterday … BEST VACATION EVER! Stayed at the Riu Caribe, which I definitely recommend! This resort is very safe … have buoys in the water about 50 feet out just in case. Large balconies, with safely built rails. RIU entertainment staff was ridiculously friendly & hilarious. When we did leave the resort we felt safe. Took the bus to clubs and markets. 1st time in Cancun and I WILL BE BACK!!! No worries, folks. This place is worth every penny! The day before my trip I read horror stories about people who have died from freak accidents & stuff like that which made me nervous about going, but all of that dissolved the minute we got there. Never felt unsafe for a second. Just be smart when outside the resort late at night and you WILL have the time of your lives!

  243. Jennifer
    July 27th, 2009 13:40

    What are the best things to do in Cancun for two 19 year olds?

  244. Curiousity
    July 31st, 2009 12:52

    Hey Rivergirl,

    I didn’t see any discussion on sex in Cancun.

    Any comments on physical intimate hookups with the locals; concern about solicitation from prostitutes.

  245. Curiousity
    July 31st, 2009 12:59

    Oh, after some online research I found that some cellular companies are covered in the Cancun area…however, I would be more convinced from you answer….can you tell me sprint cell phones work there, and do you know anything about the internet access amount at the resorts.

    Thank again.

  246. Rachel S
    August 1st, 2009 00:56

    So would you say that it is safe to go out to clubs at night? and if so what would be the best way of trasportation? I’m pretty scared of cabs, but it sounds like the bus really may not be safe either? Also, I think I would like to do the xcaret park! What do you think of that place?

  247. RiverGirl
    August 3rd, 2009 09:47

    Randy – Thanks for commenting to let everyone know how great your vacation was!

    Curiousity – As far as I know Sprint cell phones work here but I can’t swear to it. Most resorts have decent internet access, in fact most have wireless in the room. But you have to check with your resort for specifics.

    Rachel — Of course it’s safe to go to clubs at night. If you plan to get wasted then be sure that at least one member of your party is sober enough to deal with the cab. Cabs are safe here, but not if you are so out of it that you can’t keep track of where you are. If it were me I would probably take the bus, but if you are not comfortable with that then take a cab, just don’t get in a cab if you are wasted. You need to use common sense, but if you do you can have a great time here.

    Xcaret is wonderful, don’t miss it. Xel-ha is also wonderful.

  248. Curiousity
    August 3rd, 2009 13:26

    Why no respondse about my first question Rivergirl.

  249. RiverGirl
    August 4th, 2009 13:46

    Curiousity – I’m not going to respond to questions about hookups with locals because I know nothing about it. I’m married and happy about it. Lots of people come to Cancun and screw locals, and lots of locals are happy to oblige. There’s prostitution here but honestly, if you want details I don’t have them…when I want sex I jump on my husband and that’s the end of it.

  250. Bryce
    August 6th, 2009 13:49

    River Girl

    I will be traveling to Cancun with my wife and have a rental car from avis lined up for the week….Ive read lots of stories about being pulled over and cops taking bribes. Do you recommend even renting a car. What is your take on driving in and around cancun and maybe to tulum.

  251. RiverGirl
    August 6th, 2009 18:10

    Bryce – There are two somewhat common scenarios that happen when tourists rent cars here. First yes, you are more likely to be pulled over by cops, this is because rental cars have a different color plate so they are easy to spot. And the second thing that happens is that the rental car companies here often try to tack on extra charges when you return your car.

    If the cops pull you over simply refuse to pay a bribe, it’s that simple. They will puff up and try to be scary…but just keep asking for the ticket…and keep refusing to pay a bribe. Bribery is a two-way street, they can’t get a bribe out of you if you don’t give them money. The cops will often just let you go without a ticket if you refuse to pay the bribe…because they just want the bribe money…they don’t want to waste 10 minutes filling out the ticket form. Also be sure to ask the cop for his/her name, if you report a cop for soliciting bribes they will get in big trouble. So if the cop knows that you know his/her name they will not push you to give them money.

    As for the rental companies…Hertz is the one I’ve heard the most horror stories about. Several times I’ve heard that they tacked on huge extra charges at the end of the rental. In each case the tourist had to run off and get on a plane so they didn’t have time to fight. The way you can fight this is to bring a photocopy of your reservation listing all charges. And then make sure you take a photocopy of your rental contract after you rent the car. This way if you do have trouble when you drop the car off you can fight with the main office after you get home, and you’ll have a full paper trail to make your case with.

    Most people who rent cars here do not get screwed by the rental company, but just be careful, I’ve seen it happen to several friends.

    That said I think renting a car here is a great idea, it gives you a lot more freedom than most tourists who come here ever have! Definitely go ahead and do it, your trip will be a lot more fun because of it.

  252. Bryce
    August 7th, 2009 13:51

    Well, before I read your response, I decided to cancel the car rental. We’ll be staying at the Westin and Ive already made arrangements to the hotel from the airport….What we may do is rent a car through the hotel which we have done in other parts of Mexico. We were not planning on using the car the whole time anyway, so no big deal. Ive been told by several people that the buses and taxis are so easy and fast within the hotel strip. We just wanted the freedom in case we drove to the ruins or down to Tulum, which we still may do.

    And its good to know not to accept the bribe. I will be taking name and number if they pull us over.


  253. RiverGirl
    August 7th, 2009 14:03

    Bryce – If you plan to spend most of your time in Cancun then you don’t need a car. Taxis and buses are easy here. If you plan to leave the city having a car will be nicer than being forced into the bus schedule. Enjoy your trip.

  254. Fernando
    August 10th, 2009 14:16

    On renting cars.

    Totally agree with RiverGirl.

    1. If you rent from home you may be able to find better deals and do some price shopping.

    2. Renting will give you so much more freedom, and not to mention some welcome AC.

    3. Be aware: in the hotel strip the speed limit changes constantly from 40kmh to 70kmh and back to 40kmh almost randomly; to avoid being stopped and asked for a bribe, keep an eye on the constantly ever-changing speed limit and make sure you observe it everywhere, even if others don’t or if they tailgate you. Don’t cave into temptation: just use the right lane and be courteous to those that want to go faster. It’s their problem if they get pulled over, not yours.

    4. Obviously, read the contract before you sign it, but most importantly, make sure you make the conversion from Mexican pesos to US dollars to make sure what they will charge you matches your reservation rate.

    5. Last but not least, if the car rental company tries to tack extra charges at the end make sure, as RiverGirl said, to have copies of all your paperwork. Make sure you also give yourself enough time to return the car (arrive at least two-hours-and-a-half before your departure). You may need the extra time it if you need to fight it. And don’t be shy about throwing a stink and alerting arriving customers out loud about the scam. They don’t like being exposed and don’t want the extra attention that brings. That’s how I managed to get Hertz to honor the reservation rates instead of their made up car-return-charges.

    With all that said it is well worth renting a car! Good luck and happy traveling.

  255. Melanie
    August 24th, 2009 15:01

    Hi Rivergirl,

    I am going to be in Cancun this Thursday through Sunday and when I looked online it appears it’s supposed to be raining all weekend. I believe it’s hurricane season, so of course we’re taking a chance by traveling in August I suppose.

    Do you think my weekend will end up being a wash?


  256. RiverGirl
    August 24th, 2009 15:14

    Melanie – Take a look at this page:
    It talks about the weather reports in Cancun. But no, I don’t think your vacation will be washed out, I think what the weather report is showing is just a chance of rain. Relax, it will be great!

  257. Palefaced Tourist
    August 26th, 2009 12:45

    We found the best car rental rates ast http://www.cancunrentacar.com/. All insurances are included as part of the rental rate. That being said, we were stopped last night by the tourist police, where $60 USD was extorted from my non-spanish speaking husband. The “Tourist Police” may be looking out for the tourists, but it would seem they are more interested in lining their pockets. We were one of two cars stopped at the same time for allegedly speeding. Key word being “allegedly”. We have been hypervigilent about the posted speeds, having read many of the reports of others. After we left, I told my husband that the questions asked were keyed to determine how much money they might get from you (“Do you speak spanish? Even a little?” = Since you speak no spanish you are more than likely to cave to giving me a bribe. “How long are you staying?” = Twelve days? You must have a bit of money – no $20 USD bribe for you, you can afford $60 USD.)

    If you don’t plan to leave the hotel zone, take the bus. It’s cheap, frequent, and saves a lot of hassle.

  258. RiverGirl
    August 26th, 2009 14:42

    Oh bummer! I’m always sorry to hear of the cops here abusing their power and asking for bribes from motorists. And the cops often have their shticks all worked out so that it’s VERY hard to refuse to pay the bribe they ask for.

    But still I encourage people to remember that if you get the name of the cop and/or the number painted on the cop’s vehicle you can turn them in. And if you turn them in they are in BIG trouble. So if you simply let them know that you are thinking of turning them in for extortion, then they will quickly abandon any hope of getting that bribe from you.

    It’s easy for me to say this, I know that it’s much harder to stand up to an authority figure and refuse to pay a bribe. But believe me, if that cop THINKS you might be savvy enough to turn him in he will let you go and will go after then next tourist with deep pockets.

  259. Simba
    September 4th, 2009 10:00


    I am planning a destination wedding in April or May and although I’ve been to Cancun twice and loved it, I completely overlooked it as a wedding destination due to all the reports. I’ve been focusing on Puerto Rico or Jamaica only because I was too scared of doing the wedding in Cancun. I spoke to my travel agent and she made every effort to reassure me that the crime is happening 2000 miles away from Cancun. I feel a little better but I’m still hesitant so I’ve been doing a ton of research online to get more information.

    I would be travelling with 40-50 people for the wedding. I would book a hotel block in the hotel zone and stay mostly in that zone the entire trip. My biggest concern is that there are a lot of young men in my family that LOVE to party – we all like to party but at least the women have common sense and tend to be more aware. I know the men all want to take my fiance out for the bachelor party and I’m worried that they’ll get drunk and loud, thus drawing attention to themselves. Do you think it would be dangerous, if they stay in the tourist zone for the bachelor party? For example, the nightclubs that are in the strip? Would there be problems with the cops there?

  260. RiverGirl
    September 4th, 2009 10:20

    Simba – The Cancun Hotel Zone is perfectly safe for people who like to party, and there are weddings and Bachelor’s Parties here all the time. You are truly worrying for no reason. Cops here don’t bother tourists except sometimes they bother tourists who rent cars, they ask them for money. But that’s it.

    The more important thing to worry about is the wedding facility at the hotel you choose, make sure that the hotel has a nice beach and a nice area for the wedding.

  261. Melanie
    September 10th, 2009 13:34

    I just wanted to say that I had my first trip to Cancun last week and it was absolutely fantastic. All of my worry from reading reviews was for nothing. My resort (The Grand Oasis) was wonderful, the water so blue and beautiful and the people just fabulous. I will definitely come back again! Thank you for putting up such a great website. It was very useful to me.

  262. Leo
    September 13th, 2009 11:43

    I just wanted to add to this conversation… I am from Northeast USA and had the best vacation in a long time at the Crowne Paradise Resort from the end of Feb to the beginning of March. Despite conflicting reviews on tripadvisor I booked anyway… my expectations were low, and I was pleasantly surprised. Was it the Ritz… absolutely not. But I didn’t pay for the Ritz either.
    Nonetheless my point, conforming with this topic, is that this was the time that the news was broadcasting all the “mob wars”… I had no idea it was on the news. Didn’t even find out about it until I returned home. While I was in Cancun I was having the time of my life with my wife and 3 year old son. Not once feeling threatened. In fact, had I know of the reported violence I would have stayed in the hotel zone… but not knowing, we ventured “downtown” to walmart several times, and to Mercado 28… not once feeling threatened. We are already planning to go back this Feb.
    So my question to you RiverGirl, is have there been any increased reports of violence since then (March)?
    One note to anyone who has not visited Cancun. If you fly into Cancun airport teh people that are acting like they are assising you… are trying to sell you a timeshare. They will promidse to give you free tickets to here, there and everywhere…and they will.. after you listen to their sales pitch. They say it is only an hour, but I haven’t seen anyone do it in less than 2-3 hours. It is free stuff, but know that their job is to sell timeshares. They will pull every sales tactic known in an attempt to sell.

  263. RiverGirl
    September 14th, 2009 16:55

    Leo – No, there’s no violence here against tourists, and very little against locals. And there’s been no recent increase in violence here. Cancun is really mellow in a party-central kind of way.

    You are dead right about the people at the airport. They act like they are helping you but they are trying to rope you into a timeshare presentation. Best advice is to walk on by and act like you know where you are going, even if you don’t. I wave my car keys at them, they leave me a lone.

  264. linda
    September 19th, 2009 23:45


  265. Cheryl
    October 8th, 2009 14:43

    Oh Linda, it didn’t bother me what you said about Mexico, you have a right to your opinion, but what you said about Rivergirl has upset me senseless. I know her personally and she IS trying to fix her own country and if you read her blog, she isn’t painting a rosy picture but a very honest picture. She volunteers her own time to try and tirelessly make a difference. Who gives you the right to attack someone else’s character like this when you know NOTHING about the person??? It’s people like you that make the rest of the world hate Americans.

  266. jan
    October 8th, 2009 16:12

    I am departing for Cancun at Christmas for one week, staying at the Me Hotel in Cancun.
    I live in Beverly Hills California and I guess you could say I am quite a snob, just being honest.
    A friend of mine just said to me I should not be going to Cancun, even the Me Hotel which is five star attracts blue collar middle America people, is this true?
    I own my own company in Beverly Hills and feel I did not research this very well at all.
    I guess I am asking what the clientele would be like?

  267. RiverGirl
    October 9th, 2009 17:33

    Linda – That’s some pretty serious bullshit you are spouting there. I hope you enjoyed writing that. I enjoyed laughing at your comments, very entertaining.

    If you actually read my blog you will see that I’m realistic about Cancun, not an apologist for it.

    Cheryl – Thanks girlfriend!

    Jan – Um, I’m not sure I can help you. Snobs come with different things that bother them. And rednecks come in all kinds of flavors. And we get all kinds of rednecks here.

    In my personal experience ME is expensive and so attracts fewer of the uneducated true rednecks. But just because people have money doesn’t mean they have taste.

    Let me put it this way. From what I know you are less likely to encounter blue collar types at ME than at just about any other hotel in Cancun. So you chose pretty well, for Cancun. It’s a lovely hotel, enjoy it.

  268. Fernando
    October 12th, 2009 14:06


    You have spoken loud and clear… about anyone but yourself! Your post is judgmental, arrogant, and racist. Probably the cop just saw through you, the same way we can see through your post. Did you know that we attract what we think we deserve? So the only thing I could do after reading about your experience was to LOL! Hmm… maybe I even feel sorry for the cop that had to deal with you! But actually I feel sorrier for those around you that have to put up with someone as negative, capable of spewing so much hatred and venom to the entire world, just because she brought a bad experience upon herself with just a few.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if just for kicks you would end up coming back in your next life as a Mexican, so that you would have to learn not to be such a Bitter Insensitive Tasteless Complaining Hyperventilating woman?

  269. Fernando
    October 12th, 2009 16:12

    One more thing Linda. I am really glad you are not going back to Cancun ever, because I am planning on going back and having a wonderful time (as always), and just the thought of running into someone as prejudist as you gives me the creeps.

  270. RiverGirl
    October 12th, 2009 16:19

    Thanks for having my back (and Cancun’s) Fernando.

  271. Leo
    October 12th, 2009 17:20

    Wow Linda… how does that foot taste? Coming from the Northeast I am very familiar with corruption and crooked cops. But you will not hear me speak poorly of those residing here because of it.
    Not sure if this was your hopeless plea for attention or just a sorry excuse to unleash your inner racism, but it seems like you have gotten some of the attention you are clearly craving for… is it all you had hoped for?
    What we missed, and I am sure couldn’t care less about, was what were the activities that caused such alleged encounter with the Mexican Police? I am going on a whim here… but perhaps you should have paid the $50 and shut up!
    I will be booking my next trip to Cancun very soon… and if I am confronted with an officer of the Mexican police… perhaps I will buy him lunch, for making Cancun as SAFE as it has been for me during the 2 great Spring Break trips several years ago and for the last trip I took my family on last March.
    RiverGirl… thanks for the candid opinion you share on this blog of YOUR experiences in Cancun!

  272. Marriot Man
    November 3rd, 2009 14:59

    I live in Colorado Springs, where there was a shooing a block away from a night club I was at on Holloween night. I didnt get shot, have to pay a brib, or even know it happened until the next day. This is a great service you help with. I especially like the responces from people who recently traveled there and report back.

    I have a friend that has recently retired to south central Balize. I would like to rent a car from Cancunrentacar that advertizes cars available for crossing the boarder and back. I plan this road trip travel during the week days,Sunday and Friday, while spending the two weekends exploring Cancun from 2 Resort Marriots since I work for the Marriot corporation. I wonder if you or anyone here has any additional feed back on this itinerary reguarding border passing, cities along the route, extra fee’s taxes, bribes I may encounter on this roadtrip. I’m not easily intimidated, speak broken spanish, concider myselve very gracious. Have traveled Europe extensively by rail. I just want to know what to expect financially so as to be prepaired. If one has little cash one can not pay? Does it make sence to have gifts to offer ie. a case of Colorado wine in the trunk in exchange for safe and free passage? Or is that old school, as my Dad used to do in the late sixties/early seventies. I understand I need to travel by day, perhaps buy Balizian Auto insurance and about 50$ per person to cross the border comming back.
    Gracia trabajaramos!
    Estaban LOL

  273. RiverGirl
    November 4th, 2009 13:39

    Marriot Man – I have not been to Belize, so I can’t answer your questions. I wouldn’t expect to have to pay bribes though. I do think you need to prove you have, or get, special insurance to cross into Belize from Mexico though. But other than that I think it’s not a big deal to make that drive, it’s just long, that’s all.

  274. Marriot Man
    November 5th, 2009 03:03

    Ive heard 6-8 hours by bus to Balize city so I figure i can make it in less as long as im not detained. But if anyone else checking in here has any experience, idea’s, or opinions about my trip and origional post, let me know. And thank RG for keepin this place runnin.

  275. Karen
    November 8th, 2009 00:53

    Are you freaking crazy??? Mexico is unsafe everywhere! Have you read any statistics about the number of Americans killed or kidnapped ALL OVER Mexico? The police are corrupt, as well as most of the so called government officials. Ever heard of the City of Death? Larado, just across the border from El Paso where THOUSANDS of bodies are found?
    Be safe, stay away from Mexico! Plus, if you get killed while there, there is less than 8% chance your killers will ever be caught.

  276. RiverGirl
    November 11th, 2009 13:51

    Karen – Mexico is unsafe everywhere? Do you know that about 5 million tourists visit Cancun and the Riviera Maya every year? Do you know how many of those tourists have been killed by the drug war? ZERO!

    Yes, we agree that the border areas of Mexico are not safe. But if you look at a map you will see that Cancun and the Riviera Maya are what?, 1400 miles from the US border with Mexico? It’s pretty far away.

  277. jorge
    November 20th, 2009 18:33

    The only risk in cancun, is that you might want to stay forever…..

  278. Goz
    January 4th, 2010 13:26

    RiverGirl – I have booked a family vacation at the Hilton Cancun G&S Resort for the end of February 2010. The bargain rates were too attractive to pass on. I have never been to Mexico, but I assumed the unease surrounding the kidnappings, murders, etc. were probably, as you stated, limited primarily to the border areas. The latest U.S. State Department warnings have again caused me to become concerned for our safety, and while your posts have provided some solace my paternal paranoia is kicking in again. This is supposed to be a relaxing vacation to relieve stress, but I am finding that with all of the controversy and information on the web I am becoming more stressed! I was hoping that you could help me to calm down. I will be traveling with my wife and two daughters aged 8 and 10. We have booked a regular round trip airport shuttle from BestDay.com. Once we are there we plan only two excursions by bus: one day trip to Chichen Itza and one day trip to Isla Mujeres. Do you know of any security issues with the bus tours to Chichen Itza? Do you have any tips for us should we go forward with our plans? Thank you and keep up the good work. You have a very nice website.

  279. Greg
    January 12th, 2010 14:58

    Love Cancun been there several times… but it is not as safe as it is being made out to be. I have been going there for 15 years. I have seen corruption 1st hand.. But if you are smart and stay on the resorts you will be fine.
    As for mexico as a whole it is not safe.. not saying the entire population is corrupt, but if 10% are lawless it is unsafe.. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,582855,00.html

    It is what it is unfortunatly….but the good old u.s. is not far behind

  280. Cancun or Bust
    January 14th, 2010 17:02


    I’ve noticed there hasn’t been a post in a while. I’m planning a trip to Cancun in June. Has anything changed since the last post?


  281. Lis
    January 17th, 2010 13:08

    you say Cancun is safe.I am not so sure.My nephew is in prison there because a couple of guys got annoyed with him at a nightclub and pushed him about.2 days later he is in jail and he has been there for 3 months.His Mum was kidnapped and his lawyer was kidnapped.That certainly wouldnt happen in the UK.If this Greg chap is a good mayor he needs to take control and sort out this level of corruption.Check out http://www.freeingfree.net to see what my nephew has gone through. I wouldnt go to Cancun even though it looks like a paradise.Who wants to spend their time avoiding people who behave like this.Amnesty internationals mexican team is overworked they have so many situations to deal with.Wrongful arrest etc.Check it out.

  282. pressuredinparadise
    January 17th, 2010 19:07

    cancun is a living version of Capitalism: A Love Story” (the michael moore movie). It exploits the workers, who live in cinder block, work in luxury.

    Since the owners are the white sharks, the workers learn to be sharks: hence my family and I were constantly stopped & “offered” some great deal…..if we tried to walk, the guy would trail us…. Then the “sight seeing” businesses: if you cancel, you must give “honest, truthful” reasons. They will not reverse the charge to your credit card.
    Go to Cancun if you want to take part in dog-eat-dog fun….all-inclusive, too!
    (to see the “real” cancun, see this blog’s photos of the very sad shanties for cancun families…..)

  283. dmuerte
    January 17th, 2010 19:42

    Linda was robbed–by the one institution we are all asked to trust and look up to! And she gets blasted as a RACIST?
    gee…maybe people should not rob tourists! any sense to that?

    if you go to cancun, you go to a place of anger, where corruption, like a radiating circle, goes from the hotel owners, who pay $5 day for hard labor at your hotel, to the men in the street, who harass you for business, or “adventure” businesses, that won’t refund your money if you cancel well ahead of time, to airport hustlers, who tell you the next terminal can only be reached via their taxis, because of constrution delays ($20 for a 1/2 mile drive)……..

  284. GAPeach
    March 19th, 2010 21:31

    Hello RiverGirl!

    I am planning one of my best friend’s 30th birthday party for Cancun in August. Several people in the group are starting to back out because of all the bad news in the media about Mexico. I read over the earlier post and was hoping that you and others could give me some insight to share with the group on conditions and your experience in Cancun!

    Thanks a ton!


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